Thank God for Kenya

Kenya is 10 times different from America, yet South Sudan is 50 times different from Kenya. I made the mistake of thinking my time in Kenya had equipped me better, that the two cultures couldn’t be so different, that I wouldn’t have to start all over yet again. I was wrong. I wasn’t prepared for this feeling of inadequacy, this seemingly utter helplessness. I wasn’t prepared to feel like a child, a blank slate, when I’ve already experienced so much. I wasn’t prepared to be stripped bare again. And I feel it pressing on me, weighing me down.

Most of the time I can honestly say I am fine. But today I’m not. So I’m thankful for Kenya, for the time we have to “refill”. I look forward to when…

I can speak English to more than a handful of people and hear it spoken in public.

I can drive.

I feel comfortable going places alone.

I can walk through normal grocery stores with a shopping cart.

I can buy fresh fruit and veggies of all kinds.

I can buy ice cream and potato chips of ANY kind.

I can worship and fellowship in my mother tongue.

I can play volleyball… in shorts.

I’m no longer stared at every second I’m not in my compound.

I can go to the movies or bowling or golf.

I can take a real shower with hot water from the tap and not from a bucket on my charcoal grill.

I can use a sit down toilet… that flushes.

I can wear trousers EVERY day.

I can use the internet ALL day long if I want to.

My makeup won’t slide off my face.

I can bake box mix brownies in a gas oven.

I can feel a bit less like an idiot and more like myself.

ECHO – Educational Concerns for Hunger Organizations

Miracle fruit

Miracle fruit

Miracle Fruit?!?

Did you know there is such a thing as Miracle Fruit? It prevents your tongue from tasting sour foods by binding to the sweet receptors on your taste buds! Awesome.

These, okra as big as a banana, toilets that don’t need water (I want one.), pumps made of old bicycle tires, living fences (I want these too.), and so much more were part of our tour at ECHO Farms.

Rower Water Pump

Rower Water Pump

ECHO is working to reduce poverty by educating and training workers living in developing areas as well as researching innovative techniques in the area of agriculture. They partner with workers in over 160 countries gathering research data and developing new methods of farming. Their vision is to “Honor God through Sustainable Hunger Solutions.” A worthy goal to be sure! They provide development notes, access to research documentation, seed banks, and problem solving help.

This got me completely excited about experimenting with a garden of my own using self-sustaining methods that we can pass on to our South Sudanese neighbors. I don’t know how green my thumb is but I’m ready to jump in with both feet!

What’s the strangest plant, fruit, vegetable or tree you’ve come across?

Epic Canoe Camping

This might have been my most hard-core camping trip yet but I totally nailed it! I can use a squatty, bathe in a lake, canoe in gale force winds till my arms fall off, eat instant potato pancakes and sleep on rocky terrain in a tent as good as the rest of ‘em! Not to mention I stayed super calm in the face of chipmunk attacks.

And for the record I DID see a wolf print.

It was beautiful. All of it. One morning the lake was like glass. The next, it was windy and rough. God displayed beautiful sunrises, sunsets and a big, bright, blue moon. He showed us chipmunks, squirrels, fish, loons, gulls, a bald eagle and a moose momma with her calf!

He calmly affirmed that I am indeed capable of living in South Sudan when I rely on Him; even if we live in a tent, with no running water or electricity with snakes, scorpions and bugs of all kinds. He is my rock, my strength, my fortress.

 

 

 

Prequel

I’m not sure when I signed up for the bush living prep course but the day has arrived. And while this is certainly not an exhaustive list of supplies, these are some of the Bear Grylls approved essentials plus a few of my own:

“Little House in the Big Woods” experience

  • toilet paper
  • shovel
  • hand sanitizer
  • bug spray
  • fire starter
  • hatchet
  • rice, rice, rice
  • trail mix
  • sunscreen
  • clean clothes
  • Water filtration system
  • biodegradable soap
  • sleeping bag
  • a tent!

Coming off a rustic two-day cabin stay in the north woods near Herbster, Wisconsin (Never heard of it? Neither had I!) we are now embarking on a 3 day/night camping trip in Boundary Waters Wilderness Area near the Minnesota-Canada border. By the time we return I will be grateful for running water, electricity, a soft bed complete with pillow and a flushing toilet! But… for the record I’ll know if I prefer an established “long drop” to digging my own hole.

Before I come off sounding totally prissy I am looking forward to time in the beautiful great outdoors, communing with nature, (exceeeept for the mosquitoes, wolves and possible bears) bonding with family as well as stretching myself physically.

Did I mention we’re CANOEING to our campsite?

Sounds like a pretty good “welcome to South Sudan” prequel trip to me!

Toilets

I told you about the plastic chairs and tents but you haven’t heard about the toilet!

In Doro it’s better known as an outhouse, latrine or the long drop. You know…the kind your great-grandfather used back in the day on the farm? It’s that small wooden building falling down out behind the house.

The thought of stepping outside the safety of my tent after dark, to walk down a path littered with bugs, scorpions and snakes, just to make a pit stop at the privy makes me nervous! Maybe The Boy will install some solar-powered garden lights to direct me safely down the path to the throne room. Maybe they could even be in shape of flowers or colorful butterflies.

Hmmm… That might have some potential. At least if I can’t have a porcelain potty I can have pretty lights!