Reflections on the Future
“So…you’re traveling alone?” he asked with confusion.
“And you have…twelve…checked bags?”
“Yes, yes I do.”
When you cart half of the possessions of a family of four halfway around the world, you can expect a few stares and more than a few questions. This was how it went in London. Similar scenarios played out when I checked my bags in Houston (where the gate agent was so appalled at what I paid in bag fees that she gave me a priority boarding stamp), and in Nairobi (where the customs agent was so overwhelmed by the sheer volume that he just waved me through).
This is not the first time, nor the last, that I will do crazy things in response to God’s voice.
You want to hear something crazier? Those 12 checked bags, including 10 black and yellow totes, a guitar, and a suitcase, all made it from Houston to Nairobi on time and undamaged. And some people don’t believe in miracles!
With three carts, and help from a couple of new Kenyan friends, we rolled my “half-life” through the airport and stacked it into a safari van (my friend Peter had the foresight to remove the back seats). After a good night’s sleep (or as good as I could expect after a 20+ hour transatlantic journey across eight timezones) we awoke the next morning and made the 100 mile journey to Nakuru, the city we will call home for the foreseeable future.
Moving those plastic bins into our new house was somewhat anticlimactic – over in just a few minutes – but the statement it made was profound. “We are here!” Well, at least our stuff is there. The four of us will be back soon.
I was fortunate to spend about a week in our Nakuru house. In that time, I came to appreciate the beauty of our wooded yard, the serenity of the midday silence, and the wonder of the starry night sky. I also began to imagine that house becoming a home – filled with laughter and life, with friends and family, with hope for tomorrow. In my time there, I glimpsed the future, and I liked what I saw.
I also had a lot to accomplish. First on the agenda was some shopping. Not only did I need to purchase some of the big ticket items we would need when we arrive in July, but I needed some things for me to survive the week! My first trip to Nakumatt (the local “they have everything” store) after my arrival was a retail brainstorming session. “I need towels if I want to take a shower. I need a trash can. Oh, and water if I don’t want to be a dehydrated mass on the floor.” I left that day with the necessities. I came back later for the big stuff.
I arrived on Saturday, and by Monday, I was helping our friends Len and Susan Eastwood settle into the place. Len and Susan are playing the role of caretaker (and so much more) until we arrive. Once the Eastwoods were on the scene, we began assessing the situation in more detail. There was work to be done trimming back the copious amounts of foliage in the front yard, prepping the backyard shamba (vegetable garden), and making a few repairs to the 35 year old house. Len is a champ. Not only were my suggestions always met with an “I’ll take care of it,” but often with better suggestions (and more time-consuming ones for Len).
Once we had a running punch-list, it was time for the heavy stuff. I headed into town and purchased all the appliances that most Kenyan’s don’t use, but which we westerners think are necessary – refrigerator, cooker (stove/oven), microwave, and clothes washer. Without exception, they are all smaller than what we have in the U.S., but cost the same or more. This is the reality of living in Kenya (and much of Africa). It is not, as some would suppose, “cheap” to live here.
In addition to scratching some items off the to-do list while I was there, I also got to do some of the fun stuff – seeing old friends and meeting new ones. On my first day in Nakuru, I discovered that our friends Bill and Chat Coble were leaving the next day for Nairobi and wouldn’t be back until after I left. A few messages back and forth netted me an invitation to dinner that night (always a joy when Bill is cooking).
Now, there are a few things to understand when you are invited for dinner in Kenya, even if the host is a guy from North Carolina. First, you aren’t going to eat until the stars are out. It’s not uncommon to take the first bite at 9:00pm. Second, there’s no such thing as a “quick bite”. Knowing this, and knowing how jet lagged I was, I took a nice 3 hour nap before heading to the Coble’s that night. In truth, had it not been their last night in town, I probably wouldn’t have gone, but I’m sure glad I did.
As we sat around in the living room before dinner, I had a chance to catch up with Bob and Jeanna, friends and partners with the Cobles whom Melody and I met on a previous trip. Bob and Jeanna visit Nakuru regularly and they were finishing up a 3 week trip – leaving the next morning. As we talked, I discussed our summer pre-departure timeline, which involves a 5 week road trip that I’ve dubbed “The Farewell Tour.”
As I expressed my desire and prayer that God would provide an RV for us to use on this trip, I watched the expression change on Jeanna’s face. I explained that I was praying for a God-ordained encounter with someone who owned an RV and had a heart for missions. In that moment, I watched Bob go from “engaged” to “I’m your guy.”
You see, Bob and Jeanna happen to have an RV. They also happen to be about as missions-minded as anyone I know. Instantly, they offered to allow us to use their RV for the entire 5 week trip. I was floored. I had faith that God would provide the RV, but I had no idea how he would do it.
Reflecting back, I realized something about these events. You see, God has called us to invest in relationship with the people of Nakuru. Bill and Chat are a couple we’ve begun investing in. And out of a desire to connect with them, I happened to be in their house the night before Bob and Jeanna left the country. God honored my commitment to that relationship by providing a vehicle that will make a 5 week road trip with a 4 year old and 1 year old much more bearable.
I had so many other incredible conversations on that trip. I met new people and reconnected with old friends. Mostly, I met God’s calling for our family face to face, and throughout my time there, I could see the signposts along the way, pointing toward God’s preferred future.
It’s just about time to gas up and go!