I have been in Africa for seven days. If I tried to explain every emotion I’d gone through, this post would be seven days long. I am still at a level of overwhelmed that I’m not yet able to process everything I’ve seen and done. Here’s a short list:
Woke up to the cry of a rooster
Been into Nairobi on a Matatu
Ran into an old friend at a shopping mall
Broke down in tears trying to buy toilet paper
Watched monkeys steal from the lunch hall
Began to learn Kiswahili and a little Kikuyu
Picked coffee, and had people laugh at my excitement over it
Witnessed the roadside bribe of a policeman
Eaten cow intestine
Hand washed laundry in a bucket
Been to a Kenyan church service
and much, much more.
Above all, I’ve been blessed and astonished by the generosity, devotion and hope of the Kenyan people.
So rather than attempting to put all of that into a cohesive story, I’m going to give you a brief into to where I am, what I’m doing, and show you some pictures so you can get a better idea.
For the semester I’m studying at St. Paul’s University in Limuru, Kenya. It’s an ecumenical Christian University about 30km outside Nairobi. I am studying primarily in the Islam, Christian-Muslim Relations Master’s program (ICMR) and will be taking one course (missiology) in the Bachelor of Divinity, which is equivalent to the MDiv I am pursuing back at Emory University. I am the only American on campus (so far). There are only five others in my course of study (all ordained ministers) from Cameroon, Nigeria, Ghana and Mombasa (Kenya). I am very excited to be in course with them, but due to age differences, I’ve found myself spending most of my time with the first year undergraduates I also went through orientation with. Tomorrow the old students arrive to “disorient” us, and classes begin Wednesday.
I’m living in a single room with a shared bathroom, in a cottage on the edge of campus. It is notoriously the coldest part of campus, though Limuru is the coldest part of Kenya. Last week the average temperature was 12 degrees centigrade (53 degrees Fahrenheit). There is one ATM, which was broken last week. I eat my meals in the dining hall and buy essentials from the shops and dealers across the road. I drink tea four times a day and had to ride into the city to buy a cell phone.
Below you will find pictures of my surroundings and happenings, to get an idea of my daily life here.
The bathroom. Words can not really describe it. You have to carry your own toilet paper. They don’t keep it stocked in any of the restrooms. The toilet is called “choo” in Kiswahili. That white wire on the left leads up to a shower head that warms the water after you flip on a switch outside in the hall. Apparently no one else is worried about getting electrified besides me.
Doing my laundry!
My new friends Fatma, Grace and Kate. They have taken very good care of me and laugh uncontrollably every time I try to learn a new work in Kiswahilli.
The shops across the road. The white van on the right is a matatu, but a very nice one. The ones that transport people are well used.
Coffee beans! Picked from the tree across from Kate’s house!
With my ICMR classmates from Nigeria and Ghana. The building on the right is the main hall where chapel is held and behind that in the distance is the library.
A wise old tree that I sit under to get wi-fi!
I should be posting again soon with something more cerebral, but I hope this will do to whet your appetite for more Limuru and assure you that I am safe, though stretched, and already having an incredible time.
Peace and Blessings,