High school Christmas banquet – Anisa – 9th grade

2:30pm -girls begin to arrive

Anisa had invited a number of girls to come to our place to prepare for their Christmas banquet. John thought he may need to hide. But then some of the parents stayed to visit, which was fun for both of us. I helped Anisa with her hair, another mom was helping her daughter with her hair style as well, but for the most part, the girls had fun helping each other prepare.

Around 5pm -boys arrive

photo time!

picture time!

They sat on the back porch with their parents until the girls were ready.

5:30pm -picture time!

Quite a number of photos were taken amidst lots of laughter, mixed with a few awkward moments thrown in here and there. 🙂

Anisa and Drew

Anisa and Drew

IMG_30726:15pm -van taxi arrives to take them into town where the banquet is

with dads :)

with dads 🙂

with siblings

with siblings

We smiled when the taxi pulled up and we found out it was a safari type van! Looked like it had just been on a safari by the dirt on the sides. The kids all piled in and they were off! Return time scheduled for 11pm. (They could have also gone on a bus with chaperones, but the kids opted for the taxi. Go figure.)

11pm -They came home happy and tired.

Karen and friends

Karen and friends

Karen had some friends over as well. It was a full, happy house.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Thanksgiving fun

Hey there! We had Thursday and Friday off from school for Thanksgiving and really enjoyed the time off from our normal schedule. Well, we didn’t enjoy everything. Three of us were sick some of the time, and that is no fun. But, we didn’t have to miss school because of it.

Beatrice was taking Karen's braids out while she was sleeping and Anisa and Joy were just being goofy. (Karen was sick.)

Beatrice was taking Karen’s braids out while she was sleeping and Anisa and Joy were just being goofy. (Karen was sick.)

Anisa and Joy relaxing on the bed.

Anisa and Joy relaxing on the bed.

When Saturday night rolled around we were all well enough to go to a friend’s house, the Gilmer’s, and enjoy “breakfast for dinner” and games. We were goofy and enjoyed it.

Playing scum - each seat had a hat to wear when you were in it.

Playing scum – each seat had a hat to wear when you were in it.

John took time to visit Mike and Neema in Umoja estates.

Mike and Neema

Mike and Neema

Then Sunday morning we got our fill of Christmas hymns at the Mennonite guest house! Love going there on the first Sunday of very month for a hymn sing.

Hymn sing

Hymn sing

Family photo at Thanksgiving

Family photo at Thanksgiving

Sunday afternoon we spent at another friend’s place, the Hostettler’s, for a Thanksgiving meal. Tried to get a family photo at one point, but Karen was in an odd mood. Made picture taking kind of silly. Never a dull moment. 🙂

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Karen’s Middle School Basketball Tournament

We talk about basketball an awful lot around here, don’t we? Well, we have one more story to tell.

Karen in one of the outside pool games

Karen in one of the outside pool games

Karen’s middle school basketball season has been different in past years, in that she missed a huge chunk of the season because of a wrist injury that has been lingering for more than a year. After the first three games, she had an MRI taken, and she had to stop using the wrist completely for four weeks. The team continued winning in her absence, but it was tough for her to be still.

Two days before the final tournament, Karen was given the OK to resume playing. So this past Saturday, Karen rejoined her team at ISK. The team swept through their pool games with ease, and then defeated the Rosslyn “B” team in the semifinals (but it’s never fun to have to beat your own teammates in a game!).

That set up a showdown with ISK, who defeated RVA in the other semifinals, in an upset. ISK played the team in man-to-man defense, with Karen’s defender about 15 feet off her, to try to keep Karen from getting into the lane.

In a 10-minute game, anything can happen, and this one was no exception. ISK hit two

This is a picture of the actual drive!

This is a picture of the actual drive!

difficult jump shots, and the game was tied 8-8 with just a little over a minute to play. Controlling the dribble, Karen noticed that the left side of the court opened up suddenly, so she faked right, and drove hard to her left, getting past her defender, and making a left-handed layup to put Rosslyn up, 10-8.

ISK failed to score in their next possession, and Karen had the ball with a minute to play. Coach Jiv signalled for Karen to run out the clock with the dribble (there is no shot clock in middle school basketball), and thus started the longest minute of our lives. (Seriously, it felt like an hour!)

