We spent our last days in Nairobi saying goodbye. We went to the orphanage, and 12-month-old Daphne made my day by blowing kisses back to me as I laid her down for her nap. The kids bought some teething biscuits for our favorite little banana stand baby girl, Nellie, and they got to give her a couple of last sweet hugs. We also brought a few things for our apartment complex’s security guard and his family (some flour, sugar, coloring books, etc.) He had been so incredibly nice to us during our stay. I didn’t even know all that much about his background, but in fact learned more after we returned when I had internet enough to read about him and his family on an incredible blog kept by Bob Davidson, one of the film team members. It is worth reading Bob's thoughts, as he is an excellent writer and clearly portrays much of our experiences. His interview with our security guard tells so much.
The neighborhood boys came over and we gave them each some sweets in little goodbye gift bags which B and T put together. They all told us of their plans to come to America and how they would see us again. We told them we hoped so, and that we would do our best to come back and visit. B explained she’d be back for her birthday so they’re expecting us. J We will definitely miss this place, though I don’t think we will realize just how much for some time to come.
I packed things up though the clothesline wasn’t working too well, since rainy season had commenced. I actually microwaved a few pairs of underwear to see if I could speed the drying process. Though no major disaster happened during said microwaving, there were little results to report.
Then we spent the last couple of days at a retreat center in Limuru, which is a gorgeous area just outside of Nairobi, with lots of green, a nice little play area (the kids had been having withdrawals from running about freely!), and an unbelievable infestation of enormous grasshoppers (these things put our moths to shame.) We were there for a board retreat for LIA so we were joined by about 15 other board members, most of whom were PhD or medical doctors from different countries in Africa who passionately believe in the holistic development that LIA is carrying out in countless communities. It was a pleasure to interact with them and very humbling!
On Friday night, we began the trek home which was surprisingly not as awful as expected. The first leg from Nairobi to Amsterdam the kids slept…the whole way! We tried to sleep as much as we could as well. Then upon our arrival in Amsterdam, we took a train to the city center where we saw a bit of the city and took an hour-long canal tour before rushing back to the airport for the next flight. This was a fun little rendevous!
The next flight was long, but full of movies and a few naps. I have such a deep appreciation for “seat-back-select-your-own-movies” on flights. I also can’t advocate enough for the car seat on the flight, though it is extremely painful to lug the gigantic seats through multiple airports (sorry, J!) it was amazing to have them contained during the flights. I repeat, amazing. Upon arrival in Minneapolis we had to go through a lot of customs and immigration what-not and at this point, we were feeling pretty done. Then to the final flight. This surprisingly seemed to be one of the longest portions of the journey, assumedly because we were tired, and we were almost done…though not quite. We were very happy to see J’s parents and siblings at the security gate in Phoenix!
And, surprisingly we were even more happy than I expected to be home. I really feel like I had forgotten the comfort of “home” during our two months in Africa. This speaks a lot to the adaptability of people, but it also worries me terribly that I will just as easily forget our experiences in Africa. I can see myself so easily slipping back into a lifestyle, which revolves around my children, husband, and most worriedly, myself. Here it is so safe, so neat, so private, so comfortable...
I keep seeing myself hesistate as I start to dip my toothbrush under the sink water and then I remember that I live in a place where I can drink the water and not worry about a parasite or contamination from sewage. I see my kids infatuation with their “stuff.” I see myself heading to stores tomorrow to stock up on groceries and being tempted by the consumerism, which so easily does just that, consumes. And, so I am left with more questions than answers. I am trying to figure out how our family can still focus on the kingdom of God and loving the poor as we are called to do, when so many of the needs are not in sight or are at least well-masked. I won’t have a maintenance worker coming to our door to ask for painkillers and help to get to the hospital to treat his severe malaria, but I will hopefully remember that there are people across the world who used to be on my doorstep. And hopefully, this will change me…how I allot my family’s time, and when I use my family’s money, and where our family spends our thoughts and prayers. Because, what we experienced on our trip was much too precious to forget, and much too important.
Thanks for following along on our journey. Our experiences has been even richer because we have you to share them with.