What I Haven’t Said About Our Trip to Kenya

So y’all probably know by now, I like to write honestly. I don’t want to paint a picture that my life is always wonderful, my kids and hubby are perfect, and my laundry is always done.

Let’s not speak of that last one again. Because I’m pretty sure my family will reach perfection way before I’m caught up on laundry!

Our trip to Kenya was amazing. Life-changing. But hardly without comedic relief and the usual THAT family moments. There were a few days and situations that were just plain difficult. The following list isn’t an excuse to complain and not in any certain order, it’s just reality and the rest of the story….

  • Traveling 26 hours straight with kids is quite the adventure. For the most part, my kids did really well-better than I expected. But we also picked our battles. For example, when my son wanted coffee, I let him have it and when my hubby wanted wine….um, never mind. Even when my youngest insisted on stripping down to her undies, who was I to refuse?

  • At some point, my little girl found the emergency evacuation instructions and was pretty ticked off that our plane didn’t have a slide or cool yellow cups to breathe in. It also turns out the throw-up bags make handy puppets.

  • We took Malaria pills, which isn’t that big a deal. Except my youngest doesn’t swallow pills. I became an expert in crushing pills and mixing them in various foods. Turns out peanut butter (the messiest option, of course) was the only approved choice by my 4 year old. She calls it her “special snack” and I’m pretty sure we might have ruined her favorite food forever.
  • When we were vaccinating our kids for the trip, the pediatrician said most kids aren’t harmed by strange diseases, but the number one cause of death in foreign countries was from traffic accidents. So, I proudly packed a car seat, only to discover the vehicle had no seat belts! I prayed every time we drove anywhere. My little girl LOVES transportation in Africa. I wonder why?
  • One thing I don’t think I’ll ever get used to in Kenya is traffic. Oh my. There are some seriously crazy drivers and bumper to bumper traffic is the norm. In certain areas of town, you have to keep your windows closed and phones down because it’s common to get things stolen thru the windows.

  • Of couse, my kids haven’t ever met a stranger, so while we sat in traffic (sometimes for an hour!), they would wave and make faces at the hundreds of people walking in the city. At one point, I heard someone yelling “mzungu” and they were pointing at my youngest blowing kisses at people. (“Mzungu” means “white person” and since my daughter has such white blond hair, she got a lot of attention, which she loved).
  • Temper tantrums- oh yeah, baby, even in Kenya. We mainly saw the temper when we made our youngest release the “pets” she caught every day. But once I found out that carrying a frog in a jar is considered voodoo in Kenya, I had no choice. Ya know? Oh, and she may or may have not referred to the Mercy House day guard as her boyfriend. I have no words, really.

  • One of the most challenging things was showering. By the end of the day, my kids were covered in red dirt. The water was mostly cold. Ice cold. But we found out what’s worse than ice cold water? And that would be no water. We went several days with just a trickle and bathed using wipes. My kids loved it.
  • Vomit-it happened in someone else’s house. But you’re not surprised, are you?
  • I didn’t freak out when my kids were filthy or even barefoot. But when my son was chased by a teeth-baring monkey and my daughter petted a kitty covered in ringworms, I might have perspired a little.

  • On our way home, my son’s backpack was considered an international security issue. Turns out that you can’t have a slingshot. Who knew? It was confiscated and he was very relieved not to be arrested.
  • I ran into someone who reads my blog on the long flight home and enjoyed getting to know her. Only she didn’t recognize me at first BECAUSE I HADN’T BATHED IN THREE DAYS.

    And that’s just the beginning my friends…..


    1. 1


      Ok – I busted out laughing when I saw the picture of your daughter in the plane without clothes. That is absolutely adorable! Kids certainly have a mind of their own, don’t they. I’ve really enjoyed reading your posts about Africa and think it was an amazing experience you’ve given your children. Thanks for sharing.

    2. 4

      angie smith says

      im just so darned proud of you, friend. just wanted to let you know i have been praying for you and your family and love hearing the updates and seeing their sweet faces as you change life for so many others….

      with love,

    3. 7

      Gretchen says

      Kristen, been following you on Twitter for a while, but relatively new reader to your blog. Prayed over your kidney madness, & so THRILLED you got to Go to Kenya, after all. You are a gem–love your heart, as conveyed thru your words–whether it’s a silly, or somber day.

    4. 9


      Great hearing the challenges we all know are there. Being a foster mom who rarely hears publicly the challenges it brings delights when others share their challenges. Thanks.

    5. 15


      I am loving seeing your African experience from an American perspective!!! The traffic, the car seat, the hijacking… so that doesn’t happen everywhere then!!! We don’t drive anywhere with our windows down – even though our aircon doesn’t work and even though it gets really hot over here… and would never leave anything visible on the car seat next to us – that would be an open invitation for a smash and grab!!! Very different worlds and very different stresses and ALL relying on one God!!!

    6. 16

      Tricia says

      Enjoying your blog as always, but your Kenya trip has so touched my heart. I went to Kenya almost a year ago with FAME – I know your stories all too well! I was there for 10 days in the Mathare Valley doing medical clinics. It’s amazing how that place steals a piece of your heart. My heart yearns to go back – and it helps since I am already “shot up” and good for the next 10 years. Trusting for His guidance to make it happen.

