I think you all know that I try to be encouraging, to live with joy, to focus on God and what He has for me. Also, I think you all can tell that I’m a real person, and I try to share reality with you. Although I’m a Christ follower, I’m still a sinner. There are parts of my life here in Kenya that I really don’t like. So, that’s what this post is about. I’d like to share some aspects of my reality with you. Some will be positive things, but most will be the annoying realities of a first-world person living in a third-world country.

Reality #1: All the local produce is super cheap! Ok, sorry, I just had to start with something positive. I can get fresh, sweet pineapple for 50 cents, Roma tomatoes for 5 Ksh (that’s so cheap, I’m not even converting it!), and avocados pulled off my avocado tree for free!

Local produce!(A small sampling of the current local produce!!)

Reality #2: The water is dirty. Oh, this is my biggest complaint about Tenwek! Although the river water is treated before is reaches my tap, it is still really dirty. Like visibly dirty. When I bathe the boys, the tub water is brown. Yes, the boys get ridiculously dirty, but the water is brown BEFORE they get into it! The water is so dirty that I can’t wash my hair with it. I have to warm up our filtered water in the microwave (I’m soooo blessed to have a microwave!) and then bucket wash my hair. How I wish I looked cute with really short hair!

This dirty water is also staining our clothes. Since the washing machine uses tap water, our brand new clothes look like hand-me-downs from the 5 generations ago! The water is tainted by the red soil, which is excellent for growing those fresh fruits and vegetables but horrible for keeping clothes clean. Our towels are so infiltrated with dirt that they don’t absorb water! And don’t get me started on how it’s ruined my cloth diapers! (I’m just happy that I have no kids in diapers at this point!) Gross, gross, gross! Can somebody please come drill a well so that we can have clean water??

Reality #3: The local beef isn’t refrigerated…or ground. We Kelleys feel convicted to buy locally. While many first world foods and products are available in Nairobi, it’s super expensive in both time and money to get there. Therefore, both worldly and godly wisdom tells us to buy as much locally as possible. One such food is beef. In fact, the cows are butchered behind my apartment! After much research and trepidation (remember, no refrigeration in the butcher shops), I send Joyce on a mission to buy 1 kilo of beef. She succeeded, but there’s where the second problem comes into play. The local butcheries do not have the ability (or the desire) to grind meat…

Grinding Meat at Home

My initial thoughts was “NO problem! I found this KitchenAid meat grinder attachment for my mixer, so I can just grind the meat myself!” Grinding meat at home = epic fail. It took forever. The grinder continually clogged. My kitchen, the mixer and I were covered in raw beef. Super gross! (Hence my face in the picture.)

My solution? Buy local beef but send Joyce to the Guest House to grind it. Apparently, the Guest House has an industrial sized meat grinder that could grind a kilo of beef in a fraction of the time it took my ‘small machine’ (what Joyce called it with a disgusted look on her face). After all, the beef is super fresh as long as you buy it on the day it’s killed, it tasted great and I don’t have to drive 3 1/2 hours to buy it!

Reality #4: The raw milk smells like onions. I know that organic, raw milk is all the rage in America these days. Here, in Kenya, everybody drinks it. If you don’t, you’re just weird…or poor. (On a side note, Kenyan chai is tea + water + sugar + milk. If you drink tea without milk, it’s assumed that you’re too poor to afford a cow or milk.) The boys love the milk as long as I strain it as I pour it into their cups. However, Aaron and I can’t get past the smell. Maybe I’m just getting milk from the wrong cow, but man, does it smell!

Reality #5: My house is ugly and I can’t do much about it. The counter tops are wearing away. The bathroom has mold on the ceiling. My furniture and my curtains are frightening. Plus, none of the ugly stuff matches. I guess it’s time to order some curtains and invest in a slipcover or two. We do have plans to fix up the kitchen and build a triple bunk for the boys. We’ll see how all that goes and then make plans for the next home renovation project. At least the stencil is gone!

Living Room Beforeliving room now

Reality #6: Bags of tortilla chips are not local. 😦 So, we have fresh tomatoes and avocados. I’m in the process of becoming an expert salsa-maker. Joyce has already perfected her guacamole recipes. We can make tortillas from scratch any day of the week. But we cannot find a bag of Tostitoes anywhere in Kenya! I can find good tortilla chips in Nairobi, but I’m sure you remember my mentioning of trying to buy local food. Obviously, we can bake the fresh tortillas to make homemade chips, but that’s a lot of work and they don’t store as well as the dips, which means I’d have to make tortillas and then bake them daily. Can’t a girl just buy a bag of Tostitoes?? Apparently not in Bomet! And for this Mexican-food-loving girl, this is a big disappointment.

homemade salsa and chapatis (A picture of my homemade salsa and Joyce’s chapatis from scratch.)

Reality #7: The weather is always perfect. 🙂 So, I’ll end on a positive note. We just survived our first Kenyan winter. While most of you Americans were sweating and complaining about the smothering heat, we were wearing long-sleeved shirts in the mornings and cuddling up to fires in the evenings. The afternoons were still sunny and warm and perfect for outdoor fun for the boys. Even when it rains, which it does a lot during the rainy seasons, we do enjoy perfect spring-time weather the majority of the time. Who knew living so close to the equator could be so pleasant?

