Thursday, July 26, 2012

From Grumbling to Rejoicing

One of the most memorable moments of our 600-mile, 2-week bicycle excursion through Kenya in May was the afternoon we arrived at the Free Methodist children's academy on the top of a hill in Kericho.  

Our team had ridden the week in sunshine up until our arrival in Kericho.  On the outskirts of town, a thunderstorm moved in and the clouds opened up with heavy rain.  Our cycling gear soaked, we wearily rode through the city's slippery streets.  We descended steep hills and climbed even steeper ones in the rain on our way to the academy, which was our destination for the evening.  The last street we turned onto was a sharp uphill climb that was nearly a waterfall of mud and debris flowing toward us. Broken and rutted, it was impassable on our bikes (only one of us, Kevin, an expert cyclist, managed to make it up the treacherous hill).  Drenched and tired, slipping and sliding and shivering, we trudged up the hill with our bikes to the gate of the academy. Most of us were grumbling on the inside if not on the outside.

But when we guided our bikes the through academy gates, we were met with a surprise.  Shouts of jubilant welcome from more than 300 children who had been waiting for us with anticipation erupted uproariously. They cheered. They yelled.  They called out.  They chanted.  They sang.  Completely surprised and overwhelmed, we soaked it in, forgetting both the pouring rain and our weariness.  We were speechless.  Our grumbling turned to joy.  All we could do was to laugh and cry.  It is an experience I will never forget.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Picking Tea Leaves

Our team rode for several days in the tea country of the Kenyan highlands. Tea plantations stretched out as far as the eye could see in every direction.  We encountered this man, who picks tea at one of hundreds of tea plantations.  We were given a full demonstration of tea pickers' tedious daily work. Workers graciously explained to us the process that takes a tea leaf picked from these fields to what is brewed in our tea cups. This man was interesting to us, also, because of his stretched ear lobe from earlier days when we wore tribal rings.  Kenyan tea, by the way, brewed in hot milk and served as chai, is delicious.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Children Running Alongside Us

Wherever there were children on their way to or from school when our entourage of eight cyclists passed by, they would run after and alongside us.  Kenyan children seemed to take great joy in keeping up with us as long as they could, which wasn't too difficult when we were climbing a hill.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Joseph's Ride

On the first day of our bike ride through Kenya, we traveled west from Nairobi and descended into the Great Rift Valley to begin our cycling.  As we pedaled toward Narok, we passed this young man, whose name we learned was Joseph. Joseph caught up with us and started riding with us--he on this heavy, single-speed bike and we on our lightweight, multi-speed bikes. When he was still keeping up with us and hanging around after more than ten miles at our 18-mph pace, we were not only impressed, but concerned. Wouldn't his parents wonder where he was? Did he know what he was doing? Were we putting him at risk?  One of our hosts talked with him in Swahili and discovered that he was going to the next town for his family and that such rides were common for him.  Wow.  I hope the Kenyan cycling organizations find out about Joseph.  Actually, we found numerous young men riding these heavy, single-speed bicycles who were able to ride with us at our pace for miles, and frequently up some substantial hills. -- John Franklin Hay

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Re-Entry, or Getting Through Reverse Culture Shock

Yesterday, I sent a follow-up email to our Bike Kenya 2012 cycling team.  I share part of it here because it may offer an insight into what is frequently experienced when a person returns from spending time in another culture, particularly in a developing country.  The experience is called re-entry or reverse culture shock.  Below, I've expanded a little on what I shared with our team:

