Sunday, September 11, 2011

I've traded up




I left the US on Sept 5th and arrived in Kenya on the 7th.  By the 8th I was at my new home in Kitale.  This morning I took a bicycle taxi into town and have been sitting at The Coffee Shop for a while.  

On the ride into town I put thought into what I traded.  I traded my nice 3 story home in West Chester with my attic bedroom and then at camp for a small man shack that sleeps two.  I traded my nice showers that have hot water on demand for an outdoor shower surrounded by bamboo pieces.  A shower where the hot water is lucky to be warm.  And I sure don't want to shower outside in the morning when it is cold outside!!  I traded my nice porcelain toilet that flushes for another bamboo room outside that has a 30 foot hole in the ground (okay, I'll be bold and admit that I actually prefer this!).  I traded my car for overcrowded town taxis and matatus and boda bodas (bicycle taxi) and piki pikis (motorcycle taxi).  I traded the comfort of walking safely around town at night with the need to be vigilant of my surroundings in the day time as well.  I traded the crossing of a street knowing cars will stop for know that here, the larger the vehicle, the more right of way they have.  I traded in a set salary that I could depend on for having to raise support and live on more of a faith.  I traded in reliable internet for one that works best after 10PM.  I traded in safe drinking water out of the sink for bottled or boiled water.    

Yet, I still say that I traded up.  As I sat on the boda boda this morning I was at peace with where I am.  Not so much peace on the ride itself though!  This is the cheapest transportation into town (other than walking) but it's weird.  Imagine sitting on a cushion on the back of a street bike.  You have a small piece of rubber or metal under the rider's seat to hold onto that barely fit your hands IF you an get on it under the seat.  This morning, I had my thumbs and two fingers on each hand around it.  I think that I'll take a piki back.  

But what I saw and heard was beautiful.  I woke up this morning to tons of birds singing.  The air was a bit chilled still.  The sun so bright and warm when you walk into it.  I had a cup of coffee on the gazebo with the sun to my back as I checked my email and spent some quiet time.  The ride into town was intense as motorcycles, cars and trucks flew by my boda boda.  Yet there was peace knowing that I am where I'm supposed to be at this moment.  As I sit here in The Coffee Shop sipping my coffee and eating my breakfast I feel at peace as town is slowly getting busier and I will very soon venture out into it to walk around.  

I spent yesterday at the Veronica Home, a home that Transformed International runs for children with HIV/AIDS.  We spent the morning and early afternoon there.  I gave my camera to one of the kids, Asha, and she took photos for the day.  One photo that I love is in this blog.  It's just of the sky and a tree in.  Yet this photo screams peace to me.  I've learned over and over again contentment in this place.  I showered last night and it was getting a bit chilly.  The cool night air made the water feel that much warmer.  As I turned off the water I was met with an instant chill.  Still, it was so good to have a shower!  I had to be careful not to swallow water as I brushed my teeth this morning, but how great it was to wake up and be able to clean my face and brush my teeth.  So, yes, I've traded up because I can be content in what is here.  I can't even begin to describe just how beautiful it is to just allow yourself to exist.  Sure, those things back home are great.  And I enjoyed them.  But I don't NEED them.  I can be just as happy with little.  I guess it comes back to relationship over materialism.  I know that when I go back home in January I will not have all that I had before (I sold many things).  But what is important is not what I sold or gave away.  What is important are the friends and family waiting to greet me.  What's important are friendships like Liz whom I cannot wait to see and hug.  Friendships like Chris at camp who are eagerly waiting to sit in silence and listen to stories for hours when I get home.  When relationships become the center of our lives instead of what we own, life becomes more beautiful.  We can learn to take pleasure in the small things.  We can go back to childhood and lay under the clouds looking at the shapes they make.    

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