Saturday, December 29, 2007

The Newlyweds in Nakuru

Newlyweds, originally uploaded by momentswithmichelle.

During our honeymoon we were on the move! We spent the first night at the Kerio View where we had our second reception. From there we headed to the Kakamega rainforest to stay at the Rondo Retreat Center for a few days. WOW!!! It was gorgeous, peaceful and an all around amazing place. We could have easily stayed a month. But alas we needed to head back to Kipkaren to meet up with my family.

I had insisted that I wanted a few days with my parents before they headed back to the States. So we all made the drive to Nakuru together. We were able to do an animal safari there. I saw my first leopard in Africa!! Unfortunately he was hiding in a tree and almost impossible to photograph. We then continued the drive to Nairobi where we all stayed one last night together before my family and other guests flew out.

Maybe we Should Have Read the Sign!

Kakamega Rainforest, originally uploaded by momentswithmichelle.

Perhaps William and I should have given closer attention to this sign before we headed off into the forest. We took a trail into the forest and were enjoying the beautiful butterflies. As we made our way along the path we noticed a seven foot snake crossing the path in front of us. It was black with bright green/yellow spots on the center of it's back. When we took a step closer to try and get a photo it whipped around towards us. We opted to not wait to see if he was friendly but instead hit the path running!

Friday, December 21, 2007

Wedding Sunset

Land Rover at Sunset, originally uploaded by momentswithmichelle.

A truly African experience at the end of a perfect day!!!

Introducing Mr. and Mrs. Kiprop

William and Michelle, originally uploaded by momentswithmichelle.

Finally!!! After a year and a half of waiting we were married on December 14th. And what an event it was. We had 1,200 guests at the wedding and reception. The wedding was held outside of the home of David Tarus. It was magnificent. As you can see we were blessed with an incredible photographer. Adele Booysen is a colleague and a friend.

What a Gift

What a Gift, originally uploaded by momentswithmichelle.

Yes, we really did receive a calf during the wedding reception! Her name is Lelmet which means she has a white head.

Monday, December 03, 2007

House Warming

I attended a housewarming on Saturday, not for me, but for some special friends. Four years ago a widow in our community died. She left behind three children who lived with her, Jane, Shadrack and Chepchirchir. The children had several older married siblings. At the funeral everyone packed up and went home leaving the three youngest standing at the graveside. David Tarus (the director of ELI Kenya) saw them standing there with no one to care for them. He announced "get in the car, let's go home!". The children have moved around a bit since that time but always being under the supervision of David. At times they have been able to live under the same roof, but for the last year and a half they were split up. Jane is now 22 and Shadrack is about to enter his final year of high school. I think Chepchirchir is 12 or 13. I first met them in 2004 and have watched them grow in confidence over the last three years during my visits to Kenya.

Here is where the exciting part of the story comes in. Before she died, the children's mother had been involved in the Paper Making Project through ELI. She assisted in making paper for stationary to be sold in the United States. See for more info on how to support this project. She did not collect her earnings before passing away. Now that the children are old enough to be on their own they were granted the money their mother earned. With the money they built a small house on a tenth of an acre of property.

As a community we joined together for a house warming. Many speeches were made, the tears of joy flowed that day. As I watched my friends Juli and Allison share about how they had watched these three children grow and hold on to their hope in Christ my heart was deeply moved. I looked to the side and noticed that my parents were crying as well. I was reminded that the Bible says that this is true religion, to care for orphans and widows. And boy do we have a lot of orphans and widows in this community. But what a story of hope! To watch these three spread their wings and not only survive, but thrive in their environment is a true blessing!

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Our House

House 005, originally uploaded by momentswithmichelle.

This is William at the entrance to our new house. I had been in Kipkaren for less than an hour when he drove me over to see it. It has two bedrooms, a living room, one bathroom and a kitchen. Whether or not it will be done in time for the wedding is anyones guess at this point. Click on the picture to link to more pictures of the house.

Thursday, November 08, 2007

A New Home

House 3, originally uploaded by momentswithmichelle.

A few weeks back William and I began to talk about making a property trade to move closer to the clinic. Within 24hrs of our decision to make the move, construction on our new home had begun. I can't wait to see it up close and personal next week! William tells me that the walls are fast approaching the window level now.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Showers of Blessing

Cookie, originally uploaded by momentswithmichelle.

I have been so blessed by friends and family during this season of my life! I've recently had several showers thrown in my honor. I move to Kenya one week from tomorrow! And no, for those of you who are asking, I am not ready!!! My house is full of piles of items to be packed. I am thanking the Lord for my mother who has been a life saver during all the crazy wedding and moving preparations!!

