Happy Thanksgiving from the McAlhaneys!

It is hard to believe Thanksgiving is already here!

We’re just now coming up for air – the last three months have been busy but good. We promise to send out a blog or two in the next month to get you up-to-date.

Today we will celebrate American Thanksgiving with a group of friends – Americans and Kenyans. We have an early dinner planned since most schedules here in Kijabe follow a normal day. Luke has school (kindergarten) until noon. Thankfully, Maureen and I both have Thursday scheduled as our off / work at home day. Maureen is making mashed potatoes and I’m making my grandfather’s “famous” macaroni pie.

We plan to spend the day remembering all that God has given us – the obvious blessings and the blessings that seem to come with struggles and hardships.

2 Corinthians 3:18 – And we all, who with unveiled faces contemplate the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his image with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit (NIV).

James 1:2-3,12 – 2 Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, 3 because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. 4 Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything . . . . 12 Blessed is the one who perseveres under trial because, having stood the test, that person will receive the crown of life that the Lord has promised to those who love him (NIV).

We hope and pray that you take the time today to thank God for all that He has done and is doing in your lives.

Also, enjoy your time today wherever you are. We will miss spending time with family and the atmosphere of the season but are thankful for all that God has provided for us here.

Blessed to be serving Him,

Tim, Maureen, Luke & Kate


Please Keep Praying and Texas Bound!

Greetings from Kenya! We hope and pray that you are well. Thank you for continuing to bless our family with cards, letters, emails, gifts, and most importantly your prayers. You bring joy and encouragement to our life in Kijabe. It’s a humbling experience to be able to serve our Lord and Savior in this part of the world. 🙂

We know Africa has been in the news recently regarding the Ebola outbreak. Thank you for those who have prayed for this crisis and please continue to do so. SIM ELWA hospital in Liberia is at the center of the news as well as two of our missionaries contracting the virus. Please continue to pray for the leadership involved in the decision making for the hospital, the patients in the hospital, the people in Liberia and other countries in West Africa. The families of the two missionaries need our prayers as well as they go through this difficult time. Pray specifically that healing will occur and that this catastrophe will end. We know we live in a fallen world and that sickness is a reality but as believers we know that God is able to intervene. Pray that He will be glorified as events continue to unfold.

As for our most recent news, we’re heading to Texas on August 14th for a three-week trip to attend the wedding of Maureen’s brother. We are so grateful to family members who have provided for our plane tickets and look forward to enjoying some time with family and friends. We know we will not be able to see and visit everyone during this short trip, so please understand if we don’t get to see you! Built into the trip will be appointments with doctors and dentists as well.

We are currently on school break until the end of August, meaning Luke and Tim are not in school. This break is shorter than in the US, starting about three weeks ago. Maureen still continues her work in Community Health 3 days a week. We have said many goodbyes to fellow missionaries in the past month as they left for home assignment or have moved permanently back to their home country. However, it has not been a quiet and relaxing break yet as we are getting ready to move again. We have been cleaning, organizing, having our new home painted, and trying to pack for our move. It is a move up the hill and will require more time and energy that the last move. Please pray that the painting will be done as quickly and properly as soon as possible. Pray for motivation as we pack again, unpack and organize, and quickly pack again for the US. We may only get everything moved and nothing else done before we leave for the US. 🙂

This will be our third move since arriving last August and we are looking forward to getting settled (again). We hope to be in our house by this coming weekend . . . just in time to pack up and head to Texas. We will leave Arlington, TX on Sept. 4 and arrive late Sept. 5 in Nairobi and travel back to Kijabe. We will be jumping right into school as Tim starts teaching and Luke starts Kindergarten two days after we arrive. We will also be settling into our new home.

As you know, God had opened the door for us to stay another year in Kijabe. If God keeps the door open, we plan on staying as long as He allows. For us to stay another year or longer, we will need to bring our support to 100%. Currently we are at 80% support. Translated into plain words . . . we will need to raise another $1000 per month in support to bridge the gap. When we came to Kenya last year we knew we were lacking, but had sufficient funds to cover the monthly shortfall. With the additional year and plans to remain here long term, we are praying for additional supporters to pray for us and allow God to use them by investing in His kingdom. If God lays it on your heart, please consider joining us on this journey by investing in a monthly gift or a one-time gift. Click on the “send Support Gift” below or click here.

We have also come to realize the need for a vehicle to make us more efficient and productive. Maureen’s ministry with the Maternal & Newborn Community Health Project requires her to make trips into surrounding communities and Tim’s new role as Spiritual Life Director at Moffat will require some travel as well . . . not to mention having the freedom to drive into Nairobi to pick up supplies when needed. We currently have to pay at least $80 to make a day trip to Nairobi to get supplies, and we do so twice a month on average. With the rocky and potholey roads here in Kenya, we also realized that the two requirements of a vehicle we need are: 1) high ground clearance, and 2) four wheel drive. Now, to be quite frank, cars are expensive in Kenya – a ten year old Toyota Land Cruiser would cost between $35,000 and $40,000. Oddly, Toyota is the brand of choice and probably has around 90% of the market. This means that other brands often have better deals. We have prayed about what type and size of vehicle God would want us to own and have decided that a midsized 4×4 vehicle that fits our family is adequate. So we started looking for one, especially as missionaries were leaving at the end of their terms, and found one that fits our needs! It is a 2004 silver gray Nissan X-Trail for $11,000. This vehicle has been passed through 2 missionary families in Kijabe and we are excited that God had provided it at just the perfect time. If you feel led to help us purchase this vehicle, please specify “For Ministry Vehicle” in the comment/note field when you give your gift online or in the memo line on the check.

