Tag Archives: africa

Observations of a 6 Month Old Missionary

I want to start this entry by removing the “elephant” in the room (which is only appropriate because I’m in Africa ;) ) and say that the challenges that I’ve faced with my health have definitely created an unusual first few months on the field. Instead of settling in and immersing myself in learning languages and a new culture, I was chasing doctors and trying to get out of pain. That being said, there has been a lot of unplanned events, however God has done great things and taught me a lot. Here’s some humorous pictures to illustrate how I feel followed by what I’ve learned in my first 6th months as a missionary in Africa.

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#1–I confirmed my hatred for bugs…Yes it’s true! I’m a girly girl and while I already couldn’t stand bugs, I’ve confirmed that there is indeed a hatred for them and I’m sure I’ll be asking God one day in Heaven what the purpose of creating them was. The top of my list of questioning is anything that stings, then the newly acquainted bed bugs, closely followed by mosquitoes, safari ants and last by certainly NOT least, cockroaches.

#2—Carpet is now weird to me.
Tonight was the first time in 6 months that my feet touched carpet and it was really REALLY weird! I didn’t even know why I stopped walking and felt weird for a minute or so and then I realized it was because I was on carpet. Everything I’ve walked on has been tile, wood, or rocks.

#3—I have an appreciation for simplicity.
I downsized significantly when we moved to Madagascar. We bought basic things that we would need to live there, but for the most part I had to detach myself from a lot of things and come to terms that it was all just “stuff”. When we came to Kenya for only an intended 8 day trip that then lasted for 10 weeks due to medical reasons, I learned that less is more and I really CAN survive on minimal clothes, no computer, my every day items, etc. We stayed in 10 difference places and being ill in all of that transition was difficult, but certainly not impossible. When we went home to Madagascar at the beginning of July, I was actually overwhelmed with how much I really did have. I sat on the floor in my bedroom more than once and cried because I didn’t know how to decide what to wear. Now that I’m back in Kenya with yet again only one piece of luggage, I’m learning to not hold onto anything I own and it’s freeing in a way. God has continually provided over and over for Stephen and I in our nearly two years of being married and we’ve never lacked in anything from furniture to food. In going through testing, my attachment to material things has changed so much. Just when I think I’m missing out or start to desire things on this Earth, God surprises me with something of more eternal value.

#4–Opportunity is EVERYWHERE!
No matter what difficulty might have been going on personally, people who need Jesus have always surrounded me. This has caused me to continually pour out love. We’ve seen God touch hearts at gas stations, restaurants, hospitals, doctors’ offices and in church services. I just happen to be in Africa, but you don’t have to travel far to bring hope into someone’s life. People need Jesus all around you in everyday situations that you find yourself in.

#5–Being myself is all I need to be.
I stepped into this season feeling uncomfortable in so many ways. I faced leaving all that was near and dear; my hometown, my own background of ministry, my friends and family. I lacked full-time missions experience in comparison to my husband who is a linguistic and is in my opinion a stellar missionary. I compared myself to other missionary women who have raised grown kids, lived overseas for many years, were skilled in sewing, and great cooks. I’m not a Susie Homemaker or from the denomination that I’m currently working for and I felt awkward. To add to this, as a missionary, you’re trying to adapt to a new culture and learn new languages. The art of comparison was a daily challenge and I felt pressured to change who I was. I’m still learning all kinds of new things and I love learning and growing, but I’ve learned most to be content to be who God created me to be. If God wanted to raise me any other way or with any other background and skill set, He would’ve done so. When I operate in insecurity and pressure, I can’t contribute my God-given uniqueness to an environment…and let’s be honest; I will just be really awkward ;) I have my weaknesses, my quirks and shortcomings, but even in this I have to allow God to work on me and through me. If I’m not being true to myself, I’ll fail to represent God rightly to others.

#6—I often miss weird things about home.
The other day I literally daydreamed about donuts…((GAGS))! I can not even tell you the last time that I had one which was 4 or more years ago. There is absolutely no way if I was in the States that I’d get near a donut and be tempted, but literally I desired it the other day. I need help people—keep praying for me! ;) I find that I often miss odd things like that which symbolize home or wish I was home to participate in things that I probably wouldn’t have even done if I was there.

