Did you know that Uber is really popular in Nairobi? We never used Uber in the US and actually laughed out loud at our missionary friends here when they said it is their primary means of transport in Nairobi. Sounds crazy right? You are willingly getting into a strangers car who is registered to an online entity. That sounds crazy even in America, yah?
Well, come to find out, it’s great! Seriously simple, easy, and dependable in general. Drivers are polite, and the app calculates your fare based on where you get picked up and dropped off. It is a way cheaper option than using the public transport or normal taxis in Nairobi.
We say all this because we had to visit Nairobi a couple weeks ago to extend our visitors visa while we wait for our work permit to be approved (still waiting!) We had a nice breakfast at Java House (the Panera of Kenya) and Sophia ate a ton of bacon and milk. In hind sight, too much of both.
We then got into our Uber to go to Nyayo House, the building where Kenya Immigration Offices are located. Jenny had Sophia in her ergo baby carrier on her front with facing her. Sophia was quieter than usual when we ride in cars and really cuddly. After a 25-minute drive in city traffic, we were close enough to see Nyayo House from the car. All of a sudden Sophia started throwing up, a lot!
Amazingly, it only got on Jenny and Sophia (well maybe a little hit the seat). After a minute of barfing, the driver turns around and asks, “Did she vomit?”
We looked at each other and cringed while we reassured him that none got on his seats. Obviously, we got out of the car as soon as possible.
When Jenny unbuckled the the carrier and handed Sophia off, there was a terrible “plop” of bacon-milk vomit that hit the ground.
We had extra clothes for Sophia (since she is generally a mess), but we never pack extra clothes for us when we go out. We forgot to pack an extra jacket for Sophia, which normally is not a big deal, except in Southeast Africa everyone is really serious about children being warm enough. It will be 65 degrees outside, and you see kids with winter hats and big coats.
After we got our extension, we waited for our next Uber outside. While we stood in the drizzling rain, a very sweet young mother with a baby on her back and an umbrella stopped us on the sidewalk to ask if our baby was sick. We told her about the vomiting and having to change her clothes.
She was so worried that Sophia would be cold that she tried to give us the baby blanket she was carrying and the umbrella she was using.
We declined, and Jenny then took off her jacket to put around Sophia. In a world where women should not have exposed arms and shoulders, we realized it was better to be stared at for being scandalously dressed (in a tank top) than “neglecting” our child.
We are three months into Swahili study, and next month we will be starting in the hospital. We are still waiting for our work permit to be approved, and we are praying that this will happen soon.
Until our work permit is approved, we are somewhat limited in what we can do in the hospital. We cannot practice medicine or supervise learners, but we can teach, build relationships and get a better understanding of how the hospital functions.
We are excited and nervous, since it has been over 6 months since we have practiced full-time medicine. We have been spending a few hours each day reviewing and refreshing on topics as well as doing online continuing medical education. Thankfully, we practiced in Malawi for two years previously, so there won’t be quite as large of a learning curve when it come to “tropical medicine.”
Swahili study is the other thing we do for hours a day. Language learning has been challenging, humbling, and very frustrating at times.
Swahili is nothing like English or even Spanish. It is funny because sometimes when trying to communicate in Swahili a Spanish word will get mixed into our sentences.
We are well into the “story telling” portion of the curriculum (GPA, Growing Participator Approach). After a couple weeks of children’s picture stories, we decided to tailor our lessons to have more medical content.
This has made studying the material a bit easier since we are more interested in the context. Fortunately, we now know more vocabulary and understand more of the sentence structure, and it’s even easier to understand when someone speaks to you. Speaking Swahili is definitely still REALLY hard! There is this uncomfortable mixture of incomplete knowledge and insecurity which gives us flashbacks of our 3rd year of medical school.
Some Swahili take home points:
1. What takes 5-7 words in English generally only requires 2 in Swahili.
English: He is buying the potatoes for me. Swahili: Ananinunulia viazi.
2. There are rough and gentle ways to say things:
English: deliver a baby
Swahili (correct but rough): kuzaa mtoto [literally: zaa- give birth, mtoto- child/baby]
Swahili (correct but gentler): kujifungua mtoto [literally: fungua- open, kujifungua —to open self, mtoto- baby/child)
3. There is a huge variance between Swahili spoken in different countries
Swahili originated in Zanzibar which is just off the coast of Tanzania. As the language spread west across to Kenya, Uganda, and the DRC (Congo), some of the rules, grammar, and vocabulary was lost. For example, if you go to the market and ask for a parachichi, they will look at you funny because (1) you are a mzungu (non-african) speaking swahili and (2) here its just called an avacado. Its known as a parachichi in Tanzania, where they use the more traditional/formal form of Swahili in general.
4. Context is very important.
Words exist that sound the same and are spelled the same but mean very different things.
English: fence (noun), flower (noun) or to kill/murder/destroy( verb)
Two big milestones: 10th Wedding Anniversary and Sophia’s 2nd birthday.
Our 10th wedding anniversary was on May 26th, and our friend and Swahili teacher, Carole, made us a cake which we all shared at the community Pizza Night. The cake was unexpected and very tasty. Each Friday the community here has dinner full of homemade pizza and games. Some of the learners/trainees from the hospital come as well each week which gives us a chance to build more relationships with them.
We are thankful for each other and the opportunities God has blessed us with over the last 10+ years together.
These have been the best 10 years of our lives and we both look forward to the next 10+ years. There have been many challenges and ups and downs through medical school, residency training, Malawi, and now Kenya. However, with God we have been able grow together and strengthen our marriage.
Sophia turned 2 a couple weeks ago! She is….exhausting. We both wish we had as much energy as she does on a daily basis. We have a housekeeper and nanny which are with us during the week days since we spend more than a few hours a day in language and medical study.
They are a gift from God and enrich our lives with kindness and are a window into the Kenyan culture everyday. They are both patient and loving to Sophia, who has grown quite attached.
It seems that Sophia’s newest goal in life is to do everything herself, except the things you want her do to solo, like eat! She loves to dance to music and “read” picture books. Her current favorites are anything Aaron Watson (amazing Texas country musician) and the Moana Soundtrack. Of course, she loves the Frozen Soundtrack as well. She will sing along with any song, but the only words she will say are “Let it gooooooo, let it gooo!”
She will sit on the floor with piles of her books making up incoherent stories about the pages, or she will sit and tell stories to her stuffed animals. Sometimes, she will hand out books to everyone in the room before she sits down to “read.”
The words we do understand her saying are really strange. She will say, “It’s dead” when she notices a dead bug, “go outside,” and “where’d it go?” when she cannot find something.
Please keep us in your prayers over the next month as we continue to find our way here in Kenya. The desire of our hearts is to follow God’s way for us, especially as we begin our transition into the hospital.
We are thankful for our supporters’ continued financial, emotion, and spiritual support at this time. Right now, we are praying for some additional financial partners to join our ministry.
We would not be able to serve the people of Chogoria, Kenya if it were not for the generous financial commitments from our supporters back home.
Please, share our story, and blog with others and encourage them to pray about supporting us.
Jared, Jenny, & Sophia
Sophia’s 2nd Birthday
Life in Chogoria
Sophia Photo Gallery