Thursday, January 17, 2013

We've Arrived! {Kenya}

We have arrived. I still can't believe this has really happened! I'm slightly jet lagged, so I can't even tell you how many days we've been here without looking at a calendar. Even then I'm a bit confused. We flew nine hours ahead of our Central Time and are now just south of the Equator. It's the first time in my life I've flown over the Atlantic and the first time I've crossed to the Southern Hemisphere. There have been a lot of firsts since we left a blustery, snowy Minnesota on Sunday, and we hope for many, many more.

If you had asked me before leaving Duluth what my biggest fear of the trip was, I would have quickly answered that it was the flight over. Ella and Sam had never flown and the longest flight I had ever been on was 3 ½ hours. The first little jump from Duluth to Minneapolis was a breeze. Ella sat by the window and watched us leave the ground and float up through the clouds. Our second flight was 8 ½ hours from Minneapolis to Amsterdam. We had really hoped Ella would sleep (the Benadryl should have done the trick), but she didn't get a wink the entire flight. (We had even done a few practice runs with the Benadryl before leaving!) I think she was as giddy as I was about the personal movie screens and hot meals. Seriously, I really did look over at Pete after about an hour in the air and told him how excited I was as I started The Perks of Being a Wallflower and opened my plastic wrapped tray of chicken and mashed potatoes. (It doesn't take a whole lot to impress me.) Not that the entire flight was without issue, but as a whole it was pretty good.

not actually how he flew, but wasn't he cute?

When we arrived in Amsterdam, Pete and I had to part ways as we were told that one of our carry-ons that we checked at the gate was not accessible, though our stroller was. They had put it down below with the other checked bags, which I've never had happen on a domestic flight. Maybe it's a regular thing on international flights, but we didn't know that and needed the bag. After he worked with the airline to track it down, we were informed that it probably never even left Minneapolis. Awful. We had all our meds in the bag including Sam's nebulizer. We could do without the clothes, but my glasses (and make-up!) were also inside. We carried the anxiety of a lost bag on our very crowded 9-hour flight from Amsterdam to Nairobi. Sam and I were up a row from Pete and Ella so that we could use the plane's bassinet. I'm so very glad someone brought these amazing contraptions to my attention before we left. They attach right to a dividing wall in the plane. The baby can sleep inside it during the flight…if they choose to sleep. Poor Sammy clearly wasn't feeling well on the final flight and insisted on being held. At last, we saw the lights of Nairobi. Our bodies had no idea what time it was, but the time in Kenya was about 9:30pm. After making our way through immigration, we were overjoyed to see our missing bag on the baggage belt. Praise the Lord! We were thrilled!

Dr Olsen on his first day at Tenwek Hospital

After making our way through customs we were taken to a mission guesthouse for our first night in Kenya and our first night under mosquito nets. We were all completely exhausted! Tuesday morning we were taken to a grocery complex (general groceries in one shop, meat in another, and produce in another) and then made the four-hour trek by mission van to the town of Bomet and Tenwek Hospital. I cannot even express how gorgeous the drive was. There were open spaces overlooking immense, lush valleys and small towns. That same beauty now surrounds us in our apartment near the hospital. We can see rolling mountains by looking past the avocado trees and brick houses in front of our kitchen window. The grass is green and the air is warm but not hot. Not at all like Minnesota this time of year.

 We've now settled into our apartment. It's the perfect size for us with two bedrooms, a bathroom, a living room, and a kitchen. I'll post photos soon. We're in a building with four other families from all over the world. Pete walks to work in the morning and has even been able to make it home for lunch. That's something that very rarely happens in the States. I've spent the mornings with Sam sitting in the grass under the big trees outside. I chat with the neighbors while Ella has the time of her life running barefoot through the grass with the many, many kids around us. 

she's in heaven
  Today our focus was primarily to get Ella over her jet lag. The poor girl (or poor mama, really) was wide awake at 12:30 last night, begging to play outside. That went on for a couple hours. It was recommended to me today that I don't let her nap so she'll (hopefully!) sleep through the night. She went to bed about 10 minutes ago and was exhausted. Please, oh please, don't wake in the night! I'll let you know how it goes. 

So that's how we've begun! We're loving…LOVING…being here where we know God has called us. Thank you so much, again, for your continued prayers. Here are a few things today to pray for:
  •  I really want to be bold in seeking relationships with other parents in the area. It's been going well so far, but sometimes I get pretty intimidated and don't step out to ask others to spend time with me. There are really great people here and I do want to get to know them and learn from their experiences.
  • Friday Pete will be on-call on his own in one of the departments. He feels good about what he is doing in the hospital, but extra prayer for being on his own would really be appreciated.

  • Please pray that Ella will be on track with sleeping by tomorrow. It would help this mama.

  • Sam has a bit of a cold. He's slept a lot today, which will certainly help.

Chai tea is a very important drink in Kenya. Today Ella and I had our first cups. Ella approves!



  1. That's so fantastic, Angie! Good luck to all of you over there, and sending so many happy thoughts your way! :)

  2. We're so glad to hear your stories thus far and we can't wait to hear more! We can completely picture all that you're describing--thanks for writing so well! We love you guys!


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