While a few blips have shown up on Facebook about me, I thought I would have written a blog entry before now. Before I came to Nairobi I had images of long lonely evenings after the 6:30 Kenyan sunset, but things have been busier than I imagined.
You may have heard that I had a bout with some virus within the first week of being here. Whether I caught it here or on the plane, I can't be sure, but it had me bedridden and feverish for the better part of five days. In spite of the sickness, I had a very warm welcome from all the SIM team, including Stephanie and Andrew Onguka who offered me coffee, fruit salad, and my first helping of the traditional Kenyan foods ugali and sukuma wiki—yum! I have also met many of the other SIM members here and learned a bit more about the various work that is going on in Kenya.
Naturally I have had a bit of adjusting to do; both the selection and taste of food is a bit different here, but I am figuring out the best places to get fruit, vegetables and meat. Baking is different at Nairobi's high altitude, so my first batch of muffins was a little doughy. But there seem to be lots of opportunities to eat out for reasonable prices: Indian, Chinese, Lebanese, Ethiopian—you name it!
It has been great getting to know Wes Brown (my partner in crime) and his wife Dana, who are from the US (state of New York). They have been here since the beginning of the year getting the hospital software project (OpenHMIS) off the ground. Wes and I have already spent quality time in front of computer screens, over delicious food, and on the compound's badminton court (not to mention a couple somewhat competitive rounds of Settlers). We are both excited to be working together and that the OpenHMIS project is gaining steam.
Also keeping me busy has been Josephine, my lovely Swahili instructor. On Friday I had my final lesson in a nearly 30-hour crash course in Kenyan Swahili, not counting my kazi ya nyumbani (homework). I learned lots, although I still struggle to carry on even the most elementary conversation. Thankfully I have some time to work on it. Kidogo kidogo (little by little) as they say here.
Lately, God has been challenging me to focus a little less on myself and more on others and how to meet their needs. It can be easy to slip into an attitude of looking out for “number one” when dealing with unfamiliar places and circumstances, or when facing some of the difficulties of being a missionary in Africa, but I know that God wants me to be concerned about the difficulties that others face and how I can serve them.
Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God. (1 John 4:7)
Thank God for health and safety, and for how he is taking care of my needs.
Thank God for kind people to help make me feel at home and get me on my feet here in Nairobi.
Pray for me as I get up to speed with the software and tools that I'll be working with, and as I start working on what needs to get done. We have a meeting at the hospital in Kijabe in the beginning of August where we hope to give a demonstration of how our software could work at one of their clinics. Pray that we're prepared and that the demo goes well.
Pray for a Kenyan programmer. CHAK is still hoping to hire a programmer who will be a good fit for the OpenHMIS team (i.e., having programming skills & hospital experience).
Pray for me as I try to learn Swahili. I would really like to learn the language—I think it will open many ministry doors—but I have a long way to go, and now that my classes are over, I will have to provide my own framework for achieving language-learning goals.
Pray for my ministry outside of computer programming. I have high hopes that the software we're developing will be a great tool for showing God's love through medicine and health care. However, I'm also looking for a church to commit to, and ways to reach out to people in a more personal way. Pray that God will lead me to some good opportunities and give me the strength and faith to serve.