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for December, 2008

words unfolding

Wintery Holidays

Well I’m officially used to the cold and the enormous amount of snow that is surrounding me here in Moscow. I’m grateful for the snow because cold dreary rain is yucky. Even when the sun isn’t out the snow reflects so much light that it feels bright. I spent Christmas with the 3M’s (Mauri, Marcus and Miles) along with friends Bryce, Ashley, and Tyler. It was definitely a white christmas filled with good food, great company, and drinks that warmed my soul. I always miss my family on this holiday but am blessed with family here, we just don’t share the same genes.

Here is a little slideshow from Christmas!

Yesterday the dogs and I walked around the streets of Moscow for about 3 hours. It was great exercise because many sidewalks hadn’t been shoveled, so we trudged through the snow. The snow is covering everything here and so many of the old houses and their properties look stunning. I brought my camera along to capture our winter wonderland. Enjoy!

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“The joy of Being, which is the only true happiness, cannot come to you through any form, possession, achievement, person, or event–through anything that happens. That joy cannot come to you–ever. It emanates from the formless dimension within you, from consciousness itself and thus is one with who you are.”
~ Eckhart Tolle

Posted on December 28, 2008 by Keli · 3 comments Read More
words unfolding

Kwaheri Beautiful Kenya

How is it that 6 weeks can go by so quickly for those on vacation and feel like forever for those left behind? Even though the trip seemed to go by quickly for me I’m amazed of how many experiences can be fit into 6 weeks time. We arrived back in the States late Tuesday evening after traveling for around 34 hours. Yes it was long, but the plane rides went really smoothly and with private video entertainment, the time flies by. We were lucky enough to have a 6 hour layover in Amsterdam so we battled the freezing weather and drizzle and headed into the dark city at 6am. The weather was a real shock for us but prepared us for the chilly temps here in Idaho.

So what can I say about being back and leaving Kenya behind…. As someone who is trying hard to always live in the “present” moment I’m finding myself in an acceptance phase of “what is” which is being back home. With that being said, I wasn’t honestly ready to leave Kenya behind. We were building some great relationships with people and getting into the groove and rhythm of life.

I enjoyed wearing skirts everyday and head scarfs to protect my scalp from the sun. I was used to my limited wardrobe of 4 shirts and 2 skirts plus some new fabrics I wore as skirts, and wish I could hang on to that level of simplicity. Our almost daily routine of drinking tea (which consists of mainly milk with a little water, black tea, and raw sugar) and eating chapatis (mix between a tortilla & pita) is something I will sorely miss. As I type this in my local coffee shop, I am drinking black tea with mostly steamed milk with some added sugar. It’s not Kenyan tea, but it’s close.

I’m not sure how much I’ve learned from this trip, but I can definitely say thoughts or ideas I’ve had have been reinforced. People all over the world are the same in that they want to experience joy and love and hurt when there is destruction. Cultural norms can build barriers against one another and prevent growth as a human species and this is something we all need to understand to become a more peaceful world.

I saw how resilient and adaptable children are and how much we spoil our kids here in the States to their detriment at times. Kids are capable of so much more than we give them credit for or allow them the freedom to find out, especially young ones.

Women and children are still the greatest minority in the world and only through educating all children of this world will their rights become important and their lives really valued.

There are many times in my life over the last 10 years that I’ve felt unpatriotic. It’s been hard for me at times to feel good about being an American and separating myself from some of our governments practices. What I’ve realized is that it is important for citizens of a country to always remain loyal to it’s countries beliefs and truths and it’s our responsibility to keep our government in check. I’m not sure how my mail gets delivered to me everyday in a short period of time or why if I go to a police officer with a concern I’ll be taken seriously. I know when I turn on my faucet everyday there will be water (even hot) and if I dial 911 someone will come to help me. Americans love to complain about taxes, but I’ve learned that even though I don’t know how our vastly complex infrastructure really works in this country, things seem to run pretty smoothly State to State. Had I not been raised as a women in this country it’s hard to know how possible it would have been for me to not only have the opportunity to travel to Africa for 6 weeks but to be the type of traveller I was.

People say all the time to not take the things you have for granted but I realize how hard it is to understand in day to day living all that exists because of where you live and what cultural practices are the norm. I was blessed to have been given the opportunity to explore some cultures on the other side of the world and even more blessed to have done it with someone who enters all situations with her eyes wide open in a non-judgmental way. By not having an itinerary we allowed the trip to unfold in front of us with so little expectation. We were given more grace than you can imagine every step of the way. I was constantly reminded of the phrases “let go, let God,” or “just be.” This is a much easier practice when you are living in a situation with very little responsibility, but experiencing its true power is a gift I’ll never forget.

