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Monday, August 31, 2009

"What if you were some crazy tribal graphic designer???"

So, while all my classmates were making their beautiful stationary and business cards in our Senior Year Graphic Design class to hopefully land a job at an amazing design firm....... you would find me doodling on my stationary, fully knowing that I probably wouldn't be at a design firm for my first year out of school. My friend Rachel and I would laugh at the prospect of me doing design in Africa... and I'm actually here now...designing-crazy thought! She had taken one of my "stationary" sets that I had doodled on and just found it again and sent it to me. We just had another good laugh via gchat! :) Thanks Rachel!

Saturday, August 29, 2009

The {oops} Birthday Cake {garden}

Today was my friend, Tianne's Birthday... Happy Birthday Tianne (wish we could get a repeat of the Kenyans singing you the longest version of "Happy Birthday")!

Joelle and I decided to bake Tianne a birthday cake. Betty Crocker hasn't visited Nairobi in quite sometime so we had to bake it from scratch... but we were ready for the challenge. We strolled on down to my friend, Ruth's, house to get a recipe for a yummy cake. (Whenever I need a recipe, I normally knock on her door before opening my cookbook :) ). She gave us an easy recipe for an egg less chocolate lover's cake... perfect! We also bought ingredients for homemade chocolate butter cream frosting. We whipped up the cake batter, had it taste-tested by an eight year old who declared "It tastes dusty.... oh wait, no, my hands are just dirty." :) We popped it in the oven then headed to see a surprise that this 8 year old wanted to show us. He had found a little baby bird in a nest! This is a picture of him "singing" to it to comfort it.. how cute!

So we then headed back to my house to take the cakes out of the oven and to whip up the frosting. The cakes turned out great and the frosting... well, not so much. I couldn't get the right consistency so I grabbed my bowl of frosting and ingredients and headed down toward Ruth's house to have her fix the damage. It took a few quick tricks to make it into real, yummy frosting.. the way frosting is supposed to look!

Then, things got interesting. I present to you....

"7 easy steps to make a Birthday cake garden."

1) First, follow directions carefully.... don't forget to grease the pan. Seriously, don't.

2) Secondly, if you did forget to grease the pan well, the cake will stick to the pan, breaking into a million yummy pieces the second you try to flip it over.

3) Mix up your frosting... this will be the amazingness and your "glue" to your Birthday cake garden.

4) Spread the frosting all over the cake top... its ok if pieces come up onto the frosting... for once, that is really ok!

5) Chop the cake up into even more little pieces. Add chopped cake to a pretty bowl. Mix, making sure that the frosting and the cake are mixed evenly.

6) Add pretty flower decorations and candles.... tada!

7) Present to the Special birthday person as if what you are presenting them is exactly what you were aiming for in the first place....they will just think you are creative and love coming up with your own recipes. (You must be very confident in this step... if you aren't, then the birthday person might catch on that this Birthday cake garden was a direct result from you goofing up on their birthday cake).

*** Incase you didn't catch the sarcasm... this was a complete goof up on my part. But when you are in Africa, you can't quite run to the store and get another cake mix and whip a perfect cake up in 30 mins. You have to use some creativity with what you have! However, Tianne thought it was amazing, cute, and tasted wonderful on top of a scoop of ice cream. I'd have to agree :)

Happy Birthday, Tianne!

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Time is a companion...

Sometimes, when I feel restless, I like to go on a run. Sometimes the remedy is talking with a good friend or relaxing with a hot cup of tea and a book. Sometimes, my outlet is art. Mmmm, today was a restless day for me. Not sure why. Today's antidote... art. I took some of my photos that I've taken over the years and added a bit of an antique look and a sweet quote!...Enjoy!

Time is a companion...
that goes with us on a
j o u r n e y.
It reminds us to cherish each
m o m e n t,
because it will never come again.
What we leave behind
is not as important
as how we have lived.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Whatever you do, DON’T get out of your car in the presence of lions….

Ok, so I think its time for a fun story for ya’ll! A few weekends ago I had a family friend (Caleb) and his friend (Jake) come through Nairobi. They asked me to show them around Nairobi and were hoping for a Safari. Well, anyone who knows me, knows that I won’t pass up a chance for an adventure… so the safari was indeed on the list of things to do!

