Nairobi … Day 1


Key Word: Yet

As I woke up this morning, realization hit home. We’re really here. In Africa. This is our new home.

I embraced the morning as I looked at the view outside the dining room … concrete buildings, large birds that I can’t identify yet; trees, flowers, and green that soften the grey concrete. Our hosts at the mission guesthouse are polite and helpful as they welcome us and offer a word or two of Swahili to start our learning.  “Karibu” means welcome. “Asante” means thank you. Thank you, Lord for their patience and understanding as they welcome group after group of foreigners who really don’t know or understand their culture yet.

After a brief overview of what our next few days will look like before we head out to Machakos for the “real” orientation, our facilitators took us for our first look at our new homes. Since it is not within walking distance, as most shopping is around the guesthouse, we experienced our second ride on Nairobi streets.  Our tame ride home at 10:30 at night was nothing like Saturday afternoon traffic!  Last night I was able to appreciate driving on the left side of the road and the passenger side being on the right side of the car, but this afternoon was an eye-opening experience.

Now to back things up, I’ve spent 5 years driving in Miami, where the speed is fast and furious … kinda like a symphony concerto … exhilarating, stimulating, but with a resemblance of order and flow. My first impression of Nairobi traffic is of a composer we studied in homeschool this year (can’t think of his name) who strategically never put notes that naturally go together … together. Still music, but not the soothing sounds of a Beethoven or Bach.  Traffic was of course on the left side of the road, cars were pushing into intersections, and I was told that if you’re not an aggressive driver, you won’t go far because everyone pushes in around you. I was thinking to myself, “Really, God? Aggressive really is not my nature …”  Again I smiled as I remembered my first days driving in Miami. I just don’t have the rhythm of this traffic dance yet.

Onto supper conversation of bartering. Yep, another arena which has not traditionally been my strong suite. In fact, my first bartering experience when I was 20 in the Dominican Republic had me pay twice as much for a necklace. Now over the years I married a better barterer (that’s a mouthful!) so I have not encountered bartering since that woe-some day. I smile as years have taught me that gentleness and honesty can soothe the angriest of souls. I wonder if that applies here, or if bartering requires that same assertive demeanor I’ve been seeing today. I internally smile to God and trust that He will use who He has made me to be to … barter. I pray that my heart remains tender and compassionate as I encounter areas that I don’t understand and am not proficient at … yet.

New encounters are great, aren’t they? They stretch and grow who we are and expand our little worlds to see and understand our brothers and sisters better. Ah, the Muslim call to worship in the distance. I pause and think about why it is that I worship Jesus … about His love, how He has forgiven my sins and healed wounds that were keeping me from real life – life to the full … how I can talk to Him, just as I talk to you, and He answers to the deepest part of my soul where He lives. Tears flow down my face and peace floods my soul as He reminds me that I am His. Through traffic, bartering, different religions and cultures, I remain His Princess, daughter of the King of Kings. And that IS NOT a “yet“.