About Me

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Malindi, Kenya
This blog used to be about me and my new husband starting our life together in Brookhaven, Georgia. Now, 8 years, 3 children, and 1 trans-continental move later, I'm writing for me; to document the emotional and spiritual journey I am on so that I don't forget the paths I have traveled in my heart and mind.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Hii ni nini?

I know everyone would rather see pictures than read text, but I'm very sorry, there is just no way for me to upload pictures right now. I'm using the internet at work and trying to be discreet about the fact that I am blogging during work hours.

So we had our first Kiswahili lesson last night. It is such a funny language. The phrase Hii ni nini means "what is this" and so far is my favorite thing to say. There is a lot of repetition in this language:

slowly-pole pole
brother-kaka (this is an unfortunate translation in French, although the spelling is different...)
he/she(they don't have gender)-yeye

We asked our Swahili teacher how to say you are not fine if someone asks you and you don't want to say "fine." She didn't know. They just don't say anything negative. It is really amazing.

Everyday, Chris and I are amazed at the way people live here, and I have wanted to write about it several times, but I have decided that I won't be doing that. For one thing, you really can't understand it until you see it for yourself, which is what I want everyone to do so they will come visit us:) For another thing, I never want to treat the plight of any people as a way of me having something really cool to talk about. I never want to enter a competition of who has seen the most impoverished people, you know? I want this blog to reflect the great respect and love I am developing for the people of Kenya. So when I talk to you in person I will share these things, but not here.

Tonight, we will be attending a worship time with some local missionaries. I'm so excited to have time to start making friends here and to worship the Lord with fellow Christians that speak English. Sometimes you need that!

We have started to miss home a little bit, but we are so happy to be here. We were talking this morning about how we are annoyed at some of the aspects of life over here, such as the shower having a switch on the head so you can choose either cold water or scalding hot (during my shower I just switch back and forth when it becomes either too cold or too hot to bare). Chris says that it's ok to be frustrated at times, but we need to be careful never to let our frustrations trump our thankfulness for everything we have. I have such a wise husband!

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

First Day of Work

Today was my first day of work in the lab. I caught the shuttle right down the street from where I stay and they took me all the way out to the lab. This is one of the benefits of being associated with the CDC...I get free transportation to and from work, which is a huge blessing! So far, everyone we have talked to has given me the impression that housing is extremely difficult to find here and very expensive. I'm trying not to get discouraged about this, but sometimes in these circumstances you start to feel things weighing you down more than you would ordinarily. I think everyone thinks that living in Kenya should be really cheap, but it really is not. Cars are expensive, houses are expensive, food that reminds you of home is very expensive, appliances are expensive (you get the point). I'm praying for God to teach me to trust in Him. Even as I write this I know that I will look back and wonder what I was so worried about. After all, hasn't God always taken care of me?

Sunday, January 23, 2011

End of Phase I

So we are approaching the end of our 10 days with our team here in Kenya. Greg and Suzy Williams are getting on a plane to head back home this evening, and the Kahn's will be with us for a couple of more days. Tomorrow is my first day of work in the research facility in Kisumu, so I am a little anxious about it. It's like the first day of work all over again! I feel somewhat torn because after seeing those precious children at the orphan school, I want to spend as much time with them as I can, but I know that I will be going to work everyday. I'm praying that God gives me peace about my job, that I feel comfortable there and, mainly, that I feel like it is where I need to be. It's hard to look back at how I came here and think that God doesn't have a plan for me in this lab, so I trust that he will show me what that plan is. At the same time, there is so much need in the slums and I don't want Chris to have to face all that by himself everyday. But God can work that out, too!

Yesterday we went on a safari and saw a leopard, 6 lions, a bunch of rhinos, zebras, giraffes, impalas, water buffalo, baboons, monkeys, flamingos, vultures, and lots more! It was amazing to see these beautiful animals in the wild. I've never seen such beautiful landscape in my LIFE!!! I can't believe that we are going to be living in this place. We can go see these animals any weekend we want!

