Monday, August 24, 2009


Hello everyone! This is my final update from Kenya. Kate and I leave tomorrow at 1:00 to fly to Entebbe. Mercy is also leaving tomorrow evening, so we are all mourning our departure and trying to enjoy the last few hours that we have together. Since the last post:

1.) Saturday was the wedding. It was so beautiful. We got there at about 11:00 because Mercy and Faith were ushers. The wedding was supposed to begin at 12 but, as most everything here, did not start on time. It began at about 1. The service was absolutely amazing. I feel like I know the couple really well, even though I have only really talked to Nyam for about 10 seconds and never talked to Yos. I got to hear their full story at the bridal shower and am just really encouraged by them. They are really cool people. Anyway, the wedding was followed by a meal. Then all of the women went out and danced and sang to welcome the couple to the reception. That was really interesting. There were speeches and they cut the cake (which was beautiful and had sunflowers!). Finally we left at about 7. Weddings here are a HUGE deal. There were sooooo many people there to celebrate together. Everything here is a community event. It was really cool to see.

2.) Saturday night there was an evening party for Yos and Nyam. It was basically for the younger folk and included...DANCING!! It brought me back to the days of high school dances. I had so much fun.

3.) Sunday morning we went to church. Basically the same as last week.

4.) Sunday night we went to a confirmation party for a couple friends of the Okaalets. They were very welcoming and we had a good time. They fed us well...which seems to be a theme here. It was a nice evening. Like I have said before, everyone is just soooo welcoming.

5.) Today Mercy is getting her hair braided, so we are just chilling for awhile while she does that. Yaya!

Ok. So I have told you what we've done but not really how I feel. So here goes...

It has really surprised me how much people have accepted us. I wasn't really expecting to become so attached in just a 2 week span. Mercy's family really feels like family. I am really not looking forward to leaving them. I love them so much and it just feels like a second home. Mercy's friends are amazing as well. It seems like I have known them for much longer than I actually have. They have allowed us in to their circle of friends and that has been such a blessing. There are so many that I will miss. A huge part of me wants to stay here in Kenya for the remainder of the semester rather than leaving. I am hoping to be able to visit again sometime soonish.

I am also excited to continue my adventure in Uganda. It is going to be hard to open up to people there as well knowing that it is just going to cause me more heartbreak in the immediate future. However, if I have good friends in Kenya, I might as well have good friends in Uganda as well. The same trip can hit both places quite easily. I am really excited to meet all of the American students who I will be studying with this semester. I am still quite scared for the homestay, although staying with Mercy's family has been good preparation. Mercy's parents actually grew up in Uganda and are Ugandan, so I'm thinking there will be major similarities between the two situations.

Another part of me really wants to accompany Mercy back to the States. I could really go for a Dairy Queen Blizzard. Not going to lie.

So. I guess I am just feeling really conflicted. I hate that I have to leave these people I have come to love. I am excited to continue with this adventure. And I am missing home. Ick. But, I'm going to push the thought of leaving out of my mind and focus on making the most of the present.

Love you all. Miss you. And I'm wishing you could all experience Nairobi with me!

Friday, August 21, 2009


I figured I would update while I had the chance rather than waiting forever and forgetting things. it goes.

1.) We made it home from Yaya safely yesterday. Haha.

2.) Yesterday afternoon we got to hang out with Faith for a bit. That was cool because we haven't really gotten a chance to talk with her much. She is soooo funny and amazing. She will be going to school in South Africa starting in January. She wants to major in psychology (Claire, you would love her).

3.) Last night we went to a party at the groom's home. It was really interesting because there were Ugandans (groom's family) and Kenyans (bride's family). It was just funny to see the differences. The Ugandans apparently like to party. They dress up very nicely and like to dance. There is sure to be much more of that at the wedding tomorrow. The kids hung out in the corner and watched. I got to spend some time getting to know Steve. He is a cool kid and constantly complaining that he is getting old. He will be 25 next week and is worried that he is going to be 'old and boring like Ima'.

