Kenya round two: what is different this time

Posted on September 26, 2016

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We know, mostly, what we are heading into.

When we first went out to Kenya in 2012, there were so many unknowns. Where would we live, what would driving be like? What would it be like to have a baby in Kenya? What kind of church community would we be a part of? What would shopping, cooking, vacations, friends, etc be like? And to be honest, all those unknowns had a bit of allure. The mystery and excitement was compelling. We were optimistic and eager for the adventure that lay ahead.

This time around we know most of these things. Which is comforting in many ways. We feel like we are going back to a place that feels like one of our homes. (I say “one of” because Spokane will always feel like a home to us as well). We are going back to a house that we lived in two years, going back to friendships with people we care about, going back to the work of AIM Air, an organization we are excited to be serving with. Going back to Kenya feels familiar.

But the allure of mystery and adventure is far less palpable. AND, we are also far more aware of the difficult things we are going back to. It is difficult to always feel like an outsider because of the color of your skin (an experience I think every white American needs to have so that we can at least somewhat empathize with how non-white people experience life in a predominately white country). It is also difficult to live in a place where having to be on guard and aware of personal security is something that rarely gets turned off. Car-jackings, muggings, and home break-ins are common. Not to mention living in a city where there have been dozens of terrorist attacks in the past few years. I had not realized how constant low-grade stress of living with all that really took a toll on me. Even though I don’t usually feel anxious about these things, I know that no amount of precautions can completely prevent something from happening, and I do believe that God sometimes allows bad things to happen. Life in Nairobi requires a feet-on-the-ground faith that God is with us and will be with us and will carry us through whatever we may encounter.

We are responsible for the physical and emotional health of some little people

In 2012, I was six months pregnant when we moved to Kenya. While I knew we would be raising our kids in Nairobi, it was quite theoretical. Even throughout our first few years there, I don’t really feel l had any conception of what I was requiring my kids to sacrifice by living in Kenya. Now, though, after a year in the states, I am far more aware of what our kids are giving up. Valencia developed some meaningful friendships in Spokane, and most of all, our girls were able to see grandparents and other family quite regularly. Even though some of our family members will come to visit us in Kenya, it breaks my heart to know that our kids won’t see some of our family again for 2.5 years. I feel like I am mourning that in a tangible way this time around. We are also going back aware that one of our children has some unique and specific medical needs that we are hopeful will be adequately addressed in Nairobi. And though we are hopeful, we don’t take it lightly we are taking her away from very good care here.

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In two days, we go back to Kenya. And this time, as we go back there is a bit more gravity to the decision. There is a bit more trepidation. A bit less excitement. And a lot more trusting that God has still has something for us to do in Kenya, be it for four months or four years. Our return to Kenya is infused with expectation that the same God we believe cares about the people of Africa and their hardships, also cares about us and ours. We are stepping out believing that as we go back to Kenya to pour out of ourselves and serve there, that God will pour into us what we need….and even beyond what we need — abundance! We don’t know what that abundance will look like, whether it be in the form of relationships or loneliness, ease or difficulties. But the audacious nature of the gospel is that God will continue to pursue us and love us, and reside in us and use us as we make our way from one home to another.  And in that is great abundance.

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