“Nakuru?” he asked as I walked through the crowded matatu yard.
“No, Maraigushu,” I answered.
“Marigushu?” the man stopped mid stride and looked at me with a look of complete shock. “People like you don’t live in Marigushu,” he informed me.
I had to smile. “That’s where I live,” I replied. “Maraigushu,” and I kept walking to find my matatu.
He’s right. People like me don’t normally live in Marigushu. They don’t usually take matatus either, but I’d rather pay 70 shillings (85 cents) for a matatu ride than 1500 shillings (18 dollars) for a taxi ride.
I squeezed into the back of the matatu a brightly painted 14 passenger van that is usually shoved full of 20 (or sometimes more) people. When the seats are full they put a board across the narrow aisle and let someone sit on the board balanced between two seats. Yes, it’s crowded to the point that someone is practically sitting on you, but as the van wove it’s way up the mountain I thought, “there is nowhere on earth I’d rather be.” The scenery is spectacular, people are friendly, but best of all I was headed home to the smiling faces of seventeen kids who are my world right now. When I walk through the door I’m greeted with excited screams as they all run to give me a hug or a high five. When they run to greet me I feel like I’m returning from a month long journey in the wilderness not from a couple hour shopping trip to pick up groceries- but I wouldn’t trade it.
I wouldn’t trade the moments when one of the kids crawls up on my lap and asks me to read them a story. I won’t trade mornings in the kitchen mixing up a bag and a half of flour for Saturday morning pancakes. I wouldn’t trade watching the younger kids put together a puzzle for the very first time. I wouldn’t trade being able to watch the kids’ faces as they sing their hearts out during Sunday morning church. I wouldn’t trade seeing one of the older boys tuck his little brother in bed after the little guy feel asleep on my lap during evening devotions. Moments that complete me and make me glad that I live in Maraigushu.
Not every moment is a happy moment. There are times when the kids fight. There are times when they lie or when they ruin a brand new toy. There are moments when the noise level gets so loud that I want to run away and hide for awhile. There are times when I think, “God this is more than I can handle.” But, the good moments far out way the bad.
The hardest moments are when I realize that I can’t always give everyone everything they want. I can’t always be there to protect them from people who want to hurt them, and I can’t take away the pain they have experienced in their pasts.
Sometimes I feel small, so small but then I remember that I serve a big God who can provide for each child’s needs. I serve a God who is there to protect the kids even when I can’t be, and I serve a God who can heal the pain from their past.
Being here in Maraigushu, working as part of a team, serving the kids, watching them grow, having the opportunity to be a family it’s a beautiful, beautiful thing, and I wouldn’t trade it for a minute.