Our First Christmas In Kenya

I was reading another letter to my mom written December 2, 1989. One encouraging thing for me in that letter was that I told her I was becoming a better and consistent cook and housekeeper!  Since you already know that my housekeeping skills caused some problems, I am grateful that it is written down somewhere that I was changing...

This was the interesting part though...

"Tom and I are going to Mombasa for Christmas.  We booked an overnight sleeping car December 24, then we stay at a hotel (would you believe $17 U.S. for a room for 2 plus 3 meals a day!) for 2 nights, then take a sleeping car home on December 27.  So we get a 4 days vacation.  I can't wait.  Sun and the beach."

So I had a couple thoughts on this.  One was that we didn't have a job at this point, even though we had been diligent about looking for two and a half months.  What did we need a vacation for?

The second thing that struck me was remembering the big mistake I made in booking this little vacation.  Everyone in Kenya was so friendly and accommodating and helpful when we met them.  One of the ladies I became friends with told me she had a relative that worked at this great hotel on the beach in Mombasa and that she could get us a room at a very good price for Christmas.  I believed her.  And I told Tom we had the room.  And we booked our sleeping car on the train.  That was a wonderful adventure on its own.  We saw giraffe and zebra and elephants from the train as we travelled through the country.  I had never slept in a train before.  It was wonderful.  We made a lot of stops that woke me up a few times, but the gentle rocking motion of the train quickly put me back to sleep.  It was quite relaxing.

It's a good thing I was relaxed.  Because when we arrived at the hotel, we were told there were no reservation for us. They were full.  There were no rooms to be had. Oh no!!! It gets worse.  I had asked my new friend to also book a room for another couple that had moved to Kenya to help the church, Frank and Michelle Davis. Really, Oh no!!!!  So the four of us stood in the lobby of this hotel with no place to stay!  On Christmas Day!  I was mortified.  How could I have been so trusting and foolish.  Why didn't I ask to see the reservation on paper?  Who knows?!

For some odd reason, I don't remember a lot of other details.  Tom stayed calm and we did find another hotel, not nearly as nice, but adequate, that had two rooms for us to stay at.  It was run by a German man and as I  remember, the food was very good! 

That Christmas was the first time I had been away from my family.  I was 27 years old and almost every one of my Christmas's had been filled with the same traditions.  Christmas Eve at my father's parents.  Christmas morning back at home, opening presents and having a yummy breakfast together.  And then Christmas afternoon at my mother's parents.  I loved Christmas.  It was hard to imagine being away from all my family. 

A few things helped.  One was that the weather was wonderfully warm and sunny, very different than a winter in Michigan!  And taking the train on Christmas Eve was such an adventure it got my mind off everything else.  Then we spent most of Christmas Day at the beach in the warm Indian Ocean.  It was blissful!   It didn't feel like Christmas.  I was with Tom.  It ended up being one of the best Christmas memories I have. And I was reminded that there is no mistake that God can't fix!

Lori ZieglerComment