I think you all know that I try to be encouraging, to live with joy, to focus on God and what He has for me. Also, I think you all can tell that I’m a real person, and I try to share reality with you. Although I’m a Christ follower, I’m still a sinner. There are parts of my life here in Kenya that I really don’t like. So, that’s what this post is about. I’d like to share some aspects of my reality with you. Some will be positive things, but most will be the annoying realities of a first-world person living in a third-world country.
Reality #1: All the local produce is super cheap! Ok, sorry, I just had to start with something positive. I can get fresh, sweet pineapple for 50 cents, Roma tomatoes for 5 Ksh (that’s so cheap, I’m not even converting it!), and avocados pulled off my avocado tree for free!
Reality #2: The water is dirty. Oh, this is my biggest complaint about Tenwek! Although the river water is treated before is reaches my tap, it is still really dirty. Like visibly dirty. When I bathe the boys, the tub water is brown. Yes, the boys get ridiculously dirty, but the water is brown BEFORE they get into it! The water is so dirty that I can’t wash my hair with it. I have to warm up our filtered water in the microwave (I’m soooo blessed to have a microwave!) and then bucket wash my hair. How I wish I looked cute with really short hair!
This dirty water is also staining our clothes. Since the washing machine uses tap water, our brand new clothes look like hand-me-downs from the 5 generations ago! The water is tainted by the red soil, which is excellent for growing those fresh fruits and vegetables but horrible for keeping clothes clean. Our towels are so infiltrated with dirt that they don’t absorb water! And don’t get me started on how it’s ruined my cloth diapers! (I’m just happy that I have no kids in diapers at this point!) Gross, gross, gross! Can somebody please come drill a well so that we can have clean water??
Reality #3: The local beef isn’t refrigerated…or ground. We Kelleys feel convicted to buy locally. While many first world foods and products are available in Nairobi, it’s super expensive in both time and money to get there. Therefore, both worldly and godly wisdom tells us to buy as much locally as possible. One such food is beef. In fact, the cows are butchered behind my apartment! After much research and trepidation (remember, no refrigeration in the butcher shops), I send Joyce on a mission to buy 1 kilo of beef. She succeeded, but there’s where the second problem comes into play. The local butcheries do not have the ability (or the desire) to grind meat…
My initial thoughts was “NO problem! I found this KitchenAid meat grinder attachment for my mixer, so I can just grind the meat myself!” Grinding meat at home = epic fail. It took forever. The grinder continually clogged. My kitchen, the mixer and I were covered in raw beef. Super gross! (Hence my face in the picture.)
My solution? Buy local beef but send Joyce to the Guest House to grind it. Apparently, the Guest House has an industrial sized meat grinder that could grind a kilo of beef in a fraction of the time it took my ‘small machine’ (what Joyce called it with a disgusted look on her face). After all, the beef is super fresh as long as you buy it on the day it’s killed, it tasted great and I don’t have to drive 3 1/2 hours to buy it!
Reality #4: The raw milk smells like onions. I know that organic, raw milk is all the rage in America these days. Here, in Kenya, everybody drinks it. If you don’t, you’re just weird…or poor. (On a side note, Kenyan chai is tea + water + sugar + milk. If you drink tea without milk, it’s assumed that you’re too poor to afford a cow or milk.) The boys love the milk as long as I strain it as I pour it into their cups. However, Aaron and I can’t get past the smell. Maybe I’m just getting milk from the wrong cow, but man, does it smell!
Reality #5: My house is ugly and I can’t do much about it. The counter tops are wearing away. The bathroom has mold on the ceiling. My furniture and my curtains are frightening. Plus, none of the ugly stuff matches. I guess it’s time to order some curtains and invest in a slipcover or two. We do have plans to fix up the kitchen and build a triple bunk for the boys. We’ll see how all that goes and then make plans for the next home renovation project. At least the stencil is gone!
Reality #6: Bags of tortilla chips are not local. 😦 So, we have fresh tomatoes and avocados. I’m in the process of becoming an expert salsa-maker. Joyce has already perfected her guacamole recipes. We can make tortillas from scratch any day of the week. But we cannot find a bag of Tostitoes anywhere in Kenya! I can find good tortilla chips in Nairobi, but I’m sure you remember my mentioning of trying to buy local food. Obviously, we can bake the fresh tortillas to make homemade chips, but that’s a lot of work and they don’t store as well as the dips, which means I’d have to make tortillas and then bake them daily. Can’t a girl just buy a bag of Tostitoes?? Apparently not in Bomet! And for this Mexican-food-loving girl, this is a big disappointment.
Reality #7: The weather is always perfect. 🙂 So, I’ll end on a positive note. We just survived our first Kenyan winter. While most of you Americans were sweating and complaining about the smothering heat, we were wearing long-sleeved shirts in the mornings and cuddling up to fires in the evenings. The afternoons were still sunny and warm and perfect for outdoor fun for the boys. Even when it rains, which it does a lot during the rainy seasons, we do enjoy perfect spring-time weather the majority of the time. Who knew living so close to the equator could be so pleasant?
So, all this being said, my prayer is that you’ve laughed a little and that you’re better able to pray for me. Please know that I’m not complaining. Overall, the blessings of living in this community more than outweigh the stressors of living here. I so appreciate your big prayers on my behalf, but you know that it’s those little, daily things that are oftentimes harder to conquer than the big, once-in-a-while things. Thank you for your interest in what we are doing here in Kenya. And a bigger thank you for all your big and little prayers!
Praises and Prayer Requests:
1.) Praise God that day 2 and 3 of homeschooling with Noah went better than day 1! I covet your ongoing prayers about my relationship with Noah, our school time and our fun times. I just love that kid and know that God has great plans for him, but I oftentimes don’t feel capable of raising him or teaching him.
2.) Praise God that Aaron’s headaches and neck aches have not recurred! He’s been exercising and eating better. Plus, some of the long-term doctors have returned so his workload has lessened a little.
3.) Praise God for water filters, rain tanks, washing machines, electricity, internet and so many other things that make life so much healthier and easier!
4.) Please continue to pray for school. We all start on Monday!
5.) Pray for Kenyan students. They will start their third term of the year on Monday. School can be very expensive but is very highly valued by many Kenyans. Please pray that the students will have the resources (money, uniforms, and school supplies) to re-enter school on Monday.