Saturday, April 21, 2012


One thing that I really wanted to do when I came to Kenya was to be able to explore the country and possibly even some other countries in East Africa. I've been able to see some different parts of the country and get a little bit of a feel of what it is like outside of Nairobi and this past week I had my first opportunity to explore outside the country. On Monday I went to visit some friends, Simeon and Janelle and their son Malachi, in Arusha, Tanzania.

The journey to Arusha isn't a bad one at all. It is only about five hours, if your bus doesn't have any problems, oh wait, our's did. It wasn't anything too major and we were only stranded along side the road for about thirty minutes. Crossing the border was pretty straight forward and easy and expensive. To get a visa into the country costs $100 US, but it is a one year, multi-entry visa. The multi-entry part is great if you actually plan to go back to Tanzania within the next year which for me isn't the case, but oh well. I realized just how nice it is crossing a border when it is just me and not me and my bike. The majority of the times I have crossed borders in the past was on our motorcycle trip and those borders took a long time, but I digress. The northern part of Tanzania just across the Kenyan border is gorgeous with rolling green hills and wide open spaces and is very sparcely populated.

Arusha is one of the larger cities in Tanzania and is a major tourist destination because of its close proximity to many major parks. The city is nestled at the base of Mount Meru, the fifth tallest mountain in Africa with an elevation of over 15,000 ft. It is a stunning backdrop to a city to say the least. I arrived in the afternoon and spent most of the rest of the day relaxing at Simeon and Janelle's place and hanging out with them. On Tuesday I went with Simeon to the NGO that he is working with through MCC called Global Service Corp. The NGO does a lot of agricultural and health development work in the local villages. I went with Simeon and one of his co-workers to deliver bikes to different people who had been helping out with a chicken vaccination initiative that GSC had started. It was cool to see some of the villages and be able to see the joy on the faces of the recipients of the bikes. On Wednesday I travelled with a group of people I didn't know to visit a couple of the sand dams that MCC had helped put in up near the Kenyan border. I had heard a lot about sand dams because MCC has done a large number of them here in Kenya but I had never had the opportunity to visit one before. To be honest they aren't really much to look at but it was cool to hear the process of how they work and the impact they can have on a community.

I had the opportunity to see Mt. Kilimanjaro on our trip to see the sand dams. Grant it, I only saw the base because the top was covered in clouds but I can still say that I have seen the tallest mountain in Africa. Unfortunately my Tanzania trip ended with me getting a case of diarrhea on Wednesday night. I'll spare you the details of all that went down but let's just say that it wasn't pretty. I ended up taking some pills on Thursday morning before I left to come back to Nairobi and thankfully they did the trick as I didn't have any problems on the bus ride back or since then.

I really enjoyed my time in Tanzania and the opportunity to spend time with Simeon and Janelle and Malachi. On Monday I will be leaving for Uganda and a small town near the capital city of Kampala. After I return from Uganda I'll only have about one week left until I return to the States. It is really hard to believe that my time here is almost over and I'm going to do my very best to make these last two weeks great.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012


This past weekend I kicked off my last month here in Kenya, that's right I'm down to less than a month here, by travelling to Tiwi Beach for FEAST. FEAST stands for "Frisbee East Africa Sand Tournament". This was the fourth year for FEAST and this year was the biggest one yet. There were twelve different teams representing six different countries across East Africa.  Our frisbee group from here in Nairobi took three different teams to the tournament. The Nairobi group are the organizers of the tournament and I think they do a great job of putting together what has now become a huge event.

I made the eight and a half hour journey from Nairobi to Tiwi, which is just south of the second largest city in Kenya, Mombasa, with a few friends here from Nairobi. The drive down across the southeastern part of the country has some really beautiful stretches and other stretches where the scenery really isn't too great. We arrived Friday afternoon and spent the evening getting our camp set up, going for a little swim, and getting some practice time in with our teams.

The twelve teams were split up into three pools of four teams each. Saturday was a round robin day where each team played the other teams in their pool to help decide the seedings for the final tournament on Sunday. My team's first game had us going up against a team from Arusha, Tanzania. We started off slow but ended up pulling out the win in the end by and 8-6 final score. In our second game we played much better and rolled to an easy 9-2 win over Mwanza, Tanzania. The final game of the day pitted us against a strong Ethiowanda team. This team had people from Ethiopia and Rwanda hence the name "Ethiowanda". We rode a very strong start to a 8-5 win. Our 3-0 record coupled with our point differential earned us the number two seed for Sunday.

Before I fill you in on what happened on Sunday let me explain what it is like to play on the beach as opposed to our normal conditions here in Nairobi. There are three main differences, with the first being the most obvious, between here and playing on the coast and they are: sand, wind, and heat. Obviously playing on sand is very different than playing on grass and in my book is not nearly as fun. It is very difficult to run, you get tired so much quicker, and it gets very hot during the afternoon which causes a problem when you are running around in bare feet. The one great thing about playing on sand is that it doesn't hurt to dive on which can make for some great catches. The second difference, the wind, is a significant one. While we have some wind here in Nairobi it isn't like the constant wind on the coast. Any throws that weren't low and hard would catch the wind and blow way off its intended target. The last difference, the heat, was a big one. Here it can get hot but there it was very humid plus ten degrees hotter. Thankfully there were plenty of trees so when you weren't playing you were able to get in the shade. Now it might sound like I'm complaining about having to play there and in reality I don't like playing on sand as much as grass but overall playing there was a great deal of fun.

