Posts Tagged ‘Moving’


In our hunt to find the cheapest yet safest flight home from Kenya we happened upon a stay over in Dubai.

We as in Erika Lee mentioned it, it sounded like  a fabulous idea that saved thousands even with a 2 night hotel stay over, we booked it!

I didn’t know much about Dubai except that I’d seen it on t.v. on the greatest engineering feats of all time.  You know, where they show them dumping load after load of rocks and sand into the ocean to produce man-made islands shaped like palm trees and other random things.  

Here we are arriving:

The kids waiting patiently at midnight in the glistening Dubai airport

 Our Dubai plan involved arriving just before midnight, staying over a full day, and then flying out on the 2nd morning after leaving Nairobi.  We had booked a hotel within walking distance of a mall (they REALLY take shopping seriously there) in hopes of spending some leisure time in an air-conditioned space.

Why air conditioning?

Uh, because it was the height of summer in Dubai, where temperatures easily were reaching 110 degrees Fahrenheit.  Our plane stewardess talked about her flip-flops melting on the sidewalk there.  I’ve heard of that happening in the US in Arizona and places like that when it gets really hot, but I wasn’t up for trying it out on this trip.

We started out the next morning after sleeping in and taking warm (hot water right from the tap!!!) baths.  We managed to walk across the street and one block down from our hotel before ditching that plan.  We were all melted and luckily there was a cab in sight who was more than happy to stop for our family.  We hopped in and asked him to take us to a mall.

He took us to the largest mall in Dubai.  Actually, it now holds the distinction I believe of being the largest mall in the world. I never thought that I could be overwhelmed by shopping, but I was.  If we had been coming from the consumer mentality of the US, it might have been manageable, but to step from a more rural area of Kenya straight into this….it was a bit much.

We managed to look around in 2 shops total, including the largest candy shop any of us had ever seen.  It was aptly named, Candylicious:

Perhaps this is why Eli now has a cavity

 We also decided to tour the aquarium that was housed in the mall.  We especially enjoyed the glass tunnel that allowed us to walk within a few inches of sharks and sting rays:


Checking out the rays

 After the aquarium, we sat down to a ridiculously priced lunch that would have cost half as much in the US and my first Starbucks latte in 15 months.  My latte cost 200 Dirham, which is about $7 here in the US.  It was good, but not that good!

We took pictures outside of the mall in front of the world’s tallest building.  This building has something like 165 stories and is 2717 feet tall:

It’s on the left there behind Ian and I.  It’s so big, you only see a portion of it, even in person because it disappears into the haze.  You can tell though that it dwarfs everything next to it.  Here is a picture of it from the web:

Later that evening, we went up to the roof of a sister hotel and Ian and the kids enjoyed some fun in the pool. It was wonderful to spend time outside after dusk.  This is something we were rarely able to do while in Kenya because of malaria and safety concerns.

A very happy girl!

Sitting by the pool sweating out the humid heat of the Sahara


A view of Dubai from our rooftop pool...there was a sandy haze all day

 We had a wonderful time together as a family in Dubai and were very thankful for the rest before our 16 hour flight to the US the next day.


Farewell continued

A farewell at the Centre usually means a tea party planned by the staff.  In the past this involved light food:  boiled eggs, biscuits, queen cakes and chai.  Ian and I decided about a month before leaving that we would like to throw the staff and residents a nice lunch for our farewell….with good food… we arranged to have a caterer for the party.  It was a win-win.  The Centre was able to not spend money on the party, we had wonderful food, and no one had to worry about set up or clean up!

But it’s easier to explain the farewell in pictures: 

Upon entering the party you must go through a tunnel of singing people

As guests of honor you sit up at the front while everyone sings & dances to their places

After announcements by the MC Hillary, the food line opens

Beef stew, irio, rice pilau, sukuma, and kachumbari. Anne's favorite is the green irio, Ian's is kachumbari (looks like slaw on the top)

After lunch the singing and dancing begins...complete with heaving us up on the shoulders

Ameena gets into the dancing too as Esther carries her around

I think it's safe to say Eli enjoyed the dancing

Esther with Ameena in her African party dress which came via Naomi's friend at St. Patrick's Catholic Church

Receiving the's a really big deal to take a picture of the gift and giver!