I don't know about you, but I'm experiencing re-entry issues. I miss Kenya and the friends we made there.  I miss our team.  I am struggling to reengage fully with daily duties and ongoing relationships.  I am having trouble appreciating usual conversational topics--cars, clothing, gadgets, concerts, sports, politics, etc.  For now, these seem rather shallow and unimportant.
All this is normal.  It's part of re-entry, or what is called reverse culture shock.  We had an incredible experience.  We were exposed to and immersed in a culture and economy so very different from what is normal in USA.  We saw inspiring things.  We met wonderful people.  We also saw troubling things and situations.  Impressions about life there and at home formed in us that we couldn’t quite understand or articulate.  Then, all of a sudden, we're back in our homeland where there seems to be so much of everything for everyone--with too much to spare.
Welcome to re-entry.  The worlds of "not enough" and "too much" weigh on our hearts and minds. Our experience of being there and being back here can change the way we see things and feel about the way things are valued and done at home.  Frankly, it can be uncomfortable for you and for the people who care most about you.  Just be aware.
If you have not already done so, find somebody (or somebodies) to talk to who has/have also experienced this and who can offer some support and encouragement.  Journal your way through it.  Pray your way through it.  Hey, even bike your way through it.  Just don't not deal with it or try to deal with it alone.
Having experienced this a few times, I find that is helps me to find some way to serve others locally and tangibly.  Serving people close at hand who need support and encouragement is one of the ways our head and heart find a new place of meaning, perspective, expression, understanding, resolution, clarity, and focus forward.
I look at what we have on our hands here as a gift and a burden. It was a blessing to have this unique cross-cultural experience. But this gift leaves us with something of a burden. What shall we do we do with what we experienced? Unlike a souvenir, we can't just put it on a shelf or pack it away. It's somehow with us in our thinking, valuing, choosing and acting every day.
My experience in India in 2007 ultimately found a forward and positive expression several years later as I began to work with International Child Care Ministries in development and communications. Through this role, I am able to impact lives and some of the situations and systems that initially left me troubled and feeling overwhelmed.  May there be some creative ways for each of us to offer grace to others--and change the world just a bit--from this experience.
I do not pray that you will return to "normal," so that this will have been one more passing experience in a string of life experiences--"been there, done that, got the t-shirt."   Instead, I pray that you and I will ultimately be able to use our unique and wonderful experience(s) to become compassionate and graceful advocates in tangible ways in the days ahead.  You have my prayers.  You also have my email and my phone number.
Thanks for your partnership in this endeavor. I am convinced we were brought together uniquely for this mission and experience and that the good that comes from it within us and for others will have multiplied impacts for years to come.
-- John Franklin Hay

Monday, June 4, 2012

Children of Kenya

Everywhere and all along the way of the hundreds of miles our Bike Kenya 2012 team pedaled in Kenya, there were children. Little ones screamed "Jambo!" with glee from the thresholds of their houses as we rode past. Primary school children would run alongside us as long as they could. Older children would wave and flash a bright smile. Wherever we stopped to take a break from riding and take in some water and nourishment, children would gather round.  We saw thousands of children going to or from school and at the ICCM schools we visited. They frame and define Kenya, really.

Kenya's children reflect what is going on around the world. The number of children in the world today is unprecedented. In many developing countries, the majority of the population is under age 17. Like what is reflected in the face of this child our Bike Kenya 2012 team encountered  few weeks ago, the world's children are anxious.

Will their anxiety become despair or hope?  Will it morph into fear and foreboding or blossom into anticipation and possibility?  Please pray and act with us for the children God has put within our reach to have the opportunity to become all they have been created to become to the glory of God. May their lives be fueled by good nutrition, educational excellence, spiritual vitality, and economic opportunity as they move toward adulthood in the years ahead.

Sunday, June 3, 2012

I am still reveling in the beauty and audacity of Hell's Gate National Park near Naivasha, Kenya.  From its high hills, we were able to see far across the Great Rift Valley, including nearby Lake Naivasha and the crater of a volcano.  In the photo, on the left, steam rises from geothermal vents (some harnessed for energy).  At the same time, we were riding our bikes through wild herds of zebra and eland, and passing grazing gazelle, giraffe, impala and warthogs. The collective impact of that day's experience stands out to me as awesome.  With the hymnodist I sing: "All nature sings and 'round me rings the music of the spheres." - John Franklin Hay

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Daniel Shanzuh Shares his Heart for a High School

Daniel Shanzuh, International Child Care Ministries National Coordinator for Kenya, share his heart for an ICCM high school as he stands on proposed property in Eldoret, Kenya. Daniel accompanied us on our 600-mile bike ride in May.

