Moving, and moving on

During a time when it has seemed that life was put on hold, someone suddenly skipped over the 'play' button and went right to 'fast-forward'. On Friday we drove to Ohio, on Sunday the church voted resoundingly in favor of calling Chad as Pastor to Crossing Community Church, and on Monday we went into contract on a new home near the church. We had driven a car-full of packed suitcases and boxes up to Ohio, in what I like to call optimistic planning...but I refused to unpack the car until the vote came in--I may be optimistic, but I'm no fool!

Monday, I drove back to North Carolina, Chad followed on Wednesday, and on Friday I flew out for Kenya, to pack up or sell every earthly belonging we had that wasn't in either the pathetically few boxes now sitting in a garage in Ohio, or sitting in a different garage in Oregon.

The trip was uneventful, other than a few funny anecdotes appreciated most by those who fly frequently. The TSA man who had to specially x-ray the tubes of canned biscuits I was taking to a friend (who will remain anonymous, to protect her from the shame of loving canned biscuits!) to ensure they weren't explosive putty, and then who agreed to allow them long as my unnamed friend would put cinnamon on them. The particular joy of realizing that this introvert hadn't had to say anything more than, 'thank you' and 'chicken, please' in over 30 hours. The pleasure of catching up on several movies without having to pay a cent (other than the ridiculous airline ticket).

I was in Nairobi for 9 days. That's hardly long enough to get over jet-lag, let alone process, sort, pack, and sell 5 years worth of life. I say 5 years, because we've done this before. After 3 1/2 years in Malawi, we sold everything, packed a few suitcases, and started all over in Kenya. And before that, we packed a few suitcases in Washington and started over in Malawi. And before that, we packed a U-haul in Ohio, and started over in Washington State. And now, full circle, we start over. again. in Ohio. We could have just saved ourselves all the packing and stayed in Ohio!!!

But of course, we couldn't have. In the deeper, truer way, we couldn't have because that wouldn't have been obedient. And obedience is what we strive for. In the true but philosophical way, we couldn't have because we would have missed out on so many lessons, so much wisdom, such deep experience. In a shallow way, what fun would that have been? When I feel introspective, I see that who I am is a composite of all I've known in the adventures God has taken us on. When I feel trivial, I relish the opportunity to pick new dishes that reflect my 40-year-old taste rather than be stuck with the wedding set I picked out at 21. And without an ounce of guilt over setting aside perfectly good dishes in the name of changing taste!!

So, back to Kenya. I sorted, and I made decisions on what to keep and what to sell. How to keep representations of our African lives without holding on to mere possessions. I'm sure I sold things I should have kept, and kept things I should have sold. But I won't know that for a few more months; until we're settled, all the bags trickle in from Kenya and can be unpacked in a new place. Until then, I'll just feel good about what I accomplished in 9 days, and in the future, I'll give myself grace and remember that I did well considering I only had 9 days.

As expected, selling belongings we loved was hard...especially our dining room set. That table
represented so much fellowship, and so much family time, and so much LIFE. And the family who bought it was typical in their culture's bargaining style. "Oh, look at this scratch. We'll have to do tons of work to get it presentable." "All this damage makes it not worth nearly that much". 'Insult. Insult. Shame. Insult." And they walked away with my precious table for a steal, knowing all along that the minor marks were inconsequential and even part of the beauty. Oh well. I knew I loved that table, and I knew I would have another table soon, with new marks of life.

Also, as expected, it was painful beyond words to say goodbye to my friends. To walk away from the most supportive, challenging, 'we-are-together' community I've felt since high-school--it just felt like insanity! Who leaves that once it's found??? Kenyan and American alike, I had friends there--deep friends who knew me at my worst and still loved me. Life overseas has a way of reducing you to the core, of removing all the crutches and the privacy and the walls we build around our public vs private. I grieve that loss still.

But during most of the time, I just slipped back into the rhythm of life. I drove on the left side of the road without any re-calibration needed. I found and used my horn liberally, weaving in and out of buses and matatus like a pro. I even remembered to grab the TP from the dispenser on the wall before going into a stall...I mean, really!!! I enjoyed the birds and the sun and the rain on the tin roof. I hated the traffic with as much venom as ever. I ate mangos and finger-bananas and avocado with relish, and I drank pots of coffee.

But I didn't go to my plantation and buy coffee, or have it delivered by Peter, my dealer. For the past year, I've had a steady supply of beans--first from my own brilliance to pack 12 lbs in my luggage last June, and then when that wasn't enough, from those dear friends who continued to feed my addiction--Lynsi, and Mamma Mary, and Amy who kept it flowing my way. For 1 full year, I have not had to buy the American excuse for coffee. It was a source of pride and joy and a way to hold on to Kenya. Why adjust to mediocre coffee if you don't have to? But it's no longer sustainable. I can no longer refuse to adjust. And once it's time to move's just time to move on.

So I didn't cry too much. And while I loved every bit of my time there, I felt a sense of surrender to leaving again. I wouldn't have chosen to close this chapter. I wouldn't have chosen to move on. But it's clear that the time has come, and it doesn't make sense to pretend otherwise. So I left the amazing coffee with my amazing friends, packed up 12 suitcases to be transported by various people over various trips, and got on the plane after 9 wonderful days.

Before I left, I stopped and used my last 1000 shillings to buy a hand-made Kenyan mug. Just as my life has been, so it shall be. I may not be drinking my Kenyan brew, but I can hold my new drinks in my Kenyan cup, and so my blessings over-flow in a weird but wonderful mixture of past and present, with hope for the future. 


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