It’s a little bit hard to believe that I’ve been in Kenya for 3 months already. On the other hand, there are days I feel like I’ve been here much, much longer.
Everyone told me and every book about cross-cultural adjustment I’ve ever read all agreed that the third month is the most difficult when adjusting to a new culture. Well, having completed my third month, I will add my wholehearted agreement! At three months, you’ve come through the honeymoon period. The novelty starts to wear off and the reality starts to set in. You start to tire of the constant challenges. It’s still an adventure, but it’s real life now, too.
There have been days I just canNOT deal with one more bug, or rat after this last week.
Days when I’m tired of saying “What? I don’t understand? Can you repeat that? I still don’t understand…” This is even more frustrating when we are all speaking English. Okay, I’m technically speaking American-English, but still. Come on!
When I said I would be glad to “help” I did not mean I have an unending bank account to which you can have full access. I also did not mean I will take over and do it all.
Would you please just come out and tell me what you want from me? I’m tired of trying to read between the lines…
No, random man who just came up to me in the market, I do not want to marry you. Yes, I’m sure if I call my father, he will not want me to marry you either. I think I currently stand at 5 marriage proposals of varying degrees of seriousness.
Laughter in the middle of my prayer. What did I say? Oh, when you said the international students were having a hard time being away from home, you were implying they are missing their wives… physically. So, I essentially just prayed for the sex lives of my students? Great. Well, if it’s important to you it’s important to God. Please see the point above about being more direct in your communication…
There have been multiple misunderstandings which result in confrontations I would much rather not deal with.
I found myself losing patience a bit easier (which if you know me, I generally have a decent measure of patience).
Days I just wanted to cocoon myself into my little semi-American bubble of an apartment.
Days I missed my family fiercely. I don’t think my heart has ever hurt so much as when my sweet niece asked me if I would come play with her on Sunday after church and I had to say “No…”
But on the other hand…
The third month has been beautiful and blessed, with open doors and new relationships.
Invitations to share at churches.
Realizing that I’m starting to understand Kiswahili… just a little. And can speak it… kidogo.
Being welcomed into the homes of new friends.
People recognizing me when I’m out and about in town and greeting me as an old friend, rather than the relative stranger that I feel like on the inside.
Achievement! Even if it’s just something as simple as actually understanding the directions given and finding the place I’m looking for.
Opportunities to visit ministries, to see the work being done in nearby villages and communities.
That brilliant moment when you can literally see revelation dawning on the face of a student and the accompanying overflow of emotion as they grasp the new thing that God has for them.
So many hugs from little arms and little fingers in my hair.
Singing, praying, laughing, dancing… so much dancing.
Standing back and watching as years of imagining and dreaming come to life right before my eyes.
I am human. I am currently earth-bound. But we serve an amazing God who is transcendent above all my earthly failings.
My frustration bubbles over; God is there with an extra measure of peace.
I feel homesick and heartsick; God is faithful to surround me with the family of believers.
I’m done, can’t do it; God’s strength carries me one more step.
Yes, three months of living in a foreign country with foreign customs hits some unseen limit of adaptability. But this natural limitation results in a supernatural longing that pulls my heart closer to the heart of God. When I hit my limit, I am driven to greater trust and dependency on the God who has called me and brought me to this place.
Honestly, I wouldn’t trade one difficult moment for the immeasurable blessings I’ve found.