Home Assignment – Things We Miss

There are so many things we love about home assignment but the flip side is true as well. There are so many things we love about life in Kenya. Here are a few of the things we miss:

  1. Friends
  2. Praising God in Kiswahili
  3. Cheap fresh fruits and veggies
  4. Our home
  5. Working on airplanes
  6. My sewing machine
  7. The crazy fabric market
  8. Prayer time with our team
  9. Sleeping in our own bed
  10. Celebrating weddings and new babies
  11. Nights alone as a family
  12. Volleyball
  13. Game park camping
  14. Bear’s tools
  15. Lovely weather
  16. Our big land cruiser
  17. Ethiopian food
  18. Women’s Bible study
  19. Bear’s tools
  20. Riding the dirt bike

Ordinary

The ebb and flow of life has been mostly ebbing for a while. Hence the long silence. Things have simply settled into a pattern that doesn’t seem nearly as interesting to write about as when everything was new and fresh.

That isn’t to say that life in South Sudan will ever be the same as life back in the States. Yet, it is our new normal; cooking over charcoal, bucket baths, Arabic lessons, walks to the market, hand washing clothing, ordering water from a donkey cart, collecting water from the drips in our roof. Unusual no longer describes our life. To us, it is simply typical and quite ordinary.

There are many days that don’t “make the book.” Days that aren’t glamorous or exciting. Days devoid of miraculous healings, revivals or crusades. Days like the ones over the past month where our witness is a smile and a greeting as we buy vegetables in the market. Days marked by encouraging local pastors at a monthly prayer meeting or praying from afar as we see young boys choosing a life on the street. Days of experimental baking and report writing. Days of sitting silently with a neighbor when our language fails us or providing a steady job for a friend.

A blog titled, 10 Reasons Not to Become a Missionary, caught my eye. The very first reason resonates with me, Don’t Become a Missionary if You Think You Are Going to Change the World. At first glance this might seem an odd statement to include. Yet her reasoning is sound. Being a missionary doesn’t necessarily mean life will be one dramatic story after another. It could be… but it could also be a life of quiet obedience “help[ing], while getting no recognition and seeing no fruit in the process.”

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.

Let’s Go Shopping

20130604-071620.jpgAs the boy and I familiarize ourselves with the city we walk the dusty streets peering into small, tin roofed shops lining the way; electronics, hardware, car parts, pharmacies, food stuffs, all displaying their assortment of goods on shelves or hanging from the ceiling by rope.

Many of the “grocery stores” we frequent boast at least one big deep freezer. Yet electricity is not consistent enough to keep food or drinks frozen and generators are expensive to run constantly. Therefore most freezers function as refrigerators or storage chests.

20130604-071245.jpgIn the heart of the vegetable market tomatoes, onions, eggplant, cucumbers, okra, various greens and other fresh produce sit on display in piles atop wooden counters in open stalls. Fifty kilo sacks of beans, grains, macaroni, fresh spices in their natural form, and hibiscus petals for tea line the market rows, each sack open to display the contents to prospective buyers. Each item is weighed on an old-fashioned scale to determine the price. Most of the time shopkeepers will add a little extra scoop or additional produce as a gift.

Browsing the shelves of the “kawaja” (foreigner) friendly shops produces some interesting finds. These are the places to find chocolates (like Snickers!), olive oil, soy sauce, tuna fish, and Nutella.

  • 1 egg = 2.5 SSP = $0.60
  • 1 kilo flour = 10 SSP = $2.50
  • 1 Snickers bar = 5 SSP = $1.25
  • 1 Apple = 4 SSP = $1.00
  • 1 Cucumber = 3 SSP = $0.75
  • 1 Can Tuna fish = 10 SSP = $2.50
  • 1 Coke = 6 SSP = $1.50

If we’re lucky we might stumble upon a pineapple or guavas. One teammate even found fresh grapes. However, much of the produce has a long, hot, bumpy drive to our markets, coming all the way from Uganda or Kenya making it less than fresh by the time it reaches us.

Typical of all countries but two, South Sudan has a healthy supply of Coke!