Bike Kenya 2012's purpose is to raise awareness and funds for an ICCM high school in Kenya. We asked family, friends, associates, neighbors and congregations to support us with a per-mile donation for the school.  Thus far, 140 households or groups have contributed. Thank you! We hope more will join in as we still need to raise $10,000 to meet our goal of $40,000 to share with our Kenyan friends.  You can make an online contribution right now with the links in the right sidebar.

Learn more about International Child Care Ministries (ICCM) at

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Hello, Giraffe!

One of Bike Kenya 2012's more unique photos, snapped by Becca Lamp. This is getting up close (and maybe a bit too personal?) with a giraffa camelopardalis at the Giraffe Centre in Nairobi.  Our team visited the centre during the last day of our cycling in Kenya. We thought the giraffe were just really friendly, but the centre staff made it clear they liked us only for the food pellets we had for them.

Monday, May 28, 2012

Bishop Nixon's Vision for a High School

Kenyan Free Methodist Bishop Nixon Dingili stands on an 11.5 acre piece of property adjacent to the Eldoret International Airport and shares the vision he and other faith leaders have for a unique high school at this location.  Our cycling team joined him at this property and prayed for the fulfillment of this dream for our Kenyan friends.

Our Bike Kenya 2012 cycling ride is in support of this vision. We've asked friends, loved ones, associates, and neighbors to give 5 cents, 10c, 25c or $1 per mile of our 600-mile journey to help purchase the property and build the first phase of the school.  Thus far, over 100 households or organizations have responded to our appeal. We are about 3/4 of the way to our goal of $40,000.
If you have been able to contribute, THANK YOU.  Thanks to ALL who have supported with prayers and encouragements.  We will continue to share our mission and story throughout the summer in hopes of reaching our goal and supporting our Kenyan friends as they dream of brighter futures for the children of Kenya.

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Lots of Photos to View

We've posted over 200 photos of our Bike Kenya 2012 experience on Flickr. More photos and video clips will be added.  We're anxious for you to see a bit of what we experienced along our two-week cycling adventure in Kenya in May 2012.

Here's the link:

The photos are in relative sequential order. We'll add context and comments as we have time. For now, browse and enjoy.

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Back Home and Reminiscing

It already seems like a distant dream.  Less than a week back home and the memories of cycling through Kenya come from an entirely different consciousness, it seems.

While the images are fresh and the recollections are easy, our team is journaling, sorting photos, sharing stories, and trying to get back into the swing of daily life.  It's not easy.  As much as I value normalcy, part of me does not want things to resume as "normal." I want what made an impression on me in Kenya--what moved me there--to impact my life here, now, today.

Part of that must be an appreciation for the vastness of the Great Rift Valley and its rich diversity of life.  Like these pelican and leopard at Lake Nakuru, everything we encountered seemed way beyond our expectations and we had little to compare it to.  No zoo we've ever been to can approach the expanse and wildness of Lake Nakuru's natural habitat of life.  One just looks in every direction and back again in sheer awe.

At some point early in the journey, I let go of comparing everything to home and America. "You're not in Kansas, anymore, John," I began to say to myself.  As I let go of comparisons, I began to be able to take in and receive what Kenya was and is, what it offers one's soul, one's senses, the world.  Letting go of comparisons to home makes it possible to enjoy what is occurring all around without reference to one's framework of value, priority, etc.

It's an incredible feeling to turn that corner, to open up to a place and people in that way.  But it makes getting back to "normal" rather difficult.  Instead of getting back to "normal," my prayer for our team--and those who were our hosts and companions on the journey--is that we will all live a new normal: with a wider perspective, with a fuller heart, with a ready compassion, with an awe at the unexpected, and with gratitude for what is possible beyond the horizons we see at the moment.