I remember the second night sleeping at the Conway's house. I woke up in the middle of the night and couldn't stop thinking about what I had gotten myself into. Why in the world had I agreed to move to this crazy place? Don't get me wrong, I still have those feelings a lot, but now they are mixed with feelings of excitement, because now I know some of the things I have to look forward to. The beautiful weather, the amazing scenery, the wildlife, the adventure, and more than that, the fellowship with these loving, generous, wise people. I think about getting to play with those sweet children, and spending time with people in the village where life is so simple. Chris and I also talked about how rewarding it will be to be able to see transformation in the people that come visit this place. We've already gotten to witness God using Africa to change the hearts of the Williams and the Kahns, and that is only the beginning. I think about the college students coming over for eight weeks, like I did 5 years ago, and knowing that their lives will never be the same. This is such a wild, strange, unpredictable place that often brings a lot of heartache, but along with the terrible pain comes some moments of unspeakable joy. The Conway's guard/yard man shared some of his wisdom with us this morning. He prayed for rain and last night it rained! He said because of this some of the people who heard this will believe. He said he is thankful for every good thing because it comes from the Lord, even just a little rain.

Here is another lesson in Kenyan culture: Instead of saying they are joking or kidding (which I have never heard any of them do, so they are usually speaking about one of us, and usually Chris) they say we are cheating them. Also, they don't have boyfriends and girlfriends, and if you use this term, they think it means a sexual partner... we learned this the hard way after asking the girls at Chepkong'ony if they had boyfriends...oops!

Friday, January 21, 2011

What you need to know; part I

Here are some interesting things we have learned that help us communicate here:

When you say thank you, a Kenyan will say, "Welcome" and when you arrive somewhere, a Kenyan will say "you're welcome." So just the opposite of how we say it.

If you say hello, they tend to answer back "fine." And if you say how are you, they tend to say "thank you."

If they say something is sweet, they mean it tastes good, not necessarily that it has a sugary flavor. Kenyans tend to like very bland food, and would never like the cakes, candy, and ice cream that we like.

Kids, on the other hand, love to get candy from Wazungu (white people). But they immediately throw the wrappers on the ground. So I have gotten into the habit of unwrapping everything before giving it out. They are NOT worried about the germs on your hands (or anything else for that matter).

If they say something is OK, it means it is very good. I still struggle with this, because if I ask if I can do something, they say it's OK, and I think they don't really want me to do whatever it is. Joseph explained to me that when we say OK, we mean 50/50, but when they say ok they mean "Eet eese vedy goood." (that was my attempt at typing out their accent, which takes a while to get used to).

"Just there" can mean to the right, to the left, around the corner, straight ahead, far away, or close by, and this is generally their way of giving directions when you ask where something is.

"Very close" can mean any distance away from where you currently stand, and this is generally their way of explaining how far away something is.

Interesting experience of the day: I took my first ride on a piki-piki. This is basically a motorized bike that people drive around like taxis. There are no helmets available for passenger or driver, and I was wearing a skirt, which made for a really interesting experience. I wish I could have remembered the driver's name, because he was really nice and made me feel as safe as you could feel one of those. He was my age, and his parents had died when he was 13, so he couldn't afford the fees to finish his schooling. His brother and sister live with him, and his brother was able to go to school at ring road orphan school (where Chris will be working) and was therefore able to go on to University! I thought this was really cool!

Wednesday, January 19, 2011


Caribu is the Swahili word for welcome, and I have heard it so much since I've been here. I have never met a more welcoming, generous, hospitable people in my whole life!

I'm sorry for not uploading pictures, but with the internet here I'm lucky to get some words up...don't worry, I'm taking lots of pictures and videos... although I forgot to ask someone to video all the Kenyan girl students doing the electric slide with me as I held up my ipod to play the music. When I asked them what they do for fun they said...we like to take a picnic. Ahh, the simpler things in life.

How can I even describe the things I am witnessing? I can't encourage you enough that if you EVER have the opportunity to come to Kenya...TAKE IT!

Yesterday we spent the day in Chepkong'ony. This is a rural school where both Chris and my brother Daniel spent significants amount of time teaching and ministering. I can only say that it was very surreal being there with those people and meeting teachers that remembered my brother and my husband. WOW. They took us around the school showing us their science lab and the water spout that was made possible by a fundraiser I participated in while at Harding (Texas vs the world). They were so proud of this water spout, and they showed us how they almost had electricity. The wires on the poles came right up to the school and then stopped. They made us chai tea and it was AWESOME. We listened to the children sing and Suzy, Cindy, and I took the girls aside and talked to them. They asked us a million questions about America and wanted to touch my hair and my skin. They fixed us a HUGE feast which I'm sure they could not afford, and we talked with the teachers about the school, life in Kenya, the bleak job prospects for their students, the culture...reading this I realize that it is a very boring story, but I just wish you could have been there. They had not had any American visitors since Chris left five years ago. The small children in the surrounding villages had never seen white people. They were so eager to talk to us and learn everything they could for us. I've never felt so honored and valued by total strangers.

