“I’ve learned a lot,” I thought to myself on Saturday while once again attempting to cook for 20 people and having no idea where to start. It’s funny before I came to Kenya I thought of myself as an accomplished cook who liked to experiment with generally successful results. Now I realize I still have a long way to go.
Not having a refrigerator and having a limited budget for food means that meat is a rare treat (as in a once or twice a month rare treat). I never realized that as Americans we have meat with almost every meal, and think that that this is normal. But here there is no more whipping out a frozen chicken breast to season and serve with rice and no more frying up sausages to go with eggs at breakfast. At home I love using bacon, bratwurst, and turkey to spice up a meal. Here there is rice and potatoes, more rice and potatoes, beans and maize, cabbage, spaghetti noodles, and eggs (thank goodness for eggs).
So I’m learning. I’m learning to cook without cheese (sad I know). I’m learning that being a forced vegetarian isn’t as bad as it sounds. I’m learning to experiment. Although it’s hard experimenting with food when you have 17 faces staring at you at the dinner table 17 faces that are quick to give disapproving looks when anything different is placed in front of them. (Early on after moving to the children’s home the kids informed Ruthann, who had made spaghetti for them, that they don’t eat red food). But, they are learning. Half the time after trying something new they end up liking it and come back for seconds. So while the kids are learning to try new things, I am learning to eat the same thing over and over.
I am also learning that life is unexpected and that days go by much better when, instead of fighting life’s sudden twists, you roll with them. Like this morning when on the way to town the car we were borrowing ended up with a flat tire. No big deal except for the fact that the car had no tool in it for getting the lug nuts off the tire so that we could change it. Fortunately, we broke down in walking distance of a new restaurant that has just opened. The manager very nicely called someone to bring a tool for us, and while we waited Jeremy and I enjoyed a lovely breakfast of omelets, toast, and chai.
Life loves to throw you the unexpected especially when working with kids. I’m learning that the little angels who are so sweet one minute can suddenly decide to turn the living room into a playground and before you know it you feel like you are living in a zoo.
I’m learning that it’s hard not to get upset when a child tells you that what you served them for lunch makes them feel like throwing up or when they ask for more soap because they left the soap you gave them last week disintegrating in a tub of water. I’m learning that just because a child grew up with practically nothing does not automatically mean that they will take care of what you give them. I’m learning that life is all about learning.
I’m also learning about faith. I’m learning that most days my faith is weak, but that God has put these kids in my life to teach me about childlike faith, a very beautiful thing. When they are sick they pray for each other and mean it, and when they pray things happen. I’m learning that God is so much bigger then what my mind can handle and that is also a beautiful thing. I’m learning that it’s ok (although scary) to have basically no money in your saving account because the king of kings is bigger than all of my needs, and He delights Himself with giving good gifts to His children.
I’m learning to work closely with a group of people that I just met to trust each other, build into each other, and let God use each of us as He sees fit. I’m learning to let go—let go of planning, let go of worrying, let go of feelings of inadequacy, and just let God take control. I’m learning that I still have a long way to go and a lot of things to learn, but every day I’m learning.