We are looking forward to moving to our own home soon with our own appliances, furniture, beds, oven/stove, etc., and to be with family during Maureen’s brother’s wedding. We hope to connect with as many of you as possible during our short time in the US. May God bless you for your faithfulness in lifting our family up in prayers and for showing God’s love by providing for our needs. Please continue to keep in touch with our family because we love to hear from you. It is always an encouragement to us. We may not always express it, but we treasure every time you connect with us whether it is through a phone call, email, text, or on Facebook. Please send us any prayer requests you have for your family.

In Christ,

Tim, Maureen, Luke & Kate



TextMe Tim – 469-205-4907

TextMe Maureen – 469-423-7287 (new)

magicJack – 817-264-3852 (can leave voicemail)

Backhanding a Baboon and Moffat Graduation

Living in Africa has proven to be an interesting and wonderful experience. We’ve now been in Kijabe, Kenya for about 11 months and are thankful that God has allowed us to serve Him here. As many of you are aware, we’ve committed to another year here and are open to staying long term if that’s God’s will.

There are numerous stories I could convey that would give you a flavor of our life here but on a recent trip to Nakuru something happened that I would never have expected. Friends had loaned us their car while on home assignment, so we took Maureen’s parents and sister on a drive to see the Kenyan countryside and to visit a national park with the hope of seeing a rhino and other animals. The trip went more or less as expected (still getting used to driving on the left side of the road, though) and we arrived at the park safely, picked up a guide, paid our entrance fees and started our drive through the park. We saw a rhino within a few minutes and all was well. Our guide soon directed us to baboon cliff to stop and get a good look at the valley.

The guide did mention that the baboons there were aggressive. I thought to myself, we have baboons in Kijabe and they are aggressive . . . so no problem. Little did I know that these baboons were “aggressive.” We pulled into our parking spot, I opened my door, and looked to the left (remember the driver’s seat is on the front right), and then back to the right. I was stunned to see an 80-90 pound baboon heading in my direction. Before I could react, the baboon had hopped into the car and had his right hand (paw?) on the steering wheel. As we stared as each, I’m told that I let out a shocked “ahhhh” – like a frightened girl. I don’t recall making a sound, though. I do recall contemplating how to respond and wondered if he spoke Swahili or English. I also recall thinking – “I’m trapped behind the steering wheel and can’t really move.” As Maureen’s mom attempted to shoo the baboon away with her scarf, I made an executive decision and backhanded the baboon in the chest.

Now, to be honest, I don’t think the force of my blow caused him to move but perhaps the shock of a human hitting him had some impact. Also, the fact that our guide was then approaching him with a large stick no doubt caused him to jump out of the car. Needless to say, I was very relieved my encounter with the baboon ended well. Our trip from this point forward was relatively uneventful. The car overheated, we were towed/dragged/pulled 20 kilometers (eating dust the entire way), and were met by a friend’s father (pastor in the area) who brought a mechanic to the park gate who change the water pump on the spot for about $75 parts and labor. We were literally stuck in the middle of the national park with sketchy cell phone reception but God answered our prayers and made a way out.

Admittedly, the prior story has nothing to do with Moffat’s Graduation but think of it like a bad joke/story at the beginning of a sermon – one that has nothing to do with the sermon that follows! 🙂

While many things happen here that are very out of the ordinary (like the baboon jumping in our car), some are quite ordinary. Graduation at Moffat was very much like that of any college in the states. Graduates were both excited and nervous and family and friends in attendance were beaming with pride. We also had the expected speeches filled with congratulatory comments, some singing (with a Kenyan flair), and the handing out of diplomas. My advice to the graduates during the last week of class was simple – enjoy the day and don’t trip! I think they followed it pretty well.

I should point out that while our graduation was “ordinary,” our graduates are extraordinary. They come from all walks of life. Some are married and some single. Some have large families and others grew up in an orphanage. Some have a desire to serve in the local church and others to reach unreached people groups in northern Kenya.

Please pray for our graduates as they pursue ministry in the local church and beyond. Over the past term, I was able to hear many of them preach in chapel and was really impressed with their ability to exposit the word of God. I also taught many of them the book of Acts during the prior term. As they come to mind, pray specifically for our fourth year graduates: John, Isaac, Kezziah, Dickson, Festus, Carolyne, Jonathan, Peter, Alex, Jackson, Benson, and David.

One last baboon story . . . so, Kate has this balloon that she likes to play with but has decided to call it a baboon (pronounced like balloon). It’s so funny to hear her walking around asking “where is my baboon?”

Lion King Swahili

Greetings from Kijabe!

Someone asked me the other day how long we had been in Kenya and it caught me off guard that it has been over six months. In fact, we’re coming up on seven months. In many ways it seems like we arrived just a few days ago and in other ways it seems like we’ve been here for years. I suppose that means things still seem new to us and also that we are comfortable.

