a bigger picture and a big goal

I really hate car maintenance. When I moved here, I was actually excited about the idea of not thinking about it anymore because I thought I would not need a car. I was wrong, friends. Several things have come up in the last few weeks that have made it clear that I will need to purchase a vehicle: Taxis are easy enough to get, but they are proving to be far too expensive for me to feel like they are a wise way to steward my money. Matatus (the 14 passenger mini-buses that serve as the primary form of public transportation) are cheap and easy to come by, but are not reliable enough to get me anywhere by a specific time and are not safe for me to use when I am traveling with hearing aids, a computer or testing equipment.

Above all of this, I am beginning to get some glimpses of the big picture of what God has in store for me here and it is way bigger than I knew before coming. One of my teachers at language school is a pastor here. He and I have had some great conversations about how the church must be the agent of change in this culture for how people with disabilities are viewed. Lasting change must be gospel-centered (there is a post brewing on just this topic). Because of this, I want to be able to make connection with local churches in addition to my work in the hospital. I will also be working in schools for the deaf and at satellite clinics throughout the area. Travel will be more frequent than I originally anticipated.

As I have talked with my field leadership about all of these factors, we are all in agreement that I need to purchase a vehicle. It seems that car maintenance will, once again, be a part of my life, but I am excited about the reasons for that.

In order to get a 7-10 year old small 4WD SUV in good condition, I will need to raise about $12,000 in one-time needs and around $250 per month in additional monthly support to cover insurance and maintenance. I am trying to reach this goal within the next month. Would you prayerfully consider partnering with me in this purchase? If you would like to make a donation online, you can click here.  To make a donation by check, click here and follow the instructions. If you are giving a gift specifically for my vehicle, please make note of that when you make your donation so I know where to direct the funds. Also, please e-mail me to let me know so that I can keep an eye on my accounts and know exactly what has been given. You can e-mail me on my contact page here. If you would like to host a fundraiser, let me know and I can see what I can do to help you out.

Thanks so much for considering this. I am excited to see how the Lord will provide.

the one where i lose my passport

“Excuse me, but I’m going to need some help when we land. I can’t seem to find my passport. I think it may be in the wall of the plane.”

This is seriously the last thing I expected to have to say less than an hour before reaching Kenya…

I had my passport out to fill out my immigration form when we hit some turbulence it fell off the tray and the disappeared into the abyss. After 30 minutes of fruitless searching and asking my neighbors to look around their seats, I calmly reasoned that it couldn’t vanish panicked a little.

At this point you need to understand the depth of my hatred for the Nairobi airport. It is one long, dimly-lit hallway where there are roughly 7 chairs for the millions (ok, that may be a bit of an exaggeration) of people waiting for their flights. Of my last two trips through this airport, one involved spending 12 hours sitting on a barstool after about 24 hours of no sleep and the other I was standing in line at to check in for the flight when the electricity went off at midnight for 2 hours. In my mind, I pictured myself being stuck in limbo inside the Nairobi airport waiting for the U.S. Embassy to open the next morning, figuring out a way to contact them with no working cell phone and then waiting all day in my least favorite place on the planet for someone to come and rescue me. I have to tell you, this was not my happiest travel moment. The thought of being stuck there for an indefinite amount of time was just about the worst thing I could imagine after 18 sleepless hours of travel.

During my increasingly frantic search, I noticed a small gap in the wall next to my seat. It was only about a half an inch wide. It seemed silly for me to even consider the possibility that that tiny book had somehow magically found its way through such a narrow space. It just seemed so improbable, but the longer I looked the more I began to actually hope it was there because if it ended up just laying under my seat where I had looked a dozen times, I was going to feel like an idiot.

Once I was certain that I could not find it anywhere, I mustered up the courage to let the flight attendant know that I was going to need some help when we landed. After she crawled under my seat and looked and then had her supervisor do the same, they came to the same conclusion that I had. At this point, I pictured that little blue book somehow falling completely out of the plane somewhere over Khartoum. That seemed about as likely as it finding the tiny crack to begin with.

I guess there is this rule that none of the flight crew can get off the plane until all of the passengers deplane. I had to wait until everyone else unloaded for the ground crew to come on and search for my passport. As I stood waiting, a small crowd gathered around me. That was just so much fun – meeting pilots and first class flight attendants who all seemed sure that I just hadn’t looked in my bag hard enough.

