Saturday, April 12, 2014

Mission Field Confessions Part II: confessions from back home

A little while ago I wrote a blog being honest about some things that I felt as a missionary in Kenya. If you missed it, you can read it here

I've been thinking about this topic since I wrote that. Here are a few more confessions about being back in the US now. Hopefully this one is a bit more lighthearted.

1. I sometimes forget which side of the road to drive on. I know, you'd think that it should be pretty simple...we drive on the right side of the road in America. But after driving a bit in Kenya on the left side, sometimes I still have to question for a minute before turning onto the road.

2. Along with that, I sometimes have to remind myself which side of the car to get in on. Again, should be straight forward - steering wheel is on the left, get in on the left. But, when I'm walking to the car I sometimes have to pause and remember what door I want to get in on. I've often caught myself walking to the passenger door of my own car or the driver's door of someone else's car.

3. I still look the wrong way when walking across a street. Most of us learned early on in life "look left, then right, then left again" to cross the road. Well, in Kenya, you look right first because cars drive on the other side of the road (well, they're supposed to. In reality, they're usually on whatever side of the road they feel like being on). After my first 6 months living there and nearly getting mowed down by bicycle taxis, motorcycles, busses and trucks, I finally got in the habit of looking to the right first. Coming back to the US, I can't seem to get into the habit of looking to the left first before walking across the road. Though, in all fairness, it may not be fair to say that this is a result of living in Kenya. I've had a bad habit of just walking without looking at all for a while. Even this morning, walking into the grocery store, I nearly got hit by someone. In my defense, there was a "yield to pedestrians" sign and I did cross at the sign. So...yeah, I'm totally faultless here.  I don't know, maybe looking the wrong direction from time to time is a positive step!  :)

4. I still utter some Swahili phrases during the day. I never learned as much Swahili as I wanted to. But the little bits I picked up I still use without even realizing it. Usually it's common, everyday phrases like "excuse me" or "thank you", etc. Often it is met by confused looks by others.

5. I miss samosas! Seriously, they are one of my very favorite foods. And there were only a few places that made them right. And I miss them. You know it's bad when you are on a first name basis with the local samosa cook. Even worse when you would SMS him to prepare an order for you. Even worse yet when you walk in and you are met with a smile and an "AHHH, Mr Ray! How many samosas do you want today!?"

6. I DO NOT miss rice and beans! If I never eat rice and beans for lunch or dinner again, I will die a very happy man! Seriously, I like spicy food, but it was not just a "like" there. It was a necessity just to have some difference in the taste. If it taste the same every day, throw a ton of hot sauce in it so you can't taste it anymore. Focus on the burn instead. At first, the beans were just a means to eat chapati (which I ALSO miss!) and the rice - I could take it or leave it. After a while, even the thought of dipping chapati in the beans wasn't enough to help.

7. Going off of the previous one, I also DO NOT miss peanut butter & jelly sandwiches and potato chips for dinner because rice and beans got boring.

8. When I go to a restaurant I still, without realizing it, choose what I want to eat plus two or three back up selections. This was important in Kenya because very often the restaurant would not have your first choice. I was at this place called Iroco Boulevard once. I asked for a plate of chips (what they call french fries). I was told that it would be three hours until they were ready. Three hours...I asked if they had whole potatoes. They did. Okay, follow me here. French fries are quite simply cut up potatoes deep fried. Whole process should take less than 30 minutes. I offered to go in the kitchen and make them myself. That was a no go. Again, three hours until they would be ready. I went through my 2nd and 3rd choice meals which they were also out of. So I left and found a new place to eat. Shame too. That used to be such a good place to eat. I think that the day I saw their demise was when it took well over an hour for a club sandwich to come out of the kitchen. How do I know it was that long? Because I read the ENTIRE newspaper and still had no food.

9. My first week back in the US I went to a Starbucks and asked for a coffee. The barista (wow, I don't think that I ever used that word before!) asked what kind I wanted. I stood there confused. I actually didn't know how to answer that question for a minute. I got used to asking for coffee and praying (um, begging God is probably more like it) that it wasn't that Nescafe 3-in-1 instant garbage.

10. I DO NOT miss malaria. This might just be the longest I've gone without malaria in a long time. The last time I had it really bad (Christmas 2012) I was literally praying that God just killed me to make the pain stop. The actual prayer was something like "God just kill me or heal me. I don't care which one anymore". And no, that is not an exaggeration. Between the malaria and the quinine treatment, every single inch of me was in pain. All day and night.

11. Still, I'd rather get malaria than a cold. If you catch it early it's can be easy to treat and goes away faster than a cold.

12. I can proudly count in Swahili to the very high number of ............FOUR! WOOO-HOOO!! Moja, Mbilli, Tatu, nne. There was a time I could count to ten. But the number ten always scared me because the Swahili word for ten is only one letter off from a slightly vulgar word. And two of my Kenyan friends once taught me the wrong I usually stopped at nine. Just to be safe.

13. Last one. This one could be an entire blog but I will try to keep it short. For now. Coming home was difficult. The circumstances were very trying at the time. Now, I am at perfect peace with the decision to stay home. Recently (maybe in the past month or two) I've finally stopped living with one foot out the door. I've firmly planted both feet here. In the USA. In Chester County. And I feel such peace about it. I'm even happy and rested. More than I have been in many months. One of the best compliments I ever received was when my friend Jeremiah once told me before leaving for my first 6 months in Kenya "You look like peace". I feel like I am finally getting back to that place again. And it feels good. Really good. more...I'm actually really happy that I will be able to watch live the return of Jack Bauer after a 4 year absence! Yes, I'm a big nerd when it comes to the show 24. And yes, on May 5th my phone will be off for two straight hours.

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