Local Time in Korr, Kenya

Saturday, May 25, 2013

It All Changes and It All Stays The Same

As we descended into the Kaisut Desert in our 12-seater bush plane, I could feel it; the vibrating life of my Kenyan home. Intense heat radiated off the white sand and black volcanic rock while the equatorial sun itself pulsed through the carbon fiber fuselage. Ruthie and I had our noses squished up against the windows trying to rush ahead of the plane to the “life” that we already recognized as home.

 Another staple that warms my heart are the early morning moonscapes in Korr. They are stunners.
Stepping outside, we were then hit with the wonderful wave of scents that we so fondly remember: acrid smoke, goats and camels, the Rendille’s leathery skin heavily marinated in red ochre, tea, and milk… And then there are the sounds I love. Rustling camel bells, warriors chanting somewhere off in the distance (the Rendille are currently celebrating “Il Muket”, a ceremony in which the male age groups are graduated on to the next social level), and a heavy desert wind punctuated by high pitched shouts of Rendille mommas make me feel like I haven’t been gone a day.

However, I have been gone. More than a day. Little things remind me of this. The curtains on the Propst’s windows have now been tattered and torn by sunlight and wind. There has been a new bird screen installed around the entire church to keep the pesky pigeons (and their excrement) off the pews. Tirrim Secondary School is now the proud owner of two all-wheel-drive school buses, prominently parked in the yard. Trees I remember as saplings are now a couple feet taller.

More noticeable aspects of change confront me as well, like the fact that my students all suddenly look like adults! The boys tower above me and the girls have trimmed their hair into incredible short pixie cuts. Their smiles are the same, as are their voices, but they’ve grown up in both stature and attitude. Some students are totally missing, having moved on to different schools or graduated. Furthermore, there are now four new short-termer missionary ladies living in “my” house. I do love what they’ve done with the place, though. I’m especially happy that they have kept my maps pinned to the wall with the star stickers indicating the homes of all short-termers, past and present. “Waakh Keene from San Francisco” still sticks! Nick and Lynne Swanepoel, with whom I lived for 6 months in 2011 and was generally close to throughout my service, are no longer living in Korr full time, preferring rather to spend some months in the southern town of Nanyuki, helping transfer leadership over to the church in Korr. I am also thrown-off by the fact that I have no marking or lesson plans to do in the afternoons! What?!

As I sit here in my kanga (a ladies’ skirt-wrap gifted to me by my beloved student Catherine) and drink my “iced” coffee (lukewarm, in all honesty), I fight against my nature to admit that change can be good. Trouble comes in life, whether it’s our spiritual life or our daily comings and goings, when we stagnate. Stagnation, I’ve learned, drains you of a crucial quality that God intends for human existence: growth. So, in the deepest part of my soul, I am happy that the Rendille, my students, and the Korr missionaries have been developing and changing in their various ways. But, I must admit that these changes will take time for me to process and set aside the twinge of disappointment for not being here to see the growth firsthand.


One major thing that has not changed – my relationship with my Rendille momma, Nareyo. We were so happy to see each other for the first time in a year and a half that she literally picked me up off the ground while we were hugging! Here we are with the blanket I gifted her. It’s a fleece blanket, but she swore it wasn’t too hot to wear in the middle of the day… Sweet lady.

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