Roadtrip – Kenya-style!

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Patrick & Ryan, ready to roll!

 

Last Thursday, I made an overnight trip to Kisumu in western Kenya on the shore of Lake Victoria with Patrick, a Bridgeworld College staff member. We went to pick up the certificates and transcripts of recent Bridgeworld College graduates, whose degrees had been conferred by Great Lakes University in Kisumu as part of a partnership agreement with Bridgeworld College.

 

 

 

 

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Matatus, matatus, matatus…

We traveled on Thursday afternoon via matatu, a common form of public transportation in Kenya. While some matatus are larger buses, most are small vans designed to seat 12 adults. Since our first matatu was a direct trip to Nakuru, the conductor only sold tickets to 11 passengers. That was not true on our second matatu from Nakuru to Kericho, where we stayed overnight. At times there were four people squeezed in each row. I think the record, though, was set by the matatu we took on Friday morning from Kericho to Kisumu, which had 21 people on board at one point.

Kenya has incredible natural beauty. There were breathtaking views of the Great Rift Valley on the ride from Nairobi to Nakuru. The sunset over Lake Elementeita was stunning. It was dark when we arrived in Kericho, but in the morning and on the return trip to Nairobi Friday afternoon, I saw the large tea plantations and employee estates that surround the city. (Click on either picture to enlarge image.)

Friday morning, after a delicious breakfast of chai – I was told that one simply has to try to local tea in Kericho – and mandazi (a Kenyan doughnut),  we headed west from Kericho and descended out of the Great Rift Valley. As we did, the climate and geography became more like one would expect to find in a tropical region. There were countless sugar plantations.

When we arrived in Kericho, we took a boda boda (motorcycle taxi) to the shore of Lake Victoria, where we took a short boat ride and saw some hippos up close and personal.

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Afterwards, we traveled via matatu and boda boda to Great Lakes University. Unfortunately, the academic dean who needed to sign the transcripts had had car trouble that morning and was late in arriving at the school. (Click on images to enlarge.)

When it became apparent that the documents would not be ready until late afternoon and knowing that I needed to be in Nairobi on Saturday, Patrick suggested that I head back to Nairobi on my own. Before finding a direct matatu to Nairobi on Friday afternoon, Patrick and I had lunch together – ugali (a Kenyan staple) and fresh tilapia from Lake Victoria. One of my students, Stephen, is from Kisumu. When he heard that I would be traveling there, he told me to try the fish. He assured me that I would not be disappointed, and I wasn’t!

I was grateful to arrive safely in Nairobi late Friday night, and to find a taxi to take me from the matatu stop in the central business district back to our home.

Half-Way Point!

Wow – today, September 15th, marks 2 months and 1 week since our arrival in Kenya. It also marks 2 months and 1 week till our scheduled departure. In the spirit of being in the middle, we’ve been looking into how we might get to stand on the equator itself at some point while we are here. Kenya has great places to do so because of the elevation – we won’t be melting away as one might expect when thinking about the equatorial zone!

Being half-way through means we need to get our visas renewed shortly.  We would appreciate prayers that this goes smoothly, and it should, but there are no guarantees of course. When we arrived, Jody had her visa stamped with barely a glance over it, but Ryan was subjected to a bunch of questions and doubtful looks, before having a line drawn across his visa (no idea what that meant), and then his passport stamped, and then, well, we think it was all okay in the end?  It was kind of hard to tell.  Anyway, we should have someone from Bridgeworld with us to help navigate this process, which can be done at the Office of Immigration Services in Nairobi, so we do not need to exit and re-enter Kenya for a renewed visa.

Another prayer request is for safety for Ryan and Patrick, a staff member at Bridgeworld, as they travel about 6 hours north-west of Nairobi to Kisumu today, stay overnight, and return on Friday.  They will visit Great Lakes University, which conferred the degrees on Bridgeworld’s recent graduates, to collect those graduates’ certificates and transcripts. Kisumu is on the shore of Lake Victoria, Africa’s largest lake by surface area, and which is sometimes called the source of the Nile River, but that’s complicated.  It should be an interesting trip for Ryan, with new scenery and landscapes to enjoy, and a great time to get to know Patrick better too.

A few recent items of praise: (Click any image to open larger slideshow)

 

  • some warm sunny days – perfect for drying all the laundry we are doing in our new washing machine!
  • St. Matthew’s Church – an Anglican Church of Kenya congregation located near enough to our home that we can walk all together. (Just like in Pella!  ;) Well, not quite that close…)  We have been attending their English service and our kids have been invited to Sunday School classes.  They serve tea after church, and the children all play on various structures around the church, or kick a soccer ball around. We’ve been very warmly welcomed!
  • easy access to good medical care at an outpatient clinic near our house, which provided diagnosis and treatment of Bronwyn’s infection.
  • our neighbors, a family who has been serving with SIM here in Kenya for around 18 years now. They spent time with Bronwyn, Gwennyth, and Saeryn while the rest of us attended Bridgeworld’s graduation a few weeks ago, and the kids have enjoyed playing together here, at their house, and at a little hotel’s pool and playground just up the road.

