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Saturday, February 7, 2009

Jambo, Family and Friends!

Again, sorry for the spotty postings on my blog! Once I move back to Nairobi, I will be able to post more frequent….Can’t wait!

Its hard to believe that my time at orientation is coming to a close. I thought it would drag on, but truly…it has flown! Just a few weeks ago I was arriving in Kenya with wide eyes and nervousness about the unknowns that await me. Now, being in Kenya for almost 3 weeks, I’m starting to feel like this is become “life” for me. Not “home” yet (don’t worry mom), but I’m starting to accept that this is where the Lord has me for this next year. Its amazing how the Lord has provided in both big and small ways to help prepare my anxious heart for the unknowns. When I left the States, I barely knew the names of those I would be traveling with, now, however, I’ve come to accept all these people as family. Everyone here has had to say goodbye to those they love. Everyone here has had to leave that which they called home and make a home in Africa. Its comforting to know that whichever emotions I feel and experience, others have too.

This past week has been packed with tons of information about Africa and her people. I’ve learned so much from our African guest speakers about how to build relationships with Africans in our community and how to become a learner and a belonger in these communities. I’m excited to be able to apply what I learned these past few weeks to people I will meet in Nairobi. In just a few days I will be leaving orientation and moving into a Kenyan family’s home for a month. This time will be fruitful, I’m sure, as I learn from the family about what it means to truly live in Nairobi. I’m excited to see how God will stretch me and comfort me during this time and through my experiences. Please be praying for me as I will be learning Swahili through a tutor during this month. Also, please be praying for my time with this family and that I would be open minded to learning and living a new culture.

Speaking of culture… I had quite the cultural experiences today!

#1 My friend Kim and I were in charge of shopping for our orientation’s “Celebration Supper” that will take place tomorrow evening. We didn’t know what we were getting into when we signed up for this job. Over the past three weeks, the market in Manchakos got a frequent visit from us westerners who would clear the shelves of candy bars, yogurt, and coffee. All our previous visits were quite calm-Key word here is PREVIOUS. Today was a different story. As Kim and I entered the doors of the market with our shopping list in hand we went to grab a cart and get on our way with our list. We had categorized the list by the layout of the store so that we could get everything in one quick sweep. Well, quick wouldn’t quite be the word to describe today’s visit. I knew it was going to be a rough day by the crowd in the store. We decided to go with the motto “when in Kenya, do like the Kenyan’s do.” Sooo, we weaved our cart between people, tapping them if they didn’t get out of the way and pushing our way to the shelves we needed to get to. At one point, I bent down to grab some rolls and as I was down, someone decided my head would be a great place to rest their basket while they checked out the quality of bread on the shelves above me head. Interesting, indeed! I brushed it off and figured; well I’m in Kenya so that’s just how it is. As our cart began to fill up, the stares from Kenyans grow. They probably were wondering how two “Mozungu” women were going to eat 50 hamburger buns, four bottles of Ketchup, 20 lbs of meat, three gallons of ice cream, and 10 candy bars. Trust me, by the time we left the market…..we could have eaten it all! Many other things happened in that market that made Kim and I just stare at each other in disbelief, but I think the one that trumped it all was when we were in line. We had already waited about 15 mins, when a man behind us decided he didn’t want to wait any longer. His solution: moving past me, pushing Kim aside, carrying his basket above our heads so that he could get checked out first. Logical, right? Haha I have to laugh because I think of how ridiculous this would all be if it happened in our local supermarket in America. Imagine getting something from the top shelf and having someone set their basket on your head. Imagine having a group of people walk up to your cart and just stand their looking at what you are buying. Imagine waiting patiently in line and having someone behind you push their way in front of you without the clerk correcting their behavior.



