We Made It!
Wearily, after two 8+ hour flights, layovers, customs and visa lines, etc., we arrived in Nairobi about 28 hours after leaving Chicago. The kids were excited about being served actual food on an airplane – something they've never experienced – along with British Airways' personal in-flight entertainment systems. In addition to our carry-ons, we traveled with 22 carefully packed "Tough Boxes" (shown in the photo). Thankfully, all of our luggage made it through unopened (as far as we can tell) and intact.
The past few days, we've been dealing with the effects of jetlag. The boys and I had a nice 3:00 am snack and story-reading the second night. The first bit of flexibility we've had to exercise has been to stay at another family's house for these first days. Some new houses are being built, one of which will be occupied by the family moving out of the house we'll be taking. The bright side of this is that it has forced us to just relax and let our bodies adjust. This has been good. We realize how stressed we've been for many weeks/months, all to get here. Now, we're finally here and it feel so strange to let ourselves sit still. If we had moved right in, I'm sure we'd be feverishly unpacking and setting up house, but we can't, so we've been laying low and living out of our stack of bins. Not ideal, but perhaps a blessing in disguise.
I won't say too much more here. I really want the kids to write their own entries, so I don't want to steal their material. The campus is really beautiful and everyone has been incredibly kind – from the crew that drove to the airport in one of the school buses to pick us up (and help us manage all of those bins) to several dinner invitations to taking us shopping. It's been a fun and promising start.
One month and counting...
Dear Family and Friends,
The day is finally here when we can say that we are down to our final month before flying off from Chicago to begin our next chapter of life in Nairobi. These past months have passed so quickly as we have completed this school year (complete with Emmy's 8th grade graduation), found great renters for our house, cleaned, purged, given away, yard-saled, got shots, and made a few much need home repairs. As we hit this one month mark, we see that there is still much to do.
We won't be in Chicago for the entire month. In one week, we head out to rural New York state for two weeks of "pre-field orientation." This should be interesting and help with the huge lifestyle readjustments and many transitions we'll be making – though I must admit that we could really use the time here. In any case, as we check off our dwindling list of to-dos, we'll also be doing our best to spend time with as many of you as possible.
Check out our blogs
Our home page status will feature one main story of activities and events that affect our who family, but also check out our personal blogs at the links above. This is where the real action will likely be. We encourage the kids to post their own stories, in their own ways, in their personal blogs. We know that this experience will mean different things to each of us, that some days will be great and others terrible. The blogs will also be a great way for friends to follow each of us individually, as well as comment and stay in touch.
How We Got Here
Over the past several months, we have told our story of how this whole thing came to pass so many times. In a nutshell, here it is...
Venturing back 20-something years, Suzanne went to Zimbabwe on a summer trip during college. Like so many who spend time in Africa, a spell came over her. "One day," she thought, "I will return."
Fast forward to August, 2011. Steve gets an email newsletter from his old pal, Fred Garner, who, with his wife Kerri, used to live in Chicago. Fred is also a teacher and about ten years ago, he and his growing family moved to Arizona. Fred's newsletter announces that he and Kerri are loading up their four kids and moving to Nairobi, to teach at this really cool looking school called Rosslyn Academy. Knowing Suz loves Africa, I forward her the newsletter. Somehow, she never sees it.
In early January, 2012, Suz is cleaning out her email and discovers this old note from Fred. She reads it, goes to the school website, and clicks on the Employment tab. Moments later, she whispers in Steve's ear, "There's a middle school position open at Rosslyn Academy, Fred's school," and then walks away.
She was just talking. Her long-term dream to work with poor kids in Africa has been set in a vague, distant future. But Steve gets online and checks it out. The job looks great, the school is beautiful, and it is in Nairobi. "What if we did this...now?" he wonders. "What might this mean for our kids, their vision of the world, their future prospects?
He sends in the application right away, we open a Skype account to have a long talk with the Garners, he gets an interview several weeks later, and is offered the job in March. Since then, we have been in a state of shock and awe. With long lists of things to do, we've just been chipping away.
The whole thing has felt overwhelming, and yet, all over the place, we've received encouragement on taking this bold (crazy) leap into the unknown. It really is thrilling. An emotional roller coaster. Some days we have felt panicky, wondering what on earth we are doing. Other days, we are totally excited about what awaits us. One thing that guides us is that we know that growth comes when we step out from our comfort zone, from our place of expertise or competence, from our routine. We are confident that we will all grow through this experience.