Friday, July 8, 2011

More Kenya Thoughts

July 4, 2011

I have been home for over 24 hours now. I have slept much of that time. I’m not really trying too hard to stay up. I just want to sleep when I want to sleep. I know, that sounds so stubborn. I can be that way. One reason I just want to sleep is because of all the work I am going to have to do to get the house in order after emptying the suitcases and getting school stuff ready. I think I am avoiding it and sleeping is a good excuse.

I am having mixed feelings about being home. Is it normal to feel culture shock coming home after only three weeks? And is it normal for someone who didn’t get it while there? It was good to get home. It feels more “natural” doing things here because I have lived here for the past 45, almost 46 years. But even in the middle of doing things I normally do, I felt out of place somehow. We drove home from the movies and the streets were so clean and paved. There wasn’t a person walking anywhere. There were no cows or goats walking alongside the road or in fields, there were no fields. There were only buildings and apartments and houses. I began to feel guilty because of how nice things are here. I don’t think the people in Kilifi want things to be the way they are, they just are. The poverty levels are staggering. I found out that they live off less than a dollar a day. How can people live off that little? There has been a shortage of rain for the past 4 weeks and I thought that because it rained for ten to twenty minutes each day that it was good. I found out that it wasn’t enough. They need fresh water so badly. They need to be able to grow food to feed their families.

One of the places I saw daily was a milk cow plantation. We were staying on that plantation because some very wealthy people had built fancy homes overlooking the ocean there and rented them out. The “houses” that the people staying and working on the plantation didn’t look like a house to me. It was cement walls that connected 7 or 8 rooms in a row. It didn’t look like there could be more than one room for each but there may have been some rooms sectioned off with sheets or something. Our guess is that they were maybe 12’. There was another concrete box for each “house” that had one opening towards their home. That was the kitchen. It was about 5’ x 8’ or smaller. I am not sure all the homes had the “kitchen’s” because on the ones that faced the road those families would gather in the front yard and cook on a pile of wood. That is how they did it in the concrete area but this was on the ground. Their laundry is laid on the ground to dry at some of the homes. There are a few that have clothes lines but not all. The place we stayed in had a lady that did our laundry. She would wash them in a tub with a scrub brush and lay them on the ground to dry. We gave her a clothesline when we got there but she never used it. We would find out clothes laying in a long row during the day. They would iron them before they put them in our room. It left them feeling very odd. And kind of not clean or dry even though they were.
As you look at the picture above, I can tell you it is a far cry from the places I just described. I don't know why I didn't take a picture of those homes in the three weeks I was there. We drove by them at least twice a day, every day for three weeks. Maybe it was because I didn't want to seem like they were on display for visitors that thought them odd. As we passed by them we would wave and yell "Jambo" in response to their calls of the same. I am sorry I didn't take those pictures. I wouldn't WANT to stay in homes like that but I did feel a bit guilty for staying in a place like I did. It didn't seem like it "fit" with a mission trip. We were there to work with the people who needed it but we were living in a huge house with people who washed our clothes, made our beds, and prepared our meals. I'm not saying I wasn't grateful for those things. It just didn't feel right when each day I saw those who had so much less.
I do know that once on the field full time we will have a more modest home. One that will meet all of our needs but will not set us too much above those we have come to serve. And I am totally alright with that. I have a friend whose dad, a long term cross cultural worker, designed a house in another part of the world that helped keep the mosquitoes out and I am going to find a way to "borrow" that floor plan for our home. I was excited to hear about its existence.
As I am able, I will put more of my thoughts down. Thanks for taking the time to read.

1 comment:

Ashley said...

Yes, reverse culture shock is normal ... even if you weren't there long! I didn't experience it after my first trip to Asia, but after my second trip - WHOA NELLY! I was the "crying in WalMart at the abundance of options" type. It was hard because it came about rather unexpectedly. I kept saying "I was only there 2 weeks. Why is it so hard to readjust to my "normal life"?"

My advice: Pray pray pray through it. Ask God for the grace to adjust where you need to and the grace to stay changed where that's needed as well. Be on guard against Satan's schemes and lies. They occur post-mission trip as well (something that's not often talked about). Talk about what you're feeling. Talk to God. Talk to your family who lived Africa with you. Talk to family and friends who prayed for you. If you feel that you can't talk about it (which is also normal, by the way), write about it. In my experience, much is learned and revealed in the weeks and months following the trip. Regardless of what the future may hold for you and your family, this trip will be a defining moment in your lives. Steward the story well to the glory of the One who is worthy.

*stepping off my soapbox now*

-Ashley