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,



Different Yet The Same- Part One

difference blog2

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 first of three letters devoted to attempting to address this pressing and intriguing question.

Part One: Daily Tasks Verses Environment

Interestingly, the every day tasks that we do here in Nairobi look similar to the everyday tasks we do in Ohio. Terry goes to the hanger, I grocery shop, I pray, I attempt to cook, I visit friends, Terry and I go to church.

Yet, the environment in which we do these tasks is completely different. Terry goes to the hanger to work along side people who speak two different languages interchangeably and will move between the two languages mid-sentence. I grocery shop at four different places: the store (Nakumatt, similar to a down sized Walmart), the meat market, the vegetable stall outside the gate and the duka down the street. I pray for people I never would have known before with challenges I never could have fathomed before coming here. We have inherited house help who mentor me in the kitchen in regards to cooking everything from bread to chapati from scratch. I visit friends who love and care for a people group I am just meeting. Terry and I go to church where we are clearly the minority.

However, it cannot be denied that when doing these tasks in this different environment we do sense God’s presence. For Nairobi, just like Ohio, was created by a loving God, for His glory and in which His will is carried out.

“For in him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things have been created through him and for him.”
Colossians 1:16

So, you see, it is different yet the same.

More about this in the next letter,


What’s happening in the hanger? – Week 6

Dear Friends,

Time keeps flying and week 6 came and went. This Wednesday our journey here will be ½ over.

Hanger 4
In the last newsletter I told you that we finished the week with Dan looking for an oil leak. He thought he knew where it was coming from but a little bit of oil can travel a long way into the most inconspicuous places. He persevered on Monday only to find out that there is a hair line crack in the engine case. Time to talk with the engine manufacturer.

Unfortunately, the engine warranty is based on calendar months as well as engine usage hours. The engine exceeded calendar months and, though the manufacturer still offered some concessions, AIM Air has a large, unplanned expense and is without one airplane until a replacement engine arrives. They normally stock a spare engine but this engine had been their spare. It was placed in service a couple of months ago when they sent another engine back to the US for rebuild by the manufacturer.

Hanger blog

The work runs in cycles so it was time to go back in the office and put on my administrative hat.

When a manufacturer, in this case Cessna, ships an airplane the technical data for the airplane includes a list of all the equipment that was installed on the airplane when it shipped from the factory. The governments, Kenya and US, typically require all of the equipment on the list to be installed and operating when the airplane is used to carry a paying passenger(s). Cessna publishes a Master Minimum Equipment List (MMEL) that defines the minimum equipment an operator needs to have operating to safely carry a paying passenger(s) and how long the operator has to have the defective equipment repaired or replaced. This is because airplanes have redundant systems and, for example, you can safely operate an airplane with one of your radios not working if you are flying during the day when there is no adverse weather.

It is up to the operator to reference the Cessna MMEL and create their own Minimum Equipment List (MEL) based on the equipment installed in their aircraft and then submit the document to the government for approval. AIM Air had submitted their MEL to the Kenyan authorities and had received it back with some questions and requested changes. I spent the week reading through the Kenyan Air Regulations, the Cessna MMEL, AIM Air’s operating procedures, and the Pilot’s Operating Handbook looking for the answers to the Kenyan authorities comments and questions. Many cups of chai later, my research was complete.

Unlike your auto mechanic, an airplane mechanic doing an oil change removes the oil filter and then cuts it open to look for debris internally in the filter media. It is a basic skill that is often taken for granted.  John, the Director of Maintenance, asked if I could document the procedure to insure repeatability. The words have been written and approved by John but I want to add pictures before calling the project complete.

hanger blog 2

A phase inspection started on a Cessna 208 (C-208) while I was doing paperwork so it was time to get my hands dirty. We haven’t maintained any C-208’s at MMS since I’ve been there so this week was an opportunity to learn new things and to try to remember things from an engine class I took 4 years ago. Several new challenges but, I am enjoying myself.

Hanger blog 3
We have a couple of more days of work to complete the inspection but we ended the week with a slight distraction. Laurie surprised me with a birthday cake baked by Lindsey, one of the AIM Air pilots.

