February 1, 2012
People ask me all the time, “Do you miss Kenya?” The answer has changed often over the past nine months since I finished my two-year spell outside Nairobi. For the first few months, it was hard to even believe that the transition had taken place. I was traveling with my family, preparing for my wedding, and moving to Winston Salem, and the quick transitions pushed Kenya far to the back of my mind. Then, I went through a period of settling down into an American routine, and thoughts of my time in Kenya were usually accompanied by something like, “wow…I can’t believe we did ____ or lived without _____!” Life with football, Harris Teeter, accessible friends, and good roads made me think that I didn’t miss Kenya at all!
Lately, though, I’ve realized that I do miss it. Sometimes I will come across a photo of a Kenyan adventure or receive an email from a CFA staff member in Limuru, and I’m transported back to East Africa. I remember the excitement that came with experiencing the REAL Kenya, or the joy that I shared with people who were so different from me, but loved me nonetheless. I remember the sense of peace that followed after meeting a family that had been completely transformed in one of our centers. I even remember, with a nostalgic longing, how happy I would be in the afternoons driving a beat-up Land Cruiser on a pot-holed road past donkeys and tea fields under the brilliant blue African sky. Maybe the pendulum has swung to where I’m now idealizing my time there, and I definitely DO remember the difficult parts, but I think I’m starting to recognize the aspects of that experience I will cherish forever.
Isn’t it amazing how we all have times in our lives that we look back on with either fondness or contempt, and how quickly those feelings can change? I think it is a mark of wisdom to hold on to the joy that comes from a memory and the lessons learned from a period of time, but to leave behind the frustration or regret. Are there times in your life that look better or worse than your present, depending on the day? Times that you need to let go of, or still need to learn from?
Next month, I’ll return to Kenya for the first time. It will be interesting to see how the reality compares to the way it now lives in my mind. I’d appreciate your prayers as I prepare for what all the Kenyans are calling my “homecoming!”
Thoughts, questions, criticisms? Leave a comment below, and I’ll be happy to continue the conversation with you!
Can you find me?