Eli and Lucy thought presents on a non holiday were fantastic!

A special song prepared and sung by the day program teaching staff

Ian and I had to give "speeches" to the staff. I talked about how God has a plan written for each one of them & how much each one had contributed to the success of the Centre

It took Ian a moment to find the right words to express all that we had experienced in our 15 months in Kenya with this staff.

We tried to keep the end of the party light with a "guess the $ in the jar giveaway" & the promise of shopping at Momma Eli's duka (shop)

At the end of our party we took about 30 of this same shot, with a different staff member or resident inserted. We then printed copies for the staff as photos are a very treasured and special gift.

The staff & residents of Karibu Centre. In 15 months, we went from 4 staff and 0 residents to about 27 staff, 27 resident girls, babies and abandoned babies and about 120 children in the day program! We felt so blessed to be with these people day after day!

And that was our formal farewell.  More in the next few days of my “garage sale” aka Momma Eli’s duka & of our push by staff/friends to the airport.


Goodbyes are a big deal in Kenya.

Through out the 15 months that we were in Kenya our family was able to learn about the importance of a proper farewell to Kenyans.

Of course we’re talking about a going away aka tea party.

Of course there will be presents.

Of course a ridiculous amount of photographs will be taken.

That’s normal even for Americans.

But what was new and an adjustment for our family was:

The flood of unexpected visitors to our home throughout the day and evening the  entire week before our departure.

The unexpected amount of gifts ranging from bunches of fresh bananas cut from the tree to hand knit baby sweaters for Ameena and offers of a goat to take home with us (declined of course because we were traveling by air not a matatu!)–mostly given by people with barely enough to eat themselves.

The ways in which staff began to pull back from us emotionally in preparation for our departure.

Allowing for (and planning/paying for) an airport escort by 38 staff, residents and friends because you’re not a true Kenyan if you don’t escort someone fully to either the bus, the train, the airplane etc.   I guess the 2 vanloads (yes 38+ people) of Kenyans at the airport made an impression because a fellow airplane passenger I met in Dubai said he thought we had the whole town saying goodbye to us when he saw us all at the Nairobi airport.  Perhaps not a town, but a whole Centre community!

And hopefully tomorrow, pictures of the event……

My grand idea

Most of you who knew me back home know that I love a good deal.

Garage sales make me happy.  Especially when you score the ones where the people just want to get rid of things…for crazy prices.

We’ve collected a LOT of things while here in Kenya.   Some of it basic household items, some of it frivolous, some of it brought with us from home and too worn to bother taking back.

Usually when local Kenyans hear that a mazungu is going home they are sad, and say, “You can’t leave.”  When you assure them that you are & that the ticket has already been purchased, quite often the next phrase might be, “Oh, well then, what are you planning to do with ____________.”   And fill in the blank.

Since we know that this will happen & that we have a great many things we don’t want to take home (extra tea bags, used writing pens, worn out kids clothes etc, etc) I have decided to hold my own garage sale.

Today Ian printed up some fake money.  Ten dollar bills.  Each staff member will be given one hundred dollars.  I’m going to have everything set out & priced the day ahead so they can “pre-sale”.  This was at staff request, “Can I see ahead of time what you have so that I might go home and think carefully about what I need?”

Hmmm.  Good idea!

We’re having the shopping right after the going away party we’re half hosting for ourselves.  Again, why should the staff use their hard earned money for tea and biscuits when we can use a little of our own money to have a sweet catered lunch?  Right, good food it is.  And, what better way to make sure that the party ends of time then to have the carrot of shopping hanging out in front of everyone???

And lest you think that the men won’t like shopping.  I’ve got those night guards asking for my kerosene lamp, my patio chairs, and some of my pirated action DVD’s.

Oh, I simply can’t wait for this fun!  It’s gonna provide some sweet people watching and a nice sociological experiment.  Who buys for themselves, who buys for their kids, who gives up some of their own money so their friend can buy something that costs more than $100?

Can’t wait to show you pictures and tell you how it all goes down & what the HOT selling item turns out to be.  Rest assured it will be something random like Megan found when she cleaned out her room & gave out things to the girls.  An almost empty bottle of nail polish remover almost caused a riot!

