The Lord Knows What we Need

For quite a while now, we’ve felt like we really needed to get away as a family. Sometimes living here as the only wazungu in town is like living in a fish bowl.  Just a quick illustration:

In discussing the issue of being home-bound yet again with Marc, suddenly he had an idea. Silas owns a large shamba—several acres of farm, field, and trees bordering a river—not too far from our house. He wondered, why couldn’t we go there, spend a few hours and enjoy a picnic lunch? Silas was agreeable to our going and we decided, to everyone’s excitement, to try out a trip there are a family. I was certain that this would help fill in the gaps in terms of what the children felt they had been missing, and I was thankful for the opportunity for some fun family time. Truth be told, the daily grind and Marc’s busy schedule sometimes leave me wishing for a bit of a “Sabbath rest” for all of us, and I hoped this would be it.

We had fun just getting there. It wasn’t “too far,” but a bit of a stretch for lots of little legs to walk comfortably. Isaiah stayed at home with several of the children while Marc, Micah, Jubilee, and I (with Enoch in the Ergo) zipped down to Silas’s on the motorbike. Marc went back for the girls while Isaiah and Jonah rode down on their little Suzuki dirt bike. Of course we had to greet Silas’s mother (who in Kenyan culture is just called “Mama Silas”). She spoke not a word of English but was happy to welcome us to her shamba.

Silas showed us around and, to my disappointment, the river at the back of the property turned out to be at the bottom of about a 10-foot drop-off. Instead of letting the kids leisurely explore as I imagined they would, I nervously kept a grip on Enoch and watched the littles to make sure they didn’t wander too close to the banks. The overgrown fields were fun to explore for a while, but there weren’t as many good climbing trees as the boys thought—those were closer to the house, so back we trekked.

Unfortunately, by the time we made it to the house again, an entourage of about 30 children was watching us like hawks and trying to meet up with us at various points. It seemed there was no  “getting away.” And once we got back, Silas unexpectedly told Marc that he had been committed to sharing about the Gospel of the Kingdom at a “Christianized” circumcision ceremony at the house of his neighbor. It was expected that he would stay to eat, but simultaneously Silas’s Mom was also preparing lunch—pulling out all the stops and sending someone to get what was, for them, very expensive fish because she knew the wazungu liked it. By now the children were eager to go home, the morning not turning out to be what they thought, but there was no way we could offend Mama Silas. It seemed we were in a “lose-lose” situation. Ultimately, our fun family day ended up with Marc going next door (for as short a time as possible) and the rest of us hanging out much longer than planned at Silas’s. We ate a lunch of fish which, while tasty, was certainly not accommodating to our mzungu sensibilities. (Whole fish, having been dried and left in the sun at the market, often ends up with maggots in it, and we found some floating in the fish broth. Not to mention, the experience of eating fish whole was not quite appetizing.) We were thankful for the hospitality and were truly blessed that Mama Silas wanted to give us her very best; however, we were also glad to return home after an unexpectedly…interesting morning.


So you can see, we were all out of ideas when it came to what to do to enjoy some time together as a family.

I don’t want to make a long story longer, so I’ll spare you to details of how our family was connected with a group of Mennonite missionary families here in Kisumu–but of course, it was a “God thing.”

Much to our delight, we were invited to their compound for a few days following Christmas. They said we could stay in a guest house there, be well-fed, and have transportation at our disposal to visit the local museum and zoo. After a long but uneventful ride in a semi-private matatu we were warmly welcomed, fed lunch, and enjoyed the company. There were lots of children for our kids to play with and the adult fellowship was a true blessing to me. I don’t think I had realized how much I missed it.

During our first full day we visited both the museum and zoo, so the second day was spent just enjoying the company of several of the families and relaxing. I even got to do two loads of laundry in a washing machine! Needless to say, I felt incredibly spoiled and it was so nice to get a break from that day-in-day-out manual labor. I was equally blessed that they made sure we ate well for every meal—a much greater variety of food than what we have available in our village and even in the next big town. Not to mention, refrigeration meant an opportunity to have cold smoothies and homemade granola with cold milk! It’s amazing how much you take those little things for granted—and what a blessing it was to enjoy for the short time we were there. Most of all, we were blessed by the obvious love of all of these Kingdom Christians and their willing generosity.

Here we are in Kisumu–a rare photo of the whole family, in which *almost* everyone is looking cheerfully at the camera–and only three takes, I think:

(I’m sure you can’t help but notice Micah’s new haircut in the photo. When Silas told us that “Africans no care about quality, they care about price,” he wasn’t kidding. We bought a set of clippers here and I decided to cut Micah’s hair. He likes it short, so opted for a “1,” which has always been super cute on him. Much to my horror, the comb fell off the razor as I was buzzing by his ear, so he was shaved almost to the scalp in a split second. Convinced that I could somehow rescue it, I put the comb back on and continued, only to have it happen again. So, Micah got totally buzz-cut but he had a super attitude about it, praise God!) Now, for the conclusion of our story…..

I came away truly refreshed from our mini-vacation, the burden of discouragement which I had been feeling at that time greatly lifted. The family was likewise encouraged, and we returned to home and “normal” with a renewed sense of God’s grace and goodness (in spite of another round of illness that hit us almost immediately upon our return!) I share this not simply to relate our experience, but to encourage you to consider how you might spur someone around you on to love and good deeds (see Hebrews 10:24)—even if, to you, what you offer seems small.

We are thankful, and God is good.