Sunday, April 13, 2014

Wasini Island: The Grand Finale

View from the room
Evidence, Tina got up on a board!
Snorkeling haven
Sandbar at high tide, as we were heading back  
We wanted to wrap up the family vacation with a grand finale adventure and a big thank you to the elements and Wasini Island for delivering, tenfold. We caravanned with friends two hours south, then hopped on a boat to our little piece of paradise. Day 1 was spent exploring the island, paddle boarding, and kayaking. Dinner was an interesting experience. The trick to good meals in Kenya is to request local food, I failed to do this, and our western style dinner was so unsavory it has to be documented. After dinner, Evie organized the group to play a round of our favorite game this trip, creatures of the night. It gets intense. Luckily, Leah joined and also encouraged everyone to go to bed early so we all could catch the sandbar in the morning at low tide.

Day 2: After breakfast we loaded up on the boat for snorkeling. Wasini is known for its snorkeling, we were excited to see what the hype was all about. On our way to the drop off point we had some surprise visitors... dolphins!!! Immediately everyone got on their gear and we were off swimming with them. There's something special swimming in the wild with dolphins. It was nice having guides who didn't bother with rules and restrictions, because this family of dolphins wanted to play. They were teasing us the whole time -- they'd swim close, then dive deep and come back for more. Once they were done playing they bailed and we all headed towards the sandbar. The rest of the boat ride we all agreed we could go home, nothing will top the dolphin experience. Oh wait, the snorkeling and crab lunch was excellent.

I'm grateful the trip ended on a high, and even more grateful we could spend three weeks together. I cannot believe the fam is back in Oregon and Kelly is heading off to BYU-H for college. I started planning their trip in January and its already over. We definitely made some great memories to look back on and hopefully the girls' experience will help convince more family and friends to visit (Greg...).

Dolphin Video

Friday, April 11, 2014

Family Adventures Summed up in Pictures

Giraffe Feeding!
We finally got to SEE hippos at Haller Park, on safaris they just peak out of the water every couple minutes
Monsoon knows how to do seafood, lobster anyone?
Tina worked in primary all three Sundays, everyone loved her activities
Niz touring with Ben
The girls first boda boda ride
We picked up lunch at the Motiis burrito stand, set up by the Mombasa tusks 
Swahili doors in Old Town 
Our best beach day

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Happy Rock Center

Warming up for swimming lessons

The family wanted to do a service project while they were here, Tina said it herself, If I wanted a beach vacation I’d go to Hawaii. Good point, Hawaii is a lot closer. So I contacted our friend Carly who has some amazing contacts here and is currently working with youth in Mombasa at the Rapha House KenyaShe recommended the family spend a few days at the Happy Rock Center

I hate to introduce negativity, but the reality is, you have to research volunteer opportunities. Orphanages are popular places for tourists, which means it attracts corruption. I was worried about sending the family off to an orphanage across town, but the Happy Rock Center was one of the most stable and cheerful places I’ve visited. It felt like a big family. Carly took the girls the first day across the ferry to Likoni and they spent the day getting to know all the kids. The next few days we all went. The fam jumped at the opportunities to help with schoolwork, swimming lessons, feeding babies, soccer, etc. We were impressed with the children's experiences and their school's curriculum focused on academics and building character. I should spend this whole post talking about the kids, but I have to dote on Kelly and Nat for a minute. They also impressed me with their ability to find and act on opportunities to help. I showed up thinking, what should I do? Not Kelly and Nat, they were off with the kids and I wouldn’t see them for hours. We had a great experience at Happy Rock, the staff and children are truly special. A big thank you to Carly for introducing us to such a hopeful and loving place. 

The Start of the Stevens in Kenya: Safari

What’s better than a vacation? A family vacation. Tina, Kelly, and Natalie made the long journey and stayed with us for three whole weeks. We found them reasonable flights, which means they sacrificed their time with some long layovers, but they bounced into the Kenyan scene once they arrived. Thanks to the Faibourne’s the girls had a place to stay for five days, before they moved into the apartment below ours. I loved having everyone close by. I enjoyed having breakfast and dinners as a family, quality time is something we are all appreciating more and more as we get older. We'd start our days out early  paddle boarding with Ben, before he went to work, and then us girls would venture out on local Mombasa adventures. I was lucky to get three days off every week and when the weekend arrived we were all ready to party. 

