2 Months Already
Posted on October 16, 2012
It really doesn’t seem possible I have been here for 2 months now. I feel like I have entered some sort of strange time warp–the days pass slowly, but the months pass quickly. I guess when you’re busy living in the day to day the big scope of time passes without notice…
This month has had its ups and downs for sure. That’s to be expected as I settle in to life here in Eburru. The crazy thing is the downs are not at all what I was expecting they would be, and the ups have been way better than I could have imagined them to be. Sometimes it’s good when real life is better than imagination…
A few of the ups:
-I met Kamau this month. He is an amazing little kid. If a heart can melt at the sound of a kid’s voice, I’m pretty sure my heart melts every time I’m around Kamau. He was born with spina bifida and as a result is paralyzed from the waist down. In the US this would be difficult for a kid to deal with and manage. In a place like Eburru it’s almost impossible. The terrain is rocky, the homes are made of mud, there are not a lot of other people with his condition to help him feel “normal”, and there certainly aren’t classes or support groups for his mom in order to help her care for Kamau well. Despite all of this, Kamau has one of the most joyful spirits of anyone I’ve ever met. He’s very aware of what’s going on around him, and he’s a super funny little guy too. One day we brought Kamau down here to camp to have supper with us, and also so Mary could examine him a little bit and see how he’s doing. On the way down I had Elijah tell him that I would take extra care driving because Kamau is an extra special passenger. After Elijah said this Kamau’s response was “sawa sawa” which roughly translated means “cool.” Very funny to hear a little kid say that after hearing he’s an extra special passenger. I’ve spent a lot of time with Kamau the last couple weeks, just going to his house and being with him and his family. I gave him a drawing book and he has almost filled it with pictures of birds, flowers, people, homes, and a helicopter (not sure how he knows a helicopter, but it’s awesome :-). I took him a coloring book that has letters he can practice tracing, and the way his eyes lit up at the idea of being able to write something was just priceless. Sometimes God uses the small ones to teach me the biggest lessons. Be joyful always, pray continually, let not your heart be troubled by the troubles of this world, come to Me like a little child….
-I went to Kanyi’s house last weekend. Kanyi is the guy who takes care of the cows at the school. He’s awesome. We get napier grass together once or twice a week, and end up laughing a lot as we do. He speaks English better than I speak Swahili, but neither one of us are stellar at either one of those, so communication typically ends with Kanyi saying, “Njeri, don’t worry.” and me replying, “I’m not worried.” Followed by lots of laughter. Kanyi lives near Nakuru, in a town called Kabazi. It’s about two hours to Kabazi from Camp. Nakuru and Kabazi are absolutely beautiful. Lots of mountains, lots of trees, lots of green. Stunning views all around. Last Saturday Francis, Chege, Elijah and I took Kanyi home. I really wish I could insert a video here of the trip, but I will do my best to describe it. We were supposed to leave at 9. We ended up leaving at 10. We had to stop in Gilgil on the way to Kabazi, and that took about 20 minutes. Also, we were told to meet Pastor Steve’s mom in Nakuru (***very important note here, I have never driven to Nakuru before and don’t know my way around there at all***) so we could take her to their farm in Kabazi and get avocados to bring back to the kids here at school. Kanyi has been working here at camp for 5 months and this was the first time he’s gone home. He was so excited to go, and I could tell he just wanted to be home and didn’t want all these things keeping him from getting there. So, along the way I kept saying, “Kanyi don’t worry.” which would of course make him crack up laughing. We made it to Nakuru and found Mama Steve. She’s great, I really love being around her. She directed us to Kabazi with no problem. When we got to Kabazi Mama Steve and Francis went to see if they could find a motorcycle driver that would go pick up the avocados while we went to Kanyi’s house. We were told, “No way. It’s way too slippery. It’s impossible to go there.” So, we left Mama Steve in Kabazi town center and headed to Kanyi’s house. Kanyi lives in a part of Kabazi called “Jumatatu” which means Monday. We had a good time telling Kanyi he lived in Monday. We were driving along the “road” to Kanyi’s and it kept getting more and more slippery so we decided it was not good to drive Simon any farther. We found someone that let us park Simon at their house and we started walking to Kanyi’s house. At this moment in time it decided to rain. Really hard. It was a long walk to get to Kanyi’s. On dirt paths that were quickly turning to mud rivers. Kanyi kept looking back at me and saying, “Njeri, don’t worry.” At one point we were walking up a hill. I started sliding back down the hill. This made me, Chege, and Elijah crack up laughing which made climbing the hill nearly impossible. We finally reached Kanyi’s house, and I looked like a muddy drowned rat. Completely soaked, and feet completely covered in mud.