We are also thankful for a couple of days we took to experience Amboseli National Park recently! September 1st, we left bright and early with Timan, the same driver who took us to Maasai Mara in July, and drove several hours south-east.  Even though much busier, (our route coincided with that of the heavy truck traffic between Nairobi and Mombasa) the roads were in much better condition on this trip (mostly paved, and that fairly smoothly!), and the scenery we passed was fairly different as well.  It was exciting to pass a couple of places featured in children’s books that we have been reading about Kenya – Kapiti Plains, from Bringing the Rain to Kapiti Plain and Machakos, from The Matatu.  Once again, it was restful to be out of the city, and we enjoyed both relaxing at the lodge and wildlife viewing throughout the park very much!  The main things we were hoping to see were elephant herds, and Mount Kilimanjaro. The elephants did not disappoint, but as Timan said, “it was unusually cloudy for this time of year,” and we were not able to catch a glimpse of the snow-topped Kilimanjaro.  Next time  ;)

The drive and Kilima Lodge

Wildlife was abundant!

 

Meet the wa Kitavis

While CRWM has a long and rich history of ministry in West Africa, especially in Nigeria, it has only recently begun mission and ministry work in Eastern and Southern Africa. When Mwaya & Munyiva wa Kitavi returned to Kenya in 2008 they were CRWM’s presence in Eastern and Southern Africa. Today CRWM is actively working in 13 countries in the region.

Last Sunday (September 4) we were privileged to visit the wa Kitavis in Kahawa Sukari, a Nairobi neighborhood about 45-minute taxi ride from our home in Karen. We joined them for the English service at Deliverance Church-Kahawa Sukari. Rev. Ed Tamminga, a retired CRC pastor in Nairobi to lead the “School of Preaching” at Deliverance Church this week in connection with Timothy Leadership Training, was preaching.p1350153
After worship, Mwaya gave us a tour of the CRWM-ESA offices where we saw pictures from the dedication of a dairy farm CRWM helped establish at the Pentecostal Theological College in Uganda and from past Global Prayer Safaris organized by CRWM. (The next GPS will be February 2-13, 2017 in Ugunda. Click here to learn more.) We also learned more about the Educational Care training CRWM provides Christian school teachers and the bi-annual Theological Education in Africa (TEA) conference CRWM organizes.

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When we returned to the wa Kitavis, Mwaya showed us how to harvest and eat sugar cane. We learned that kahawa is the Swahili word for “coffee” and sukari, the Swahili word for “sugar,” so the neighborhood is named for the coffee and sugar cane plantations that were once there.

We enjoyed lunch with Mwaya, Munyiva, Mwaya’s mother, the wa Kitavis’ pastor and his wife (Peterson and Anne Wang’ombe) and Ed Tamminga.

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The Fabers with Mwaya’s mother, Pastor Peterson, Anne and Munyiva

While we had previously met Mwaya at Bridgeworld College’s graduation ceremony, it was wonderful to also meet Munyiva, to visit their church, and to learn more about the exciting ministries of CRWM in Eastern and Southern Africa of which we are blessed to be a part.

 

Chapati Jummane!

“Cha-páh-tee Joo-máhn-ay”

(Jummane is the Kiswahili word for Tuesday)

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“Take me picture with me chapi!”

Over the years, our family has (like many others I’m sure) fallen into a bit of a rut developed some mealtime habits and traditions. One of the boys’ favorites back in Pella is “Taco Tuesday,” which usually meant either tacos proper, or some other Mexican dish such as fajitas or enchiladas.  Up till now, we had not prepared tacos or any variation of them here in Nairobi.  While we have a pretty wide variety of foods available at the large supermarkets in town, sometimes the familiar items are either not *quite* what you were expecting, or are rather expensive compared to what we are used to, or to local fare. Tortillas seem to fall into the latter category here.  However, we have been eating delicious fresh chapati upon occasion – some from a friend, some at the lodge in Maasai Mara, and Ryan gets them sometimes for lunch at Bridgeworld College.  This week, as Tuesday approached, and the “what are we having for supper?” question loomed, it became clear that now was as good a time as any to try our hand at making chapati – a traditional Kenyan type of flatbread. “How hard can it be?” I thought.

