Today I left the school around 11 and went to visit the day care centre as I was feeling quite down and needed to cuddle a baby to feel better. Yesterday being Canada Day, I have been dealing with a huge waves of homesickness as I consider all the celebrating and the family traditions that I am missing on this wonderful long weekend. To be honest, today was a very difficult day. I am missing home and I am missing hearing from everyone. I love to hear the stories of what is going on in your lives, of the plans, the experiences, the moments that you want to share. And at the same time it is difficult for me to remember that even if you are not there, life goes on. So when you arrive back at home you quickly learn that you have missed out on a lot. I left for Africa on Stephen`s 21st birthday. I missed my youngest brother`s graduation from grade school. Not only that, but he received the award for the highest academics in his class. I will also missed this young man`s 14th birthday. And on Thursday my other brother Michael will turn 20. In May I graduated after five years of university, but I did not wear a gown. Now, I sound like I`m having a huge pity party- and I probably am, but this is something I have been struggling a lot with.
I know that I am doing the work that God has called me to do, but, as the oldest child, I am missing out on all those milestones that make life as a family so memorable. I love my family so much; it breaks my heart to leave them. But God is in control. He will provide all my needs. I cast my cares at his feet.
It`s a short 500 metre walk from the school and I thoroughly enjoy talking with the mother who cares for these children during the day. She and I love to talk about God and the Bible and how we can see God working in our lives. She is full of knowledge and a love of the Father. She loves to tell me that God has a plan for me and to make predictions as to what those plans are. She talks nonstop and just loves company. So if you are in the mood to just sit and listen quietly, she`s the perfect person to visit with. It just so happens that only one child showed up for care today as most of the others are down with some illness or another. True to form I made this little one cry by being white...(sigh)... so I did not get to cuddle any babies, but over the four or five hours that this woman talked, I started to eventually feel better. At first her constant chatter annoyed me, but then she said something that I just needed to hear. It sounds really ridiculous but she said that I speak English very well.
Now, I have to clarify because you`re probably snorting over there on the other side of this computer screen thinking, `Of course she speaks English well, she`s Canadian, that`s our language.` But what she meant by her comment was that I speak English in a way that she can understand. If you come to Africa and attempt to speak to them the way you would speak to a friend at home, they will not be able to understand you, despite the fact that they understand English. We Canadians are notorious for dropping our `t` and `d` sounds. Here in Africa, they may have an accent, but they enunciate better than you or I ever could.
Therefore, while I was living in Dwaniro, I had to revamp the way I spoke. I had to purposely slow down everything I said, drop a few of the larger vocabulary words, and make sure I spoke every sound of every word. I learned to say don`t, better (it sounds British now)... Not only was this a way to be accepted by a culture, but it was also a survival tactic: My students would not be able to understand what I was saying if I did not relearn how to speak. It is particularly difficult to remember to speak slowly when you are excited. If you have ever seen me teaching, you will know that I usually teach out of pure excitement for the learning of the subject matter. I will get so excited that I forget to breathe normally and start speaking so fast. Thus, I had to remind myself continuously `slow down!`
This woman and I enjoyed talking about talking. This all came about after a phone conversation I had with a fellow teacher. I got off the phone and was not entirely sure what I had agreed to. Explaining this to my friend, she laughed, and explained about how she often cannot understand white people when they come to Omwabini because they speak so fast. And she didn`t want to offend them so she would just say, `yes.`
I guess that just having that connection with someone. Being appreciated for having done something right (after so many cultural goofups), just makes the day seem so much brighter. I then went on to have wonderful conversations with Moses and Humphrey. For some reason men in Africa always ask about how marriage works in the west. I don`t know why, but they always have to make a point to ask `when are you getting married,` or `what kind of person will you marry.` Normally these questions are all innocent, except for the couple I`ve had who were asking for such information for personal reasons, if you get what I mean. Thankfully, Moses and Humphrey were simply curious as to how our culture works and we had a great conversation about dowries, marriage ceremonies, courting, dating, introductions, circumcision (apparently there is a mass circumcision done early August where 14-16 year old boys are circumcised and celebrations about as they are declared men. Humphrey mentioned how much he regretted me missing such an event. To be honest, I`m not all that sorry at all...)
As you can tell, I am learning a lot. This culture fascinates me and I praise God for this opportunity of growth. I am coming to know more about myself. I am learning much about God. I am discovering new passions everyday. God is so good.
Thank you for your prayers and your support. I hope that you all had a blessed Canada Day. There are now 35 Kenyan 14-year-olds who now know who our Prime Minister is, who the Queen is, when Canada became independent, and how old our country is. You have to love teachable moments ... :)