Thursday, September 21, 2006

What a fun day!

When I got up this morning, I was tired. I had gone to bed around 2 am again, having been working on work e-mails, sending out invoices for teams, responding to visitors' questions. I so wished I could just roll over and sleep for another 2 hours or so, but sleeping beyond 7 a.m. always makes me feel like I'm not only wasting a day, but sleeping my life away. I know. It doesn't make sense when you stay up till 2 a.m., but nevertheless.

So I got up, took a longer-than-usual shower, and decided to get dressed nicely and put on make-up for a change. Seriously! When you're living in what sometimes feels like an igloo (when I don't go outside but just stay hidden indoors to work), it makes no sense to dress nicely and look presentable. But I know that whenever I just lounge around in sweats and a T-shirt all day, I feel just like I look... Decided that today won't be such a day. Got ready to work. Searched everywhere for Barra Barra (he had climbed up on my curtains from his plant and I found him on the curtain rod!), made breakfast, and had a wonderful date with Jesus.

Got a good amount of work done, including going over to the Children's Home to take photos for the New Covenant team of a paint project they'll be working on. Stopped by Nelson and Dorcas' home for a short visit and was blessed by their hearts. Came back for more work, and then needed to head to town to buy groceries. (Having instant noodles for dinner doesn't work for me! I like cooking, even though I cook for just one most of the time.)

As I was heading out, the kids were going back to school after their lunch break. Raymond desperately wanted to hold onto my car, standing on the little step by my door, but there's no way I'd drive like that. So I said, "You want to hop in?" No sooner had I said that, or there were at least 15 children in my car! It was the BIGGEST THRILL to them to be driven to school--all of 100 yards! You could see how proud they were to be dropped off at the gate! Most of the kids had never ridden in my car, so they just loved it! They were giggling the entire way! (On a side note, I think the young boys think I'm cool because the Band-Aid on my hand is of The Incredibles. Not that they know The Incredibles, but hey, anyone who wears superhero Band-Aids has to be cool! Or so it seems, at least, judging from their inquisitive smiles.)

I drove to town with a smile on my face, having been blessed by the kids' exuberance. (And blown away by the strange traffic along the way. I don't know what they'rd called, but there were at least 7 of these big farming truck thingamajigs were on the road. Nope, there were no accompanying vehicles. No danger signs. No red flags. You just look up and BAM! there's this huge thing that takes up the entire road, and you have to literally drive off the road to get by.)

In town, I ran all my errands and was truly blessed by the littlest things, like my conversation with Josh, the vegetable vendor on the street market, by comments from the clerk in the stationary store, the friendliness of the baker's son, the pride of one of our staff in a publication he had put together, the smile of the Post Office clerk.

Ah, the Post Office. Posta Kenya, it's called. It's one of many not-too-well-run government agencies, if you ask me. They have signs up about how important the customer is, but somehow, the clerks usually seem as excited about life and their jobs as DMV staff, despite the praise and worship music that plays on their PA system! You'd arrive at the packages counter, for example, at 2 p.m. on a Friday. The sign says, "Office Hours: 8-5" but no-one's there. You ask at the next counter to be told "Sorry, she already left. Come back tomorrow." Anyway, I try to be friendly to the Posta staff, because, well, simply because I'm supposed to be. Even when they're not.

I headed over to the Packages counter in a little side room. No-one there. Went to the EMS desk (like FedEx) next door to enquire if anyone's around.

"Just wait," the lady said, not bothering to call someone.

When the clerk showed up, she had a big smile on her face. "Habari! I haven't seen you in a long time!" She started frantically searching for my package, looking in every book they have for where it might be filed... "Are you sure you have not picked this one?" she asked. (Kenyans say pick, not pick up.)

"I'm sure," I responded with a smile. In fact, I wasn't annoyed. In my mind, I was wondering if the Posta would want to hire me to figure out a good system for them to file stuff! Weird, I know. But I like figuring out systems... And no, I'm not really planning on consulting for them.

After at least 20 minutes, they found my package. "Does she not have to pay?" one clerk asked. (You sometimes get charged import tax on packages. This far, I've never had to pay tax on a package!)

"No. She doesn't."

That simple.

They hadn't even opened the box. In it, my friend Nina had sent me no fewer than 20 new DVDs! (Most of them movies for the kids. Some, fun movies for me to watch, sans kids.) And lots of fun treats from Taiwan. And great sermon CDs. Not that they'd charge me for the funny treats, (especially not the dried fish), nor probably for the sermons. But the DVDs? You bet they would've charged me. But not today. Yeah God.

But the day didn't end there. As I was driving home, munching away on the dried fish snacks (which, by the way, tastes like fishy paper, but I like it nevertheless. It's an Asian treat. I don't like the actual little dried fishies with their eyes staring at you. But fish jerky? You bet!) I marveled at God's goodness. I stopped by our neighboring rose farm and once again was blessed by the staff's friendliness. "Adele!" they said as I walked in. "Karibu!" (Welcome!) And then... "Someday, maybe you can pay for me to go overseas, yes?" Yeah. Riiiiiight.

As I got home, Mary Kay called from Cedar Rapids. Just to say hi and to talk about the 4th graders "adopting" me as their missionary this year. Had a blast visiting with her.

And now? I'm waiting for kuku (chicken) to thaw to make chicken soup. (I might have to make something else tonight. The kuku seems far from thawed! In fact, I'll just invite some guests for some chicken soup tomorrow night. It'll most likely be raining then, too. The rainy season's officially over, but in real life, it's far from over.) I'm heading out to drop off some roses for friends on our compound, though the rain is causing me to consider going out later. (Later: I went right away in any case, not thinking to put on my gumboots. Not good. Heavy rain + muddy compound = my sneakers need to be washed. Again.) And then? Then my real work day can begin... In fact, it's almost 8 p.m. There are about another 5 working hours left in this day! Though, tonight, I'm kinda tempted to just pop in one of the DVDs Nina's sent me. Want to join me? While I wait for you, I'll get comfy and put on some sweats. And listen to the pounding rain...

Disclaimer: Just in case you read this wondering if I really don't work during the day... I do! In fact, some of my Kenyan colleagues are concerned about how little I leave my home office during the day most days! But as you can see, a simple task as "Run to town. Buy eight wall tiles, bread, soup ingredients, and flowers" typically turns into a 3-hour excursion. Life takes time out here. As they say, There's no hurry in Africa. Most days, that mentality can drive me up the walls. Today, however, I was able to simply enjoy the people God brought across my path! In the process, it turned out to be a fun, fun day.

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