Try number 2 at writing this..the programs crash much more often than on our computers.
I am in Kajiado, alive, well, and happy 🙂
Communication is going to be less than I thought even. We have to go to town into the market to get internet, and then we pay by minute to use it. We type up we want to say on a word document first and then copy and past. We allotted money for communication, so hopefully we will be able to go once a week and update you. We do so much, see so much, learn so much, and God grows us so much in one day that it seems impossible to share with you what is going on here once a week, but I will try! Bear with me if these get long as I try to communicate not only what we are doing, but where I see God moving here as well.
Tuesday we went to the market in Nairobi before we left for Kajiado. Quite different than going to the shopping mall here. You bargain for every price..they see us “mzungu’s” (white people) and hike the prices up about 10X what they should be. People yell out “mama” or “sister” to get our attention, then do all kinds of sweet talking to get us to buy their products. They will even chase you when you leave their area! I did not buy much there, I felt too overwhelmed! At that point I didn’t know much Swahili, nor did I know how much of my budget could be used on souvenirs. It is different budgeting my money in a foreign country, when I don’t comprehend how much something that costs 1000 shillings really is!
We arrived in Kajiado last Tuesday afternoon. I was overwhelmed to be back here, I love this place. It is crazy how in a country half way around the world, with a totally different culture and lifestyle, where I know very few people and very little of the language, I can feel this at peace. There is something about Kenya, Kajiado, and this children’s home that feels like it just runs through me. It’s not the same as when I’ve visited other countries, though they are exciting and fun to me. It was so good to see faces of children I knew 4 years ago, and so fun to meet new children. Tears came to my eyes, my joy spilling over..I don’t typically think of myself as a crier, but I was filled to the brim.
We’ve spent this week settling in. As I’m writing this on Sunday night, I can say I feel pretty adjusted to being here. We have learned many many kid’s names and faces. I’d say I know probably 90% of their names. At first it is overwhelming: over 80 kids telling you their names, all with uniforms on and their heads shaved (including the girls), unfamiliar faces, most with both Masaai names (which are very hard to understand and for us to reproduce) and English names, but said with accents. For instance, Isaiah says his name E-ziya, but also has a Masaai name that the children and Kenyan staff call him by. We are slowly catching on. I am taking this seriously, because we want to communicate with the kids that they are special and unique and valued and loved. Names are so important in who you are, I want them to know they aren’t just a group, but important individuals. We are also learning kiSwahili. I feel like I have learned a ton this week, but still no where close to being able to communicate. Mostly I know key words to communicate a small point to the children (like what my name is, or do they want to play tag – “chako”). I can also pick up words that I know when they talk to each other and get a general idea of what they are talking about. I am so used to hearing Swahili all around me that I expect to understand it now! The youngest ones don’t comprehend that we don’t understand their language, especially when we can greet them in their language. So they will look straight at us and speak whole sentences and paragraphs, and I just stare haha. A group from the UK came this weekend, and I almost greeted them with the typical Swahili greeting of “habari” expecting them to answer “nzuri”..until I remembered that they speak English like me 🙂 I am going to come back speaking English with a British accent though, because that is how the kids learn English!
Tuesday night into Wednesday I slept nearly 12 hours. The jet lag is killer when you travel for over 36 hours, and jump into a country that is already 7 hours ahead of what your body is used to. I felt like I had no concept of what day it was, much less what time of day! Wednesday morning we relaxed. The kids were fairly cautious of us at first..understandable I suppose: we do look quite funny and talk funny to them! A few brave ones came up to us and lowered their heads to us (which is the typical greeting of kids to adults, to which we respond by placing our hand on their head saying “habari mtoto”). Wednesday is market day in Kajiado, so we went “grocery shopping”. Again, quite different than you would think to run to the store, grab a cart and head to the refridgerated section to pick up your veggies for the week. Piles and piles of things just laying out, bargaining for prices, everyone touching the food then putting it back, food sitting on the dirt floors (don’t worry, we wash everything and don’t eat anything that can’t be either peeled or cooked). The Masaai are beautiful, their culture and language and dress and jewelry. There is just something about life here that is so full, rich, and vibrant.
I am learning about African time. Meaning if you are supposed to leave for somewhere at 1, it is on time if you leave by 2:30 🙂 You just aren’t a slave to time here. Relationships are more important than meetings. You are present in what you are doing, not rushing it..you will get to the next thing when you get to it. It is freeing, but also can be very frustrating. It test’s my patience and my desire for having a plan or having control over what is happening in a day.
