Thursday, December 14, 2017
After going to Kenya 17 times since 2009, I've fallen in love with the country and its people. I've also gone from being a snapshot taker to a serious wildlife photographer and have been on over 30 photo safaris to various national and private game parks throughout Kenya. In the past year, I started my own photography business, Photo Art by Dave and have a web site that I am constantly adding to and tweaking. It's at www.photoartbydave.com. You can view my nature photos from Kenya, Texas and other places for free and everything is also available for sale as canvas prints, prints, downloads, mouse pads, coffee mugs, t-shirts, blankets, etc. If you want something and it isn't offered, I can probably get it for you from another vendor.
I bring up the photography business because I am in the planning stages of arranging for several photo safaris to take place during the week after the mission trip. The successful wildlife photographers that I know and admire are either working for National Geographic (the odds of that for me are about the same as me getting drafted by the NBA!), already have built multi-media empires or they are operating photo safaris. I already have the groundwork laid for the safari business since I have our good friend Catherine Wangari and her Mission Opportunities travel agency in my corner and we have a stable of the best wildlife and birding drivers/guides around. I stayed over for 3 extra days in November of 2016 and got over 5,000 pictures, mostly of birds, as this was my primary focus at the time. Out of a possible nearly 1200 possible species in East Africa, we identified nearly 500, which is a home run, when you consider that many birds migrate and are not available in one area all year round. Of course, we got lots of pictures of lions, giraffes, zebras, crocodiles and all of the other usual suspects. I'll have more information by the first of the year, since it's important to book travel early to get the best prices on airfare. If you would like to be added to an email list of prospective participants in these photo safaris, please email me at email@example.com.
It's still amazing to me all of the good things that have come from doing the Lord's work over the years in Kenya. I've made lifelong friends, we've seen sight being given to the blind, little children healed from congenital diseases and thousands of people coming to a saving faith in Christ. God has always blessed both the giver and the receiver in my experience. Many times, the giver is really the receiver and vice versa!
More to follow as more details emerge about both the mission trip and my safari opportunity.
Finally, please look through the blog posts from previous mission trips. There are links to hundreds of pictures of our travel, what we do in the clinics, where we stay, the sights we see, etc.
Sunday, June 4, 2017
We boarded our plane and left the gate right on time but were about 15 minutes late taking off as we waited in line behind others. We are about 2 hours from Houston as I write and it has been a pretty smooth flight so far. The Fasten Seat Belt light only came on as we approached the East coast, a common experience. We were fed a lunch an hour into the flight. I slept a little after that and then watched a 50th Anniversary show celebrating The Beatles first appearance on the Ed Sullivan on my phone that CBS aired in 2014. That took up a couple of hours. I'm suspecting we'll get a snack before we land. I've been munching on trail mix I brought from HEB to keep me going.
It looks like we've made up some of the lost time. I'm just hoping we have a smooth time going through Customs and Immigration so we can get headed back to Austin. More to follow once I'm home.
We got through security in Nairobi without a hitch and took off on time at 11:15 pm local time. In the past, our flight left at 11:50. While 35 minutes might not seem like much, it's a big difference when you're dog tired. We all got good sleep on the 8 hour flight to Heathrow and I'm writing this on my phone in Terminal 5. As I noted earlier, I left my laptop with my dear friend Barrack for use in his photography and his Fikisha ministry with the street children in the slum of Kawangware. While my backpack is considerably lighter, it feels very good knowing why. Thank you Lord for providing for your people!
Our next flight to Houston should be about 9 hours. We arrive there at 2:15 pm cst and should clear customs in about an hour. Randy is picking us up and I hope to be home before 7. With any luck, I'll get word out from Bush International airport that we made it that far. I wonder if we'll stop for Blue Bell in Brenham? Only time will tell! Keep following the blog for the next few weeks. There are lots of stories to tell and pictures to share that time, flaky Internet and exhaustion have kept from you so far!
Saturday, June 3, 2017
We had breakfast at Rosa Mystica at 7 and were in the Nairobi National Game Park by 8am. My driver from my 2 extra days of photo safaris last November, Simon, was our driver. He quickly found lions, giraffes, zebras, water buffalo, warthogs, elans, rhinos, water bucks, gazelles, impalas and a large crocodile to name a few. We had a shortened safari so that we could also go to the world famous Elephant Orphanage. It was entertaining and informative. Diane and Elena adopted a 1 year old elephant named Molima.
We had lunch at the Veranda. Simon regaled us with all kinds of stories. After lunch, we proceeded to the giraffe feeding attraction, where I got a picture of Kelly the Giraffe kissing Elana. Actually, she bad a piece of food in her mouth that Kelly retrieved. We all had a good laugh.
We went back to Little Daughters for showers and joined with incoming teams for a worship service. Elena, Diane and I each got to share about our clinic before Pastor Mike from Catherine's church gave the sermon.
We are now at the airport waiting to board our flight. More to follow from London. Please pardon typos, I'm writing on my cell phone the rest of the trip.
Friday, June 2, 2017
We had another bang up day. Even with closing the clinic gates a little early so we could make sure we served everyone that was already there, we saw 641 patients and several more people confessed Christ. For the week, we ended up with 2765 patients plus 300 school kids got screened for eye problems. 97 souls were won over for the Lord as well! Thanks be to God!
Tomorrow, the Westergren's head to the Masai Mara for a couple of more days of family time in Kenya. We three will do a photo safari at the Nairobi National Game Park followed by lunch and hopefully we will feed some Giraffes at another place. We then will shower at the Little Daughters of St. Joseph before heading to the airport for the long trip home. More to follow as I am able.