Saturday, July 5, 2008


Wednesday was one of the longest days of our lives…literally-a 32 hour day! We were greeted in Seattle by friendly customs agents and Mandy’s family as we packed our year long possessions into the car and headed down to Tacoma. Back to T-town…I never knew how good the roads were here, how well-kept the sidewalks are, how clean the streets are and how nice it would feel to taste a root beer float!

We are yet to settle in anywhere yet, but are inching out way in that direction. We do have new phones, so if you want to give us a jingle, we’d love to hear from you.

Joel’s Phone #: (253) 302-1098

Mandy’s Phone #: (253) 302-2969

It looks like we are going to head up to the mountains for a few days to resituate our minds as we plunge into this transition. I can’t tell you how thankful we are for your continued support along the way.

It was an amazing year…not necessarily a “fun” year at all times, but a year that we will never forget. New perspectives, newfound gratitude and newfound relationships. We may be thousands of miles away, but these things withstand great distances. It is our continued hope that they will also withstand the tests of time and the American pace of life.

55 Hours in London!

We boarded a plane at 11 PM on Sunday night and headed to London. The first glimpse of the city as we popped up from the subway was a bit strange-no matatus, few black people, it seemed quiet, people were on the move, etc!

We only spent a few days there but it was nice to have a bit of time to reflect as we prepared for our homecoming…a special thanks to David (who I met while climbing Mt. Kenya) and his family for inviting us in as well as the British government for making all of the museums free. (There sure is nothing else in London that is FREE!)

Perhaps the climax of it all was the icing on the cake for our year in Kenya with a trip to the London Theater to see The Lion King Musical…a beautiful experience- wonderful costumes, great music and a better storyline than an already great movie. We could see traces of the stories of Kenya in a broadway musical, perhaps a bit of foreshadowing as we continue to encounter our time in Kenya through everyday experiences.

Mathare Finale

Our final day wouldn’t have been complete without a trip out to Mathare. We enjoye our last church service at the Inspiration Center with Mark, Moses, Boyye and roughly 100 more kids. It was a great day as the service was fantastic and we were able to share a meal together from a local hotel. After the service, David (a local restaurant owner) brought food up to the center where we all shared a meal together. We had to keep the kids inside as they would have brought the entire village back with them if we let them out and told them that there would be free food!

While it was hard to say goodbye, we are encouraged by what is happening in Mathare and are convinced that when we return, amazing things will be happening. Thank you Moses and all of our friends in Mathare, you have touched out lives and the lives of many others. We continue to stand with you in solidarity and pray for transformation in your community.


culture, eautiful architecture, gracious hospitality, wooden boats and ornate doors everywhere you go. Even the regular power outages on the island felt like relaxing!

In long, a picture is worth a thousand words!

Boats, boats...

...and more boats

Dinner with Gideon, Mwix and our new friend Heika

Mwix and the widest street in town...

Beautiful Homes

The most amazing mango shakes ever!

BBQing our freshly caught fish!

Living the tough life...our balcony view!

Playing in the ocean...we got to go swimming in a storm and catch some good waves!

Swahili Architecture and local transport (donkeys)

The land of beautiful doors

Hurry up! Dinner is in 6 hours!

View from our balcony!

No complaints with our guesthouse...the stopover!

Eating our freshly caught fish for lunch on Manda Island

Flying back to our tiny plane!

Last Minute Visits

Just like any place that we have ever transitioned from, there are lots of visits that take place during the last few weeks. Between friends through CTM, frisbee and others that we met along the way, it was a busy time! Lots of tasty food, wonderful conversations and questions to help prepare us for our transition.

We enjoyed a trip to Banana (a small town 30 minutes outside of Nairobi) to visit Peter and his wife. Peter is doing some amazing work in his community within the matatu industry. He leads a Sunday morning church service at a gas station as the drivers fill up with gas, check the oil and get ready for a day on the road. While he may not focus on praise and worship, he provides a space to talk about areas of transformation in HIV/AIDS education, drug awareness and positive life choices. Peter’s hard work was recently recognized by USAID as he was awarded a 29 seater matatu to focus on behavior change. Check out the pics!

During our last week, we took advantage of the buy one get one free pizza offer at a local restaurant and invited several of the pastors and their spouses over from the CTM network. We had a wonderful time catching up on life, reflecting on our year together and watching people eat pizza for the first time. Luckily, we had ugali and sikuma on backup for those that didn’t like it. It was a wonderful evening in which they commissioned us to return to the US and to bless us in our future endeavors.

We couldn’t let some last minute visits with Lorraine slip away from under us. For those of you who don’t know the story with Lorraine, she is a friend that we went to school with in Tacoma at PLU. Joel graduated with Lorraine and she returned to Kenya and is currently at the University of Nairobi in Med School. When we first arrived in Kenya, we called her and found out that she lives about 3 minutes from us! It was great to have another person around familiar with our context throughout the year…as well as someone to shed some wisdom on the stomach problems that we encountered along the way! Our last day with Lorraine was appropriate as we started out at the Iranian Medical Clinic to get tested for TB and Malaria before taking off…neither of us were feeling well and would much rather be treated for these things in Kenya than in the US as they are VERY common over here. Both of our tests turned out negative!

Frisbee Folks: What can I say? We spent two evenings a week with this crew throughout the entire year. We had an amazing time with all of them and are so grateful to have found this outlet in our lives in Kenya…good exercise, good company and people that understand the challenges of living in various contexts. We are hopeful that we will get to see two of our friends this summer in Seattle as they will be out for work-related meetings! Thanks frisbee folks for many great games, tasty dinners, a rockin’ tournament with D4K and teaching us new card games!

Other last minute visits included bowling, the best Ethiopian food ever two more times, crepes, debriefing with fellow NWerners, Western food with Violet and final Nairobi impressions of wonderful Indian Food!

Nakuru with the boys!

We knew that we wanted to get one last Safari in, but also knew that our time was coming quickly to a close-so we killed two birds with one stone and spent time with great friends as we ventured into Nakuru National Park on a camping trip. The top 10 from the weekend included:

  1. Arriving 5 hours later than anticipated because of a late start, the sleeping bags that never showed up, extra stops for Nyama Choma (Roasted Meet) at roadside stands, etc.
  2. Seeing 3 lions perched on a downed tree 50 feet from the road. It couldn’t have been set up better in a zoo!
  3. Eating Roasted Meat, Chipatis, Fries and Juice around the fire…a true Kenyan bachelor’s meal
  4. Being surrounded by 1000 pound buffaloes at night in our campsite and seeing grown me scared out of their minds.
  5. Seeing tons of animals on our morning game drive…including hayinas, a male lion, buffalo galore, flamingos, rhinos, giraffe, zebra-tons of animals!
  6. Surviving a stare down from a buffalo staking his territory in the middle of the road as we tried to pass him in a van. We don’t know the whole story but saw a car flipped over on one of the roads in the park earlier in the day…enough to remind you that these animals can do some serious damage.
  7. Coming back to our campsite to find that it had been wasted by baboons…all of the tents were down, the sleeping bags dragged 100+ meters, clothes everywhere, even a poop surprise on the picnic table. These things are malicious!
  8. A visit to see some of the boys from Dagoretti 4 Kids at a boarding school close to the park. They were so happy to see all of us and perhaps more excited to enjoy our leftover food from the trip as a break from their monotonous school menu!
  9. Another Nyama Choma stop on the way home and the van overheating.
  10. Hangin’ out with good people in a gorgeous place doing something that we love. Time well spent!