Monday, September 15, 2014


The last couple of weeks have been quite heavy for me.  The adjustment to Kenya was more difficult than I anticipated.  I miss my husband and my children.  I had to move into a room that is just big enough for the bed, no dresser, and so all my things are piled on top of each other with no where to move.  I moved into a small house with six other people who all seem to be very extroverted (and I am very introverted).  We didn't have any water on several different occasions and in one day the power went off at least twenty times.  A few days after arriving in Kitale, I had to travel again for a training near Nairobi.  And in a few days I will travel again to Ghana.  I have felt very blue.

But I didn't want to share with anyone, although Michael let me vent pretty consistently for the better part of a week, bless his heart.  He encouraged me to share and ask for prayer, but I resisted.  And I realized recently why that was.  I think it is because under the personal heaviness of moving back to Kenya by myself, there is an even greater heaviness for what I see around me.  The Ebola crisis in Liberia occupies my mind much of the time - I pray constantly for my brothers and sisters there.  My brother there shared with me that not only has the economy ground to a halt and prices of food are rising significantly, but he has to pass by countless people on his way to work who are sick with Ebola, laying outside the gate of a hospital or clinic because there aren't enough beds for them to get care. I can't imagine how heartbreaking that would be.  (How can I complain about being away from my husband and children in light of that? Or about the size of a bedroom?)

New weigh bridge in Kenya.
And this week, while conducting a training outside of Nairobi, I heard the following lament of a Kenyan business owner.  The woman I spoke with runs a construction company with her husband.  He is a contractor; she is a supplier.  She has been running this business for about 15 years and for most of those years, business was very good.  But business regulations have changed of late with the government organizing itself in different ways.  This business owner shared that there is a new fee for transport trucks on weigh bridges along the road:  there used to be no weigh bridges, but now, if your
Trucks waiting to be weighed on Kenyan roads.
truck is over 25 tons, you are fined 400,000 Kenya shillings (or $4700 US).  Trucks used to carry 50 tons in order to turn a profit.  Since they can only carry 25 tons now, those who had taken loans for their trucks are simply letting them get repossessed as they can't make a profit with these new rules. 

Permits are now required for digging sand out of the river bed and those new permits went from zero to 60,000 KSH per month (or $700 US).  Her business can't afford that (nor can the customers) and work has slowed down considerably.  She is unsure this business can continue. The challenges to do business are immense.

Add to that the insecurity issue.  I spoke to a man this week who was supplying specialty produce to hotels in Mombasa, but because of Al-Shabab most of the hotels there have closed, tourism has dried up, and he had no buyers for his product.  It all went to waste as Kenyans don't eat it.  The heaviness of doing business in this environment:  new regulations and fees at every turn and insecurity.

One of the buildings with beautifully manicured grounds at KEFRI
So...weight...heaviness...and lots of sighs.  I know that we can always find someone that has it worse than us.  I know that this world will always have troubles. Michael has reminded me over and over that just because others have it worse doesn't negate my discomfort or sadness.  But more than anything, I pray for Christ to return.  And soon.

Growing bamboo is encouraged.
Yet in the middle of this, I had the opportunity to stay at the Kenya Forestry Research Institute for several days as the training that I conducted was held here.  It was a place of beauty and forward thinking - researching trees and their uses; nurseries everywhere with people tenderly caring for these plants; carefully nurtured flowering trees and beautiful plants everywhere; it was quite and serene amidst a world that is chaotic.

This week someone posted this poem by Mary Oliver on Facebook and it resonated with me and spurred me onward:

"When it's over, I want to say: all my life
I was a bride married to amazement.
I was the bridegroom, taking the world into my arms.

When it is over, I don't want to wonder
if I have made of my life something particular, and real.
I don't want to find myself sighing and frightened,
or full of argument.

I don't want to end up simply having visited this world.”
― Mary Oliver