Karibu Kenya

{One of my favorite things about Kenya is how friendly and welcoming the culture is.  Karibu is kiswahili for welcome, and is frequently used in greetings upon your arrival in different places.}

There have already been several funny things that have happened over my few days here.  The night I arrived in Kenya I went over to some friends’ house for dinner and promptly proceeded to accidentally lock myself in the bathroom.  I couldn’t turn the lock on my own and it took two men using a screwdriver to break me free.  I thought the whole situation was hilarious so I was laughing about it.

My first full day in Kenya I went shopping at Nakumatt which is essentially Kenyan Walmart.  They really have everything that you need.  As I was looking for some hangers the lights in the store went out.  It was really dark in the store, but the lights turned on a few seconds later.  When I talked to some of my friends who have lived here for a while they said it was normal for the lights to go out in the store at times.  I am already fairly used to expected power outages from my previous trips to Zambia and Kenya, but this one took me by surprise.  While I was at Nakumatt I also got roped into doing my first Kenyan road race– a 10K this Saturday.  I’m hoping that I am acclimated to the altitude by then.

In the evening on Saturday I went to the movies with a friend I met in the states and a couple from the church he goes to.  The movie going experience is much like what might happen in the US.  We took Uber to the IMAX theater downtown to watch Avengers.  However, the experience was also uniquely Kenyan.  We arrived with little time to spare before the movie’s start time.  We hurriedly bought our tickets, popcorn, and soda and rushed inside the theater.  At first we thought that the movie had already started, but then we realized that it was the previous showing just letting out.  It is fairly common in Nairobi for movies to start late so we went back out of the theater and waited for about twenty minutes until they were ready to seat us.  (Movie theaters in Kenya also have assigned seats.)

Yesterday I went on my first run in Nairobi.  Almost immediately I could feel the effects of the elevation being over 5,000 feet; there were also hills on my run.  I’m definitely not in Florida anymore.  I went easy on myself though with an out and back run that was around 3 miles.  The first half mile starting out from my house the sidewalks are fairly nonexistent.  It is almost like an obstacle course running on what is left of the pavement and little dirt paths on the side of the road.  After the first bit though there is a nice wide sidewalk.  Most of my run was fairly routine, you know your average I’m dying for lack of oxygen and because of these hills sensations.  However, one of the men I ran past reached out and grabbed my arm.  I think it was more likely to see what kind of reaction he would get from the muzungu girl running than to hurt me, but I really dislike being touched by people I don’t know.  I have had a host of weird things happen to me in the states (if you ask my friends they can verify it seems like I have a creepy dude homing device or something that draws all of the weirdos in a 10 mile radius to me).  Even though this incident was a small one, I’m glad that I was able to take some self defense classes before I moved here because I am much more confident that I’ll be able to get myself out of a bad situation if one arises.

I leave for Ethiopia today with the family that also works for All Nations here in Nairobi.  (I also live with them.)  I’m excited to meet new people and make connections to the Church globally while I am there.

-Hannah

One year and nine days

I can’t believe that today marks one year since I graduated from college.  I also can’t believe that it is only nine days till I move to Kenya.  This year has been one of the craziest years of my life.  It took me from not knowing at all what I was going to do post graduation to getting to live out a dream that I have had for the past 15 years.  I am one of the very few lucky people that has their dream job at 22.  For the next two years I get to explore the field that caught my attention in the third grade and hasn’t let go of my heart since.  I realize how extremely fortunate I am to be living my dreams.  However, I’ve never been more simultaneously sad and excited.  I have broken down into tears a couple of times over the past few days as I have thought of what it really means to be moving to another continent.  Some of my closest friends I met my sophomore year of high school.  They helped me recover from the most painful year of my life and taught me that I am lovable.  I do not want to leave them.  If I’m being honest sometimes I don’t really want to move, because depending on how you count this is somewhere in between my 11th and 16th move.  (I am counting it as the 13th.)  I don’t really want to have to make new friends, because I have already had to do it so many times and it’s hard.  But I get to live out my dream, or rather the dream that God has given me for my life.  I get to do what I was designed to do.  I’m not in a season of waiting anymore.  I’m finally able to go.

This is a really difficult time for me, but I am choosing to walk forward anyway.  It would be easy and comfortable to cling to the security of the US, my friends, my family.  But I know in choosing to move forward I will grow in ways I never imagined.  As I step out in faith I will experience God’s goodness and faithfulness in new ways.  I am choosing to set off on this new adventure knowing that it will be incredibly difficult at times, but trusting that it will be worth it.  Following Jesus is always worth it, no matter the cost.  The cost is really high for this next step.  Nonetheless, I know that God will provide everything that I need.  From friends to finances, my Father knows my needs before I even voice them, and He is already lovingly providing them for me.  I am choosing not to delay in obedience but to do what God is asking of me right now.  I am taking just one more step.  It is a big step, a hard step, but not an impossible step.