The Story that is My Life

My life as it has been and as it continues to unfold is a story. One story made up of many stories. One complex, yet simple story. One sometimes messy, but so beautiful story. One story that I wonder if it might be interesting to be told.

This blog is my attempt to put part, or parts, of that story into words, pictures, or whatever form my mind can wrap itself around or create from within myself to express what it is like to be the one inside Cindy's Story. This is an exploration on my part and on yours in reading, and seeing, and maybe even hearing. It is not necessarily chronological. It might not always make sense, but it is my expression. It is me.

You are invited to see how my story unfolds.....

Monday, June 18, 2012

Kenya Month Six; February 2, 2001

[ The following is a letter that I wrote to a friend back in the US when I was half way through my year serving as a missionary in Kenya in Africa.  The first half of the year I was living with a native Kenyan family as the only white person in the village of Muthyoi.  This became difficult for me in many ways, so I was happy to have a girl from England, Kirsty, join me for the rest of my year there.  This was written about two weeks after she arrived.]

February 2, 2001

How are you doing?  I am okay, and do thank God for this opportunity that He has given me to communicate with you.  I really do miss you.

As I mentioned earlier, Kirsty arrived in Kenya on the 15th of January.  We took care of some things in Nairobi, and then left for Muthyoi two days later.  We each had a large and a small backpack as well as a small box so we paid for a taxi to take us to the matatu[small bus or large van type vehicle] stand in the center of the city.  The driver helped us to find a matatu that was going to the right place.  It was 7:00am when we got on.  We were some of the first people to get on, and they don't like to leave until the vehicle is full so we ended up sitting for two hours before we even moved from the city[Nairobi].  We had to trust God that our bags which were on top of the matatu were not being taken.  Many people were coming and trying to sell things like sweets, pens, watches, and handkerchiefs to us.  It was all very overwhelming to Kirsty on her third day in Kenya.  At least I was able to understand some of what was being said around us in Swahili.  Halfway through the jouney the vehicle pulled over and many of the men got out and were all examining one of the back tires.  I don't know what the problem was, but we eventually got going again safely.  We finally arrived at our stop between two and three in the afternoon.  We still had a half hours walk to the house with all our stuff so we waited a bit until a young man came walking by and offered his help in carrying our bags along with another boy.  As we were walking, we were spotted by a group of younger children just returning home from school.  They shouted out in joy and came running to greet us(shake our hand) and to help us carry our smaller items. Once at the Kamu's house, we had a warm welcome.  (Ltterally. It was very hot!)

Muthyoi at this time of year is very hot, and they say it will be even hotter in February.  I bought a thermometer so that I could give an accurate weather report to Mom, and I can now say that each day it has consistently gotten up to 90 degrees  and gone down to about 70 degrees at night.  Quite different from where you are I think [I was writing to Chicago].

Very soon after arriving back at Muthyoi we were presented with a new need that they were hoping we would be able to have a part in solving.  A secondary school[high school] that Simon Kamu[the local pastor who's family we lived with] has been helping to get going only has three teachers, and he was hoping that we could teach there a couple days a week as well as at the primary school.  The thing is that it is nearly a two hour walk one way to get there.  We walked there on that Friday to see the school and meet the teachers and students.  They were very happy for our visit as it was very unusual for them to have "wazungu"[white people/foreigners] visitors.  The children from the primary school were so curious that during their lunch break when we were sitting outside under a tree, they started by sitting far off and watching, but then kept creeping closer and closer until the entire school was sitting on the ground directly at our feet and laughing from joy.  We then took the moment to say a few words to them.  Apparently my accent is quite funny because the moment that I started talking they all burst into fits of laughter.  Even when I prayed, they could not contain themselves.  For our meal the teachers had a hen killed and cooked in soup with rice and chapati and even a soda and boiled eggs and chai. [All these things are very prized and special foods out in the bush where money is scarce, and these are foods that you buy, not grow.]  It was nice to have Kirsty with me because for once it was easier to find a way to not have to eat all of the enormous portions that they give me, and then say, "Eat all".  Kirsty and I shared one bowl of rice and chapati rather than having the one each that they had given.

That first Sunday that we were back in the village, I was the one to give the message in church.  That meant that all day Thursday and Saturday and Sunday morning I spent studying and preparing.  It really takes me a long time and a lot of mental, emotional, and spiritual energy, but God seems to give it back in those moments when I am speaking the truths of His Word to those who need to hear.  I spoke about the need for us as we start a new year to make a commitment to start growing up in the Lord.  We should not be satisfied with the milk of the Word still as babes in Christ, but should be able to move on to the meat building on the foundation of Jesus Christ (I Corinthians 3:1-15).  I had my recorder recording when I was speaking, but I only got half of it because I spoke for a longer time than the one side of my tape, and I didn't realize to turn it over.  I will have to notice this next time.

