Many of you may know about the work that I am doing with CARE for AIDS in Kenya. However, I realize that you may not know that much about what it is like to live and work in Kenya. Of course, there are struggles that come along with being overseas like being away from family and friends, driving on the left side of dangerous roads, and not always speaking the same language. But there are also things that I absolutely love about Kenya. There is consistently nice weather, always interesting people, and beautiful scenery.
If you have ever spent time in Africa or Kenya, you will soon realize that there is a slower pace of life. Time is relative. When someone is late, you just say they are on “Kenya time”. There is no such thing as fast food. Even the newer restaurants that claim to be fast would be the equivalent to a sit-down in the States. For the most part people just take their time. While it can be extremely irritating when it’s comes to meetings, appointments, and getting work done, I have come to appreciate the lifestyle more. I admire that Kenyans are more relational than me. For example, people actually stop to talk to their neighbors!
I have come to see that this simpler lifestyle is one of Kenya’s greatest blessings (and lessons) to me. There is beauty in their way of life that values relationships over timeliness. Yes, time is valuable, but so are people. Not only do we move faster in the States, we try to do more, and more. Everything is on the go. Perhaps we have lost our ability to enjoy silence or engage a stranger in a conversation. Everyone seems distracted and busy, but it doesn’t always seem productive. While I may not be able to convince you to give up all your extra-curricular activities, I would like to share three findings about the benefits of a simpler life.
- It brings focus. The less you try to do, the more you can focus. Focus leads to productivity and purpose. Work-wise, I am in Kenya for one main reason, to serve God through CARE for AIDS. I love my job and know my objectives. I love being able to pour my time into one main thing and do it well. A typical day here involves going to work, coming back, spending time with my wife, and then spending time with God. Sound stressful? Not really.
- It allows for a more balanced life. I think most people over work and undervalue the relationships in their life. I recently read an article online about the top five regrets recorded by a nurse in a palliative care unit. I encourage you to read the article if you have time, (http://www.guardian.co.uk/lifeandstyle/2012/feb/01/top-five-regrets-of-the-dying). What is fascinating is number two and four. The number two most common regret was working too much. The number four regret was not being closer with friends.
- It forces me to trust God. “Things” like good roads, fast food, and good shopping malls are certainly nice to have. They are able to give us a sense of opportunity and safety. But not having these things can also be a wonderful way to force ourselves to trust God. Sometimes the less you have, the more you trust God and enjoy His presence.
Don’t get me wrong, I am not advocating that we all stop our busy lives and move to log cabins in the woods. But I do think it’s worth slowing down every once in a while to re-evaluate. Maybe for some it does mean simplifying. The point, after all, is to live Christ-centered, people loving, God-honoring, balanced lives.