Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Wish you were here...

So, here we are, two weeks into our adventure. I can truthfully say that this is a very amazing experience and definitely a bonding one for our family. God is showing us and teaching us things we never could have seen in the comfort of our home. However, as much as we are having lots of challenging and fun experiences, I can say that I think I am experiencing a little bit of “culture stress” as well. I don’t feel like I am going to have a nervous breakdown or anything, I just feel…fatigued. I recently read a great book on the differences between hot-climate cultures (more relationship-based) and cold climate cultures (more task-oriented), called Foreign to Familiar. In it, the author described it well. “Dealing daily with the unfamiliar means making new decisions constantly. Whether it is a matter of transportation or using a telephone, it all has to be relearned. It all takes energy and leads to fatigue – even discouragement. This is culture stress which lasts longer than culture shock” p. 122. Anyhow, it was quite nice to have someone put words to some of my feelings. It always seems that a good night of sleep helps everything as well.

There are lots of things that I wish I could show you, like…

the fatigue-wearing army men holding rifles and standing in the upscale shopping center.

the sweet baby girl in layers of tattered dresses as she pulls up at the street stand where her mother is sell us a bunch of tiny, delicious bananas.

the rusty corrugated pieces of metal used to construct “buildings” in the shadows of modern apartments complexes.

the constant friendliness of the guard (who makes about $2/day) at the gate to our complex.

the toddlers at the children’s home saying grace before their meal of ugali and kale.

the smiles that we get on the dirt streets as B and T shout out Jambo to every person that passes by (Not to mention how angry T gets if they answer back with hello instead of Jambo! Where do they think they are?! J)

Over the last few days, we have been out and about a bit. On Monday, we were able to spend a couple of hours at the orphanage, which was great. We got to “help” with the toddlers’ lunchtime and feed babies their bottles. B and T LOVED this. B got especially attached to a little boy who she pushed in the swing. It was beyond precious. This one little boy kept coming over to me with arms raised to pick him up, which I happily did. B and T are riding a see-saw with him in the picture above.

Yesterday, we went to the national museum, which was full of Kenyan heritage displays and huge taxidermied (is that a word?) animals. Next door, we visited the Snake Park, which was full of many African reptiles. The kids were asking our guide all sorts of cute questions about the animals. They really liked the crocodiles and the largest species of snake in Africa (don’t ask me the name). It is really fun to get out and visit new places with the kids. They enjoyed dancing around the courtyard for an hour as much as the attractions, and I enjoyed sitting on a bench amidst the greenery watching them.

When we got home, the kids played with the neighborhood kids for quite sometime. They let them try out their skateboard and bikes. They kind of think T like a little mascot. The good news is he can hold his own. Then, the Ethiopian boys’ mother arrived home. She travels often for work so I hadn’t met her yet. About a half an hour later she sent her son over to get me to join her and her friend who was visiting for a day, for some injera and doro wat (traditional Ethiopian food) and then a traditional coffee ceremony. She said she has lived in Kenya for about 4 years and hasn’t made but one or two friends, so we all enjoyed getting to sit and chat!

I really liked her and was amazed at the depth of conversations we were able to have while having known each other for only moments. We discussed her work with an NGO, orphans and adoption, poverty, and how she trained as a midwife after she saw so many tragic births while she was living in Ethiopia. Ethiopian hospitality is amazing and we had such a lovely afternoon together. I am so thankful that we are able to have experiences like that here. They definitely help with the “fatigue” though they don’t prevent us from missing all of you at home!


  1. Can totally relate to all of this, Erin! I know it's hard, but good for you all. What a blessing to experience together...
    Love and miss you!

  2. Wow, Erin - you guys are having an amazing adventure! I really enjoyed the first part of your post talking about 'culture stress'. I'm experiencing a bit of that myself with our move to Seattle. I might just have to pick up that book. Thanks for sharing!

  3. Thank you for sharing. You are an inspiration Erin!

  4. What great stories! It's so fun to hear about your experiences. Sounds like you are really enjoying some great moments through the stress of the necessary adaptations to your surroundings. I'm so glad to hear how much the kids are enjoying their experiences as well. I hope they are able to remember them all in the end. Take care!! Love you guys!!