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Bruce and Kate Dahlman, serving with Africa Inland Mission
November 14, 2015 6:38 pm
Published in: Ugali

Fixer Upper

Those of you who know me well know that I am a huge fan of “HGTV” when in the U.S.  My favorite shows have included “House Hunters International”, “Beachfront Bargain Hunt” (my dream, someday), and my current favorite of this past year, “Fixer Upper”.

So, as you can imagine, I’ve been looking forward to FIXING UP our new (to us) living space here at Kabarak University. The apartment we’ve been assigned is large and spacious, with three bedrooms and two full bathrooms (lots of room for visitors).

There’s also the cozy kitchen that Bruce had already “Fixer/Upper’d” for me, prior to my arrival: new floor tile (to replace the cracked, moldy linoleum) and the installation of upper storage cabinets (where previously there had been only the blank, white wall).



So now, it’s my turn. Even though basic beds, table & chairs, and a few “well-loved” couches for the living room have been graciously provided, we will need to furnish/purchase everything else:

  • all kitchen appliances, dishes, pots & pans;
  • all bedroom furnishings, towels, sheets;
  • all rugs, curtains, end tables, office equipment;
  • all the pictures, all the “doodads”

Everything that is necessary to fix this place up and make it our own.

Fortunately, there’s a “Nakumatt” (Kenya’s equivalent to “Target”) in Nakuru, 22 kms (about 30 minutes) away from the Kabarak campus. And, unlike the former Kijabe-to-Nairobi “on high alert” drive we used to make, the road from here to town is actually quite relaxing and pleasant:

First, there are the lush eucalyptus border trees between which one drives as the road winds past the Kabarak Guesthouse and the long, gated driveway leading to former President Moi’s home/estate (note: “His Excellency, Mzee” is the financial Patron and Chancellor of Kabarak University).




Next, the road morphs into “Acacia Alley” for a few kilometers. These quintessential African thorn trees spread their horizontal branches wide, providing shade for the occasional herd of cows, sheep, or goats grazing lazily beneath them, under the (hopefully) watchful eyes of their youthful handlers, who are armed only with long sticks to keep their flocks from bolting across the road (they are not always successful, I might add).




After that, it’s time to slow down (for the speed bumps, of course; there are 15 in all) as I reach the little village of Kiamunyi, where the “Camp David Suites” apartment building features prominently on the edge of town, next to the “Mama Brains” shop (someday when I’m a brave, I’ll have to stop and find out what kinds of “things” she sells in there).





Next is the village of Canaan (pronounced “Cah-nahn”) where I pass the “Promise Cereal’s Store”, adjacent to “Bethel Cakes and Snacks”.  At the edge of this village is the “Mustard School”, actually the “Mustard Seed” school, but I didn’t catch that until my fourth or fifth time past it. Here is where the view opens up dramatically over Nakuru town, the Rift Valley, and Lake Nakuru beyond (site of Nakuru National Park); all majestically framed by the Mau Escarpment in the distance.




It was during one of these peaceful “to-and-fro” drives last week that I once again became aware of a feeling that has occurred almost each and every time I have returned to Kenya, especially after a prolonged absence:

I am happier here. This is where I’m supposed to be; this is where I belong.

As in the past, this startling, bolt-from-the-blue realization seems to bubble up from somewhere deep inside and into my conscious thought, happening unexpectedly, taking me by surprise.

I am happier here.

Even with

  • the start of the El Nino rains, which I know will bring its own challenges, including a new crop of “superbugs” (see “It’s a Bug’s Life”);
  • the newly-installed-but-has-never-worked instant hot water heater for the kitchen sink;
  • the microwave (also new) which “flamed out” a few days ago;
  • the giant cockroach living under our living room cabinet (spotted in the early mornings);
  • the shower in our bathroom, which is more of a “sprinkle” and not really sufficient for washing one’s hair (but somehow is leaking into the wall and down into the apartment beneath us, as we were informed today);

 This is where I’m supposed to be.

 And even though

  • I got extremely irritated with Bruce a few days ago for leaving an important document (necessary for obtaining new work permits) back home in the U.S….
  • …until he pointed out (gently, I might add) that I too had forgotten to pack my very own same important document (which I had thought I had packed…)

“Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention

to the plank in your own eye?” Matt. 7:3


 Apparently, it’s not only the apartment that needs some “Fixer/Upper”ing around here…seems like somebody’s attitude could also use a bit of an adjustment.

“God resists the proud; but gives grace to the humble” (James 4:6).



Attitudes that are vital to my very existence here.

