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In Kenya

Today marks me being in Kenya for 1 year. 

One year ago, I arrived in Kenya pretty terrified, but excited for the year to come. It has flown by, while Kitale has slowly become my home. It’s going to be really hard to leave, but I leave knowing that this has been the best year of my life, an amazing staff is sticking behind to take things on their own and I have much to come back for, hopefully soon.

Only 11 days left. Time to make the most of it

Murakami’s in Kenya, Family Vacation - Day 11, 12, & 13.5

Christmas Day! in Kenya 

We didn’t quite finish the paint job the day before, so we made another trip to the ASH Wamuini Community Center on Christmas morning to finish.


Then, we took lunch at Dr. Lydia’s home, which was another amazing home-cooked Kenyan meal. Then, we finished off the home visits at Zach’s place. His wife couldn’t resist, and made us Kenyan style pancakes even though we had told her we’ve been overly stuffed for the past day and a half. But it was a great visit! My family got to meet Zach’s and we gave his children (Michelle and Nathan) some Christmas presents. It was like my Kenyan family meeting my American family haha  

Then we finally rested back at the compound to enjoy what was left of Christmas. We prepared Christmas dinner and gave Hannah, Manu, and Juliet (Rwandans who live at the compound with me) their Christmas gifts   

Then I gave my family my gift to them (made by our sewing students) 

That pretty much wrapped up our trip. The last day and a half was just travelling back to Nairobi, purchasing last minute gifts for people back home, and sadly saying goodbye as my family flew back to the states and I flew off to Rwanda…

Thanks for following! .. coming soon are posts on my trip to Rwanda and Uganda

Murakami’s in Kenya, Family Vacation - Day 10

Our first full day in good ‘ol Kitale began with an early start as the plans for the day were jam packed!

It all began with a visit to the ASH Wamuini Community Center, where I’ve spent my working days for the past year. My family got to meet most of our wonderful staff, including Mama Sarah. Mama Sarah is the one who donated the buildings and grounds to ASH, and has been an amazing partner in this community endeavor. She prepared a small snack and Kenyan tea for us, and I was so happy my family caught a glimpse of her incredible heart and warm hospitality. 

But my family didn’t come to just meet people and kick back. I brought them to work! haha They helped paint our sewing classroom and sewing/tailoring shop room to give a nice and needed facelift. Just a couple coats of white paint really made the difference. They did a great job! Thanks family

We had plans for the rest of the day, so we said our goodbyes to the ASH Wamuini staff and snapped our photos. Everyone was really glad they got to meet Baba and Mama Kyle, and brother Derek.


Then, we headed out to Sister Ejira’s (nurse) home for a late lunch. She had been preparing for this day for weeks now and was so precious in her planning. She kept asking me what they like to eat, if they would take tea with milk, whether the fruit should be mixed as a salad or just kept separate, etc. She prepared an amazing spread of delicious homemade Kenyan food. I don’t think any of us could have stuffed any more food into our bellies. It was a very nice time for my family to sit and relax and chat with Sister Ejira and Zach (managing director), and really get to know a part of my life in Kitale/Kenya. 

After a long day, we went back to the compound to rest, and try and make some room for dinner. We walked just around the block to Karibuni Lodge for a beautiful dinner. Their compound is located perfectly that you can sit out on the patio while looking out at views of Mt. Elgon. They also prepare great food and the ambience was perfect for a peaceful, relaxing end to the day.

It wasn’t until my family arrived in Kitale that I really felt like they were here, in Kenya. It was a huge blessing to have been able to have them here, see where I’ve been and what I’ve been doing for this past year. I’m so thankful that they made it

> Coming up: finishing up paint work at ASH Wamuini Community Center, lunch at Dr. Lydia’s, afternoon snack at Zach’s, Christmas dinner, and gift giving

Murakami’s in Kenya, Family Vacation - Day 9

(sorry no pictures for today)

I was told by the shuttle company that I could just call to reserve a shuttle for my family back to Kitale. “Just call the day before. No problem”, she told me. WRONG. I called and she told me she can’t book in advance.. I have to go the morning of the departure at 5am to book. So I went.. at FIVE AM and they were sold out… at FIVE.A.M.!!