The only words I can use to describe Kanyi’s family are “love with skin on.” They were so happy to see Kanyi, their smiles could have lit up the darkest night. Kanyi was so happy to be home he couldn’t even speak, all he could do was sit on the couch and smile. Everyone was there to greet Kanyi: mom, dad, brothers, sisters, cousins, aunts, uncles, grandma, grandpa, neighbors, friends…all in all about 30 people came to say hi to Kanyi. They had prepared a feast for us of rice, vegetables, chicken, beef, chapati, and chai. I couldn’t finish my plate because it was so much food, and none of us ate supper Saturday night because we were all so full. We spent about 4 hours at Kanyi’s house, enjoying time and fellowship with his family, telling stories and laughing a lot. It was definitely one of my top ten favorite times in Kenya. When the time came for us to leave Kanyi’s, none of us wanted to go. Least of all Kanyi. I told him to call George and ask if he could spend the night and come back on Sunday. After some discussion George finally agreed, and Kanyi was like 100 kids on Christmas morning bursting with excitement. It was so great to be part of Kanyi’s welcome home and to meet his family, it was well worth the trip to get him there.
Our day didn’t end at Kanyi’s house, we also wanted to find our friend Mary. She used to own a cafe here in Eburru, but now lives in Nakuru. We found her daughter, Shiro, on our way to Kanyi’s house. At this point in time I’ve stopped wondering how it happens you find the exact person you need to find in a place you’ve never been, because it happens all the time here. We picked her up on our way back from Kanyi’s and she directed us to Mary’s place. Mary now has a cafe in Nakuru, and we spent a couple hours with her drinking chai and catching up with her and her kids. It was such sweet, rich time with a dear friend. We saw where she lives, we prayed with her, and we just enjoyed being all together with her.
After Mary’s we headed back to Camp. We left Nakuru around 9:30 and got back to Camp around 11:15. It rained the whole drive home, but we made it with no problem. As I was dropping Chege off, Francis said, “Ok guys, this doesn’t happen that often. What the 4 of us have, together, the friendship we share, the adventures we go on, this is a gift from God and we should give thanks for that right now.” We all agreed and so we spent some time thanking God for His gifts to us. I love how easy it is for them to see God in the everyday of life. I can definitely learn a lot from them…
-I am constantly surrounded by kids here, which makes life for me very fun indeed. I can go to a place near Center called Bordani, and as soon as the kids see me at the top of the hill they come running to me, racing one another to try to reach me first because they know the first one to me gets a giant hug and gets to hold my hand as we walk down to the grassy area where we play. Usually I give them candy, and then I have them teach me Swahili while I teach them English. It turns out kids are great language teachers. And, while it could be very easy for me to start feeling like a rock star as they vie for my attention, really what I feel is God’s immense love for me being shown to me freely through these little ones. I’m so grateful for the gift these kids are in my life…
Life isn’t all rainbows and puppy dogs though…
There have been a couple hard things this month, not unusual for someone living and breathing on this place we call home.
-One thing that I am still trying to navigate through is something completely unexpected for me. I knew the people here place a high “value” on mzungu (white people), mostly because they see mzungu and think they will be able to get a lot of money because mzungu have money. I have dealt with this every time I’ve come here, and for the most part it doesn’t bother me anymore. What I didn’t realize though is the reality of people being very jealous of me spending time with someone other than them. There has been more than one occasion where people literally start yelling at one another, all because they think something is unfair. They feel I spend too much time with certain people, not enough time with others, and can’t fathom why I don’t help every single person that asks for help. It’s been challenging to say the least. I am trying to listen well as I ask questions about what the real reason is behind the arguments, and seeking advice from my friends here and Pastor Steve on the best way to handle this. So far what I’ve gotten is, “You know, if you argue with a fool it will be hard to tell the difference between you and the fool” and “this isn’t really a big thing, it’s just a small thing so don’t let it trouble you.” I suppose that would be good advice if it was actually possible for me to not be bothered that people are arguing over what I do and don’t do. I am hoping this problem fades with time as people here realize I have come to stay and am not here just on vacation. Perhaps once it is “normal” to have me around the novelty of me being a mzungu will wear off.
-I am finding myself on “overload” a lot these days. Overload of a lot of things. I am trying to learn and listen to the culture here so I minimize the amount of times I do something out of complete ignorance. I mess this up on an almost daily basis, but I am learning. I am being taught Swahili and Kikuyu at the same time. This is not an easy task, and at times I reach the end of my rope with my “teachers.” Most of the time the way they “teach” me is to just repeat whatever phrase it is they are saying over and over and over again, as if the 15th time I will finally get it when I didn’t get it on the 5th time. I can’t even say anymore how many times I’ve had the conversation of, “You know what would be really helpful to me is if you say something I’m not understanding, tell me what the phrase is in English and then I can learn it in Kikuyu/Swahili. It doesn’t help me when you just repeat the phrase because my brain doesn’t know what you are saying.” Sometimes they agree, most times they don’t. So, I’m left trying to be patient and let them “teach” me the way they want while at the same time try to absorb some of what they are saying. Learning “all things new” is a lot harder than it seems. New place, new faces, new food, new habits, new patterns of life, new pace of life, new values for life, new language, new music, new side of the road for driving, new culture, new, new, new. While I can’t say this makes me wish for all things old, it does make me wish for the time when all things new will be all things normal again.
Even with these difficulties mixed in with the great things I do still love being here, and I do still feel incredibly blessed to be given a place to call home where I feel I can be more fully who I was made to be. It’s pretty great, actually.