First up: Google.  I have made many different of kinds of breads and rolls, and even tortillas and a couple other flatbreads, but these were new to me, especially in technique. Apparently there are two main types of Kenyan chapati – direct, and layered.  We were looking for the layered ones, which are soft and almost flaky.  A while ago, I had come across this lovely site dedicated to Kenyan cuisine cooked at home – perfect!  The author has a very easy to follow recipe there, with helpful pictures and descriptions, which seemed like the next best thing to having someone knowledgeable in my kitchen with me.  This is how my process looked:

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And now, to cook them!  I think that cast iron might have been easier/better for this, but we do have a fairly heavy frying pan, and a bit of fiddling with the flame got us up to a nice even medium heat. First you cook one side, then flip and brush with oil, cook a bit more, flip and brush with oil, and cook till golden.

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At this point, we wanted to devour them on the spot, but in order to have the soft, roll-able quality, you are better off stacking them together, and covering them for at least 20 minutes, so they can kind of steam themselves.

 

The moment of truth:

I think Evan spoke for all when he said, “we cannot stop making chapati when we go back to Pella, because these are the best tacos ever!”  I’m sure at least some of that is the satisfaction of meeting the challenge to make something new.  Also, they were really hungry, which always makes food taste better.  I do hope I get a little faster with the process though, because it took me about 2 hours to come up with 20 chapati, and there were no leftovers of our Kenyan twist on Taco Tuesdays!  Here’s to more Chapati Jummanes in our future!

Graduation

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On the 19th of August Bridgeworld College held its ninth graduation ceremony. 30 students received diplomas or degrees in theology, 14 students received diplomas in counseling psychology, and 5 students received diplomas in social work. Though I had not personally taught any of these graduates, it was a joy to participate in the ceremony.

Rev. Dr. Mwaya wa Kitavi, CRWM Regional Director for Eastern and Southern Africa, gave the graduation address. I am indebted to Dr. wa Kitavi for arranging the opportunity I have to volunteer at Bridgeworld College. As we had previously only met via Skype and telephone, it was very good to finally meet him in person.

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Furahia siku ya kuzaliwa, Gwennyth!

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Last Thursday, August 11th, Gwennyth turned 5!  Because I had to teach on Thursday morning, we had her birthday outing on Friday (or “Second Birthday” or “Birthday Boxing Day,” as we called it). We did celebrate on Thursday with cake, presents and a special birthday supper complete with Gwennyth’s all-time favorite thing to eat for supper, Kraft Mac & Cheese, imported by Jody from the United States to surprise her.

P1010747On Friday morning we walked to the Giraffe Center, run by African Fund for Endangered Wildlife. The center has Rothschild’s giraffes, which are different from the Maasai giraffes we saw on safari a couple of weeks ago. The Rothschild’s giraffe is an endangered species, and the center is both a sanctuary and breeding center for them. The older giraffes remain at the center, while their young are reintroduced to the wild. As part of their reintroduction, they spend time in a 100-acre bird sanctuary and nature preserve where we were able to hike and experience what the landscape of Nairobi was before the settlers build the city.

 

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Interacting with the giraffes:

Enjoying the Nature Preserve:

We loved the giraffes, and we think they liked us too!

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Bridgeworld College Prayer Requests

Every Monday morning the faculty and staff of Bridgeworld College gather for worship, Bible study and prayer. The time of prayer is not like other prayer meetings in which I’ve participated in the past. After the leader lists a prayer request, everyone begins to pray aloud. With Korean missionaries on staff and various Kenyan tribes represented, it is not uncommon to hear prayers offered simultaneously in three or four different languages: English, Korean, Swahili and Kikuyu. I recently realized that one of the reasons Jody and I were so warmly welcomed to the college was that this group has been praying for our family every Monday since January in anticipation of our family’s time in Kenya.

To help you help us by your prayers, here are some of our prayer requests at Bridgeworld College:

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For the students of Bridgeworld College, for their families, for their physical, emotional and spiritual health, and for their financial needs.

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For the faculty and staff of Bridgeworld College, for unity of purpose, for grace and strength in our daily work, and for the college’s faculty development program – the school hopes to have 10 full-time African lecturers within the next 6 years.

For the college’s extension programs where students can study toward a Diploma of Christian Ministry using Timothy Leadership Institute curriculum, and for the potential  development of a third extension program in Mombasa.

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And for a couple of special events coming up: the African Leadership Summit, an off-campus conference co-hosted with the Global Mission Church of Korea (August 10-12) and for the college’s graduation ceremony (August 19).

“You help us by your prayers. Then many will give thanks on our behalf for the gracious favor granted us in answer to the prayers of many.” (2 Cor. 1:11)