Let me say again that two of our biggest blessings here have been our driver, Joseph, and our friend, Boaz. They have gone everywhere with us and helped us translate and answer cultural questions.

Today we drove to Kisumu. My stomach had butterflies as we approached the city that would be our new home. Every city we have been to so far has been soooo different. And I think Kisumu is my favorite. It is not too rural to be uncomfortable, but not too urban to be unsafe. We drove around today, trying to take it all in. We stopped in the slums and walked into the heart of them to see the orphan day school where Chris will be working every day. This was a bit overwhelming. I'll never forget walking down those dirt streets the first time. So many children came out around us yelling Wazungu! (white people) or how ahh youuu? or hallo (this was done as if holding their nose because they apparently think we sound very nazzly). They all wanted to shake our hand or touch us.

This is definitely a special place, and I'm still processing everything. Tomorrow we will go to look for housing and cars and such. Friday we will spend more time back in the slums with the children...at least we didn't see any kids high on glue like we did so much in Nairobi, although I'm sure they are there. As we drove past some children on our way they were waving, and Joseph told us they were very hungry. I don't know how he knew, but I know he was right. They are all very hungry. His comment took the wind out of our sails for a little while. What do you do with this?

Monday, January 17, 2011


Jambo from Kenya!!! We made it here safe and sound and God has blessed us so much so far. We made all our connections, got all our luggage, stayed with some of the most hospitable people I have ever known (thank you to the sweet Conway family for opening your home to us) and have an incredibly nice driver taking us around Kenya. His name is Joseph, he has a wife named Mary, and he was born on Christmas day! Pretty cool.

I'm writing from a cyber cafe in Eldoret where we will stay the night tonight and tomorrow. We spent yesterday in Nairobi holding sweet babies and going to church with some of the street kids. The trip is going very well and we are learning a lot. The Conways were a hugely valuable source of information on life in Kenya, both in Nairobi and Eldoret, which is a much smaller town. I am anxious to see Kisumu and picture what life might be like there. We are all feeling very well, and we are working on getting over jetlag.

I will keep you posted as often as I can. Thanks for the prayers!

Thursday, January 13, 2011

The Nicholsons...chapter 2

Ok, so I have not blogged in quite a while, partly because we have been really busy, and partly because I didn't feel too inspired to blog, but the time has come again. To sum up what has happened since my last post, I have accepted a job with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention studying a parasitic disease and Chris has started to form a nonprofit organization bringing college students to third world countries to do mission internships using their majors. We feel so strongly that God has lead us to the place we are right now, and looking back, we are overwhelmed at the pieces God has put into place which bring us to this day, the day we go to Kisumu, Kenya! On our first trip, we will be spending a total of six weeks there. The first ten days will consist of Chris, myself, Greg and Suzy Williams, and Cindy, Roger, and Eli Kahn taking a sort of survey around Kenya. We land in Nairobi, spend a day there with the Conway family, and head to Eldoret. We will spend a day in Chepkong'ony, the school where both Chris and my brother Daniel each spent a year working with the kids and teaching some classes. I am really looking forward to finally seeing this place and more importantly the people I have heard so much about. Then it is on to Kisumu, where we will spend three days looking at hospitals, housing, cars, groceries, etc., to understand what it looks like to live in this place. We will also get to spend time with our friends the Davis's while we are in Kisumu. Finally, we head to Nakuru for a quick safari and back to Nairobi to see off our friends while Chris and I head back to Kisumu for another 5 weeks. I will be working in the lab full-time and Chris will be working with an orphan day school and a medical clinic located in the slums of Kisumu.

The intention of this trip is to make preparations for us to move to Kisumu in December 2011. Our hearts are full of the love that has been poured out by our friends and family, and our souls are eagerly looking to the Holy Spirit to guide our steps along the way. Leaving the people we love (and our sweet dog:) is by far the hardest part of this step of faith. We hope to keep in touch as much as possible with all of you over the next six weeks. I will be posting updates to our blog so you can be on this journey with us!