Our first week
July 13th was a memorable birthday for Sister Horner. It was filled with TENDER “See You Later’s”. It was tender going to our wonderful 12th ward Sunday morning, knowing it would be 18 months before we would be with our ward family again. We drove to Kaysville and stopped by to see Janica and the girls and little baby Chance. (We said our goodbyes to Jared and Cam earlier because they were going to Alaska) We had birthday dinner with Shawn & Amy and family. It pulled at our heart stings to leave our children and grandchildren. How we love our family and friends! The Allen’s were the last to stop by our home. They tried to be sneaky but Elder Horner saw a lot of head lamps out in the driveway and on the sidewalks. Their chalk art notes and visit really lifted our spirits and renewed our tired bodies as there was still some things to do. We needed that wonderful late night visit! Thanks Allen’s!
Monday, July 14th we flew to Nairobi. It felt so right and so good as we left our home for our new adventure. Thanks Harvey and Sherry for breakfast and for chauffeuring us to the airport.
We really slept well on our way to London. This is great because we can hopefully arrive tonight in Kenya with our days and nights straight. A sweet lady who was going back home to Kenya to visit her village approached me as we were going to the train shuttle and asked where the gate was for Nairobi. I told her we were going to Nairobi as well. She said, "I will follow you." She asked if I was going to preach about Jesus Christ. I answered, yes. When we came up the escalator we met up again. I visited with Victoria and found out she lives with a son in North Carolina. She was supposed to meet up with her other son and his family here at the London Airport to go to Kenya for a month. She hadn't seen him for 2 years. She shared how Kenya is very corrupt and told me that we would be blessed and protected. She warned that will steal whatever they can. Then she handed me her watch and asked me to set it at the right time. I could tell she was very trusting of me. She told me how much she loved Jesus Christ and over the next little while I took the opportunity to share the need for the restoration and the story of the prophet Joseph Smith. We read from the front pages of the Book of Mormon and she now has her own copy of the Book of Mormon. I have the name of her village in Kenya and her address in North Carolina. What a sweet lady! She wanted to know how to contact me so I gave her the mission home address. I asked her to teach me about vocabulary and she gave me a quick lesson. Of course she laughed at me as I attempted to say the vowel sounds as she did. It was a pretty sweet experience!
Tuesday July 15th we arrived in Nairobi at 9:15 pm. It took a long time to collect our luggage. We were happy to see Elder Judd waiting for us there. We met up with Sister Judd at the truck. They were a welcome sight. Our initiation to Kenya driving began immediately. We have NEVER seen anything to equal the chaos on the roads here.
We slept at the nest (where the senior couples live in Nairobi) and the following day we went to the office and interviewed with Pres. Hicken. He is a wonderful man! We really enjoyed the interview and the insights he shared with us.
We were asked if we would mind filling in the following day for the Shakespeare’s who were ill. We would meet up with Elder and Sister Gong from the 70’s. They had come to the Mara for safari and wanted to meet some of the Kenya Saints. Someone had to go and we were very fortunate to have this amazing experience. We went with Elder and Sister Jensen who are PR missionaries and brother Betterman to pick up the Gong’s at the airport. The Gong’s are sweet wonderful unassuming people! The first thing we did was go to the giraffe facility. We kissed a giraffe. It was a great experience to see and learn about these majestic animals.
Elder Gong had requested to visit an orphanage. To get to the orphanage we had to travel through the 2nd largest slum in Kenya. We really needed a 4 wheel drive but somehow managed to get to and from safely even though the undercarriage of the van kept dragging in the deep ruts. You can't imagine the roads and the way they drive here. The orphanage is operated by a member of the church. It was a tender experience that is challenging to put into words. We high5’d almost every one of the 64 children. What beautiful smiles and incredible manners! They put on a program for us that demonstrated how important education is to them. We danced with them as we were invited to do so. It was entertaining and enlightening. What incredible voices!
The highlight was having Elder Gong take pictures and actually printing them off right in front of the children. They were absolutely fascinated with this. Sister Gong videoed their songs and the children were thrilled to see and hear their performance as she played it back for them. IT WAS A LIFE CHANGING EXPERIENCE for us! We cannot put into words what we felt there.
That evening there was a program and catered African dinner in honor of Elder and Sister Gong. It was held at the Nairobi Stake Center. The meal was wonderful and the choir is absolutely amazing. This Kenya Mormon Choir will open doors just as the Tabernacle Choir has done. They sang three beautiful songs. Their final song is one that really got us ready for the Lauo Tribe that we have in Kisumu where we are assigned to serve. What a packed day! What an introduction into Kenya culture! We feel like we belong here. We thank Heavenly Father that we were here to experience this amazing day!
Friday, July 17th we left for Kisumu. Elder Horner has had a short driving lesson and driving on the other side of the road will now HAVE to become first nature for him. Elder Horner is our driver to Kisumu.
The countryside was a total shock to us. It reminded us of Costa Rica with the rolling hills and evergreen forests that we had never seen the likes of. The tea fields that went for miles (km) were absolutely gorgeous.
Speed limits are strictly enforced with police stops every few miles. Apparently we were speeding at some point but we still question it. (speed limit was 80 km per hour) We were directed off the road at the police stop and the policeman took Elder Horner’s driver’s license. It was rather frightening. We were SOOOO thankful that the Judd’s were with us. We have President Hicken’s phone number on the back of our missionary badges. He spoke with the officer and convinced him to give us a warning instead $8,000. Shilling fine. (a little more than $80. US)
We safely arrived at our flat in Kisumu. It is unbelievable how at home it feels to us here because nothing here or in the flat is anything like home.
Elder Horner connected with a young man at the Nakumatt store. He asked Elder Horner what he has to do to come to our church. Elder Horner simply invited him to come and gave him the street address.
We have been made to feel so welcome here. We love the Gospel of Jesus Christ and the people here. We are thankful to be part of hastening the Lords work in Kenya.