Dear Friends and Family,
Tonight we are sitting here in our new home, on the eve of the official “first day” of the new On Field Media Team, (of which Andy will be one of three members). We have been in our home for 12 days now and are very much enjoying having the freedom as a family to eat meals when we want to and come and go as we please. Our seven week orientation process, including Orientation School and a homestay with a Kenyan family, was very valuable, but definitely was trying for us all. We are focusing on settling in now, learning Kiswahili, establishing some sort of routine, and seeking some kind of “normalcy” in this new life here in Kenya.
We’ve been asked how we are feeling about everything now. Well, I’m not sure that we know how to answer that! If you have ever moved to a foreign country, then you probably know the state we are in now: feeling a bit upside down and trying to find our two feet to stand on. It’s interesting… before we left the U.S., we told ourselves and many others that we knew we would go through hard times on the mission field. However, what we imagined and what the reality is are two completely different things, (and we had been here on a trip before)! We knew we would have hard times in Africa. We knew cultural transition would be difficult. But we had no idea what was in store for us!
The first thing that we began to see was how every little tiny detail of life was different from our lives in America. We wish we could drag each of you across the ocean to show you that life can be so different from what we are used to! Everything – physical, social, cultural, language… everything is different! The light switches switch the other direction. The homes are made of concrete and plaster, not wood and drywall (lots of fun hanging pictures)! You can’t drink water from the tap… in fact, we have to filter and store “clean” water to use for drinking and cooking. The water isn’t turned on all of the time, so we have tanks buried in our backyard that hold water for the frequent times when the city water is turned off. We’re still trying to figure out the water pumps, heater and various valves we have to switch on and off daily! We’ve decided to add a little section to our newsletter each month to tell you about life here in Kenya. You’ll see it at the bottom of the page.
Our kids are doing well here. Robbie and Avery have started school at West Nairobi School. Robbie is in 3rd grade and Avery is in Kindergarten. They are each making friends here at school and within the missionary community. It has been good for them to see that they can make friends here, just like they did in America. We’ve been enjoying experiencing Africa together as a family, experiencing different foods, doing some sight-seeing (giraffes and elephants, so far), running away from wild monkeys, learning the lingo of life in Nairobi (such as, “security gate” and “matatu” and “duka”). Sydney has made “best friends” with many people here, including our host mom, whom Sydney called “Soso.” She is definitely our little ambassador to people here – she has a way of making everyone love her immediately.
We’ve been getting to know quite a few people here. The division of Africa Inland Mission we are in is “International Services.” These are the people who serve missionaries; some by taking care of administrative parts of their lives on the field, some by flying them with AIM AIR, some by caring for them and counseling them, and now Andy’s team will be telling the stories of what God is doing here in Africa through the hundreds of AIM missionaries who are spread out from Northern Africa to South Africa. We’ve already met and hung out with some really great people and hope to continue building those friendships. We can see already how important it will be to have a support system here in addition to the amazing one we have at home. Also, it’s important to have fun! Dulles guys, you’d be glad to know that Andy has finally bit the bullet and joined a Fantasy Football league with some guys here.
We’ve also been getting to know some amazing Kenyans. For one, we met some wonderful people in Machakos, where our Orientation School was held. We hope to go back and visit them soon, and possibly stay with them a couple of days. We hope we can be a blessing to them, as they are a family with great need. Then, we had a great time with our host family here in Nairobi. We were with them for four weeks. It isn’t easy to stay in someone else’s house that long, but they were great people to spend the time with and to call our friends. We learned so much there about the lifestyle and culture of Nairobi Kenyans. The life of a Nairobi Kenyan will have elements of their tribal culture, where they or their family is originally from. But, it will also have many “Western” influences from the city, as well. We also enjoy learning the language here. We have a private tutor come to our house for two hours a day for 10 weeks total. It’s coming along very well, surprisingly!
Emotionally and spiritually, this summer has been hard for us. The lack of routine and consistency made our family life rough many days. It was difficult to hold to boundaries and discipline with the children when they were in a hard time of transition, too, and when we were in the company of other people nearly all the time. So much togetherness also made it difficult for Andy and I to get our much needed alone time with God and with each other. Through all of those difficult weeks, though, we felt so loved and supported by friends and family who we knew were praying for us and those who wrote and called. We kept coming back to the fact that we knew we were supposed to be here, and so many of you reminded us of that, as well. Thank you!
Over the past week, we’ve been reflecting on a great deal. First, there are still many unknowns for us, including where we will go to church, what will Andy’s work look like, what ministries will I (Lesa) be involved in, what other directions will God take us in Africa in the area of worship leading, and much more. There are many possibilities for all of these things, and we are earnestly seeking the Lord’s will as we hear of various opportunities to serve. The other big part of this phase of our missionary life is for us to begin to feel “at home” enough here to get past thinking about ourselves and really love the people here. We would appreciate your prayers for us as we continue to transition and build our life here.
- That our children will continue to settle into our life here and grow to feel more at home.
- That we would all get over our various illnesses quickly (sinus infections, intestinal issues that are common to living here, coughs, etc.)
- That we will be listening to God’s leading as we search for and choose a church in Nairobi.
- That we will be patient as God’s will is made clear for the ministries He wants Lesa to be involved in, as well as worship leading opportunities for us within AIM and elsewhere.
- That we will continue to adjust to the differences of living in a new culture.
- That God will grow in us a heart of love for the people of Africa.