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Jambo! From Kenya

Jambo! This means “hello” in Kiswahili, the language of Kenya. As I write this brief update, I am sitting in the guest center at Brackenhurst, a beautiful retreat center located about 45 minutes outside of Nairobi (see photo). In case you're curious and want to fire up your Google Earth program, the nearest town is Limuru, Kenya. Brackenhurst is perched atop rolling hills covered with green tea fields and other crops, a very lush and semi-tropical locale. What a joy to be here!

The children we will host at Brackenhurst come from the BCC (Baptist Children's Center), a Buckner-supported orphanage located in Nairobi. Buckner does a wonderful job locating children for the orphanage, taking care of their many needs, including education, and helping them transition out of the orphanage into foster care or some other stable environment. For more about the work Buckner does in Kenya, go here.

There are 3 primary Buckner employees who serve as in-country staff: Dickson Masindano, Buckner's lead man here in Kenya; Tom Okore, Dickson's able assistant; and Tony Winani, the director/manager of the BCC. All are wonderful, godly men who do a great job serving orphans here in Kenya. There are also many others who work to serve the kids, including the care givers who live with the children, and cooks, gardeners and other staff who work behind the scenes to provide a safe, healthy and emotionally secure environment. It would certainly be a good thing to lift these people up in prayer as they have many challenges to overcome on a daily basis.

Before I run ahead, though, let me provide a brief recap thus far. As for travel, all members of our party arrived safely and without delay. Considering there were several different flight itineraries, each lasting anywhere from 18 to 24 hours of air time, and passing through either London or Amsterdam before landing in Nairobi, the travel couldn't have gone any more smooth. All connections were made without difficulty, and only 1 bag was delayed. Although everyone in the group is definitely tired from the long flights and changing time zones, we're all excited to be here and are looking forward to the next several days.

There are actually two Buckner-led groups here in Kenya: a group from Concord Baptist Church in Dallas, and a group consisting of people from various cities who are traveling independent of any specific group. The Concord group visited an AIDS “baby home” in Nairobi today (Friday) and will head to Kitale - in western Kenay - on Saturday.   The other group, the “Brackenhurst Group,” first did a little shopping at a Nairobi market before heading to Brackenhurst. We are now all seasoned hagglers and everyone walked away from our shopping trip with at least one African treasure. (Note: As I am traveling with the Brackenhurst group, and the two groups have entirely different itineraries, I will only be providing information and updates for the Brackenhurst group.)

After arriving at Brackenhurst and getting moved in to our rooms, everyone enjoyed a brief rest before meeting to talk about our plans in anticipation of the arrival of the kids from the BCC (Baptist Children's Center) in Nairobi. However, the kids beat us to the punch, arriving by bus just as we were to meet. Even better! We therefore were able to spend about 30 minutes mingling with the kids, breaking the ice and starting to learn names. Some of us have been here before and knew many of the kids, while others were meeting them for the first time. No matter, we were all thrilled to have this first get-together with these wonderful children.

To close out the night, dinner was followed by a time of singing and games, including a very funny round of musical chairs. The children had a great time, as did us grown-up types, even though we were all very, very tired. Only after the children left for bed did we realize exactly how tired we really were. But even though we're tired, this day has been such a special time and such a blessing from God.  So, it's an early night tonight as we give thanks to God for our safe travel and arrival, thanks for the time with the kids, and pray in earnest for a good night's rest.

I will continue to provide updates throughout the week while here at Brackenhurst, so check back in.  I'll try to post some photos next time around.  Be sure to pray for our time with these amazing children.  

Some fun facts:

Most Kenyans speak Kiswahili, English, and a tribal “mother tongue.” Many others speak a little French as well.

We saw giraffes next to the highway as we left the Nairobi airport to drive to our hotel.

While bartering for a gift today, I asked the vendor if he could guess the country I came from. His answer, after a brief pause: “Obama.” I told him, “Obama isn't a country. Not yet, anyway.” He appreciated the joke. Kenyans LOVE Barack Obama as one of their own and are, rightfully, very proud. 

The award for the longest travel day goes to Callie Himsl who flew from San Diego to Minnesota, Minnesota to Amsterdam, and Amsterdam to Nairobi. Whew! Makes me tired just thinking about it.

Ken and Linda Stillwell are a husband-and-wife team on the trip. They are also a Dentist (Ken) and Dental Hygienist (Linda). We will hold a clinic for the kids on overall hygienic practice as well as dental hygiene. This should be a very useful and valuable lesson for the kids as they don't have ready access to such information in their schools. Way to go Ken and Linda!

We celebrated Tina Jay's birthday today Happy Birthday Tina!

The weather is pretty mild at Brackenhurst...cool at night, warm during the day.

Brackenhurst is 9 hours ahead of Central Standard Time. As I write this it is 11:00 p.m. in Kenya, 2:00 p.m. back home.

Reader Comments (3)

I am so glad for you that you are back in Africa! So happy that your travels went well. We will be praying, for you, Carson & the rest while you are there.

December 4, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterKarin

Obama country.. makes me laugh.
When we were at the pyramids the kids would advertise their goods by saying, "only 1 Obama dollar for postcards"
Can't wait to see the photos of the kids, how fun that must be to reunite with them.

Thinking of you Daver

December 5, 2009 | Unregistered Commenteryuriko

Hi Dave! So glad that you could go be back to Africa! I am missing it terribly! Thanks for the pictures!! Dawn (from your last year's team in Kenya)

December 23, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterDawn
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