Thursday and Friday we stayed around the Children’s Home. We helped with the Nursery school on site, played games, played with the other kids when they got back from school, learned how to do laundry in a bucket with a bar of soap, helping with homework, etc. The kids are really warming up to us..usually the second we step outside many run up to us, talking nonstop, wanting attention, while others are yelling proudly their English “hello” and “how are you.” There are typically at least 3 sets of hands on us at once. I will try to explain what a day looks like for us:
between 7 and 8 we wake up, make our breakfast, have devotion times, and do any cleaning or straightening up around the house that is necessary. Around 10 we’ve gone to the nursery school. 11 is chai time. 12:30 is lunch (of which is always maize (corn) and beans for the kids..or we make our own in the house). We’ve come to the conclusion that the primary school children come back for lunch and stay here for the rest of the day, where they do afternoon lessons with one of the staff members here, so we’ve been helping in that class..the kids have started calling us “teacher, teacher” when we are helping them with their lessons or homework. Around 3:00 everyone is back and it is free time, so we either help with cleaning or play games. Just spending time with the kids. Around 4 or 4:30 the kids go to clean up and clean their dormatories, during which we usually relax and read books or talk..lots of naps have happened here as well. 5:30 until 6:30 is more free time. 6:30 is dinner. The staples are rice or ugali and beans, with the occassional potatoes, oranges, kale, or goat. Immediately following dinner is “fellowship time” which is like a chapel or worship time for about a half hour or so. There is a lot of singing and dancing, they read from the bible and then kind of interpret what they’ve read (the kids stand up and do it themselves), ending with prayer and some more singing. It is interesting to worship in a different culture and especially in a different language. I’ve gone to worship services for every night for about a week now, and have no idea what has been said in one. It’s powerful in a way..the truth exploding of the fact that the words I say or hear or think can never convey an adequate praise for our God. The words don’t mean anything if the heart isn’t behind it. It forces me to worship God on my own in those times, not just copping out by saying I heard words that sound good or sang words that are “powerful.” It’s a heart issue. It’s between us each and God. It forces me to be invested and present during the times. I can’t just go through the motions. I can tell already that this is going to be good for my relationship with God. After fellowship they have around 2 hours of study time. They take education very seriously here, it is a rare priveledge. They are all crazy smart, and work very hard. We help during this time, mostly with English homework. I didn’t expect this, but I think it will be really good for their English to have us here for so long. Just interacting with us and hearing us. They also try to teach us kiSwahili, so they have to think how to translate. Again, their intelligence puts me to shame. I’ve really enjoyed this time at night with the kids. They have Christian homework as well, which has lead to some valuable conversations: explaining what faith or repentance is, explaining how pleasing God is more important than pleasing people or themselves, what obeying God verse disobeying him is. One conversation is a precious memory to me:
A boy about 10 or 12 years old called me over and said “Morgan, may I ask you a question?…In school they teach us that humans came from animals, but the Bible teaches us that God created man, which is the correct answer?” In my head I’m thinking, boy you just asked the million dollar question that people are debating everywhere! But I didn’t want to get into the debates, especially with the language barrier. So I just described that there is no one right answer necessarily, but it depends on what you believe. And he answered simply “I believe God created man. Thank you for your help.” I don’t think he’s getting into the debate of creationism vs. evolution or whether they can coexist, it was just the fact of his simple absolute belief that blew me away. It’s something I’m learning here. Faith is strong. When by our Western, worldly standards these kids have no reason to praise God or be thankful or really believe that God is good, they have this unshaking faith. Simple, straightforward, true. Joy that explodes out of them. It amazes me every day.
Saturdays are work and play days. The mornings spent doing laundry, cleaning dorms, and cleaning the grounds. The afternoons are free time for the kids..and nights are the same as weekdays. Sundays are worship days. Sunday school started around 9 for the children, worship following at 10. Around 12, the main speakers for the service came up 🙂 It is truely a worship day, not just an hour devoted to going to church. The services too, are powerful. I will explain another week, because this already is way too long!!
Tomorrow, Monday, we go to the clinic for the first time. We are unsure of what exactly we will be doing. I am nervous that I won’t be able to handle what we see, but I am excited.
How do I see God? I’ve explained some little things I’m seeing and learning. At this point I think he is really just getting my attention, asking for my dependence and trust in him. As much as I love it here, it is hard. I need my quite times in the morning, and my free time throughout the day to go to him again. And then some debriefing time at night with him to see what he’s taught me that day. I see things that break my heart, I’m having a hard time with the lack of my ability to communicate back home, it’s hard to not be able to communicate with many people here. It all forces me to rely on God and nothing else. I hope to grow drastically more intimate with my maker, now is just the beginning. I need this foundation. It’s humbling, to realize how much I rely on my own strength, my circumstances, and those around me.
One of the passages that I ran acrossed this week that has really stuck in my heart is 2 Peter 1:2-3: “May grace and peace be yours in abundance in the knowledge of God and Jesus our Lord. His divine power has given us everything needed for life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness.”
There’s alot packed into this. First of all, through knowledge of God and Jesus, I have grace and peace in abundance. Super helpful in my weaker moments here. I can cling to that. And the fact that I have everything needed for life and godliness. Next, that he has called us. I am here because God has called me. To live for him. To do hard, uncomfortable things. To proclaim his word and his grace and his love. We are all called. Isaiah 43 tells us that God knows us and calls us by name. We are his. He loves us. We are called by God, like Abram was in Genesis, like Moses was in Exodus, like Jeremiah was, in well, Jeremiah. We are called to obey and follow. In that, we are called by his own glory and goodness. Not because we are super Christians or because we deserve it. Not for our glory. But by his own glory and goodness.
Congrats if you made it through this. Thanks for reading. I know it’s long and probably boring. But I want to explain as thoroughly as I can because I can’t communicate often. And future blogs won’t be so tedious hopefully because I won’t have near as much of the details to explain.
If you wanted more details of things we’ve done..you can check out Hannah’s blog at openmyeyestosee.wordpress.com. She’s always more thorough than I am 🙂
Thanks for your prayers. We haven’t been sick at all, we’ve transitioned well, and we are loving it here.