Since last September we have been spending time each week with a language tutor . . . trying to learn Swahili. It’s a very phonetic language so it’s easy to pronounce – you just sound out every letter. Our language tutor told us early on that Swahili is about 80% Bantu and 20% Arabic. They just add a vowel to the end of Arabic words. I have come to realize that he is not entirely correct, though. I’d say that Swahili is about 75% Bantu, 20% Arabic, and 5% English. Yes, I said English. With words like socksi (socks), shirti (shirt), filamu (film/movie), kabeji (cabbage), and soda (soda) there are times when I think Swahili is easy. But then there are words like dada which translates as “sister” or mamba (I’m thinking snake) which translates as “crocodile.” The most humorous one we’ve come across is nyanya which can translate as “tomato” or “grandmother” – depending on context, of course.

This may or may not come as a surprise to you, but you probably know some Swhaili words already – beyond the ones borrowed from English. If you’ve ever had the song from the Lion King stuck in your head which begins . . . Hakuna Matata . . . then you’ve been thinking in Swahili. Hakuna Matata means “No Worries” but the more common expression is Hakuna Shida which translates as “No Problem.” There are also other Swahili words found in the movie:

Simba = Lion

Rafiki = Friend

Pumba = Short for Pumbavu which means stupid/foolish

There is also another song which repeats the phrase O wimbo wee. O has no translation. Wimbo means song. Wee is short for wewe which means you. So the phrase literally means “O you song.”

The Moffat term is ending soon and we’ll have a short break before the third term begins in early May. SIM Kenya will hold its annual Spiritual Life Conference in April which we look forward to attending for the first time. We also hope to take some time to go on a safari during April. Safari is also a Swahili word meaning “trip.” The verb form Kusafari means “to travel.”

Maureen has been busy recently getting acclimated to the community health program at Kijabe Hospital. Luke really enjoys pre-school and looking out the window for monkeys or baboons. Kate seems to discover a new word each day and follows her brother around (or runs from him)!

Thank you for your love and support . . . we feel blessed to be serving our Lord and Savior here in Kenya!

In Christ,

Tim for Maureen, Luke & Kate

Pictures of Our Life in Kijabe

We hope and pray that you are well. It’s hard to believe Christmas is almost here. May you enjoy your time with family and friends as we all celebrate the birth of Christ.

In our last blog we promised to post some pictures, so here they are:

IMG_3870 The view from our house is nothing short of amazing. We had heard that Kijabe was beautiful but really had no idea.

The volcano off in the distance (second photo) is Mt. Longonot. Based on a little internet research, it last erupted in the 1860s so we’re probably safe!

We are currently staying in the house (first photo) of a missionary family who are on a short home assignment. It looks like we’ll be moving in the next week or so to the house next door (second photo). The move was always part of the plan, so it did not come as a surprise. Someone jokingly told us shortly after our arrival that SIM stands for Sure I’ll Move. How true! 🙂

Playing with planes!

Luke and his friend Finn playing under our clothes dryer.

Kate bringing in the laundry.

Late afternoon play time.

We have a small but nice yard where the children can run and play.

There is a bit of a drop off but so far neither Luke nor

Kate has ventured to roll down the hill.

Luke having a good time at Pre-school.

We generally meet with our language tutor, Edward, on the back porch.

Currently Tim meets with Edward three hours a week and Maureen two.

It’s been fun but challenging.

Luke and Kate mimicking the African way of “backing” a child. Luke’s version is more accurate, while Kate’s is really dangerous. 🙂

They are both lacking the key tool, a kanga, a piece of cloth tied to the woman and supporting the child’s bottom.

O-lo-Chu! (Chinese for “Praise the Lord!”)

We gave Kate her potty and this is what she did. Hmm!

Play cooking is a favorite past time.

Skype time with family.

Our little princess – she loves to wear dresses. All ready for church!

Tim’s Birthday. Think my two helpers ate most of my birthday cupcake!

Peace and quiet! 🙂

The kids also enjoy the occasional trip (30-minute hike) up to RVA (Rift Valley Academy) to play on the playground.

These spiders are found at different places in our house, but usually we smash them as soon as we see them rather than grab a camera. 🙂 The red ants often visit Maureen during language sessions. Anyone with a fear of spiders or ants would have a serious issue here. One evening we were sitting on the couch, relaxing after having put the kids to sleep, and spiders started to come under the front door. Not just a few spiders but dozens! There are always spiders around but this was an invasion! Even Luke who used to be afraid of them now bravely kills them! 🙂

In our last newsletter we posted pictures of the various monkeys – including our own two little ones. The “wild” monkeys typically show up twice a day – morning and evening – and often end up climbing all over our house. So, sometimes between 6:30am and 7am we will be awakened by the very loud sound of monkeys climbing and jumping all over the metal roof of our house. The little monkey in the photo was spying on Tim during his morning coffee time.

The Maasai are a semi-nomadic people group located in Kenya and Tanzania. Some Maasai took part in RVA’s Multi-cultural day.

Tim has had the opportunity to visit and preach at various churches. He recently visited a Kikuyu speaking area and had a great time hanging out with the kids.

The Moffat Administration Building.

The dirt road on the way to our house . . . this short stretch is the least bumpy road in Kijabe. Just imagine what the others look and feel like. 🙂

Wish we had a small version of this to decorate for Christmas!

This is one of a few around Kijabe.

The sunset (unless it’s raining) is always breathtaking!

We hope you have enjoyed our brief photo blog. Please pray that we will have a safe move to the neighboring house. It’s been raining every day for the past week, which might interfere with our move. Having to stay inside is also beginning to drive the kids a little stir crazy. Pray for our sanity and that we can make this Christmas memorable . . . through keeping our hearts and minds on Christ.

We’d love to hear from you as well.

