Sunday, September 18, 2011

Adventures in African Travel

This past week we enjoyed a retreat with Samaritan's Purse on the Kenyan coast.  Samaritan's Purse field staff from all over Africa joined together for a week of worship, learning, rest and recreation.  It was fun to be reunited with our fellow post-residents to find out how they were doing and to just encourage one another. 

At the end of the retreat all the post residents (including the 12 children) headed to the airport at 11:45am for our 1 hour flight back to Nairobi.  The drive from the coast to Kijabe is about 8 hours so we were thankful that we were able to fly there and back.  But of course, life in Africa is always an adventure and this day was no exception.  When we arrived at the tiny Malindi airport we learned that the plane was running late so there would be a one hour delay.  But when the little prop plane did arrive, it had some mechanical problems - apparently a light came on about a problem with the landing gear.  So we spent four hours in that little airport dining on rationed Pringles and ice cream bars.  Our oldest son added LOTS of coins to his foreign coin collection.  Apparently, an airport full of missionaries from all over Africa is a great place for a numismatist.  It was a relief to be stranded there with patient friends who read to the kids, shared their candy and kept Mom and Dad from going crazy in that tiny room!  

So, we did finally board our flight and had an uneventful hour trip back to Nairobi.  Our bags arrived and our driver was waiting for us when we came out of the airport and he navigated us through the evening Nairobi traffic quite easily to take us to the office compound where our car was parked.  All that was left was the one hour drive to Kijabe - so we thought!

But when we asked the guard at the office for the car keys we had left when we dropped off our car, he said he didn't have them and that they were probably locked inside the office.  After several phone calls, we were able to track down someone who was going to send someone to unlock the office.  An hour and a half later that person arrived and found our keys for us.  

While trying to get out the ridiculously narrow gate at the office parking lot, Erik was having to do a lot of backing and pulling forward and at one point one of the back tires went into a drainage trench and we got stuck.  Once we get pushed out of the trench, we were on our way!

We do everything we can to avoid driving in Nairobi and on the Kenyan highways after dark, but on this night we didn't have many other options so we prayed for God's protection and headed off.  Traffic was a little messy in Nairobi, but we finally got out of it and it seemed to be smooth sailing - until it wasn't!  We came to a sudden stop where cars were not moving at all.  We never did find out what the problem was or even where it was, but mysteriously after about 30 minutes of no movement, it all just broke up and suddenly we were all moving as if nothing had ever happened.  

We did make it home and our wonderful friends who were staying at our house while we were gone had made dinner for us so we were able to eat a great meal before crashing for the night!  Unfortunately, after all the adventures of our return trip, I'd completely forgotten that I'd just had a week of renewal and relaxation!

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