more wanyama {animals} from our safari

{hyena}

{hippo out of water}

{zebra stripes}

{gnu… wildebeest}

{muddy warthog}

{the tallest living animal}

{sleepy crocodile}

{running from crocs}

{at one point we saw 38 elephants together}

{hippo pool}

{spiderman lizard}

{sparring impala}

{three’s company}

{crown crane}

{just a cool shot}

{pure beauty}

{thankful crew}

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the BIG four+one

In Kenya, some of the most famous animals on safari (and most difficult to hunt by foot according to various sources) are called the Big 5: rhinos, buffalo, lions, elephants and leopards.  This past weekend in the Maasai Mara we got to see four + a cheetah, which our guide said was a close enough substitute for a leopard!  I’m amazed at how gorgeous this place is and all its creation.  Was a refreshing time to bask amidst His glory… enjoy the pics!

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Karibu Kenya!

Quick update: The padres have made it safely to Kenya with all of their luggage!  I am so thankful and we’re doing great… Yet there was one small incident last night.  A little geco was hanging out in my flat last night and my mom almost stepped on it.  Yep, there was a small scream, which quickly lead to her zipping all of her suitcases…. Karibu Kenya momma!

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How nice are they?!

Recently I’ve been blabbing to everyone about my parents coming to Kenya (yay, yay, YAY!) because I just can’t believe it and I just can’t wait!  So this week when I went in to pay my rent to the manager of my apartment, there was no exception.  I asked him if there would be any way possible they could change the sheets on my bed on a certain day, so they’d be fresh and clean for my parents.  (My apartment is furnished which includes a change of linens 2x/week – so nice!)  He responded, “Well, where are you going to sleep?”  I told him on the couch, no big deal.  And he said, “Oh no, you can’t do that.  You’ll get back problems.  We’ll give you an extra mattress while they’re here.  What else do you need?”  Seriously?  How nice are they?!  So when I came home this afternoon, this is what I found:

Thank you Lord for providing such kind people around me (and thank you that I won’t get back problems now!).  Oh, and did I mention that my parents depart from Detroit TODAY!??!?!

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We did it!

This is Betty, a co-worker from Amani who is also friend and running partner!  This morning, along with my friend Anke, we {mostly!} ran a 10k to raise money for people groups without a Bible in their language.  Because of this race, the Bible will be completed in 15 additional languages.  Awesome purpose, awesome workout, awesome friends… Thanks for pushing me to complete this ladies!

This is me and Betty… real proof I was there… sorry about the horrible image.  I’m the pale one with half a head ;)

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Ndengu Day

So many people ask about what I eat in Kenya.  Truthfully, I eat a lot of the same foods I do in the states.  But on Thursday afternoons I go traditional and eat Ndengu at Amani… and I LOVE it!  Ndengu is made with green grahams, cooked with carrots.  So so nice!  I am always happy on when I hear it is Ndengu Day!

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St. Andrews School in Turi, Kenya

Last week we had the awesome privilege of hosting a group of 7 yr old students from a boarding school in Turi, Kenya.  The represent the Junior Choir for their school and were performing in Nairobi in the afternoon so spent the morning with us!  Joyce, our Country Director, was excited to host them.  In her words, “It is one of our great joys at Amani for us to build into our children and pass peace on to them!”

They were welcomed with song by Josephine, our Amani Watoto (Children of Peace) leader and were lead on a tour of the facility.  It was so cool to have the Amani women introduce themselves and share what country they are from because the kids did the same and some were from the same countries and found joy in that!  (Kenya, Uganda, Congo…)

They learned about love and forgiveness through our Unity Quilt.  Each panel here shares how different African cultures practice forgiveness.  And then they learned how true and lasting forgiveness happens through Christ alone.  {Can you find the red cross?)

I got to be a part of it by creating an Amani Watoto banner for them, which was also was a craft project.
It was such a joy to have these kids visit and make their hand-mark and learn what it means to be an ambassador of peace.  I couldn’t stop smiling all day because of them.  Before playing on the playground and eating lunch in the garden, they left us with two songs.  Enjoy!

st andrews junior choir_1 from Ali Wood on Vimeo.

st andrews choir_2 from Ali Wood on Vimeo.

