Thursday, November 21, 2013

Reordering Our Normal

There is a line in the Velveteen Rabbit book where the bunny asks, "how do we become real?"  I had not thought of that line for years.  Recently however, I've begun to ask myself how do new missionaries become acclimated to where they find themselves on the mission field?  How did I ever become acclimated? I keep thinking, I must have just been totally oblivious when  I got here! Sometimes when I'm asked how I handled a certain thing, I can't even remember!! I must have had some adjusting to do..I just can't remember a LOT of it!   Its not that I am insensitive to their plight, I'm certainly not. I just wonder..'where was I when I was supposed to be going through this."  How did my life here become normal? When did the extraordinary become…well normal.

Here are some examples.  We were driving through a small town near Lake Naivasha and it was at the end of the day.  People were pouring out along the streets going home.  Naivasha is where the Peace Corps has its headquarters.  I watched a guy  who was obviously a Peace Corps volunteer as he walked along the road.  About 100 meters up the road I could see a giraffe, as big as day, standing by the paved road eating off the thorn trees.  He was not shy about any of the people going by and the people never stopped to look twice. I remember thinking, "That Peace Corp guy is in for a big surprise!"  Well, I watched as he got closer to the giraffe.  The guy didn't even hesitate!! He just looked up and kept walking!  He didn't even falter in his steps!  When in the world did walking by a giraffe on your daily commute become normal?

Another example that comes to mind. When we lived about 12 km from Maasai Mara at Olderkesi, we had some friends come visit for the weekend.  We were sitting around after they arrived and we remembered that this was the time of year that the wildebeest were migrating from Tanzania.  We said, "Hey, you guys want to go over to the park and see the wildebeest migration?"  After a minute they and us decided not to go!  Granted, we had all seen it already, but now that I think of it I wonder when did that natural wonder of the world become something we took for granted?

Here is my last one example for now. I have a dear friend who came with her family to live and work at Tenwek.  We were so glad to be their hosts here in Nairobi their first weekend in Kenya.  I loved watching her reactions to all the new things.  All the fun stuff and all the things we shake our heads at.  It was especially fun to watch the whole family as we took to the streets in the nutsy city traffic.  I do believe my friend even screamed once! Here is a picture of the family headed out for Tenwek, down the escarpment into that heavy not so nice traffic.

Has my friend gotten used to the traffic now?  Well, does anyone? I haven't heard her scream in the car lately and  I can say this, she's gotten very brave and has even come into town without her husband to do errands from Tenwek!

By now you may be wondering what my point is with this post.   It is this - Jesus gives us what we need to accept the abnormal and make it our new normal.  He blesses us with new views  of His creative imagination and we should never take it for granted.  In addition, we should not fear it.  It is scary to come into a land we've never been before and wonder if we are going to be okay in the end.  Are we ever going to get used to the many things that confound and scare us?  Of course we are!  If all of life were predictable we may begin to think we don't need Him to help us daily.   
  Jesus wants us to come to Him like never before.  He wants us to lean on Him as the new things  become reordered in our lives as normal.  

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Notable Adjustments to a New Niche.

Sometimes things that move and swirl in our lives can't be described with a normal word like 'change'.  It seems not enough of a word for all the different events taking place. How does one describe a roller coaster in their heads and lives? When I asked the thesaurus to give me more clarity I found some words that might work instead.

Adapt- Since moving to Nairobi this word has been a verb that suits well.  We've begun the process of at least thinking about all we need to adjust to.  Surprisingly, its not been so bad.  There is a huge group of shops down the street from me and I am constantly reminding myself to dial it down a bit when I shop.  I bought ONE cucumber in the green grocer not long ago.  ONE.  Usually I come away with half the stock on the shelf.

A few weeks ago, Kenya had general elections. Lots of enthusiasm and prayers for peace. Which the Lord granted.  Please continue to pray for Kenyans as they themselves adapt to a new leader.

 We adapted pretty quickly to NO traffic! One road that is a nightmare to drive on is Ngong Road.  A two lane tarmac that never has just two lanes of traffic. Usually there is four!

Ngong road during election time.  Very easy to adapt to that one!
Another great thesaurus word for change is the word adjust. 
Right now I am finding it a bit hard to adjust to well, wildlife.  I know those of you who know Olderkesi can probably not believe this.  Wildlife here on this Nairobi compound sometimes holds me hostage in my own house!

These monkeys.-"city thugs "I call them, are angry and cheeky.  Oh sure, they LOOK cute. As soon as I got outside to hang the laundry, they are there.  They mock charge me, they grunt at me and a week ago, one grabbed  ahold of my leg.  Adjusting? YES! I adjusted the volume of my scream right on the spot.

Another great word I like is 'revise".  Now that we are traveling more to other countries, I can revise my thinking, my imagination and my math skills with different currency.  We just returned from a nine day trip to Uganda. I learned some pretty neat things about the people who live there and the valuable ministries of the missionaries.  It was wonderful to know what a rainforest feels like.  My theory is that Uganda is all rainforest waiting to reclaim some spots that were cleared out for towns or roads.  So, I hope no one turns their backs for too long!

Finally, I read that change also can be termed with the word "reorganize".  I feel like this is something I am constantly doing.  Not only the few things we've unpacked in the house as we peripherally move in, but my thoughts as well.  It took me by surprise several days after first coming back. I would awake in a panic thinking how I still needed to get to the butcher or the green grocer to stock up like I used to.  I would think even before I opened my eyes in the morning how we needed to be on the road home!  Then I realized, there was no road home to Olderkesi anymore.  Half hour at the most from the airport and I'm where I am living.  Reorganizing all that is an ongoing thing. None of these things make me second guess Jesus' new road for us.  It just takes time and coaching from the wisest coach I know.  Jesus.  I'm so glad he's the one heading all this up!

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Furlough Changes You!

Our family has been on furlough here in the U.S since July.  We've managed to move three times and have one more coming up.  That is when we leave here and go back to Kenya in February.

Today I was musing on what a different person I am while I live in America.  None of them were bad discoveries and I don't think any are going to damage me for life. Some were surprising tho.
So, I sat down and made a list of things I do in America that I would not or could not do in Kenya.

1. Leave chocolate sitting on the counter for two days in a row.
2. Drive.
3. Have pizza delivered straight to my door. (Guest houses in Nairobi don't count)
4. Blend in at church.
5. Pass up on trips to the grocery store/mall/even...yes, Target.
6. Buy only ONE of something in the store.
7. Look at anyone wearing red plaid twice.  (I'm fresh from maasailand remember?)
8. Eat bacon, ranch dressing, cheetoes and whole grain cereals!!
9. Get TWO hams at Christmas because they are sooo cheap!
10. I have stopped looking at people's shoes to determine what country they are from.
11. Walk right by the animal food aisle in the grocery store.
12. Stop and just stare at the door when someone knocks.
13. Watch snow fall at night under lit street lights.
14. Stopped worrying about finding a decent signal for my phone.
15. Complain the heat is on too low in the house.
16. Enjoy soft, airy donuts.
17. Hug a grandbaby!
18. Watch seasons change.
19. Use a dryer..EVERY day with BOUNCE sheets!
20. Call a plumber when there is water dripping off the ceiling.

So, I say Thank you America!  This IS fun!