20 Things I learned in Kenya

kenyaTeam2013(Heidi pictured second blonde from the left)

In October we sent a team of 10 to visit, serve and play alongside the children of Hope Children’s Home in Kitale, Kenya.  One of the team members, Heidi, shared her reflections with us and we in turn share them with you…

1.      Squatty potties and airplane toilets take talent. Pure talent.

2.      A “ball” can be a plastic bag that’s filled with dirt and then tied. A hammer can be a stone. Food leftovers can provide a meal for pigs. Just don’t get too attached to the tiny bunnies and don’t ask them what they want to be when they grow up because the profession of “lunch” might depress them. The circle of life can sometimes put baby in a corner. (one of the empowerment projects in place at Hope Children’s Home Farm is raising rabbits for food)

3.      Red dirt + moving bricks + pouring rain + orphans’ smiles= Therapy you can’t buy. (the team helped build another one of our empowerment projects – aquaponics vegetable gardening and fish farming)

4.      Eating the meat off fish and chicken heads is known as zero waste.

5.      Kenyan churches put the “mega” in church.

6. Driving a stick shift on the left side of the road, on the right side of the car might result in the upward motion of the windshield wipers instead of the stagnant flash of the turn signal. Dizzy from reading that? Good. So were the people in the backseat from experiencing it. Fred and Alice make it look so easy!

7. Connecting with someone who happens to speak a different language than you, reveals the same language we all speak. The language of life experiences…joy, pain, struggle, triumph, love. The greatest of these is love.

8. God answers prayers! Boom. Truth.

9. Mzungu is the term for “white person”, but we felt like the kids were screaming “Elvis” as we drove by them.  Super cute kids who often wanted to see if our “whiteness” rubbed off on their hands as they touched us.

10. We can learn a lot from Kenyans in the slums and on farmland. They rely on their community a whole lot more. They usually have to ask for directions to find places since there is no physical address. They also don’t have a lot of computer access so they rely on their community for entertainment and news. Human to human contact is important, even in this digital age. Don’t be afraid to reach out and touch someone…appropriately. 😉

11. Orphans might be looked down upon in the country as a burden but the neighborhood kids certainly looked up to them. I pray there will be a new generation who values them as people who had to overcome great obstacles with strength, love, and determination that comes from having a deep relationship to their true father, God.

12. Pregnant cows with horns are not fond of being looked at or petted. Perhaps we have a lot in common with them.

13. Be careful about the touristy shirts you buy for your kids. My daughter now knows how to say “beer” in Swahili, among other items listed on her shirt that looked a lot more innocent on that 4T.

14. Team bonding cannot come into existence without sitting on each-others laps, experiencing foot odor across the room, borrowing prescription drugs, or cleaning out each others’ ears.

15. Want a kettle-bell workout? Take water from a well in a large container while huffing and puffing behind a 13 yr old orphan who does this daily. Humbling.

16. Those clothes and shoes your child outgrew? Send them over. They would love to have them. Don’t forget the ingredients for s’mores. They ate so many, we were worried about them getting sick.

17. Toyota should use Fred’s truck for their commercials. 24 kids in the back? No problem. Stuck in the mud? No problem. Hauling a billion bricks in the mud? Again, no problem.

18. Don’t argue with grouchy Dutch TSA agents while working on 3 hours of sleep. It’s a lose-lose situation.

19. Step outside your box with both feet. You’ll quickly learn that it’s not a box, but rather a bubble. A sphere of perceived safety that is just as dangerous as the world outside of it.

20. Be thankful and give.

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