Saturday, June 30, 2012

Updates from Kenya! =)

Hello from Kenya! I've decided to post up the updates I've been sending via email. So, I'll list them all with the date and end with the one from today. :Sound good? Yes, I thought so. ;)

June 7, 2012

Thank you for all your prayers this week! Our entire team made it to Nairobi, Kenya around 8:30 last night and were extremely excited to sleep in beds instead of sitting in a plane. ;) We had no delays with any of our flights and had some good times even though towards the end we were all pretty exhausted. I found out that I do not do well with having to sleep on a plane and so ended up going over 40 hours with just a few 10 minute naps. That wasn't very fun, but I was able to get 7 hours of sleep last night and it felt so good! :)

Ok, so I really have no clue where to start with everything and I don't have the internet for very long, so I'm going to try and make it pretty brief. Our pre-departure orientation went really well and I met some amazing people. We were kept busy throughout the day, but the evenings we spent playing games and just getting to know each other better. I had an awesome time, but none of us slept very much that week which made our long flight that much worse. Even despite the lack of sleep and feeling exhausted, I am so thankful that God brought us all here safely and for all our answered prayers. :)

Today we went around Nairobi and it has been amazing to see everything! It's so different from the US, but it's been great! lol, actually the driving isn't so great. You really have to be a very aggressive driver and do a lot of praying! We nearly got hit multiple times and made me realize that it would take me ages to learn to drive in this city. ;) We were told that just driving around Nairobi can make you tired as it creates a lot of stress.

Our host missionary family have been awesome! We stayed up till almost two in the morning just getting to know each other better. Oh, and eating food. ;) We've eaten so much food this week! I guess it's in preparation for what's to come though. Shelby and I will be making all our food and we only have a stove top. No oven, so kinda limited on what we can make. I'm really looking forward to it though. I think that means I'm still in the "romantic stage" of culture shock. ;)

Ok, so best part of the day was when we went to the grocery store. The stores here are different and sometimes they have some pretty weird wording on the items. We spent nearly two hours in that store and were laughing so hard we were crying. I have some pretty good pictures that i took, but those will have to wait till the end of summer. ;) Not sure if we were laughing so hard because of lack of sleep, but we got a huge kick out of "Knobbly sticks of corn", which were actually just cheetos. And they also sell "human food", which set us all to laughing again. I'm sure you're thinking that it's really not that funny, but if you could've seen it, you would've laughed too. :)

We have picked up on some Swahili and have been practicing on each other. Shelby (the other intern who will be living with me) and I will be speaking Maa and not Swahili, but it's still been fun learning it anyway. Tomorrow we're leaving Nairobi and will be headed into the bush (sorry, it's a long name and I can't remember it) and will spend a little over a week learning the Maasai culture and language. We'll then come back to Nairobi and then head to an area by Narok where we will spend the next six weeks working in the clinic.

So, be praying for safe travels as all four of us, Shelby, Branden, Caleb and I, will be headed out to the bush (Branden and Caleb will be in north Kenya in the Turkana area), and be praying that we adjust well to the culture. It has already been quite the adventure and I'm really looking forward to all that God has planned next! :) We serve such an amazing God and I'm so humbled that He has given me this chance to serve in Maasai. :)

Sorry this is so rushed, but it's after 11 here and the others need to use the internet. I love you all! And thank you again for praying!

June 17, 2012

 Well, I have successfully survived my first week in the bush! ;) Friday night, the Cazier's (our host family) came and picked us up and brought us back to Nairobi to spend a few days before we head to Ewaso Ngiro on Monday morning. It's so weird to be back in the city where there's white people, running water, and a bathroom in the house! It makes me realize how very privileged we are. I told Shelby that I felt rich being back in Nairobi. ;)

It's hard knowing where to start, but I suppose it's best to start at the beginning. ;) Last Friday, the Cazier's took us to Ngatataek where we spent the entire week learning language and culture. Our place was very tiny and would be considered like a small bedroom for most people. In it we had our kitchen, our table, fridge, and there were two bunk beds. Yes, we were very much crammed in there. I do have pictures, but you probably won't see them till after I get home in August since I have no way of getting them on the computer. There was no plumbing, so we got used to washing dishes in buckets, taking "bucket showers" (that's what I call them), and washing our clothes in buckets. If you haven't caught on to it yet, we use a lot of buckets in the bush. ;) We did have electricity and that was the one normal thing we had.

