Eve in the Garden

Dear Friends,

This past weekend we got the opportunity to travel to Masai Mara, a vast wild life sanctuary located 5 hours by van from Nairobi. We spent three days and two nights in this stunning paradise. I was so impressed by the beauty I was encountering that it made me think of Adam and Eve and their remarkable lives. With each experience I took a photo and thought to myself, “Is this what Eve might have seen?” I am going to combine some of my photos with scripture to describe my thoughts.

The night that Eve was created God took a rib from Adam’s side and made her. When Adam awoke the following morning he found Eve lying asleep beside him. Adam was happy, he took her hand and she woke up. Eve looked up at him and smiled. (Genesis 2:21-25)

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Her home, The Garden of Eden, would have been a climatic paradise that apparently needed no rain because it was watered by a mist coming up from the ground (Genesis 2:6). This would have meant no devastating storms. Everything about God’s creation would have been perfect; after all, He had pronounced it “very good” at the end of day six (Genesis 1:31).

Paradise blog

God told Adam and Eve that it was their job to take care of their new home. Adam was to tend the garden (Genesis 2:15) and Eve was to be his helpmate (Genesis 2:18). This indicates that work was to be a part of God’s perfect creation. However, since the ground had not yet been cursed this work would be a complete joy and never a tedious task.

God also blessed them, saying, “All this is for you. Help yourself to anything you like.” He also gave Adam and Eve free will and told them to never eat of the tree in the middle of the Garden. “That tree gives knowledge of good and evil. The day you eat its fruit, you will die. “(Genesis 2:15-17)

Tree blog 2

There in the garden Eve, with her husband Adam, lived a life of blissful innocence. They had never sinned; therefore, they had no guilt or shame. This was life as God intended it to be.

What did every day life look like for Eve in this delightful paradise?

Did she swim in refreshing waters with the hippopotamuses?

hippo Blog

Did she laugh while playing hide-and-seek with the cheetah?

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Did she lie down in soft grass with the lionesses?

lion blog

Did she gracefully ride on the backs of elephants while taking in God’s splendor?

elephants blog 2

Did she learn how to care for her babies from observing the zebra mothers?

Zebra Blog

How was it when God was by her side in the gentle coolness of the evenings? The Bible even indicates that God may have taken on a physical form in order to walk with her in the garden (Genesis 3:8).

sunset blog

Clearly, my day to day life is nothing like Eve’s in insurmountable ways. However, there is one similarity I share with Eve; I desire to be like God just as she did.

Eve’s desire to be like God is what led her to listen to the serpent, the enemy. This enemy caused her to question her ability to hear and understand God, caused her to doubt in the goodness of God and presented a short-cut to fulfillment that excluded relationship with God.

And so, she ate of the forbidden tree and she shared it with Adam. I can’t blame her; I have committed just as damaging sins in my life. Like Eve my sins have hurt me and others.

apple blog

And so, it was then that God could have been done with His people. But He created us and He can not stop loving us. This is the game changer. This is why God is always in the action of pursuing us. The Bible tells that Adam and Eve were hiding in shame when God came looking for them. (Genesis 3:8)

For the first time ever Eve’s heart would have felt painfully broken and her humiliation would have been crippling. When God found them they confessed what they had done. Once again our amazing God of both grace and truth showed His heart. He made a promise to redeem them even through punishment. (Genesis 3:14-19) He then clothed them both and sent them out of the garden. (Genesis 3 20-24) Their lives were forever changed.

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Christ is righting our messy fall. This is so we can walk with Him again in the garden during the cool of the evening reunited by the truth of His grace and love. I pray you are each able to carry that certainty in your heart.

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Until next letter,

Laurie

Sights of Everyday Life – Part Three

Dear Friends,

This is the third of a series of posts centering on sights I see daily as part of every day life here in Nairobi. As I have walked around the city taking these photos I have continued to experience the culture of Nairobi and the people who live and work here. My hope is that by sharing these photos you might see through my camera lens what I am experiencing in this interesting and fascinating part of the world that God loves.

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Scaffolding- This is one of the scenes that Terry drives by on his way to the hanger. It is a group of logs tied together. When looking at this scaffolding I wonder if I would be brave enough to step on to it. Not that I have a fear of heights but I do have a fear of unstable ground that may or may not hold me.