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Seven Weeks

Seven weeks from today I will move to Kenya. My life is about to change in so many ways. I woke up around six this morning and decided to get up and take a walk. As I walked around my neighborhood, I took it all in. The birds chirping, the smell of the grass, the pink and gold of the clouds before the sun came up. My heart was full.

Many of the dreams I have dreamt since my high school years are about to be fulfilled. But at the same time it is only the beginning of a new and different journey. I'm about to move to Africa, to marry the man I love, to begin a new life. Even though I know there are so many transitions ahead of me, I realize that there is no way for me to know now just what it will be like. I will simply have to experience and learn as I go. All the preparation in the world won't change the fact that I will be experiencing new and different things for the first time. And I am excited! Overwhelmed! Overjoyed! Terrified! It's an interesting blend of emotions.

As I am spending my last weeks here in the states there are things I am appreciating and enjoying like never before. Last night as I was driving home from Pasadena I enjoyed the simple pleasure of being able to drive my automatic transmission car on a paved road, and on the right side of the road no less! I think this is something I will be missing very soon. So I am enjoying it now. I had a Starbucks pumpkin spice frapuccino yesterday. It was great! I will miss Starbucks. I will miss going to my home church with my family and singing praise songs in English. I will miss being able to talk on the phone for hours with my best friends. Coming home and flopping on my mom's bed to tell her all about my day. Getting that occasional luxury of a pedicure. Curling up on the couch to watch a movie with my family. I will miss being surrounded by English. Language acquisition is really hard for me. I will miss being able to call my sister and say "I'm in the neighborhood, lets do lunch!". I will miss my fancy hospital equipment as I transition into third-world medicine.

Lest you read this wrong, let me clarify. I am not grieving my soon departure. But I'm taking time to enjoy and live my fullest in the moments. To pet my dog and hold my cat. To have dinner with old friends. To enjoy the conveniences that I so often take for granted.

Soon I will be back in my second home. I will be drinking in the African sunrises and sunsets. I will be visiting with friends (old and new) in mud houses. I will be walking muddy roads. I will drink chai with my fiance (soon to be husband!). I will be picking out my wedding cake and roses. I'll join my Kenyan brothers and sisters in heartfelt songs and dances of worship to our father. I'll be brushing up on the treatment of malaria. I will be learning from excellent teachers in the local clinic. Instead of relying on instruments I will finely hone my assessment and diagnostic skills. I will probably have the opportunity to help deliver several babies, to experience afresh the miracle of life. My heart and mind will be opened to many new things as I begin the journey of learning Swahili. I think it will open up many new doors for me. I'll be able to hold William's hand and watch the river flow by our home. I will learn to bake in a charcoal oven and cook over a fire.

Yes, my life is about to change drastically. It is my prayer that no matter where I live or what I do, that God would always be the center. That he would continue to guide and direct my every step. That he would remind me of his presence on the days that I grow frustrated. That he would remind me of his greatness when I am so filled with joy I don't even know how to express it. You know, the biggest common denominator between the two cultures is that God is alive and well in both. What a comfort and peace it brings to know that my Jesus will be with me every step of the way.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Lookout Kenya!!!

I am officially moving to Kenya! Yes, that has been the plan for some time. But details are really starting to come together. Last night I purchased my ticket to Kenya. I'll be leaving on November 14th, less than two months from now. After many months of uncertainty about our future, the details are all beginning to fall into place. I know that God's timing is always perfect and that he has been with us through every step of this journey.

William and I will be married in Kipkaren on December 14th. We will both be working with Empowering Lives International. Our first year of marriage will be spent doing ministry in Kipkaren. Actually, we are planning a visit to the US for part of that time. So please keep praying for his visa to come through!

In Kipkaren I will be working mostly in the medical arena. Some of my time will be spent providing primary care in the local clinic. I'll be spending some time with the children in the Children's Home as well. I guess I better brush up on my pediatrics! William and I may both take part in assisting to host some of the short-term teams coming to Kipkaren.

Lots of changes ahead! Please keep me in your prayers as I navigate my last few months of living here in the USA. I'm still working two jobs. I need to start raising support ASAP. That is always a really hard one for me. I'm also studying for my board exam. I'll be taking the exam sometime in October. I'm officially a licensed nurse practitioner now, but I want to take the certification exam while the material is still fresh. Please pray for peace, wisdom, provision, and energy during these coming months.

Sunday, August 05, 2007


Isn't it wonderful that we have the ability to express our hearts to the Lord? Lately I have been overwhelmed with worship music. Sometimes I find a song that just says exactly what is in my heart.

