Has it gone fast or slow? I'm not a good one to ask, since this experience, like almost all experiences to me, was simultaneously incredibly fast and slow. A few weeks ago, I was orienting a new American student, and one of the Kenyan interns asked me, "Are you going to take tea?" The American brightened and said, "That's how they say it? They take tea?" I have no idea when (if ever) that became normal, but I know it's been a very long time.
And that's a fun part of making a new home, when the things that were so hard and unfamiliar become easy and second nature. When you start to automatically interject Swahili into a conversation. When you know a "back way" to avoid traffic jams in Nairobi. When you can reminisce with new friends about "old times". And all of this is true here.
Yet a sense of home, in some ways, remains beyond our grasp. The feel is much different compared to when I had been in Ann Arbor for a year. We're still on the outside in many ways, and there are still many things we don't understand, and many who don't understand us. And this can result in pangs of homesickness at the strangest time. I can be stopped in my tracks by a couple random leaves falling or by a brief chill breeze and the sight of my breath on a particularly chilly Kenyan morning. Or the memory of talking with a patient from my own culture. Or the idea of having well-marked roads and an accurate road map. The point is not that our current situation is all that inconvenient, but that all these past familiarities seem so very far away.
My niece is getting older everyday, and I've never met her.
On January 8th, we'll celebrate intern graduation, and this group of Kenyan interns will look back at an internship that we were all present the entire year for.
And my time here is also my time away from home, and thus my life is full of such juxtapositions. God has given us much grace, and I would say that it hasn't been as hard as I thought it would be or as hard as it is for many people. Thank you for your prayers, and today we celebrate.
"I'm home anywhere if you are where I am." - Rich Mullins