Wednesday, April 20, 2011

The Other Night at Java

Java House is a small chain of local coffee house type restaurants that have a full menu. It’s one of my favorite places to hang out. I’ve been to nearly all the locations around Nairobi and I have my favorites.

The other night a friend and I went to the one at Junction Shopping Mall for a quick dinner. This one isn’t a location I get to very often. Perhaps I’m experiencing an unusual amount of enjoyment observing my surroundings here in Nairobi, but it was a particularly good night for people watching at Java Junction.

It was about 8:30 when we arrived. The place wasn’t completely full – but it was busy none-the-less. We were sitting near one end of the place not far from the door. I wished I had a small camera that wouldn’t have been perceptible to passersby since all of the images I will attempt to describe are far better in a visual than I could put in words.
One man walked by with a bright red outfit on. The edges were trimmed in red plaid and it was beaded and had little round metal dangles hanging all over it. What it said was: Masai, but not a real Masai, more of a performer in a singing or dance group costume. (What was he doing out in public like that, without being the entertainment?)

A few minutes later a small group of ladies dressed in tight and shiny clothing and very high heels walked in. One woman was wearing bright red woven coasters on her ears. (I mean they were earrings, but the same thing without an earring wire on it is sold in the market in sets of 6 as coasters.)

She had in tow a little boy – not older than 3; very cute little bewildered guy and definitely a ‘point five’ as they are called here, meaning one parent is white and the other Kenyan. When he turned we could see this little lad was sporting a mullet hair style, and a nice full one at that. Oh my.

There were other interesting folks about; I guess more variety than I’m normally used to since the guy with the big pokey afro was interesting too. But most of the others I’ve already mentioned stood out more than the usual crowd.

Out in the parking lot as we were leaving (9:45 or 10) there were several men working on building some kind of covered platform. I tried to get my brain around what it was they were making. It was too far from the restaurant to be an extension of it with outdoor seating. My friend and I discussed it; eventually we decided it might be a cart return. We have never seen one here and it struck us as extraordinarily funny. We first giggled; they burst out laughing as we dashed to the car.

I just can’t imagine it being used.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

It's Palm Sunday in Nairobi

Many of the matatus (Nissan vans used for public transportation) were sporting palm branches on the front of the vehicle. I found this a nice way to remember the day.

And it almost didn't cross my mind that the reason there is a palm branch on the grill might be because they hit someone carrying the branch that was putting it on the road to make way for Jesus coming through. The matatus are always trying to get ahead.

Friday, April 8, 2011

Christmas in April

Here is a look at my belated Christmas package. It was mailed on 15 Dec 2010 by airmail small package. I'm so thankful it did get here. Fun, fun!

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

I Wish I Were a “P”

What I wouldn’t give right now to be a “P” on the Myers Briggs Personality Inventory. If you don’t know what I’m talking about it’s ok. It the last quadrant on the personality indicator that runs on a scale from “Judging” to “Perceiving.” I’m pretty high on the Judging side. It just means that I am a decisive person who likes to plan things out and know what’s ahead.

Having lived in Kenya for some time and having mellowed with age a bit, I can be pretty spontaneous. People who know me well know that I may show up at your house unannounced or call at the last minute to go out and do something. But it’s mostly a learned behavior and my preference is for a plan and sticking with it.

If I were a Perceiver I would be more comfortable with not having a plan at all. I would be a person who really enjoys the process of arriving at decisions, someone who’d relish the path to the next thing. Instead I sit here just wishing I could skip the next several weeks and simply be done on this side.

But as someone commented recently, it’s all for my sanctification. So somehow I am going to keep working on enjoying the moment and living where I am, instead of wishing for the future to be here already.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Transition is Hard

Transition is probably challenging for most people because it’s the rare person who really embraces change. Normally I’m a gal who knows her mind and I like my lifestyle and the freedoms it affords me. But throw some change my way, some big change and I’m not myself suddenly. Small decisions become mountains to navigate with no clear path. I hate being alone in the process and wish I knew the future.

While there are things that drive me crazy about this place, there are so many things I absolutely love about Kenya. Now I think of the smallest random action, like the silly smile of the gate guard and I’m nearly reduced to tears of sentimentality.

Honestly though, we never know the future, we only think we do, because of our own plans. And we have no guarantees in this life, no control over what happens to us. I think of the passage in James 4:13-14 –

"Come now, you who say, 'Today or tomorrow we will go into such and such a town and spend a year there and trade and make a profit'-- yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes."

Deep down, I’m not really worried about what I will do in the future. There will be something God has for me and eventually I will know what it is. It’s just the in between part that is such a challenge, so lonely.

I’m working at embracing change and walking through this season of transition while enjoying every minute left here.

Saturday, April 2, 2011


This morning I watched this 5-minute video explaining the gospel. With all the influence of the West these days in Kenya and especially the influence of African American culture here I wish there was an easy way to show this clear announcement to all. I have a lot of trouble with Vimeo type videos here in Kenya. And they are hard to replay. After some trying I managed to get this one load in a way I could watch it though. The results brought tears to my eyes because of how well done the video is and the message is all truth. Here’s the link I found it on: Propaganda and the Gospel