Saturday, April 30, 2011

The Crocodile Farm

Today we had a wonderful Saturday excursion to Mamba Village. We thought it was called Mamba village because they had mamba snakes. But when we arrived we learned that mamba in Kiswahili means "crocodile" so we got to see a TON of crocodiles. First we saw the full grown crocs, then the croc eggs, croc babies, and last we saw the pre-teen crocs. We had our own guide who was full of all kinds of fun info. This was a leopard tortoise that we got to touch and pet.
This is a Kenyan style carousel. The boys loved it.

There was a lot more to do at Mamba village than just see the crocodiles. We also got to see peacocks, rabbits of different kinds, geese, ostrich, and a friendly giraffe named Wanjir. The boys made quick friends with the gentleman who hands out carrots so you can feed Wanjir yourself and they each fed the giraffe about 5 times from their hand.

These are the baby crocodiles and they were all lying out in the warm sun. These ones were about 2-3 feet long.
These were the big guys. Our guide even hopped the fence and started prodding some of them to get reactions out of them! We couldn't believe how brave he is and it sure made us think twice about every swimming in the Nile River knowing that crocs live in it!!!

Friday, April 29, 2011

A bright patch in April

As many of you know, we've been waiting in Kenya for the whole month of April for our visas to go back to Sudan - but this time to North Sudan. It's been a stretching time of "waiting". And as Eli and I have tried to make the most of our time here, one of the BIGGEST gifts God gave is our new friend Butrus. Butrus is from Darfur and had to flee Sudan a few years ago. He spent a lot of time in Khartoum, the capital city, so he's very familiar with the culture, ways of life, food, and of course language. He comes every day from 1-3 pm while our boys have their rest time to teach us Arabic. We decided to start at the very beginning with learning how to read and write in Arabic script. This is no easy task. Arabic has all kinds of crazy and very unfamiliar sounds! And as I'm learning to write in the Arabic script from the right side of the page to left, I feel like my 5 year old son Evan who is just learning how to write his ABC's too. Even as we're slowly learning how to sound out words in Arabic script, it reminds me of a child first learning how to read. You slowly make each sound out loud and after saying it a few times you realize what word it is! :)
Another reason we're enjoying Butrus so much is all the life stories he shares. We try to only speak Arabic when we're together and he's full of many adventures across Sudan, stories of his family and the beautiful land they lived in, but also some very heartwrenching accounts of war, killing and horrible suffering and torture.
     Meeting with Butrus every day reminds us more and more of why we live and work in Sudan. God has put such a love and great compassion in our hearts for the people of Sudan. We have a love we can't explain. God knew we'd grow restless here in Kenya since our hearts are craving to be back in Sudan so he sent us this wonderful new friend to build a friendship with and still have a part of Sudan in our lives.
   We are working hard trying to study whenever we have a free moment. We are so glad we have a chance to recall the Arabic we learned last term and buff it up before we head into North Sudan. We continue to wait on our visas but as Eli keeps reminding me, "It's not a matter of IF, it's a matter of WHEN."

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Missing Friends

Isaac in his favorite spot - up in a tree
Evan is close behind
When did Joshua become such a big boy? Is he really almost 3?
Our boys have done a tremendous job adjusting back to life in Africa. There are a lot of differences between life in South Carolina and life in Kenya but thankfully it's a good in-between adjustment before we go to Sudan. There is a lot about Kenya the boys enjoy: lots of trees for climbing, mangoes, and new friends.

But lately they've really started missing the friends they left behind in the States, especially Isaac. At almost 7, it's been the hardest for him. During the past 3 weeks since we arrived in Kenya we've tried to have several skype dates with Isaac and Evan's best friends, our neighbors from Columbia, SC. But each time we try, the internet has problems and we can't get a good connection. This afternoon we tried off and on for almost an hour. By the end, Isaac had melted into a pile of tears saying, "I just want to have 10 minutes to talk to Jesse!"
It broke my heart to see the pains of being an MK begin to affect my little guy. I know them all too well and today I thanked the Lord for my background as an MK because I could tell Isaac I knew exactly how he felt and tell him how God helped me when I missed my friends. We sat down together for a while and I hugged and comforted him as I sent up a prayer asking God to touch my boy's soft heart.
We're so thankful for the wonderful people God brings into our lives as we walk this "journey" He's laid out for us. Unfortunately we spend large portions of time far away from many of you but know that we hold you dear in our hearts and we love you from across the ocean.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Thankful for friends

We are so thankful that April is the month of "no school" here in Kenya so there are other children to play with. Today I brought out some sidewalk chalk and bubbles and the kids had a wonderful time.

