Monthly Archives: May 2012

My Busy Days


Me and my brother, Samuel, at an outdoor restaurant along A109.

It occurred to me that we should write more about what we do here in Kenya and what life as a missionary family is like.  For us, the things we do are simply our life.  It isn’t that we don’t see funny things, or even that we don’t take pleasure in doing things, it is just that it is so normal that we don’t always take time to write about it.  I forget sometimes that other people don’t see our life as “normal,” so here I am going to try to explain what our life is really like.

Speaking for myself, it isn’t always easy being a missionary kid, but it is my life, and I wouldn’t trade it.  On average, though my eleventh grade work keeps me plenty busy, I spend over ten hours a week doing laundry (I don’t do all of it either – Mom spends at least another ten doing it as well), plus I do all our cooking and baking (another, say, 15-20 hours a week?), and it’s not like we don’t clean our house!  Taking care of my baby sis and our dogs and doing other assorted (and sometimes strange) tasks, and having a little “family time” before going to bed generally takes up the remainder of my time during “at home” days.

Visiting with other girls during a food distribution in Magadi.

Now, that said, here are the things we do when we aren’t at home.  We are usually at a different church each Sunday and often have to drive for hours to get to them.  (Last week we were literally driving through a river, but that’s another story.)  Services, particularly in the rural churches, are an all-day affair.  We tend to get home about twenty minutes prior to the time I get picked up for (or walk to) my Sunday-evening youth group, which begins at 5:30 p.m.  (Yeah, it makes for a long day, and I am the “snack-bringer” for my youth group, so I do my baking the day before.)  Mom, Sam, or I are typically each out at least once during the week, and we trade back-and-forth of who goes for what outreaches depending on how much room there is in the car on any given day.

We do a variety of projects, most of them with Christian Mission Aid, the NGO we are working with.  These “projects” include things like food distributions, pastoral and children’s ministry trainings, clothing distributions, sports days for children in the slums, and building projects (one of the latest was a library for the children in the Kuwinda slum).  Besides doing projects and activities for kids, we spend a lot of time building relationships.  We get to hang out and talk with the girls at the Girls’ Rescue Center in Maasailand, and we get to sing songs and do Bible lessons with the kids at Shangilia Children’s Home and Kibagare School.  It makes for a full and happy life.

Putting my handprint on the completed library in Kuwinda slum.

Last September Kathleen Trock and Sue DeKoekkoek stayed in our home, and in October the Hamlets stayed with us.  In January, my Grandma Patty visited us for a whole month, then my Grandpa Gary & Grandma Debbie came to stay in March/April.  Tomorrow we have Apostle Ed & Gretchen Kurdziel (pastors at Pure Heart Church in Ada, Michigan) staying with us for two weeks.  Those are only the people who have actually stayed in our home; we have people from Christian Mission Aid teams come to eat with us, and I often bake muffins as a welcome gift as soon as they get off the airplane.  We  keep really busy with the various ministry teams and visitors that come to work with CMA.  A few weeks ago, a team of nineteen from Fellowship Baptist Church in Collingwood, Canada was with us and I got to spend time with them.  I love to open up our home to guests and show them some good, old-fashioned hospitality.  So you see, this for us is simply life, and we love it.  This is our “normal.”

Diapers drying on the porch on an overcast day.



Me and Aviya at a food distribution in Kajiado.

I’m sure we have all read Philippians 4:13; you know, “I can do all things though him who gives me strength.” I personally, however, never really stopped to fully “get it” in context. The two verses prior to it give it a far deeper meaning: “I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want.” (Philippians 4:11-12)

In my not-so-long life, I have lived in three countries. I have lived in a $10 million-dollar house on the Indian Ocean and in a converted two-car garage. I have lived in the suburbs of Grandville, Michigan, and on a banana farm in the middle-of-nowhere, South Africa. I now live in a third floor apartment in Nairobi, Kenya. If I have learned one thing during my time in Africa, it is how to be content wherever I’m at. I can’t truthfully say that I have always been happy. I’ve seen sad things and been in hard situations. My joy, however, is different; I have decided that I won’t let anybody, or anything, take it from me. My God is wonderful and amazing, and I have learned how to be satisfied by Him, living continually in His presence.

For years the cry of my heart has been a line from a Tenth Avenue North song: “Satisfy me Lord; I’m begging you, help me see, you’re all I want, all I need. Satisfy me, Lord.” I’m coming to the realization that He has satisfied me; He has become my heart’s cry, my greatest desire, my burning passion. Now, because of that, I am content; my joy no longer rests on circumstances or things. I, like Paul, have learned and embraced the secret to an amazingly full and joy-filled life. What is the secret? “I can do all this through him who gives me strength.” (Philippians 4:13) He gives me His strength, and with it, I can do all things because He is my satisfaction and my source.

My Kenyan rose makes it first bloom.