The fans were slightly happy....

The fans were slightly happy….

Karen faked, and dribbled, and ran, all the while being shadowed by two ISK players. ISK’s coach was yelling for his team to foul, but either they didn’t hear him, or weren’t able to carry out his wishes.  At one point, a girl poked the ball away from Karen into the backcourt, but Karen got to the loose ball first, and commenced running away again.

Finally, FINALLY, the game clock counted down and the final horn sounded. And thus began the fun.

Two years ago, Karen hit a free throw to win this tournament, last year she missed a three

The team!

The team!

at the buzzer that would have won it, and this year she scored the basket that put her team up two with a minute to play. Two out of three ain’t bad!

Congratulations to the team- a perfect 10-0 in game play, and a championship in the final tournament- quite the successful season!

Now- on to soccer!

Karen with Coach Jiv!

Karen with Coach Jiv!

Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment

Another Season in the Books

Here we are, in year three of our Kenya 2.0 experience, and I’ve just finished my 6th season of coaching. Just writing that makes me tired.

Anyway, we just finished the girls basketball season about 2 weeks ago, and it was successful, of course depending how you define success. Our won-loss record was middle of the road again- we finished third in the league, for example, for the 3rd year in a row.  We defeated the teams we were “supposed” to beat, but were unable to break into the top two of the league (held by ISK and RVA for a while).

But I’ve stated all along how the season is a process, and I work really hard to focus on improvements as a team rather than just results, and we improved quite a bit. So, in other words- the season was, indeed, a success.

My favorite game was the friendly we played against Laiser Hill, an athletic, fast-breaking team. We were in trouble in the 2nd quarter, down 17-10 at one point, but we battled back and hit some huge shots in the 4th quarter to pull out a 33-29 win. My favorite part of the game, though, was when I called a timeout and gave the girls a few adjustments they needed to make, and a play they needed to run (we were down one late in the 4th). They went out and ran exactly what I needed them to, and we got an Izzie bucket. That was the winning margin. We showed real growth and maturity to win that game.

I always have a sense of accomplishment when a season finishes, and this year is no exception. Thanks to the girls for all their hard work!


Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Update on furlough, beginning of 2013-2014 school year, Westgate, and daily life

Hi there everyone! (This was written at two different times, September and October, with pictures added finally in November – then posted!)

It has been way too long since I last posted. One might think that other family members would decide to help out…. 🙂


Vanilla pie!


Leonard family cousins

Our first furlough this past June and July went very well. We left Kenya for the states the night of our last school work day at the end of the school year. It had been two years since we were in the states and we were ready for time with family and friends!


Swartz meal fun


Kratz cousins

Anisa and John were both sick that last week of school, Anisa still even on the plane flight, but all seemed to go well for the most part. (Neither Karen or Anisa like to eat plane food so they said they were hungry….) Anisa did manage to sleep much of the time, in airports and on the planes, which made the other three of us envious.




We arrived safely in PA two days later where we were met by John’s parents, Jim and Margaret. What fun! I loved actually hugging them, instead of just hearing their voice or seeing them on Skype, and then I enjoyed admiring the view all the way to their place from the airport. Everything seems so open since there are very few high walls around properties. Also, the order on the roads was truly amazing and soothing.





Karen knee-boarding in Florida


on the boat with Mike after tubing


Anisa knee-boarding in Florida


Butter-beer in Harry Potter World, Florida!


with the Hills in Georgia



From then on, our summer pace was a bit hectic. We spent an average of three nights in one spot that first five weeks before moving on to another location. It felt cumbersome, yet there were so many people we really wanted to catch up with. In the second week of July we actually stayed in one place for the last three weeks when the girls were involved with some sports camps at Eastern Mennonite University.




Johnson family

Highlights were the memories of each location and the people we were with. We were able to spend time in PA, VA, KY, GA, and FL. Karen and Anisa also enjoyed spending time with friends in VA. Karen, being the busy person she likes to be, also squeezed into her schedule horse riding as often as she could.


Driving lessons with Grandpa -Anisa


Driving lessons with Grandpa -Karen






Grandma Tine, Aunt Teresa, and Grandma


Our 3 party with Katrina, Eliot, Hattie, and Mona.