This year has been an interesting one. At the moment I don't really know for sure where William and I will be living or what exactly we will be doing. It's been a time of waiting and trusting. Yet with each passing day I have more and more confidence that God knows exactly what he is doing and where he is leading us.

I was telling William just this week that I want this world to be a better place because I lived. One of my deepest desires is that when others see me, they will see Christ shining through. I also long to see others through Christ's eyes. I feel like I've been in such a place of surrender over these past few months. I just want to be where he wants me to be, doing what he wants me to do. I know that that is where I will have the greatest peace and fulfillment (although not necessarily the greatest happiness).

One particular song that has really stood out to me is by Tim Hughs entitled "May the Words of My Mouth" The song says:

May the words of my mouth and thoughts of my heart
Bless your name, Bless your name Jesus
And the deeds of the day, And the truth in my way
Speak of you, Speak of you Jesus

For this is what I'm glad to do
It's time to live a life of love that pleases you
And I will give my all to you
Surrender everything I have and follow you
I will follow you

Lord will you be my vision
Lord will you be my guide
Be my hope, be my light and the way
And I'll look for riches or praises on earth
Only you'll be the first of my heart

For this is what I'm glad to do
It's time to live a life of love that pleases you
And I will give my all to you
Surrender everything I have and follow you

Friday, July 27, 2007

We Have an ID Card!!!

Less than 12 hours after posting my frustrations regarding William's ID card it finally came through. I don't have details yet but I know that he picked up the card today. I spoke with him on my way to work this AM and he told me "I'm holding it in my hand right now!". He was on the way to the DC's office to start the passport process. Please continue to pray with us as we move on to the next step in this process. And thank you again for all of your encouragement and prayers!!


I've had may people comment that when I finally updated my blog I neglected to provide an update on William's visa status. I was sincerely hoping that sometime at the beginning of this week I would place a post entitled "We have an ID card!!!!". But alas, we still do not have an ID card. We (meaning mostly my poor William) have been trying to obtain an ID card since October of last year. It has been one thing after another. He even made a special trip to Nairobi (his first one in five years) to try to get an expedited card.

Last week the office in Eldoret called him to tell him that the card had arrived. He just needed to come and pick it up. When he arrived at the office they showed him that sure enough, his name was on the list of cards that were delivered. However there was no ID card physically present in the office. They profusely apologized and told him they had no idea what had happened to it.

I can't quite put my finger on my emotion. Definitely frustration!! In some ways I feel like I'm losing hope with this entire process. You see, he can't proceed with the next step in the visa process until he has a passport. And he cannot apply for a passport until he has the ID. At the rate things are going we will be lucky if we can make a trip to the states together a year after we are married!!!

It's been an interesting process looking at the intercultural perspective of all this frustration. I am a born and raised American. And here in America we are raised to believe that you can have anything or accomplish anything if you work hard enough for it. It has been a cold hard reality to learn that the rest of the world does not always work that way. William has put hours and hours of agony into his multiple attempts to get the ID card. And yet, we have nothing to show for it.

Your continued prayers would be most appreciated. I'm on the edge of giving up hope that this is ever going to happen. Before I know it we will be in Africa together saying our vows. In the meantime please continue to pray for wisdom direction and peace. I still don't know for sure where we will be living or exactly what we will be doing. Yet through it all I know that I know that I know that God is in control! I know that he will never fail and that his plan is perfect. Thanks for all of your continued support, prayers and encouragement!!

Saturday, July 21, 2007


Annette and Michelle, originally uploaded by momentswithmichelle.

Shortly after graduation I had the opportunity to take my first trip to Hawaii. Back in Dec I realized that I had enough frequent flyer miles to make a domestic trip. I called my best friend Annette (who was living in Arkansas at the time) and told her I wanted to come visit for spring break.

She told me that her and her husband had just been notified that their next tour of duty would be in Hawaii. (Her husband Sergej is a major in the airforce.) They would be moving in May and I should just wait and come after graduation.

Thus I was able to make the amazing trip to O'ahu. I was in desperate need of the rest and relaxation. And I couldn't have picked a better place or better company for it!! A highlight was snorkeling with the turtles at Turtle Beach on the north shore of the island. But the best part was just having time to spend together. That and not having anywhere I had to be or anything I had to do.

Annette and I were friends as children. We lost track of each other through Jr. and Sr. High. Our paths crossed again in college. Needless to say, our relationship has grown and grown since then. She has been such a source of encouragement and wisdom for me. I am truly thankful for the opportunity we had to spend together before I move away to Africa. (Not that Hawaii isn't far enough from CA as it is!)

