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.

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