Then, on July 27 we headed back to Dullas International airport with 12 pieces of luggage to return to Kenya for our next two years in Nairobi.

Once we arrived safely in Nairobi, we unpacked and settled in for three or four days, and then John and I began attending back to school meetings.


Smiles with Mona

About a week after we arrived back in Nairobi, the Kenyatta International airport caught fire! This caused all kinds of havoc with families trying to enter the country for the start of school as well as the rest of Kenya and East Africa. At this point Kenya is using a “tent” setting where I am told many people wait to get on planes and then also retrieve luggage once they arrive back to Nairobi.


Uncle John and Aunt Sylvia


Karen and Anisa with Sue




Karen with Jennifer and Lisa at Karen’s favorite place, Lisa’s horse farm.


First day of school -2013 -Karen grade 8, Anisa grade 9

School appeared to begin well and we looked forward to when a routine would be established so we wouldn’t be tired all the time.

Anisa is now in 9th grade, Karen in 8th grade, John is teaching high school English and coaching varsity women’s and men’s basketball, and Glenda is teaching 4th grade. (Did you catch my note that we now have a high schooler in our family?! )


Anisa on JV -9th grade -2013


Anisa breaking free!



This first sports season Anisa, Karen, and John are all involved in basketball. I, Glenda, tend to fill

my after school hours with taking girls to doctor appointments, grocery shopping, school work, cooking, looking for items needed for the house, etc.


Karen playing defence -8th grade -2013


Karen taking the ball down the court!



Going for the points!

We are also trying a new church this year called St. Julians which so far we really like. (No Mennonite churches nearby for us to consider.) It tends to use a liturgical style of worship and so far has included sermons which challenge us to search for meaning in the scriptures. The number of people who attend any given week varies from about 15-50. We meet in a small one room chapel in the country at St. Julians retreat center about 20 minutes from Rosslyn where we live.


Anisa’s 14th birthday celebration!


friends came over for Anisa’s birthday

We finally felt about a week or two ago that we may be getting a rhythm to our weeks. Finally. It seemed to take longer than what we thought it should.

And now, as of this past Saturday, three days ago, Kenya has been thrown into turmoil with the terrorist attack at Westgate Mall in Westlands, an area of town about 2-3 miles away from Rosslyn Academy. It has been very surreal. Details abound on the situation, yet no one really knows which ones are accurate.

Our family usually goes to do our grocery shopping at Village Market which is closer than Westgate. However, there are times when what we need can’t be found at Village so, in many cases, then Westgate is the next option to try.

For example, the other week I wanted to price a mattress. The Nakumat at Village, Kenya’s version of Walmart, is under construction so they are not carrying mattresses at this time, so I went to Westgate on a Saturday to see what they had. (I had tried to call to find out and save me a trip, traffic can be awful, but phone calls are tricky here. I tried hard to communicate clearly, but was told, no -they do no sell mattresses. Although I knew just a few weeks earlier I had been there and seen them!)

I also bought some fish for our fish tank. That was a huge failure! I was so happy to see the fish swimming around at first, but then they started dying one right after the other. I called the fish store, arranged to pick up a man who helps care for fish as needed (makes house calls) and found out I had been sold diseased fish! I then said surely the store would replace the fish, but no, that was not their policy. I was told maybe they would if I had called within the day I had bought them. Well, I didn’t know I had a problem then! Sigh. Kenyan shopping is very different than American. The customer is not always right and it is often hard or impossible to return items once bought. I have been able to return a light bulb once when I got the wrong type as long as I had a receipt. So, some things are returnable. Just hard to know.

Anyway, back to Westgate. This past Saturday, Westgate was stormed by terrorists during the early afternoon when malls tend to be very crowded. Many people from our Rosslyn community were affected. A staff member and her husband were caught in the building for a few hours while the shooting and grenades were going off. Thankfully they made it out ok without injuries, but were very shaken.

Two students in middle school were injured, one was shot in the arm and the leg, the other has severe burns from a grenade blast. The student who was shot also lost her father who died from gunshot wounds and the other student lost his mother. Many other students at our school were caught in the building for a while, but did manage to get out safely. There are deaths in extended families and or friends of students from school. All are in mourning.

