It is a beautiful morning – the sunshine is just starting to show its face, the birds are waking up, and…..wait….is that the sound of a kazoo? Why yes it is, here at six in the morning. And thus the day begins.
Since the sun is already blazing, I decide start on some laundry – each load of which must be washed, hung to dry, ironed, hung or folded, and put away. A little while later, as Sam and I are sitting to do some homework, there is an unexpected knock at our door. Ah yes, the electrician who was coming back “tomorrow” four weeks ago. As I sit at the dining room table, he comes in; takes off his socks, shoes, and button-down shirt; and climbs (now barefooted) onto the table. I must say, it is rather disturbing to have foot marks on the table you eat at. And, even now, I am skeptically eying the lights – now loose from the ceiling again – that were “repaired” using the shove-a-piece-of-stick-in-the-screw-hole method. Not particularly effective, if you ask me.
Mom and I now make our list, gather our fabric shopping bags, and set out on the 3 km walk to the grocery store. Now, shopping here is very hit-or-miss. No amount of careful planning can ensure that you find each item on your list, so we are learning to take things as they come – and that includes more areas of our lives than just shopping for groceries. The most exciting thing we found was a can of V8 juice, and we were thrilled. Mom pointed to it on the shelf, and in an awed whisper asked, “Is that V8?” And indeed it was. We are certainly learning to take pleasure in the small things. We can’t even just go out and buy items like hairclips or mechanical pencils, so we are happy for the things that we can find. As we go to pay, the card machine isn’t working – in truth, it nearly never is. So we wait….and we wait…..and we wait until it gets sorted. Finally we’ve finished. Next errand? Take some cash from the ATM. Sounds simple, right? Not exactly. The first machine we try is out of money, as is the second. On a really bad day, the third one won’t have money either. Eventually, we usually end up with some cash….sometimes. After we are all done running errands, either Dad picks us up after his work day – spent “out in the field” or in the CMA office – or we walk home. (Before we buy any groceries, we always figure out how we will be going home. If we walk, we have to be careful to watch the weight of our items, because that box of milk or that pineapple that “wasn’t very heavy” seems a whole lot heavier after walking 3 km with it on your shoulder!) As we enter our apartment complex, the small neighbor kids start yelling to us, “Baba Sam, Mama Sam, Sister Sam! Where is the barking cat? Where is the dog of Sam?” (Are you catching that Sam is popular? He is like the Pied Piper for young children. The dogs are popular as well.) Sam and some of the other neighbor kids are in our living room – Sam is the best, and our house always has Wii and homemade “biscuits” (cookies), so of course they come.
I make dinner, and we spend some “quality time” as a family. We have to light candles some evenings, as the power goes out rather frequently here. Candles and matches are household staples for Nairobi living. We turn on all our water heaters about an hour and a half before we want to have hot baths or showers – the same goes for heating water to wash dishes.
Our days go like this part of the time, always filled with humor and surprises. The rest of the time we are out at churches, visiting schools or slums, hosting teams from North America, and building relationships. And that is our call, our call to community. Just another beautiful day in Africa….