Friday, October 08, 2010


I am always looking for a travel deal. I have found that usually means visiting places not during the high season. Examples are Maine in June, Puerto Rico in July and San Diego in November. I once suggested we visit Iceland in February and Rhett said no. When I reiterated what a great deal it was- $149 r/t from Atlanta he reminded me that it was FEBRUARY. IN ICELAND. We went to Florida instead. But this time I suggested we go to Dubai in August which is kind of the opposite of Iceland in February. Rhett actually agreed this time and we set out for our Middle Eastern adventure. We found out why we got such a good deal - It is HOT. Like the high was 120 and low was 99 each night. And no, it is not a dry heat. It is extremely humid because it is on the Arabian Gulf. But as we learned winter is the time to be outside in the UAE and during the summer everyone moves inside the "malls" which are really indoor cities. It goes against most of what Rhett believes in to vacation inside a mall but he was a good sport since it was a great place for kids and we had a great time.

The Dubai Aquarium inside the Dubai Mall.

The largest aquarium viewing panel in the world.

The Burj Khalifa (I have no idea how to take pictures in the dark soory). It is the tallest building and the tallest freestanding structure in the world - by a long shot. The second tallest building is about 2/3 as tall.

We went to the indoor ski slopes at Ski Dubai. We played at the snow park and Rhett went skiing.

The kids went tubing.

Funny that this is Ford's first time in the snow. Does it count?

The best place in the world for kids is Kidzania. I can not understand why this place isn't in the US. It is a big children's museum set up like a city. You (kid) get a check when you arrive and you take the check to the bank where you get Kidzania money. Then you get to go spend your money. When you need more money you go to work. Simple idea but SO much fun!

Here is Claire spending some money getting her nails done!

Ford went to the barber shop and got some facial hair (too bad Daddy had just shaved his beard off!)

Then it was time to make some money by working at the milk factory making boxes of milk.

And making more money by working as a dentist, nurse, painter and many others.

Here she is working as a chef.

And as a model on the runway! So much fun! They announced them as they came out and everyone wanted to be a model or a rockstar - except Claire who wanted to be a teacher :)

Now our trip up the Burj!

View from the top of the world!

You start to loose perspective that those are 40-60 story skyscrapers down there!

Gus on the Burj at sunset.

The architecture was simply amazing. It seemed like an architect's dream. The most modern buildings I've ever seen. We took a tour through the old part of town and enjoyed some more traditional architecture too.

Somehow I always seem to end up on a water taxi. It is so hot in this picture I can not begin to describe it to you. We also spent a day at a great water park. We started a new family tradition of filming our vacations "Amazing Race" style. It was fun to send to our family at home and will be a fun way to relive our holidays one day.

Dubai offered lots of comforts of the US - mostly comfortable beds, soft towels and good food. We ate at McDonald's, Subway and Macaroni Grill! The breakfast at our hotel was out of this world -but we definitely have expanded our breakfast horizons since living overseas. We love roasted tomatoes, smoked salmon, cheese, croissants, olives, hummus and tea for breakfast these days. I still can't get into baked beans for breakfast but, hey, I'm not ruling it out. There were wonderful American options like waffles and scrambled eggs too :) We still talk about how great that breakfast was! A lot of what we really enjoyed about Dubai were the comforts that we haven't
had in Kenya (the joys of fast food). I was excited about the shopping but quickly found out there wouldn't be much of that going on. I picked out a pair of Nike running shoes and did the math 3 times before concluding they they did indeed cost $285 dollars. Needless to say I didn't buy them or anything else. Our kids had a blast though and we were able to show Ford real, live, working traffic lights. However, when we arrived at our hotel he picked up the remote control and said "What's this?".

We had a great vacation and it was a nice step away for a week of family fun. Dubai was great for kids and we would recommend it for a get away from East Africa. It was fun for Claire and Ford to pick up their 4th continent too!