As a school we are doing all we can to support our community. School is continuing, we have counselors present, teachers have been briefed in trauma response, but parents are told to keep their children at home if it doesn’t feel safe to send them or if they need more time to heal. The 50 flags in front of our administration building which represent the countries of our student body are all flying at half mast.

It is now Tuesday night and for the last three days we have been hearing non-stop helicopter noise as they fly overhead, sporadic gun fire noise, and could view thick smoke coming from Westgate yesterday when a fire broke out. (Sunday night around 4am we woke with a start because transformers outside our house burst and gave off loud bangs and flashes of light. I found my heart rate went up considerably at that moment.)

Now, we wait for closure. We are numb from the pain of this situation. Trying to move on with life, even though the “background stress” of an on-going siege just a few miles away is taxing. Praying to God for healing, hope, and peace to all involved. We are thankful for the many who are praying on our behalf.

(That was written in September and then I never got around to adding photos of our summer trip so it never got sent.)

Now for part 2, October 2013.

We are just finishing up our first quarter of this school year. I have parent teacher conferences tomorrow.

I was in the mood to bake this weekend so bake I did! Friday after school I made whoopie pies. A group of high school students “dropped” by after school as well because they were friends of Anisa and Karen and were waiting for an evening school music program. They sampled the goodies.

Saturday I made funny cakes, the crust for the dough was in the freezer from an earlier time, I just needed to thaw it and roll it out. Then I made Savory Brazillian Beans from Extending the Table cookbook for our dinner. I ended the day by making chocolate chip cookies. Some more students ended up stopping by today. They got a snack too.  🙂

Anisa and Karen said their friends talk about how they really like having John as their English teacher, he is so interesting and funny! And they really enjoyed our hospitality! Hmmmm, now how to let them know we don’t want to feed them every day and that weekends, a time when many students tend to hang out at campus to play soccer or basketball on their own or with friends, teachers don’t want to spend a lot of the time with the students at their house! We told the girls once in a while is fine, just not all the time. The girls said students also “drop by” other teacher’s houses from time to time to get a drink or bit to eat as well. We are now one place on the list. Our life is never boring. But how would it be with an eighth grader and ninth grader in the house?

(Interesting notes – The sugar we use here is brown in color, larger granules than the sugar in the States, and at times has little stones or bits of dirt in it. I pick out the bigger dirt that I see but know I don’t get it all. A bit of roughage, I guess. We don’t have chocolate chips so I cut up choc. bars to use instead. My oven heats unevenly, so I always put an extra tray under my baking tray. It seems to diffuse the heat for more uniform baking and less burning. My oven is tiny! I can only use one small tray at a time, no room for more.)


Jacaranda tree in bloom next to school pool. Beautiful.

Karen is not able to play basketball right now because of her hurt wrist. She needs to give it complete rest for a few weeks to see if that can help it heal, otherwise she may need surgery and we really do not want that. She had to give up horse riding too. It hasn’t been easy. In PE right now they have their swim unit. Because she isn’t allowed to swim because of the wrist, she has to run! We are telling her she will be in great shape for soccer season which is next!

Anisa is in her JV basketball season and doing very well. It is fun to watch her play. She has quick feet and knows how to take the ball down the court strong. She is a tough competitor.

John is also in his basketball season, coaching the varsity girl’s team. They have made quite a bit of improvement over the season which is what you want to see. That has been good, but it wasn’t enough to win against the top two or three teams in their league. John has put a lot of time and energy into coaching, and has done a great job!


Remsburgs visit from Saudi Arabia!

In October John and I went to our favorite place to relax, Mt. Lodge. Loved it, as always.


On road to Mt. Kenya. Notice guard rail jutting into road.


Bananas for sale by the side of the road.


Three men on a motorbike.


hauling by bike

Karen had her Cultural Field Studies trip the other week. She said it went well, although she never wants to camp again! They spent their time hiking an extinct volcano named Suswa, helped out at a rural school, and helped to build a road. They also spent some time with the local people of the place they were visiting.

Well, that is it for now.
I will try to write more frequently.
It is important to have good intentions. 🙂

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Letter to friends and family about year events and furlough plans -May 2013

Hello everyone,
This letter attached below was written a few months back and then forgotten. I added a bit here to help catch you up from the end of the letter to now.

