Orientation

Almost a year ago I was tasked with creating a video to be used across AIM to show what the orientation process looks like. Who better to have do that than the video guy whose family was just wrapping up their first term at new missionaries? Anyhow, we recently released this video, and it is now being distributed to all AIM missionary candidates, but we thought we’d share it here as well so you can enjoy what our last 2 years have been...

Mombasa

We went to Mombasa last weekend, in partial fulfillment of our orientation requirements, and in partial fulfillment of ourselves and getting away from the busyness our lives are in right now. We stayed with some new friends of ours, Justin and Shannon Brown, in Mombasa’s Old Town which was built in the 1500’s. It was the closest we’ve been as a family to life in an islamic culture since Lesa, Sydney and I went to North Africa 3 years ago. Waking up in the middle of the night to the sound of the call to prayer in 12-part dissonant harmony from the dozen mosques in the vicinity, sweating it out in the oppressive heat and humidity even at 4 in the morning, reminded us alot of where we were when we experienced that original confirmation/call into missions. The drive to Mombasa from Nairobi is like this: 2 hours of the worst roads followed by 6 hours of the best roads in all of Africa. We left around lunch time on Friday, stopping along the way to treat ourselves with snacks and sodas and a sit-down Kenyan-style meal, and arrived at the Brown’s around 10pm. We didn’t sleep too well, though, as it was all we could to do stop thinking about the heat as we lay sweating on top of our beds, under the mosquito nets, with fans blowing on us. The next morning we did a little grocery shopping, ate lunch out, and spent the afternoon teaching at AIC Tudor, a large church in the Tudor area of Mombasa Island. Lesa and I had been invited to give...

A glimpse of Kenya

Cooking and grocery shopping have been a real adventure so far here in Nairobi. There are many things which we cannot get here at all. Then there are some things that are available… but only for a price (like Kelloggs cereal for $10 a box)! Missionaries here hoard chocolate chips, ranch dressing, Jello and pudding, and several other “everyday” items from America. I also just realized that I have to change some recipes because we’re living in a high altitude city, and that’s why the cookies and biscuits I baked were flat!! I’ve achieved several “firsts” already in the kitchen: homemade tortillas and tortilla chips, real whipped cream (no Cool Whip here), and chai (the Kenyan drink of choice). We’ve enjoyed getting to know the grocery stores and places to shop here. There are even malls here in Africa (some are really nice) – and the grocery stores are in the malls (along with the butcher, the pharmacy, the video rental store, etc.). Oh… and now we have Java House and Dormans, which lessens the pain we feel from missing Starbucks. What I wouldn’t give, though, for a fountain Coke – the bottled stuff just isn’t the...

Halfway point

ABO Our orientation school, ABO (Africa Based Orientation), was a really great time of making new friends and learning many things. It humbled us, challenged us, and helped us push through the culture shock. We realize how shell-shocked we were that 1st couple of weeks in Kenya and now we feel a little more like this is home, thanks to our 3 weeks of immersion in rural Kenyan culture. We learned a ton about Africa worldview and thought patterns, not only the obvious ones like event [Africa] vs. time [Western] oriented cultures, but more difficult ones like how to communicate between a shame [Africa] vs. guilt [Western] culture. We stayed in dorms at Scott Theological College (or, as Avery says: Scottological College). The kids had one room, Lesa & I another, which was nice. We ate primarily Kenyan food for those 3 weeks, stuff like ugali and sukamowiki and rice and beans, in different orders but pretty much the same food every day for lunch and supper. In addition to classroom “lectures”, we also participated in ministry on Sunday mornings.  First, at a rural church where we taught a children’s Sunday School lesson and second at a girls’ high school boarding school where we got to deliver the “sermon.”  We also went to visit a Mosque during our unit on Islam, and went to visit the home of a Kenyan family for tea (Chai and cookies).  The home was a one room “apartment”, we sat on the bed as we were served tea and visited.  We also got to go shopping for veggies and fruit at the market in...

Day 1 continued…

Wow… I am so overwhelmed. I’ve never been anywhere where english isn’t spoken. It’s like a whole different planet than what I’m familiar with. Everything is white with blue trim. Cars are small and people drive crazy… running over curbs, scraping against other cars. The arabic language sounds like an argument. Even a calm conversation sounds like the participants are raising their voices and getting upset. Maybe it’s the 14 different ways to pronounce the “H” sound. After we landed in XXXXX we went through customs and I tried a little French small talk with the customs officer. They speak French in XXXXX, but I’m pretty sure the guy didn’t think I was speaking French because I learned French with a rural Illinois farm town accent. We took 2 taxis to B’s apartment (taxis are only large enough for 2 passengers, plus luggage), and since I was the only person in the group, besides B (who spoke arabic), with language skills (ha), I was doomed to always ride in the “other” taxi for the week. Just getting a taxi and negotiating a fare at the airport involved what looked to be quite an animated debate, that even involved the police. Somehow my taxi made it to the same place B’s did, and we arrived at his apartment around lunch time. These pictures are of the outside of the apartment (landlord lives on first floor, B’s apartment was directly above him, with access to the roof). Looking out his window, I could honestly say I couldn’t believe I was in Africa. Middle East, maybe, but not Africa. It is really...