“Come in,” Emily and I shouted in unison, as we often do. I don’t even know why we bother to say anything anymore. No matter what our answer is, our Kenyan friends always let themselves in and make themselves at home in our tiny room. For the most part, we don’t mind.
“Take supper? You girls,” Nancy asked in her broken English.
“What’s for supper?” Emily and I asked, once again in perfect unison.
Nancy replied with a slight smile, “Rice and beans.” She already knew our answer.
We told her we would both take “kidogo,” meaning “small” in Kiswahili, knowing in the back of our mind that our plates would still be piled high. Once Mama Nancy left the room, quietly closing our door behind her, Em and I faced each other and let out a sigh. It had been a rough few days.
We had arrived in Nairobi about two days before we were reunited with Nancy, our Legacy kids, and our favorite little room. On arrival, we raced through the airport toward customs, in order to beat the crowd that we knew would soon be lining up. After finding all of our bags and reuniting with our wonderful Nairobi friends, we settled in for the night.
The next few days were just plain overwhelming. With every hour of sleep jetlag stole from us, our desire to be in our own beds in America grew stronger. With every pothole and speed bump on the Kenyan roads, we longed more for the paved streets in Raleigh. With every African that we talked to, our hearts begged us to go back to America and hug all of our family and friends. It had only been a couple days and we already missed each of them so much. Everything in us was overwhelmed. Everything in us wanted to go home.
It wasn’t that God hasn’t called us to this beautiful country, because He has made it so obvious that He has.
It wasn’t that we don’t adore our Kenyan friends, because they are some of the most important people in our lives.
But for some reason, Africa was overwhelming in every way.
After shopping and catching up with our friends in Nairobi, we made the four hour trip to Narok county: the county that holds the kids that hold our hearts, and the county in which God changed our desires, our thoughts, and ultimately our lives last semester.
Even after a beautiful reunion with our favorite kids, our hearts still longed for the comfort that came with the things we love in America. We wanted to go to Jubala with our best friends, attend our weekly Bible study, wake up in the same house as our family, and spend countless hours with the people who know us best. The last thing we wanted was a plate of rice and beans.
The next morning, we started our routine here in Narok and essentially picked up right where we left off last semester. After our first full day of teaching Bible classes, playing in the field with the kids, riding the bus, and dorm devotions, we were excited to talk to our families.
WiFi’s out. Perfect.
We headed away from the computer lab and back to our dorm to bucket bathe.
How am I going to do this for the next three and a half months?
As we climbed into bed that night, we pulled out our journals. Emily and I both did the only thing we knew to do. We talked to Jesus about all that we were feeling, all that was overwhelming us.
God, why do you have us here? We believe You are faithful.
A few days later, Emily and I accompanied the director of the school to look at another piece of land she owns. As we were walking through the open fields, Emily pointed behind us. A double rainbow. In that moment, a peace that can only be provided by Jesus hit us like a tidal wave. A long time ago, God made a promise to Noah that He would never flood the earth again. As we remembered that promise, all of the other promises He has made to us became so real.
From that moment that Jesus answered our prayers and so clearly revealed Himself to us, our purpose here in Kenya has been so much more evident. In our time without WiFi, we have drawn closer to Him and talked to Him more than we ever have before. When we scrub our clothes, take a bucket bath, or eat a plate full of rice and beans, we rejoice at how good of a Father we have to bring us to a place where we learn to find our satisfaction solely in Him. When we teach Bible stories, songs, and games to the kids we love, we are reminded of the importance of planting seeds and loving people right where they are no matter where we are on earth.
Jesus gives us the most abundant life and we are so thankful. It’s not that every part is suddenly extremely easy. We miss our American friends and family. We miss showers, toilets, sink water, and American food. In some ways, we even miss the fast pace and busyness of America. People often ask what we have done that has taken us farthest out of our comfort zone. That’s a hard question to answer. Everyday, from the moment we wake up to the moment we go to bed, is out of our comfort zone. But we wouldn’t trade it for our life in America if we could.
In our times without WiFi, in the double rainbows, and in the point blank “tell me about Jesus" moments, we see Jesus. We see Him so clearly when we are in Kenya. But more than just seeing Him, we believe Him. We believe His promises that He has declared over our lives. We believe that He is here, working, and alive.
In a way, as much as I can’t wait for summer camp, UNC, and other stages of life, I never want to leave Kenya. I never want to stop seeing Jesus how I see Him now.
I see the work of Your hands
Galaxies spinning a heavenly dance
Oh God, all that You are is so overwhelming
I hear the sound of Your voice
All at once it’s a gentle and thundering noise
Oh God, all that You are is so overwhelming