Sunday, May 20, 2012

Kenya: from 2009 until 2012

I've seriously condensed everything I own to just a few bags worth of things.  My dad has been kind enough to store a few sedimental things for me in a closet at his house.  A few weeks ago I stopped by his place to pick them up and condense a bit more.  In one of the boxes I came across a journal from the first trip to Kenya in 2009.  Here's a few excerpts from when we got back:

Aug. 6, 2009:  
We've been back for 9 days now. I feel empty.  People are ignorant, stupid and hard to love.  I so badly want to share with them but they don't want to's funny to them that street kids walk around huffing glue - as one man said, "now that's the life!".  I feel discouraged and lonely...I want to go back.  

Sept. 4, 2009:
We've been back for a while now.  People are still just as ignorant.  It still bothers me how insensitive people can be.  But I've found that I can't waste time and efforts on them.  Instead, I choose to focus on those who want to hear...My heart still longs to be in Kenya.  I miss it so much.  I left weeks ago, but part of my heart is still there.  I long for my feet to touch Kenyan soil again.  I long for the embrace and friends I left behind.  Simply put, I long.  I am certain that an even larger Kenyan adventure awaiting.

It was interesting reading those two pages this afternoon.  I definitely remember struggling each time I've come home.  I seemed to be very quick to judge others.  The truth is that I had an experience that most people in the US never get.  Many of the people that I am surrounded by daily haven't been outside of the comforts of the US.  Coming back to the US this time was even harder.  I no longer viewed people as "ignorant, stupid and hard to love" (well, I tried not to).  But I did find it difficult to not judge others.  I still felt a great deal of discouragement.  I still felt lonely.  Very lonely.  I came back to welcoming friends and family, but was still lonely and longed for my home in Kenya.  Moving towards the second entry was even more interesting.  I can still relate in a way.  I have learned that not everyone wants to hear everything.  Some people really do just want to know how the weather is and what kinds of food I ate.  And that's fine.  I can tell them that.  But I really come alive when I get to tell stories about Peter.  Or the glue dealer that I spent time talking to.  I'd much rather share stories about Alex-Juma and the other street boys that became my friends.  And I love that I have a community that allowed me to share those stories.  I have a community that allowed me to cry as I shared many of the stories.

I really loved the very end of that entry.  Even three years ago I knew that there was something more to Kenya for me.  Before that trip I had an irrational fear of flying over the ocean.  I say irrational because my fear was not the plane crashing.  My fear was the plane crashing in the ocean and me surviving and getting eaten by a shark.  Yeah, I know - it was dumb!  Three years ago I didn't know that I would be able to go back to Kenya.  A good friend in Kenya saw some wounds in my heart that he called me out on.  Some wounds that needed healing before I could do anything longterm in Kenya.  Now, three years later I am planning my 4th trip to Kenya.  A trip that will truly be a long term.  Three years later and I am certain that life in the US is not where I belong right now.  I love the USA and my family and friends here, but my heart really is in Kenya.  Three years ago I penned that I longed for the embrace of friends left behind.  Today I still long for those embraces, but they are from friends who have become family.

A lot has changed since I wrote these two entries.  While I still struggle with coming back to the US, I've learned to be more content.  I've learned to love better.  As much as has changed, the underlying theme of longing to be back in Kenya has remained the same.

See you in a few months Kenya!

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