Thursday, March 28, 2013

Back In Kenya & a Giveaway!

We've been home for nearly an entire month already, but there are still plenty of things I want to share about our time in Kenya. I just haven't been able to post fast enough to stay on top of my thoughts. Darn grad school. But there is an end in sight! I'm working hard on my thesis this semester in order to finish the first week of May. I will take no other route. I will finish at that time. I no longer have an appendix to rupture, so I'm on my way.

I cannot tell you how much I enjoyed being able to share so much with all of you while we were away. It made the experience even more meaningful, because I  knew we weren't doing things alone. As an expression of gratitude for walking alonside us on our journey, I brought home a few things specifically to share with you, my lovely blog readers. The first is the colorful, paper bead necklace shown in the photo below. It was made by a woman who sells them at the guesthouse of the hospital where Pete was working. I'm in love with her pieces. I bought a couple similar necklaces for myself and two coordinating pairs of earrings. They are bright and completely remind me of the beauty of Kenya.

This giveaway is very simple. All you have to do is leave a comment at the end of this blog post or on the post on my Facebook page. Each person can enter just one time, either here or on Facebook. I will randomly select a winner Monday at noon Central Time. Feel free to let others know! If I have a big response, I just might end up giving away two!


So, back in Kenya. The last Sunday morning we were at Tenwek, we were invited to a village church across the river. We had the choice of walking or driving. That's not really as simple to decide as you might think. We had both of the kids and could certainly carry them in our wrap and Ergo carrier, but then it would take longer and they might be too tired and fussy to sit through church. Driving might seem like it would save time, but the roads are a bit crazy, as seen below, and we had to drive a ways to get to a bridge to cross the river. In the end, we did drive. We went with friends and hired two cars.

There goes the first car.

Oops. Ours didn't quite make it. Everyone got out but the kids and the driver.

We did eventually get it out, and you know what? Pete didn't get a speck of mud on his church clothes. That's my man.

photo by our friend Jen

This is just a glimpse of what many of the roads and intersections look like in Kenya.

And this was along the road to the church. A very typical view in rural Kenya.

Before we left for Kenya in January, we met with a surgeon here in Duluth who spends about three weeks in Kenya a couple times a year. She's done this about 15 times and was even there during our stay. It was great seeing someone we had med in Duluth all the way over there! She has a great relationship with this village church and the pastor, Pastor Daniel. This is Pastor Daniel's church.

I believe this was the church choir. Everyone dresses in their very best not only for church, but for any special occasion. This includes visiting the doctor. I saw many fancy dresses each time I walked through the hospital. It is a very formal culture. My long-jersey skirts and t-shirts were very casual (yet appropriate) compared to what I often saw others wearing.

We happened to be visiting the same day that a musical group was also visiting from another town. It was fun to watch them sing and dance.

Sam may have been a little surprised by their loud music. "Whoa, mama! What is that noise?!" I was sure to cover his ears during the music from then on.

After the service, the entire church gathered outside to greet one another and to hold an auction. I don't know that this happens every week, but it does happen often. Various items are donated by church members and others bid for them. Our friend had mentioned this ahead of time, so we were sure to have some money with us. We were really hoping to buy a goat, but none were available that morning. In the end, I bid for a very large cabbage, which we gave to Pastor Daniel's wife at lunch. We would have done the same with a goat. (I had really wanted a goat! We did leave money to buy one at the next auction, but we didn't get to name it or see it. I'm definitely buying a goat that I can meet when we return.)

Ella was excited about our cabbage and wanted to take a picture with it.

Catch that funny expression on her face? She broke off a little piece of the cabbage and popped it in her mouth before we could stop her. Guess she wasn't a fan.

I find it difficult to express my feelings looking at this next photo. I get teary trying to think how to describe Ella's experience in Kenya. While we were there, I couldn't help think over and over that she was made to live in such a place. She begged to play with every child she saw, she shouted "jambo!" out the window as we passed kids in the car, and she gave as many hugs as possible. Some spoke English, but it never slowed her down if they didn't. She naturally and gently gestured to express herself. I learned from watching her easiness with complete strangers, allowing her to open doors into relationships I was too timid to open on my own. Children are amazing like that, but my Ella was amazing in her own way. She was basking in the beauty of love that God has placed deep inside her. Have I mentioned her middle name is Rehema? It's Swahili for God's mercy. I have no doubt that the genuine love and friendship and mercy I saw in her every single day is only the beginning of what she's going to experience in her journey.

