We’ve been back in the States for a little over 3 weeks now, and last night was the 9th different bed we’ve slept in! We are very thankful for friends and family who have hosted us, but we are also glad to be settled in at Delta Lake for the Summer. Now that we’ve finally unpacked our suitcases the complex ball of emotions that happens when we travel from Kenya to America or back has started to make it’s way to the surface. Some examples? I forgot I love driving here. Shawn and I use to actually get in the car and drive – FOR FUN! What?! That is definitely not the case in Nairobi. I have also enjoyed seeing people and catching up very much, but I find myself saying, “In Nairobi…” a lot, and often get a polite nod as people get sick of hearing that phrase. We’ve remembered that most of the foods we thought we missed were not worth missing (though NOTHING replaces a good soft ice-cream cone for me) and the first things we bought in the grocery store to eat was a cheese platter, applesauce, dill pickles, and chocolate milk.
Despite all of this, and the much more complex emotions and thoughts that I can’t let my heart delve into yet, it has been a relatively easy transition back. Many times I have tried to see this place through my Kenyan friends eyes – or even more interesting, the eyes of those in South Sudan! We have been taken to a few different “All you can eat” buffets, and I try to picture what some of these friends would say when you can eat and drink all you want for $10-$12 dollars (about 1000-1200 shillings!) I’ve also discovered that our typical diet in Kenya is much healthier and our stomachs are not so excited about the food we’ve been consuming here!
The roads are so smooth, and I find myself giggling when someone complains about a few little bumps. In Nairobi you talk more about distance in time than miles or kilometers. For example, “It takes half an hour to get to school in the morning because I am going against traffic, but after school it could take up to 1.5 hours!” I would never say we live 8 kilometers from the school, because that really means nothing. Here if we are taking the highway for half an hour we have easily gone 35 miles or more depending on the speed limit (which has been raised in many spots!) I remember driving around with Bishop Bismark and Rina when they were here visiting from South Sudan – they could not fathom how fast we could go from one place to another.
It seems stereotypical to talk about the massive amounts of options we have here for everything, but it’s true! We went into a Sam’s club to get a phone for Shawn. Thankfully the woman at the counter pulled out two phone and I could choose one quickly and easily because the options in the aisle were overwhelming. I wanted to buy a few things, but I definitely did not need a months worth of grapes or toilet paper in the moment. We continue to get more and more stores and products in Kenya, but there is not an entire aisle where both sides are devoted to cereal options – just Cheerios alone has too many to choose from. If I was dumbfounded at first, what would my friends who have not been here before think?
Finally, Americans have made convenience a way of life. I’m not complaining about this at all – I have missed it dearly! The other day I had to pick some things and we drove through the pharmacy drive through and discovered the prescription was not ready yet, so we went through a drive through at a fast food place (which was actually fast food!), then drove to the bank where we went in because we were wasting time, but we could have driven through easily, then back to the pharmacy. We got medicine, lunch, and money all in 15 minutes and would never have had to leave the car or dodge other drivers. Crazy.
Overall it has been a good first month. Please pray for us to get some real rest as well as good connections with people this summer at camp. We are hoping to be a help here for staff and kids. Pray for good friendships with others for both us and the kids. Pray for clarity as we speak about Kenya and our needs and what we do. Pray for our church in Nairobi. Thank you!