4.) Once we got home last night, we got the pleasure of learning how to take out a weave. Mercy had about 5 sets of hands in her hair taking out the weave. It was an interesting experience.

5.) This afternoon we actually went paintballing. This was my first time, and it was pretty cool. I didn't really realize how much it would hurt. I am pretty sure I will have some massive bruises, but I am glad that I did it.

6.) After we paintballed, we went over to this bridge that you pay to walk over. I have no idea why anyone would voluntarily do such a thing. This bridge was ridiculous. There was wire on the bottom and up the sides and some rope to hold on to. It rocked and was about a foot wide and spanning over a canyon. Not cool. The group made me do it. It was by force though. Wow. Sooooo frightening.

7.) The dress rehersal for the wedding is going on right now, but we are hanging out at Yaya with K-1 instead of going. Yaya is the bomb. There is a restaurant called Java and they have the best fries. So delicious.

8.) Wedding tomorrow! Weddings here are a much larger affair than they are in the States I think. There are supposedly going to be 400-500 people there. The wedding is at 12 or 1 I think and then the reception starts at 5. Then there will be a dance. At least this is my understanding. It should be interesting.

Love you. Miss you.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Hakuna Matata

Ha. Mercy just left us alone at the internet cafe in Yaya (a mall) to go run errands with her boyfriend. It is only like a 5 minute walk home but she is deathly afraid that we will get lost. We assured her that we knew our way and she made sure to give us instructions to explore Yaya but not the rest of Nairobi.

As for the rest of the week, I will make a list for you so that I can keep my thoughts in order.

1.) Saturday evening we went to Faith's concert at Nairobi Baptist (the church that the Okaalet children attend). It was sooooo cool. There were so many talented people there. Some people rapped, some danced, others did spoken pieces. There was a mixture of everything and it was amazing. Faith was in a choir and they sang quite a few songs. Some were in Swahili, which was cool, but I couldn't understand. However, the lyrics of one of the songs they sang really hit me. It was a simple song and they just repeated the same phrases over and over. The lyrics were "Break me so you can come through/Lord I want to see you/Break me so you can come through/I need a breakthough/Take me I am your vessel/Break me how you please" I just realized that God is in the process of breaking me if I will allow him to. I want to be broken through this semester so that God can shine through. This is my prayer for these coming months.

2.) Sunday morning we attended Nairobi Baptist. It is a huge church with attendance near 4,000. I wasn't quite used to that. There was an American guy leading worship in the adult service, so we went and listened to that first, then headed over to the youth service for the sermon. We also were able to witness about 20 baptisms. It was pretty cool. The worship was obviously much more lively than I am used to, but otherwise I found the service fairly similar to those that I have attended in the US. The Vice President of Kenya was at church, so we got to see him. He was just hanging around and talking to people. Yeah...

3.) Sunday afternoon, the Okaalets hosted a bridal shower for Nyam, the woman who is getting married on Saturday. It was pretty cool, but quite awkward as well. We had to go around and tell how we knew Nyam, to which I replied that I did not know Nyam. It was a good time, though.

4.) Apparently people spend the night at the Okaalets quite often. On Saturday and Sunday evening, Kim spent the night, so we got to hang out quite a bit. He had studied in Germany for 5 years and is now working at the UN. It was great to get to know him a bit more. Another girl (I can't remember he name because it is African) spent the night on Monday and Wednesday. She is Nyam's sister. It was also great getting to know her a little better.

5.) On Monday afternoon, we went to New Life orphanage, which is the home of about 20 babies and I don't know how many toddlers. We went and visited the babies. They were so adorable and I absolutely loved it. We weren't able to stay for long because visiting hours were ending and the babies were going to bed. I have to do an internship if I decide to be a Family and Human Services major, so I was thinking that it would be really cool to come back and do it there. I don't know, just one option.

6.) Tuesday morning we went on a safari walk. It was basically just a zoo with a bunch of African animals. When we were almost done, we met a man who works at the park. He told us to make sure we went and petted the cheetah before we left. We were wondering if he was serious and he was. He took us into the cheetah's pen and they brought it up to us. So we took a bunch of pictures petting it. Pretty cool.