We finally got a bunch of family photos on our wall as well as a wall hanging. Feels nice. It took so long in part because we have concrete walls and can’t just hammer a nail in any time we want, we have to ask the school to do it for us.

The Kenyan elections went quite smoothly, for which we are thankful.

Karen and I had a wonderful trip to Korea with her classmates in March/April. We posted about it on our family blog.

We have two weeks of school left in our second year at Rosslyn Academy. Time has gone quickly. This time of year is full of end of year activities. Anisa recently had a choral concert and Karen was involved in a band concert. Anisa has an eighth grade graduation in a week. We are gearing up for our trip back to the states as well. We leave Kenya to return to PA/VA on May 31, the day after school gets out here.
Now we only have one school day left!

Anisa had her eighth grade promotion yesterday. It was very nice and she looked beautiful. Wow, we now have a high schooler!

Karen played her saxophone today with the band for the high school graduation. I am proud of her being asked to participate.

Well, one last half day with the students tomorrow. Everything is off the walls, all student items have been sent home. Certainly has the feel of end of year times. 🙂

I am posting our tentative schedule below of our time in America this June and July. I know we have talked with some friends and family about doing things together, and then we never actually planned the event or time to be together. Please feel free to check in with us about a time that suits, and we will see what we can work out.

Glenda, for the family

Leonard Family Schedule

June 1-3 Arrive in States, spend time with Leonard parents/family
June 3-5 Time in Virginia with Swartz family
June 6-9 Time in PA with Kratz parents/family
June 10-12 Time in VA with Swartz family
June 13-15 Time in KY with family
June 15-17 Time in GA with friends
June 17-21 Time in FL with family
June 21-22 Time in GA with friends
June 22-30 Time in VA with Swartz family
? June 26-29 Time with family in PA

July 1-6 Time in VA and Pittsburg, PA
July 7-11 Time in VA with Swartz family – EMU basketball camp July 7-11
July 11-13 Time in PA with family
July 13-27 Time in VA with Swartz family – EMU soccer camp July 14-18
July 27 Leave for Kenya


Letter to family and friends 2012-2013

We began the year 2012 with a visit from Sherry and Katelyn Kratz last January. What a wonderful way to begin the year! (Keep in mind we love visitors, let us know when you would like to come.)

John, Anisa, and Karen are all involved in sports at school. John coaches the girls varsity basketball team during the first season of the school year and boys varsity basketball second season. This year the second season is cut short, only about two months instead of three, because the presidential elections are coming up and there is a possibility of unrest in the country. Please help us pray for peace these next few months.

Anisa and Karen were both involved in basketball during the first season and football, also known as soccer, during the second season. Both were important players in end of season tournaments as well. Karen made a foul shot at the end of the game to win the basketball tournament and Anisa made a penalty kick at the end of the soccer game to win the soccer tournament. (We were pumped!) Karen also participated in track first season. She ran the 50, 100, 200 meters, and then even tried a 400 relay, long jump, and high jump. This was a first for her and she did very well. Karen hopes to play volleyball in the third season.

Other things Anisa is involved in/enjoys are; the school choir, the BlueSky youth group, reading, her new iPad, Facebook, texting, photography, painting finger nails, making things, and spending time with friends.

Karen is also involved in/enjoys a number of things such as; school worship group, school band (saxophone), the BlueSky youth group, reading, crafts, horse riding, owning a horse farm on the internet site Howrse, caring for her fish, listening to music, and spending time with friends.

Anisa and Karen both played on a Kenyan girl’s basketball team in July. The team was for girls aged 16-24, and they were 12, but they did great!

Glenda enjoys doing things with family members such as; watching the various activities her other family members are participating in, playing card games, as well as, reading, cooking, baking, figuring out her new iPad, and spending time with friends.

The biggest difficulty this past year has been John’s health. We are thankful to say that he is recovering well from his back surgery in South Africa this past September. From time to time he still has difficulty with severe back pain, although it is not the same type of pain as before surgery. With physical therapy, John has been working hard to build back his body strength and is now able to exercise most weeks for a short bit every other day.

We have now lived in our house for a year and it feels more like home. We have planted flowers, green leafy things, and some fruit trees around the outside. We live right next to the main gate of our compound and hope that in time some of these plants may also give us a bit of privacy.