Until next letter,
Blessings, Terry

God’s Splendor

Park Enterance Blog

Dear Friends,

Safari in Kiswahili means journey. And this past weekend we decided to venture out for a self-drive safari, which means we wondered around on our own, in Nairobi National Park. This park is located 4 miles from the center of Nairobi, and about the same distance from where we are living. This “closeness” means from inside the park we could often see the outline of the city on the horizon. However, that did not take away from the fact we felt we were a world apart as we witnessed the magical and mysterious wilderness full of exotic animals. It was in this place that we worshiped the God of the universe, our creator, with the wilds of Africa.

Here is the story.

Once inside the park gate our journey began as our minds took in the nature and our hearts began to praise and worship God. It was a beautiful morning.

Road blog“Splendor and majesty are before Him, Strength and beauty are in His sanctuary”
Psalms 96:6

As we drove along we saw monkeys in the tops of trees. They had a great vantage point to watch the comings and goings of the wilderness.

Monkeys blog

“Jesus entered Jericho and was passing through. A man was there by the name of Zacchaeus; he was a chief tax collector and was wealthy. He wanted to see who Jesus was, but because he was short he could not see over the crowd. So he ran ahead and climbed a sycamore-fig tree to see him, since Jesus was coming that way.”
Luke 19:1-4

What a privilege it was to watch this massive, gentle water buffalo going about his business peacefully in the wild.

Water buffalo blog (800x682)

“And God said, “Let the land produce living creatures according to their kinds: the livestock, the creatures that move along the ground, and the wild animals, each according to its kind.” And it was so. God made the wild animals according to their kinds, the livestock according to their kinds, and all the creatures that move along the ground according to their kinds. And God saw that it was good.”
Genesis 1:24-25

We saw ostriches that stood eight feet tall on skinny legs. A much larger bird than what we remembered on the farms at home. Oddly beautiful.

ostrich blog

“The wings of the ostrich flap joyfully, though they cannot compare
with the wings and feathers of the stork. She lays her eggs on the ground
and lets them warm in the sand,
Job 39:13-14

We were astounded by the size, beauty and majesty of the giraffe. Looking at this animal on top of the hill on the horizon we wondered if we were looking at a stately tree.

Giraffe Blog

“On the glorious splendor of Your majesty And on Your wonderful works, I will meditate”
Psalms 145:5

Then it was time for lunch, we pulled off to the side of the road and ate peanut butter sandwiches while a herd of Zebra walked and paraded around us. Breathe taking.
Zebra walking blog

“And behold, the glory of the God of Israel was there, like the appearance which I saw in the plain.”
Ezekiel 8:4

We drove down to the Athi Dam which is a magnet for all forms of wild life. While we were there several hippos presented themselves.

Hippo blog

“He who forms the mountains, who creates the wind, and who reveals his thoughts to mankind, who turns dawn to darkness, and treads on the heights of the earth– the LORD God Almighty is his name.”
Amos 4:13

On our way out of the park we drove through the grasslands and we caught a glimpse of this lioness as she charged by us. Sleek, fast, silent, and powerful. What a presence! We understand why the lion is mentioned 33 times in the bible.

Lion blog

“But the Lord stood with me and strengthened me, so that through me the proclamation might be fully accomplished, and that all the Gentiles might hear; and I was rescued out of the lion’s mouth.”
2 Timothy 4:17

What a day catching holy glimpses of God’s splendor.

Grass lands Blog

The whole earth is filled with awe at your wonders; where morning dawns, where evening fades, you call forth songs of joy.”
Psalm 65:8

As we drove away it was evident to us who was, who is and who will forever be in control.

May each of you witness an awe-inspiring glimpse of God’s splendor on this magnificent day.

Until next letter,

The Local Businesses

Dear Friends,

The city of Nairobi is full of thousands of small local businesses. Both ends of the street right outside our estate are lined with them. These businesses function on cash only bases. Also, the cash you bring must closely match the cost of your purchase because the owners do not have the means to give a large amount of change.