Kirsty really found those first few days in the bush to be very difficult.  She really had had no idea of what to expect in Kenya and didn't realize it was going to be the way it is.  I have tried to be encouraging to her and to help her through these various things, as well as explain what things I can to help her understand a bit better.  Kirsty has only recently finished high school and will be turning 19 in two weeks so she has not yet had much experience or training in areas of culture and Bible.  In many ways I feel that God has given me the responsibility of encouraging and discipling her in these areas in our months that we will be together.  I thank God because he has given me the ability to be strong for the both of us.  I have had to take the responsibility of sorting thins out in the school and with the family and to make decisions about what things we can each do in the next few months to make the best use of our abilities and the opportunities that are open to us. The weight of this responsibility has been heavy at times, but my confidence has grown as I have been able to successfully negotiate things on my own in this culture that is so different from mine.

Oh, the decision that we made about the schools was to stay just at the primary school.  It was just a bit too much for us at this point to be going back and forth between two schools, especially with me having one day a week visiting people in their homes, and then speaking in church twice a month and the study that goes with that.

This past week was our first full week of teaching and I think it has gone well.  This is the beginning of the school year here so the kids have all moved classes.  Many of the students have not come back to school this year so the classes are much smaller.  Some families don't have the school fees[less than a dollar each time it is asked for], but many parents are just not letting their kids come back to school for their own selfish reasons.  It really seems to be an epidemic.  They need to realize the importance of schooling for their children and for their families.

...hmmmm...My brain is starting to go fuzzy, so I think I had better go to sleep now.  So, good night....

I want to come home.  I want to see you all.  I want to sit and tell you all the stories and experiences of every day.  I want to be able to have you understand what it feels like to be living this life I am living.  I want to share with you my struggles and my joys and pray and praise God with you.  This longing is so strong in my heart, and I think this is the most difficult thing about being in Kenya.

I do trust that God can fulfill all our deepest needs and desires as we delight in him.

With love,
(Look below.  I've written more.)

[The next day]
Good morning!  I have now woken up from a nice sleep and decided that I will write more to you before it is time to send this.  Let me give you a rundown of what my average week will be like this term in Muthyoi:

Monday - Teach Math 8 (more lessons may be added).

Tuesday - Teach Math 7 (more lessons may be added).

Wednesday - Teach Math 6, Christian Religious Education (CRE) 6, CRE 7, CRE 8, and have Bible Club for classes 4-8.  In the evening, family prayers with the family I live with.

Thursday - Personal Bible study and message prep in the morning, then making pastoral visits to people in their homes in the afternoon with Mary Kamu, the pastor's wife, until dark.

Friday - Day of intense study and message prep.  This day will often be used for me going to speak in other schools.  Join family prayers again in the evening.

Sunday - Church - I am scheduled to speak two Sundays out of every month, and then on the weeks that I don't speak, Kirsty and I are to lead the youth meetings after church.  We don't usually get back from church until around 3:00 in the afternoon, then we are quite tired and use the rest of our time to relax, then go for family prayers in the evening.

This term I have been able to negotiate my schedule to have more of the things that I am more experienced and able in and thus enjoy more.  I am not as spread out in the subjects that I teach at school, but just have Math and Christian Religious Education and Bible Club.  Kirsty has taken Science and English and Art and Craft.  This is such a relief to me, and it also frees me up to do more with the church speaking, teaching, and having personal time encouraging and challenging people as we visit them in their homes.

Last Thursday Mary and I visited at five different homes, sharing Bible passages with them, praying with them, and encouraging them to come to church or to come to Jesus if they had never done so.  It is good to see where people are coming from as well as to meet people who are not yet believers or who have turned away from Christ in order to bring them the Word of God.  Mary Kamu and I want to visit every home in the area by the end of the year.

One of the men, whose name is Nthoo, at the first house that we visited, is not yet a believer.  He worships the ancestors in the traditional way, but he listened as I shared the gospel message with him.  He told us himself that his heart is very hard and that we should pray for God to soften it so that he can believe in Jesus.  This is a beginning at least.  Others we visited were Christians who had stopped going to church, but told us that they would now come back because of our encouragement.

I have received your messages, so now I will send mine to you.
I love you tons.