The Nairobi Game Park is about ten miles away from my house but is MASSIVE. I’ve heard it is easy to get lost in but figured that God gave me a good sense of direction so that would never happen to me. I’ve been able to bring many visitors to the park this summer and have enjoyed every minute of the safari whether we are driving through tall grass, chasing a warthog, sneaking up on zebra, searching for lions, or just looking at God’s amazing creation. I’ve been told that there are lions in the park but I’ve never seen them and so I guess I kind of just thought that they don’t exist in this particular park but that they tell you that they do so that you keep coming back.

So, with the thought that lions don’t exist in this park, I figured that it was safe to step out side the car to get a good picture if I needed to. (Yes, the sacrifices I make for a good photo! :P ) So the first time I got out of the car was a little scary. I kept thinking… “What if THIS very moment is the moment that the lion decides to show himself to me….eeks!” My friends were apprehensive as well. But as the day went on and no lions were spotted we felt more free to get out of the car.

About a month after my first few drives in the game park, my sister, Meghann, and friend Kate came for a visit. They too wanted to check out the game park. We left early in the morning to spend a few hours in the park. For some reason, on this day, zebras were EVERYWHERE. I mean the whole park looked black and white from all the zebra stripes. It was humorous at times when we couldn’t even move our car because of all the zebra. At one point we were trying to drive but got stuck in the middle of a herd. I decided to have a little fun and put the car into park, got out and started running like a crazy woman on the road ahead of us… and it worked… a path was cleared for our car. I didn’t even think twice that there could be lions around! It was quite the experience to be running in the middle of Africa with zebras all around me. I would recommend you try it sometime in your life ;)

Ok… so back to the present story. Like I was saying, my friends Caleb and Jake and I decided to head out for a Safari one morning. On the way to the park we picked up a new Kenyan friend, Regean who is from the Kibera slum. This would be his first time in the game park so I wanted to make sure that it was a good one for him as well as Jake and Caleb. The whole drive to the park I talked up the park and all the animals we could see. I even shared with them how you can get out of your car and how I’ve run with a herd of zebra before. They were stoked to do something adventurous, as was I!

It was a hazy morning, which made it difficult to spot animals. We strained our eyes to find something. We saw a warthog at one point as it scurried past our car. The guys were smart enough to know not to get out of the car that point. A few minutes later we spotted a carcass of a zebra in the distance off the road. The guys unlocked their doors and dashed out to get close up pictures. I could hear their manly grunts as they enjoyed being so close to this carcass that had just been eaten by…. A lion. They came back and showed me some disgusting pictures. I politely smiles but acted like I had to really concentrate on my driving so that I didn’t have to look much longer.

About an hour later we spotted a buffalo. Jake tried to get out but a car passed us and reprimanded him for getting out in the sight of such a dangerous animal. (ha… I didn’t know they were dangerous till then!). So then we decided to off road a little bit. We spotted a cool tree in the distant that the guys wanted me to take a cool shot of them at. Below is the picture that I took of them with the tree.

After this picture, we got in the car, and went on our merry way. We spotted some zebra to our left and we were all intently watching them and talking about how cool that would be if we saw lions right then. That’s when it happened. I didn’t even hear it approaching which is strange since my driver’s window was all the way down. But all of a sudden I heard all this yelling in Swahili and I turned to see this huge army truck pulled up uncomfortably close to my drivers door with about six men inside with guns pointing at me. My first instinct was to put my hands up but then I realized how silly I would look to them. I didn’t even have time to ask them what was wrong before they were at my door, guns still pointed at me. I turned to see if the guys knew what was going on. They too were just as shocked and panicked as I was. The men would not speak English except for two words that they kept repeating “Open trunk, open trunk!!!!!!” I popped my trunk and tried to see in my rearview mirror what they were searching for since I had nothing in there. Regan finally got out of the car to see if he can talk to them in Swahili. Oh yes, the guns were still pointed at me as well as the frowns of half a dozen army guys. As I was looking in my rearview mirror I saw one of the guards grab Regan and start pulling him towards the army truck. The guard took Regan’s citizenship card and started saying things on his radio. Regan started whispering to us that we were not supposed to get out of the car and that these guys thought he was our guide in the safari and so he is to blame. Poor guy, in his excitement of his first game drive, he had dressed in “safari clothes” so he did indeed look like a tour guide. I tried to speak to the man who’s gun was pointed at me. He didn’t really want to talk. I explained to him that it was my car and that we were sorry. He yelled something to the man who was on the radio. Finally they started speaking in English… angry English. They told us that they were going to escort us out of the park… permanently. Ouch! After a few more moments they decided to give us a warning and told us that they would be watching us. Their final words being "Whatever you do, DON’T get out of your car in the presence of lions…" I wanted to respond with some sass; "WHERE are the Lions then??? Show us cause we sure can't find them!" But I bit my tongue... figured that was best with angry army men with guns. It took me a few moments to recoup from all of that… once I did, I put the child safety locks on all the doors so the guys didn’t forget. I was not about to have another truck full of angry army men with guns come up to my car!

