Sunday, October 25, 2015

A Trip to Kenya

If I've been a bit silent on my blog, it's because I've been incredibly busy.  I attended a conference in Kenya, but the week before leaving was crazy with trying to get ready and tying up a lot of loose ends here.

I left for Kenya on Saturday, October 10.  We kept checking FlightAware for my flight and it wasn't showing at all.  We'd heard from other friends who had recently traveled Ethiopian Airways about flights leaving earlier or later than expected.  Later didn't bother me, but I sure didn't want to miss a flight that was leaving earlier than expected!  When I got to the airport, I told John not to leave until I texted him that I'd gotten checked in.  When I got to the check-in desk another passenger was yelling about canceling his flight, so I still wasn't 100% sure that the flight was going to work out.  But it turns out everything was on time and the flight itself went well. 

Taking off from Niamey
 Except when the bathroom door in the plane wouldn't open and I was stuck in the bathroom.  My seatmate heard me trying to open the door, but I didn't know that, so I rang the bell for the flight attendant.  They both came and got the door open for me.  Good thing I didn't have to spend the rest of the flight in the bathroom!

I had a lay-over in the airport in Addis Ababa in Ethiopia.  It's much improved since the last time I was there two years ago.  I ate two granola bars for supper while waiting in the airport.  There was some food on the flight fromn Addis to Nairobi, but, you know, it was airline food.....just kind of bleh!   I landed there about 10:30 p.m. and it was around 12:30 a.m. when I finally got to my guest house.


My room was small, but nice and clean and I had a private bathroom. 

 
I opened the window to let in the cool air, but it may have been a mistake as I heard another person arriving, somebody else leaving, and then a group of SIM people heading out for a safari at 6 a.m.  It was definitely not a good night's sleep, but the breakfast was great.

Later in the morning I went to see the Karen Blixen house. 

 
In case you don't remember, she wrote Out of Africa and a movie starring Meryl Streep and Robert Redford was also made by the same title (but with plenty of liberties from the book!).  This was the extent of my sight-seeing in Kenya.  

Later that day we were taken to the Lukenya Getaway, a retreat center on the outskirts of Nairobi.  It's actually a little lower in elevation than Nairobi, so not quite as cool.  But the nights were definitely cool and I wore a sweater in the evenings and early mornings.  It was a relief after the high humidity and heat we've been having here.

We were in meetings all day long for six days and it was a pretty exhausting pace.  



We talked a lot about new things that are happening in the world of SIM...mostly things that have to do with how we make our needs for personnel, projects, and prayer known.  The conference was for mobilisers and communications personnel.  I'm not technically either, but I do a lot of communicating with mobilisers, so that's how I ended up attending.  Our field Communications Coordinator also attended.  Sadly we never got a picture together even though we shared a room!  We did have a free afternoon, but I ended up having two meetings that afternoon, so didn't get to go on any of the outings that were offered.

The facility was really nice.  Our room was spacious with an extra seating area in it and a private bathroom.  



Every day the room was cleaned, including making the beds, tying up our mosquito nets, and opening the curtains and closing the windows.  Late in the afternoon they would come back in, close the curtains, turn down the beds, and put the nets down.  There are no screens on the windows in Kenya and there were definitely mosquitoes, so it was nice to have the nets.  Our first night we didn't and both Beki and I just about went crazy with the buzzing in our ears.



The food was also amazing.  There was so much to choose from and I especially enjoyed the nice variety of fresh fruits and vegetables.  We are at the time of year here where there isn't much variety in fresh stuff, so having good fruit and veggies was a plus for me.  



The retreat center was right next to a game reserve.  Some people managed to get themselves up early enough to go out in the morning to walk or run and they saw wild animals.  I, ahem, never got up that early.  But there were deer-like-creatures and monkeys on the compound that we would see from time to time.



There was also a nice pool at the center, but I never went in....partly I didn't have time, but it was much colder water than I'm used to!



Kenya is a truly beautiful country.  I think some of the things I noticed that impressed me was the obvious Christian influence in the country, the cleanliness of things (the vehicles I rode in while old and well-used were spotless), and the friendliness and openness of the Kenyan people.  My only regret is that I didn't get to see more of the country, of the "real" Kenya.  



Meanwhile, "back on the farm", John and Crystal ran the Newcomers' Retreat for 18 new-ish arrivals.  From what I hear, they did a great job!

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