Month #3, Can It Be?
Posted on November 18, 2012
One quarter of the year. That is how long I have been here. At times it feels much longer than that, yet most times it feels as if no time has passed at all. It seems like just yesterday I was playing “tackles” in the basement with Seth and Logan. Crazy how fast time is going.
Also crazy is how I am not surrounded by Thanksgiving, or Christmas, or Black Friday, or ads telling me what I “must have” for Christmas. I can’t even begin to describe how freeing it is to not be caught up in the breakneck, fast pace, crazy-making commercialism that fills the airwaves this time of year. I actually just this minute realized this Thursday is Thanksgiving. I’m fairly certain God is surrounding me with an extra dose of love right now because there is no other explanation in my mind for how it is I am completely at peace not thinking about this holiday season.
This past month has gone by so quickly, I’m not even sure how to sum everything up that has happened.
Last night I came to Camp around 9pm with Elijah. We had gone to the school so he could talk with Pastor Steve for a while and we were coming back here to get something quickly and then I was going to take him home. As we pulled in, I saw about 10 people hanging out at the clinic. It is not normal to see so many people here that late at night. I came to my house but Elijah went to see what was going on. As I was about to open the door to my house he came over and I asked him what was happening. He said a little girl was bitten by a snake and needed to go to Naivasha right away, but the parents couldn’t find anyone to take them. At that moment two thoughts went racing through my head. #1-My worst fears are realized, there are snakes in Eburru, and they are bad for you, and now what am I going to do? and #2-I absolutely have to get this little girl to the hospital. (the medicine needed for a snake bite costs about 7,000 shillings, which is about $100. The clinic here can’t afford to have that medicine on hand, that’s why she needed to go to Naivasha right away) I talked with Pastor Steve to see if it was ok to take Simon to Naivasha at night–important cultural difference here, in the US we drive at night all the time and don’t think twice about it because help is just a phone call away–to either a friend, insurance co, or AAA. Here in Kenya, if Simon breaks down at night I’m pretty much stuck until daylight because there is no AAA and friends are usually far, far away–Pastor Steve agreed it was good to take little Tabitha to the hospital so long as Elijah could go with me, and so we headed out. Tabitha is about 5 years old, so when she got in Simon I made sure to tell her who I was and where we were going and that everything was going to be ok. We made it to the hospital with no problems, and they took Tabitha in to the doctor right away…which is fantastic, but also concerning because it means this snake bite was very serious, which leads straight back to my first thought earlier…. the doctor decided to admit Tabitha, and then her mom and dad had to figure things out. Tabitha’s baby brother came with us, which meant Tabitha’s mom couldn’t stay at the hospital with them since there was an “extra” child. This meant we had to leave Tabitha and her dad at the hospital while we made the journey back to Eburru. I told Tabitha she was a very brave little girl…she had an iv in her hand so the doctors could continue giving her the medicine she needed, and I could tell she was wondering what in the world was happening. I also told her I was happy to meet her and as I looked in her eyes I said a prayer for her and her dad. Around 11pm Elijah, Mama Tabitha, baby, and I headed back to Eburru. Another reason it’s not safe to travel at night here is because lots of animals cross the Eburru road at night. We saw zebra and water buffalo on our journey, not your usual animal suspects of cows, goats, and sheep :-). After dropping off Mama Tabitha, baby, and Elijah, I made it back to my house around 12:30. A 3 hour journey to get a little girl to the hospital. Simon performed his ambulance duties like a champ, and I am so thankful we did not have any problems going or coming back. I’m fairly certain God surrounds Simon with a whole battalion of angels just keeping everything running and safe. As my head hit the pillow I thought about how incredibly different life is here, but how incredibly normal I feel living this life. I went to sleep with a smile on my face thinking of God and His mercy leading me to the exact place He wants me to be, and making it so I could be around at the exact time little Tabitha needed a ride.
I am learning it takes a village to raise a mzungu. This is actually something I said to the team from DCC that was here just last week. I was talking to them about community here, and how I have connected to so many folks. In trying to describe this dynamic, I was telling them how one day I wanted to sleep in. And by sleep in I mean sleep until 9AM, nothing too crazy… Since I wanted to sleep in I turned my phone off the night before. Apparently this was a bad idea because people were looking for me. People knocked on my door, called a million times, and finally Francis came down and banged on my door saying, “Kara Njeri are you ok?” over and over and over again. I got up and asked Francis what was the matter. He said, “we were trying to call you and you didn’t answer so we thought something was wrong.” All of this because I wanted to sleep in. I also told the story of how when my dad asks me if I am safe here I tell him, “yes Dad, I am very safe. I essentially have an entire village looking out for me.” Which led me to realize it takes a village to raise a mzungu. I have so many people here, old friends and new, who help me every single day. They look out for me, talk with me, laugh with me, tell me stories, remain very patient with me and my lack of understanding, keep me in their hearts, invite me to their homes, give me food to eat, pray for me daily, are willing to help me with whatever I need no matter what….all because I have come here to live with them. And for them, to do anything less than love and accept me would be unthinkable. I am so thankful for these amazing people and the way they are so willing to share with me. I am learning a lot from them about letting go of my own selfishness and pride, of thinking of someone else as more important than me, of being willing to give everything if it helps someone in need. Beautiful lessons from beautiful people.
I feel this month, that maybe, finally, although I don’t want to say for sure because maybe it’s not actually this way, but it sure seems to be this way…I am finally feeling like things are normal here. I was riding in a boat on Lake Naivasha sitting next to a friend as we were searching for hippos, and I had the thought, “this feels completely normal. Nothing out of the ordinary about it at all.” which of course led me to feel abnormal instantly because I then thought to myself, “how in the c-rap can this be normal? I am in a small boat in the middle of a lake in Kenya looking for hippos!” That’s the beauty of it though, new things are becoming normal things as I settle in to life here. I have no running water, no radio, no tv, I have to boil water to take a “shower” with a “bucket,” town is 45 minutes away, I am surrounded by a language that is still completely foreign to me, I think radically differently than the folks here, it takes a couple hours to prepare dinner every night, breakfast is a cup of tea, milk comes in boxes and is not refrigerated, eggs come in bags and they are not refrigerated either, every single day is different than the day before, there is a constant stream of people asking me to do things, there is a never ending supply of laughter when I spend time with kids, there is joy unspeakable in the eyes of my sweet friends here, all of this and more are becoming normal for me. I am not feeling as much overload as I was last month, and that is a good thing for sure. I am still learning all things new, but there is a feeling of normalcy with that. I am not so overwhelmed with everything being new, I am now able to relax in the newness and let it settle into normal.