And that’s not all. Because of being frazzled, and off roading, I lost track of where we were in the park. Yeah, that whole “God gave me a good sense of direction” deal… well, I forgot that He has a greater sense of humor! Yes, I got lost. At this point, we had been in the park for about three hours and with all the excitement of the guns and army men, and not finding any lions, we decided that it might be best to start heading back to the main gate. Ha. Lets just say that four hours later after driving to a random village in the middle of nowhere we finally found our way out of the park.

I learned quite a few things that day…

1)There are Lions in the game park but worse, there is a truck full of armed guards there who like to sneak up on you when you aren’t looking.

2)Buffalos are dangerous… Don’t play chicken with them on a bridge.

3)Although only ten miles away from your house, you can get lost for seven hours.

4)Seven hours of driving in the game park can cause a lot of dust to add up on your dashboard.

5)Little four door Suzuki cars can drive up a boulder infested mountain if you are listening to the theme song from “Rocky.”

6)You should really use a map at the Nairobi game park.

7)Don’t dress like a tour guide.

8)Life is an adventure! :)... well, that I already knew!

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

I Need Africa More than Africa Needs Me

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Quenching the Thirst

I pray this message finds you all well. I feel like I have to take a very deep breath right now to be able to write this post. I know that my posts recently have been a little "heavy" but it is the reality of life at the moment in Kenya. In my last post I shared with you about the passing of one of my neighbors, a missionary pilot with AIM (Frank) and the hospitalization of my other neighbor, Ryan. Life on the compound was difficult this past week. I struggled with trying to find ways that I could serve these families but our AIM "family" here was incredible in supporting the family's, the wives, and the children of these two men. I realized that I needed to just be available for anything that might come up and to constantly be in prayer for everyone.

As the week went on we found out that Ryan (Missionary Mechanic who was in the hospital) was going to be moved to a burn unit in South Africa. We prayed that the Lord would deliver him down their safely... and he did. Shortly after his arrival in S.A. we received word to be praying for Ryan's health as it was deteriorating due to the infection in the burns. I know many of you were praying and I am so greatful. Friday morning we received word that the Lord took Ryan home to heaven. I was devastated with this news. The mood among everyone turned from saddness to complete overwhelming shock.

We lost two family members.
Two woman in our family are now widows.
Eight children in our family are now fatherless. much loss in a week.

I feel exhausted emotionally, but I know that can't compare to what these men's families are feeling. I pray for them whenever they come to mind... .which has been constant lately. Please join me in prayer as well... pray for their wives, their children, their parents, their family, their friends and all those who's lives have been effected by these two great men.

Death is something that is so hard to grasp. It is so immediate and perminate. I have had quite a few experiences with people in my life dying and it never gets easier. I remember calling my friend who was battling cancer to talk but instead, had her father answer the phone as he choked out the information that she had slipped into a coma and would never wake up again. I lost my breath... I remember hearing about a bad car accident on the interstate only to find out later that my friend was in the car and didn't make it. I felt my knees go weak.... And now, the news of this tragic accident was devistating. I hurt so badly for these families but they are incredible. Even tonight, the facebook status of one of the woman who lost her husband stated "We are well, it is well with my soul." My body ached, arms covered with goosebumps, and eyes filled with tears. How trusting of our Heavenly father to be able to say "It is well with my soul." ... and I know she means it. I am learning so much from my family here.... I am blessed with their strength, encouragement, comfort, and joy in the midst of such saddness.

