I seemed to have taken an unintentional blogging hiatus. Life is still really hectic for us at this time, and I just don't seem to think about it, or if I do, don't have enough energy! I still hope to get back to it regularly. I miss check in on you all and sharing our life.
Ashley had a very tremendous trip to Kenya! She was so blessed, and it has taken her weeks to emotionally settle back in. Physically, she did great (except for one exception I'll share at the end!) Everyone on the team got sick, but her (love God's herbs and vitamins!),, and she did great with jet lag. I don't know exactly what helped, but I had read in a magazine earlier this summer to take Pine Bark extract to help reduce the severity and length of jet lag. She took that 3 days prior to flying and 5 days afterward both ways. Plus, she was taking Vitamin C, garlic, and Silver almost daily. Even after such a long flight, 4 weeks there, including a campout and a 3 day safari, a 28 hour trip home (18 hours of flight and 11 hours of layovers, and about 40 hours of being awake, except for a couple of hour long naps on the plane), she came in completely exhausted, slept about 10 hours, and felt good and pretty rested. She would tire out by the end of the day for a few days, but we were all in amazement at how rested and good she felt.
I thought that instead of me trying to explain her experience, I'd copy and excerpt of her words here. Part way through there is a video of the kids practicing one of the praise dances she taught them. It always brings tears to my eyes listening to these children, who are all orphans, sing Shout to the Lord.
"To put it simply, the 4 weeks I spent in Kenya were, overall, amazing!! I was challenged and blessed, and I learned so much. Definitely left a chunk of my heart over there. :-)
I shared before that one of our goals was to have a camp for the orphans to teach them praise and worship dance. That went very well -- we had about 4 days of camp, in which the orphans (ages 3 through 22) learned several songs and dances, plus a skit for the boys. After the camp, they got to take what they learned and use it to lead worship at an evangelistic crusade at a big slum in Nairobi. What a great experience for them!
Being put in the position of leading the camp was a big, challenging experience for me. It definitely worked on my boldness and leadership skills!
Another aspect of the trip that was at some times challenging and at other times a great blessing was living with the mission team for 4 weeks. There were six of us there the whole time, with four others who were each there for parts of the 4 weeks. We all had very different personalities, different tastes, different backgrounds. It was a great group to be a part of, and definitely a group that God put together. It was a good experience living together, learning from and loving one another.
In reality, I met so many wonderful people in Kenya. Just the people in the village we worked in were great people, especially the kids! I'll get to that in a minute. But in addition to them... We met a beautiful, sweet lady who had been suffering with cancer for 3 months -- she has since passed away, but it was an honor to have the opportunity to meet her and pray with her before she died. We also met the members of a new Kenyan Christian band called "Broken Acoustic." They are a brother-sister team. We got to meet their family, as well, and let me tell you, they all are some of the sweetest people I've met, and love the Lord like crazy! :-) Check out Broken Acoustic here.
I have to say probably one of the best parts of the trip, for me -- although it was all GREAT -- was hanging out with the kids in the orphanage, especially the girls. What a great group of kids! Like I said, they range from 3 to 22 years old. We (the other girl on the trip and myself) spent quite a bit of time just hanging out with them at their dorm, talking, playing games, having Bible study, taking pictures (they loved to use our cameras), and letting them fix our hair. They just need some attention and love... and they were very curious about our lives in America. :-) I was very blessed and changed by the time I spent with the girls. I really fell in love with one particular little one -- the youngest in the orphanage at 3 years old. Wish I could bring her home with me! :-)
We got to go on a 3-day safari while we were in Kenya. We went to Ol Pejeta Conservancy -- what an experience!! We saw too many animals to list, including all of the "Big Five" except the lion. It was so neat to be out in the midst of God's creation in wild Africa, seeing all the animals in their natural habitat.
God is good -- He really took care of us throughout our trip. There were times we were in dangerous or potentially-dangerous situations, but He kept us safe. I didn't even get sick the whole time, even after coming home, which is a big deal for me, because I always get sick coming home from international trips. Jet lag wasn't even too bad. God gave me an amazing opportunity, and I'm SO thankful for it.
I do hope to go back someday. Many people have asked me that, and I say, "Yep - I'd go tomorrow!" "
The Great Rift Valley
A church here in our county donated ice cream for 600 kids and teachers! Many of them had never tasted it before. I love the looks on these faces as the patiently wait.
The girls braided and fixed her hair all month! : )
Toward the end of the month they got to go on a 3 day safari. This is the tent they stayed in.
Inside the tent~
Ashley with Mt. Kenya in the background
mama and baby elephant
YES! This is my daughter petting a wild rhino! There is a guard that stands there with them.
Cape Buffalo~ the group was out of the car at another spot where a guard was supposed to be (but wasn't). As they were looking at something else, one of these precious things started charging the group, and chased them back to the van. In the process Ashley fell and hurt her shoulder pretty badly. She's still dealing with pain from it. I'm just very thankful he didn't get to her!!
This watering hole could be seen from their tent~
For lots more pictures of Ashley with the kids, see Kenya 1.
Doing the praise dances she taught them with them one last time.
At a giraffe center with our 3 sponsor children~a real treat for all of them.
At the equator!
Some views from the plane~
The Mediterranean Sea
The Sahara Desert
The Swiss Alps