So is just handing out more money going to do anything in the long run? Unless its saving someones life with medicine, or sending someone through school, no, probably not. But on the other hand, I want to help. I am often able to help. I am commanded in the Bible to help. But how do I do that without enabling? Is it really enabling when neither we, or the beggar, see any other options? Whats the answer?
We are not here for community development. But I cannot help but struggle with this every single day. This is a complex conversation, with no easy answers. I am reading a book right now called "Walking with the Poor." I don't have all the answers, but I want to run away from it, I want to walk through this struggle, as uncomfortable as it is. (And it is very uncomfortable.) To walk with people, and that doesnt always mean giving them money. It means much more. I will be sharing some of this journey here, as it is important for all of us to be brutally honest with ourselves. We can walk it together.
PS. Children are usually the ones who get water here, and the women as well. The children carry jerry cans to the tap, then stuff a plastic bag or rag in the hole, and roll it back home, if it is too heavy to carry. Often in bare feet. Does this make you feel sorry for them? Or happy for them that they live close(ish) to a water source. That they are learning how to help their families, by contributing in a meaningful way? That they seem to be healthy enough to carry water? That they are physically safe when they go get water, that no one is going to rape them or shoot at them.
Looking at people with dignity makes a world of difference as to how we approach this conversation.
And making sure that our guilt over our own possessions isn't what causes us to make these comparisons, when the rest of the world invariably can't measure up, and we label them as lacking and therefore worthy of our pity.
I can't lie. It has just been much harder than I thought, for the kids to build cross cultural relationships here. And can I say, without sounding critical, that I don't think its my kids? First of all, they don't speak either of the local languages. Because of this whole English thing. Sure, initially, its helpful. You don't HAVE to learn another language. But the thing is, unless you're forced to, very few of us will. I am confident that if so many people didn't speak English, the kids would have picked up Swahili or Turkana. But everyone talks to them in English, however broken, but then talks about them, while still in front of them, in another language. Which just really makes you feel like an outsider. And how comfortable could you ever get under those circumstances? (Can you tell this is a soapbox of mine?)
What will it take for our kids to feel at home here, not just with the scorpions and thorns, but with other people? There seems to be such a huge gap, it is difficult to impossible for other children to treat them normally. The local children usually only stare, laugh, or touch their skin or hair. If my children try to engage them, even in Swahili, they giggle and say something to each other. All the while just standing in a circle staring at my kids, as if they fell from the moon. Normally it is the burden of the majority to make the effort to reach out the minority. It is challenging for my terribly outnumbered children to work up the confidence to put themselves out there repeatedly, when they usually just get laughed at. Most of the time the kids don't mean any harm. It honestly seems as if they don't see my kids as real kids, or definitely not as normal kids. So they don't treat them like normal kids. This is very very challenging. A few times kids have come over, but they are so timid, it isn't like the interactions our kids are used to with other kids. The local kids only open up with each other. Which I obviously understand. I just don't know how to get past.
1. it makes going out in public challenging. nobody likes to be followed around, constantly greeted in funny voices (for some reason many people affect a completely different voice when calling out a greeting to us in English. I'm not sure why.) , and constantly stared at. Its very disconcerting. Even during church. The kids in the 3 or 4 rows around us will be all turned around just staring. Or just sitting on the floor next to the pew, touching their skin.
2. They need friends. We are blessed to have another family up here. Even though their kids are middle school aged, they still play together. But there are so many kids around, I feel like there must be potential for friends. And how amazing would it be if they could have friends from this culture? We want to be here a long time, and I really want the blessing of friendship for them.
Just like previous picture, I only have questions, not answers. (Isn't this the strangest missionary blog you've ever read? A bit like that "world's worst missionary" lady.)
We really don't see too many snakes here, if we do they're scurrying off into high grass, or crossing the road. For some reason, we had two very poisonous ones on our front walk. Right with our supposedly scary dog, and the noisy children, and really nowhere for the snake to hide. The first I already shared about, the second we found at night, when we were coming home from supper, in the dark. All the children ran inside to start getting ready for bed, while Patrick checked on our overflowing water tank (the float valve was broken. its always something!) When Patrick followed them inside, he heard it, and pulled out the handy dandy iPhone flashlight. The kids had irritated it by walking nearly over top of it, but it didn't do anything, just started making noises. Then it started running away (slithering, I suppose, due to that unfortunate Garden of Eden incident, and consequently being legless), and I chased it with the phone till Patrick came back with a shovel. Then I cried, watching it doing those disturbing post mortem jerks, even while in pieces. The power had been out for 3 days. The water pump was broken. This was the second poisonous snake within an arms reach of my children. I just was tired. (Once again, just bein' honest. I figure if I have no great literary capabilities, this is my next best bet.)
We've been having alot of ear infections, maybe due to how much they swim. Charlie, who has a history of this kind of thing, had a really hard time beating it. We went through three rounds of antibiotics, an awful lot of pain and sleepless nights, went to clinic here, called down to a friend for a phone consultation, but eventually it stopped draining, closed up, and we did not have to go to Nairobi.
We had our first significant power cut. 4 1/2 days. (Yes, thank you so much to generous supporters, we do have money in our relocation project fund for a back up power system, we just don't have it yet.) And you know what? We survived. (Now don't get me wrong. I did complain! Ice. I just wanted a cold drink.) My neighbours have back up power, so we begged some fridge/freezer space of them, and they graciously let us charge phone and computer. We are very close to getting our own back up power, and the last few months up here have really helped us know how to make the best decision for our family, using the resources that you all have shared!
To sign off,
- we are very excited about my mom and Bob coming to visit in TWO WEEKS!
- there is a huge amount of traveling occurring, mostly overland. will update about this prayer request closer to, as its important.
- The family we had been up here with for the first 6 months is moving back to Nairobi. We will miss them so much, and the kids, both ours and our other teammates', are really having a hard time with losing their friends. Prayers for the changes our team is going through, and a great relationship going forward with the 2 families and pilots we have here now.