Traveling Has Its Little Challenges (and Big Rewards)

Traveling has it’s little challenges.  The scary thing is that I’m VERY worried that I might be becoming accustomed to them.  Little things, such as a chicken sitting in the chair beside me or a cockroach crawling across the dinner table, or stepping over a tethered goat or cow rope on my way to my room.  It’s all part of the day, really.  I barely even glance at Roger any more to see if he’s noticed.  Really, why bother?  It could get way more interesting as the day goes on!  For all the little idiosyncrasies, though, there are many things that are just the same as home.  For example, check out the photo of the guys.  At the end of one of the marriage workshops, I glanced up and EVERY single male in the room was on his cell phone…doing what?  Obviously the whole session had just been too much and each one needed to find the nearest cave to run to, which, in this case, was a cell phone.

In any given day I find myself trekking through the rain, which in the farming region of western Kenya, means mud.  Then I step onto the porch of someone’s home, take off my shoes and step into their linoleum floored sitting room.  There will be a couch covered in velvet and lining the walls will be white plastic yard chairs to accommodate all of us who will be there.  Dangling from the ceiling will be a naked light-bulb that may or may not work, because the electricity may or may not be working that day.  Smoke from the wood fire heating either African tea, made of half milk, half tea and a ton of sugar or a huge pot of ugali will be drifting in through the window causing my eyes to water.  All around the circle will be men and women.  The older men will be dressed in a well-worn suit jacket; the younger ones in t-shirts and jeans.  The women are dressed in “suits,” a jacket and skirt or colorful African dress, but each will have a shawl tightly wrapped around their shoulders to ward off the chill.  Most of the girls are either pregnant or have a baby nursing or a toddler by their side.  The group chitter chatters away in their melodic Kiswahili and only when I interrupt are they happy to willingly shift into a beautiful British-accented English.  Lunch of uglai and tomato based sauce with one or two pieces of beef will be served at 3; tea will be served at 11 with white bread and again at 4:30 by itself.

Recently I was in one home where I glanced around and there was a beautiful red hen sitting on the floor close by me.  The rain was pounding outside the door-less opening to the very dark home, but inside it was cozy and warm.  I was talking with a grandma who is raising a boy abandoned by her woman’s own daughter.  What does she have?  Nothing.  But what does she give?  Warmth and love and safety.  I looked at the grandma and tears couldn’t help but fill my eyes.  There she was just like this hen.  The hen had found protection from the storm.  Underneath her tiny little chicks were completely unaware of the dangers outside of this mother’s love and protection.  There was the grandma doing just the same, giving this little boy everything he needs:  love, warmth, protection, nourishment.  Just look at his smile and you can see how he very content he is.

Sitting with a chicken in the chair beside me or trying indiscreetly to swat the flies away, it’s all so fascinatingly wonderful.  Challenges, perhaps.  Worth it, you bet!

Guys on their cellphones after the workshop:

Mama Hen:

Grandma and Joshua


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One Response to Traveling Has Its Little Challenges (and Big Rewards)

  1. Sarah says:

    I loved this! 🙂

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