Thanksgiving in Kenya

As each American holiday approaches Chris and I have the same conversation, which includes the tough decision of whether or not to acknowledge the upcoming occasion or to just let it pass in hopes of our kids not remembering.  If we choose to celebrate, our options are limited since there aren't any organized community activities, related television shows, decorations and such.  Of course, we can make our own decorations and create our own fun, but is all the effort worth it?  Sometimes the answer is "yes" and other times the answer is "no".

This year, the decision to celebrate Thanksgiving was made for us!  

The two yellowish buildings on the right are called The Nyayo House
and are home to the Kenyan Department of Immigrations. 
The Tuesday before Thanksgiving we left Mikinduri and headed to Nairobi in hopes of (finally) obtaining the 3-year work permits that we've been trying for months to secure.  On the way to the big city we talked about what else we might want to do there, but agreed that our business at the immigration office trumped everything. 

All praise be to God, on Wednesday afternoon we had our legal papers in hand!  When Vivian, the immigration agent, gave us our documents we danced around, jumped up and down, and yelped (quietly) for joy.  She couldn't stop laughing and smiling.  She said that most people just take their envelopes and go...imagine that!!  After leaving Vivian's office we flooded heaven with prayers of thanksgiving for always providing for us.  Our hearts overflowed with gratitude and we excitedly shared those feelings of appreciation with one another.  As we walked back to the truck we spontaneously began recalling the countless occasions when the Lord has provided for us in such incredible ways.  Did we need to celebrate Thanksgiving the next day or was it enough to just embrace this moment?  It's so hard to know when to detach from our American traditions, and when to hang on.  We want to enter fully into this culture, but we also don't want our kids to lose their identity as Americans.  We decided to wait until Thursday to see how everyone was feeling. 

This is our friend Agnes, her daughter Juliette,
and son Delight.  We've been blessed to be able to
spend time with them during our visits to Nairobi.
Early the next morning the phone rang.  When I answered, a chipper voice said,

"Happy Thanksgiving!  It's your Thanksgiving, right?"  

I was amazed and humbled by my friend's thoughtfulness.  She lovingly insisted that our family go to her home that evening for a delicious Thanksgiving feast that her family was eager to prepare.  They'd heard about Thanksgiving and had even seen it celebrated in movies, but this would be their first opportunity to experience it themselves.

We were SO honored and graciously accepted their invitation.    A few hours later we were looping around the huge interchange and heading out to Kikuyu County on the Southern Bypass, one of Nairobi's largest expressways.

Kikuyu County is home to the Kikuyu tribe, which is centrally located.

They occupy the area just north of the capital city of Nairobi, as you can see on this map.

The landscape of Kikuyu County is hilly and a bit dry.  It has been divided into private parcels that people refer to as their "compound" or "homestead". 

This is an example of a typical homestead that is well established with crops, irrigation, composting, and livestock.

After exiting the expressway we turned this way and that on the bumpiest of roads.

Finally, we arrived at Agnes' family's compound.  She, her husband, and two children lived in Nairobi for many years, but recently decided to move back to the village in Kikuyu.  They built this beautiful home and have begun establishing their compound.  They've planted vegetables and fruit trees; created a suitable water system, and built an enclosure for the chickens and rabbits which are a sustainable food source.  In the years to come I anticipate them adding other livestock and increasing the size of their gardens.

When we arrived Agnes and her family were hard at work preparing a delicious Kenyan feast of chicken stew, mixed vegetables, chapati, and potatoes.

Anna jumped right in and helped Juliette make chapati (flat bread).

I was put in charge of making the mango juice and chopping up the veggies, which is my forte.

When everything was finally ready it was displayed on the table.  Agnes was SO happy to be able to provide us with such an amazing feast and our hearts overflowed with thanksgiving for her love and gracious hospitality!!

All praise be to God, we had an incredible Thanksgiving that was a perfect blend of our American tradition and the Kenyan culture.  Yet again, the Lord has blessed us in abundance.  He constantly provides for us in ways that far exceed our little imaginations and fills our hearts with confidence that He will continue to do so in the days, months and years to come.  

We hope and pray that you also had a blessed Thanksgiving.
Peace, joy and love!

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Thank you and God Bless!

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