Reflections: What do I miss?

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At the end of each year, I take time to think about the future, make goals for myself and plan out the year. Before I do that, I want to remember the past year and all that I’ve learned, the ways I’ve grown, the fun I’ve had! Over the next couple of weeks, I’ll use my blog to share some reflections from my life in East Africa. I’ll ask myself a few questions and share with you those thoughts. Hope you enjoy joining me in a time of reflection.

What do I miss about living in East Africa?

I miss the simplicity of life in Kenya. It’s hard to explain what I mean; it’s just a simple life in the best sense. There are less distractions and a more conscious focus on what matters most in life.

I  miss the noises. I miss the chaos. I miss the people walking on the side of the road and in the road. I miss the heard of cattle holding up traffic. I miss driving home on the by-pass watching the sun set behind the Ngong Hills. I miss waking up every morning hearing the loud Ibis singing outside my window and knowing that I had fulfilling work ahead of me. I miss falling asleep at night exhausted but satisfied. I miss the dry, cool air. I miss the early sunrises. I miss driving on the wrong side of the road. I miss the feeling of accomplishment when you arrived to your destination alive. I miss the smells – always a faint scent of burning charcoal. I miss my friends that God so clearly and timely put in my life as I moved to Nairobi. I miss the smiling faces of the children at New Hope Academy. I miss the grumpy faces of the women of Project Biashara that inevitably turn into smiles when I attempted to greet them in Swahili. I miss reading and talking about Kenyan politics. I miss walking through the mud to get to work every morning. I miss my church. I miss 59 Miotoni Close. I miss doing business on River Road. I miss my runs in Karen and my running partner. I miss meeting people from all over the world and hearing their stories. I miss Festus, Madame and all the leaders at NHI Kibera.

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I always got a thrill out of going downtown Nairobi to purchase supplies for our business project. Always an adventure…

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Every time I got behind the wheel, it was my mission to arrive safely at the destination. Driving in the U.S. is boring now.

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Purchasing beads with the ladies of Project Biashara.

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If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together. – African Proverb

Driving out of Kibera for the last time, I turned around and snap this photo. I wanted a way to remember my last day there. Bittersweet.

Driving out of Kibera for the last time, I turned around and snapped this photo. I wanted a way to remember my last day there. Bittersweet.

As you know, I traveled back to Nairobi in October to finish up a couple of projects. It also allowed me to say proper goodbyes to my colleagues and friends there and put a close on that chapter of my life. It was a bittersweet trip.

Now, that I’ve been back in the States, I’ve started to reflect on the past 18 months. In the coming weeks, I hope to share some of my reflections and lessons learned. Today, I am thankful for the time spent in East Africa, the relationships I built, and the work I was able to accomplish by God’s grace and alongside the local Kenyan leaders. It was my great pleasure to work with our staff there. Committed, passionate and caring. Here is a snapshot of some of things we accomplished together:

  • Ongoing one-on-one coaching with Festus, the Head Teacher of New Hope Academy, Debra and Scola, Co-Directors of Project Biashara and Olive, Clinic Nurse.
  • At the school, we have begun a Strategic Planning initiative to guide the future of the school; held leadership development workshops for the teachers, created teacher contracts and HR polices, started the creation of a school-wide discipline policy, completed and moved the school administration into new offices.
  • With Project Biashara, we have created a new process for payroll, set up every woman with a bank account, and set up regular scheduled payments of their salaries into these accounts; we have created a cohesive leadership team and completed regular leadership training with them; we have created a new ordering process and set up quality control measures; we have moved into a new facility and organized our inventory and supplies; we have set up a “shop” for visitors to purchase products in Nairobi.
  • In the clinic, we completed a brand new clinic facility. We hired a new nurse who works two days a week and has started to assess all our people. She also handles immediate care and will begin soon training and educating our people in sanitation and preventive care measures. We have set up a system for keeping health records on all our people as well as a system to keep inventory of supplies and medicines.
  • We have established new financial accountability procedures and trained all staff on financial stewardship.
  • We hosted hundreds of visitors from the United States to expose them to the work of NHI.
  • Around the world, I have been able to visit our projects in Ethiopia, India and Tanzania and facilitate leadership trainings for the staff there as well as resource them in areas of development for their people.
  • In all of our projects, I have had the pleasure and great opportunity to teach God’s Word and share the gospel. This has been some of the most fulfilling times I have experienced –encouraging my brothers and sisters in Kenya in the faith and bringing the good news of Jesus Christ to those who do not know him.

It was God’s kindness and your support that allowed me not only to do meaningful work with New Hope Initiative but to experience East Africa in a way that I will never forget.

                                             Thank you!