Email Us: tim.mcalhaney@sim.org or maureen.mcalhaney@sim.org

Text Us: 469-205-4907 – Tim or 214-814-7844 – Maureen

Tim for Maureen, Luke & Kate

Thankful in Kijabe!

I was just checking what we shared on our blog last and was surprised to see that two months have already passed! I knew it had been a while since we last wrote, but can’t believe it has actually been 2 months.

Well, we finally moved into a house on October 1. This had been such a blessing for our family as we had lived in one room for over a month. We are all so glad to be able to have a place to call our own and unpack more. We have been able to unpack more of our clothes and place them in dressers, store our kitchen items in cupboards instead of boxes, keep the kids toys out without needing to pack them up every night, and just have a place where we can have dinner with privacy, and the kids have a place to be kids!

God has blessed us with this wonderful home until December. It is a two-story house with two bedrooms, an office and a loft area. There is a 13 step staircase and it was a challenge in the beginning to keep the kids from going up and down constantly. We wish we brought a child gate, but we had to resort to using our plastic bins as our “gate”. It doesn’t keep them from going up, but it slows Kate down and gives us time to catch up with her. She is very active and can truly climb over the bins! Thankfully, she usually stays on the first step and plays or sits down.

We have a nice open layout where the kitchen opens up to the dining area which is connected to the living room, so it is easy to watch the kids while working in the kitchen. There are no screens on the windows or doors, so whenever you open the windows for fresh air, be prepared to get your house dusty and welcome bugs in. This does not keep us from opening the windows, but it sure makes us have to clean our house at least twice a week. Usually some cleaning is done everyday. Thank God we have a washing machine to use right in our home, but we line dry our clothes, which isn’t so bad as it dries in a few hours during this time of year. We just have to be careful as rain can come anytime and we need to act quickly. The best thing about the house is the view! We have a spectacular view of the Rift Valley. We are still amazed at the stunning beauty of God’s creation each moment of the day as we look out our windows. I have had Kate look out the window everyday when she wakes up each morning, and she has learned to say “wow” and “God” in answer to the question “who made all this?” She has learned it so well that one day after dinner I asked her “Who made all this mess?”, and she answered “God!” immediately. 🙂 Luke tells us to take a picture of the sunset everyday because “it is so beautiful!”. 🙂 You are all welcome to come and visit us sometime and enjoy it with us.

On the same note, we are still amazed at how God had led our family to Kenya. Through the deep waters, God had walked with us and had carried us through the most difficult times…like footprints in the sand. We are very thankful for each day we spend here being able to minister to the people we interact with daily, whether it be at Moffat, the hospital, or strangers we meet on the road and stores. It is also evident to us that we could not possibly be here without the prayers and support of people like you, and we are daily humbled at this realization. We are humbled that God chose us to be His hands and feet in Kenya. We do not take this responsibility lightly and continue to strive on how to use our time wisely and strategize our activities as what God wants us to do.

Life in Kijabe is busy but good. It is a very unique community made up of local Kenyans and a large number of missionaries. Kijabe station is made up of Rift Valley Academy (RVA), which makes up the upper station, and Kijabe Hospital and Moffat Bible College, which are referred to as the lower station. RVA is a K-12 American curriculum school attended mainly by boarding missionary kids and the children of missionaries living in Kijabe. It is like a little America in the midst of Africa. It is one of the top schools in Africa. We just attended their Pinewood Derby yesterday where students and adults raced their cars down a track. The Seniors also have a fund raising activity called Senior Store where they sell doughnuts, hamburgers, hotdogs, sandwiches, ice cream, and milkshakes a few times every term to raise money for their senior trip. Yesterday was the first day, we were able to head up to RVA as a family. We get to enjoy American food on occasion here. Since we don’t have a car, we have to walk everywhere. The roads here are not just bumpy, they’re mainly made up of rocks and dirt. It is also mountainous here, meaning wherever you are going, it is either walking uphill or downhill. A trek up to RVA is a good 30 minutes with the kids. We sometimes even bring the stroller along with us. It is also the same distance we walk to church on Sundays. Our walks to Moffat and the Hospital are not that far and much easier. To Moffat, we have to climb up a trail in the woods for five minutes, while the hospital is following the road out for about fifteen minutes. It’s actually a nice walk when it’s sunny and not raining, but it’s not that easy when it rains, as the roads get muddy and wet. There are also no street lights anywhere, so we always have to remember to bring our flashlights when walking. The view of the sky at night is also spectacular on a clear night. You can see so many stars and find all the constellations easily. We are told it is pretty safe to walk in the dark, although we have not had to walk much after dark. Usually it is the whole family walking together in the dark, so not that bad. Although I wonder if I am walking with monkeys and baboons on the road during the day, what kind of animals are lurking in the dark on the road?!!! :-). It is truly an adventure from day to day.

