When in Kenya…

running with the keyans

In a previous blog, I mentioned that I had found a Kenyan running partner, Sammy. The reality is that he is more like my coach than my partner. I’ve shaved more than 2 minutes off my 5K in just a few weeks. We also joined a local running group, the Urban Swaras. The group meets every Saturday morning at 7am for a long run – 10K, 15K, 20K or 30K. Sammy and I learned pretty quickly that whoever marks the course plays a little trick on the runners. Our “10K” two Saturdays ago was actually 12.2. Then, this past Saturday, the 10K was completely up hill!

Joining the group has been a great way for me to stay in shape, meet new people – both Kenyans and ex-pats – and see Nairobi and the surrounding areas. It’s a great running group consisting of a diverse group of runners in speed and fit. I am a slow runner but, thankfully, don’t get left too far behind. I am hoping to graduate to the 15K soon and looking forward to many more Saturday runs.

The nice British man that bought me and Sammy a cup of tea after our run this week mentioned the book Running with the Kenyans by Adharanand Finn. Finn packed up his family of five and moved to Kenya for 6 months to discover the secrets of the fastest people on earth. I started the book two days ago and already half way through. It’s a fascinating read especially for anyone who enjoys running.

Happy running!

Update on Steven

Look who has joined New Hope Academy in Kibera! Mama and Baba Chakula saw him last Monday after he had been sent home from school for not paying school fees – he was enrolled in another local school. I walked him up to our school and asked Head Master, Festus if our Pre-unit had space. Festus said yes, called Steven’s Mom that afternoon and she enrolled him the next day. With the help of a generous donor, Steven is now in our school and his Mom does not have to worry about school fees.

He and his Mom seem very happy! Please pray he has a smooth transition and is able to catch up with his new class.

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10 Highlights From My First 2 Months in Africa

It’s been a while…

Here’s to starting over. I know, I have not been good at blogging for over a month! This is my re-start. So, to catch you up on a few things that have happened in the past month, here are some highlights from my first 2 months in Africa (in no particular order):

1) Family Visit and African Extravaganza
My parents, sister and brother-in-law arrived at the end of May for a whirlwind tour of Africa. We had an amazing time. We experienced safaris in Lewa Conservancy and Maasai Mara (links to the camps we stayed at – highly recommend) then traveled on to Victoria Falls with brief stops in Nairobi. And, of course the time with my family was very special and a trip that I will remember for the rest of my life.

Victoria Falls from the Zambia Side

Victoria Falls from the Zambia Side

2) Sunset with the Rhinos
Rhinos are targeted by poachers in Africa and very hard to find on safari. But, while in Lewa, we saw at least half a dozen Rhinos. The conservancy works hard to protect the white and black rhino and their habitat. One special moment in Lewa happened the first evening at sunset. We watched 3 rhinos for over an hour as the sun set behind the mountains in the distant. A moment I will remember for a long time.

Rhinos at Sunset on Lewa Conservancy

Rhinos at Sunset on Lewa Conservancy

3) Hot Air Balloon Ride over Maasai Mara
The balloon ride may have been my favorite moment of the entire trip. It is so peaceful floating through the air, watching the sun rise and looking for African wildlife below. And, the landing produced one of the best laughs for me and my sister. The basket flips and you land on your back. I expected it, because I listened to the pilot before we took off, but others (unnamed) did not expect the landing.

Balloon Ride over Masai Mara

Balloon Ride over Maasai Mara

4) Sharing a helicopter with my Dad and Sister over Victoria Falls
The whole time I was thinking, this is like an episode of The Bachelor (of course, I wasn’t with the bachelor but had better company). We flew over the falls several times then down into the gorges behind the falls. Unbelievable. Thankfully, the flight was only about 20 minutes long – just short of motion sickness….

Flying over Victoria Falls

Flying over Victoria Falls

5) Transforming the New Hope Academy into a medical clinic for a day.
This was a first for me. I have done many mission trips and served in various capacities in low-income areas around the world and in DC, but never have I participated in a medical mission. We transformed New Hope Academy into a medical camp last Saturday. With 16 nurses here from the States, we turned our classrooms into examination rooms. Pre-unit became a pharmacy. We served over 250 people in about 5 hours. The health needs of individuals living in Kibera are great, and we made a very small contribution. I hope we will be able to improve our clinic at the school and continue to do medical missions through our academy.

medical camp

Individuals wait to be called into an examination room.

6) Care packages, prayers, emails and FaceTime with my friends back home.
I have amazing friends. They have sent care packages, emails and texts. They have encouraged me through their prayers and even worked around my crazy schedule and the time change to FaceTime with me. You know who you are and I love you. Thank you for supporting me.

care package

Contents of my care package from the Davis’.

7) Celebrating the 4th with some homemade “fireworks”.
Well, we attempted to celebrate with sparklers but ended up being pyromaniacs!

fireworks

8) Meeting new friends.
I have been blessed to meet many new people – both from the States and people living here in Kenya. We have had over 100 visitors through New Hope who have encouraged me and helped our work in Kibera. I’ve also met many ex-pats and Kenyans living in Nairobi and look forward to building deeper friendships here.

Out to dinner with visitors from the US and my housemate.

Out to dinner with visitors from the US and my housemate.

9) Meeting Steven, the survivor.
I wish I had a photo of Steven. Maybe I’ll see him again soon and snap a pic of him. He came to our medical camp on Saturday with a large, infected bump on his head. Well, many of the local staff knew him. Turns out that he was hit by a car several weeks ago and survived with no treatment. They call him “the survivor”. Steven is 5 years old and considered a street kid. He usually greets our vehicles when we enter Kibera and asks our guests for money. I was tremendously impacted by him and his story. He has a Mom, but she must not be capable of taking care of him. He plays in the streets all day and only goes home to sleep. Please pray for Steven and that I would see him again.

pharmacy

Pre-unit classroom turned pharmacy where I met Steven.

10) My work and my Kenyan colleagues.
I continue to be amazed at the opportunity the Lord has given me to serve and to use my gifts and abilities to help the leaders here in New Hope’s Kibera project. They are local leaders, bright and motivated. I’ve spend a significant amount of time with the teachers of our school working on strategy as well as communication skills. I’ve also spent time with the leaders of our business project to grow their understanding of leadership and encourage them to step up and inspire others.

Training for our leaders in Project Biashara.

Training our leaders in Project Biashara.

Bonus Highlight: I found a Kenyan running partner. What in the world am I thinking?!? He kicks my butt every time we run…