Thursday, January 14, 2010

Mwangi kuma America

Saturday- Sunday:
We went shopping on Saturday morning at the local supermarket in Nairobi, which surprisingly had more of a selection than I thought it would. Buying food supplies for two months was a tricky task (we buy our fresh produce and some meats locally once a week). At the end of our run through the market we had spent 15,000 shillings (KSH). After that we were driven out to Kijabe by another Mayfield driver, John, who pointed out major sites and important things in Nairobi as we left the city. On the edge of the city is a slum that holds about 1.5million people of Nairobi's 4. Had it not been for John we would not have known where the city ended because there are villages lining the side of the highway almost the whole way from Nairobi to Kijabe, which is a one hour drive.
Kijabe itself is quite picturesque and driving up to it for the first time kind of reminded us of Horn Creek because it has quite a view of the Rift Valley below. We soon found that we are staying at the home of a doctor who is currently on furlough so our housing arrangement is quite spacious and comfortable. After getting settled in we had dinner that night at Steve and Sherri Letchford’s. Sherri is Jodi’s clinical instructor and Steve doctor at the hospital. They filled us in on the do’s and don’t of Kijabe and the hospital. It has been nice having them to ask questions to and to show us around, making sure we are settled in this week.
Sunday morning church we went with the Letchfords to the RVA service up at the missionary school. It was a contemporary service with the students and was comfortable for us because it was like home but it was not very native. Next Sunday we are planning to go to the service where our house worker, Mama Joshua, goes. The rest of the day Sunday it rained so we stayed in doors and relaxed for the first time since being in Africa (this was still hard for Jodi to do).

Monday- Thursday:
On Monday morning Steve hooked us up with Charlie Besley, a Brit, who is the Medical Director at the hospital. Charlie gave us a run down of the history of Kijabe Hospital and clued us in to where we would be working and what type of environment and work to expect. After this we were both on our ways to find our roles in the hospital. Jodi already had a sense of hers and Charlie helped me to find mine by taking me to Kimani, the head of the maintenance department at the hospital.
Jodi’s first couple of days has been an up and down time for her. Jodi has had a hard time adjusting to the type of treatment that they give to people here and she constantly has to remind her self that this is not home and that they do not have all the resources or money that is available at home (However, Kijabe hospital is at the top level available in Kenya and some people come from over 150km away just to receive decent treatment). Jodi has also had a tough time dealing with her Kenyan trained co-workers who have two years of schooling after high school compared to her seven. So if you could pray for her to have understanding and patience while she works her she would greatly appreciate it. Despite these frustrating issues, she is really having a good time overall. She loves working with her clinical instructor Sherri. The two of them are practically the same person, the only difference being that Sherri is from Texas. Jodi also enjoys being able to help and treat the people who come to the hospital, giving them care that they typically might not receive. As far as working with her PT colleagues (minus Sherri), she takes every opportunity to teach them something new or make them think about how they are treating people in a different way so that the patients might receive better care even when she is gone.
My experience so far has been a great one! I was quickly accepted by the maintenance guys at the hospital, who are mostly Kikuyu and all Kenyan. Partly because of the tools that I brought and partly because of the some basic knowledge about fixing things I displayed, I am now a fundi (pronounced foon.dee and means handyman) to them. On Monday I was put to work with two Kikuyu men, one named Tosha and the other Gerald. We went spent the day fixing two leaky roofs, so right away I felt at home and comfortable. Gerald asked many questions about me and America, and honestly we probably spent the day getting to know each other more than we did working. Gerald decided that Runge was too hard for him to pronounce so he gave me the Kikuyu name Mwangi. Now all of the maintenance, security and some of the hospital staff know me as Mwangi kuma America and because the maintenance guys have been teaching me Kikuyu (which is the local tribal language) everyone is friendly and shocked when I first greet them. Honestly, we have not got as much work done as we have been visiting and teaching each other about our cultures and they teaching me their language but I am really enjoying myself. I have been asked to do two things in the past days which I have never done before. Yesterday, Kimani, told me that I would be designing a roof for a new staff housing building. I guess that he assumes that because I am a roofer that designing one will be no problem. Although installing a new roof would be no problem I’m not sure designing one would really suit me (or them) so we will see where this one goes. And today one of the older maintenance men, Stephen, asked me to give a word (which means preach about something from the Bible) tomorrow at the devotional in the morning. I told him that I would come up with something to talk about for a short while… so we will see where that takes me also!
Overall we are having a great time here in Africa. Bwana asifiwe! (Praise the Lord!)
Thank you for all of your thought and prayers. We should be in more frequent contact from here on out now that we have the internet at our place.

Brian and Jodi


  1. How do I pronounce "Mwangi?" I want to be sure to practice now so I'll be ready when you return!

  2. LOVE IT!!! I've had a huge smile on my face the whole time reading all the detail and descriptions...thanks Brian Mr. Funny Guy!
    I crack up that Jodi has a hard time just relaxing one afternoon! Hmmm...who else do we know like that??? You two are EXACTLY where God wants be a blessing and be blessed and learn all that He has for you there! SO GREAT! Keep up the great work! We are praying!
    Lynda for all of us