-- John Franklin Hay

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Bike Kenya 2012 - Top Ten

Through the course of a two-week cross-country cycling tour among friends old and new, there develops a repertoire of experiences, words and phrases that punctuate the event and bring humor anew to the group every time the phrase or experience is mentioned.  Bike Kenya 2012 had more than a few of these. Here's our Top Ten:

1.  “Alex has ANOTHER flat.”
Alex Drummond’s bike punctured tires 7 times--the only bike that flatted.

2. “After we get out of the town, it’s RELATIVELY flat.”
Promises, promises. We had only one flat-land riding day. All the rest were hilly almost from start to finish.  But our guides kept trying to make it seem like "just around the river bend..."

3. “Hey! Hi! Obama!”
To get our attention as we passed by, a man in Kisumu yelled out to us perhaps the only three English words he knew (and, technically, one isn’t English).  You know, of course, that Barak Obama's father was from Kenya (near Eldoret). 

4. “Is that a white or black hippo?”
It’s white or black rhinos, not hippos, Alex.

5. “Finish it!”
A man walking along the roadway, watching us struggle up a difficult hill, gave us a thumbs up and these two encouraging words.  We took his word...and did!

6. “Was that a ‘slip’ or a ‘fall?’”
When one of our team members would have a mishap on the bike, we would enter into a friendly debate with theological implications: "Was that really a fall?  Or was it just a slip?"  A few times it was profoundly a crash. I "fell" or "slipped" five times during the two weeks--four times in Hell's Gate National Park.  Go figure the theological nuances of that!

7. “These transportation vouchers will get you a taxi right to the hotel.”
When our flight in Chicago was cancelled, KLM gave us ground transportation vouchers, which for several hours not a single Chicago taxi driver would accept.

8. “What kind of giraffe [insert any other animal or plant here] are those, Bob?”
Bob, our team member who is a PhD biologist, knew much more about the animals and plants we saw than the game park or zoo guides. He provided context and color commentary to much of what we saw and experienced.

9. “Jambo!” and “How are you?”
Shouted a thousand times a day by children and adults we passed along the roadways. Often toddlers would start jumping up and down and yell at the sight of us and school children would run along beside as long as they could.

10. “Black Mamba.”
a. The name of a deadly-poisonous African snake.
b. A name given to a heavy, steel-frame, single-speed bicycle most common in Kenya.  These tanks carried heavy commercial burdens--eggs, baskets, milk containers, steel.  Sometimes, we would pass riders of black mambas and they would then make incredible efforts to catch up to us--sometimes succeeding.  One young man, Joseph, rode over 10 miles with us.
c. The name Bishop Nixon Dingili gave his bike.  We all named our bikes for fun. Names included: "The Rift Rider," "Kermit the Frog," "Jill," "Dundee," "The Eldoret Express," and "The Blue Bird."

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Climbing in Hell's Gate

ICCM Kenya staff member Benard Kimanzi crests a challenging hill inside
Hell's Gate National Park with Lake Naivasha in the distance. Benard
participated in several stages of our Bike Kenya 2012 experience.

On Our Way Home...With Gratitude

Our Bike Kenya 2012 team said goodbyes to fellow cycling team member Bishop Nixon Dingili and our support /logistics group Sunday evening in Nairobi and headed to Kenyata International Airport for the journey home.  Our team (the "Chicago Five" and "BLT" or "Booths, Lamp Trio") will be en route throughout Monday, with arrivals in Chicago and Cleveland scheduled in the afternoon and evening hours.  We leave behind incredible memories and good friendships; we bring home with us gratitude and an inspired perspective on Kenya's land, people, faith and possibilities.

Bishop Nixon Dingili rode valiantly with our Bike Kenya 2012
 team. Thanks for your inspiration and leadership, Nixon!
The range of people we wish to express gratitude is wide. We simply could not have enjoyed this unique experience without them, whether they served on the front lines, behind the scenes, or in indirect but incredibly supportive ways.