 

newspaper blog

Newspapers- I see newspaper stands and people reading newspapers throughout Nairobi. In the United States newspapers have become blase but here they are still considered the best way to get up to date news. I have been told that news worthy events are in the papers before announced on TV or other media. The cost of a paper is 60 shillings or 60 cents, even the Sunday paper.

corn blog

Corn- Sprinkled along side of the roads are men and women selling roasted corn, called maize. I have yet to try it but Terry says it is tough without much taste. The cost is 40 shillings or .40 cents. for a whole one and 20 shillings or 20 cents for half.

clothes blog

Clothes- Used clothes are sold every where or so it seems. Interestingly, the prices are more expensive then what I would pay back in the United States if I went to a Thrift Store, Garage Sale or even Walmart.

 

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Sign- These words have been painted like graffiti on a wall alongside a main highway. The words painted in white read “Better City, Better Life” and the words painted in blue read “Kibera talking”. Kibera is the biggest slum in Africa and one of the biggest in the world.

May the Lord bless you and keep you.

Until next letter,

Laurie

“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.”

Romans 8:28

 

 

 

 

House Help

Skyline blog

Dear Friends,

Our time here is fleeting. When I reflect back on the days that have passed I contemplate what it is about this experience that I will take home. It doesn’t take long for me to know that it is the beauty of the people of Kenya that I treasure. It is a beauty that isn’t superficial or skin deep. Kenyans speak a vast number of different languages, practice hundreds of distinct religions, live in a variety of types of dwellings, and engage in a wide range of economic activities. And, in the past 8 weeks God has blessed me by bringing two of these people into my life.

How did God bring me these two people? Let me explain, there is a cultural expectation that wazungu (white people) will hire locals to help take care of the house and gardens. This expectation can also placed on the more affluent Kenyans. Paying someone to come and help maintain the home is a way of sharing the wealth or providing an income to a family who otherwise might go without. It is an important piece of the economy.

When the missionaries who normally live in our temporary home left for deputation in the U.S. they made arrangements for the house help to continue on a reduced schedule. This assures some income for the help as well as keeping the house in order during their absence. Things grow faster here because of the weather and there is easily more dust and dirt then we have back home in the U.S.

This is how God brought me to know Mama Kingsley and Wycliffe as they are our house help. One day a week, Tuesday, they come into the home. Wycliffe attends to the garden or small yard. Mama Kingsley attends to the cleaning, laundry and cooking. They are the reason everything runs as well as it does. Over the past eight weeks it has been easy to learn to trust them and to care for them; just as they have trusted and cared for us.

Let me introduce you to Mama Kingsley. In Kenya women are given the title of “Mama” out of respect. When they have their first born, the child’s name is attached to the Mama. Mama Kingsley’s first born son is named Kingsley.

Mama Kingsley Blog

I have been told few Kenyans that live in Nairobi were actually born here. Most were born in what is called “up country” meaning anywhere outside of Nairobi. Mama Kingsley was born “up country” and is the oldest of 12. She met and married her husband, David, 22 years ago. David is a pastor and they have four children (2 boys and 2 girls) ranging in age from 20 to 8.

Mama Kingsley harbors a passion for baking and we have gotten to eat several of her praise worthy baked goods. She dreams of a day that she could open and operate her own business.

Wycliff Blog

Next introduction is Wycliffe. Wycliffe is an orphan and lived on the street until he found his way into an orphanage. Missionaries helped him come to know the Lord. Saline, his wife, grew up in the same orphanage and they reconnected years later when bumping into each other on a bus. Shortly after reestablishing their friendship they married.

Saline had a dream to go to cooking school but no money to accomplish that dream. The lady of the house we are living in helped Saline raise money by creating journals from cast off pieces of fabric. These journals were sold to fund cooking school. She will finish the classroom and lab part of her schooling this December. Then, there is a three month internship after which she will hopefully get a job. Internships here only pay transportation expenses to and from work.

Wycliffe and Saline have one son, Brian, who is 9 years old.

Mama Kingsley and Wycliffe are both hard working but they do more than care for the house. They give friendship easily, are quick to laugh at themselves or a good joke, and are an excellent resource when learning about Kenyan culture. God could not have given us better house help, not just for the work they do but because of the relationship. It is this relationship that I treasure and the memory of it will warm my heart long after I leave Kenya. How thankful I am.

