I’M HERE! AHHHHHH! Many hugs, pounds of luggage, inflight movies, and tiny-weenie airplane bathrooms later I touched down in Kenya! All of our luggage made it too… well mostly. Turns out Delta doesn’t think very highly of iMacs traveling to Africa… they flat out refused to check my computer in it’s neatly and (very) securely packed box. Beasts. After some very ugly crying at the check-in counter I accepted defeat and handed my other arm iMac over to AIM in Atlanta for safe-keeping. Still fannaggling (yup, I said it) a way to get it here, by the end of Oct, but it looks like it might work out. Keep that in your prayers, I can’t really do my job with On-Field Media without it…eeee.
Any who, all 13 of us new full-termers (those of us that will be in Africa for 2+ years) and 6 kiddos stumbled out of Jomo Kenyatta airport in Nairobi late on the 30th of September. Praise God. The familiar smells of the city met my nose; diesel, body, sweat, fast food, and trash. A cacophony of shouts, horns, wheels, music greeted my ears, all bringing the Nairobi I experienced two years ago back to center stage. I’m in Africa. This is going to be my home. Whoa.
We spent a few days recovering (sleeping) at an AIM run guesthouse tucked away behind walls draped with flowering vines. Mayfield. A little refuge in a bustling city. A constant flow of missionaries surged through Mayfield everyday… each bringing their own tales from all over Africa. What a place. Our group grew there, as new full-term brothers and sisters from the Brazil, England, Canada joined us for Africa Based Orientation (ABO)
While at Mayfield I was kidnapped several times… don’t worry Mom, it was people I knew! Fellow Nairobi missionaries Tana and Michelle took me out for lunch (who knew they had sushi in Kenya?!) and frozen yogurt (didn’t even know that existed here!) I think I experienced Western culture shock instead of African. I am looking forward to getting to know these sassy ladies more, as well as discovering this crazy city. The next day I got to sit-in on On-Field Media’s (OFM) weekly project update/devotional/prayer meeting. It was surreal to be sitting in the offices I had been working for over a year to get to… to meet the team that I had only emailed/Skyped, and to hear all about their recent filming adventures (eh hem, Madagascar!) They also took me to experience Ethiopian food, which did not disappoint.
Still fighting jet-lag, we stuffed ourselves into two vans and headed 2 hours out of the city for ABO in Machakos, Kenya. Our orientation is being held at a bible college, full of energetic and welcoming Kenyan students. Jacaranda trees with purple blossoms, thorny acacias, and extremely loud birds fill the campus, which stretches out near the base of high terraced green hills. Oh and fresh air, glorious fresh air which the city seriously lacks. Red dirt sticks to our shoes, and stray thorns have already maimed a few skirts… good thing I packed that sewing kit, eh mom? The food has been delicious; chapati (Kenyan tortillas), savory meat stews, sautéed sukumawekee (shredded kale with onions), oranges, papaya, and bananas. And chai… don’t forget the endless chai!
ABO lasts for three weeks, with the goal of orienting us to African culture, living, ministry, communication and much more. It has only the third day of ABO and my mind is heavy with information! Yesterday I had the extreme privilege of hearing everyone’s stories of how God brought them to Africa. Needless to say, laughter was abundant, as were tears. All of our journeys have been laden with adventure, surprise, hardship, and hope, with a call to a life of purpose singing strongly over everything. And this is just the beginning. My heart is already squeezing at the thought of saying goodbye to all of these beautiful new friends at the end of our three weeks. We will scatter to every corner of Africa in a few short weeks… thank the Lord for Skype.
I miss all of you so much. Leaving home has felt like ripping up lots of deep roots… Montana has been my home, my world, my normal for so long. It is my prayer that God will plant me in good soil here in Africa, and that I would grow and thrive here, flowering and growing fruit in every season. It is a privilege and gift to come back to Africa. I know there will be dry spells, and fierce storms to stand strong through, but I am comforted by the knowledge that I have a constant gardener… who will never stop tending His little tree.
“But blessed is the one who trusts in the LORD,
whose confidence is in him.
They will be like a tree planted by the water
that sends out its roots by the stream.
It does not fear when heat comes;
its leaves are always green.
It has no worries in a year of drought
and never fails to bear fruit.”
Jer. 17: 7-8