#2 Today we went on "Home Visits." During the home visit, our orientation group got split up into smaller groups where we went to a local family's house to visit with them and practice what we learned this week about interacting with Africans. My group got picked up in a car...apparently we got the royal treatment cause other groups had to walk to their houses... we would find out later that it wasn't exactly a good thing that our host family had a car! The host's name was Carol. She was a very kind woman and decided to take us on a tour of the village. it was quite interesting driving through a village in a car on roads intended for walking. At one point the bottom of the car got caught on a mound of dirt as we slowly scraped our way over it. I assumed that since the family owned a car that they lived in a wealthy area, but I soon found out that those were just assumptions. As we continued slowly down a dirt path, we neared a field and Carol pointed out her window at two cows. "These are our cows!" she said proudly. At that moment I realized that I can't just assume things anymore! The house was a quaint cement building. We were immediately greeted by the entire family. Momma, uncle, son, pastor, sister- in-law, and niece. After the introductions we were prompted to have a seat as tea would be served soon. Not only were we presented with steaming hot chai, but we got to taste an assortment of true African food: Boiled pumpkin, boiled yam, and what looked like a boiled root of some kind. Apparently I was staring at the root (mostly in the "what is that???" sort of way) and it got misinterpreted as me really wanting a lot of it, so Momma got a plate and cut and peeled me a huge piece of this purple-ish root. Its moments like these where I have to purse my lips, close my eyes and pray hard. Let me tell you, roots taste like a dry mush of nothing. I took my time downing the root in fear that swallowing it whole would make momma think that I loved it and wanted more! After two hours of sitting, chatting, and nibbling on the root my group decided that we should head back to the college for dinner. As we began to say our goodbyes, Momma told us that we can't go yet because she wanted to take us to her parents house so that we could greet them. I figured if she seemed like she was in her 60's that her parents probably lived close by....boy was I wrong. Momma ordered us a taxi and we started our little caravan towards a more rural area in the mountains. It took about 20 minutes to reach her parents house. Again they offered us chai but we knew it was getting dark and so we offered them prayer instead...they kindly accepted! It was a great learning experience and an overall fun time to be had. Again though, out of context and in the context of America...how funny would it be if someone picked you up to come to their house and they drove their car on the side walk, expecting all others to clear the path. Or if you get to some one's house and they bring a root to the table and cut it up for you to eat. And the best yet...imagine visiting someone for the first time and they tell you that before you leave, you have to drive 20mins to visit their parents and say hello! Over the years I've grown to love and appreciate these differences!


If at any point in these stories you were able to imagine yourself in this market or the home visit with me, then...WELCOME TO AFRICA! :)

I miss you all and would love to hear from you when you get a chance! (joycekmster@gmail.com)

If you could be praying for the next stage of my ministry in these specific areas, I would be most blessed:

1) My time with my Host family

2) Quick learning of Swahili

3) Safety in Nairobi

Thank you all for taking the time to read my updates of my ministry in Africa. Its been such a rich time already, I’m excited to see what riches this next year will bring.

I think and pray for you all often. Asante” (thank you) for all your prayers too!

-Kate

3 comments:

Kurt Helfrich said...

Jambo Ms. Joyce! You just did an amazing job of describing what a day in the Kenyan culture is like! Nicholas Sparks's got nothing on you =) We're all praying for you Kate, and looking forward to hearing about the upcoming adventures to be had in Nairobi!

ashley said...

It is a joy to read your blog, Kate! The Hills and I (via email) were talking about how excited we are for you. Can't wait to see how God uses you during your time in Africa. You've had so many adventures even in three weeks!
I can't believe you'll be learning swahili through a tutor. Wow! Stay safe, and God bless!

erica said...

Jambo! We really enjoyed reading your blog about your experiences in Africa. It must be a truly amazing and rewarding experience not to mention fascination.

We actually sponsor an child from Kenya - his name is Chondo. It's a great feeling to give back.

We work with an organization thats been instrumental in helping developing countries. We currently sponsor 10 thousand children in 6 different developing countries and we're on track to sponsor 1 MILLI0N more by 2013! We've also built 2 hospitals, 15 schools and 4 biogas digesters.

Have a look at our website if you get a chance

http://www.protrackerplus.com/3013/gtap.html

We're building the Largest Humanitarian Army in the WORLD...and we could always use a few more soldiers!

Cheers,
Kenny & Erica Jones

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