Our first Saturday was memorable because it was the best surfing day we’ve experienced in Kenya. It may have also been great because I didn’t spend time documenting it, we just surfed. Private beach, perfect break, family and the Fairbournes, we couldn't have ask for more.

The family’s first Kenyan adventure was their Tsavo East Safari on Monday and Tuesday. The animals totally spoiled the girls by coming out in herds. March isn't the best time for a safari so I was thrilled to hear they saw huge families of elephants, giraffes, water buffalo, warthogs, and baboons. The safari alone made the journey to Kenya worth it, good thing we still had 2.5 more weeks together.

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Mombasa Burritos

These monkeys were stalking our stand, they wanted to steal all of our food 

Last Friday, Rachael enlisted all of us on the Motiis team to help with her project testing the distribution of new foods. First round of testing, burritos baby! I know burritos seem like a western thing to bring to Kenya but the food itself isn’t foreign, just the presentation. Most people eat rice, beans, and chipati everyday. What is chipati? Essentially, it is a thick, oily tortilla. The only thing we're introducing is wrapping everything up so people can eat on the go. We spent all morning making homemade tortillas (our version of chipatis), cooking the meat, beans, vegetables, making salsa and guacamole. We spent two days at the our stand and received some good feedback. People who were willing to try (emphasis on try) the burritos loved 'em. All of the information we gathered has us back in the office planning the next phases of testing and hopefully more cooking because this project is delicious. 

Monday, February 24, 2014

We Are Almost Ready to Party

Billboard at the Likoni Ferry
Meet Hunter, the man behind Bamba's marketing
Promotion has hit the streets
Sales and Promotion team
The business has launched!... kind of. Who knew launching a company in a second/third-world country would be so hard? The difficultly lies in predicting what will go wrong and let me tell you, you can’t. I think every company has its bumps at the beginning and I’ve heard countless entrepreneurs talk about looong weeks, but nothing prepared me for last week. It felt like a stalled roller coaster. You know it will be a wild ride, but we're stuck waiting, hoping to take off. Ben was busy working his tail off every night and at one point he rolled in at 1 am. Because I am so committed to our marriage and sanity I tried not to pester him until Saturday. How are things going? I anticipated a vent session of complaints, but Ben is obviously in his element. Ready to work hard, sorting out any bumps in the road, and eager to start improving processes. I never thought the start-up, entrepreneurial life would be a reality for us, but we are living that life baby.

One final piece of good news, Bamba has demand. Hunter, our VP of marketing, created an awesome campaign that has Mombasa buzzing. We're waiting on one more piece to this launching puzzle and we’ll be ready for business. 

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

First YW Activity

left to right: Kelsey, Sally, little sister Sherry, Winnie, Eunice, Precious, Khamisi
Part of the afternoon turned into teasing "Tasha can't wheel two full jerry cans" I showed weak I was...
Reading material

Last weekend we had our first young women's activity! The girls typically have an activity 4x a year; compare that to the USA where we have weekly mutual, girls camp, person progress, and who knows how many service projects I felt like we should up that number. We looked at the Sunday roll (Ben is ward clerk so we finally have roles!) and noticed a few girls haven't been around in a while. We decide to make a goodie bag and visit two girls at their homes in the village. The response was much better than I expected. Almost all my young women showed up at the meeting spot in and we were off to both Nelly and Maureen's houses. Who knew an event I budgeted an hour for would turn into 3.5 hours. The visits were about 30 min each but the other 2+ hours we spent walking. Before I moved to Kenya I would have said we went on a trek, but now I know that sounds a bit dramatic. Just hear me out we walked, and walked, and walked. When we arrived at Nelly's the girls presented the goodie bag, and she buried her head and starting tearing up. I could barely keep it together after her sweet reaction. In the States, bringing 3 cookies and a notebook would be seen as a mediocre gift, but after sitting in Nelly's modest mud home it occurred to me that she may not receive many gifts (silly me, why didn't I think of that beforehand?!). In general, I think relationships could be strengthened if we all received thoughtful gifts and actions with as much gratitude as Nelly. She said how much she appreciated us coming and couldn't believe we all came to see her. The ironic thing is we were happy to go on a trek to visit her, it was a great way to get to know one another. I'm looking forward to learning more from the girls and putting on my walking shoes.