On Saturday (last weekend), we went to Minton with Paul and Rose. Paul is a pastor there and they were gracious enough to let us stay the weekend in their home. Minton is 40 kilometers from Ngatataek and it took us 2 hours to get there. That gives you an idea of how terrible the roads were. They didn't have plumbing (not surprising since we were in the bush), but they didn't have electricity either. Lets just say, it was really dark in the evenings. ;) I really have no clue what my dinner looked like that night except that it tasted really good! It was cabbage (tasted way better than any cabbage I've ever eaten) and chapatis...for those wondering if it was something weird. ;-)
Oh, and I milked my first goat, sheep and cow that evening! And I got laughed at a ton. ;) I really wasn't that great at it, but at least I tried. :)

Sunday we went to church and that was definitely different. A lot of singing, dancing and a sermon that was yelled. It was a good experience even though I didn't understand really any of it. :)

Most of our mornings were spent learning the Maasai langauge with three of the woman there. They taught us quite a bit about the culture and also how things are done....they also laughed at us a lot. We learned to hand wash our own laundry, cleaned one of their houses, went to the market to buy food, cooked over a fire, etc. The list could seriously keep going on but I'm now drawing a blank and don't want to bore everyone to death. ;)

Oh, driving back to Nairobi on Friday night, i saw my first zebra! Yep, it was lying dead in the middle of the road. I had to laugh though, because back in the States it's usually a deer you see along the side of the road, not a zebra. :) I've been told I'll see a lot of zebras so at least I should see some live ones! ;-)

Interesting fact about the people who live in the bush: they have cell phones and use them ALL the time!!! It seriously cracked me up to see these woman cooking their meals over a fire and then to have them talking on their phone. That was something I was not expecting to see. ;)

We got to hang out with the school kids a couple times and those were the best times. They loved to have their picture taken and would scramble around us trying to see their picture. They also loved to play with our hair and touch our "soft" skin. It was awesome and I loved every minute I got to spend with the kids. I had several that would grab my arm and say, "You are my friend." We didn't get to spend as much time with the kids as I would've liked, but I'm glad for the little bit we did have with them. :)

Thursday, we went to the medical clinic in Kumpa and that was quite the experience! It was their vaccination day so mother's brought their babies in to receive their immunizations. That's the first time I've done something without training. I watched the doctor give several shots before I tried it and I guess I did all right because they didn't tell me to stop. ;) Thankfully, it's not really that hard to do and so I wasn't too worried about it. I'm sure we'll be doing more of this once we start working in the clinic at Ewaso Ngiro.

The scenery was absolutely gorgeous in Ngatataek! We were surrounded by mountains and so I felt like i was living in Colorado. ;) I told Shelby several times this week that i could get used to waking up every morning and seeing the mountains. Unfortunately, Ewaso Ngiro will not have mountains and so I'm a little disappointed. Our living conditions will be nicer though as we will have a duplex instead of a one bedroom house. Oh, we'll have an oven which means we'll be able to bake! ;-)

I would ask that you all pray for my teammate, Shelby. She has been sick since Wednesday and we think it's probably giardia. She's on medication for it now and we're hoping and praying she starts feeling better. She was up during the night vomiting and so we're not sure if she may have picked up something else along with the giardia. So, be praying she improves and that we stay healthy for the next six weeks while we're in Ewaso Ngiro.

Thank you all for keeping me in your prayers! I have been enjoying my time here and I'm so thankful for all that God has done. Time moves very slowly here and that has been the most difficult thing for me so far. I'm used to a very fast-paced life where I always have something to do and so this is very different. I'm trying to adjust to it though and I am enjoying learning so many new things. :)
I was given a Maasai name (Naserian) while in Ngatataek which means "blessed one". I think it fits very well, because God has blessed me with so much. We serve one amazing God. :)
I miss everyone so much and it's been great to get emails from some of you! Even though I can't always reply, it makes me so happy to read them. :)

Sorry for such a long email. I hope you all enjoyed reading my ramblings and that you didn't fall asleep. ;)
Thanks again for all your prayers! =)

June 23, 2012

Thanks for the replies! I enjoyed reading each one of them. :) Thank you also the prayers for Shelby. She started feeling a little better on Monday and is now completely back to normal.

The Cazier's brought us to Ewaso Ngiro on Monday afternoon and then stayed with us till Wednesday. We've worked in the clinic several days this week, but it's been slow and so we've been done by early afternoon. Wednesday is the well baby clinic and so we stayed very busy from 10 to 4:30 with mother's bringing in their babies to be immunized. We saw a lot of young mothers and a few were as young as 14. That's been really weird to see as they're still kids themselves and yet now they're mothers.
We've been able to work in the pharmacy, the lab, and then seeing patients. Things are done very different here, but they have a good system down that seems to work very well for them. We were given lab coats to wear, so we feel very important even though we're not really. ;) We're hoping to come to the hospital in Narok so we can see how things are done in a more hospital setting and to maybe see some babies born. :)

Our evenings are still slow and long, but we've tried to keep ourselves busy by cooking, reading, doing puzzles, etc. It gets dark by 7, so we're stuck indoors all evening long. We've had some good times though and have been making lots of messes in our kitchen. ;) Which kinda stinks because then we spend an hour trying to wash all the dishes. Some of you were worried I would lose weight while here, but I have a feeling I'll be gaining weight. ;) So far, I've liked all the Kenyan food I've eaten (well, I didn't care for goat meat that much) and then I of course love anything American.... and I've eaten plenty of desserts! Since Shelby and I will have so much time in the evenings, we'll probably be doing lots of baking. ;) We did go running yesterday and today to try and make up for it though. ;) We actually didn't run very much yesterday as all the kids were getting out of school and proceeded to surround us, each one fighting over who was going to hold our hands. :)