“And God is able to bless you abundantly, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work.”
2 Corinthians 9:8

Until next letter,

Laurie

 

What We Have Been Eating

Dear Friends,

Since we have made our way to Kenya our experience with food has been a mix of stark contrast. When at the house we eat what Mama Kingsley prepares while she is here on Tuesdays, which would be called African food. Then, because of living in the vibrant city of Nairobi we have gotten opportunities to eat in a couple of restaurants and taste American, Ethiopian and Italian cuisine.

Home blog

This picture shows an example of what we eat at the house. It is a dish made up of beans, rice, potatoes and cooked vegetables. It is similar to what Kenyans would eat in their homes.

Buket Lady BlogBucket lady 2

On days that we are at the hanger and want “fast food” for lunch we go to the “The Bucket Lady”. For 50 shillings ($.50) we can order a tasty hot meal made up of beans, rice, cabbage, and a spicy salsa. Chapati, a flat bread, is extra. As you can see in the photo she does a good lunch business.

Ethopian Blog
On our second evening in Kenya we were taken to “Awash”. This is a family owned quaint Ethiopian restaurant. The entire meal came on one huge plate that was placed in the center of the table for everyone to eat from. We each used injera as our eating utensil. Injera is a sourdough-risen flat-bread with a spongy texture that was placed before us in rolls. We each striped off a piece to scoop up the food with and put into our mouths. This was done each time we ate from the plate. Other then the injera I honestly don’t know exactly what we were served that evening. I do remember a bunch of flavors swirling around in my mouth as I ate.

Aquarious BlogPizza Blog

“Aquarius” is located right outside our estate gate and they make a delicious pizza. Other offerings are served but we have yet to try any of them because we like the pizza so much. The draw back to ordering this mouth watering pizza at “Aquarius” is the wait; they make everything from scratch, including the crust. We have found the way to get around this is to walk up and place an order about 3 hours before we actually want it. Then, make our way back to pick it up.

Java Blog

Kenya is known for coffee and tea. I have yet to have a bad cup of coffee and Terry is enjoying Kericho Gold tea. I am able to say that some of the finest coffee I have ever had is right here in Nairobi. The picture above was taken at “Nairobi Java House”. They are a chain situated throughout the city that sells some of Kenya’s fresh roasted coffee along with pastries and meal offerings.

Fariview BlogFairview Blog

“The Fairview” is an upper end hotel with restaurant. They have a varied menu and I was able to have my first salad in weeks. Leafy vegetables can be tricky because they are hard to clean in such a way that we don’t get sick. But, I was able to trust this restaurant to serve lettuce that I would not be paying for later. A table by the pool was a nice compliment to the evening.

Osteria blogOsteria Blog2

Nairobi has an Italian Restaurant, “Osteria” and we had the opportunity to go there with a friend. The fish I ordered was exceptionally good. Terry ordered lasagna and said it was different then American/Italian in regards to the meat and the sauce but none the less good. The night we were there they had live music which made for a nice ambiance. We did not actually try the desserts you see pictured but they looked so good I had to take a photo. Guess we will have to go back again to order dessert.

It has been a blessing to have all the varied eating opportunities that we have experienced. To eat local food has helped us connect to the culture. The chance to eat in the nicer establishments has been a way to mentally recharge as we make our way in what seems to us a chaotic city.

“So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.”
1 Corinthians 10:31

I pray that you are each blessed as you gather around your dinner tables to share stories, to enjoy good fellowship and to savor delightful food.

Until next letter,

Laurie

Sights of Everyday Life – Part Two

Dear Friends,

These are five of the sights I see daily as part of every day life here in Nairobi.

bike blog

Bike Riders- To hop on your bike is more then just taking a ride, it is a means to transport all kinds of items. We have a bakery about a block away that smells wonderful when they are baking. I believe the gentleman on this bike was probably transporting bread to be sold in the local dukas.

Coal Blogcoal blog2

Charcoal- Many Kenyan households rely on charcoal because they do not have access to stoves that run on electricity, propane, or natural gas. Therefore, it is a big business which explains why there are many stands selling charcoal. The picture on the right is a jiko, a fuel efficient charcoal-burning stove, which is used for cooking. There are days that we see their smoke and smell the burning charcoal near our neighborhood.

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Garbage- This is seen splattered through out the city. Sometimes it is organized in stacks, sometimes it is lying on the ground and sometimes it is burning. The picture on the left is a garbage dump near our estate where workers stay busy sorting through the trash to pull out what is recyclable for cash.

