Sunday, April 11, 2010

Assorted Thoughts from Africa

This week, we went to Uhuru Park in the middle of the city with the son of J’s boss. It was a pretty park with a ton of people there, from people sleeping on the ground to business people eating lunch. This was the first place that I had someone yell foreigner at me in Swahili. It’s sort of a rite of passage, so I was kind of surprised it took so long. We took the kids around in a paddle boat which was very fun, but the true highlight was the fountain. T was floating his ball in a small portion of this gigantic fountain when he fell in. Head first. Up to his waist. We pulled him out spluttering and swatting water off of his face. But, then in true T fashion he laughed, and so did we.

Yesterday, B and I went to the orphanage to help with the Saturday morning feedings. They are most short-handed at that time, so we were able to help give bottles before naptime. I can't begin to explain how much she and I enjoyed giving a bottle to the same sweet baby girl we see each time. She fell asleep in my arms and B and I gently laid her in her crib, which is one of 12 in the infant room. It is really something to see each one of those cribs full of a precious little infant - twin 3 month olds just came to make it a full house. A care giver told me that the majority of them have been abandoned and all before six months of age (this orphanage specializes in babies), meaning the toddlers have lived there since infancy. Words can't describe how sweet it is to see B giving hugs to all of the barely walking little boys in the toddler area on our way out.

Later in the day, we were able to go to a retreat center outside of Nairobi, in a more rural area called Limuru. J and his boss had a meeting, and they let us tag along. We drove through the city (where I kid you not we saw people standing on the median selling: puppies, feather dusters, pants, giant T.V. antennae, rabbits, etc. Then we drove through a more rural village and out past acres of green tea fields.

It was quite beautiful. And, quite impressively, J drove one way on the opposite side of the road. At the retreat center, there was a great little play area where the kids discovered the fun of a see-saw, and then we grabbed a few scoops of ice cream from the café there. This place was very nice. Whenever the kids and I need a bit of a reprieve we order a scoop of ice cream. It seems to do wonders.

Today J went to a church in the slum with a short-term medical missions team (from Kentucky) who are on their way to hold a health clinic in another country in East Africa. In fact, he was asked to give an impromptu 40 minute sermon (easy, right?!) It sounds like it went great, and he still is moved after going to that area each time. I hope to go sans children, soon. We didn’t join him because it isn’t all that kid-friendly with the mud and open-sewage, however, the kids and I walked down the street to visit with the team this morning, which was quite nice since we already knew some of the familiar faces. Then the kids and I went to the shopping centre to pick up some things and the kids were in very fine form. We left with what we needed but with much flailing, crying, and a very frustrated mother. The good news is….my parents arrive tonight! They will be in Kenya with us for 10 days! We will show them around Nairobi and they’ll be able to see some of what LIA is doing, not to mention we are then going to take a trip to the coast with them! We are so excited to see them (hence the excessive exclamation marks)! The timing couldn’t be better!

The kids have still been playing with the neighbor boys whenever we will go down to watch them. Their conversations are pretty funny, and T invariably gets their names wrong. He is sure that one is named “Wing” and another is named “Mingo.” I have heard the boys asking if B and T have been to Disneyland and whether or not they have touched snow. They are quite jealous to hear that they have.

As we have been walking around lately, I have felt quite a bit more comfortable. People seem a bit more friendly, or I have at least lowered my expectations to “realistic.” We had the mother of a Kenyan friend from the U.S. visit us. She said people are probably surprised that we walk as most white people are always in cars. We had a nice visit, though I felt like an inept hostess. Kenyans prefer warm or hot drinks (hot water, warm juice, etc.) All I had to offer her was cold juice and some biscuits. I definitely need to brush up on my African hospitality!

One last thing to conclude my mish-mash of information. In a couple of weeks we will be hosting a team to film a documentary about the plight of women in Kibera (the slum J was in today). One of the people on the team is the author of the book: Where Am I Wearing? A Global Tour to the Countries, Factories, and People that Make our Clothes. I have been reading it over the past few days (you don’t want to meet an author and have not read their book) and it has been challenging to me, especially in the context with which we are living now. It is really quite astonishing the level with which I have been able to shield myself from the struggles of the majority of the world. Growing up in suburban America has kept me so insulated and blissfully unaware of the challenges of poverty. Then, I think to myself how Christ has called us to carry each other’s burdens, and I think that I must not realize how weighted down I get with my somewhat insignificant problems. When I am carrying those around I have no room for others’. And, even as I walk half a mile down the street here in Nairobi (or in the U.S. for that matter) there are so many burdens that people could use help carrying (not necessarily fixing, but at least joining them in them.) So, even as I am being humbled daily with my inadequacies (today my patience with my children was wearing QUITE thin), I am going to try to lay those down for the sake of having an empty hand with which to carry some of the burdens of others’ whose load is much heavier than my own.


  1. What a sweet blog- it sounds like you are doing much better than just "adjusting to life" in Kenya! We will continue to pray for you and your family- "three" is hards at home, I cannot imagine experiencing it abroad! Love you guys!

  2. You and Justin never cease to amaze me! It is so wonderful to be able to read about your adventures, challenges, experiences, and all that you are witnessing and learning. You and/or Justin should come do a guest lecture or something at MCC to share with our students and faculty who have not had a chance to experience the things you are writing about and may be inspired to find passion in the important work you and Justin do. Oh and I finally mailed my Life in Abundance check... LOL... only took me six months! I am the worst! Love you and miss you so much!