We celebrated Christmas Eve here with a church service and then a community pool side party, and yes, there was swimming involved since it was only around 70*. Christmas Day we celebrated by opening gifts, playing games, and having a meal with friends.

We have taken some trips as a family to Masai Mara National Game Reserve and to Malindi Beach on the northern coast of Kenya. We have also gone with friends to Nakuru National Game park, Nairobi National Game Park, Crescent Island at Lake Naivasha, and various places that have a house or cabins available for a few nights.

Two trips we have planned for this spring are during our spring break from school. Karen’s Korean class, along with other students in other Korean classes at Rosslyn, are going to Korea this April for a 10 day field trip. Glenda is going as well as a chaperone. John and Anisa are going for a week to the beach with a bunch of other friends from the Rosslyn community.

This past October we decided as a family to renew our contract here at Rosslyn for another two years. That means that we are coming home to America this June and July for a furlough, but then will be returning to Kenya for two more years, 2013-2015. In 2015 Anisa will be finishing tenth grade and Karen ninth grade.

God is very evident in our lives here in Kenya.

We are glad for safety as we walk and drive various places in the city of Nairobi and in the country side of Kenya. The roads are full of huge holes, especially during a rainy season, and drivers are unpredictable.

We are glad for doctors that are able to help us when we get sick, especially when we need surgery. We are thankful God helped us find the surgeon John needed and that God helped us navigate all the challenges that came along with that.

We are glad for friends, both in the states and here in Kenya. It takes time to build friendships in new places, we are thankful for being further along in the process and the patience God has given us as we continue in this process.

We are thankful God has blessed us in abundance, so much so, that we can share things with our friends here, particularly our Kenyan friends who don’t have as much as we do.

We are thankful that the bombings and outbreaks of violence in Nairobi and in other places of Kenya have not effected us personally. We are saddened by it, but have not been physically injured.

So there is a quick update on the Leonard family. We miss all of you and hope to be able to see many if you this next summer.
John, Glenda, Anisa, and Karen

Sent from my iPad

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Korea trip -March 2013


DAY 1 – Karen and three friends eating their first Korean meal of many. This was in the Inchon Korean Airport on the day of our arrival. Typically Koreans use a spoon and chopsticks for meals.

In school this year, Karen took Korean language class. She said she wanted to learn Korean because a number of her friends were Korean and she wanted to learn their language. She studied hard and did well, we are proud of her efforts. At one point during the semester Karen said they, the students, asked their Korean teachers if they could take a field trip to Korea. I just smiled and thought, wouldn’t that be nice…but it will never happen.


Karen and her friend, Michelle, on the airport bus on the way to the church which was hosting our group. All of the buses in Korea were very fancy, clean, and comfortable, such as you see in this photo.

Well, I was certainly surprised when about  a month later Karen said they actually were planning a trip to Korea for any students in the Korean classes! So, this past March 12 students and 8 adults went to Korea, four of the adults were Korean. (The three teachers and one of their sons who is a senior and could help with the boys on our trip.)


Standing in front of the guest apartments the Halleluiah church was allowing us to use. It was bitter cold and windy on the day of our arrival. Much colder than it ever is in Kenya.


A view from in front of the church. Their church had a huge sanctuary, was televised, and had four services a day.


At first we wondered if we should allow Karen, a 13 year old, on a field trip to another country. That was asking a lot. But then, it also really seemed like a great adventure, and when when would she ever have a chance to go to Korea again, a country that doesn’t speak a language we understand? Then I also thought, why don’t I ask if they could use more chaperones, maybe I could go with Karen! The answer was yes.


More Korean food. One of the teachers is explaining what we are eating. Can you tell by our faces that we are exhausted? 🙂 This is the evening meal of our fist day in Korea…after not sleeping well on our flights there.


I enjoyed most of the food we ate. They have a lot of Kimchi with their meals, a red, spicy vegetable.

So, flights were booked and plans were made. It didn’t really sink in that we were traveling to Korea until the week of the trip. Then it both scared and excited me.


The church service. Notice the full choir, orchestra, and a big tv screen up front.

