Out Of Africa

June 23rd, 2011

Out Of Africa - Behind The Awkwardness

“This is me with my family around 1993 or 1994. My parents were planning to move to Africa to become missionaries, so for our photo for the church directory that year, we all wore authentic Kenyan Karanga shirts.”

(submitted by Joel)

40 Responses to “Out Of Africa”

  1. Lise67 says:


  2. jasmine says:

    lol am kenyan and i dnt even wear those,they are kitenge not karanga by the way karanga means to fry.awesome though.

  3. Elizabeth says:

    Um…it’s actually “kitenge” because “karanga” means “to fry” (like meat).
    Nice picture, though!

  4. cliff says:

    i went to church with this family,i remember this picture in the church directory,sooo awesome

  5. thelocket says:

    I love it that the authentic Kenyan Karanga shirts look like they were authentic 80′s tye dye Kenyan Karanga shirts! Total awesomeness!

  6. alisotom says:


  7. Jason says:

    Of course you all wore authentic Kenyan Karanga shirts for the photo, how could you not?

  8. Nicole says:

    There’s Rod . . . where’s Todd?

  9. Iris says:

    I love Mom’s Sally Jessy Raphael glasses. :-)

  10. Andrew says:

    I agree, going to another country to get people to change religions is kind of awkward.

  11. FYI – I don’t know how they got me to smile so convincingly. FTR I was pretty embarrassed about the shirts.

    They probably told me if I smiled big I’d get a milkshake at McDonalds afterwards. lol jk

  12. Well it’s a funny story of course. No, they never moved full-time because of a couple reasons I think, but mostly they were concerned about how it would affect me leaving without any friends, etc. I was an only-kid and in those days very sensitive. They were concerned I think about how moving away from all of my friends, and peers would affect me as a teenager (who already had some issues).

    But we did/do maintain relationships with the Kenyan family who we were going to go with (as part of their ministry) and they are some of our closest family to this day. In fact, their son was my best man in my wedding, and he and I are on the board of that ministry (as well as my parents).

    I did make it to Kenya three times for short terms trips.

  13. justme says:

    Oh Joel…..it’s not the shirts…..it’s the pained facial expressions that make this pure awkward gold! Well ok maybe the hair a little…..but mostly the expressions! :)

  14. Bob says:

    American/European missionaries are sometimes justly accused of trying to convert people to western culture…but many make an effort to adapt to the culture they’re ministering to, which means changing the way one dresses, eats, and (in general) lives. We may call it “going native” but it shows they don’t reject the culture, they simply hope to share our faith out of compassion. No missionaries are effective who do not love the country they go to and identify with the people…and they don’t live apart, but with them. An awkward photo, but the message is that this family was excited to experience a foreign culture, which is a good thing.

  15. Dan says:

    The shirts go great with the eye glasses, I think all the Kenyans were seen wearing them as well that year.

  16. Rob says:

    Joel, you look overjoyed to be there!

  17. Bee says:

    They are way to comfortable in those shirts for it to be awkward…

  18. Jacque G says:

    Did you ever make it to AFrica?

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