Monday, June 30, 2008

My childhood friend (and when I say childhood, I mean I’ve known her since I was but a few days old) Jessi Gates goes to school in Bath Spa in England. When Kendra and I were buying tickets to fly back to America, we decided it would be fun to stop somewhere along the way. Visiting Jessi sounded like a brilliant idea, so after we left Nairobi, we flew to England and stayed about 4 days.

The first day we took a bus to Bath and got to see the cute town in which Jessi currently resides. It was a fascinating, beautiful place, and we really enjoyed our time there. After Bath, we took a train to London where Kendra and I saw the musical The Lion King. It was an incredible show, and it ended up being a great way for me to say good bye to Kenya. The animals and colors reminded me so much of what has been my home for the last 2 years.

The next day we went to church in London with some of Jessi’s friends. I don’t think I’ve ever been to church in a building that old, and I really enjoyed the service. That afternoon we went to the Tower of London and had a tour there. Then we went to West Minster Abbey for the evening service. The pipe organ was incredible, and though the service was nothing exceptional, it gave us a great opportunity to see the abbey for free. Outside of the abbey are the Houses of Parliament. We were surprised to see a Bush demonstration going on there. Apparently he was in London that day.

That night we slept at one of Jessi’s friend’s houses and then left in the morning to see St. Paul’s Cathedral before we went to the airport. Just like Westminster Abbey, this cathedral was also beautiful and indescribable. I think my favorite thing about both St. Paul’s and Westminster is that there is a reverent awe that comes over everyone as they walk inside. Everyone is silent and looking up. Sadly, there are few things in this world that evoke such responses from multitudes of people. Perhaps this is why people find it hard to find God. There is an unwillingness to be silent and stand in awe.

That afternoon, Kendra and I hopped on a plane back to Seattle. We left London around 4:30 pm and landed in Seattle around 6 pm. I’ll let you do the math. Brother Dayn picked us up from the airport and drove us to Portland. The end.

Sunday, June 29, 2008

After crossing the border back into Kenya, Kendra and I tried to figure out how to get to Kakamega National Forest, the only rain forest in Kenya. Our goal was to make it to a campsite for the night, but after it started pouring down rain, and we realized that staying in a hotel was cheaper than finding a ride to the campsite, we opted for the hotel. But, of course, we still pretended like we were camping. The next day we took a matatu (public transport van) to the entrance to the park. We had a fun time hiking around the forest. When it was all done, we went back to the Kisumu airport to fly back to Nairobi.

Saturday, June 28, 2008

After school got out, my friends Kendra, Jen, Brent and I travelled to Uganda to raft the Nile and visit some friends in Kampala and Entebbe. We flew to a town in western Kenya and then took a bus over the border to Jinja, where we would raft the headwaters of the Nile. There were many adventures along the way, but eventually we met up with my friends Brad and Grant in Jinja. Rafting was an adventure to say the least. It was one of the most remarkable, amazing, and fun experiences of my life, and it was also one of the scariest! The rapids were unbelievable, the calm stretches were perfectly serene, and when it started to rain so hard that it felt like hail, well I was just glad the crocodiles didn’t get us. It was a great time!

After rafting, Brad and Grant drove us to their house in Kampala where we stayed overnight. The next day we took a taxi (public transport van) to a little town called Entebbe. Loretta, the lady who used to teach first grade at WNS, lives there with her husband, where they are serving as missionaries with AIM Air. Loretta was like a surrogate mother to me in Nairobi, so it was fun to visit her and see her life in Uganda. She lives in a beautiful place – they have chickens, avocado trees, mango trees, papaya trees, three kinds of banana trees, and the list goes on. It was a little paradise! Kendra and I stayed the night there and then went back to Kampala the next day. We hung out with Brad and Grant some more and then took a bus back over the border into Kenya for the next adventure. But I won’t tell you about that adventure just yet. Enjoy the pictures of Uganda, which, by the way is BEAUTIFUL. I think this is the next place I want to live…or at least dream about living.

Friday, June 27, 2008

The last days of school were full of mixed feelings, as I was busy grading finals and finishing up all my responsibilities at school. When it came to saying good bye to students, especially the 7th grade girls who I have taught for 2 years, I thought my tear ducts were going to run dry. You’ll notice my face is a little red and puffy in some of these pictures!

During finals week, the girls in my Bible class put together skits from various passages in the book of Acts. The 8th graders in my science class had to invent something or improve on an invention that already exists. As you can see from the pictures, the 8th graders worked really hard and made some pretty amazing things!

The other pictures are from the end of the year staff dinner that we had. Kayla, Craig, and I are all leaving the school, so we got these Masai clubs as a going away gift. On the last day of school, there was a closing ceremony where I led worship (one song), and the school prayed for people who were leaving. Hope you enjoy the pictures!

Thursday, June 26, 2008

All year the 8th grade class at West Nairobi School has been raising money to go towards a rafting trip in May. This trip not only included rafting, but also kayaking, rock climbing, and other team building games. We went through a company called Savage Wilderness. Savage came and picked us up in their buses on Friday, May 9th, and then they brought us back to Nairobi on that Sunday.

The program started out with Chris, the main instructor, laying down the law, splitting the kids into 2 teams, and starting them off on various team building games. As you will see in the pictures, he split them up by using a marker to draw either a moustache or eyebrows on their faces. This was quite entertaining for all of us teachers to watch, considering I could name several kids whose faces I would have liked to draw on at some point (sorry to all my students who are reading this, but it’s true, and you probably would have liked to do the same to mine!).

The second day was spent kayaking for half a day and then rock climbing for the other half. The location of the camp is on the Tana River, and it was just outside the town of Embu, making it about a 2 ½ hour drive from Nairobi. The landscape was gorgeous, and I enjoyed the mix of rural Kenya with all these outdoor activities. While we were rock climbing, we had a herd of cows and goats pass through the place we were climbing, and then local kids from the farms surrounding would come watch, probably wondering what in the world we were doing.

The last day, we went rafting. For obvious reasons, I don’t have any pictures of us rafting, but we all had a great time, and the 8th grade trip was well worth all the time we spent fund raising. Thank God! Check out the slide show beneath this post.

Check out my Slide Show!

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

In my 7th grade biology class, we studied about conservation and wildlife protection programs. To see wildlife protection programs in place in Kenya, we took a field trip to the David Sheldrick Orphanage. It's a center for lost or orphaned elephants and rhinos in which the animals are nursed back to health and then released back into secure sanctuaries. We got to see the elephants up close, but due to their aggressive behavior, the rhinos stayed behind their fence.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

I have about 8 or 9 different sets of pictures to put on the blog, and here is the first set. The pictures of the hike take place in the Ngong Hills. In Kiswahili, ngong means knuckles. There are five of these hills, and the third one is the tallest, just like a human hand. So a group of teachers, friends, and one student hiked these 5 knuckles on a chilly (it warmed up, of course) Saturday morning. The other set of pictures take place at the World Hope soccer field. One of my good friends in Nairobi, Steve, plays soccer for World Hope, which is a team whose field is located just outside the Kawangware slum. I really enjoyed watching his games and being a part of the crowd.