I want to thank Simba for giving us the connections in Kenya because without them our trip wouldn’t have been as rich as it was. To the Sidi family (Latif, Cathy, & Faiza) thank you for opening your home to us and making us feel so welcome in a new crazy city. Cathy your meals were amazing and a true enjoyment to share with your family. To Pastor Kim and Lucy, thank you for taking such good care of us and organizing things in Nairobi for us so that we felt comfortable there. To Leah, Martin, and Vero, staying with you at the end of our trip was a perfect way to close our journey. Your enthusiam to be with us and hang out warmed our hearts. To Stan & Dorothy, we were so happy to meet you and to see who raised such a wonderful kids. It was great to be at your house in Meru during the wedding and meeting so many family members. And lastly, to Ombati and Saitoti, there really are no words. Emily and I wish we could convey to people here, what meeting you two has meant to us, but it really is something they would have had to live through. Living in the remote area of Masai Mara could have been filled with frustrations that could have left us feeling unfilled, but the two of you made it so safe, loving, and most of all fun. You have become our brothers and we wish for you lives filled with good growth challenges and joyful days. In the words of Ombati borrowed from Obama, “oh yes… oh yes we can.”

I have some postings that I wrote up while in Kenya that I hopefully I will type and post to here in the next while. I am working on photos as well and hope to have some photo galleries at my picasa album site and will let you know when they are posted. For now I will post a few photos from the journey to give you a taste.

It’s good to be home safe and sound and I have nothing but joy in my heart for what I’ve just experienced. I can’t wait to share some of it with you all in our own time.

Amazing Tree we climbed on a Safari walk in Masai Mara

Elephant (Oltome) in Masai Mara

Giraffe in Masai Mara

Me, Saitoti, Emily, Ombati

Our last morning at Masai Mara

Em & I at the top of Ngorongoro Crater

Looking for something big, like the LION right next to her.
Ahhh, Mombassa – Tiwi Beach, Indian Ocean
Kalib and Me (Pst. Kim and Lucy’s son)
Em & I at a house party we crashed with Leah on our 2nd to last night in Kenya

Posted on December 11, 2008 by Keli · 2 comments Read More
words unfolding

Crater and the Indian Ocean

Jambo,

Em and I are currently using the internet in a barber shop in the town of Mombassa. We are surrounded by wonderful posters including one that’s all faded titled, “POWERFUL HAIR KUTS.” It’s straight out of the 80’s and has all these rap stars on it. This is next to a picture of Kibaki (the president) and of course an Obama poster. You wouldn’t believe how much Obama is plastered around Kenya. His face even graces patterned fabrics.

Well our last week has been nothing but amazing. We traveled to Tanzania (Tzed) to visit the Ngorongoro Crater which is the largest inactive volcano caldero in the world. We traveled to Arusha on Thanksgiving and we were thankful that before we left, Leah (Simba’s wife’s sister), had bought sliced turkey and cheese for us the day before. We were excited to eat some Turkey on Thanksgiving, especially me cuz it was the 1st time in I think 13 or 14 years! We stayed at this cute little motel that was also an Ehtiopian restaurant, so we had an amazing Thanksgiving dinner. Josh, I enjoyed some food for you :)

We booked a safari to the crater before we left Nairobi. There was actual drama when the people on the Tzed side came to pick us up, but it all worked out. No need to go into the negative parts which were quickly resolved and things worked out just great. It ended up being private so it was just the 2 of us with our driver and a cook. They picked us up in a white Land Rover with a pop top. This is exactly what Emily was envisioning us to go in so she was all smiles.

After about 3 hours we arrived at the crater and we were staying in a public campsite so we asked to be dropped off at one the nice lodges to have a drink out on a veranda overlooking this amazing wonder. We found a nice spot out of the deck and watched as the sun setting behind us cast all this beautiful light across the crater. I had a beer (cold!) and emily a gin and tonic. They brought us out hot roasted cashews, and we were in heaven.

Well, I need to skip ahead a bit cuz we need to go catch a bus. The crater drive was amazing. All the big east African animals are on the crater floor as well as others. We saw large herds of just about everything including around 15 Lioness’total. We spent all day on driving around and headed back to Arusha that night. We have lots of pics to you’ll get to see what some people call the “8th wonder of the world.”

We headed out of Tzed back to Kenya to the coast. We didn’t know where we would stay but we were recommended somewhere on the southcoast called Tiwi. We found this place that had cottages right on the shoreline over looking the ocean. We had our own private bungalow with all the amenities. We were blessed with basically having a 3day mini vacation on a tropical beach. The ocean was filled with coral and we went snorkeling everday. Unfortunately the reef is dying and the locals walk all over it and take many things from it to sell.

This doesn’t even do our last week justice, but hopefully the pictures will. We are heading back to Nairobi now, we have an 8 hour bus ride ahead of us that should be interesting. I’m going to soak it all in as this will be our last drive through the Kenyan country side. I’ve feel so grateful for all that I’ve experienced on this journey and I’m trying not to feel sad about it all coming to a close very soon, but it’s challenging.

I hope everyone is doing well in the States and we’ll either see or talk to you all very soon. I should be able to post some more from Nairobi while we’re there, so check back.

Kwaheri

Posted on December 4, 2008 by Keli · 1 comment Read More