We thank our families--for your blessing and support for our participation in Bike Kenya 2012. Thanks for your patience and grace. We've stepped out of your daily lives for a few weeks, but we hope to bring into each household and relationship a fresh perspective and love because of this unique experience.

We thank every friend, associate, family member, group, congregation, and neighbor who has invested in Bike Kenya 2012's cause: to build a new ICCM high school in Kenya.  Your contribution joins with others to move us closer toward our goal of $40,000 for this critically-needed education initiative. Gracias!

We thank Kenyan Free Methodist Bishop Nixon Dingili for his invitation to do a fundraising bicycle ride in Kenya and for his inspiring participation as a cyclist on the team. Here is a man both of great vision and  great heart.  He trained seriously and rode the ride of a lifetime with us.  I challenge every Free Methodist around the world to dare to follow Bishop Nixon Dingili's example in projects like this.

Vickie Reynen coordinated
daily logistics on our ride.
Thanks so much, Vickie!
We thank ICCM Director Linda Adams, ICCM Kenya National Coordinator Daniel Shanzuh and his assistant Benard Kimanzi, and all who are connected with International Child Care Ministries in Indianapolis and in Kenya.  With the focus of our pedaling effort to raise funds to purchase property and build an ICCM high school in Kenya, their encouragement and coordination has been vital and a blessing. As our team visited ICCM school after school along our route, it became clear to us that ICCM deeply cares for and is determined to create hopeful futures for thousands of Kenyan children.

We thank Free Methodist missionaries Vickie Reynen and Ken Myers for making preparations and coordinating daily logistics for our tour of Kenya and for accompanying us in vehicles every mile of the way.  We simply could not have done it without them.  They led us with grace and patience and kept us focused.

Ken Myers (right) drove a van and assisted with logistics
during our ride. Thanks, Ken, for your grace.
We thank the volunteers who accompanied Vickie and Ken to assist our team in numerous ways.  These became part of our little traveling fellowship as we made our way across Kenya: Emma Buterbaugh, Evan Guse, Emily Guse (all from Columbus, Indiana), Jake Sebok (from Decatur, Illinois), and Daniel Shanzuh and Benard (from the ICCM staff in Kenya). These were always ready with encouragement, humor and helpfulness all along the way.

We thank Alison Osborn, our VISA/Mobilization Team Coordinator in Indianapolis, for providing logistical support and making sure all our papers have been in order.

Team member Becca Lamp with our
three "Columbus Crew" - Ellen Guse,
Evan Guse and Emma Buterbaugh.
We thank every Kenyan ICCM school and church that opened hearts and doors to us during our tour.  We were heartily welcomed by schoolchildren, greeted by school leaders, and spent the night in several schools. We were fed (well!) by people of congregations who made room in their time and efforts for our ragtag crew.  We joined in gracious celebrations and assemblies.  We were permitted to participate in Sunday services in Nyakach and Nairobi and Kibera.  Thank you so much!

To all: thank you.  As Moses declared to the people after they finished constructing the sanctuary in the wilderness: 'May it be God's will that God's presence lives in the work of your hands."

- John Franklin Hay

Saturday, May 19, 2012

We Complete our Cycling Journey in Kenya!

The Karen Blixen house
Hurray! Our Bike Kenya 2012 team safely completed the cycling portion of our journey in Kenya today (Saturday). Our trek took us from Nairobi last week eastward to Narok, Bomet and Kericho, northward to Kisumu and Eldoret, and westward to Nakuru, Naivasha and back to Nairobi.

We concluded with a vigorous ride through the beautiful Ngong Hills in the Karen area of Nairobi, a place made famous by Karen Blixen's life and writings and the "Out of Africa" book and movies. We ended up at the Karen Free Methodist Church and celebrated safety and an unforgettable adventure we will surely never forget.