The three Korean teachers were very well planned and the trip went very smoothly. I enjoyed the trip and was exhausted by the end, but had learned so much. It was well worth it.

The trip was planned over our school spring break which was 10 days long. A nice little surprise came from the Kenyan government while on our trip. They proclaimed the day after we returned as a national holiday because of the swearing in of the new president. Because of this, we had a day to adjust to normal sleeping and a less busy schedule before back into the daily school routine. It was a really nice gift.


The church used little paper “cups” for their drinking water. The cups were flat like an envelope. You opened them, put water in them, and drank as best you could. I think it was a learned art how to do it well.

Here are some thoughts from our experience.

It is really hard to navigate in a country where you can not read or understand anything. Thankfully we had Koreans in our group to guide us! Karen said she could read a lot of the Korean signs but didn’t know what they actually said. Not bad for only having one semester of the language so far. 🙂


The church also served a free lunch of noodle soup to anyone who wanted it every Sunday.

ImageThe travel time to Korea seemed long, but it went well. We had a 5 hour flight from Nairobi to Abi Dhabi, then an 8 hour flight from Abi Dhabi to Korea. We used Etihad airlines.


Here I am along with two of the Korean teachers, one of their friends from Korea, and another chaperone on our trip. Notice how tall I appear.


Our group


Using bus transport in the city of Seoul.


at an aquarium


Karen with two of her Korean teachers. The lady in pink is made of wax, we are in a Kimchi museum.


The students were so excited to eat at McDonalds, Dunkin’ Donuts, KFC, Burger King, and Cold Stone Creamery whenever they could during our trip!


On the subway


orderly traffic


Karen and Michelle with some security personnel in a historical area.


Me with Eunice and QuanOk.


Karen LOVED seeing a horse. Wanted to take it with her.


historical site of past kings and queens


very detailed painting and woodwork


I loved being able to share this experience with Karen. Notice the city buildings in the background behind the historical structure.


walking through some streets full of shops


a shop selling traditional style boxes for jewelry


Sitting in front of a river that runs under Seoul City – can you tell they are cold? 🙂




Karen in front of trees filled with wishes locked onto metal trees at the city tower where you go to see over the city.


Seoul City view from top of tower.


Visiting another site to learn more of the Korean history.


Karen was a celebrity of sorts in Korea. She had many random Korean people come up and want to take pictures with her. They also often pulled other black people from our group into the picture. Maybe being black equals celebrity status! John actually had a Korean student in his class ask him after our trip why he saw John’s daughter on a Korean blog! Made us laugh. Could also be the pink hair.

Our group after a show on a rainy day at an amusement park. It was COLD!

Our group after a show on a rainy day at an amusement park. It was COLD!

Karen and Michelle wearing a Hanbok, traditional Korean dress. Some Korean ladies gave everyone one as a gift!

Karen and Michelle wearing a Hanbok, traditional Korean dress. Some Korean ladies gave everyone one as a gift!


another traditional Korean meal

another traditional Korean meal

At night we slept on mats on the heated floor in this guest house. This is the traditional Korean way. In the morning you fold up the beds and then you have room to sit on the floor.

At night we slept on mats on the heated floor in this guest house. This is the traditional Korean way. In the morning you fold up the beds and then you have room to sit on the floor.

Another Korean city

Another Korean city

Standing on the beach.

Standing on the beach.

Visiting a fish market.

Visiting a fish market – so much to see – smelled quite fishy



Visiting tombs of ancient kings and queens. Each mound is a tomb.

Visiting tombs of ancient kings and queens. Each mound in the background is a tomb.

Horse gear from ages past.

Horse gear from ages past.

More palaces showing historical sites.

More palaces showing historical sites.

enjoying Korean food

enjoying Korean food and good friends

visiting the Demilitarized Zone between North adn South Korea on a cold and rainy day

visiting the Demilitarized Zone between North and South Korea on a cold and rainy day

photo with the lead pastor of the church where we staying much of the time in their guest rooms and went to their Sunday service

photo with the lead pastor of the church where we stayed most of the week in their guest rooms and went to their Sunday service

getting ready to head back home to Kenya

getting ready to head back home to Kenya

daughter and mom - great memories

daughter and mom – great memories – so glad we could share them

Posted in Uncategorized | 2 Comments