The temperature here has been awesome, if even on the cool side of things. Because it's winter here, it's been about 60's most days and very cloudy. Yesterday the sun came out and it was probably 70's; definitely need more of those days! :) I'm not really a huge fan of cloudy weeks.... I much prefer the sun. :) Nights are pretty cool and so we're usually wearing sweat pants and hoodies by evening.
It's more flat here than in Ngatataek, but it's still pretty. If you ever come to Kenya you definitely have to drive from Nairobi to Narok as the scenery is simply gorgeous. :)

Shelby and I are spending the day in Narok because it is the only way we can get on the internet. This is the first time we've gone out into the town without someone along with us. So far we've done pretty good and haven't run into any trouble. :-) Oh, and we've seen 5 mzunga's (white people) so far today! It was pretty funny when we were getting out of the matatu (taxi/bus) and I said, "Shelby, look at the white guy!" Then we laughed at how excited we got over seeing white people. :)

We woke up this morning to no electricity, so we're hoping it's on by the time we get back. It makes cooking and washing dishes difficult when you don't have hot water. Oh, and it's always nice to have a hot bucket shower. ;)
Our duplex is very nice compared to where we were at. It's a cement building so it stays very cold, but it has a kitchen, living room, and two bedrooms, and a bathroom...only the toilet doesn't work because there's no plumbing in the house. We don't have to use a squatty potty anymore though (unless we're in town) because our outhouse is made so you can sit instead of squatting. :) lol, not that you all probably really cared, but now you know! ;)

Well, that's all I can think of to say at the brain is fried and so is this internet, I think. It really has been terrible. ;)
I can't begin to say how thankful I am for all your prayers. It's been a great adventure so far. :)

June 30, 2012

Well, another week has gone by and I can't believe that there's only 28 days left until our missionary family come pick us up for the safari. I already know I'm going to hate leaving here. Shelby and I have started spending our afternoons with the kids when they walk home from school and we have already started to become attached to them. Even though we don't speak Maasai or Swahili, the kids speak enough English that we're able to communicate with them a little. And boy do they wear us out! ;) Walking with the kids means that we run, we dance, we sing, we take pictures, and we do a lot of laughing. It usually takes us a couple hours to walk with the kids and it's something that we look forward to every day. :) Yesterday, we watched a soccer game and were soon surrounded by young boys (ages ranging from 10-16 yrs) who all wanted to take pictures and have their picture taken. I wish I were able to send out the pictures that they took, because they would seriously crack you up. :) I was laughing and smiling so much that my face hurt! =)

Work at the clinic has been pretty busy this week. Monday we were able to see a couple guys who had been attacked by a lion. It had happened a week ago and so they were mostly healed up (really wasn't gruesome at all and I was kinda disappointed), but one guy's leg was pretty swollen and infected. They did tell me they had killed the lion, when I asked. :) It takes about five guys to kill one, so apparently, it isn't very easy.
Then on Thursday, we saw a patient who was so skinny that we were able to see her intestines. I'm not even joking. It was the weirdest, coolest, saddest thing ever.
We're allowed to do quite a bit at the clinic, from performing patient assessments to writing up prescriptions and giving injections. They don't do a lot of IV's here, so I haven't been able to do any yet, but I'm hoping I'll be able to at some point. :) I've given a ton of "in the butt" injections and would be okay if I didn't have to do anymore of those. ;-)
Wednesday was the well baby clinic and Shelby and I were left on our own to do it. Surprisingly enough we did pretty well and didn't mind at all. :) It is kinda sad that the babies all come in smiling at us and then leave screaming. They probably hate mzungu's now. ;-)

Have I mentioned that Kenyan's drink a lot of tea (it's called chai here)? Because they do. They usually have chai twice a day, morning and evening. It's mainly milk, so it tastes pretty good and even after having it every day, I'm not sick of it yet. ;) Actually, I'm really going to miss the chai and food here a lot when I leave. Shelby and I have tried to cook the food here, but so far we've failed. lol, we're determined to keep working at it though and hopefully I can make some real Kenyan food for my family when I get home. Haha, be prepared guys. ;-)

My dad asked if we had seen any exotic animals and so far all we've seen have been: zebras (alive ones!;-), baboons, wildebeests (really ugly creatures), and gazelles. I'm sure once we go on our safari at the end of the summer we'll see a lot more cool animals. And hopefully they get up close to the vehicle so I can get some good pictures since I didn't bring my telephoto lens. :)

I am constantly amazed at how many people they manage to fit into one vehicle here. Last weekend, when Shelby and I took a taxi back to Ewaso Ngiro, they managed to fit 11 of us in. We were crammed in pretty tight and I couldn't help but smile while we were driving because this would never happen back in the States. I wish I had gotten a picture because it would've been pretty comical. :) Coming back from a mobile clinic, they managed to cram 13 of us in a land cruiser. It's crazy, but I think it's funny. :)

Be praying that we stay healthy for the rest of our time here. Shelby has had a hard time with staying healthy and now has strep throat. Thankfully, since we work at a medical clinic, she was able to get on antibiotics right away and seems to be feeling better now. :)

Feel free to write and ask any questions you have and I'll do my best to answer them when I send out an update. :)