Equatorial Sun, a Fan, a Bed, and a Phone.

So…I have been wracking my brain trying to come up with an idea for a blog post.  Maybe there is just too much to share. Or maybe I am hesitant to overwhelm you with my emotional roller-coaster of a first week (don’t worry, I’m solid as rock – there’s just A LOT to process…especially when my current community mainly consists of me, myself, and I).  For the sake of wanting to share something with you, I invite you to read the following: an inside peek into the surface of my mind my first few days here, a brief summary of the projects I have already had the privilege of having a hand in, some fun (and not-so-fun) facts about Nairobi, and a list of songs I have heard while moving all over this beautifully chaotic city…

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Today I ran.

walking in the door from my first day at office, my mind is obviously racing.
recalling names.
taking note of culturally appropriate office attire, communication styles, daily routines. excited that tea is twice a day. not excited that wi-fi is a rarity (though this does not come as a surprise).
my  mind is like a resistant sponge. driving unfamiliar streets I try to soak in directions to and from the office. to and from the market. to and from the ATM  (we all know, I suck at directions).
don’t drive with the windows down.
be aware in crowded places. keep your hands on your possessions.
do not walk to work if you have to carry a laptop.
don’t take malaria in Nairobi. do take malaria in the field.
wash the vegetables with filtered water and salt.
boiled water is ok.
brush your teeth with this water.
there are 86.3 shillings to the dollar.
turn on the water heater 30 minutes before showering. turn it off when you shower.
there is a good chance you will be robbed at some point.
when will you leave for your first field visit?
……………………………
God is good.
God is faithful.
have no fear. trust. His timing.
communications from headquarters. communications from Africa staff.
this is day one.
and i am on four hours of sleep. hello jet lag.
and i am happy. and i am thrilled to be here. and i am excited. and i am learning.
yet, the sponge is full.
so I ran.
Yes, I can run in Nairobi!!!
I put on my big girl shoes. Grabbed a little cell phone. took off down the jammed (traffic) dirt roads and ran.
my breathing was heavy- I assumed from nerves caused by running in an unfamiliar place (where runners are a unique site). I later remembered I am at almost 6,000 ft elevation. phew.
Today, I ran. 
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Day in the Life…

… at least as of this point.

Wake up to an assortment of alarms (granted that they go off- the past two mornings they have failed, and I am now going five days strong with dirty hair).
Turn on the water heater.
Stumble into the kitchen for coffee. Praise the Lord most Holy that it has moved from Nescafe to French Press. Thank you roommate Jane.
Read news. Read Bible. Pray for strength, courage, motivation.
Head to wash my sweaty dusty exhaust covered body. Pray that there is hot water (it can last anywhere from 0-20 minutes if I’m lucky),
Do the normal getting ready routine.
Breakfast- oatmeal or eggs with kale (oh yessss there is kale!! funny enough, kale is considered poor mans food here. It is what farmers eat to survive when they are low on all other crops. I eat it like it’s gold).
Gather my belongings, put on my walking shoes (often with a dress or skirt- the best combo) and head out the door.
Say good morning to the guards. They tell me, “Have a smiling day”, take off down the road, turn on Jabavu Road, then on Woodlands… finally right on 3rd Ngong Ave- joining in the herd of many other drivers, bikers, and walkers headed off for the day.
During the 30 minute walk, try to simultaneously focus on the following things: not eating it on the uneven roads, being aware of my surroundings so I don’t get lost for the umpteenth time, being aware of my belongings as I walk to work with my laptop and purse, watching out for ginormous buses, matatus, and cars (who tend drive wherever they want and come within centimeter’s of your life), holding my breath while dark black exhaust is blown into my lungs and red dirt onto my face (sidewalks are optional- but ALWAYS search for sidewalks when possible), try not to break out in a sweat before arriving at the office, where everyone looks ‘smart’ in their heels and skirts and ties. Soak in the gorgeous scenery.
Arrive at work, begin a variety of tasks (research, reading, reading, reading, meetings, report writing, training, tea, research, lunch [served on tues/thurs- i have been exploring the area for local food mwf… including fruit salad in a bag!..fresh mangoes  papayas, bananas, avocado, pineapple], meetings, tea)
Head back home. Same path. This time the sun-rays scorching my Seattle-white skin and hit me directly in my eyes. This is when I bust out my iPod to listen to podcasts, music, or Swahili lessons. This is when I often talk to many a passerby, stop at local shops, and pray lots.
Arrive home dusty and sweaty.
Afternoons/evenings are up in the air and often an adventure. There’s no such thing as just ‘going to the grocery store’…
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This song has brought me many moments of reflection and solitude over the past week. Cannot help but to stop everything I am doing and fall to my knees when listening.

