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!

Friday, October 19, 2012

A Beautiful Day!

My heart is over whelmed with gladness!  Susan was adopted today! I'm sure you all remember her well. She's a year old now.  You can see by this picture that she has come a long way. I praise the Lord that she has a forever family.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

One More for the Road

These next few months, Jon and I are on the road in the United States raising support to go back home to Kenya.  Yesterday we traveled from Bradford, PA back home to Wilmore KY in one day.  As we were driving along. Jon would make comments like: "This is as far as from Olderkesi to Tenwek.", or "This is as far as from Tenwek to Nairobi.".  As we pulled into our driveway here in Wilmore he made the comment that he had driven as far as from Olderkesi to Malindi (on the coast of the Indian Ocean).

Can I just say here that there is NO comparison!  American roads are wonderful. Even the rough ones are nothing in comparison to what we are used to. We laughed that some roads had actual signs warning of a dip in the road or a rough area. In Kenya, there would be one of those signs every two feet!  The scenery of course is worlds apart.  

So, I wanted to illustrate by picture the contrasts. The first set of course is our notorious Kenyan roads.  I have not driven these roads much in Kenya. The reasons for that is that I don't WANT to and that  I want to live. Jon is a much better driver than I am and much less likely to be distracted.  If driving makes you a better missionary, then I'm the worst missionary there is.  Cause yes, I admit- I'm a chicken.

The boys letting us know they are watching and taking lessons from the back seat!

The road is not just for driving on.

Brave, brave man with is potatoes, charcoal and a 'broom'?

There are matatu drivers who are very, very scary.  This guy looks like it would not take much to set him off.

No, not a river-the road.

Sometimes Jon had to get out and assess the way through.

YES! He is climbing on TOP of the bus! YES we are in fast moving traffic!

Not a traffic jam!  The regular traffic, moving fast.

See what my job is? To watch for PEOPLE trying to cross without looking.

Crossing a street is very stressful I might add.

Are you sure you want to go on the push cart?

VERY slow moving family.  You understand why we didnt' mind.

Prison escapees.

If you want to move your corn grinder, you put it on the motorbike and hit the highway.  Seriously?

Much rain, no bridge. Go back. If its the only way home you wait...

Poor wet sheep! They needed to cross too!

Now by contrast on American roads things are normal!  Well, not so much.  We were sure the Easter bunny who owned this basket was going to come for it, and we didn't want to be around.

It was a really beautiful time to be traveling in the North though!

So you see. Adventure IS out there.  No matter where you are driving.   Do pray for us as we both countries.  

Thursday, September 20, 2012

The Last of Life for Which the First Was Made....

 The title of this entry is a quote by a grand man named Calvin Miller.  In the past months, these words have gone through my head every day.  The time has come for us to follow Jesus leading and close down the parts of our lives lived "before".  A friend told me early on in this process, "the same Jesus who led you to Olderkesi will now lead you out."  This comforts me on many levels.

After 25 years in the bush..give or take a few, the Lord has asked us to widen our horizons.  Jon will begin a new position with World Gospel Mission (WGM). Starting in January, he will become the new Africa Regional Director for WGM.  We have huge shoes to fill! The current Regional Field Director and his wife are wonderful leaders and friends.

We will still live in Kenya!!  Don't write us off yet!! We just will not live in our beloved bush.  We are moving to Nairobi, the capital city. Yes- I cringed too, but remember- the SAME Jesus who led us into the bush is leading us out.

Let me add some visuals to our last months in Kenya.  The captions, I hope will explain better.....  

Heading out...for the last time.

Brenden's years at Rift Valley Academy (RVA) included Sundays in the villages doing sunday school and playing.  

Jon and I took one last visit to the game park near our house.  What's that quote from Out of Africa. " The only thing to do when things are sad is to make them sadder." (or something like that...ask Meryl Streep)

There was no resisting this quirky shot.

He needed to tell me something.."remember, not all elephants are cranky, some of us are just CUTE!"

Then after that bliss..we began packing the house..see that trunk? My toe did NOT. In my defence, those are NOT dust bunnies..the carpet padding did not want to move with us, it stuck very tightly to its home.

Sad and lonely front porch.

All our Maasai friends came to help us load.
 After loading all our life's belongings into a moving truck, we drove to Nairobi and unloaded it all into a storage place.  Let me just say, loading solar equipment, batteries, solar panels, freezer, fridge...was NO fun.  These guys made it fun by being very cheerful about it.

We went from Nairobi unloading to Brenden's graduation up at RVA.  Here he is with his fellow graduate, Steven Chupp and some of his great life long friends-Peter, Andrew and Jamie White.

Of course on the way home, we HAD to get this reminder of random signage and dedicated soccer fans.

Two of the local maasai boys (and avid Brenden fans) came to give him his farewell present. NO one should leave home without their milk. No one!

A special farewell.  My group of young girls, who I did some Bible studies with, were allowed to leave the school to come say goodbye.  That was sad!  They gave us gifts and said little speeches. So sweet.

The community gave us a farewell party.  We had given our trampoline to our friend Johnstone.  Brenden demonstrates that maybe maasai aren't the highest jumpers after all!

Some could just not take the late night excitement. Look at how this little girl is sleeping!! She's not even half on the couch!
We got so many gifts of maasai beads and clothing. It was so touching and hard not to cry!

One last goodbye in Narok, our friends since forever-Daniel and Lawrence., this is not Nariobi!! We stopped in Israel on the way to the states.  Words fail me..yes, me!

Another major change!  A new grandson! Toby Wells joined AJ and Bethany soon after we got to the states. Man, he's cute and he's just going to get cuter.

Papa and Toby.

Our son Benjamin had his art show at Asbury University  These sculptures are made of tires.....yes, tires. If you want to see close ups of them, I have them posted on my Facebook page.

From BIG game photography to little avians. 
So, as you can see.  Our lives have changed and are changing.  I love that it gives us daily a venue to see God's grace and mercy.  His care and His concern. We are looking ahead for the rest of what He has for us.  We are on a short furlough in the states..until February, then we head back to Kenya. Stay tuned!!
Let me end with another quote: Soren Kirkegaard: "Life can only be understood backwards, but it must be lived forward."