Comin’ home

From the moment Ian and I committed to coming to Kenya we knew that we’d be short-term missionary-type folk, staying until summer 2010, which is now upon us.

There were SOOO many pieces that were brought together in this crazy adventure puzzle that it was IMPOSSIBLE for me and Ian to deny that coming to Kenya was something we were supposed to do.  We’d toyed with the idea of overseas missions when we were first married, but then grad school, and work, and kids came along and that was that.  And when the inklings of Kenya started to come up, believe you me, I worked pretty hard to find EVERY excuse on why it wouldn’t work for our family:

We had a great house & house payment.  🙂

I loved my job.

Ian loved his job & it provided well for our family & he wanted to advance.

We had kids aged 2 & 3 years.

I was pregnant.

We had dogs.

We liked seeing our family.

We were “settled”.

I got diagnosed with CANCER a week before we we’re scheduled to fly out. 

I didn’t want to be a “missionary” and “preach it” to people in the traditional sense.

We loved our amazing group of friends.

It was too much  work to figure out how to pack everything up to move to a foreign county.

But, you know what?  God has some amazing ways of working through the excuses, if you stop for a moment and let him.  Why do we think decisions or changes like this in our lives will be easy?  Imagine the disciples as Jesus called them to follow him.  They had jobs.  They had families.  They were going into the unknown & uncomfortable.  I can’t imagine that the prospect of leaving the comfortable seemed appealing and lucrative to any of them.

Our society has done us a great disservice in convincing us that we deserve to be comfortable and secure all of the time.  In being so, we miss out on the amazing adventure and blessings that can await us.  I wish that I could relay to all of  you what an incredible experience this has been… convince each and every one of you that you too could do this.  Do you really have any excuses better than the ones listed above?  Do you know that we have experienced death, disease, sabotage, physical attack, hatred, fear and all of the other weapons that Satan uses to discourage…..and in the face of those things we have had the wonder to experience birth, joy, mercy, compassion, protection, awareness, beauty, friendship, and stewardship?

In August 2008, on Ian’s birthday & the day that we found out we would miscarry what would have been our 3rd baby, Orphans Overseas unknowingly called to talk about this position with us.  Remember how I had come up with every excuse of why we couldn’t come here?   Being pregnant was my ticket to not “having” to listen to our calling.   And God, in his wisdom, knowing that I need blows to the head to listen, timed that loss with an open door….all on the same day.

So, we committed then to coming here to Thika until summer 2010 (NOW!) with the goal of getting Karibu Centre and it’s programs up and running.  And, today I can say that we have been more than successful despite huge obstacles here.  I can also say that if God had given me another  “blow to the head” saying that we needed to stay longer, that we would have listened to that too.  But, he hasn’t, and we feel confident in our original plan to return home and make way for the next phase of Karibu Centre.  I can not wait to watch how things progress here and to see the ways this amazing program will continue to impact everyone involved.  I am also excited for those who will follow us and how they will be forever changed simply by being willing to leave the comfortable and come here to partner with the staff, residents, children and community.  I am also so grateful we took the chance, followed our hearts, and now will carry this experience deep within us for the rest of our lives. 

We’re on our countdown to comin’ home & I can’t wait to share with you over the next 2 weeks some of our favorite things about this experience.

17 Days until we hop on that plane!  Please pray for this transition for our family and for Karibu Centre, we have grown to love the people we live among and leaving will be tough!




HP Computer: 2 Ian and Anne: 0

If you’ve been reading this blog for awhile, you’ll remember that we had to buy a new laptop in March, and then immediately had problems with it.  If you can’t remember, here’s a refresher:

We”ve been doing pretty well with the computer after the HP chick in India stripped and completely reinstalled the operating system…..until this week.

That feared message of  there being an error with the hard drive & the warning to back everything up before it is forever lost came up.

We bought the warranty for this computer.  (Hah!!! The Hard Drive warning message just popped up again!!!)  They (Best Buy) assured us it would be covered all around the world.  Upon clarification when we had problems, well…….They would pay for it, after we took it to a warranted dealer/distributor and then sent them copies of the bill and warranty.  What is it about all of that song and dance that makes me believe that we’d never see a dime of reimbursement for the repair/replacement?

