Sunday, April 11, 2010

To Kenya With Love

Now that we've been home for over a week, I've had time to process some thoughts on our Kenya trip, and decided to try and make some sense out of them on here before I forget...

They don't really flow, so forgive me if it seems a little choppy.

It's so bizarre that the trip is now in the past! It was so long in coming, and there was So much anticipation and preparation, and then, suddenly it was here, happening and...done!

I definitely feel like I have realized my lifelong dream of seeing a tiny slice of "my mom's Africa" by going on this trip, but that's what it was, tiny. There is so much of it that I didn't have a chance to experience or see the real side of. Yet.

Someone said to me before we went to Kenya, "Wow, this will be the trip of a lifetime!" and I said, "I hope not!" I don't Want this one trip to be THE trip of our lives, I want it to be one of many (whether back to Kenya, or to other parts of Africa or the world). I don't want to be "done experiencing" already.

We definitely feel the Lord leading us into missions after Philip is finished with his Air Force commitment, but we don't know yet where or how that will come about. We could both see ourselves living in Kenya someday, but don't know if that is where He wants us yet.

Traveling across the world with kids. In hindsight would we have done things differently? Undoubtedly, there were Many aspects of the trip that would have been simpler, smoother, even more enjoyable without the kids with us, but for me, there was no other option. Being away from them for a month would have made the trip harder in a lot of other ways. =) Overall, they are both Great little travelers, and we have much to be thankful for. Moriah won't at all, and Keenan will remember little, if any of this trip, but we are still glad we had the opportunity to travel with them at such a young age, hopefully the start of a regular practice in their young lives.

Having the kids with us kept me pretty busy (just like at home), taking care of them. I had imagined that I would be able to take part in some type of ministry opportunities while I was there, like visiting the children's hospital or crippled children's home (with Keenan and Moriah). Since the kids both got coughs and colds while we were there, it wasn't a good idea to have them around other (potentially sick) children. When those things didn't happen, I found myself feeling sort of "useless". I just had to remind myself though, that a big part of my ministry is To my kids, and being their to support my husband, which I was happy to do! I "did what I could", I cooked for my family and Dad, and Andrew and Rudy, made friends, and recorded our trip in pictures.

A few of the things I miss about Kenya:

The fresh, breezy air
The view of the Rift Valley
The kindness of everyone we met
The produce (especially the pineapples, bananas and mangos!)
Fresh english muffins, tortillas, and samosas, delivered to the door
Glass bottled pop
Seeing animals in their natural habitats
Being with Philip's dad so much
The new friends we made (The Saunders, Mumo, Wambui, Joseph, Elisha, Alex, Joyce....)
Seeing how much our kids (especially Keenan) loved it and felt at home

We definitely experienced culture shock when we arrived in Kenya. I was expecting this, but not exactly how it happened. See, Philip and I met on a mission trip to Ecuador. Our team was set in a remote village in the jungle that took four hours to get to by canoe. We had no electricity or running water, our "bathroom" was a hole in the ground and we bathed and washed our clothes in a river. Kijabe, Kenya was totally luxurious in comparison! However, when it's been a few years since you've had to "rough it", and there's now kids in the picture, it makes it a lot different! I especially had a hard time with the "dirt factor". There is red dirt everywhere. When it rains, it makes a mess, and when it's dry it blows around, and comes in the windows of your vehicle when you're driving. We (and especially the kids) got dirty Very easily. Since we didn't have our own laundry facilities, this sort of stressed me out for a few days, constantly changing clothes, and not being sure when they were going to get washed. After a bit though, I just said to myself, "Joia, you need to be in "mission mode", not "holiday mode". It's Going to be dirty, and if the kids ruin Every piece of clothing you brought it's Not the end of the world!" After that it was better. =)

Other things that took a bit of getting used to were cooking with only one propane burner, not having hot water all the time, frequent power outages and (gasp!) not having fast or dependable internet access. =) Just the fact that these were even "slight hardships", shows just How comfortable I have gotten being out of "missionary mode". Pathetic.

On the other hand, we've also experienced culture shock coming back home as well. Having left behind people with so little, I've found myself feeling guilty about enjoying the luxuries that we have here, things that some of them will Never experience. Philip has found himself feeling that way at the hospital too, noticing how much waste there is, and being frustrated with patients who show no gratitude for the amazing medical care that is available to them in our country.

So... where does that leave us? With a renewed desire to follow the Lord Wherever He leads us, to give out of what He has blessed us with, and to aid those already at work in the harvest fields.

Kenya has imprinted itself forever on our hearts whether or not it ever becomes our home. This trip has left us with many memories, pictures, experiences, and lessons that I hope will never be forgotten.

Did Kenya change me?


It tore my heart open a little. A tear that I hope never heals.

May I never be satisfied "living a normal life", but instead seek "the best life", as I follow HIM.

The song "Follow You" by Leeland and Brandon Heath has been running through my head since before we went to Kenya and I think the lyrics are perfect. This specific video shows images from Cambodia, but many of them reminded me of Kenya, watch it.

If anyone has specific questions about our trip that I haven't covered, please ask away!


Jeff said...

What you wrote brought tears to my eyes. And I loved the video. Thanks for sharing your heart! Miss ya

denise said...

You made me tear up reading this! I think it's always a good thing to not only experience missions, but to always support missions and those that want to go on trips. I think it's such a great thing for today's youth, also!

I think it is great that you guys went as a family, and that both your hearts are open to the field - wherever that might be. I also think with the unstably of our health care system right now, Philip might be better appreciated and used elsewhere, unfortunately (for us here)!

Thanks for sharing your thoughts, your heart, your trip.

Becky said...

I too was tearing up as I read this. You have such a beautiful heart Joia! Thank you for sharing it with us.

"I found myself feeling sort of "useless". I just had to remind myself though, that a big part of my ministry is To my kids..." So true. You are doing the MOST important job in the world and you are amazing at it. You really inspire me!

Mom W. said...

Like I said in my email and you seem to have realized... your kids are first and foremost "the Lord's work" for you... and the lives you touched while there were ministry too since it simply means serving... it truly is just "being", for a Christian. So glad you got to go.

Jessica said...

I don't know how I missed this too, but THANK you for posting the link to it. My throat is tight while I am trying not to bawl. I really appreciate you taking the time to share this heartfelt account of your time in Kenya. I don't know if I could handle More of my family emigrating across the world, but I guess it just means we would have to come visit! :) Love you!

Flakymn said...

I am glad you linked back to this because somehow I did miss it.

Your "dirt" paragraph reminded me about how I felt when I first got to Nigeria. I was such a germaphobe and I instantly realized this was going to HAVE to go away or I'd never make it.

A few weeks after returning I found myself using my elbow in a public restroom again. How quickly we shift back.

I pray your renewed zeal for the Lord stays present every day.

mary said...

Sniffing and tearing along with everyone else! Thanks for sharing your heart(s) and for re-posting as I missed this one too.

I know you and Philip have a calling to the mission field and we will always support you in whatever way the Lord leads.

You are both first of all an awesome son & daughter, awesome & incredible parents, & so willing to be used by God. It is obvious that He will continue to use you to unselfishly serve others which you already exemplify in your daily lives.

So glad you were able to experience Kenya and to be able to spend that time with Dan.

♥ and hugs, Aunt Mary xo xo xo xo