Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Made it!

I'm in the land of well paved roads, big American-like shopping malls, and cream cheese! I made it to South Africa and am enjoying my time with Molly, Rebecca, Marc, and little Abigail. I feel like I'm in America most of the time because everything is so developed. It's much different than Kenya. Today, on Christmas Eve, we delivered presents to children in a hospital and are now headed to Marc's family's house for two days to celebrate Christmas. We'll enjoy good food, opening presents, and swimming in the pool. Not a bad way to spend the season! Then we go on holiday to the beach for a week.

Many of you have been in our conversations... family far away and friends stuck in feet of snow in Oregon. We're thinking of you all and wishing you a wonderful holiday (even if you're stuck and not able to make it to your destinations). Much love and blessings!

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Headed South!

I leave for South Africa in the morning to visit friends for three weeks! My internet access will be more limited, so I won't be posting a lot in the coming weeks. I just wanted to say MERRY CHRISTMAS to my family and friends back home. I hope you have a blessed holiday. I'll try to call my family from South Africa, but if I'm unable, please know that I'm thinking of you and I love you. I'll have lots to share when I get home to Kenya. Love you!

Thursday, December 18, 2008

I'm an aunt AGAIN!

My sisters are popping babies out right and left! Isabella Maria was born on Tuesday night to Lisa and Artie. She came more than two months before she was supposed to, weighing only 2 lbs. 10 oz. She is teeny tiny but doing well under the circumstances. Her lungs are developed enough that she can breath on her own, but she will be in the hospital for the next few months. All this information I learned after receiving an emergency email that my mom was headed to Anchorage because Lisa had gone into labor early. Calling home immediately and in a state of panic, I was relieved to hear on the other end that all was well considering. After talking with Lisa and Artie, I was even more relieved and blessed to hear their voices. Although Bella needs lots of prayers, baby and mommy are well. She is definitely the tiniest and cutest Christmas present our family received this season!

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

I love my friends!

I got on-line Monday night to discover that Newberg, Oregon was having a snow day. Immediately I emailed my old crew to say, "Have fun with the day off work and enjoy Abby's pizza!" Abby's pizza is a tradition on snow days. Since everyone is free from work, we always put chains on the car, loaded up, and headed to lunch for pizza. When I mentioned it in the email, it triggered several emails making plans for a lunch date. Although I couldn't be there, it was fun to be a part of the planning. It made me feel part of the "fam" back home. John and Erin chimed in from New Zealand, and it felt like we were all making plans together. Thanks for including me in the fun friends! You bless me miles, oceans, continents, and time zones away! It was also nice to see pictures of snow...

(Thanks Pete & Lins for the snow pics!)
A little different than Nairobi...

Sunday, December 14, 2008

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas?

I walked into church this morning to the sound of "Joy to the World", and I thought to myself, "Oh yea! It's Christmas." It has been a strange Christmas season for me without the commercialization of the season, lights on every street, and the lack of seeing my breath outside. It feels more like a summer holiday, with the exception that I have to go to work each day. I walk to and from school seeing the scenes pictured here and the temperature rising each day (Micah and Marla, I think of you often in this climate). It's just plain weird! However, there have been moments that remind me it's December...

My Birthday
The day started with my students bringing me lots of gifts and love. My wonderful room moms surprised me with cupcakes and beautiful flowers.

In the evening my friends threw me a party - a progressive dinner.
Here we're waiting for the main course.

While waiting, Stanley sang me an African song to the beat of the drum.

The Staff Christmas Party
Christa, Wendy, and I are standing in front of the first Christmas tree I'd seen in Kenya. It was December 6, and our party was outdoors.

Candles and Christmas decorations felt like the season even though we were eating on a patio outside, and I wasn't wearing a huge winter coat.

Christmas is here! I have to keep reminding myself of that because it surely doesn't feel like it!

Friday, December 12, 2008

Hospital Visit 2

I went to the hospital again today. The antibiotics I was prescribed on Sunday didn't work. I was blowing green mucus out my nose all week, suffering major sinus headaches, and dreading my upcoming airplane ride to South Africa. So today I drove to the doctor for some more antibiotics - THE STRONG STUFF! Round two - let's pray it works!

On a good note... I drove to the hospital by myself! This may not seem like a big deal to most people, but it was the first time I drove in a different part of the city than Gigiri, my suburb of Nairobi. Driving a stick-shift in Nairobi with limited skills is something I'm continually practicing, and today I got to practice in a common Nairobi "jam". It was a first, and I was successful! Being that today was also a holiday and I had the day off work, after the hospital visit I drove to my favorite place - the Windsor Resort pool. Sinus infection or not, I was sick of being in bed!

Sunday, December 7, 2008

My Hospital Visit

I went to the hospital this morning. After a week of sinus congestion and a serious ear ache yesterday that felt like my head was going to EXPLODE, I decided it was time to go to the doctor. In Nairobi, we go directly to the hospital for medical care, so this morning Wendy, my roommate, drove me to Aga Khan University Hospital (funded by the "pope" of Islam). I was in and out within an hour, which does not occur most days of the week, with drugs in hand and an appointment to come back next week. Already I'm feeling better. Praise God for drugs! Was the Nile trip still worth it, even though it made me sick? Definitely!

Thursday, December 4, 2008


While others were sleeping after a big Thanksgiving meal or getting up early to hit the American sales in every store, I was on a bus from Nairobi to Uganda. After 10 hours on a bumpy, dusty Kenyan road and 3 more hours in Ugandan traffic jams, I arrived at a backpackers hostel. For $5 a night we were provided with a mosquito net, bunk bed, and complimentary blaring music until 3 am. When I awoke the next morning, the purpose of my trip began: WHITE WATER RAFTING DOWN THE NILE RIVER!

Uganda is the source of the River Nile where the wide river rushes creating a myriad of class 4, 5, and 6 rapids. We traveled by raft for 30 km in six hours, hitting four class 5 rapids and a few 3's and 4's. On three of the class 5's we flipped our raft, were sucked under water, and eventually popped up again to careen through wave after wave of water. I think I inhaled half the river.

(This picture isn't actually me. It's some friends in another raft, but it gives you an idea of my experience.)

Kami and I appreciated our Ugandan guide, Henry, who helped us survive the raging rapids. He actually flipped us on purpose most of the time, but we sure had a fun time! As you can see from this picture, I was completely wiped out after our day on the river and a bit dehydrated too.
After a good meal and a shower, we walked back down to the river we conquered. I couldn't believe it...

Rafting the Nile River was one of the scariest and most exciting adventures of my life. I think my heart rate doubled most of the day! Although I don't have pictures of the actual rafting experience (It's a little hard to hold a camera while holding on for dear life!), the video is awesome. I can't download a video with African internet, but I'll go into the details of each rapid and the stories of the day when you see the video this summer.

After another night with 90's music lulling me to sleep, I woke up early to hit the bus again and head back to Nairobi. Eleven hours later I was back in Nairobi, headed toward my own comfortable bed, exhausted, sore, and still feeling the bumping motion of the bus. Two full days on a bus and a head cold later, the entire experience was completely worth it. It's been almost a week since my rafting trip, I'm still sick, but I'd do it all again in a second! Rafting the Nile was a once in a lifetime opportunity that I highly recommend!