I am told that these businesses have such a presence in Nairobi that there are many locals who have never shopped in a mall or chain store. This is due in part because the chain store sells larger bags of product and the locals do not have the financial means to buy larger quantities. In other words, they live on a day to day cash supply and the smaller businesses sell quantities to take care of their needs for a day, so why would they go to a shopping center where they would need to buy more then one days supply?

Here are examples of four businesses that we have frequented.

1. Duka

Duka blog 2

Duka is Swahili for store or shop. I can best describe it as a convenient store or corner market. This picture is of one (there are several others) right outside the gate to our estate. We have shopped here to get yeast to make cinnamon rolls and soda for a gathering we were attending. When we made these purchases we stood at the window and explained to the young lady working what we would like. She then proceeded to get the items from the shelf, dust them off (there is dust everywhere in Nairobi) and present them to us along with quoting a price. Nothing has a price tag or set price. This system gives her the freedom to give us one price and someone else a different price. Because we are white and have not yet established a relationship with her it is likely that she has given us a higher price for the items we have purchased than she might have someone else.

2. Chemist or Pharmacy

Pharmacy blog2

On every street corner of Nairobi there seems to be a pharmacy. This is a picture of the one down the street from our estate. We have stopped in here to get Doxycycline, the daily medicine we are taking to make the symptoms of Malaria less severe should we get it. Most pharmacies in Kenya sell medicine across the counter without a prescription. Therefore, we just walked in and told them what we needed. In regards to the locals, instead of going to a doctor they will often go to the pharmacy, describe their symptoms and the pharmacist will give them a medication.

3. Meat MarketMeat Market Blog 2

This particular meat market is a about half a mile from our estate. I have gone there once. The day that I was in there the gentleman had a side of beef hanging from the ceiling. When talking to a local I was explaining that the regulations in America to sell meat are different then in Kenya. I pointed out that when I purchase meat it is generally prepackaged with a sell by date. He then asked, “How do you know that the label on the package is telling you the correct meat that it holds?” He then went on to explain that is often the reason that the meat hangs in the store, so when you make your purchase you can be certain that what you are ordering is indeed what you are getting. I am still not sure he understood American regulations and how they are enforced.

4. Leather Goods/Handbag Repair Man

Leather goods blog

The strap on my purse detached. Once again, outside the gate to our estate is this gentleman’s leather goods business. Within five minutes, sewing by hand, he had reattached my strap to the body of my purse along with reinforcing the other side. For this service he charged one hundred shillings which is equal to about one US dollar. Now, every time we walk by he waves and smiles. It is all about relationship.

Whether you are a business owner, an employee of a business, or just buy stuff from businesses may the Creator of the universe, the One who ultimately owns it all, bless you and keep you.

Until next letter,

What’s happening in the hanger – Week 4?

Hanger week 4 blog 1

Dear Friends,

It is hard for me to believe that tomorrow I will start my fifth week in the hanger. The first four weeks have gone so quickly and Wycliffe, the grounds keeper, reminded Laurie that before we know it our time in Kenya will be over.

Pride can be a terrible thing and come back to bite you. In my first letter I boosted, “Even with the unplanned work, the airplane was complete and the paperwork signed by 5:15PM.” Meeting the deadline was engrained in me before I retired and I was proud that we were able to get the airplane, registration 5Y-CMA, back in service.

Laurie and I had an opportunity for a sight-seeing flight Saturday morning and 5Y-CMA was the airplane that was going to be used. The weather didn’t cooperate so next usage was scheduled for Monday and the airplane left as scheduled.

An adjustable pitch propeller has fittings to connect a grease gun for injecting grease into the hub. These fittings have a check ball that opens under the pressure of the grease gun and then closes when you disconnect the grease gun. Why am I explaining this, because one on the check balls on 5Y-CMA stuck open after service and we didn’t catch it before dispatching the airplane. The pilot reported grease being slung all over the windshield and the line crew had to remove grease all the way from the nose to the front of the wings. (The service limits allow no more than more than six pumps of grease and it is amazing how much area this amount of grease can cover.) No one was in danger and no parts were damaged but the airplane had to return to base for troubleshooting and repair. In my mind these things outweigh my prideful boost of dispatching on time.

