15 Moments I Loved in Kenya

Truth be told, right now, the end of our trip to Kenya feels too raw to blog about the three weeks there. The smell of the body wash we used, the sight of foods I ate before I got sick and the clothes I wore en route to the hospital can turn my stomach. Not because the trip wasn't amazing before I got sick - it was. But the experience was so hard and scary; it has left us reeling a little bit. 

Years ago, I got the stomach flu on Christmas Eve after having had a sweet potato for dinner. I couldn't eat sweet potatoes for years. And now? I love them! I'm hoping that, as we get a little space from the trip, I'll feel more eager to reflect upon it and, eventually, will remember how joyful it was. Because the three weeks before I got sick were amazing - we learned SO much! Someday, I feel confident Kenya will be the sweet potato of trips :) 

However! While we were there, I recorded some of my favorite moments from the trip as they happened. I wanted to share a few of them with you!

15 Moments I Loved in Kenya

1. Brushing our teeth outside under the dark night sky. Looking for shooting stars and the dippers and shouting them out with foamy mouths. 

2. Sitting on the cool front porch each morning, eating mango and oats and PB and instant coffee. The breeze blowing across our faces as the hot sun rose. 

3. Eating mango on the big cement rock outside our office. We didn't have a  knife so we cut it with our teeth. We were both covered in sticky juice. When we finished, we fed the extra to a skinny horse and watched him go crazy.

4. Going for an evening run and discovering a new village. It was so lush and green with palms and gardens and tiny Kenyans yelling at us. Watching the sun set as we finished - it's pink glow descending behind the rolling green hills and blue mountains. The sky turning purple as it dipped into the horizon. It looked like a watercolor painting.

5. Rocking baby Paul to sleep in my arms. Feeling a chunky baby bounce and laugh and coo after seeing so many sick little ones was such a joy. Swaying in the shade of a big tree, as the breeze blew through on the sticky day. Feeling his sweat drip down my arm as he snored.

6. Riding on a piki (motorbike) between two Kenyan men. It was the first morning I'd spent apart from Chris. As the wind caught my hair I realized I could do this trip - I didn't feel nervous anymore. It was the first time I didn't worry about why we'd come.

7. Walking one of the little boys to school. He was so shy and wanted us to walk near him, but not with him. 

8. Filling up our water bucket each night to shower. Knowing we were only using what we needed. 

9. Teaching the girls at church about worth. Watching their eyes light up as they understood. Helping them see their strengths and why they were lovable. 

10. The amazing colors every day - the red dirt roads, deep brown dirt, lush green landscape and bright blue mountains fading into the sky. 

11. Cooking dinner with our door open while kids jumped rope and played soccer as the sun set. Hearing their laughter and happy cries of "Mzungu, Mzungu!"

12. Working out on our last night. The power was out but the moon and stars were so bright it didn't matter. Looking up at the stars and feeling so content. And sweaty!

13. Arriving at the lodge. Omg. The views! The animals! The mango juice. The coffee!!!! Everything was amazing and so perfect. Swimming in the pool and feeling clean for the first time. Everything smelled good there. Even the air! We were absolutely overflowing with joy. I didn't even want to listen to music because the birds and hippos sounded so amazing. 

14. Watching the sun rise and set over the Maasai Mara. 

15. Chris running back from the pool yelling for me to go see the stars with childlike excitement. He couldn't believe how bright they were at the lodge.

Thoughts & Feelings from Kenya!

Hi, friends! We're still in Kenya but have a bit of computer access today. I thought I'd check in and say hello. So, hello :)

Also! I tried many times to add photos to this post, but the wifi isn't strong enough to support it. So forgive me for the lack of photos. Feel free to check out our insta feed for a visual!

The truth - the kind of truth that doesn't come through when you're posting cute babies and delicious mangos - is that this trip has been hard. Harder that we expected, for sure. The highs and lows have been extreme and have come like waves in the ocean - one after another, so close together that we've struggled to get our footing. We've had moments of abundant joy, when we never want to leave and feel like our hearts could explode. And we've had moments of absolute heartbreak, when we've seen things we can never unsee. Things that will continue to break our hearts long after we're gone.

We knew it would be hard to be in the thick of rural poverty, but I don't think we expected just how painful it would feel, since both of us have been to similar places before. We've both had nights where we've been haunted by the question: but why, why, why does this happen? As we replayed the cries of a sick baby in our minds and envisioned her hollow, sad eyes, praying, praying that she'd make it through the night.  

I guess I'm telling you all of this just to say thank you. Thank you for your prayers and well wishes. We've needed them every day. Your prayers have carried us and we couldn't have done it without you. You've helped us take it one day at a time, embracing the highs and breathing deeply into the lows. Thank you.

And, of course, the trip hasn't just been hard. As I've said, we've experienced some of the highest highs here, too. I've never felt so close to Chris and find myself yearning to stay in this moment in our marriage. I'm basically feeling totally obsessed with him :) It's amazing what happens when you really need each other. Not need like normal Atlanta day-to-day need, but need like: I cannot do this without you. Remind me to breathe, OK?

We've met amazing, generous people. And have rocked babies until they were snoring and sweating in our arms. We have learned so much about gardening. Have seen the most beautiful stars and sunsets and foliage. We've learned to ration peanut butter and oats, stretching one day's supply into three. We've learned the joy of a fresh mango. And, at the same time, we've learned the value of food for survival, not just pleasure.  

We've gotten to be so much lower maintenance, which happens naturally when the toilet is a hole in the ground and the shower is a bucket of water. I haven't worn makeup once, which, at first when I'd see photos of myself, I'd think dannng I look tired. But now when I see them I think Oh that's my face! Nice.

We have horrific Teva and t-shirt tan lines. We are sweating constantly - whether we're gardening or sitting in a hot office need not matter. We smell like sunscreen and bug spray. We've learned that attraction is so much less about how you look and more about how connected you feel and how open you are with one another.

We leave today for our safari, which, of course, is bittersweet in every sense of the word. We're sad to be leaving our village, but beyond excited for the vacation. We're also feeling guilty about going to an indulgent resort after what we've seen during the last two weeks. But, we knew that would be part of the transition.

We'll be on the safari in Masai Mara from Monday to Thursday, then we'll fly to Nairobi for one night. From there, we'll fly to Istanbul, then to Atlanta. We'll be back on Friday. I can hardly believe we're in our last week!

Thank you again for your prayers! Have the best week.