Michelle Kerns, Family Nurse Practitioner

Favorite, originally uploaded by momentswithmichelle.

After two years of VERY hard work I FINALLY graduated!!!! I'm now officially a master's prepared nurse practitioner. What is even more amazing is that I am working as an FNP.

I had no intentions of getting a job as an NP before moving to Kenya. However God opened an amazing door and job literally fell into my lap. I'm working two days a week at the Union Rescue Mission (URM) on skid row in downtown Los Angeles. So yes, my clients are homeless. It is a great environment for learning.

I did several rotations at the clinic as a student. One of the full time NP's was leaving just as I was graduating. The part time NP took the full-time position and I was asked to take her part time position. I explained that I was the worst possible choice for the job. Not only am I a new graduate (interpretation: I have NO idea what I am doing!) but I also will be moving out of the country in Nov. I was told that actually I was a perfect fit because they needed someone now and I would not need to be oriented.

In addition to my job at the URM I continue to work two days a week as an RN in the ER at the VA hospital in Loma Linda. The two jobs, and driving all over southern CA, are keeping me pretty busy.

Wedding preparations are underway. The plan is to have a big wedding in the village of Kipkaren. The wedding date is December 14, 2007!! All are invited!!! If you are interested in attending let me know and we can start working on travel arrangements.

Monday, January 01, 2007

Christmas Day

Christmas Day
Originally uploaded by momentswithmichelle.
On the Christmas afternoon I spent some time with William's cousins Chemning (17) and Sarah (15). The two girls are pretty special. On the night that I arrived they hiked to the training center just so they could greet me. Sarah almost knocked me over with an enthusiastic hug. They had been begging me to come for lunch one day. So William and I decided that Christmas was the day.

We ate rice pilau (rice with seasonings and some meat), oranges and chai for lunch. I love to hear the hopes and dreams of these young ladies. Sarah (on the right) loves math and thinks she may want to be an engineer. Chemning enjoys the study of ecology. Both hope to further their education after finishing high school. Both are living in a mud hut and working hard to help run the family shamba (farm).

More Blessed to Give

What a cutie
Originally uploaded by momentswithmichelle.
This Christmas was a special one for me. The week before Christmas William's family made a decision that they wanted to bless 4 families in the community with a Christmas treat. Throughout the week the family went through closets to find clothes to donate. We shopped on the 22nd and purchased food for the families.

On the morning of the 23rd we loaded up the Pajero and hit the road. As we traveled from family to family I was struck by how easily it could have been me... None of us are blessed with the opportunity to choose where we will be born and what circumstances we will grow up in.

One family we visited was headed by a grandmother. David Tarus explained to us that this lady had once been prosperous. In fact she and her husband were the first in the community to own a car in 1970. Now she lives in a house of mud and actually sleeps on a bed which she crafted from mud. She went from riches to rags. At any moment any of us could loose all that we have. It was something to think about.

This smiling cutie in the picture is daughter to Mama Sifuna. She is truly a precious child. She and the rest of her family welcomed us into their home. They are currently raising chickens to help support themselves. Walking into the compound we were all careful to not step on any chicks as this is the future of this family's livelihood.

A letter had been written to each family wishing them a very merry Christmas and inviting them to our Christmas service. When we arrived at each house we would read the letter, sing a song, and pray a prayer of blessing for the family. We would then move on to the next home.

The following day one of the families walked over a mile to David's home to deliver a Christmas chicken to our family. What an overwhelming moment! Our generosity did not cost us half of what it cost this family. There are some things in the world that are just so hard to understand...

Name That Snake!

Tree Cobra?
Originally uploaded by momentswithmichelle.
So I had a bit of an adventure in my first week in Kenya. I have made seven trips to Africa and this is the first time that I have ever encountered a deadly snake. This fella was hiding behind the toilet in my bathroom.

Thank the Lord someone else found him and told me he was there. We called in a staff member from the Children's Home who happens to be an excellent snake slayer. He then came and beat the snake to death for me.

Now just what kind of snake is this? I was originally told it was a black mamba but then most all of my Kenyan friends disagreed. When William and I found a poster of deadly African snakes we thought this one matched the picture of the tree cobra. Any snake experts out there who can confirm or deny that?

Flight to Eldoret

Flight to Eldoret
Originally uploaded by momentswithmichelle.
I'm frequently asked about the traveling process when I journey to Kenya. I usually fly out of LAX on to Europe. From there I connect down to Nairobi. In Nairobi I board an 18 passenger plane for my final flight to Eldoret. Once in Eldoret Kipkaren is a 1hr drive away. This is the plane I took up to Eldoret this time.