I went around frantically with the taxi driver, trying to find another option. There were none. So the taxi driver finally told me - if I was desperate enough, he could arrange for someone he knew to taxi us out to Kitale. So that’s what we had to end up doing. It actually didn’t end up being much more than the original shuttle cost, but still pretty expensive and took a bit longer.

But anyway, we checked out of the Crowne Plaza and 8 hours later, we finally arrived in Kitale. I think my family wasn’t too thrilled with that car ride. Sorry guys!

It was funny and a bit sketchy though, because the taxi driver worked for Crowne Plaza and knew they overcharged so he decided to arrange things on his own. Plus, he’d get the commission instead of the hotel. So he got another taxi driver from the hotel to pick us up as a “normal” taxi to wherever we needed to go.. to the airport for all the hotel knew. This guy took us to a location that had been pre-agreed upon. At this spot, the original taxi driver and his friend were waiting. We switched cars, I gave him the money, and we left from there. It was like some sort of drug deal or something

Anyway, even Kenya gets crazy during the holidays. Everyone was travelling, so shuttles, buses, etc were all booked and the roads were more crowded than I had ever seen them. Next time, although there probably won’t be a next time, I’m booking way in advance or we’re just staying where we are

> Coming up: Day at the ASH Wamuini Community Center, being hosted for meals, and relaxing dinner (and pictures this time)

3 More Months

Drove for 1.5 hrs today from Kitale…

to Eldoret… 

to renew my visa for the last 3 months I have left in Kenya.

I was worried about getting my visa renewed since the immigration guy at the Nairobi Airport told me, “I saw that you extended your visa last time. Just don’t do that this time.” .. buuut, I have too much to do in only 3 months. I need the 6.. and my family is coming in 4th month (Dec). So… ? 

But this renewal was easier than last time. I handed my passport to the immigration person and she barely looked at my visa before stamping the renewal. Eh, cool.

So 3 more months. Crazy how fast time flew. Much to do before I leave. Let’s make the most of the 3. (and by “let’s”, I mean me)

Day in the life of the ASH Field Ambassador

This is my attempt, for the few months I have left in Kenya, to connect you to what I’ve had the privilege of experiencing in this beautiful place. I’ve been through the spectrum from “I hate it here, I want to go home” to “I could stay here forever”, and I plan to share enough to cover that spread. I also hope to share beyond myself, venturing into Kenya’s past and current events, issues plaguing the community ASH is fighting to empower, and anything else interesting that comes along.

I’ll begin this new initiative with an effort to show what a typical day looks like for me, a glimpse at what I’ve been able to experience.

I wake up at the compound I’ve been living in for about a month. This is the Kenyan home for the mission teams coming out of Saddleback Church and for friends like me.               (I live in the building on the left)

Currently living with me here are: the Biemeck Family (here til Dec.), Sammy (here til June), and the Rwandans [Hannah, Juliet, and Emanuel] (living here permanently).      (btw, the Biemeck’s & Rwandans only dressed this way for a fun photo shoot)

I get ready for the day, eat breakfast, pick up Zach (ASH Wamuini community center managing director), and take care of any necessary business in town, like depositing/withdrawing money at the bank, purchasing more paint for renovations, or finding out answers/info about local micro-finance programs. 

Then we head to the ASH Wamuini Community Center, about 10 minutes out of town. 

Here you’ll find our Early Childhood Development class (similar to pre-school/kindergarten) in session, sewing/tailoring class also going on, a few patients being diagnosed and receiving treatment at our health center, and the rest of the community going about their business.    

Zach and I will take care of finances, any issues arising that day, plan for upcoming projects or events, you know.. whatever comes up, with a tea & bread lunch break in between. Then towards the end of the day, we might head over to a nearby school to give a health talk. Finally, we close the community center doors at 5pm, head home, eat dinner and rest up for a new day tomorrow. 

*Most photos courtesy of Michelle Chang, Danielle Lee, and Junhee Chung