I’m trying not to be bitter.  But come on!?!   So, we called HP.  Of course, they would ship us a replacement hard drive immediately.

Oh, but not outside of the United States, and the hard drive would need to be returned in the original box to HP within 15 days. 

I don’t know about you, but a computer box is not one of the essentials I keep out of a storage space when I’m packing up my entire life, let alone something I “keep” with a dear relative “just in case”.   That’s what I do with my will and life insurance papers!   And, it might just be me, but I don’t think that Kenya Posta has proved reliable enough to get something important to the States…..let alone within 15 days.

Sooooo….We’re open to grand ideas.

Our best idea yet is to Fed Ex our hard drive to a relative in the states, call HP and ask for leniency on the “original packing requirement”, have the relative call HP for the replacement drive, receive the replacement hard drive, then have them ship the defective hard drive back to HP, then somehow get the replacement hard drive to us here in Kenya, preferably in person (again, that whole getting through customs ….and the mail service hasn’t been so reliable).  If seeds can’t get through, I’m not thinking that a HP laptop Hard drive will either.

Or just go and buy a freakin new one.

Again, we’re open to ideas all of you smarty pants.  And I mean that with all due respect!

Where we were a year ago….

So, I’ve been asked how we ended up here in Thika.  I forget that some of you haven’t been on this journey with us from the start!

So for Donna, and perhaps others of you who haven’t been on this rollercoaster ride with us, I pulled a note that I wrote in early September reflecting on the journey that was leading us to come to Thika, Kenya.

It was a bit difficult re-reading and visiting again the emotions I felt the day I wrote this, but so it is.  This is the “note” as I posted it to facebook…where you can also find us!  For more info about Orphans Overseas and their work, you can check them out under the tab “our cool hookup” on the main blog page.

As I write this, I am listening to:  Who Am I  by Casting Crowns.  A very appropriate song!

I truly do believe that we only see a small fraction of the total plan for our life at any given moment.

Case in point. In April, our next door neighbor offered us first dibs on her house that she was selling. This is the house that I covet (and yes, I know I should not covet anything, but this is my dream home). It is the storybook house in which I envision huge & noisy family gatherings at Thanksgiving and Christmas. Course it doesn’t have a great yard like our current tiny house, but that can always be fixed right? Anyhow, after agreeing that if the door remained open for us to purchase this house, we would, the door was slammed shut by the neighbor deciding she didn’t want to sell.

In June, I send an email out inquiring more of this Kenya project that keeps being brought up to Ian and I. Yet, in the back of my mind I remember the conversations I have been having with God over this huge life change. Since March I had prayed this sort of prayer…. “Ok God, so if you let me get pregnant, then no Kenya. If I don’t get pregnant, then perhaps Kenya.” We agree to talk with the organization more about the position in Kenya at the end of summer when things have slowed down….

In July, we find out we are pregnant, and I clearly remember thinking, “Ok, God, then no Kenya.”

In August, on Ian’s birthday, I am scheduled for my 10 week ultrasound. No heartbeat, no baby to be seen. Just an empty womb. I am by myself, left to absorb this heartwrenching news. On my drive home, I am sitting at a light signal and am struck by 2 birds (they look like eagles, but probably aren’t) soaring overhead and the phrase, “they will soar like eagles” and am put at peace because I am assured that my baby is safe and secure soaring with God, soaring like an eagle.

When I arrive home, a get a phone call asking for a time when Ian and I can come in to talk about Kenya. I hung up the phone, cried a lot, was generally pissy, stomped my feet in anger, and said out loud to God, “God, that was rude!” And thought about the cruel injustice of it all.

Later that day, the neonatal dude confirms that the pregnancy has a 90% chance of not being viable.

We accept the Kenya job on a Sunday, and I miscarry a few days later.

Wouldn’t have taken the job had they called even a day earlier, because I would have thought we were pregnant. It isn’t advised that pregnant women or newborns travel to areas that have yellow fever (Kenya). In what seemed like 1 day our lives changed dramatically….but we were allowed to see small parts of the plan that God has been working on for years.

It seems like only the start to an amazing journey for our entire family, and I am assured that there will be more babies/kids in our house…one way or another!