We are over the moon excited about out special visitors from America, and we are so grateful for them to see our life here, their help with the house, and know they will be anxious to share their stories with you when they get back! It has been a busy month, for sure. The highlights are definitely: they started working on our house, Patrick is out of new pilot status, and we have successfully completed our first 12 weeks of school uninterrupted, so we can relax and take a break while our guests are here. Also, rainy season, which has brought some cooler temperatures. (Slideshow at the bottom.)
There are so many things we are learning, about ourselves, what we’re doing, the role of the western church in supporting the African church, aid/development work (and why it traditionally doesn't work), and how life works here. The whole thing is really humbling, and, to be honest, exhausting. One such theme that has been on my mind recently is living and ministering cross-culturally with children. As is usually the case, I feel like I have more questions than answers. People said over and over again, oh, children open so many doors! Building relationships will be so much easier with the children as ice breakers! That may be true in some situations, but sometimes. . .
- they need to use the restroom much more often, and even though you try to balance them in the squatty potty, they fall and reach out their hand to balance in, well, sludge. ( I must emphasize that this was a public restroom, behind a store. This is not usually the case in people’s personal facilities. Just because they don’t have indoor plumbing does not mean our neighbours don’t take pride in their dwellings and their own “restrooms” and keep them nice.)
- they are completely immune to any and all prodding/cajoling/threatening/and possibly even begging, and refuse to do something extremely culturally important such as shake someone’s hand when it is offered, which then reflects poorly on both child and mother.
- they are unable to hide their facial expressions quickly enough (older children) or not at all (younger children), and end up offending someone.
- they are very insistent on taking as much chai and mandazis (dougnut, but not sweet) as are offered to them, completely unaware that there are 20 hungry children outside that will devour any of the snack that we special guests did not eat. They complain loudly about being hungry, even though they still have 3 meals a day, and almost always a snack or two. The children around us who are actually hungry, and speak English, are somewhat confused by this attitude.
- they pull away from people who try to touch them. Sometimes there are crowds of people around us, and this is very overwhelming. If someone in the crowd, even who knows us, makes an effort to help one of my children, with the best intentions, my children usually still pull away at the felt intrusion into their personal space. This can really offend the person who reached out to them, especially if they feel they have a relationship with us already.
- if they feel they are being pushed, children all react differently. I have a stubborn one who will completely clam up. If you pressure him to speak Swahili, he will probably just stare at you stone faced. This also doesn’t go over well. As you can imagine.
- Most of all is just the time available in the day. There isn’t enough of it. And sometimes, when school is over, its hard enough for me to psych myself up to go visiting, and leave the relative peace and comfort of our little haven, in the short period I have free before starting to make supper. They feel the same way. They also have to have enough energy and be in the right mental place before putting themselves in a potentially stressful situation. (Such as, going anywhere other than this house or that of our beloved neighbours, the hurds ;-).
I am both a mother and a missionary. I count myself incredibly blessed, because both are the only things I’ve ever wanted to do or be. But doing them at the same time can sure be hard to figure out!
Patrick has been doing a TON of flying, and we will tell you about that soon, as well as pictures from our visit with Patricks dad David and friend Kevin.