7.) Tuesday evening we went to Wamburu's (I think that is her name) house for dinner. She is a singer and a member of the group Afrizo. They are going to the US next week for a tour. They gave us a concert during dinner and they are soooo amazing. They even sang the Circle of Life. They are probably not coming anywhere near you all, but you should check on their website. ( If you get the chance to go to one of their concerts, you will not be sorry. Wamburu is actually going to be attending Berkeley on a full scholarship. Her voice is AMAZING.

8.) Yesterday we went to the Nairobi museum. It was pretty cool. There were lots of things to see. We spent a couple hours looking through all of the mammals, art, etc.

9.) Today Mercy is hanging out with Michael for awhile so we are on our own. Tonight we are going to the groom's house for a party. Tomorrow we are going shopping. Tomorrow evening is the wedding rehersal. Saturday is the wedding. Tuesday we leave.

Ok, wow. This hardly even scratches the surface. Some extra thoughts.

1.) I love all of Mercy's friends and family. Seriously. They are the bomb. We have spent quite a bit of time just hanging out with them and it has really made the trip. Seeing the sights is all fine and dandy, but what has made the time worthwhile is the people. I am going to miss all of them.

2.) I love how laid-back everythings is here. It is the event that matters and not necessarily whether you are there on time. People are so much more willing to spend time with you even if they are supposed to be getting somewhere else. I think that is cool.

3.) Africa really isn't how it is portrayed in movies. Everyone thinks of Africa and poverty. That is the case in many places, but not everywhere. We have been exposed to a very "American" Africa. Mercy's friends all speak in English, are well educated, and are more wealthy. However, they are not taking advantage of their well-being. Their love for their home country is very apparent and many of them plan to get a good education, whether it be in America, Germany, South Africa, Malaysia, or Kenya, not so they can leave and live the good life somewhere else, but so that they can come back to Kenya and work for improvement here.

So much more I could say, but I won't. Love you all and miss you. I am jealous of Mercy and Wamburu who are heading to the States on Tuesday. However, I am also excited for the remainder of my journey and ready to see what God has in store.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Giraffes and Goodbyes

Hello! much to say. I don't know where to start. I will try to go in chronological order.

1.)Mercy's family is amazing. They have been so patient with us as we attempt to figure everything out. I feel so helpless. Mercy or her mother seem to be doing everything for me. For example, Mercy's mother has been helping in our attempts to get breakfast since we don't know where anything in the kitchen is. Mercy has been getting us water for baths (Kenya is going through a water and electricity crisis right now so there is not really any running water in the least not by the time we wake up). Everyone has been so helpful. Mercy's family consists of: Mercy's father, Mercy's mother, Mercy's brother (Ima), Mercy's sister (Faith), and Kevin (aka K-1) who lives with the family. I love them all and am very grateful for their help and understanding so far.

2.)On Thursday afternoon we went to the giraffe center here in Nairobi, which is the home of 9 giraffes. It was pretty amazing. Once we arrived, they handed us pellets and told us we could feed the giraffes. The giraffes would just lean over the fence and eat it right out of our hands. They basically ate your hand too. It was ridiculously awesome. I have pictures that I will upload eventually.

3.)Thursday evening we went to visit Mercy's friend who is in the hospital following a car accident. She had been in a coma a few weeks ago, so her progress was quite evident. Apparently she is back to her old self for the most part. However, she is doing therapy right now and learning to walk again. While we were at the hospital, Kate fainted. The nurses came running in and took her to a bed to moniter. We think it was probably just low blood sugar, but it was quite scary for a few minutes there. She is feeling much better now.

4.) Yesterday afternoon (Friday), we took a cab to The Village Market, which is the largest shopping mall in Nairobi, to see Jenny Barton (a friend from JBU). We were only able to visit with her for a few minutes because her family was leaving on a trip. However, it was good to see another familiar face and catch up a bit. She was very excited that we were in Kenya. Following her departure, we went shopping at the market in the mall. There they sell all of the traditional African items. We were just looking, so one of the sellers at the market taught us how to say "Today we are looking" in Swahili. I think next week we are planning to go purchase some souveniers.