They made a beautiful mural in the parking lot and here they posed so proud of their artwork.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Settling in Nairobi until our visas come through

We are now experiencing the very common "headache" that many missionaries have to deal with and that is: VISAS! We are trying every possible option we can to get visas for N. Sudan. Please keep praying for a miracle because we are very eager to begin language school as soon as possible. Once we are more fluent in Arabic, we will be ready to move on to God's next assignment for us somewhere in Sudan. So while we wait in Nairobi, God is challenging me to blossom where I'm planted. So that means no matter how long or short we will be in Kenya, I want to make the most of it. I am back to homeschooling the boys and Eli will begin helping out in our SIM Sudan office here in Nairobi. The greatest joy of being here is the chance to enjoy our sweet friends. In the above picture, I got to spend a lovely Girl's Night with two of my lovely teammates, Amy and Beverly, at a local coffee shop. It is such a joy to walk through life on the missionfield, on the frontlines, with these amazing women.
Thankfully Isaac, Evan, and Joshua have already become re-acquainted with their friends who live in the same compound as our SIM Sudan guesthouse. The boys have been playing a lot of soccer and recently, taught their friends how to play Uno.

A few pics from our conference

A team came from Christ Community Church in TN to lead the worship and provide childcare while we enjoyed the sessions taught by Leigh Robinson, a pastor from South Africa.

From Monday through Friday last week, we relaxed at a beautiful placed called Brackenhurst, in the mountains amidst tea fields, an hour outside of Nairobi. Our entire SIM Sudan team came together to be spiritually renewed and refreshed before continuing our ministries in Sudan.

At the end of the week, the children sang a few songs for the rest of the group and were dressed up like little angels.
The best part for me was hearing testimonies of God's work at each of the bases and how God is using our missionaries in Sudan. There couldn't have been a more inspiring way to start our next term. It was also such a joy to reunite with many of our teammates, who are family, and hear how God's been working in their lives since we left last May.
We had a lovely time of sharing on the last day. This is our group of brothers and sisters sent from North East India. They sang a Hindi song for all of us.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

SIM Sudan Spiritual Life Conference 2011

Tomorrow, April 11th, we will get on a bus to head to our annual SIM Sudan conference in the lush tea fields of Limuru, about an hour outside of Nairobi city. We are looking forward to a week of fellowship with our teammates, new vision for these coming years of ministry in Sudan, reports from each base, and beautiful worship led by a team who came from TN to serve our team in this way. We will report back when we return.

Saturday, April 09, 2011

A few highlights of our first week back in Kenya

On Monday, just a few days after we arrived, Jason, Heather, and their sweet girls passed through Nairobi for a night so we met up at a restaurant and tried to catch up on as much news as we could in a short period of time. It's such a joy to have other family members on this continent!
On Tuesday our Yabus team arrived in Nairobi from Sudan for our conference next week. My Ethiopian sister, Kelemewa, taught me how to make Ethiopian food and we served a banquet for our friends when they arrived tired and hungry.
In order to make some structure in life for the boys, I unpacked our school books right away and we started back into school - Isaac back to 1st grade and Evan to Kindergarten.

All this week Eli attended an amazing conference. I will let him report to you.

Saturday, April 02, 2011

We have arrived on the African continent!

We are thrilled to announce our safe arrival to Kenya. Our 3 flights went smoothly and it seemed like before we knew it, we touched ground in Nairobi Kenya around 10 pm on the 31st of March. We are staying in our regular apartment that we usually stay in when we're here and thankfully it's bringing back a lot of memories for the boys. They indeed remember life here. The boys did fabulously on the journey and are adjusting to the time change beautifully. They've been sleeping through the night until late in the morning (9 am) which is really nice for us. We have had happy reunions with our team and friends here in Nairobi and we're looking forward to a Sunday service at Good Shepherd church, the church we usually attend when we're in Nairobi. As we drove through the streets of Nairobi the first night, I, Bethany was filled with such joy and contentment. It was like I knew we were back where we belong. Thank you so much to all of you who have prayed earnestly for our journey with our three boys. We could tell the difference your prayers made!