Thank you, thank you very much (Elvis)

In October last year Pete, Liz and I left our home, our family and friends and our youngest daughter to move to Nairobi, Kenya.

Note that I said moved and not just to visit.

There is a huge difference from going somewhere for a couple of months each year to actually packing up and relocating. Sure, people will put up with your habits, idiosyncrasies and weird ways of doing things. Give it 6 months and they may want to quit before you do!

There are days when it is really satisfying, especially when you can help one of the local leaders do their job better, or when a teenager who never talks to you comes up and says ‘Thanks, keep on doing what you’re doing, it’s great’. Other days suck to the max.

You get over every second guy on the street yelling out ‘Muzungu’ (yes I do actually know that I’m white but thanks for pointing it out anyway). Or the traffic is so bad it makes you want to beg the next driver to do you a favour and run you over. Or you just want to be with old friends but know that YOU’VE made the choice to leave them.

Moving country, especially to a developing one, is not for the faint hearted. I think I’ve discovered more about myself than anything else in the 7 months we’ve been in Kenya. I don’t always like what I see, but I hope it’s a passing phase.

Sometimes we just want to escape Nairobi and get away from it all. We do that by going to look at potential water projects out of town. That may mean driving to another country but it’s worth it. Personally, I’m looking forward to going to Tanzania later in the year. It’s only about a 5 hour drive (okay, add another hour at the border) but that’s nothing. We’ve a number of friends there doing stuff like schools and training programs and I think I’m going to enjoy just being with them for a few days.

While you can’t always escape a situation, you can always do something really out there. For me, it means having a latte. Sure, you can mock, but I’ve never been into coffee so to go and actually pay for one and drink it is a huge thing. Pete and I have found it a way of doing cheap therapy. Mind you, there’s this really nice gluten free brownie that is phenomenal.

Amongst it all, I am truly grateful for what we have right now. We have electricity, which is a bonus, especially since it’s been off for most of the last 3 days. Today, we got curtains for two of the bedrooms. It’s got to beat having a blanket up there. Last week, a very generous business offered us the funds for a car – that is absolutely huge. I love it when I get Facebook messages, text messages or emails from people to let me know they haven’t forgotten we exist.

Thankfulness is a real key to being in a place like Africa. You get to rejoice in the little things – like having access to a flushing toilet or a car that someone lends you. But it’s also being thankful when things don’t go your way. The Bible says to give thanks IN everything, not necessarily for it. I’m not overjoyed when I know that some of the kids in the child sponsorship program are struggling with alcoholic parents, aren’t making it in school or may be married off in their mid teens. But I am thankful that they can actually go to school and get a chance to make their future different.

So, I can sit and whinge that there’s no electricity to cook Pete a nice roast meal, or I can get over myself and get the gas going and put it in a frying pan.


Yes, this is sometimes us.

I have a slave

Well, that’s what Hannah calls it. In reality, it’s an employee whose job it is to cook, clean and do the laundry, her name is Mariam.

Over here in Kenya, most people have some form of house help. When you have a baby you hire an ayah, someone to take care of your child. They usually live in your house and may or may not have their own child.

Some people have more than one employee in their care. They may have a gardener, a child minder, a cook and a cleaner. They may even have a driver or someone to do all the errands and pay the bills.

Our home help comes with the house we are renting from friends. Normally we wouldn’t bother, but we also want to keep her employed until they return from overseas.

I must admit it’s really convenient. I do a meal plan for the week (Monday to Friday), get the groceries and let her know if there’s anything special to be done. Because I work around 60 – 70 hours a week it’s nice to know that I don’t have to squeeze in making dinner or doing the laundry. We even get our clothes ironed, which Pete thinks is fantastic as he has to do his own ironing in the past.

Every day I come home and it’s both clean and tidy. Straight after dinner I am usually tutoring a young man so it’s not like I can have a relaxing evening in front of the TV. We simply rinse the dishes and leave them for Mariam for the morning.

In a few months we move out to our own place. Pete asked me today if I would consider getting a person in to do a few hours a day. I’d love to say yes, but to find someone for 3 hours is just about impossible. Here’s hoping it becomes a possibility!

Slavery was outlawed centuries ago, but in many countries it still happens. All employees should be paid fairly, treated well and given an opportunity to prove themselves.

Our home help is so great to have around not just because of the work we do, but her cheerful nature that she brings into the house each day. Some people have difficulty finding ideal staff, so we are super lucky indeed.

I’m glad we can help someone keep their kids in school and a roof over their head. We win, they win.