July in Pictures

We spent a lot of time outside in the mud and muck and practiced our game faces.

Rhett grew a beard.

Gus learned how to eat with a spoon.

Ford climbed trees.

We spotted a Kenyan motorhome.

We ran into a Massai Warrior on a rope bridge on the way to lunch.

We went to Ngong Hills to visit our friends and see their project there for Vapor Sports.

I celebrated my birthday and anniversary with 8 dozen roses.

Wednesday, October 06, 2010

If I don't do this now I never will

Well this is by far the longest "dark" stretch for my blog since I started it over 4.5 years ago. I'm not really sure what happened. It may have something to do with the fact that I have three little bits that are always home right by my side. It may have something to do with the difficult time I was having during what can only be described as "The Long Winter".

First the rains came and everyone was really excited because of the long drought previously. It rained and rained and rained. With the rain came the flying ants, then the moths, then the grasshoppers, then the locusts, then the mosquitos. Then it got cold. I know, you are wondering how it gets so cold in Kenya, but let me tell you it was downright chilly. Especially in a concrete block house with a plastic/acrylic roof with no heat. We built a fire every day and night for quite a stretch but even then the kids would wake up freezing and be in our bed by daybreak each day. I can stand the cold but we went what felt like weeks with out seeing the sun. Just gray drab skies each chilly day. I just kept thinking about summer lake trips, blueberries, cook outs, humidity and swimming lessons. I'm not sure if those thought helped or hurt. I would joke about SAD but I wasn't really joking!

So I was already feeling a little down when everyone up and left. Let me explain. Here at Kijabe the calendar revolves around RVA. Rift Valley Academy is a year around boarding school that takes extended breaks every Nov/Dec, April and July/August. Everything stops during those breaks. No bible study. No playgroup. No RVA church. No Sunday school. No small group. People leave for extended breaks to take kids to college or go on vacation. Of the nearest 10 missionary houses there were only 2 families here for many weeks this summer. It was lonely. It was just me and the kids huddled by the fire for days at a time (or so it seemed).

Then I got blindsided by something I should have seen coming. They say missionary kids are always having to say good bye and we learned that is very true not just for the kids but for their parents too. We had a small group of 5 families who we had spent time getting to know and investing in since shortly after we had arrived here in Kijabe. This "summer" we were the only family out of the five still here. Some were gone for just 6 weeks or so but others are still gone and may or may not be returning in 6 months. It seemed really frustrating to have the people we had gotten to know the best leave in the middle of our transition to feeling settled in. I felt like I had to start all over again. And I was right. It wasn't like other transitions I had made to a new place where you get plugged in and meet people and become part of what is going on. Things and people are always changing here.

Then towards the end of August something happened. About that time a huge group of new people moved in (mostly to RVA since they turned over about 40% of their staff but some new families arrived at the hospital too). I was shopping in Nakumatt one day when the RVA staff bus brought a load of people fresh off the boat to do their shopping. I watched as they walked sweating and wide eyed trying to convert shillings to dollars, find the boxed milk, figure out what cheese tasted good enough to buy and wonder what "mince" was. It was then that it dawned on me: I wasn't a freshman any more! I knew where to find the cereal, that Anchor cheese was the best even though it was the most expensive and that mince was ground beef. I had somehow figured out how to live here. It happened gradually over the last 10 months and seeing the new people made me realize just how far I had come.

So after many cold, gray, lonely months there was a bit of sunshine shining my way. School started back, our life activities started again and it started to warm up a little bit. So I am thankful. Thankful for God being there during those long winter days. Thankful for his provision of friends old and new. Thankful that he could use me to help others feel welcome here. He doesn't promise us it will be easy but he does promise he will be there with us.

There was one very hot break to the Long Winter and that was our trip to Dubai. You can look forward to that post and a photo catch up post next! Thanks for hanging with me if you haven't dropped me off your reader yet!