Kijabe is an hour and a half drive to Nairobi eastward and an hour to Naivasha westward. We haven’t explored Naivasha much yet, but we do our shopping for food and supplies at Nairobi. Our family usually makes a trip to Nairobi once a month. We hire a driver with a vehicle for the entire day and head into town to enjoy a good meal and shop. We try to leave before 5pmas traffic gets heavier and it gets dark at 6:30pm. There are also no street lights so the lights you see on the main highways are the headlights from the oncoming cars. There are also no lines on the road, so you have to know the road and the direction of the road as you can easily just drive off the road/cliff! Sometimes, we catch a ride with other missionaries going into town to do just shopping. There are some small stores and a vegetable market in Kijabe that’s a 20-30 minute walk from our house. The problem is you not only have to walk there, you have to carry everything you buy home! The stroller has also proven very useful especially when the whole family tags along. Vegetables are very affordable here, but meat and seafood are expensive (and also difficult to find fresh). So you can see, good walking shoes are a must here. 🙂

Luke has been attending a mom taught preschool since September, and has a week left. We are grateful that another missionary family driving from the lower station gives Luke a ride up to school and down, as long as their vehicle is working. There are some days where Luke has to walk 30 minutes to school and back :-). That is a lot of walking for us, but most people here walk an hour to and from work and they don’t even blink as this is a part of life. The unemployment rate in Kenya is 50%, so many people would do anything just to have work.

We have really enjoyed having our own kitchen since there is only one Kenyan restaurant 30 minutes walk away. We cook three meals a day plus have ventured out to baking breads, cakes, pies, cookies and even cinnamon rolls the other day. I have cooked foods I’ve never cooked before because I am either asked to make it or we have missed eating it. We have gotten pretty creative here with food. 🙂 Tim’s birthday is coming up and he’s asking for red velvet cake. I am wondering what kind of cake it will turn out to be! 🙂 Going into Nairobi for a nice meal is doable, but so expensive! Sometimes I feel like I should just buy the ingredients no matter how expensive and just go home and cook and we have five times as much food for the same price :-).

Well, that’s all for now. We hope each of you has a great week. And to our friends and family in the US, have a great Thanksgiving!

We promise to post some pictures in our next blog . . .

Maureen for Tim, Luke & Kate

A Month In Kijabe

Habari za asubuhi (Good morning)!

It’s hard to believe we’ve been in Kijabe for over a month now. We pray that you are well and want you to know that we are safe here in Kijabe. You have probably heard the news about the events at Westgate mall in Nairobi and we ask that you continue to pray for resolution as well as for those who are grieving.

We arrived in Kijabe on August 21 – a very cold day! In fact, we arrived just as “winter” was ending. No, there is no snow, but it can get fairly cold here. Days were in the 60s and nights in the 40s. We’re told that July was even colder. Without a heat source it was difficult to make oneself get out of bed in the morning! It has warmed up some but we’re still looking at upper 70s during the day and 50s at night. The other factor to take into account is that the nights are very very windy! In fact, Kijabe means “place of wind.” If you didn’t know any better you’d think you were on the southeast coast with a tropical storm making landfall.

Our Moving Van

Luke safely in his car seat for the trip

Kate safely in her car seat for the trip


Tunnel just before Kijabe town (filled with mud twice this past spring from mudslides)

Our room shortly after arrival

At this point, I think we’d all agree that we are comfortable living here. In other words, we have a routine that is manageable. We know where to buy food, how to cook, how to do laundry, and have figured out where most everything is located. That said, we are still adjusting. We walk almost everywhere we go and the roads are dirt, dusty, rocky, and at times extremely bumpy (i.e. full of pot holes). We’re still staying in the Moffat Guesthouse but will move into a house around October 1. It has been a little frustrating at times not being able to unpack. Occasionally we will think of something we need and then go on a treasure hunt through our luggage. We have an inventory for each piece of luggage but it’s not that exhaustive of a list. We have a room on the second floor – the only room with a private bathroom attached. There’s a bunk bed, a queen bed, and Kate sleeps in her pack-n-play. Our luggage/bins are lined up along one wall and we use them as shelving. The kitchen and dining areas are downstairs. Not ideal, but it works! Please pray that we are able to wait patiently for the house to open up, that our move goes smoothly, and that we can settle in quickly. Pray also that we are able to find additional house help.

Luke’s bunk bed and pantry/storage (top bunk)

A Favorite Snack

The SupaDuka (local grocery store), Butcher, and Mama Chiku’s (our only restaurant)

Luke and Kate are adjusting well. Kate did have a fever a few days after our arrival and we’re pretty sure she was just teething. A few doses of Tylenol and she was fine. Luke has started pre-school (Mon/Wed/Fri from 9:30am-11:30am). At first we were a little hesitant (as was Luke) but he is enjoying the experience. The material is largely a review from what he covered during 3 year old pre-school but he’s making friends and learning to socialize. It is a thirty minute walk uphill but thankfully we have been able to catch a ride most days. Kate is constantly on the go, which can be a bit dangerous. The guesthouse is not what one would call child friendly. We have hired a Kenyan lady to help watch the kids a few afternoons each week and they both seem to like her a great deal. In fact, Luke has been known to block the door so that Rebecca could not leave. The kids have also enjoyed looking out for monkeys and baboons which like to look through the trash pits in the community. In fact, as I sit here writing in the dining area of the guesthouse, I can see a troop of monkeys making their way across a shed heading toward their evening meal! J Please pray that Luke and Kate stay healthy and safe, that Luke would make good friends, and that both would feel at home here in Kijabe.

First day of Pre-School

We’ve been into Nairobi a few times since arriving in Kijabe – to buy supplies, etc. One day we were asked if we wanted to take a ride down to Naivasha and we were glad we accepted. Not only was it a nice (although bumpy) ride, but it was also a fun day trip . . . and we got to see some zebras.

On the afternoons that we have childcare, we’ve scheduled language learning with an instructor. Even though one could easily get by with English here in Kijabe, leaning language will open doors to understanding culture. It will also help Maureen communicate in the hospital and help me connect with students. Please pray that we can focus on this important part of our ministry.