As I said in a few previous blog posts, this summer has not been easy here. I've had series of ups and downs in life. Some with closure through understanding where I can grasp the lessons, others leave me wondering the purpose behind it. Those lessons are obviously the hardest. I'm often the stubborn one asking "why?" instead of realizing the refining that comes through these lessons... as if I feel that God owes me something such as answering the "why?".

I've been realizing that through all these ups and downs that God is a God of healing. One thing I know for sure, had it not been for the various heartbreaks, I would not have been able to see the Lord piece me back together. I would not have experienced Him turning my ashes into beauty. I would not have known what it means to make all things new. I'm still working on my heart and being able to say that all these trials were worth the pain... but I do know that I am greatful to be able to get to know another attribute of my savior: The Healer.

When going through these difficult times I often feel that I am so "thirsty" for healing water and for time with my Heavenly Father. The other day I was organizing some of my books and came across a blank journal. It is such a fun and beautiful journal with handmade paper... one of those journals that is so unique that I couldn't imagine ruining it by inking its pages... but I automatically knew what I wanted to do with this one. I needed a place to record my healing and record ways that the Lord is healing me. I wanted something that I can write down scripture, quotes, song lyrics, and words from friends that have helped me to "Quench the Thirst" in my soul. It has been so great to have so far...especially right now. I'm excited to create this book through my journey of the rest of my time in Africa. To record the mountains and valleys that He leads me through, and to be able to have something tangible to look back on and remember.

A friend of mine (Meghan M.) sent me this quote to help me to remember that no matter the pain I'm sharing in with the missionaries here, God has called me to a task here in Africa and that no matter what, I need to be faithful to complete it. And yes, this quote is indeed going to make it into my book because it has helped me to "Quench the Thirst"...

"Yesterday you experienced a great sorrow and now your home seems empty. Your impulse is to give up amid your dashed hopes. Yet, you must defy that temptation for you are at the front lines of battle and the crisis is at hand. Faltering for even one moment would put God's interest at risk. Other lives will be harmed by your hesitation and His work will suffer if you simply fold your hands. You must not linger at this point, even to indulge your grief."

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Urgent Prayer

Please, Please be praying....

Around 4:30 yesterday I got word that one of our AIMair airplanes had crashed in Nairobi. Two of our missionaries were on board as well as two media men filming a documentary. The two passengers are in stable condition (however be praying for Dan as he has complained of abdominal pains today). The airplane mechanic has suffered severe burns, cuts, and broken bones. Unfortunately, I am sad to say that the pilot did not make it.... he is now in Heaven with our Lord. Please be praying for the family's of these missionaries. They need prayer support right now for strength, healing, peace, and encouragement. We are all soo saddened by these events and need prayer to be able to find ways to comfort and encourage these families during this time.

The following is a letter from the General Manager of AIMair:

An accident occurred on August 1, with an AIM AIM Cessna 206. It occurred around 2:30PM (EAT) near the Nairobi Wilson Airport. There were four people on board; AIM AIR pilot Frank Toews, AIM AIR mechanic Ryan Williams and two Americans. At this time there is still medical evaluation being done but this is what we know: The two passengers have some broken bones, minor burns, cuts and bruises. They are both being kept in the hospital for treatment and further evaluation. Ryan Williams' injuries currently include a fractured pelvis, multiple contusions and some significant burns. However, his prognosis is good and he is receiving good medical attention in Nairobi. Frank Toews, the pilot, did not survive the accident and has gone to be with the Lord and Savior whom he loved dearly and served well.

Please pray with us, specifically for the timely return for health of those who are injured, their families, and particularly for Frank's wife and 4 children as they trust God for strength and comfort during this difficult time.

We are trusting God, with all of you, to show Himself to be good, even beyond our expectations and understanding of what good could mean, in a
situation like this.

Denny Dyvig
AIM AIR General Manager