Tuesday, November 24, 2009
So much to say
I've been holding off on a post for a while now. Where do I even start? The past two weeks have been pretty intense on several different levels. I struggle with how transparent I should be on this blog. I've heard so many words from many of you like "inspire", "encourage", "amazed" and I find it hard to stand up now and say that it has been a struggle for me these past couple weeks. But I want to keep it real and remind myself and you that I am just an ordinary girl empowered by an extraordinary God who loves me.
It isn't that I don't like it here - I really do. I have just been missing my old home. I know that sounds incredibly immature and whiny. Homesickness is for sissies! But, unfortunately, it is true for me. I was thinking about what it would have been like if we had just moved to a new city - even a far off one with a different culture within the U.S. I could think of so many different ways it would be possible to meet new people (join a church, the Y, bible study), get the kids involved in preschool etc. It would be really tough at first to find a niche but eventually I could find like-minded people to share my life with. Here is not really too different from that scenario - I'll eventually find people I click with and have things in common with here - it is a big place with lots of opportunities to know people and get involved. It was really everything ELSE that is different that really threw me for a loop that would have been the same if we had just simply moved in the U.S.
There are very few things in my life that are the same as they were 3 weeks ago. I can think only of my husband/kids, some clothes and my sheets. My shampoo is different, I don't have my car anymore, my internet is totally different, everything I put in my mouth or cook is different. I guess this is just a part of culture shock but man it was tough. I was on the verge of tears until about three days ago with frequent spill overs.
I don't doubt the decision to leave everything behind and come here. I know it is where God has us for this season of life and ministry and I know that it is a good thing to leave "home" and stretch my boundaries. It kind of took me by surprise, really, and I felt like one of those weak sissies I mentioned before. I guess I just think about my "old" life and, man, I loved it. We lived in a wonderful city with an amazing church family, pastor and small group. I was in a wonderful bible study group with women who loved and encouraged me. My children were in the most wonderful first school experience I could imagine. We were close to our family. I loved my house, my car and all the opportunities we had there.
When I think about what I miss most my mind zips back to something that I did every single day . . . driving in the car with my kids. Nothing special there but I miss it so much. We had our favorite CDs we sang in the car together (the Annie soundtrack was one of the best!) and we looked for yellow cars and garbage trucks and got excited when we found them. We zipped through the drive thru at Chickfila (or Cluck-Cluck as Ford called it) and I got a large sweet tea and the kids got apple juice and we just went about our day running a few errands . . . Publix, ballet, car pool for preschool. It was just the normal part of my life that I really loved and really miss here.
Claire asked me the other day "Mommy, where is the McWane [children's science museum] in Kenya?". I thought she would melt into a puddle on the floor when I told her there wasn't a McWane Center here. She was trying to hide her disappointment but couldn't quite manange. I wanted to cry with her. I promised her we would go back to the McWane Center one day and she seemed pretty OK with that. She asked me if we could get on an airplane and go back to Ama and Pa Pa's house. I told here we would definitely do that one day but for now we were going to be living in Kenya. She seems to be having lightbulb moments where she realizes that people and things she loves are far away. I've tried to be strong for her but I also wanted her to know that it is OK to be sad and miss things "back in Alabama". I ask her how her heart is feeling and she is being honest when she has some sadness in her heart and we talk about it and pray about it. I'm thankful she is willing to share her emotions and fears with us.
OK, so that was my pity party. I'm feeling much better the past few days. On Saturday we left Kijabe for a fun family day trip and it helped me clear my head. I prayed and just told God how I was feeling and laid all of my sadness at his feet. I am depending on Him for my happiness not the comforts, convenience and happiness of my day to day life. I am so thankful for the opportunity to be here. I know our lives and hearts are going to be transformed by the experiences we have. We are starting to feel more settled and I am s-l-o-w-l-y figuring out how to live here. Make no mistake - I'm hardly roughing it. Yes, it is Africa, but I live in a lovely new apartment with hot water, oven and refrigerator. I visited the library at RVA this morning and checked out library books for the kids. This afternoon Claire went to ballet class with some other little girls on the station. Even though it requires us hiring a driver for the day ($$) I can get to a big city and find almost anything I need (except chocolate chips:) if I am willing to pay a premium price for it. I am surrounded by an amazing landscape and very friendly Kenyan people. Rhett is starting to dive into his "new life" at the hospital where he has so many opportunities to help relieve people's suffering and share Christ with them. I am reminded several times a day of the reality of many of the people here and it keeps Christ at the forefront of my heart and mind.
I have been so encouraged by a handful of people who have come up to me and said "I remember what it was like when we first got her . . . it was so overwhelming". Just that validation of I'm not the only one who feels overwhelmed is so encouraging. When someone takes the time to say "I've been there and I understand . . . it was tough" it is humbling and I appreciate it so much. I want to always remember this feeling and use it to encourage and connect with people in the future. Because after a while I think a lot of people forget what this adjustment time is like . . .
I have had some really nice moments since I've been here. I think I'll finish with one of them so this whole post isn't such a downer. Our first Sunday here at Kijabe we went to church at RVA (Rift Valley Academy). It was Baptism Sunday and 3 students were being baptized that day. We gathered on a hillside under huge old trees surrouding the baptismal pool. We sang songs and one by one each young person had the opportunity to share their story of how they came to know and follow Jesus. They had people who were special to them read scripture and pray for them. Then someone special to their spiritual journey baptized them and we sang a song of celebration for each of them that they picked for just that occassion. It was wonderful. I will look forward to Baptism Sunday each term!
So for now I have to dig in and carefully hold all of those sweet memories of my former life close to my heart - but not too close. I have to look around a find wonderful new ways to live and share my life with others around me. Please continue to pray for us as we adjust to our life here and Rhett starts to work . . . it is going to be challenging but wonderful for all of us.