Sharing about my mission journey to Kenya, Africa and tips that may help you if you travel in this region.
We first arrived in Nairobi and as a newbie to Africa, we were approached by many different people wanting to help us with driving us to our destination and with our luggage! You have to be single-focused as you arrive in some foreign countries and make sure that you are holding onto baggage, etc. until you know your plan!
In Nairobi, we stopped at a mall to exchange some of our US dollars to shillings. At that time (06/2014), the exchange is Kenyan Shillings $87 to $1 US Dollar. Today’s rate (03/2019) is $101 Kenyan Shillings to $1 usd.
Our destination was Sakwa, a small village northwest of Nairobi, Kenya. Our drive was one of the most interesting drives I have ever enjoyed. We stopped to see the “Great Rift Valley”. Along the way, we saw baboons, geece, turkeys, zebras, deer, cattle and donkeys. We went through towns like Kibera, Mai Mahiu, and Kericho. We stopped at a little market on the way and I had the first experience of using a squatty-potty! So, tip number #1: Keep toilet paper in your backpack, as well as wet-wipes to keep your hands clean.
As we continued in our drive, we stopped at the point where the north and south hemisphere meets (the equator) and ended up in an area where women would sell their beautiful wares. We carried on and passed tea plantations. Beautiful countryside! Some years back, the tea factories brought in machinery to harvest the tea, but the people revolted to this. Of course, they would – this was their livelihood! The people in the countryside have the attitude “eat together, be hungry together.” I thought that was beautiful. It’s important to remember that .25 cents could mean the difference between life and death to many of these beautiful people.
We made our way to Sakwa and our missionary host, Roberta, was so welcoming, along with her African teachers and students! “Jumbo” in Swahili which means “hello”, was said often, and Roberta being one of the first white women to the area – suddenly there were six of us “mzungas” (white people)! I fell in love with these beautiful children. They thought our skin was like paper 🙂
Our medical mission was successful, clothes delivered to the local orphanage and our time with the students was so very rich. Many of the children wore threadbare clothing and their shoes old, but their big smiles and big hearts reminded me that they had remarkably happy lives. Kids really only need love, food and shelter – but my heart wanted to clothe them all!
Our missionary host planned a safari visit for us, which was a treat! We went to Masai Mara, the southern part of Africa, near the border of Tunisia. Our drive took 5 1/2 hours and we stopped at a trading post on the way that had “real” toilets AND a mirror! haha We got settled into our tents and I enjoyed an ice cold shower after an evening safari. We had ridden for hours on extremely bumpy and dusty roads. So, tip number #2: Bring a mask and glasses to protect your lungs and eyes from all that dust!
The camp where we stayed employed Masai warriors, dressed in their beautiful clothes. I was also reminded that technology reaches even the Masai, as I captured one warrior on his cellphone :). On safari, we saw hundreds (can you imagine, hundreds!) of zebras, hundreds of wildebeests. We saw a male lion and two cheetahs, and beautiful giraffes in the wild. It was something out of Lion King! It actually made me think that this was what the dawn of creation must have looked like! It was magnificent! That night in our tent, we were instructed to lock up any snacks or food, as the baboons may visit us! I heard lots of noises through the night and was actually glad when morning came!
And then our final journey back to Nairobi. We had a medical clinic planned, which went well. My journaling notes of Nairobi had these descriptions of the city:
- A mix of old and a mix of new
- Beautiful apartments with laundry hanging out
- Motorcycles and cars
- Bicycles and police
- Some infrastructure
- people, people
- Flora and fauna
- Mansions and remnants of splendor
- Locks and bars
- Roasted corn
Our final stay at Sandavy B&B in Nairobi was delightful. We had lukewarm showers (yay!), pizza for dinner and I learned so much more about culture and people. What I come away with after visiting any country, is that people are essentially the same. They love their families, they enjoy laughter, good food and fellowship. I came away loving the beautiful people of Kenya.