5.)Last evening we went to Mercy's friend Ana's goodbye party. She just graduated and will be attending a university in Malaysia. Many of Mercy's friends study outside of Kenya, which makes for hard partings. I thought it was tough to say goodbye to everyone, and I will only be away for 4 months. Most of these people leave for at least 9 months at a time. One of Ima's friends who we met had studied in Germany for 5 years without coming home! I can't imagine the homesickness. Anyway, the party was very emotional. I had a really good time and got to know some of Mercy's friends. They are really cool and the party was much like one that we would have in the States. Food, video games, and just hanging out. However, in Nairobi it is not extremely safe at night, so the parties are more in the afternoon and early evening. We were home by about 9.

6.)This afternoon we are planning to go to Faith's concert at Mercy's church. I'm not quite sure what to expect, but it should be fun. K-1 is an MC apparently. So that should be interesting. Tomorrow Mercy's family is hosting a bridal shower for Mercy's friend who is getting married next Saturday. I am excited for both the shower and the wedding! Monday we might head to the beach. We're not quite sure yet because we would probably have to go by bus. It would be about an 8 hour ride. If we do go we will probably stay until Wednesday or Thursday. Mercy is our itinerary planner, so whatever she decides we will do.

Wow. That was a lot. But a lot has happened in these past few days. Hope everything is going well with all of you. I still love you all and miss you very much!

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Fatigue and Zac Efron

Hello everyone!!!

I don't have that much time right now, but I just wanted to give a quick update while I had the chance.

Kate and I endured a ridiculous amount of flying time over the past 2 days. It was quite unpleasant, even though the airlines did everything they could to make it endurable. There were personal screens for each seat, which surprised me. I watched Ghosts of Girlfriends Past, 17 Again, and High School Musical 3. However, I got practically no sleep.

We arrived in Nairobi last night, where Mercy and her brother picked us up. We journeyed back to her house, ate some delicious food, met the rest of her family, and then went to sleep until about 2:00 this afternoon. We just got our money exchanged and are heading out to a giraffe zoo. Then we will visit Mercy's friend in the hospital this evening. We are also hoping to get together with Jenny Barton, another friend from JBU who lives in Kenya, sometime either today or tomorrow.

Ok. That's all for now. Love you all. And continue to keep me in your prayers.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

The Hardest Part Is Letting Go


As most of you probably know, I am leaving for a four month adventure in Africa tomorrow. I am both incredibly excited and extremely nervous. I have tried to occupy myself as much as possible for the past few weeks so I wouldn't freak out too much. However, the time has come. Tomorrow I will be leaving Kansas City at 1:20, commencing a series of 3 flights totaling about 18 hours, with the final destination Nairobi, Kenya.

Apparently I have done a poor job of explaining my upcoming trip, so here is a synopsis:

I will be traveling with a friend from JBU, Kate Dorsey, to Kenya. Here our friend, Mercy (also from JBU), has kindly offered to let us to stay in her home. We will meet her family and friends as well as do some touristy things for a couple weeks. Hopefully this will be a good transition time for the two of us as we prepare for Uganda.

On August 25, Kate and I will fly to Entebbe, Uganda and meet up with the remainder of the group that will be studying with us for the semester. From there we will travel to Mukono, Uganda and be studying at Uganda Christian University for the semester. I have chosen to stay with a host family, while Kate will be staying in the dorms.

I am so thankful that I have been blessed with the chance to participate in this amazing adventure. I am so excited to see what God will teach me in these next months. This is a wonderful opportunity and I pray that I will make the most of it and embrace the new culture, regardless of my own comfort. I pray that God will open my eyes and help me to shed the layers of fog that have been blinding me from seeing others as He does.

Thank you all so much for your support and I would ask that you please remember me in your prayers. I am absolutely terrified! I love you all and will miss you immensely.