After what seemed like an eternity, the ground crew finally found it when they shined a flashlight into the hole. It had fallen all the way into the cargo hold of the airplane. Seriously. They had to take a wall off of the inside of the plane to get it out. (SEE, I KNEW IT WAS DOWN THERE! – that’s what I wanted to say, but instead I said, “thank you so much,” and took my leave)

I have never been so happy to see my passport. I lost my yellow card and none of my 9 pieces of luggage made it to Nairobi with me, but I did not care even a little. I didn’t have to spend my first night in my new home at the airport and that was plenty to be excited about for me.

that time i moved to kenya

Moving is not my favorite thing. I like consistency and being settled and knowing where everything is in my kitchen. I do not like change, the chaos of being between homes and learning the quirks of a new house. I can appreciate a good quirk and eventually it becomes part of what makes a place home – like how the kitchen faucet in the Gooding House is installed backward, how my wall hanging shook when Cassie shut the front door and how my bedroom door wouldn’t close without being beaten into submission – I just don’t like the process of figuring them out because they tend to be really frustrating until they eventually just become a part of every day life.

So knowing this about myself, I did the most natural thing you could think of.  I moved to a new continent in 7 boxes, 3 suitcases and carry-on that totally broke the rule about fitting under my seat (a rule, by the way, that I did not care a lick about breaking and totally used the “I’m moving to Africa” card to pacify my fellow passengers who took note) – little bits of home packed alongside practical items in the hopes that I can feel like a place is mine and settle in easier.

I’m going to take up a few posts over the next couple of weeks to give a fuller picture of what the last 8 weeks have been like, but for now I want to give some best and worst highlights. Thanks for your patience as I’ve gone radio silent. Adjusting to life here has been quite a task and my processing has been pretty internal so far. I think I’m ready to share some of my experiences – good and bad – with whoever it is that reads this thing.

Some of my bests:

1) I found the shampoo I use at home in the grocery store in Nairobi. I bought 14 bottles because the chances of it sticking around are slim.

2) I have visited Naomi’s Village a few times. Any weekend I can get down to Maai Mahu to spend time with the 40 littles there is a good one. I have also been able to spend a lot of time with Esther, the girl I sponsor there (I keep forgetting to get a picture with her). NV was one of the reasons I was so excited to get here and I am looking forward to spending more time there when I move to Kijabe in November.

3) The Lord has been very near during this process. It has been really hard to be away from friends and family and to be fairly isolated where I am living now, but it hasn’t been overwhelming. Not once have I felt despair because I have known His nearness and have remained confident that He is with me during this time. Praise God!

4) Technology is a.ma.zing.

Some of my worsts:

1) In language school, I live in the house where the school is with one of my teachers. The house is very nice, but all of the houses nearby are big and gated. It is very difficult to meet people here and I am not close to others that I know. This has proven to be the most difficult part of the move so far.

2) I was warned before I came that there would be a point where certain aspects of the culture would start to grate on me. I think I may have started to hit that point. It’s not necessarily the “bad” parts of the culture either (oh, how I wish it was! I would feel so much more justified in my frustration). Today I was sitting in a church service and screaming in my head that I just wanted them to speak English! My brain is full of Swahili and when people speak fast, it makes no sense at all to me. In the last few days I have grown to hate the front gate to my compound (a normal part of life here). You have to close it just right for the 2 sides to line up and lock – one of those lovely quirks. If someone left before me and moved the lock to the outside, the process of getting out takes about 5 minutes – a fact I forget to account for most of the time. See, these things are not bad or wrong. They are big differences from what I am used to at home and I am starting to see the edges of culture stress. Like I said, it’s normal, expected and it will get better, but it does not reveal the prettiest parts of my heart.

3) This is a “worst” that I am hoping will become a “best.” Learning another language is perhaps the most pride-revealing thing I have ever done. I want people to think I am smart and capable…language learning is not the best way to convince others of this. I am praying that my pride gets murdered right alongside this language I am trying desperately to learn.

In all of these, I see the paradox of this life becoming clearer. My prayer is that this place will start to feel more like home, but that at the same time, I will use those reminders to look to a better country – not the one I come from, but the one that is coming. This is not my home and I am grateful for the constant reminders of that fact.

Hebrews 11:13 – 16

All these people were still living by faith when they died. They did not receive the things promised: they only saw them and welcomed them from a distance, admitting that they were foreigners and strangers on earth. People who say such things show that they are looking for a country of their own. If they had been thinking of the country they had left, they would have had opportunity to return. Instead, they were longing for a better country – a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for He has prepared a city for them.