We started this year out right with a trip to Nairobi to pick up Clark’s sister Emma and her husband Zach who will be here in Kenya until June. Emma and I were in the same graduating class at Asbury College and lived together for four months in India before becoming sisters. Zach is a farmer and recent graduate from Asbury Seminary. Chances are, if you’re from Lexington, you’ll recognize our outgoing and gregarious brother-in-law, born and raised in Lex.
After their two week visit at Tenwek, Hannah now compares the size of all things to her tall uncle: “This one’s bigger/small than Zach!” and loves to make “Emma face” whenever things get too serious.
Here is an update from Emma about their time here so far:
Has it really already been a month?!
Zach and I arrived in Nairobi on Jan 1 and were greeted by the cutest welcome committee possible. We drove to Tenwek (about a four hour drive), where we stayed for two weeks while we got acclimated to the climate (and elevation!) and culture. Anna and Jonathan Freije—dear friends of Clark and Val— were gracious hosts, and it was wonderful to spend some time with Clark, Val, and Hannah. Zach went on hospice home visits with the Tenwek chaplains, and I played with Hannah and her Kenyan friends a lot.
After the craziness of Zach finishing school and me training my replacement at Blessed Earth, it was nice to spend a couple weeks spending quality time with our family and living at the Kenyan pace of life. Val has been very helpful with all the practicalities of moving overseas, from getting us Kenyan phones to giving me her recipes specially adapted for the altitude and available ingredients here. (While staples of the local diet—Sukuma/greens, ugali/cornmeal, cabbage, rice, and sugar—are less expensive, many of the foods we’re used to are either impossible to get or impossibly expensive. Butter is almost $8 a pound, and there’s no such thing as chocolate chips!)
Val and Hannah drove us up to Nakuru (about three hours) to the Baby Centre and took us shopping for groceries and supplies for our apartment. The Centre’s main building is separated into three wings on the ground floor (A Wing—infants, B Wing—toddlers, C Wing—pre-schoolers and special needs children who are older), as well as a kitchen, office, and physical therapy room. The second floor is comprised of housing for short-term mission teams and apartments. Our apartment is over Wing C—the most vocal group—so we can always tell what the kids are up to!
When we first arrived, I was told that the finance director for WGM Kenya was retiring at the end of the month—would I be willing to help out? Marg, who retired last week, has been on the mission field for decades, so I’ve got some big shoes to fill! Bookkeeping for an organization with employees from several different countries, multiple sites throughout Kenya, and a plethora of ministry projects is an adventure! Thankfully, Philip and Florence, Marg’s two assistants, are still here, and have been wonderfully patient with me.
I get back from the WGM Kenya finance office around 3:30 to 4 every day. Zach and I play with the kiddos for a couple of hours most afternoons. We’ve spent the most time in Wing B, where the toddlers love cuddling in our laps, singing with us, and using Zach as a human jungle gym. They are very physically affectionate and vie for contact; I was particularly amused when one little girl, Vashti, got her twin’s favorite toy and placed it just out of reach so that Lois would get up out of my lap for a second and Vashti could wriggle in and take her place. Crafty!
Zach has been working around the Baby Centre painting and doing grounds work (cutting lots and lots of brush). He’s also helped in the kitchen and with laundry, a fact the female employees find infinitely endearing. Men in Kenya don’t tend to help with childcare, cleaning, food, or laundry, so his servant attitude is a huge witness here.
Being Zach, he’s also learned most of the employee’s life stories by now; he was especially moved to learn that one of the cooks was orphaned at a young age herself. Her husband died in an accident and her in-laws murdered her youngest child in retribution. It would be understandable if she harbored resentment against the world. But because of her faith in Christ, she has dedicated her life to feeding children who are not her own, caring for them out of the abundance of love in her heart. Praise be to God for the freedom and joy she found in Jesus!
This weekend Clark, Val, and Hannah came up to see us and took us to Crescent Island, a peninsula in Lake Naivasha. The island—a filming site for Out of Africa—is inhabited by zebra, giraffe, hippos, gazelle a host of birds, and other animals. There are no natural predators on the island, which means the animals are remarkably unfazed by humans. It was a truly surreal and unforgettable experience to have a picnic with a herd of zebra as a backdrop!
We miss you all, and appreciate your prayers. We haven’t been doing exactly what we thought we’d be doing prior to our arrival, but we’re where God wants us to be!