Proverbs 11:2 “When pride comes, then comes disgrace, but with the humble is wisdom.” (NIV)

In my last entry I talked about phase inspections but didn’t put times in the description. AIM Air conducts inspections that are somewhat equivalent to a US annual inspect at 100 hours, 200 hours, and then again based on a calendar year. They also conduct less extensive inspections at 50 hours and 150 hours. Most of the AIM Air airplanes are registered in Kenya but they have a couple that are registered in the US. For Kenyan registered airplanes, I can do the work but someone with Kenyan authorization must take responsibility for my work and sign the aircraft log books.

N827DG, a Cessna 206 and part of the AIM fleet, arrived Monday afternoon for a 100 hour inspection. Even though we are in Kenya, since it is US registered I can sign the logs and take responsibility for myself. We started the inspection first thing Tuesday morning with me and Joseph taking care of the engine inspection items. Dan, an AIM staff member, was back from holiday so he and Marco started on the airframe items. Billie, an intern, moved between teams as needed. A second US registered aircraft came in at end of day Thursday for a 50 hour inspection so Dan and Marco switched to the new airplane. This airplane was scheduled out Saturday.

Hanger week 4 blog 2

At the end of business Friday 7DG was ready for service and Dan was working on an oil leak on the aircraft in for the 50 hour inspection. Scheduling was changed for 7DG and it was being packed for a flight into Uganda first thing Saturday morning. Flexibility is really a key here.

The value of me being here was highlighted in a conversation with Chris, one of the pilots, on Friday afternoon. We were talking about what was going on with both airplanes and I shared that I was keeping 7DG moving while Dan was taking care of the 50 hour. Chris thanked me for being here and said words to the effect that if I wasn’t here one of the two projects would be sitting.

Blessings, Terry

Chai Time

Chia time 3

Dear Friends,

I am at the hanger today and it is 10:00am. That means it is chai time. This is time where everyone leaves whatever work they are doing to come together in a common area to chit chat while drinking chai.

In Kenya chai time can occur at multiple intervals throughout the day. To name a few, it can occur with breakfast, early afternoon break, late afternoon break, and after dinner. I have been told that boarding schools have a break for chai time, important business meetings take place over chai and friends hang out while drinking a cup of chai. In other words, in Kenya, anytime that people are brought together can be chai time. And, chai time can be what brings people together. But specifically in the AIM hanger “chai time” occurs at 10am and again at 3pm.

Kenya chai has its own uniqueness. It is made by boiling nearly equal parts of water and milk together and then brewing traditional black tea leaves in the liquid. If you are in a Kenyan home it is served after a few minutes of brewing with a bowl of sugar on the side. In a work place like the hanger the sugar is put directly into the boiling chai. The milkier and sweeter the better! This is Kenya’s signature drink.
Chia time 1

Interestingly, Kenya’s culture is similar to the United States in that it tends to embrace many different cultures to create their own. Chai time is a perfect example of this. Tea time is borrowed from the British, but the style of tea is borrowed from India.

Chai time has been happening at the AIM hanger as long as anyone can remember. It is such an important facet that it is Monica’s main job to brew the chai. She makes this along with mandazi (Kenyan doughnut) chapati (flatbread) and hardboiled eggs. She serves the chai piping hot and you feel the warmth as you pour it out into a mug. It is easy to burn your tongue if you are impatient enough not to let it cool.

Chia time 2

When it comes to the social part of chai time I am completely onboard. However, when it comes to the chai itself I have to tell you that I don’t care for the drink. I have given it a try on several occasions. In the picture at the top I am giving it yet another try because I do want to like it. However, over the past four weeks there have been times I have had to quietly tell someone I don’t care for the chai. Their response has been a startled look and a shake of their head hardly believing it. Fortunately, Terry, who never liked milk or sugar in his hot tea, has developed a taste for chai and has finished off a couple of my cups to help me save face.

I pray you get a chance to sit down today and enjoy a cup of chai, coffee, cocoa or whatever your hot drink of choice is. As you sip do as the Kenyans, let it be a time of quiet reflection, a time of embracing a new friendship or a time of strengthening an old one.

Until next letter,

P.S. I do like the coffee here. It just isn’t the popular hot drink of choice for the locals.