From the first time I saw We Are the World on MTV in 1985, I was hooked on Africa. I was 6 at the time. I dreamed of coming to Africa to “help”. I had no idea of the journey that would unfold as I followed that dream.
As the years passed, my attention was consistently focused on learning more and more about Africa. I was enthralled with the culture, the people, the stunning landscapes and deep history.
I’m also mesmerized and awed by the sea. I love the coastal culture and for me there is no greater representation of God’s power and creativity in nature than the full moon reflecting off of the sea, palm trees swaying in the wind. Utter bliss.
This love of the coast combined with my love for Africa, naturally led me to Mombasa, Kenya. It’s the culmination of everything I love about Africa, and specifically, the Swahili culture. Swahili is actually an Arabic word meaning “coastal dwellers”, and has now defined a people, region, language and rich culture.
I did not grow up in a financially well off family. However, I did grow up in a family that fostered the idea that we are to dream big and believe in our ability to make manifest those dreams. Since I was 16, my dream has been to live on the beach in Mombasa. 18 years later, here I am.
Ilea and I married on May 8th, 2010. We sat down and said “we are going to believe this Mombasa dream into fruition; we’ll make it manifest, despite all of the odds against us”. We had no money, no concrete plan and very little income. Less than one year later, we are sitting on our balcony, overlooking the sea.
This morning, I woke at 6:30 AM as usual, and stood outside as I sipped my coffee and took it all in. We live in a quaint little two bedroom, one bath condo on the third (top) floor. We have an amazing rooftop where we spend our nights stargazing with my telescope (thank you Ilea and family!). We have a beautifully landscaped common area for a front yard that leads right up to the beach.
The mornings are filled with sounds of exotic birds, geckos (yes, they make noises) and ocean waves; and nothing else. The afternoons are quiet, and the breeze flows soothingly through the house all day. In the evenings, our home is filled with the ever-present symphony of laughter, children and talking from families and visitors on the beach, only 50 meters away. I never tire of that song.
Our home has a new coat of brilliant white from top to bottom. We have no furniture other than a mattress that lies on the floor, draped in a mosquito net. It’s the perfect blank canvas to paint our story and create what my mother calls “a heaven of peace”.
We keep looking at each other and saying, “hey, this is where we live”. We are constantly in awe of it all.
We do the work we love and are passionate about. We have purpose. We have a beautiful marriage. And we just landed the most lucrative (and really cool) consulting contract we’ve ever received. Our adopted Rwandan son, Francois, is moving here to live with us in a month. More on that soon…
In some ways, our lives today seem surreal. But as I contemplate it more this morning, I realize again that this is how our lives were designed to unfold. We were created to live this way.
Every step of the way, we deliberately chose to believe that we could achieve this. We choose not to let fear conquer us. We choose to believe in abundance, that we’ll always have more than what we need. We believe in each other. And we believe that the universe and our Creator are always working for us, not against us.
We chose this life. We didn’t let doubts and social norms stop us from bringing it into fruition. We got out of the way and let it come to us. And now it’s here.
We are blessed, and oh so grateful. And we’re just getting started.