Because I know, from past experience, that there will be many times in the coming weeks and months when humbleness and grace will be the only things that will see me through

  • the cultural “faux pas” which are sure to occur…
  • the misunderstandings/miscommunications with our own fellow missionaries;
  • the frustrations with Kenyan politics, Kenyan rules, Kenyan traffic and roads
  • the frequent, regular power outages and water scarcities

So, here I am, Lord.  Have at it: have Your way with me, as you gently and graciously work to fix me up, so that I might, through your power, become more like You.

Because… this is where I belong.


FIX your eyes upon Jesus…. (Hebrews 12:2)

…and humble yourself under God’s mighty hand,

that He may lift you UP (1 Peter 5:6)



November 1, 2015 3:04 am
Published in: Good

We arrived in Kenya two nights ago. The jet lag arrived today.

It’s finally caught up with me; just like I knew it would.

Whole-body weariness, the kind that settles on you like an oppressive blanket, enveloping you not with a sense of warmth or comfort, but rather heaviness and subjugation, leaving one powerless in its mind-numbing grip.

I do not do well with jet lag.

I am not like some (i.e., Bruce) who are able to push through/ignore jet lag and keep to a normal schedule of the day, the idea being to force the body to adapt quicker to the new time zone.

This has never worked for me. Even if I do manage to stay up until 9 or 10 at night, I will most assuredly find myself wide-awake and raring to go at 1:30 or 2 a.m. the next morning, my brain on Minnesota time, eight hours behind the Kenya clock.

Maybe a week, maybe ten days, before the “lag” catches up with the “jet”.

The two long flights themselves were fine: on time and uneventful, just the way we like them. Economy-class-cramped, crowded with every seat taken (who are all these people flying to Nairobi on a non-holiday, ordinary Thursday morning?), and the sometimes less-than-appetizing airplane food aside, I still marvel that one can be half-way around the world, 8,000 miles away from home, in less than 24 hours.

Including the four-hour layover at the lovely Schiphol (Amsterdam) airport, always a treat. A major airport renovation was happening there, resulting in many shops being closed or covered in plastic; my favorite restaurant’s “giant teacup” tables (see pic below from a previous trip) were also missing, which was a bit disappointing.


Still, nothing beats a warm Dutch chocolate croissant and strong cup of Starbucks to perk one up at 5:30 a.m. after an eight-hour overnight, mostly sleepless flight across the ocean, illuminated this time by a full moon in a cloudless sky, Orion shining brightly through the window.

And it hits me, once again, that this is my life. This is the life that I get to live. Me, a small town Iowa farmer’s daughter, introverted and cautious, not an adventure seeker in any way but someone who married the extrovert with the big dreams, and has an even bigger God, who has made it all happen for us over these past 20+ years.

If I rise on the wings of the dawn, if I settle on the far side of the sea….” (Ps. 139:9)

Here we go, once again. Moving back to Kenya with four trunks and two suitcases (plus carryons) crammed to the hilt (and bang on 50 pounds each, the allowed limit, thanks to ultra-packer-extraordinaire Bruce) with

  • clothes
  • shoes
  • books
  • DVDs
  • food
  • kitchen gadgets
  • more clothes
  • more books
  • and whatever-else-other-random-thing-Kate-thinks-she-needs

for our two-year commitment to teach and mentor Christian doctors and nursing students at Kabarak University.

“…even there Your hand will guide me, Your right hand will hold me fast” (Ps. 139: 10).

God is here.

Even as I deal with jet lag and bittersweet feelings of loss for my precious U.S. family and life, I feel it: His presence, His eye on me like a steady beam of light, full of love and assurance, for me, as I lay awake through the early morning hours under the mosquito net, pondering the “what ifs” and “what will be’s” of our once-again new life in Kenya.

As I once again listen to the gentle Swahili cadences of the early morning workers arriving to fix our breakfast; as I once again learn how to “ballet-dance” drive, weave, and bob in and out of the heart-stopping traffic through the ever-more-congested city streets; and as I once again get to walk beneath the willowy jacaranda trees fast dropping their luscious purple petals, carpeting the sidewalks and roads.



As I once again begin to fall in love with this country and its people who have been such a big part of my life and who are so dear to my heart.

“Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, nor have entered into the heart of man
the things which God has prepared for those who love Him”
(1 Cor. 2:9).

 He is here.  God with us.  Immanuel.

And He has prepared the way.  It is He who is here through the jet lag, as I fix my mind on Him during these sleepless wee hours of the night.  And it is He who will guide us, and hold us fast, as we step out in faith here in Africa, once again.