But where was I? Oh yes! Nairobi. We just celebrated Independence Day here, June 1. I was told to slaughter a chicken. And if i did not have a chicken to slaughter, I should make chapatis (a flatbread similar to tortilla, but thick, with a whole lot more lard) for the many guests who would come. I did not make chapati, but it was ok because, not surprisingly, no guests showed up. Except the man who works for the trash company, who was collecting our monthly fee. Does that count?
Thought I'd give you some bullet update/point of interest/prayer requests.
- We've accomplished a few new things in the city recently, namely renewed a passport and (almost finished) two root canals. (All me. And not kind to the pocketbook. That's just a southern expression, isn't it? Wallet, for all the rest of you. Me, not sure where I fit in.) The kids also all went to the dentist, and while definitely different from America, we are grateful to have access to good medical care here. It was somewhat cheaper, and I decided that's because they give you less pain medicine. Much less. (What, does everyone else in the world have a higher pain tolerance than we do? Sort of like spice? Or is it just discomfort in general, that we're not too keen on, as westerners?) Eventually all these daily life things will be encountered, no matter where you live, and its good to start getting familiar with some of them before we get out to the boonies. And just fyi, don't try to attack the Canadian Embassy here. Sheesh, I felt like I was in a movie. You aren't allowed to park anywhere near there, there is no parking. And they confiscated my phone, in a separate security building, when I was still a short ways from the main building. But, I'm good for another 10 years.
- So thankful for someone who works for our organization that has been doing all the run around for our work permits and residency cards. (Two separate things, you have to have one before the other.) She, and the fact that AIM has a long history with AIC (Africa Inland Church), makes it much easier to obtain these documents, believe it or not. Without that help, it can take years. I had to reapply for another visitors visa, which has actually expired again. Hoping to be legal any day now. And hoping I don't need to leave the country before then! Crate is in port, unfortunately being stored in a (more expensive) private storage yard, because "there was no room" in the regular (cheaper) one. Uh huh. Praying we get residency cards so crate can be released, praying they remember educational supplies aren't allowed to be taxed (I have quite a bit of school stuff for upcoming years), and praying everything doesn't get pulled apart and rearranged in such a way that it breaks on its bumpy trip from Mombasa to Nairobi. We have basically our entire kitchen in that crate. Lots of breakables.
- Good times had by all at homeschool week, put on by AIM educational support people, at RVA (Rift Valley Academy). Considering we haven't done school too officially this spring, testing went well. I can see that annual experience being a very big part of our future. MKs and their families from all over the place come, and feel normal. In Africa, they will always stand out. In America, they will not feel like home either, at least for awhile after they move back for good. But there in the Rift Valley, they are surrounded by peers, and its amazingly good for them. Also, if attending school there is in the future, it provides a really good foundation of familiarity with the surroundings and even the teachers and other students.
- Things are good. They really are. But I'm not going to lie, sometimes there's alot of stress. Brought on by tension. The tension that comes from living so close to such poverty. From wondering if what you're doing is effective, or will just fizzle out once you're gone. From wondering if you're actually helping, or if you're enabling, or if you're ignoring, because you're scared of doing it wrong, or you just don't know what to do. From wondering, as a stay-at-home-missionary, what exactly my role is. Am I only here to support Patrick and homeschool? Where do I fit in, and how does that balance with the needs of my family? Of wondering what is guilt from the enemy that will lead to burnout, and what is conviction from the Lord that should lead to action? How much do we engage, vs. how much family time do we need? How much should we walk to the market and tote groceries home while pulling the kids away from crazy speeding matatus, and how much can we just make life easier and go to the grocery store? I know its much much too early in our career for this, but are we fulfilling God's purpose for us here? (That's more me. Patrick's lucky, he has a pretty busy, defined role on the team.) What does it mean to think long term, to keep our family healthy and happy so we can stay, but not to hide in a bubble where my goals are how to recreate our favourite American/Canadian meals? How much time to spend communicating with our amazing support team, vs. our families, vs. intentionally engaging with the community here, both expat and local? (I hate to say it, but there is only so much time in the day. And only so much energy left at the end of it.) You get the picture.
- Related to above, we have been privileged to make a friend here, a few neighbourhoods away. We will never start any Compassion International, and our goal is not development work, its reconciliation work. BUT: you have got to help people. Especially if you literally bang into them on the sidewalk and then see them regularly. It doesn't seem like it should be this tricky, but it is. What is helping them, loving them, supposed to look like? Yes, I know, WWJD? But really, and forgive me for saying this, is that feasible long term? I know. I sound like a terrible Christian, never mind missionary. Please pray for us as we struggle through these questions. We want to love people whole heartedly, freely, and generously. We want to help them to be independent of outside aid, if possible. We want to see worth and value restored into the lives of society's marginalized and ignored. This precious lady is, I believe, the first of many God will bring into our path. I am grateful He saw fit for us to meet, so we could share love with her that she desperately needed, and now, as we are preparing to move away, we are not sure what the next step is in our relationship with her.
- Language learning chronicles: a tad discouraged here. You would not believe, or at least I didn't, how challenging it is to learn a language when everyone around you shares your language. It is, by nature, a frustrating, humiliating, mind numbingly slow process for me to communicate in swahili right now. And that is after 4 months of study. So, obviously, people switch to English. I just did not realize how different this experience would be from the last time I learned a language. And when I learned French. At 4 yrs old. I have decided full immersion is the only way to go. Anything less is just making the process even harder. So why, you might ask, do I persist in taking time and paying a language tutor and humiliating myself, if, technically, I don't even have an official role here, and so many people speak English? Not sure. It just matters to me. Praying for wisdom to either graciously accept defeat and stop what I currently feel like is a waste of time, or for increased stubbornness and patience to keep going.
- I left this for last because its the most important: Patrick's big (and I do mean big) test is Thursday, June 4, in the morning. He has been studying this butt off for this. It is possible to take it again, if it ends up that way, but we are obviously hoping for something 70% or above. Its time to get this show on the road!
Thanks for checking in, guys!