Mark Booth rejoined our
riders. He's on the mend!
Mark Booth rejoined our riders today, after several days on the mend from a wreck he had last Saturday. Mark took a tumble trying to avoid a pothole as our team departed Kericho. He rode through pain for several days and, after experiencing some swelling in his side and increased pain, underwent x-rays and tests at a hospital in Nakuru. X-rays all showed no broken bones or damage to organs, just bruising. He's been taking prescribed meds and staying off the bike for a few days. Today, he rode the route with vigor. On Sunday, he will speak to the Kibera FMC. Glad he and Megan have been a vital part of our team and that he is well on his way to mending.

Today's ride was surprisingly challenging. It was, after all, the Ngong HILLS. It was undulating terrain with steep descents and just as steep ascents. But the area is so lush and well cultivated.  We stopped by the Karen Blixen house but did not tour it.  Watch the movie "Out of Africa" with Meryl Streep and Robert Redford for the beautiful setting here and across Kenya.  Another movie, "I Dreamed of Africa" is filmed in this area, as well.

Our group also stopped at the Giraffe Centre and had a great time feeding numerous giraffe that are harbored and highlighted here.  A few of us dared to let giraffe take the feed pellets from our mouths. Yuck!  What interesting creatures giraffe are.  Having seen them in the wild at Nakuru and in Hell's Gate National Park, it was fun to learn more about them and have this close encounter.

Our ride today was not only hilly, but in heavy traffic.  It was our closest encounter with so many vehicles all at once. Cycling in urban areas is always a challenge, but it is also very interesting.  What is spread out over many miles and days in the countryside is compacted into a few miles and hours in the city.  For a cyclist, it takes full concentration and a bit of nerve to navigate urban terrains. But the reward can be thrilling.

We celebrated the conclusion of the cycling portion of our journey with dinner at The Carnivore, a popular and unique Nairobi restaurant that features a wide variety of game prepared and brought to your plate--everything from chicken and beef to ostrich and alligator. After peanut butter & jelly sandwiches for lunch most days, it tasted so good. We were happy to gather around a table together and give thanks for the good things of the past two weeks.

On Sunday, we plan to gather with local faith communities and tour some in the afternoon before heading to the airport in the evening for late-night flights. Our journey isn't complete, but we're definitely in wrap-up and return mode.

Again, to all: thank you for your support, prayers, attention, comments, and encouragement. We couldn't have done it without you.

Friday, May 18, 2012

Nearly 3/4 of the Way to Our School Support Goal

This handmade sign welcomed our team back to Nairobi on Friday afternoon.
We pleased to share that more than $10,000 has been received for the new ICCM high school since we began our journey in Kenya. Added to the nearly $20,000 that had been committed to support our Bike Kenya 2012 team per mile before we boarded planes for this international fundraising cycling adventure, we are nearly 3/4 of the way to our goal of raising $40,000.  Thank you!

Having visited the site that is proposed for the new school, having listened to Kenyan leaders and educators describe their vision and plans for it, and having understood the pressing need for it in the lives of young people who are being educated through the seven ICCM primary schools here, we are convinced this project is a cause worthy of your investment.

A few days ago, Becca Lamp, one of our team members, shared an insight and observation about the school what she had while we rode through a driving rain. She likened every raindrop falling as a blessing that will be received as a result of this school and every raindrop hitting the pavement and spreading as the multiple impacts in the lives and leadership through it. Wow! May it be so.

One of many vegetable vendors
 along our ride today.
If you have not yet invested in this effort, please do so or share the need and opportunity with your friends, associates and faith communities.  We really want to leave the gift of a full investment with our Kenyan friends when we leave their beautiful country in about 36 hours from now.

Again...thank you for your support and prayers and investment!

From Naivasha to Nairobi (Karendi)

The day’s ride from Naivasha started with a steady incline that became a more dramatic ascent. We climbed and climbed until we reached the highest point of our two-week journey at 2717 meters, somewhere between Naivasha and Nairobi. The four-hour climb from 8 am to 12 noon was exhausting.

Our exhaustion faded as we looked out over the Great Rift Valley.  It seemed like we could see forever.  We briefly glimpsed a similar view last week as we headed into the south side of the Great Rift Valley.  Today, our view from the north was breathtaking.