Thanks to our two seed we earned a first round bye on Sunday morning and had a quarter-final game against a different Mwanza team. The game was an extremely hard fought game with tensions rising throughout the game. It came down to the final play of the game and unfortunately it was Mwanza who scored to pull out the one point victory. It was disappointing to lose when we had high hopes for the day. We then played a consolation game against Ethiowanda again but this time they pulled out the win thus ending our weekend of frisbee. The team from Uganda ended up beating a team from Juba, South Sudan to take home the championship.

I really enjoyed my weekend and the opportunity to see another part of Kenya. The coast truly was beautiful and it would stand up against many of the other beaches I have been to in that regard. We returned yesterday evening and again it was nice to return home. I will spend the rest of this week going to the Center and then on Monday I will be taking the bus down to Arusha to visit some friends there who are working with MCC. The following week I will be heading to Kampala, Uganda. I will be recapping these two trips in the weeks to come. I would ask for your prayers as I make these trips that God would watch over and protect me and that i would have a blessed time connecting with others who are serving in these countries. Also if you could be praying that over these last few weeks that God would continue to use me and that I would continue to focus on finishing out my time here with great passion and enthusiasm.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Children, children and more children!

Last week I had a very special opportunity to travel to a small town called Boito to visit the Dow Family Children's Home. I travelled there with a friend from Nairobi and we set out via bus on Monday morning. Overall it wasn't a bad bus ride minus the last hour and a half of bad, dusty roads. On top of the rough road the urge to go to the bathroom was fairly strong for myself. No one likes travelling and having to use the bathroom, but travelling on bumpy roads and having to use the bathroom at the same time is just plain cruel. Thankfully we made it to the bus stop in Kericho before anything embarrassing took place. Greg, who along with his wife Mary Rose run the home, picked us up at the bus stop and we made the 45 minute drive to the home. Upon arriving we were greeted by all 40 some children that they take care of there. Some of the children were shy and some ran to us immediately and wanted to be held. We spent the evening getting to know the place, children, and experiencing what life is like there.

We ended up spending the week there and returning to Nairobi on Friday. The week was spent playing with the kids, chatting with Greg and Mary Rose, and enjoying the beauty of the area. That area truly is one of the prettiest areas in all of Kenya. There are many rolling hills dotted with farms and mud huts. It is also an area where a lot of tea is grown. There were miles and miles of lush, green tea fields stretched out across the countryside.

I was extremely blessed by our time there. I have met very few people who would do what Greg and Mary Rose are doing. They believed that God was calling them to Kenya to start a children's home so they sold everything and made the move. That was four years ago and God has sustained them and provided for them each step of the way. They are doing such a good job of raising the children and teaching them about God and how to work, play, and how to live a responsible life.

The children were so much fun! They were so cute and I may have had some favorites. To hear the stories of where the children came from and their living conditions prior to coming to the children's home were gut wrenching. They've experienced more hardship in just a few years than I probably will in my entire life. Despite the difficulties they've all experienced, the children had such a joy and happiness about them. They had such beautiful smiles and seemed to be truly thankful for what they had. Spending time with them reminded me of the value of family and how many children don't get to experience what it means to have solid family. Through Greg and Mary Rose those children though are having the opportunity to experience what it means to have parents who love them and want what is best for them. If you get a chance check out there website They have pictures of the children and explain more about what they do. I've also posted some pictures below for your enjoyment.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

March already?

Clearly the month of February was a busy month and as a result the blog has suffered. I can't believe how fast the month went by and quite a bit happened during the past month. I will give a brief recap of what happened in Eastleigh, at Rosslyn, my travels, and whatever else I can remember that seems pertinent.

Sports: Clearly what has happened in the sports world over the last month is extremely pertinent so I'll start with that. Last blog post I predicted that the Giants would win the Super Bowl and of course I was right. How could I be wrong? I was wearing my lucky shirt. I'm super excited to see baseball's Spring Training get underway and I can't wait to see how the 2012 Phillies fair this year. It was very disappointing to see Bucknell fall short in the Patriot League Championship. It is very rare to see them lose a big game like that, especially at home. Last night as I was watching some of the Big East Tournament at a friend's house it hit me that I won't be able to watch March Madness this year and I'm not going to lie, I got a little sad. That is probably really lame, but oh well.

Eastleigh: Things in Eastleigh haven't changed much over the last month. My work with the basketball program there has been limited, but I'm hopeful that it will pick up. I'm still really enjoying the relationships that I have been building with my students. I don't know what will come of my work at the Center or what God will do with the seeds that I've been trying to plant, but I trust in His perfect plan.

