Tag Archives: America

Stepping Back

 

Stepping back

It’s been a week and two days since I stepped back on American soil. Did you know that US customs is now almost completely automated? You stand in line until an empty machine opens up, then you scan your passport and answer a couple quick questions on the computer screen. The computer then takes your picture and prints out a receipt which you take to the only human being involved in the process. The man behind the desk scribbled on my receipt, and I was good to go.

So I’m back. It’s been fun running into friends at Walmart and getting to be with my family again. I’ve eaten more meat this last week then I think I ate all of last year put together. I’ve only opened the driver’s door instead of the passenger door once since coming back, and thankfully I’ve never had trouble remembering to drive on the right side of the road.

It’s crazy always having 3G internet, being able to take an actual hot shower whenever I want, and not having to wash laundry by hand. I haven’t had a lot of reverse culture shock experiences expect that I was shocked with how white the eggs and sugar are in America, and when I got on my first American Airlines plane I was reminded how fast many Americans talk. Its feels a little funny not to carry shillings in my wallet any more and not to hear multiple languages as I go throughout the day.

It’s interesting to me how normal and yet abnormal life is all at the same time. I waved to someone I didn’t know yesterday as I was driving down the road, and I couldn’t remember if that was culturally appropriate or not. I guess since I live in Southern Illinois it was OK, but I need to brake that habit before I go to visit my grandparents in Chicago next weekend.

While I was gone kids got taller (a couple are now taller then me), babies were born, people moved away, and my sister got engaged. It’s fun catching up with life again although this last year in Kenya has changed me, and I’m not always sure how to fit back into this life. For now I’m just going to savor these next two months in the US. It’s kind of refreshing being somewhere where life comes easy, and I don’t have to worry about converting money and communicating in a language that I can understand to some degree but can’t always communicate basic sentences in.

As much as I love America, I already miss Kenya. I desperately miss the kids I got to work with. I miss buying avocadoes for 12 cents. In a strange way I even miss wading through knee high water to get to the store when the rains came in and turned the road in front of our house into a lake. Life in Kenya is an adventure. It’s a life often stripped to the basics. When it’s time to cook dinner you go to the backyard pick cabbage, carrots, and potatoes and make a meal. I miss that. I even miss washing my clothes by hand sometimes even though it would take half the morning to get it done. I miss the stillness of the morning. Sitting on the couch after the kids left for school just reading my Bible and journaling. I felt so close to God in those moments, and it changed me. But, it’s good to be changed. It’s good not to get too comfortable. I think the best thing about traveling is getting a new perspective, being stretched (even though it’s painful) and seeing the world through someone else’s eyes. It’s nice to be home, but I’m thankful that I went. Not everyone understands that, but I’m happy to belong in more then one place. They have both shaped me, and I wouldn’t have it any other way.

I miss this road even on the rainy days

I miss this road even on the rainy days

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Filed under Contemplations, Kenya, Travel

Kiss this Blessed Ground

“I bet,” he told me “If you took a group of people from here over there they would just kiss the ground when they got back. We are just so blessed in this country.”

“Really,” I thought “What is so blessed about this place?’ but I answered with a lame “Well every place has its pros and cons. I guess it was hard not to feel cynical. I was watching an eleven year old girl I had spent the last two years mentoring ride a carnival ride with the daughter of the man who struck up a conversation with me.

My little friend was leaving in the morning. Her mom was sending her off for the school year to live with a friend who lived seven hours away. I guess working, going to school, and having a baby with her live in boyfriend had become more important than raising the daughter she already had. What was so blessed about that?

No single riders this particular ride said. Never one to meet a stranger, my little friend found a riding partner and was high in the air while I watched from the ground. “Does she go to such and such a school?’ the dad asked me. “No,” I replied giving him the name of the school she had been attending. “Oh do you know so and so he preceded. After answering no to two different names I apologized saying I hadn’t lived in the area very long.

This, of course, brought on the where are you from question. I told him my parents were missionaries and that I had grown up in Zaire now Congo. He then mentioned something about the Ivory Cost was it near there? I said no Congo is more in the middle of Africa. He then proceeded to talk about how blessed America is. I bit my tongue and waited for the carnival ride to end.

Blessed? last week there was an obituary in the paper of a women who killed her self. Talk on the street said she’d tried before. Last week she succeeded. Last week I was talking to a parent whose son was raped by another boy. The police said nothing could be done because the perpetrator was under the age of 13. The victim’s mother felt that nothing being done had more to do with the fact that one of the boy’s relatives works at the police station. According to the boy’s mother, there are currently six open cases connected with her son’s rapist. She said she just wants to see the boy get some counseling.

I live in a small town tucked in the middle of America’s heartland. People say it is blessed. People say it is so much safer than the city, but I see a lot of hurt and heartache being swept  into a cold dark corner. A blessed country would protect its children. A blessed country would provide a safe place for people to heal.

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Filed under Contemplations, Travel