Monday, October 7, 2013

Certainty in the Life of a Missionary

We had the privilege this month of meeting a lot of people who have lived in a foreign  land for most of their lives. One question I had for them was how certain did they feel when they finally made the decision to move a new continent.  Each person's initial reaction was different -- from absolute certainty of their call to long nights of doubt and prayer about leaving behind everything they knew.  But as we continued to listen, everyone started to remember the times where doubt reigned and they thought their idealism and vocation were misguided.  In more practical terms, they started packing their bags for the next flight home. In a strange way their struggle to reconcile their sacrifices of being far from family, of being a misfit in the culture they are in, of trying to learn a new language, etc. with the reality of daily life was encouraging to me.  As Meg and I continue to discuss and pray about our future and the many exciting paths before us, it nice to know that all people struggle with the big decisions  they have made even if they seem from the outside to be making the best choices possible (like taking care of poor children in Africa).  

 Kijabe has many exciting things going on- new TB and HIV clinics, palliative care for the sick and dying, Care of Creation ministry for teaching people how to care for the earth, multiple boarding schools for African and missionary children, maternal-child health for a country whose infant mortality triples most American cities, Moffat Bible College for training Kenyan ministers, great orthopedic and neurosurgery programs, and an internship for training Kenya physicians.  I can get really excited about all of these things, but I also get excited about working with Native Americans and in the inner city too!  So we will continue to talk with our family, friends, and mentors over the next few years and one day finally make the big decision

Saturday, October 5, 2013

How to Spend Your Money

Have you ever wondered to yourself, "What is the best charitable organization for me to give to?" Well I have the answer- The Needy Children's Fund and the Kijabe Vunerable Patients Fund (see the bottom of the Oct. 2nd blog for instructions). Oftentimes we worry that our charitable donations are going to extortionists, large administrative costs, or the salaries of the millionaire CEOs, but not in Kijabe. All of the money that is donated to the Needy Children's Fund goes directly to pay for the bill of the children who are hospitalized in the pediatric ward of Kijabe Hospital. See Dr. Jennifer Myhre's blog about it. Many mothers and fathers are willing to sell their phones, means of transportation, livestock, etc. to help their children get better and this fund helps them cover the bill. 

The Kijabe Vulnerable Patients Fund was setup by Dr. Mike Mara to help two brothers who came from rural Northern Kenya with disseminated TB who are going to need extensive surgeries. He received an overwhelming response from generous people and these two boys who were bed bound and knocking on death's door now have the chance to play with their friends again. His last two blogs tell their stories. I have seen what God's grace looks like on a worried mother's face when she realizes that she is finally catching a break through these funds.

 There are so many great needs in this world to give our time and money to, but this opportunity is compelling because it represents such an obvious good- to relieve the stress of money on an impoverished family and to help alleviate the suffering of a child. I fully support giving to local charities and local churches who are working in your community, but don't forget how potent your dollar is to these families in Kijabe and how good it feels to give!

Friday, October 4, 2013


Written September 29th by Meg

We drove through bustling Nakuru town to get to the main gate of Lake Nakuru National Park, "The Bird Lovers' Paradise", and site of an event called something like "Cycle with the Rhinos" the day we were there.  There were hundreds of people, almost all African, milling around the gate area when we arrived, but once we paid our entry and drove the round-about route into the park (Lake Nakuru is currently flooded way past its usual boundaries), all was quiet wilderness.  

Astounding beauty.  Acacia forests up to, and past, the water's edge.  Rolling hills, sharp cliffs, expanses of grass. Countless exotic birds.  And immediately we saw herds of impala and several zebras.  Muddy, partially flooded roads, with large stones thrown in for traction, which John navigated expertly.  We drove about halfway around the lake and then turned uphill to our lodge - Sarova Lion Hill.  We got a missionary discount, which made the expense reasonable on our budget (thanks again to Ann and Mardi for some excellent safari advice), and though it still wasn't cheap it was more than worth every penny.  We checked in (cool washcloth and a glass of passionfruit juice, yes, thank you!) and then enjoyed a beautiful buffet lunch with a view.  Annie was eager to explore the new digs, especially after a few hours in the car, and quickly discovered the chilly swimming pool, tucked away just downhill from the restaurant.  Austin was lucky enough to get to take a quick dip with her, as the cool rain started to fall.  By mid-afternoon, we were dressed and ready for our first real game drive.  

The rain seemed to work to our advantage.  We quickly spotted cape buffalo grazing near the water's edge, then drove right into a troop of baboons.  There were probably 15-20 of them, including several babies.  Annie was eating a peanut butter cookie, and one large male baboon started to approach the van.  John quickly warned us to close the window - it hadn't even occurred to me that he might try to grab the cookie, but we would later discover just how bold they can be.  We continued our drive, spotting waterbucks, flamingos, and soon a small group of black rhinos.  Probably best to let the pictures speak for themselves.  It was incredible to see these animals in their own habitats.  So majestic.  And their behavior was far more interesting than the usual zoo milling around.  At this point we tracked past the far edge of the lake into rolling hills, rimmed with cliffs.  Weather was still cool and cloudy.  Riding in the pop-top van was somewhat like being in a boat.  Drove through some more acacia woods, spotting several (Rothschild) giraffes.  Then we came upon a cluster of safari vehicles, for the highlight of our trip!