“Pierpoint For the Beauty” l

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Moments of reflection with Martin Luther King Jr. If you have the time to listen to this sermon, you will not regret it.

 “But If Not”

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A much-needed Moment of Thanksgiving.

THANK YOU for all of your words, prayers, emails, Skype messages, and thoughts of support. I am continually reminded that I am not in this alone, and my family is large and undeniably beautiful. Know how much you mean to me.

Now I must have a moment of thanks for a few ‘less significant’ items (but seriously, I have never felt so thankful for such things).

– a BED (had one made on the side of Ngong Road and finally picked it up a couple of days ago!)

– My fan (that I walked 25 minutes home with, craddling it like a precious child). I was so happy to have it, I drew this in my journal:

my new best friend.

my new best friend.

– A phone. This is a story of it’s own.

– Enough Vitamin D to make up for my 6 years of living in Seattle (shout-out to my Seattle people… praying for your winter months!).

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Integral Alliance

World Concern works with a variety of local and international NGOs and aid organizations in to have more impacting projects and assist a grander scope of people. One such partnership is with Integral Alliance. During my first week at the office, I was invited to sit in on a meeting where Communications Officers from World Relief Kenya and Tearfund are working implement various mediums of communication in order to promote a peaceful election process (if you think of it, please pray for Kenya’s elections in March). Though it was more of a learning process for me (I’m playing catch-up on Kenyan politics and want to be careful about imposing any of my outside opinions), I feel honored to be a participant in such an incredible movement. As we push out the communication pieces, I will keep you posted on their outcomes!

Grant Writing

Yesterday I was invited to observe a grant proposal committee meeting. This was the first gathering regarding this specific grant- thus I was able to see how a grant proposal is organized from square one. My goodness, little did I know how much investigation, research, and writing is involved in this process.  I am hoping to be an active member in more proposal writing while I am here- they are absolutely crucial to funding World Concern’s projects.

2012, A Year in Review

For the past week, I’ve been working on a 32-slide PowerPoint that our Area Director will potentially present next week at the Headquarter Annual Meetings (Seattle, WA). The presentation is titled, “World Concern Africa, 2012 in Review” (pretty creative, right?). In order to create this report I’ve had to do extensive reading, research , and interviews. Though it’s been a bit tedious, I am so thankful for this assignment; I now know a great amount about WC’s projects all over Africa. I couldn’t have picked a better way to orient myself with our projects. Now it’s time for field visits!

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Last but not least, please take time to indulge in this highlight list of songs I’ve heard while traveling in, and walking by, matatus.

"Glory to God" matatu.

“Glory to God” matatu.

Imagine the Indiana Jones ride at Disneyland. Add in an occasional rave light show, BLARING upbeat music, a diversity of folks, lots of yelling (most of which I have yet to understand… working on that piece!), and sharing a one-person seat with 2+ bums. This is the adventure called, riding in a matatu.

Generally, matatus are “15” passenger public transport vans. They are everywhere. When walking on the street, you are guaranteed to see one within 3 minutes of leaving your home. There is no shortage of public transportation in Nairobi. Matatus are known for abiding by their own rules- ie drivers tend to drive on the wrong side of the road past long lines of traffic, ride up and over sidewalks, blow out gross amounts of black exhaust, and stop (slow down) just in time for you to jump out and land (hopefully) standing on the ground. Matatus may not be the most restful, safe way to travel, but they are definitely the most affordable

One of my favorite things about matatus are their names (“Jesus4Eva”; “PreachDaGospel”; “Glory2God”) and the variety of music they produce (I would be willing to bet that 90% of the music is from the 90’s and early 2000’s). Whether catching a ride or strolling past, a matatu’s music is enjoyed by all. Here’s an idea of the type of music you, too, could enjoy  if you ever pay a visit:

Celine Dion- “My Heart Will Go On”

Nelly- “Country Grammar”

Shania Twain- “You’re Still The One”

George Michael- “Careless Whisper”

Phil Collins- “True Colors”

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If you made it through the randomness of this blog, I appreciate your patience. THANK YOU for keeping me in your thoughts and prayers as I transition into this new role, a new culture, and my new life in Kenya. Missing you all sorely, but excited to continue to bring you along for the journey (and thank you Jesus for technology).

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