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Sugarcane-You do not travel far in Nairobi before you spot a sugarcane seller. I bought the bag on the right for 20 shillings or 20cents US dollars. It tastes like sweet tree bark and I ate it by sucking on a piece and then spitting it out. There are people here that will often make this a meal because of price, convenience and availability.

sign blog

Sign-This mangled sign hangs over the parts door in the hanger. It is a reminder that while it’s good to trust in providence and have faith that everything will work out, it does not let us off the hook from doing whatever we can to ensure a favorable outcome. This can be especially true when working on or flying a plane. Did you notice that in the bottom right hand corner it says it is quoted from “an old person”? (And, Terry said the sign was here when we got here so it isn’t from him.) Makes me smile.

Until next letter,

Laurie

Different Yet The Same- Part Three

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Dear Friends,

The question we have gotten asked the most in the past 7 weeks is, “What is different about your life in Nairobi from your life in Ohio?” It is not only asked by Americans but also by Kenyans. We have found it overwhelming to answer with any accuracy. This is the third of three letters devoted to attempting to address this pressing and intriguing question.

Part Three: List of Reflective Thoughts

This time here is a precious gift. It has challenged us and it has changed us. In concluding this series I wanted to provide a list of reflective thoughts on the differences between living here in Nairobi and living in Ohio.

1. Ohio culture is just that, my and Terry’s culture. Others have their own way of doing things, some the same and some different. That’s not just Nairobi, that’s worldwide. The differences aren’t necessarily bad, they are just different.
2. There is much more to living in Nairobi than was or could have been explained. In developing my knowledge about living here, I have had to take peoples’ explanations combined with allowing time to reflect on personal experiences.
3. Life isn’t perfect back in Ohio. Though, there are times it is easy to think it is when I am faced with the unfamiliar and culture shock.
4. Not all of the images of Africa that have been portrayed to me over the years have been accurate. The Africa I have seen and experienced is more than those images.
5. To see God alive and well across the world is encouraging and moving.

I have seen that God is continuing His good work in the redemption story both in Nairobi and in Ohio. It is uplifting to know we get to be a part of that story in either location. Therefore, our time in Nairobi is different from being in Ohio yet it is the same.

“He who began a good work in you, will be faithful to complete it!”
Philippians 1:6

Until next letter,

Laurie

Different Yet The Same – Part Two

Differences blog part 2

Dear Friends,

The question we have gotten asked the most in the past 7 weeks is, “What is different about your life in Nairobi from your life in Ohio?” It is not only asked by Americans but also by Kenyans. We have found it overwhelming to answer with any accuracy. Therefore, this is the second of three letters devoted to attempting to address this pressing and intriguing question.

Part Two: Comparison List

To give another perspective from the first letter this is a list of 10 differences that come to mind when comparing living in Ohio to living in Nairobi. Please keep in mind this list is far from being all inclusive.

1. In Ohio the grocery store does not have attendants stand at the end of the aisles to assist shoppers.
2. In Ohio we drive in the right lane and not the left lane.
3. In Ohio random conversations with strangers rarely include how many children I have.
4. In Ohio the police do not expect to be paid a bribe when doing their job.
5. In Ohio I do not go through a 5lb bag of flour every other week.
6. In Ohio we do not have “winter” during the months of June-August. And when it is winter in Ohio the low temp for the day can go well below 50 degrees.
7. In Ohio it doesn’t take an hour and 20 minutes to drive a mile because of the zany traffic. This happens to us about once a week. Interestingly, we have been told they are adding 7,500 cars to the roads every month through imports.
8. In Ohio when we sing praise songs during worship at church they don’t rotate between Kiswahili, Hindi and English.
9. In Ohio I do not see monkeys walk the electrical lines. I also don’t worry about them stealing a piece of fruit off the kitchen table. This can happen because many doors and windows do not have screens which allow the monkeys to pop into a home and help themselves to food. However, the monkeys typically are only in the neighborhood on trash day. Monkeys are smart.
10. In Ohio I can not buy a dozen roses for 150 shillings or about $1.50.

Some of the differences on this list are starting to feel normal as we integrate them into our everyday life. Yet, other differences still seem foreign as our journey unfolds. Regardless they each give us an opportunity to be flexible, to learn and to have a new experience. For this I am thankful. And, I am to be thankful in all situations, whether in Nairobi or Ohio.

“give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”
1 Thessalonians 5:18

So, you see, our time here is different yet the same.

More about this in the next letter,

Laurie