Kenya is about 10,000 miles from our last home in California. That’s about 2 days traveling on airplanes and through airports just to get there. An 11-hour time difference. The languages, the people, the weather are all different. In many ways, we are worlds away from our home.
This past week, I received one of the many weekly updates from our church in Menlo Park, California and was interested to see that a team from the church is coming to Kenya in June. They will be coming to Homa Bay on the shores of Lake Victoria, which is about a 2-3 hour drive from our home in Kakamega. Understandably, this trip got me thinking about home in California. To my surprise I began to realize that after moving and having many family members and friends move away my home is not really back in California; it is in Kenya.
To many of the people on this trip in June, Kenya will be foreign, way out of their comfort zone, a new place that seems so different from their own houses and jobs in Menlo Park. They will travel home with fantastic stories to tell their families about the different world they witnessed during their week or two in Kenya. If they are anything like I was on my short-term trips to Botswana in high school, they will be raving about it for months, and hopefully it will change them for the better. Then slowly, the memories will fade as they return to their normal routine, their work, their church, their friends, their home.
In many ways, we are about to have the same experience. At the beginning of March we will be heading back to the US for a few weeks to see family and friends, eat out at nice restaurants, get our favorite coffee, experience the cold and snow in London and Connecticut, and bask in consistent electricity. However we will return home not to the Bay Area, but to our new home in Kenya. For us, the memories of the US will soon feel a world away and we will return to our normal routine: our work, our apartment in Kakamega, and our friends on this side of the pond. Kenya is home.
We recently acquired a bunch of new furniture from a departing expatriate on our project and our apartment no longer feels like a temporary space. We are cooking more than ever (see attached recipe for Apple Oatmeal Muffins!), inviting company into our living room for food and fun. We are exploring Kakamega (we recently bought bikes so that we can head up to the Kakamega forest). In everything, we are learning to embrace the quirks of living in Kenya like the muffin tins that have weird patterns on the bottoms or the fact that everyone in Kenya wears long pants all the time even though we live right on the equator.
We are still short-term visitors (at least compared to Kenyans), but we are finally feeling like the Kenyan residents that we legally are. We hope that those on the trip with our church or others coming to Kenya get a little taste of what it is like to live here, that they get a little taste of our new home. Karibu Kenya. Karibu nyumbani. Welcome to Kenya. Welcome home.
Apple Oatmeal Muffins (Makes about 12)
Adapted from Plum Poppyseed Muffins from The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook
- 6 tbs unsalted butter, melted and browned
- 1 large egg
- 1/4 cup granulated sugar
- 1/4 cup brown sugar
- 3/4 cup plain, whole fat yogurt
- 1 1/2 cups flour
- 1 cup oats
- 3/4 tsp baking powder
- 3/4 tsp baking soda
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- 1/2 tsp nutmeg
- 1/8 tsp cloves
- 1/2 tsp vanilla
- 1 apple, peeled and chopped into small pieces
- Extra oats, sugar, and nutmeg to sprinkle on top
- Preheat oven to 375 F
- Combine sugars and egg in a bowl, whisk together until smooth
- Brown butter on the stove until it has an amazing, nutty smell and little brown flakes. Add butter, yogurt, and vanilla to the egg/sugar mixture
- In a separate bowl (or lets be honest – I don’t use a separate bowl, I just stir these together on top of the wet ingredients before fully combining them) combine the flour, oats, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves
- Combine dry ingredients with wet ingredients just until moist
- Fold in the peeled and chopped apples
- Grease a muffin tin with butter (I like to use any leftover browned butter, because it gives the muffins a particularly delicious buttery crunchy outside) and drop batter into each muffin cup
- Sprinkle a few dry oats, a pinch of sugar and a pinch of nutmeg on top of each muffin
- Bake for 16-20 minutes, or until brown and crispy on top and knife inserted in the center comes out clean