Despite what my youngest child thinks, we don’t have a slave, we have a short term member of the Crean Team. While it takes a whole village to raise a child, it takes a whole team to keep the Wild Creanberries alive and well.

My Butt is Numb

We’ve been slowly selling off our belongings, most for only a few dollars. It’s quite depressing to know that you’re virtually getting nothing for something you slaved your guts out to save for.
Tonight, someone bought our 2 and 3 seater couch for $30. After sitting on the floor for the last 20 minutes my butt is numb already. The next 5 days before we move out will be a bit uncomfortable, especially since I’m still doing all my admin work from home.


It kind of reminds me of how we have got used to being comfortable in Sydney and how cruisey it can get. Not that there’s anything wrong with comfort, I highly recommend it! We live a 4 minute walk from the beach, a 30 minute bus ride to the city, a supermarket 2 minutes from our house and stacks of cafes to choose from should we want a quick caffeine fix.

Living in Nairobi, while we will have a great place to live and the mall just up the road, will be uncomfortable in some ways. If locals want to rip us off, all they have to do is speak in Swahili and we wouldn’t know any different. We can’t earn money on our particular visa, so will be living frugally as possible. While there are eftpos machines, at most places you can’t use a credit card. A majority of the roads are unsealed so you often feel like you’re in a milkshake machine. We have to make a whole lot of new friends because we only know about 5 people in total.


So, we can either shrink back and say it’s all a bit much, or we can take the challenge head on and see what happens. As Pete just said ‘If it all fails, what have we got to lose?’


But what happens if we succeed?

High School Musical Was Right

When our girls were in their mid teens it was the same time as the hype of the High School Musical trilogy. Hannah still would love to marry Zac Efron, that I am sure of.

The song they used throughout all their movies was the one that had the line ‘we’re all in this together’. Besides the fact that it’s the type of song that annoyingly stays in your head, the lyrics are cheesily good:

Here and now its time for celebration
I finally figured it out
That all our dreams have no limitations
That’s what its all about

Everyone is special in their own way
We make each other strong (we make each other strong)
Were not the same
Were different in a good way
Together’s where we belong

We’re all in this together
Once we know
That we are
We’re all stars
And we see that
We’re all in this together
And it shows
When we stand
Hand in hand
Make our dreams come true

As believers, we follow the God who gives us dreams, but we also need to be knitted into a community of faith, and we find our strength in that community. Like it or not, no man is an island, and the Church is here to stay.

For us moving to Kenya has not been something we can do on our own. We’re working extra long hours to make money for the extra costs of shipping gear and paying huge amounts on insurance. We’re having endless coffees and meals with friends to tell them what a worthy cause this is to invest into. Then there’s the visiting of friends churches, friends of friends and incidental meetings with strangers. We literally don’t make a move without consulting the communal calendar to fit everything in.

Some times it all gets a bit much and even though there’s eleven weeks to go there is no breathing space.

That’s why it’s good just to have a laugh with friends, watch a mindless movie (or the Olympics at this stage), drive out of town to catch up with people we haven’t seen for years, and eat chocolate!

While our whole family is all in this together, our larger family are too. That family extends across several parts of the world and we are thankful for their encouragement. All I can say is KEEP IT COMING!

It’s all good

We have a friend, Dave Edwards, who, no matter what is going down, will say ‘it’s all good’. It’s become an ingrained part of our travel conversations, especially when you’re faced with a challenging situation, like when you’re on a 7 hour bus ride which is like being in a milkshake container.

Dave looks like he’s leftover from the hippie days and is so casual about life that it’s hilarious, nothing seems to throw him off his game. His ever gorgeous wife, Kay is the total opposite – organised down to the wire, tells you how things really are without things always having to be ‘great’ and keeps her hair immaculate!

While they’re total opposites in many ways the very thing they do the same is laugh loudly. No matter what happens, they laugh and laugh and laugh. I love it.

The Bible says that a merry heart does good like a medicine (Proverbs 17:22). There’s so much negative stuff happening in the world, sometimes all you need to do is laugh.

We had one week with Hannah being sick and then the next week it was Lizzies turn. Got to love the bugs flying around in winter. While they were feeling crappy as anything, laying on the couch with a box of tissues next to them, the only thing that lifted them up (besides a cuddle from Mum) was a funny movie.

Laughing is not overrated, in fact we should do more of it. Don’t let a day go by without a good belly laugh.

I’m making it one of my goals for the rest of the month to not be overwhelmed by everything we have to organise for our trip to Africa. Instead, I’m going to believe that God will provide, find as many moments in life to laugh and enjoy the journey.