A long steady descent into Nairobi was the thrill of the afternoon.  We hardly cranked a pedal for many miles and our speeds were over 25 miles per hour most of the way into Nairobi.  After all the climbing we’ve done, it felt great to coast downhill for a while.

We rode into the Karendi area of Nairobi in formation, led by team member Bishop Nixon Dingili and were welcomed at the Karen Free Methodist Church by those who had sent us off at the beginning of our excursion.  We honored one another and our Kenyan friends with a ceremonial foot washing—trying to reflect the actions of Jesus and the spirit of the “serving safari” we’ve been on.

Tomorrow (Saturday), we take our last ride together in the Ngong Hills on the southwest area of Nairobi.  We’re looking forward to this and to a day of celebration and departure on Sunday.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Lots of Kids in Kenya

Everywhere we go in Kenya, there are lots of kids. They see our entourage coming and run to the road waving, "Jambo" and "How are you?" They walk along the side of the road on their way to and from school.  They they call out from fields in which they are made to work.  They greet us as we ride onto their school campus.  They inspire us with songs and recitations in school assemblies.  They grab our hearts. They are the promise of Kenya and the world.

And they are the focus of our ride from Nairobi to Narok, from Bomet to Kericho, from Kerisho to Kisumu, from Kisumu to Eldoret, from Eldoret to Nakuru, from Nakuru to Naivasha, and from Naivasha to Nairobi.  Please join us in our prayer and confidence in their collective future with a contribution that will help build a needed new ICCM high school in Eldoret. Our goal is to raise $40,000 to make the financial resources for this available and to surround the effort with moral and prayer support until it is accomplished.

Riding Through Hell's Gate

That's the name of the national park our Bike Kenya 2012 rode through today: Hell's Gate.

It is so named both for the craggy cliffs that overlook a deep gorge as well as hot springs that boil up from its lower end. The geothermal power generated in Hell's Gate National Park is a major source of clean, natural energy.

Jack Hughey in front of Fischers's
Tower in Hell's Gate National Park.
Alex Drummond, Ken Myers and
Daniel Shanzu would scale the
peak later in the day.
Hell's Gate is the only national park in Kenya in which visitors are permitted to abandon a guided vehicle and bicycle or hike through the park among the wildlife. There are a few cautions offered guests, but we were pretty much on our own to explore.

Imagine cresting a hill on your bicycle to see grazing leisurely before you giraffe, gazelle, impala, warthogs, water buck and zebra. Imagine waiting for a herd of zebra to cross the road before you can continue down the road. Imagine observing a giraffe in its natural habitat just fifty yards away while you rest on your bicycle.  That's Hell's Gate.  It had a Jurassic Park feel to it.

The rock formations and geothermal aspects of the park were compelling.  Magma is close to the surface in the Great Rift Valley and the boiling springs are part of that reality.  Team member Bob Burtch has shared details of the geography and diversity of life in this area in ways that have helped us appreciate it so much more.

Our team rode our bikes 10 miles to the park entrance, cycled about 20 miles inside it through the course of the day, and then rode 10 miles back to our guest house in heavy rain. Though our ride was less than usual and did not take us anywhere closer to our destination, it was vigorous and the day was fascinating.

We were happy to have our support team join us on bikes as we explored Hell's Gate today.  Vickie Reynen, Emma Buterbaugh, and Evan and Ellen Guse (all from Columbus, Indiana) enjoyed the day with us in the park.

Our team is invigorated, but tired and sore. Some are sunburned. Some are saddle sore. Some are dealing with some short-term numbness in our fingers. But we are generally in pretty good condition.  Mark Booth continues to feel better from the impacts of his tumble last week. We are determined to finish well.

Tomorrow morning, we saddle up early and head for Nairobi. It's a 54-mile trek. It will be mostly uphill, as we are in the Great Rift Valley beside Lake Naivasha. We will ascend to over 1600 meters--which is the elevation of Nairobi.  We look forward to riding to Nairobi on Friday and then to a day-long ride among the Ngong Hills on Saturday.