Noah in wheelbarrowLevi and Jacob in wheelbarrow

So, all this being said, my prayer is that you’ve laughed a little and that you’re better able to pray for me. Please know that I’m not complaining. Overall, the blessings of living in this community more than outweigh the stressors of living here. I so appreciate your big prayers on my behalf, but you know that it’s those little, daily things that are oftentimes harder to conquer than the big, once-in-a-while things. Thank you for your interest in what we are doing here in Kenya. And a bigger thank you for all your big and little prayers!

Praises and Prayer Requests:

1.) Praise God that day 2 and 3 of homeschooling with Noah went better than day 1! I covet your ongoing prayers about my relationship with Noah, our school time and our fun times. I just love that kid and know that God has great plans for him, but I oftentimes don’t feel capable of raising him or teaching him.

2.) Praise God that Aaron’s headaches and neck aches have not recurred! He’s been exercising and eating better. Plus, some of the long-term doctors have returned so his workload has lessened a little.

3.) Praise God for water filters, rain tanks, washing machines, electricity, internet and so many other things that make life so much healthier and easier!

4.) Please continue to pray for school. We all start on Monday!

5.) Pray for Kenyan students. They will start their third term of the year on Monday. School can be very expensive but is very highly valued by many Kenyans. Please pray that the students will have the resources (money, uniforms, and school supplies) to re-enter school on Monday.



14 responses »

  1. The cow providing your milk is probably eating something odd. We’ve had raw milk and it never had a strange smell…of course you’d probably have a hard time explaining to your milk provider that he/she needs to monitor what the cow eats so the milk smells better!

    I love getting a glimpse into your life in Kenya 🙂 Praying for you guys.

  2. You are all in my thoughts and prayers, the boys are growing so fast and are so cute. The work you and Aaron are doing is God’s work and He has a wonderful plan for all of you. God Bless.

  3. We have to smile!! Our little “farm” girl is learning and trying so many different things in life. Enjoy the good things and have patience with the not-so-good. Love reading your stories and miss you all so very much!! Sending a big “Hello” to Joyce and “Hugs and Kisses” to the boys. You are always in our thoughts and prayers. Luv ya bunches!!

  4. Enjoyed your post so very much. It has always impressed me how much missionaries must bear as they serve. I believe the hardest thing would be the dirty water. We Americans are spoiled when it comes to good,clean water. Thank you and Aaron for blessing us with your postings and for giving of yourselves so freely to the important work there. May God bless and keep you all.

  5. I have just the solutions to some of your problems:) First the water get your organization to arrange for clean water to be delivered to you guys there are plenty of clean water service providers who can fill up your tanks as required or you can ask them to dig a borehole for you guys so you get clean water or you can have gutters fitted to you roof to trap rainwater and then use that water the dirty water problem is because you live in a rural area I am a city born and raised Kenyan never encountered any dirty water problem in the city. As for the meat I would advise to buy from a proper butchery some of the meat you are buying may be from cows that were slaughtered without inspection from the relevant authorities you need to find out this is very important as you can be eating contaminated meat from sick cows my advice is that since you say you are far from Nairobi and from what I can see off the map (no clue where Tenwek is never heard of it before stumbling on your blog) looks like Nakuru, Kericho and Eldoret are quite close by which have Nakumatt, uchumi and Tuskys so buy yourself a cooler go to any of these towns and stock up on meat from the supermarket and transport them back to Tenwek in the cooler. When you are next in Nairobi pop into Chandarana’s supermarket they stock a lot of American stuff. Stop drinking raw milk and go back to buying pasteurized milk from the shops this should not even be an issue since you chose to buy raw milk as opposed to shop milk which is widely available even in UHT (long lasting) form. Tortillas of course will not be available since they are not common outside of the Americas so you can have those shipped from back home or ask Joyce to make some for you. I know you feel convicted to buy local but it is better to be safe than sorry I am from here and I wouldn’t drink raw milk from just anywhere or buy freshly slaughtered meat from just anyone for all you know it could be donkey meat i am dead serious! As for the house nothing a bit of paint and home improvement can’t solve:)

  6. Oh and as for the chai to my knowledge only Americans do the “black tea” thing, go to London and ask for tea in a hotel it will most definitely come with milk unless you ask for black tea specifically, the rest of us non-Americans always add milk to it just the way it was intended:)

  7. Would a rain collection/storage system set up to gather the water from your roof help to do your hair washing? It is a small inconvenience but, might just work for you! We had one set up at an orphange in Nyeri and it was great for washing personal items as well as bodies! Praying for you!

  8. I CAN SO RELATE TO YOUR NACHO PROBLEM! (and the water!) My husband and I lived in Nigeria when we met and I used to dream of nachos and salsa until I eventually figured out how to make them but yes, it’s labour intensive and you have to eat them right away.

    I would make the salsa a few days before (let me know if you’d like a recipe) so it could stew and then spend 4 hours in the kitchen rolling and cutting and shallow frying tortilla chips before layering them with precious cheese and peppers and tomatoes and onions and popping them in the oven…all while sweating profusely which probably added to the salty flavour of the chips :-/
    We live in Brazil now and to my delight and amazement they sell nacho chips at the grocery store!

    As for water we didn’t have a well or city water at the time and got really good at bathing in a tiny amount of water..but I was also young and single with no children, seems like a lifetime ago!

    Where there’s a CRAVING there’s a way!

    Love the blog, praying for your family !


  9. Loved the stories. Praying for you too, as often it is the little things that make it hard–like the proverbial straw. Hope that you can find solutions to some of the more irritating problems. I too, grew up in Kenya, and remember the new clothes turning brown so quickly from the water.

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