Small but busy community

There are two truisms about life in Africa which we’ve come to appreciate. First, things often don’t turn out as you expect. Second, tasks (even simple ones) take longer. We had hoped (expected) to have our work permits by this point but things changed. We knew that it would be a rush to have my work permit in hand before the fall term began. During late summer new government officials took office and the processing of work permits essentially halted. In fact, they stopped accepting new ones sometime in late July. We’ve been told that processing has begun again but don’t have a clear time on when we might receive our permits. So, at present we are not clear to work. In the past there was some flexibility but immigration officials have also begun to randomly check for work permits. To stay above reproach, SIM Kenya has instructed us to wait patiently. In the meantime, we are able to participate in Moffat and Hospital meetings/events. For me this means attending chapel, chai (tea) time and various student-led events (practical ministry reports and bible studies). For Maureen, this means sitting in on morning conferences and shadowing physicians. Pray that we will look for and expect meaningful opportunities to be used by God. Pray that our work permits would arrive in God’s timing. Pray also that we are able to adjust well to the reality of these two truisms – that we can establish a healthy routine so that our family will have an effective ministry.

Moffat Entrance

Moffat Chapel Service

We’ve been warmly accepted by the community here in Kijabe. This means that we’ve had meals with numerous families! We’ve also gotten to know many wonderful people.

There is so much to share and so little time to write, but we promise to write more later and ask that you keep us in your prayers as you are in ours.

In Christ,

Tim for Maureen, Luke & Kate

Our Time In Nairobi

Habari (Hello)! A lot has happened since our last blog. We apologize for leaving you hanging with our arrival in Nairobi. We have moved to Kijabe and have been adjusting to a lot of new things. Today, I will catch you up on details from the time we landed in Nairobi…

Our flight departed from London at 8:50pm and we checked out of our hotel at 4:30pm. We loaded our luggage, walked to the airport, checked in for our flight and they had to recheck all 17 bags plus strollers and cars seats again! Thank God we did not have to physically claim our bags and bring them to the counter! After this we bought dinner at an M&S store at the airport and then sat down to eat our sandwiches and chips. We bought some extra tea biscuits, chocolate chip cookies, and lengua de gato cookies. In hindsight, I should have bought more! 🙂 Anyway, we walked to our gate which took us almost 30 minutes, including riding a train, and boarded our flight soon after. Interestingly, there was an escalator, stairs, and an elevator at each gate to take you down a level to walk to the jet bridge.

Our flight went smoothly, although none of us slept much. It was an eight hour flight but they didn’t finish serving meals until midnight, so there was not much time to sleep anyway. We arrived in Nairobi at 7:25am. Our plane parked at the cargo terminal – an isolated spot. Moments later, buses, trucks, and luggage carts started arriving. Armed soldiers also stood around the plane. We were close to the back so we decided to change Kate’s diaper before deplaning (glad I did!) and we ended up being the last ones to get off. It was a neat experience as we deplaned a Boeing 777 by stairs down to the ground. We then were shuttled by a bus to an area with tents. Remember that the international arrivals area was burned down just 6 days prior.

The customs forms were on tables under tents. It was a little windy, so there were rocks and boards for paper weights. We asked and discovered that we had to fill out one customs declaration and tourist visa application for each one of us. It took a while as we carefully filled these out. While we were doing this, Luke needed to use the bathroom. Lo and behold, nearby there were porta potties. I was really glad I changed Kate before we left the plane! When we walked to the next tent, the immigration officer asked, “What took you so long?” We told him we were filling out the forms. He then took our papers and put it in a pile but never even looked at them. We paid our US$50 each for our visas. They only take cash and only paper money, no credit cards or coins! We’re glad we were told to bring cash in advance as there was one guy who had small change and they wouldn’t let him through. We then walked to the next tent where we ended up outside in the open air staring at bags scattered everywhere. There were no signs or markers saying what flight these bags belong to. So we started spotting our bags which was not difficult since we have mostly bins. It was very difficult as Tim had to find each one and carry them over to where I stood with the kids. They were still in “sleepy, tired, shock” mode at this time. We finally found all our bags minus one. Our only large bin was missing. Thankfully, God sent this lady who was in charge in the area to get some guys to help Tim push the six carts of luggages toward a scanner built into a truck. They had to unload each bag and put it through the scanner, then pick it back up on the other side and load the bags onto the same cart. We showed our passports in a small room as we walked through a small building and then we were “free”. We had just passed through customs without realizing it!

Thankfully the guys helped park our carts by the exit as Tim went to find the people from SIM Kenya who were picking us up! We also had to look at each bag to figure out which baggage tag was missing. The lady even went out of her way to call the number we had of the person picking us up since there were no clear signs indicating arrivals and where people waiting for arrivals should wait. We finally found them and she helped Tim push our carts to the parking lot down the street. The kids and I went last and we finally met Bev Howell, the acting director of SIM Kenya. She came with another Kenyan SIM missionary who was very resourceful, smart, and daring! He carefully lifted our luggages and bins to fill up a large roof rack on top of a Land Cruiser and tied them down with rope. The rest he fitted into the back of his Land Cruiser. Now don’t think this was a cushy vehicle – it was a well used, beat up vehicle that had seen many rough roads. We were able to fit all our belongings, 17 luggages and bins plus two strollers and two car seats, on the top and in the back of this vehicle. We then carefully piled into the second row. We were ready to go, but guess what? The vehicle wouldn’t start! Oh no! We all started laughing! A taxi driver offered to jump start it, but it did not work, so a few guys started to push the vehicle backwards with all of us inside plus all the bags! They got it to start within a couple of seconds as we backed out of our spot! We’d never seen a car jump start while being pushed backwards :-).

