One key thing I have learned from other missionaries is that things are different, but not right or wrong. There will be times when I am in Kenya that everything seems so strange and unfamiliar and I will just want some "normal" in my life. I will need to remember that the Kenyan way is not wrong and the American way is not right. If I can always keep that thought in mind my transition will be much smoother and my frustration less.
Driving – Yes it is done on the right (literally) side of the road and yes I am the passenger here on the left side of the car. I need to learn to drive a stick shift on and off road, in the dessert, while missing the animals, people, bicycles, pici-pici’s (motorcycles), and other vehicles that will all be sharing the road with me! This picture doesn't even do justice to all the "traffic" on the roads and this stretch actually has more road than potholes. Bonus! Anyone want to help with driving lessons?
Language- This is just a sampling of what Turkana looks like (Jeremiah 29:11). There is no Rosetta Stone for Turkana, so my primary Turkana language learning will take place during the first year I live in Turkana. Until then I will study from the Bible, a Turkana dictionary and some recorded lessons my language helper made when I was there in January. I will also need to learn some Swahili, which will be the easy language and the one I can learn from CD's and on the computer. If you know anyone who speaks Swahili (the Kenyan version) please send them my way! At least English is one of the official languages in Kenya and all the road signs and labels on products are in English. What a blessing, although when spoken it is "British English”, therefore, I often needed a translator to help me understand the Kenyans and to help them understand my “Southern Indiana English”.
Church- I will worship at the Community Christian Churches. I enjoyed this so much when I visited in January and even taped some of the songs they sang. While it is great to worship with brothers and sisters in their language and with their cultural music and context, it isn’t mine. It is different. I will miss my church and style of worship and my favorite worship songs led by our worship team. To help with these differences I will be able to listen to sermons and music on the computer and I will have Bible studies with other missionaries in Turkana. After some time there I will be able to understand more and more during the services and as with other areas of "different" it may become such a "normal" that when I come back to the US I will have to remember that things here will be different but not right or wrong.
Family- I will miss mine terribly, but I know that God has a great family in Kenya just waiting for me and I can’t wait to get to know them and build relationships so that we can work together in the ministry.
Holidays- Next year there won’t be any fireworks on the forth of July for me and it is hard to imagine what Christmas in the dessert will be like. I do like the heat better than the cold and I did save a few Christmas ornaments to help remind me of home. These stars are actually from Africa and are made from rolled up paper beads. Making paper beads (from painted construction paper or magazines) is a typical craft that you see in many foreign countries and something I may have to try when I need some stress relief and a break from language learning. I have even been checking out homemade mod podge recipes on Pinterest and posting a lot of other paper crafts and projects that could be fun to do and share.
Work- Camels, sheep and goats...oh my. These are the primary animal species in the Turkana desert and camels were not on our syllabus at Iowa State! Luckily, God has allowed me to make connections with veterinarians who do know something about camels and are willing to help. Did you know that camels have very long eyelashes to help keep the sand out of their eyes? More fun facts and camel stories to come!