Rosslyn: Yesterday my team wrapped up their season. If I was going strictly off of wins and losses I would say that it wasn't an extremely successful season, but I'm not looking at it that way. We finished our season with a record of 2-5 and a combined tournament record of 4-4-2. The improvement that I saw however, from the beginning of the season until the end was very exciting and encouraging. We became a very competitive team and I saw the confidence of the boys grow each and every game. I'm going to miss the boys and the way they make me laugh and joke around with each other.

Travels: I had the opportunity to visit a Mennonite school (pictures above) in a part of Mathare, which if you remember, is one of the largest slums in Africa. I went with a group from Canada who were staying at the Guest House. They came to the Center and then on to the school. I love seeing the kids and seeing the smiles on their faces. This past weekend I travelled to Western Kenya near the Ugandan border to visit a new church plant. I went with another EMM couple, Rod and Lucy, and the pastor of the church who was in Nairobi for a conference. It was about a 9 hour drive through beautiful rolling hills and farmland. At one point we were approaching 10,000 feet in elevation and I once again got to cross over the Equator. Crossing over it the second time really wasn't that exciting, I guess it is one of those things that once you do it one time it kind of loses its luster. After stopping for lunch in Eldoret we stopped in a local village to visit the ailing aunt of the pastor. When you visit villages in rural Kenya it is just like you are stepping back in time and you almost have to pinch yourself to make sure what you are seeing is actually real. From the mud huts, to the barefooted children, to the very simplistic style of life, all of this adds up to a truly unique experience. After visiting the aunt we travelled on to the town of Webuye where we spent two nights with an MCC couple. On Sunday morning we attended the church which was located at the base of Mt. Elgon. The last couple of kilometers of "road" would not have been possible to get through if it wouldn't have been for 4-wheel drive. I personally enjoyed being able to do some 4-wheeling. We went as far as we could and ended up having to walk the last 10 minutes to the church. The congregation was extremely excited to have us there and we were the first white people to ever visit. I had an opportunity to share a brief testimony and greeting as did Lucy before Rod brought the message. After the service we ate lunch in the home of one of the members of the church and then we were taken on a hike to a waterfall. The experience of visiting that church and being in such a rural, pristine setting is one that I will never forget. Monday morning we took off for Kisumu which is on Lake Victoria. We visited with some more churches and leaders throughout the day on Monday. I had to get back to Nairobi, so I took the overnight bus back on Monday night and arrived home around five o'clock on Tuesday morning.

So that is a brief recap of what has been happening here. I can't believe that I'm only eight weeks away from going home and the way my schedule looks for the last couple of months I know that the time will fly by. Thanks again for reading and for all of your prayers and support. God bless!

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Super Bowl Sunday!

Happy February everyone! This month, as it has ever since 1988, kicked off with my birthday. I had a very nice day and I felt love come from people back home and here as well. One of my friends made me a peach pie, per my request. Feeling somewhat guilty about eating an entire pie by myself, I chose to take it along to my small group meeting on Wednesday night and share it with the group. Many people here don't know how old I am and most when they guess go on the high side, maybe it has something to do with the balding nature of my head. I turned 24 and can't really say it has a different feel than 23, but it's nice I guess. 

My basketball team at Rosslyn had their first games this past week. I must say that coaching, even at the middle school level, is more nerve racking than being able to be out on the court yourself. Unfortunately we lost both games and the losses have stuck with me, especially Thursday's game, more than I thought they would. I've never considered myself an overly competitive person, but coaching has brought out whatever bad feelings I have towards losing in a whole new way. I'm happy with the boys' effort in the first two games and I'm confident that we will get in the win column soon.

Yesterday to celebrate a birthday of a friend, I had the opportunity to go along with a group of people to climb Mt. Longonot. Mt. Longonot is a dormant volcano that boasts a massive crater. The elevation is somewhere over 9000 ft. and the hike to the rim of the crater is fairly challenging. After you reach the rim it is another 11 km. to walk all the way around, which gives you an idea of just how big it is. I imagine we hiked somewhere around 10 miles, so needless to say I was kind of tired by the end. The views were amazing (see pictures below) and once again was a reminder of how creative and wonderful our God is.

The last couple of weeks have been pretty normal. Life here has fallen into a fairly normal routine and there isn't much to report on. I keep trying to focus on each day as it comes and not look forward to what is to come. Having said that I am quite excited about the Super Bowl tonight. I haven't watched an NFL game since I've been here, so to be able to watch tonight's game is going to be quite the treat. Making it even better, obviously, is the fact that my Giants are playing and of course will win. How do I know they will win you may ask? Well, the last time the Giants played in the Super Bowl (2008 against the Pats) I wore one of my Liberty t-shirts. I just so happen to still have that t-shirt and when Chad came to visit me he brought it with him. I actually asked him to bring another shirt, but he brought the wrong one and until the other day I didn't think anything of it. Now I know why it is he brought it, so that I can wear it again for tonight's game. Of course I'm not superstitious at all, but it can't hurt that I'll be wearing the same shirt.

A view of Mt. Longonot from the road.

My hiking companions.

A view from the peak.

Lake Naivasha in the distance.

A view of the crater wall from the peak.

The crater.