God was truly with us and protecting us each step of the way. Through all these obstacles, God was miraculously caring for us. We then drove about 45 minutes to our flat for the time we were in Nairobi. We stayed in the SIM Sudan compound since the SIM Kenya compound was full. It was only a short 10 minute walk away. When we entered the compound our vehicle was too high with the luggages and it wouldn’t clear an 8ft. structure, so they had to carry our bags the rest of the way to our place. We had a two bedroom apartment with a kitchen, 2 baths, living and dining room. Of course there was no air conditioning or heating. The weather was actually very nice, the highest temp was in the mid 70s and the lows were in the low 50s. Nairobi is a large city, very polluted, and they drive on the left, enough said. They have large buses, and matatus (15 passenger minivan) for public transportation and they rule the roads. They have roundabouts instead of stop lights. It was very confusing as everything’s on the wrong side! 🙂

It was already 11am, when we arrived at our place. We were tired more than anything else. They had kindly stocked our kitchen with the basics of coffee, tea (very important in Kenya), peanut butter, jam, sugar, margarine, a loaf of bread, and ramen noodles. We decided to stay home for lunch and go for groceries afterwards.

Daniel Ondere, one of the kindest men we’ve ever met was our guide. He is SIM Kenya’s Field officer and a very humble man. He was very understanding, protective of our kids and thoughtful to our needs as a family. He took us to buy groceries and actually walked the aisles with us showing us where things were. He took Tim to figure out our internet options and to set things up. He took us to a Kenyan restaurant along with Clarice, another SIM staff for our first Kenyan meal. He also arranged for us to visit an elephant orphanage for our kids to enjoy. He was available to us when we needed anything. The first thing he taught us when we walked to the store was how to cross the street. We stopped at the road and he said “look right, don’t look left”. Those were very profound words, because our instinct is always to look to the left first. So that was our first lesson in crossing the street in Nairobi. The first 2 days we used taxis as we were tired and weary of walking on pot-holed dirt roads with no sidewalks. On the third day, we started walking everywhere and realized that things were a lot closer than we thought.

We arrived on a Monday, and that afternoon we just went to Uchumi, the nearest grocery store, to buy some milk and other groceries. That evening, Bev took us out for dinner. We went to Java House, a local Starbucks equivalent, but they serve breakfast , lunch, and dinner, in addition to coffee. It is a place to hangout, and they have free wifi, if you can get on it. We had a good meal and the kids amazingly did very well. Their food is also safe to eat, if you know what I mean.

Tuesday morning we attended a language seminar that is scheduled once a month. Thankfully we were able to make it even though we got there late. It was very informative and amazingly Luke sat through the entire morning with his dad. Kate, however, had to leave at mid session. But I got to meet some new people as we sat and played in a fellowship area. They have chai time daily around 10am and they make chai and coffee, and since today was seminar day, we had some special snacks. We went home to eat lunch and head out to Nakumatt, their local Walmart equivalent, to shop for more stuff and to orient ourselves to what is available in Nairobi. After this, we dropped off our groceries and headed off to Rosé compound, where a lot of the SIM Kenya missionaries live. They had a large grassy area for children to play and a makeshift treehouse. Luke was so excited as there were a bunch of kids playing when we arrived. We got to see some of the missionaries we met earlier in the day and meet some new ones. Luke initially watched, but before too long was running around playing hide and seek and having a great time. Kate also wandered off and before we knew it, Bev was carrying her, and introducing her to the kids. We were able to chat with a few missionaries who had arrived just a month, and a week before us. We were scheduled to have dinner with the Maloneys who lived on the compound, so we headed off to their home around 5:30. They have a 2 year old so we connected really well. We enjoyed the meal and were able to ask a lot of questions. They were very helpful and very eager to help us in any way we needed. The kids played as we talked and had a great time. They drove us home as it is not safe walking after 6:30pm. There are no street lights and accidents are common. It was also drizzling. After we got home and bathed the kids, off we went to bed tired after a looooong day.

Wednesday was our day off. It rained most of the day and it was a perfect day to stay home. We cooked our first meal in Nairobi, did our first load of laundry in a washing machine (thank God!) and hung our clothes on the line to dry. It took more than a day to dry the clothes. We cooked chicken in a broiler that we brought along with rice and broccoli. We all enjoyed it, especially Luke! Our breakfasts had been eggs, corn flakes with milk, oatmeal, or peanut butter sandwich with red plum jam.

Thursday and Friday we had orientation in the morning and were free during the afternoon. We spent some of it familiarizing ourselves with the stores and what was available in them.

Saturday we went to the elephant orphanage where we saw baby and very young elephants feed and play. These gentle creatures were found in the wild and rescued from harm. Their mothers have mostly been killed by poachers. It was a fun time for all especially Luke!

Sunday we went to church then home for lunch. Then we spent the afternoon shopping for Kijabe. We had a wonderful dinner and fellowship with George and Sara Salloum. The kids especially enjoyed playing in their home.

Monday we had more orientation then our fellow missionary Stephanie showed us around Yaya center, another place to hangout and shop, then we walked to meet Fey, another missionary who took Maureen to Toi market. We had a long but good day!

