Karibu! – We truly feel welcome back in Kenya!
We left Colorado just a few days before 1½ feet of snow fell there! Even so, the weather did affect our flight from Denver to London on October 25th. It definitely turned out to be a blessing that our flight from Denver was delayed due to de-icing of the wings. Because we missed our flight in London, British Airways put us up in a nice hotel by Heathrow airport and we were given about 23 hours extra in London to rest and recuperate after a whirlwind of activity during the days and weeks before our departure. This also gave us a more gradual change across a total of 9 time zones. Thankfully our hosts in Nairobi, Dr. and Mrs. Spriegel, were very accommodating and actually started doing some of our “moving in” shopping without us. We give a HUGE prayer of thanks that every one of our 24 pieces of luggage made it safely to Nairobi and were sent on to Tenwek Hospital ahead of us!
Meanwhile, our own route from Nairobi to Tenwek was not direct, but provided us with a broader perspective of World Gospel Mission’s activities in Kenya. We did some “power shopping” in Nairobi and then rode with Jim & Alice Vanderhoof (WGM Kenya Field Directors) to their home and the WGM Kenya headquarter offices in Nakuru. It was a special treat to spend several hours at the “Baby Center” in Nakuru, which cares for about 30 orphans up to 5 years of age. Each child was truly precious and eager for attention and affection. We had great appreciation for the quality of care provided and for the wonderful facilities at the Baby Center.
Jim and Alice continually gave us cultural “tid-bits” throughout our time at their home and as they drove us to Kericho. As Jim attended a meeting there, Alice gave us a tour of the Kenya Highlands Bible College. We even were on live Christian radio for several minutes as the announcer interviewed us about our commitment to long-term service at Tenwek Hospital at this season in our lives! After 4 days in Kenya we finally arrived in Tenwek on Friday evening, and found our apartment well-prepared, including beds already made!
It is difficult to pin-point all of the factors about this place that make us feel “welcome” and “at home” here. The people of Kenya and Tenwek Hospital have been a key factor in our feeling welcome. So many friends and colleagues have expressed “Karibu” (pronounced like “Car-EE-boo” meaning “welcome”) in word and deed! Other experiences of sight, sound, and smell have renewed special memories of Kenya: the “call-to-prayer” from the mosque loudspeakers in Nairobi at 4:30 a.m. (after getting to bed at midnight!), the call of unique birds in the mornings and at night, the dramatic view of the Rift Valley, zebra scampering across the road as we drove to Nakuru, verdant green hills around Tenwek , the bright, white teeth of smiling Kenyan children, and a new sign with the same message at Tenwek Hospital: “We Treat – Jesus Heals.” All have played a role in our feeling welcome back to our home at Tenwek! However, there are actually some very welcome changes since we were here 20 month’s ago - many more kilometers of paved rounds around the hospital and on the route between Nairobi and Tenwek!
We are truly blessed with our triplex home, which overlooks the river dam 100 feet below. We can hear the sounds of water as it flows over the dam and are serenaded each evening by the sounds of insects, which we liken to “coke bottle wind-chimes!” There are very tall trees between our home and the river and they provide a home for many brightly colored birds. Steve’s parents have inspired us to enjoy birds over the years and we look forward to continuing that here as well. Our accommodations are very comfortable and we’ll share more details a bit later. Of course, there is no white snow here, but Steve has described the mounds of colorful blossoms shed from some of our huge trees as “purple snow.”
Yes, all of the boxes arrived safely and with no evidence of any damaged or missing items! We are so thankful. It has taken all week to get the kitchen set up and to start unpacking. Steve has described our unpacking as a “battle” with the boxes “winning” at first, but we now seem to have the upper hand. It took a great adventure into the nearby town of Bomet with Pastor Wesley as our guide to find and buy plastic hangers to truly gain momentum in the unpacking process! (Hunting for hangers is a great way to meet a lot of people and get to know many of the shops.)
Of course, we’ve enjoyed being re-united with Pastor Wesley and his family from a nearby village. They helped us with some kitchen set up and we later walked the hour UPHILL to their home to enjoy their hospitality.
So what are we doing now?..... Our specified duties are to concentrate on learning Swahili during the next 3 months. (Steve will have no medical responsibilities until February.) We are blessed to have Daniel (an instructor from Nairobi) as our tutor for 5 hours daily Monday to Friday. We truly are students working on a couple of hours of homework each evening. Alene is a bit more brave to speak up with strangers, but Steve is getting up his courage as well. It is great to be able to practice with each other and to have Pastor Wesley as our language helper as well. Steve has discussed the care given to a couple of patients, but the Tenwek Hospital physicians have honored his commitment to the language learning and have not asked him to actually provide any medical care there.
We are remembering and getting used to the fact that EVERYTHING just takes longer to accomplish here – whether it’s showering, dressing, preparing meals to have clean/safe food, boiling and filtering water to drink, connecting on the internet, walking places with many welcome interruptions to greet Kenyans and Americans alike….
Thanks for your prayers and patience as we proceed with getting settled. We still have 5 more boxes to unpack and our niece, Clara, gave us an incentive to keep unpacking to find the 2nd and 3rd notes that she hid in those remaining boxes while visiting us in Colorado in October.
(More to come and we'll link up some photos soon!)