The first few days we spent in Nairobi, the capitol of Kenya. We spent much of our time pricing items so that we could come up with a cost of living amount. Most people were out of the city for the Christmas/New Year holiday so getting around the city was easier than usual. Still the traffic was crazy. They drive on the left side of the road and the steering wheel is on the right. Everything is backwards, including going up and down stairs. Talk about being confused and not even wanting to attempt to drive there :) We really didn't get a chance to meet many people until the latter part of our first week there.
In addition to Nairobi, we also visited many areas in the bush. We went to see the medical clinic compound Ric and Jane Taylor, the missionary couple that we are working with, built and ran for many years. It was hard for them to be back there in some ways, but neat to see how so many people showed up quickly to see them. They helped and ministered to so many people there during those years. God used them mightily to meet the health needs and feed the children of that area.
Kenyan countryside.Another day, we attended a wedding north of Nairobi. The bride and groom were from two different tribes—which created a good deal of confusion—and somehow we ended up right in the middle of all the festivities. The most interesting part of this was where we were at the house of the bride's parents to pick her up. The groom's family walked up the hill singing in their tribal language (Kikamba) carrying gifts for the bride's family. Once we walked up the hill to the house, the bride's family were singing in their tribal language (Kikuyu). We spent some time outside the home waiting on the groom's family and friends to negotiate for the bride. This negotiation honors the tribal tradition of paying a bride price but was not a true and standing prerequisite for the marriage. All in all it was an amazing experience that neither Aaron nor I will ever forget.
When Sunday came, Aaron preached at Kakuyuni Redeemed Church in the village where we will be living. There are roughly 200-300 people that attend this church that has already planted some 30 other churches. It was a little overwhelming to have to speak in front of the whole congregation and sit at the front the entire time during the service. If you are mzungu (white person) then you are very important according to them. So they feed you first, make you sit in the choice places, and carry things for you. It was hard for me to adjust to that, but it is their way. The church was inviting, warm, and full of God's love. They accepted us with open arms. Many pastors, deacons, and elders from the other 30 churches came to meet us. We had a time of sharing, and so many of them said they would support and help us anyway they could. They finished by singing us a song in their language that was close to angelic singing. It was here that I felt God’s confirmation for our call to Kenya in general, and Kakuyuni specifically. There is such a need for teaching and for discipleship of these beautiful Christians. We then visited the property where we will be building our home and the technical school. There is a peace there that I have not found elsewhere. The property is set back off the main dirt road among trees and mountains. Above all else there is quiet; this is definitely a place where a person can experience the small still voice of God without the distractions all too common in the West. The pace there reminds me of my time growing up in Eastern Kentucky when I was a little girl. I always dreamed of living a simple, peaceful life among God's creation. The setting was enchanting and I could easily envision our house sitting on the land. However, through all this I also kept thinking of our four children. Even though this place is beautiful, it is filled with great and overwhelming hardship and problems. We will be bringing our children into a culture they don't understand, people they do not know, and language they cannot speak. I know it will be hard for us all, but God constantly kept telling me I am their Provider and I love them. I told God that I'm standing on His promises and know He has our best interests in mind, because He does love us.
Our last few days in Kenya were spent at the Massai Mara Game Reserve to see all the animals of Kenya. We wanted these days to provide us a time to hear clearly from God and each other before we firmly committed to living in Kenya. The trip there was a four hour ride from Nairobi through the Rift Valley. We knew very little about the Rift Valley but as soon as we saw it our breath was literally taken away. It is indescribable how beautiful it was, and we knew this was yet another gift and affirmation from God. Aaron and I both sat there with tears in our eyes knowing that we were so blessed to be seeing this. At the top of the Rift, we stopped at an overlook to take pictures. As Aaron was taking a picture of me with the valley behind, he stopped and pointed. He was speechless—which is rare for him :) It was the exact scripture that God had given him two weeks before leaving for Kenya. Isaiah 54:17 "No weapon that is formed against you will prosper; And every tongue that accuses you in judgment you will condemn. This is the heritage of the servants of the LORD, And their vindication is from Me," declares the LORD. There it was on the wall. A declaration from the Lord and a prayer answered. Again no more than thirty minutes down the road, a truck comes toward us and above the cab is written, "God Is Love." By the time we arrived at our destination we knew we were to serve in Kenya. Our time with the Kenyan people was amazing. They are so hungry for God’s Truth. The needs are so many, but we pray that we can play a part in sharing Christ and loving those whom He puts around us. Please pray for our family and for us to Glorify God in all that we do. There will be so much going on this year but we pray to stay focused on Him. I thank all of you who have prayed, supported us, and given financially for the trip. We have definitely felt the prayers and God delivered big time (as He always does :).