Welcome to Canada!

We are here!!! Well, we’ve been here almost 3 weeks now. Whoops, let the blog slip a little bit. But we are indeed in Canada! 
Slowly we are adjusting. We have both experienced culture shock. It is freezing cold here in Castlegar. The sun likes to pop out one day and then, bam, snow dumps the next day. We are amazed at how fast and efficient everything is here. You can get so much done in one day just because everything is so easy. Canadians are terribly kind and generous and we are feeling that big time. Kelvin wonders where all the people are. I think he is getting a bit lonely. He can’t walk down the street and meet people the way he used to in Kenya. There are just no people here (compared to where we came from). Kelvin has been to two hockey games and is already more of an expert in the sport than I am. 
Slowly, we are getting our feet on the ground and creating a little life for ourselves. It won’t be easy but we are up for the challenge. We are still on the hunt for jobs and have tried out a nice little church. We are looking for some new friends that we can call ‘ours’ not just ‘nikole’s’. Kelvin will be starting college in September. He is really looking forward to that. We are missing Kenya alot. Well, maybe I am missing it more than Kelvin at this point. We are missing our friends and youth. We really had a great group of friend and community over there. Now, it feels like we are starting from scratch. 
Kelvin and I both agreed that, for now, this blog will shut down. It will remain on the web but I will not be posting on it for a while. It was a great tool to keep you all informed with how we are doing in Kenya and it helped us promote and gain support for our project. For now, we have decided that we should focus on sharing our personal life with the friends and family around us. In saying that, if you would like to connect at some point, I would love to do coffee or dinner or a skype date! Please just shoot me an email! 
So my love, welcome to Canada, my home country. I pray that our time here is meaningful and fruitful. I pray that we can find purpose and joy in our everyday tasks and that our hearts would grow deeper and deeper in love with each other and our God. 

Two Weeks To Go!

The countdown is officially on. In two weeks today, we will be flying high on our way to Canada. 
I was the hostess with the mostess this past weekend. We decided to do a couple big goodbye get togethers with our fav people. Saturday, all my ladies came to my place for the whole day. They taught me to cook the real biryani swahili style. Most of my girls are true swahili people and make the raddest food around. I observed every step of the process with the hopes that I can make it for Kelvin on those days he is getting a bit homesick. The ladies had way too much fun trying manoeuvre all my ‘american’ kitchen items like the garlic press and stove. The whole day was a complete blast. These girls are some of the coolest people I know. 
A lot of chopping of vegetables. I loved that the recipe was made up of fresh everything – except for the gallons of cooking oil. 
One of the girls says to me, “Let me go stand outside on the balcony so I can know what it feels like to be one of those people who stand on balconies”. Sometimes I forget how poor their community really is.
Blending the spices.

We actually deep fried the onions and potatoes before we added them to the stew. We used an absurd amount of oil. I think I will have to modify that when I cook it myself.

This was me the whole time: taking notes and hovering over people as they cooked.

Food was finally done and we all sat down to eat. My muslim girls just spread the food out on a cookie sheet and at it with their hands. 

I invited some of my friends to come and chat with the girls a little bit about their future plans. Its nice to know that my ladies will have other women to help guide them even when I am gone. They of course loved Ndela, who is a famous musician and a make up artist. Ndela gave them some good make up tips.

The day was such a blast. We ate, laughed, DANCED, and just enjoyed one another. I am going to miss these girls WAY too much. 

Then Sunday came along and we invited all our best friends from church over for the afternoon.

The men took over the living room and talked politics for four hours straight. No joke.
 
Meanwhile, us ladies took over the guest bedroom and giggled our way through the afternoon. 
I have such beautiful friends.

 The men took a small break from politics talk to summon the women to make tea. Ah, yes, we are still in Africa.
A good little african wife I am serving tea to all the men!
It was Kelvin’s birthday the next day so we decided to celebrate with everyone around.
The night ended with a couple of speeches from us where I turned into a teary mess at the thought of not seeing my dearest friends for a long time. So many of them of getting married this year or starting off their careers or planning for children. Makes me sad thinking we are going to miss all of it. Afterwards, Kelvin and I knelt in the middle of the room and all our friends gathered around us in prayer. It was such a beautiful moment to listen to our beloved friends bless us as we start this new chapter in our lives. 

What my mother-in-law brings when she visits

Kelvin’s Mom and twin sisters arrived this morning at our house. This is a BIG thing. Culture says that we are not suppose to stay under the same roof with her because we are married. Due to circumstances,     we have had to sleep under the same roof with her a few times so far. In April we visited her upcountry and, to my surprise, we were not allowed to sleep in the same bed under the same roof. So I slept on the floor with his two sisters and he slept on the couch beside me. We are suppose to build our own little mud hut somewhere else on the property that we stay in when we visit. We don’t have the money (or the will) to do that right now. 

We invited his mom to come to Mombasa for Christmas and stay with us. He had to ask her if she was allowed to stay with us. She agreed and now she is sitting next to me on the couch. 
Let me just say right now how THANKFUL I am for our new apartment that has so much space that I don’t feel totally overcrowded and overwhelmed. I like my space. 
Kelvin’s mom came from the village with a variety of things that my mother would never bring. Here are just a few: 
– a large chicken to eat for Christmas. The chicken is alive. It’s tied up on our porch. 
– 2 smaller chickens to give to Kelvin’s brother who wants to start breeding chickens. They are in a box on the porch. 
– fake hair she bought so that her daughter could braid her hair.
– a whole sack of vegetables from her garden including sweet potatoes, maize, and beans – lots of beans. 
– CD’s and DVD’s of church choirs and gospel artists from her area. She doesn’t have electricity let alone a TV so she never gets to watch them. 
– a VERY small suitcase of clothes (Mom, it is possible to pack light…)
None of this surprised me. I would actually have been a bit sad if she didn’t bring a chicken for Christmas. 
I find Kenyans make pretty easy guests. They are really independent and don’t need a lot of entertaining. Kelvin’s sisters are busy making supper right now (can I get an amen?) while his mom is super content sitting on the couch watching her videos. We can leave them at home all day and they will be fine on their own. Because of the language barrier, we don’t have the most vibrant of conversations but that will come in time. 
All in all, I am grateful for the large pile of sweet potatoes on my floor and having our house full of sweet family.