Seriously I’m the type of person that HAS to interact with others. I work better when I am around people. I’ve always thrived in jobs where I was interacting with others. This season of very limited Internet and most of my relationships being thousand of miles away has been more than challenging. I’ve found myself even today completely STARVED for social interactions and upon meeting up with an old friend I just want to chat chat chat. If I come home and talk even more than usual, please extend some grace ;) I’ve been in new culture and foreign languages where I pantomime most of the time…and talk to my sweet patient husband all day. What do I miss most about home? People. What is the best part of every day? People. I guess this just means that I am in the right job to serve and love people :) But really…I need social interactions with peers!

#8–I have my dream job, but it’s not dreamy.
My pictures at the top describe how I feel often. But really, I’ve dreamed of being in Africa since I was a little girl and as a missionary for about a decade. It’s not that I romanticized it entirely, but I have found that I did to a degree. I’ve found that it’s not always easy to be far away from all that was comfortable and facing challenges that you’d never face back home. Yet at the end of the day it is fulfilling, as it’s what I’m supposed to be doing. I cry when I think of lost people around me, when I see them hurting, and when I hear stories that demand a response from God. It’s heartbreaking to continue to see pain and lost people and to know that not all will find salvation and freedom. This is why I know this dream to go to the nations is of God and not something that I dreamed up.

#9–Missions is as much for you as it is for me.
I’m not suggesting that everyone reading this is called to go into full-time missions, but I also don’t want to suggest that I’m specially qualified for this. In fact many of you would have slept more and functioned higher here than I have in this season ;) I’ve realized more than ever that I NEED Jesus absolutely EVERY moment of EVERY day. I’m not anyone who is qualified in a special way or permitted more grace than anyone else to be a missionary. God’s heart beats for missions and because I fell in love with His heart, my heart beats for it too. That’s why I am here in Africa and the same can apply to you wherever you are and whatever you’re doing. As a child of God, you too can be whoever He has called you to be by simply loving Him and obeying Him. If he calls you to move your life overseas and do missions work, you CAN do it! If you’re called to start a business or get a higher education to serve Him with, you CAN do it. There is grace to love Him freely and live for Him rightly even when it’s uncomfortable to our flesh and desires. We are living in a critical hour where MANY need to know of His great love no matter where we find ourselves in this world.

*Lastly, I’d like to say that #10—Steripods are a MUST!…they are little sterilizing non-toxic clips to put on your toothbrush bristles and…amen! No ant, cockroach, gecko etc., will crawl on your toothbrush! It is at the top of my list of things to stock up on in the USA :)

Just for more laughs, since SK is an MK (Missionary kid) here’s another pic
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Vacation to Zanzibar, Tanzania

SK and I went to Zanzibar in mid-July. We had been in Kenya for a long time doing medical appointments and needed a few days getaway to clear our heads. Things were getting tense here with terrorist attacks, so we thought we’d get out of Kenya if we could find something affordable. Not to mention we’d been FREEZING for a couple of months, so all of Kenya’s tourist options nearby weren’t appealing. SK was talking to a friend who happens to live in Zanzibar and he told us to come over and see him. Zanzibar is an island off of the coast of Tanzania and just so happens to be where William and Kate went on their honeymoon! Stephen used to pastor a church in Dar Es Salaam so he would often take the ferry over to Zanzibar on his off days or take guests there. He has a few friends who live there so we decided to check airline prices. We went to a Kenya Airways ticket counter and for $200 less/person, you could fly at inconvenient times for $233/person. We snagged those tickets and flew out the same day! When we arrived, a monkey greeted us :)

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This is what a traditional Zanzibar door looks like. You can buy little doors to take home as decor in the market.

We spent time with some friends, shopped in historic StoneTown, watched sunsets, checked out a couple of beaches, and went snorkeling. Here’s a recap of our trip in pictures and links for your info.

