Three things are running through my mind on this wonderful saturday afternoon. Three things differing in nature and intensity but all worth sharing. Its been a week full of thoughts and discoveries.
First of all I am a wimp. A weakling. And I would venture to say that most american women are when compared with the hard working ladies that live here in Africa. On friday afternoon, a number of kenyan ladies show up at our door selling fruits, veggies and eggs. (Can I just say you can buy a dozen eggs here for like 80 cents! My brain literally exploded!) Anyways we have cultivated a friendly relationship with “the fruit lady.” As she laid out her selection of tastiness for us to pick from I noticed her bag that she uses to carry her fruit. The thing was enormous! As she packed up her fruit I asked her if her bag was heavy. Her response was no, it was very easy to carry. I flat out told her I did not believe her. She laughed and told me to pick it up. I tried. I failed. We both laughed and she helped me hold it up on my head so Dan could take a picture. This thing probably weighed close to 70 lbs. Where I could not lift it and inch off the ground with out her help, this beautiful african lady carries it on her head FOR 7 HOURS A DAY ALL OVER THE CITY! She shared with me that every since she was a little girl of about 4 there was hard work to be done. As a small child she carried heavy bags and buckets for miles on her back or head. It was her life and it had made her strong and a hard worker. I wish I had hard work like that growing up. Not to say that I didn’t work because I did. But I did not carry 1,000 news papers on my back around our neighborhood and 5 in the morning. I was in a car. I didn’t move 1 ton of gravel trip by trip to our back yard by carrying it on my back. I had a freaking wheel barrel! I am still amazed at the stories I hear of how hard Kenyan children work. And they are not bitter or angry that their parents made them work. They know it made them strong and they are so thankful for it. I complain about hard work. There you go. Honesty at its base level. I want work to be easy. I need and want to be more like my sister in Christ Louis “the fruit lady.” I will miss her company on friday afternoons.
Now to totally change gears…. Im sure that everyone is familiar with the passage in Ecclesiastes that talks about there being a time for everything under heaven. I thought I was until I read it Thursday and again yesterday. In that long list of things that there are specific times for was verse 6 of chapter 3 which says “… a time to search and a time to give up…” I have not every noticed that section before. I have noticed a time to live, a time to die a time to love and so on. But not a time to give up… That phrase went against everything I was taught growing up and just living life. You never give up. You only fail if you give up. If at first you don’t succeed try again. No matter the odds you don’t give up. Succeed or die trying. The sayings go on… But apparently Solomon, the wisest dude to ever live, and the Lord said there is a time to give up. You don’t always need to die trying. Dan and I have been searching for what is next. When do we start life? Where to go from here? Seminary for Dan or just more schooling? What kind of work? what about missions? What about babies? In our ideal world, Dan would have a masters from a great school, we both would have great paying jobs, be in full time missions and homeschool our 7 kids ( well the 7 kids is not Dans ideal world :p). Oh and have plenty of money to go on disney cruises. Obviously to accomplish all this would be absurd. But its our american dream! We should aspire to attain it! But its absurd. Some things in the list will be have to go by the way. Most likely the great paying job part.
We are in our time of seeking out what the Lord has for us. Many options will be available. In the end something will be attained and something will be let go and given up on. And its ok. This verse was so encouraging to me as we continue to seek out Gods plan for us. The time to give up on certain things will come. It does not mean we are failures. It means we searched out many things and with our saviors help we picked one. When you say yes to one thing you are saying no to something else. Solomon already knew this. Glad he wrote it down. Praise God for directing our steps.
Last thought of this past week!
Dan and I are leaving Kenya in 7 days. Where did the time go? I can say I am absolutely not ready to go. I would be happy here for another 6 months. I was thinking about this today and it caused me to reflect on my past short term mission trips. Those 2 week trips were completely different then this 8 week experience. Let me compare and contrast them for you!
*2 weeks- no down time. ZERO! 8 weeks- Dan and I have had many relaxing fun weekends
*2 weeks- No culture shock. 8 weeks- I thought culture shock was going to kill me the first 4 weeks
*2 weeks- if you do experience culture shock, its ok cause your going home in three days. 8 weeks- You are not going home in 3 days. Get comfy and deal
*2 weeks- You do not cook, you do not do laundry, you do not buy groceries, you do not ride public transport and the list goes on. Routine life does not happen. 8 weeks- Routine life goes on. Its different, more difficult and no one is holding your hand through it.
*2 weeks- Long lasting friendships are not formed if any at all. 8 weeks- Kenyans are making plans to come visit you in the states and life long bonds have gotten started.
*2 weeks- people are shouting mzungu at you constantly. 8 weeks- your starting to fit in.
*2 weeks- ready to go home in 14 days. 8 weeks- wanting to stay for another 6 months.
These are just my experiences. Im sure different people have had other experiences with varying lengths of trips. But after comparing the two, in my opinion, the long the better. In my 8 weeks being here I have lived life here. I have not been a “voluntourist.” And I loved it. 4 weeks ago I was ready to get off this continent and go home. But today I don’t want to leave my new home. All I can think about is when I can come back. I will miss this beautiful country and these beautiful people. Its been a trial filled, interesting, fun and wonderful 7 weeks and we are so looking forward to our last one here. I will definitely shed tears for Kenya as we leave on friday. Its amazing how God works in our hearts and lives.
See you all very soon.