Lions!  First we saw the male, and then his harem sauntered up, at least 10 females.  Pictures worth a thousand words.  Such an amazing thing to watch.  We drove within 5-10 feet of them as we moved on to make room for newcomers.  Then we came upon another female, and stopped in the road just in front of two safari jeeps, a male and female.  We stood and watch as they all strolled within two feet of our van, crossed the road right behind us, and moved off a respectful distance before engaging in some fascinating behavior.  Pictures to come! I've been to the Memphis Zoo a lot in the past two years and have not been that close to a lion.  And then you're doing well to see one roll over.  What a spectacular scene they were.  Wild and majestic and beatiful.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013


September 27th by Megan

It was almost a week ago now.  The kind of vacation I've been dreaming of for at least 10 years.  We had the most spectacular 2-day safari.  This post will certainly not be complete until it includes pictures.  

We began our Saturday with donuts from the RVA "senior store" fundraiser, including a delicious maple walnut donut and a few chocolates.  Yum.  Mr. John, the best driver ever, picked us up at 9:30.  He drove us down a fairly new dirt road to the bottom of the valley, where we joined a main highway.  The road was put in to improve accessibility of the hospital for people living in the valley.  Along the way we had amazing views of the valley and Mount Longonot.  We passed countless euphobia trees, startlingly large cactuses that are also called candelabra trees because of their shape. John said they are left because they are useless to people.  He remembers when the whole area was completely forested.  We drove past small villages made mostly of sheet metal, always with brightly painted, closet-sized shops, with adds for Coca-Cola or Safaricom or Airtel on the exterior walls.  We passed many fields with sheep and cattle, usually accompanied by a shepherd and rarely fenced in.  These were interspersed occasionally with zebras and Thompson's gazelles.  We passed Lake Naivasha, a huge Rift Valle lake, and one of the few with fresh water.  We plan to stop there for a visit to Crescent Island (where Out of Africa was filmed) this coming Sunday afternoon.  Naivasha is a bustling town,   more like a city.  Felt huge to us after a few weeks in Kijabe.  Banks, shops, restaurants, hotels, etc.  From there we drove through beautiful acacia woodlands.  Marveled at 1950s era cars and trucks, especially a turquoise one loaded down with cargo, and piki-pikis (motorcycles) carrying up to 4 people, and women walking along the highway with giant loads of sticks strapped to their backs.  

And then we arrived at Nakuru.  That story will have to wait for another typing session, as this one is being interrupted by a sweet, precocious, almost-3-year-old who is licking my shoulder.

Mama Chiku's

September 19th by Megan

Last night we had the privilege of going to the local restaurant with two long-term missionary families.  Mama Chiku's serves local Kikuyu cuisine.  We had a delicious, abundant table full meal, served family style.  There were the famous chapatas, tasty and oily flatbread, the kids' favorite.  There were some sausage fritters, called samosas.  There was beef stew with zucchini.  And there were loads of vegetable dishes.  Ann and Mardi told me the names of all of them, but I couldn't keep up.  We had carrots, rice, potatoes, spinach, beans, cabbage, and a tasty green mixture of mashed potatoes, maize, and spinach.  The atmosphere was unforgettable, and the company such a blessing.  So thankful for missionaries who show the most beautiful hospitality to visitors.

Monday, September 30, 2013

Time Flies (Sept. 17th) by Meg

We have had lots of activity over the last few days.  Austin was on call four nights out of seven, including all weekend.  But it wasn't too bad.  Annie and I went to the market together on Saturday morning.  It was really nice, and she was a real champ.  Very patient and surprisingly self-controlled.  There is a beautiful abundance of produce here.  We've enjoyed pineapples, bananas, strawberries, tomatoes, onions, garlic, potatoes, sweet potatoes, carrots, limes, oranges, more carrots, etc.  I've made guac a couple of times, and the second time was good, with a little extra salt, onions, and garlic. 

We've gotten to spend some quality time with long-term missionaries lately.  Had really nice dinners with the Maras on Sunday night and the Myhres on Monday.  It's interesting to hear about their path here, the adjustments they've made, some of what they've learned.  Annie and I have also gotten to spend time with a number of moms and preschoolers at the RVA playgroup on Tuesdays.  It's fun to hear their teacher stories as well as the how-they-got-here.

Looking forward to posting some pictures once we get back to the land of flat-rate, fast internet.  :)

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

One Week In

By Megan.  Internet is quite spotty here, so no telling when this post will actually get posted.  But today is Saturday, and we arrived in Kijabe one week ago.  So much we could say about this place and our time here so far, it's hard to summarize.  Here are some thoughts.

We have been overwhelmed at how the Lord has provided for us.  Thank you all for the prayers!  Our travels went so smoothly I can hardly believe it.  Our apartment is comfortable in every way.  The staff here, Kenyan and ex-pat, have all been so friendly and helpful.  Annie has been game for just about everything, and she's having a great time.  Eating and drinking and sleeping have all gone smoothly, thanks to clorox, water purifiers, and tips from  

Kijabe is an absolutely beautiful place.  Our apartment is on the third floor and we overlook the Great Rift Valley.  Most days are clear this time of year.  We can see volcanic Mount Longonot, several other mountains, and a vast stretch of valley floor.  We were surprised by the large crowd in church on Sunday - the steep hillside hides much of the town from view, making Kijabe seem less populated than it actually is.  

Austin has had a full week at the hospital already, dealing with many cases of malnutrition and tuberculosis.  While Memphis is affected by poverty in many ways, he had never seen a case of malnutrition like what is common here.   The children here are on the brink of heart failure. Overwhelming.  

Annie and I have spent a good bit of time playing at Rift Valley Academy.  We went to a playgroup there on Tuesday and have gone back to visit the primary school playground.  Trying to go to the library, but haven't hit an open time yet. The campus is wonderful.  Vividly colorful flowers everywhere, grassy fields, beautiful trees, inviting buildings and dorms with large, open windows.  It is quite a trek, carrying back-pack and 28 pound toddler, to make it up to the playground, but the views are worth it.