This Is No Holiday

We’ve been on the road for a month now and the biggest thing people say to us is ‘How’s your holiday going?’

This is no holiday, trust me.

Sure, we’re away from home for 8 weeks, so yes, it counts as an extended period of time. The recreation side of things is another thing all together.

The reason we came to New Zealand - the wedding of Hannah and Luke.

The reason we came to New Zealand – the wedding of Hannah and Luke.

The great thing is to catch up with many of the partners in our work, family and friends. We hadn’t planned to come away this year but our youngest daughter is about to be married, so we were coming.

If you’re spending $6,000 on flights, you certainly wouldn’t come for a couple of weeks.

Each weekend, we are in Auckland with our daughter and during the week we are visiting around the country. December is the worst time of year to fundraise so booking in group meetings is not just going to happen.

Ross & Beryl Shadbolt - Pete lived with them before we got married.

Ross & Beryl Shadbolt – Pete lived with them before we got married.

Weekends are full of shopping for clothes for the wedding, decorations for the wedding, going through the ceremony ideas for the wedding. Now we are getting closer it’s shopping for the household stuff and moving furniture into the apartment.

Since we are living off people’s donations, we have very little that we can financially contribute. However, we can offer practical help and advice.

As soon as Monday comes around we jump into the little Toyata we’ve been generously lent by the in-laws. Thankfully, we’ve been lent a fuel card for the month, so our petrol has been covered.

Pohutakawa trees. NZ is the only place you can see them.

Pohutakawa trees. NZ is the only place you can see them.

In some places we have back to back meetings, up to three a day. On Thursday we’ve squashed in 4. Today was the only day we haven’t had meetups with people or travelled.

No wonder we are tired, really tired.

Sleep when/where you can.

Sleep when/where you can.

What most people don’t realise is that this is part of work. Sure, we get to sleep in later but each day you’re telling people about what is happening in your part of the world. There’s still blogs to write, websites to update, fundraising campaigns to get going, emails to answer.

This is what they call ‘furlough’.

Liz with Don McDonell, someone who we've known for 20 years.

Liz with Don McDonell, someone who we’ve known for 20 years.

It’s not a holiday it’s a necessary part of keeping in touch with donors and putting a face to where their money goes. It reminds them that you are more than someone on a social networking site. You are human and you are grateful for their sacrifice.

Pete getting to see his ailing father.

Pete getting to see his ailing father.

It’s quite hard to let them know of the ever growing financial needs and the shrinking budget. You don’t want to seem ungrateful and that you need more. But that is the reality. The cost of living in East Africa is skyrocketing, while the income diminishes. Donors move to other countries, some just stop, others forget.

You also have to buy clothes and tools for the next 2 years. Pretty much everything is twice the price in Kenya so you have to outlay for what you will need. There are some things you just can’t get back home. For example, I bought a wooden clock for teaching time to kids – it cost a whopping $5. I’ve also got counters for using with a bingo game and Pete has picked up some chainsaw files. No point in having a chainsaw if you can’t sharpen it!

Speaking at the Tokoroa Elim Church about our work.

Speaking at the Tokoroa Elim Church about our work.

On the flip side though, catching up with people we haven’t seen, some for 15 years, is fantastic. We’ve eaten way too much food, stayed up too late too often and had time to hear what others have been up to.

Kevin & Jan Ahern shouting us out to a BIG breakfast.

Kevin & Jan Ahern shouting us out to a BIG breakfast.

So although it’s not a holiday – it’s still been lots of fun.

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East to West

We’ve been in ‘the West’ for two weeks now. Kenya isn’t ‘the East’ but it is in that direction.

There is A LOT of freedom here than back in Nairobi. We haven’t locked our car doors when we get in. I’ve even put my handbag on my knee when travelling. You don’t get security checked at the shopping malls and can do uturns without worrying about getting pulled up by the police.

Butterfly House in Singapore

Butterfly House in Singapore

Pete is super excited because the roads have overhead lights, white lines on the road AND reflectors down the middle of the road. It makes driving at night really easy. The fact that there are hardly any cars on the road in comparison to Nairobi also makes a difference. Sometimes sitting at traffic lights is a pain but it sure makes everything run smoothly.

I’ve even worn my jandals/thongs/flipflops for 4 days in a row. In Kenya I get hassled because they should either be worn in the shower or around the house. Here in New Zealand it’s just what you do. The weather has been exceptional, much warmer than what we ever thought it would be. There’s nothing like kicking off your jandals and putting your toes in nice warm sand.

Pete with the sunflowers at the airport.

Pete with the sunflowers at the airport.

However, it’s not all wonderful. We knew it was going to be expensive to eat out here, but didn’t realise how much it would really be. In Nairobi we buy a bottle of water or Coke for around 60 cents, as apposed to $3.50 for the same item here. There is way more variety of gluten free food here and it is half the price of what we pay for back home.

We’re really lucky to have the use of our soon-to-be son-in-laws car, which saves us getting around on buses. Petrol is $2.07per litre in Tauranga, in Nairobi it was $1.36 – go figure that one!

Mt Maunganui

Mt Maunganui

The biggest difference so far is how moist it is here. I didn’t realise how dry it was in Kenya until we left. Sure, we are much closer to the ocean but overall it is less dry and very green. It might not seem much to you but you definitely feel the difference.

The fact that the houses have large windows, there’s very few gated communities and we even left the laundry out one night and it didn’t get stolen – all these still shock us.

Native plant of New Zealand

Native plant of New Zealand

Even though it’s been a couple of weeks we still can’t believe how light it is at 8.30 at night. In Nairobi it starts getting dark at 6.50pm and then it’s pitch dark by 7pm. That happens 365 days a year. We had these ideas of going for a walk at night because that’s one thing we miss but we are so busy visiting people it just hasn’t happened yet. We did get to put our toes in the freezing cold ocean once, here’s hoping for more.

Basically what we’re experiencing is reverse culture shock. When people come to Kenya they struggle with the differences, meanwhile we embrace them when we return to our ‘other home’. We know it’s only for a few more weeks but we are enjoying the variety of food, the green grass and the options of freedom. Yes we do miss the familiarity of our new homeland and the special friendships we have made there but also know to make the most of each moment here. flowers