Tuesday morning was prayer time for all missionaries in SIM Kenya. We got to meet the SIM family there and they welcomed all the new comers. SIM Kenya literally doubled its size in the past year, so there are a lot of new faces! After his we went home, kids had naps and then we went to buy stuff to bring to Kijabe.

Wednesday morning we got up and got ready for our trip to Kijabe. It was a nice day and a 25 seater bus arrived at the compound. Tim attached the car seats and after loading all our bags and supplies, there was a lot of room to spare. We left around 12 noon and stopped by Junction to buy more Internet bundles and used the opportunity to treat ourselves with our first KFC meal for lunch! This is the only familiar fast food chain here :-). We arrived in Kijabe at 3:30pm. It was a smooth drive except for one police checkpoint. The scenery was beautiful as we got closer to Kijabe, but the roads gotten bumpier and narrower!

In Christ,

Maureen for Tim, Luke & Kate

A Few More Details . . . About Our Adventures the Past Two Weeks

Dear family and friends,

Asante sana! (thank you so much) for your prayers for our family. Your prayers have brought us safely to Nairobi and through almost a week of orientation. We feel so blessed to have you all praying for us. Our journey was interrupted, but God kept us safe and gave us rest. I (Maureen) want to take a step back and share a few more details about our experiences over the past two weeks . . . for those interested.

We finally ended up with 17 checked bags, plus strollers and car seats. In the end, we had 22 checked items. Our friend Arlin was kind enough to help us transport our bags to the airport a few hours before our flight. We had a smooth check-in process, a total of 30 minutes-a miracle in itself. When we showed up at the counter there was no line, but after we left a line had formed. After we said our goodbyes, we boarded the plane and settled into our seats. We were on a British Airways 747 plane. We chose bulkhead seats thinking Kate might sleep for most of the flight on the baby seat. She did sleep on the seat for an hour, but refused to be put back. The 9 hour flight went well. Luke kept himself busy with the movies, just like his dad. 🙂 We landed at London Heathrow the next morning and looked for our gate connection on the monitors. When we couldn’t find our flight, we asked and found out that it has been canceled due to a fire at the airport.

At this point, we were in shock, tired and sleepy, waiting in line to speak to an agent to hear our options. We were in line with two other believers and started a conversation. They were coming to speak at conferences in Kenya. We were told that we had no options of flying into Kenya since the airport is totally shutdown due to the fire. We later found out that the fire had started 2-3 hours into our flight. British Airways did put us in a hotel and pay for our meals for a day but we had to go back each day to check for a flight and request a voucher for the room and meals.

Because we were forced to stay in London, we then had to go to through customs and immigration and get our bags, etc. Thankfully, British Airways stored our luggage for us during the entire time in London – we did pull out a few bag that we packed for the week of orientation in Nairobi, though. We finally checked into our hotel which was a three minute walk connected to the airport. We then grabbed some lunch and all took a long nap until dinner time – jet lag had caught up with us. The next morning Tim walked over to the airport to check the status – the Nairobi airport was still closed. They gave us another voucher for the hotel and meals, praise the Lord. We decided to make the most of our time in London, so we took the Underground to London to see some sights later that day. We did this for the next three days we were there and in retrospect are thankful for this “forced vacation.” We did have a little trouble with jet lag – especially the kids. The first day we left for London at 5pm, the next day 3pm, and the next 1pm. Even now, we are slowly adjusting our time clock.

In the end, British Airways paid for our hotel and meals except for the last night. We could have taken a different airline a day earlier, but with our number of bags and kids, we decided to stick with a BA direct flight to Nairobi (8 hours). Our flight was an extra flight to relieve the stranded passengers on both sides. We are so thankful that we were not near the airport when the fire occurred and from what we’ve heard, there were no injuries.


Laughing together beside the Tower of London


Phone booth – what’s that?


Last meal . . .


Fish and Chips

We’ve now spent a week in Nairobi and have begun the process of orientation. We’ve had the meetings, been told what we need to know, but will really be orienting ourselves to life in Kenya over the coming weeks and months. In one sense, we’ve gotten used to living here in Nairobi but will be making another transition as we move to Kijabe on the 21st.

God has been good to us. The last few months have not been easy for our family and even the journey here to Kenya was not what we expected. As I look back over the past two weeks, I can see how God has guided and protected my family and know that He is with us now. We will send out additional blogs to share more about our journey. Thank you very much for reading! We’d love to hear from you and feel free to ask any questions as well.

In His grace,

Maureen for Tim, Luke, and Kate

Safe in Nairobi

We arrived safely in Kenya this past Monday morning. Sorry for not posting an entry sooner . . . we’ve not had easily accessible internet access until today.

The night flight went well but none of us really got enough sleep. We were dragging by late afternoon. Tents had been set up at the airport to replace the burned building and the entry process into Kenya went smoothly.

We did have a little trouble managing our bags through the improvised customs scanning area (a mobile scanner in the back of a van) but managed with a little help. A nice customer service rep named Celestine helped us through customs and even called the person who was there to pick us up. With the improvised entry process and location the pickup point was not that clear. With all of our bags (minus one which is still lost) piled in and on top of a land cruiser we were on our way.

We’ll write a bit more later as we work through orientation and find out more about our transition to Kijabe – which should take place next week.

For now, thanks for your prayers and support.

In Christ,

Tim, Maureen, Luke & Kate