After the service, we were invited to Pastor Daniel's home for lunch. His wife prepared an incredible meal of rice with pumpkin, goat meat, chipati (like a tortilla), and fruit. Just writing about it makes me long for another plate. We all gathered around a long table in his one-room home to enjoy each others company.

The room was beautifully prepared for our visit. The cooking took place in a small building next to the house.

photo by our friend Jen
These were seriously the biggest bananas I had ever seen, and they came from Pastor Daniel's own banana trees!

photo by our friend Jen
This next photo was taken by our friend Jen. I can't help but laugh looking at it. Jen and her husband, Todd (such a character!) arrived in Kenya on the same flight we were on in January. They are there for two years with a post-residency program. Todd is a surgeon and Jen is a teacher. She is currently doing work in the surrounding community with health education, I believe, and travels to South Sudan every other month. We really enjoyed hanging out with them and hope to work with them again in the future. (Hear that, Jen? We really do!)

photo by our friend Jen
I hope it's not rude of me to put this bathroom on display, but I thought you might be interested in seeing what they typically look like in Kenya. Poor Ella had a little bit of a hard time with this style. Her little legs just weren't quite long enough.

Ella may not have been a fan of the bathroom, but she was thrilled with the animals.

I captured this cool panoramic photo with the Photosynth app. The path on the left leads to the house and the cooking building. The animals live in the structure on the right, and crops are planted beyond that.

Sweet Ella tried and tried to figure out how Pastor Daniel's niece was standing against this tree. After much trial and error, she got it and was incredibly proud. I love the minds of little ones.

Our visit to Pastor Daniel's church and to his home was very memorable. We hope to visit countless more quite like his in the future. I can only imagine the conversations and life experiences that will be shared during such occasions. While I wait to be in that place once again, I will do my very best to be patient and hear what God has for me now. He doesn't waste his time, of this I am sure.

Speaking of the future, that would make for a great post, don't you think? Some of you know where we're heading and when we're hoping to head there, but I don't want to keep you in the dark, if you haven't heard. Well, okay then, it's set. I'll be sure to get a "future" post up very soon.


  1. Ooh, ooh, me me! I want the beads! But of course I will have plenty of opportunities to get my own beads (soon!), so if someone else gets them I will be ok. :)

  2. I can tell how much this trip touched you all.... It seems like such a wonderful experience in a beautiful place!

  3. Ang-I just wanted you to know that you have many more readers of your blog out there than you know! I greatly look forward to reading your posts, often drying my eyes afterwards or getting strange looks from whoever else is around because I'm laughing while staring at a computer screen. Thank you for chronicling your family's adventures. I find it inspiring as someone who is working on spreading God's love in northern Minnesota :)
    -Taryn Greiner

  4. Pretty!
    Kristine Lager :-)

  5. I'm so wrapped up in your blog, in your words, and in your stories. As Erik and I sit and contemplate life and try to understand which path He is leading us down after residency, I find myself drawn to your serving hearts and your recent experiences in Africa. I look forward to hearing more! Thank you for taking the time to share them!

  6. Ang-You have such a way with words. I live reading your blog posts!
    -Theresa (Demcho) Shipman

  7. Your stories on here are inspiring and I love reading them

  8. I am one of the people who has read every single one of your blogs since leaving for Kenya. I have never met you but I have felt such joy for your family while getting to experience Kenya. My husband helped to find your home in Duluth (he is in real-estate!) and Pete delivered our daughter on Oct. 15! He was so amazing with our entire pregnancy. I felt like he was a part of the family once our little Amelia was born. I just have to say again how much I have enjoyed reading your blogs and that you and your family are so blessed. I look forward to reading more!

  9. Hey roomie! I got a good chuckle out of your excitement about buying a goat! Thank you for excitedly doing the work that the Lord has called and gifted you to do!

  10. What an incredible experience! Makes me long for the day we are able to travel for dental mission work!

  11. Julia (the German one :-) )March 30, 2013 at 4:43 PM

    always excited for the next post! love to read about your impressions and experiences, so beautifully written!!

  12. I really enjoy reading your blog posts and photos. This is such an amazing opportunity and it truly is a gift for you to be able to do it.

  13. Awesome posts, amazing photos, beautiful family!! Love reading your blog (for almost a year now), and check for new entries almost daily :)

  14. Loved reading about your mission work :)
    - Eleanor McCarty

  15. Avid reader, especially since getting to hear your heart for going when you met with Wendy & Jojo. ♥

  16. Cool to see some more of your Kenya experiences.


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