      May God continue to bless the Mercy House ministry and those women and children who pass through the doors.

    7. 17

      Cassondra says

      I’ve been reading your blog for a long time. A lot of the time, you make me laugh. When I see what you and your family are doing in Africa, it warms my heart. I am a full time mom and student right now, working to become an RN. I hope I can use my degree in the future to help out in some way. I know that there are a lot of programs that take medical professional volunteers overseas to help the needy. I want to do this at some point. Thank you for the inspiration!!

    8. 18

      rhonda says

      Oh Kristen, this is one thing I love about you- you are so honest!! And if you go back (or should I say when?) there is a camping shower bag that you can fill with water and hang out in the sun…then you have hot water for showers. might help…Praying!

    9. 19


      Thank you for being honest…and funny. I love your family and all that God is doing through you guys. Praying for Mercy House and that new baby girl!

    10. 21


      I absolutely LOVE your honesty. Thank you so much for sharing, so the rest of us realize our families aren’t so wacky after all. :) What a blessing you are to so many people, and inspirational for following & obeying your Calling to ministry in Kenya!

    11. 22

      Missi says

      Ha! I loved these. I lived in a slum outside Nairobi for 6 months and can definitely relate to the no showers or only cold water showers- such great memories. How cool that you were able to share this experience with your whole family. It’s been great to see you share your heart on your blog, I’ve been reading since your first trip to Kenya- it’s cool to see how God is using you and now your family too. Say, I live in MN and you said on twitter you were shipping things from MN to Kenya, do you have a way to get them released in Kenya? Our church shipped containers of food there 2 years ago and the government still hasn’t released it.

    12. 23


      oh, how i love these. kahler and i laugh about so many of those awkward boundaries throughout our relationship have been crossed thanks to africa. things like talking about my constipation issues on my first trip, after we had been dating for 2 months. and diarrhea. and vomiting. and not showering. now that i think about it, most of them have to do with bowel issues and hygiene. :) i suppose africa tends to bring that out of you (or not… no pun intended.)

    13. 25


      I am laughing my head off! Love your honesty, you do such a great job writing about the daily struggles of parenthood! I appreciate you! It is SO great that your children got to have that experience. I honestly can’t imagine taking my 3 crazy boys on a trip like that, you are a super mom!

    14. 26


      Great post!!! As always, I absolutely love the “real” life posts. Helps me realize that an any given moment we are ALL “That Family”! I, for one, am always thankful that we aren’t the only ones 😉

    15. 29

      Anna says

      Hahahahahahahaaahahaha!!! Your youngest is to much :) Oh, and that poor kitty….did you see many cats while you were there?

    16. 30

      Jill says

      Love, love, love Kenya. Everything you said re: traffic and driving is true. And the dirt issue is real – learned after my first trip no need to pack a bunch of clothes cuz an hour into the day you are dirty so you might as well just put them on again for another day. How wonderful to experience this trip as a family. God bless you and The Mercy House.

    17. 31

      Crystal says

      Loved this post! I’ve been to Nairobi and loved my time there….wish I could have been with you guys.

    18. 32


      I laughed at the thought of you bringing a car seat! When we were in Ethiopia, we often compared the roads to being on the Indiana Jones ride at Disneyland…quite an adventure!

    19. 33

      Shelly Roy says

      Oh Kristen! The carseat is very funny! I would have done the same thing! Thanks for the ‘rest’ of the story. I knew it was lurking behind the scenes. :)
      What prcious memories you all will have, there is nothing that sticks with you through your life quite like being able to say, “When I was four, I flew halfway around the world in my underwear, and my mom LET me! She rocks!”
      God bless you richly as you continue to walk in His steps for you and THAT family.

    20. 34

      Debra Shepard Stanley says

      I LOVE IT KRISTEN!!! Words can’t express how I’m moved by all you are doing!!! I can relate to some of your story from my experience last year in Tanzania. And they traffic….well I just closed my eyes and prayed harder than before!!
      WOW your work is unbelievable. I may have to look for you for advice whenever we are able to take the boys over with us some day!!! I look forward to reading more and hearing more about Mercy House!

    21. 35


      It has been amazing to follow along with your journey. I cannot thank you enough for allowing us to be a part of your journey!!!

      Thank you, more than you can imagine!

    22. 36


      Friends of ours just moved to Belieze to be missionaries. They tie their daughter’s car seat onto the seat with rope. Just a tip for next time you go. Take rope!

    23. 37


      How funny! This post made me laugh a lot. Your children sound much like mine. So glad you made it through customs with your son still in tow and not in prison LOL! Frog’s in jar are taboo, who knew? Too cute!

    24. 38


      LOVE this! We’re about to trek on over to Uganda. My husband and I have been several times, but this time we’ll be taking our 6,5 and 2 year-old to pick up our sweet Ugandan daughter. I’m anxious to see how the flight goes. I heard of a woman who was taking her children on an international flight and apolagized in advance for her kids and what may transpire throughout the journey and gave them all a drink on the house, haha!

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