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Have I mentioned this SUPER exciting news?!

It involves this stack of fabrics… Any guesses?

Okay, I can’t wait for you to guess… My parents are coming to Kenya!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!  This has been on my prayer/impossible list for a couple of years now and in just one week, Lord willing, it will be true!  So what does this stack of fabrics have to do with my parents visit?  My mom is going to spend some time in the quilt department at Amani and teach some ladies how to sew a new quilt pattern… out of these fabrics.  I can’t wait!  The Amani women already love her and ask about my parents visiting almost daily now.  So let the countdown begin… 7 days!

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Fashions for Freedom

Last year we launched Amani Ya Juu in the war-torn country of Liberia.  How did we do this?  With a fashion show!  Yes, that’s right… A fashion show in the middle of the jungle!  The story of Liberia holds a lot of tragedy and even today many people are forced into prostitution and human trafficking to feed their families due to the lack of any other industry there.  In Liberia, we wanted the community to realize this is not okay and that their women, their young daughters, are made in God’s image and are too valuable to be treated in such a way.  We wanted to stand against this atrocity and provide another way for the women in their community.  And so to share this message we held a fashion narrative in the community where Amani Ya Juu was planted, to share a story of spiritual TRANSFORMATION through fashion.

With the help of fashion designer Korto Momolu, a native of Liberia herself who fled to the USA at age 6, we were able to have high fashion donated to us.  She created garments out of African textiles that tell a story.  A story in three sections: Separation, Transformation and Celebration.  As the clothes transform from dark to light, so does the hope that these women discover which ultimately comes to fruition with a celebration of true peace, true dignity and true worth.

I don’t want to give too much away, but in Southeast Michigan, this story is going to be told again with these same garments!  Please come and support this powerful event.  The cost of your presence goes toward supporting Amani Liberia.  And be prepared to shop too.  Amani Ya Juu products from our Liberia center as well as Nairobi and Burundi will be available for you!

It is a joy for me to know that you will get a taste of my African experience stateside… so go get your ticket, be transformed and ENJOY!

{a sneak peak of the garments!}
{the runway we created in the dilapidated theatre ruined by war}

{watching the show!  this was the first time this town had come together as a community in over 20 years because of war}

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the art of hand washing

If you own or have access to a washing machine you are in the world’s elite.  Seriously, you are.  (I can’t find a good statistic on this, but if you make $25,000/yr you are in the worlds top 10% richest – according to the Global Rich List website.  That’s not very relative unless you consider that most people making this much money a year probably have easy access to a washing machine.)  I’ve been wrestling a lot lately with feelings of being privileged, fortunate, spoiled.  I’ve always lived somewhere that had a washing machine, whether it was in my parents home or the college dorm, apartment building or conveniently in my condo.  Even in Kenya last year I lived in houses that had their own washing machines.  But that is not common in the world we live in.  It’s beyond uncommon.  It’s luxury.

Now that I’m living on my own in the city, my flat doesn’t have a washing machine nor the ability to hook one up, so I’m learning the art of hand washing these days.  It’s a lot of work!  Here’s a tip:  Don’t wait until a week or two goes by before you start.  Wash your dirty clothes every other day so it doesn’t become a full day’s work for you in the end!

Hand washing, with a certain perspective, can be one of those mundane tasks that allows you time to breathe, time to think, time to pray…  (I once met a friend who prays for her children’s purity when she folds their underwear… love that!)  Don’t get me wrong… these feelings surely will wane and I’m certain I wouldn’t be so Donna Reed about all of this hand washing if I had the additional laundry for a husband and any amount of kids.  And I certainly wouldn’t even be saying anything of this if I hadn’t grown up in the culture I did.  Let’s be real, it’s just plain hard work.

But let’s be thankful when we get to throw our clothes into a washing machine next time.  I want to remember to be thankful when the convenience is mine.

…and Dad, aren’t you so proud of my quad-clothesline I created out of my shower?!  I owe all of my MacGyver skills to you!

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