First Christmas in Kenya

Decorating Christmas cookies helped get us in a festive mood!

Decorating Christmas cookies helped get us in a festive mood!

“Hey, wait for me!” I heard from the kitchen.  I smiled as one of our Kenyan neighbor boys hurried to catch up to Benji.  They were all headed to the field for soccer!  While that isn’t an unusual event around here, it would be totally unusual in December in Wisconsin.  No gloves or hats or winter coats needed here! (although sometimes it gets down to 60 and then the locals wear stocking caps and coats).

We just had to get a pic! The Santas also asked to take a pic with their phone.

We just had to get a pic! The Santas also asked to take a pic with their phone.

I guess that is the main difference we’ve experienced – we missed the usual December smells of winter and pine trees, sights of houses decorated and lit up, the feel of heavy sweaters and winter coats, and sounds of snowblowers and festivities.  It’s not that Kenyans don’t celebrate, they do.  It’s just different.   The big shopping malls did have Christmas trees and Santas and even decorations to purchase.  But even with that, we did struggle a bit – it just didn’t “feel” like Christmas.

Our safari van!

Our safari van!

God always has a way of directing our paths, of bringing us folks to love on and be loved on while we are away from family.  This holiday season was no exception!  A missionary friend invited us to join her and her friend to a three day trip to Amboseli National Park in southern Kenya – right over my and Phil’s birthdays (20th and 21st).

Benji took this photo - so glad for a good zoom on our camera!

Benji took this photo – so glad for a good zoom on our camera!

Mt. Kilimanjaro made a brief appearance early in the morning.

Mt. Kilimanjaro made a brief appearance early in the morning.

What an amazing trip!  To see wild animals in their natural habitat – places we’ve only read about until now – was thrilling.  The scenery – being 25 miles from Mt. Kilimanjaro – was breathtaking and invigorating!  The boys loved the wind in their faces as we bumped along the dirt roads in the park.  What a way to start off our Christmas break!

Sue also made homemade eggnog! Yum!

Sue also made homemade eggnog! Yum!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

On Christmas Eve we joined veteran missionaries, Denny and Sue.  Denny is a retired AIM AIR pilot who regaled us with stories of Sudan, Egypt and Kenya.  They just reached their 36th year in Africa – wow!  They continue serving God in evangelism and discipleship to Muslims and refugees.  Birthday cake for Jesus, white elephant gift exchange and wonderful fellowship rounded out the evening.

Phil played guitar while we sang Christmas carols and read Scripture together.

Phil played guitar while we sang Christmas carols and read Scripture together.

After a meaningful Christmas morning, included phone calls from the States (it was their

The Christmas tree was one of the items included in our household of stuff we bought - what a treat!

The Christmas tree was one of the items included in our household of stuff we bought – what a treat!

Christmas Eve night!), reading the Christmas story, and opening a few gifts, we welcomed our missionary neighbors, Mark and Terri, along with her cousin and family for dinner.  What a privilege to host!

Phil had off from work until Jan. 4, so we were able to do some fun things as a family around Nairobi – including a mall that had a fabulous playground and splash pad!  Just seemed odd to be in a swimsuit at the end of December!

Lots of food and fun with other missionary friends and neighbors.

Lots of food and fun with other missionary friends and neighbors.

We hosted a New Year’s Eve party for a few friends and that was also a fun time.  The boys insisted on banging pots and pans at midnight in keeping with family tradition – and the noisemaker horns I found played a big part in the evening fun!  Fortunately the neighbors didn’t mind! 🙂

Gaz and his sister made sure we all had bracelets that fit.

Gaz and his sister made sure we all had bracelets that fit.

On a walk down to the market, just before New Years, I met up with a man named Gaz, who I had purchased some artwork from a few times.  He asked me to bring the boys back on New Years Day because he wanted to make them bracelets.  He surprised Phil and I with bracelets too!  He works hard with children and young adults in the slums, teaching them how to paint and bead.  It’s been great to get to know him!

Overall, even though things “felt” different for us here in Nairobi and we truly missed our families, we had a full Christmas.  Jesus is the same, no matter if we are in Kenya or the United States.

 

 

 

3 thoughts on “First Christmas in Kenya

  1. What a wonderful letter! So good to hear how your Christmas went…We (my prayer group and I) have been praying for your adjustment to Kenyan life. So glad you were able to see some sights and have a good break! God bless you all!

  2. Greetings and best wishes for a great and fruitful 2016. You have the best of two worlds-being around airplanes and bringing Christ’s hope of a better life now and in eternity.

    Thanks for the photos and video. God bless you all. Chuck-chinodin-Gamm

  3. Glad to see your smiling faces. What a treat to be with all those animals (and the people too). Praying for you always.

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