Remember what a privilege it is

This “Discover Riches at Your Library” bookmark was given to my daughter as part of a summer reading program at our local library.

I remembered that in Nairobi, a city of about 4 million people, there are a few libraries. Most of them have old tattered books. There is not a selection of the latest best sellers. There are no libraries at all in Kakamega, a city in western Kenya with maybe 250,000 people.

So be thankful for what you have, people of “the western world.”


On making a difference

Steve with his wife and childOn Monday, I guest posted over at Letters from a Small State. If you’d like to read what I wrote, head over there. It’s a post that deals with a little more of my personal journey with Heather than I normally write about.

Thank you Elizabeth!


Let her sleep

I have a story for you.

When Heather and I first went to Africa (1991), we were part of a 3-month-long training program that was designed to help us love Africa. And adjust to living there. Part of our training involved living with a family in rural Kenya for two weeks.

It was a stretching time, to say the least. We still keep in touch with one of the family members – which shows you it was a good experience, overall.

Anyhow, they ate dinner starting at about 9 pm. We were pretty tired by that time of the day, and listening to lively conversation in Kikamba (their language) for several hours was not always our choice of a relaxing way to end the day.

So one night – about halfway into our two weeks with them – just before dinner, Heather and I were chilling in our small room. Our guest knocked on the door to say it was dinnertime. I went to dinner alone. I said, “In our culture, it is wrong to wake someone when they are sleeping.” They bought it – after a little discussion on my part.

I knew she needed a break.


Flashback Kenya

ruiru-01As some of my longer-term readers may recall, I lived 5 years in Kenya, East Africa.

During my last two years there, I had a very challenging role in administration. One day I took on a different assignment – photographer. I visited a facility run by the Kenyan organization we partnered with – the Ruiru Centre. My photos were to be used for publicity purposes. (I’m not sure if they were ever used.)

That day was a nice break.


Nairobi vs. Denver

toyo-doorhandleThis lovely door handle broke. Toyota took almost two months to ship us a replacement. I thought that length of time was amazing.

Sometimes the “western world” has disadvantages compared with the “developing world”. If I had a broken door handle with this same car in Kenya, I could have gotten a replacement the same day. (Our Corolla is perhaps the most common vehicle on their crowded roads.)

Having said that, if we had an obscure vehicle in Kenya, we could have waited a year for the replacement. One of the aspects of my job when we were there last was to advise people about which car to buy. I always said go for the most common model… parts are easier to get.

The problem with having lived in a different country is that you can never experience the best of each place at once. I guess that is why there’s heaven to look forward to.


Flashback Friday


The other day, our dog was having fun chasing squirrels up a tree. They love this particular tree because of the tasty acorns it has been producing lately.

The funny thing was that as I heard the chattering, I thought it was a monkey. Briefly, I was back in Africa. Even though we lived in a crowded city of more than four million people (Nairobi), the occasional squirrel would sneak into homes in our neighborhood to see what tasty treat they might find.


Fun Friday picture


I miss Gideon. He was the groundskeeper for our apartment complex in Nairobi, Kenya.

Yes, he used a totally natural palm branch as a broom to keep the driveway clean. Every day.


Flashback: Africa


It was nearly four years ago when we started living in Nairobi, Kenya, Africa.

This treehouse was in our backyard. Our neighbor, Roger Van Otterloo, built this with and for his son. He was a real missionary, in the traditional sense. He and his family built a life for themselves in the heart of the jungle, so to speak – in the heart of Africa – Zaire (now Congo again). They left for the big city of Nairobi when civil war broke out – when they had to leave.

You would never know from the photo that we were about two miles from the city center. The tree, by the way, is an acacia – the quintessential African tree.

If you want to read more about our life in Africa, kindly visit My Part of Nairobi.


Old but still active


My very first blog, My Part of Nairobi, was my chronicle of life in that great city. We lived there from 2005-2007.

It still gets almost as many hits as my current blog, even though I haven’t updated it since we left. I guess people find that life more interesting than this.

Anyhow, one of my favorite blogs is Africa Expat Wives Club. The author has an irreverant yet respectful look at life there. She and her family have chosen to stay, unlike us. So her blog chronicles life there – many of the struggles and joys of an expat living in Kenya.

So I was checking my Google Analytics stats for that blog and noticed that I had received about 140 hits from her link to me, just in the last month. Pretty fun!