These are the places that we went to eat and our suggestions;

On Saturday we ate at a place called, “6 Degrees South”, which we thought was so clever to use the latitude in their location. You can normally view the ocean from their patio seating, but because it was Ramadan, they had covered the open viewing area as most locals are fasting. Thankfully we were not and got to partake in some yummy meals a few times. There have affordable delicious food and we can recommend the Pilau, passion fruit juice, coconut water out of a coconut, and SK’s favorite–the coconut banana milkshake! We went back one more time before departing.

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What would normally be your view while dining;
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The next day we decided to eat food at this Ethiopian Restaurant
It’s located in Stone Town and an easy walk to the market. We just wouldn’t recommend the chicken. The taste was incredible, but nearly half of the meat was pure fat and you couldn’t chew it. This was my coffee escape…*sighs*


That evening we just ate at the forodhani where they cook in front of you. The chicken shawarmas were incredible!!! Also, we don’t eat gluten, but the Zanzibar Pizzas are quite an experience just to watch and nearly every stand makes them. If nothing else, grab a fresh fruit salad with your pick of fruit. BEWARE–there are a plethora of cats that will swarm your ankles for food!
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The following day we ate at the across from the food stands in Stone Town. Again because it was Ramadan, most places weren’t open during the day and the restaurants didn’t open until usually 7pm. EVERYTHING that I ate here was absolutely incredible! They had a deal where you could get 3 courses, a starter which I had an unforgettable ginger chicken salad, a main course, where I had Swahili Chicken Curry, and the a dessert which was some vanilla ice cream with fruit. I’m not joking when I say that it was one of the best meals that I have ever had! The ambiance is really neat too and on occasion they have live music. We sat inside on the floor on a low table top and cushions. It made for a really pleasant dinner with a local friend of SK’s.

Places we explored;

Because we were only there for 5 days, we spent time with friends and walked through Stone Town most of the time. Our beach explorations could’ve been better planned, so here’s what to learn from us!

On Monday per our friend’s recommendation we drove down to Fumba Beach Lodge. This was a gorgeous and refreshing place to spend some time. They offered us a day pass as they weren’t at full occupancy and just asked that we pay in lunch and drinks. The food wasn’t great, hence why it wasn’t listed in my food recommendations, but the hamburger I had wasn’t bad :) It’s about a 25 minute drive from Stone Town and a great getaway for the day if you want to sit near the pool. The beaches on this side of the island aren’t thick, so there’s not a lot of lying on the beach opportunities.

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On Tuesday we had planned to drive to the northern part of the island. We took a friend of SK’s with us, a local Tanzanian man and then we got pulled over by a cop. SK played dumb like he didn’t know Swahili, but inevitably we were singled out because of having a local with us and we had a long interruption to our day plans. We ended up turning around and heading back south after an hour’s drive because the cops would’ve kept stopping us and asking for bribes. So I quickly looked for signs to point to ANY type of beach view. I saw a sign for, “Sea Cliff”, so we went and checked it out! Saving grace for the day–we again got a day pass and enjoyed this lovely resort. The food here was absolutely terrible, but was “all-inclusive”, SO I drank 2 chocolate milks ;-) It was a bit more pricy at about $35/per person, but again if you love unlimited food and beverages, then it’s worth the price. We just wanted to soak up the beach and since we had free lodging, it wasn’t a bad deal. It’s called Sea Cliff for a reason as it sits on a large cliff overlooking the ocean, so again not much of a beach. There is a small area of sand and a few beach chairs. It’s quite expensive to lodge there and in my opinion, something up North or on the East Coast would be better worth for your money. UNLESS you love to see the sunset, because I’m sure it’s amazing!

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Lastly, on our last day we went snorkeling. We borrowed some equipment from a friend and off we went! Stephen had gone many times around Zanzibar in the past and it’s one of his favorite things to go do. After a close encounter with a barracuda in Dominican Republic 7 years ago, it’s not so much one of my favorite things.

Below are pictures of our time at the Fort and Stone Town. We loved our few days of getting away and enjoying warm weather–its warm year round, so if you’re ever in this part of the world and want a nice place to go–the Kuerts and the Royal William and Kate recommend it!

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After many house of negotiating prices, we’re BOOKED to #Madagascar and #Rwanda in 2 weeks! #lovetravel #africa #instacollage