there are some experiences in life that cannot be explained in words. the only people who understand how meaningful the experience was are people who shared it with you. my trip to kenya was that sort of experience.
upon arriving back home after 2 months of a life-changing adventure, all i could talk about was what i had seen, heard, tasted and touched while in africa. i was super excited and wanted to share with everyone i talked to what my trip had been like. as all returning missionaries soon find out, my excitement was not shared by everyone. after awhile, i began to see that people no longer cared to hear my stories. i learned that everyone else had been leading their normal lives while i was gone and, though they showed interest in seeing pictures and hearing a few stories, they understandably wanted to continue to lead their normal lives and thought that i should get back to leading mine. so i stopped talking about it. i bit my tongue many times before the words "this one time, in kenya" came out of my mouth.
i have kept bits of africa close to me over the past 9 years since i was there. i used my turkana basket as a hope chest and now it stores my childhood memories. my little wooden giraffe that i bought in nairobi is proudly on display in the living room, though he is missing an ear. my all time favorite picture of me and kelly on a camel taken in mombasa is enlarged and framed and graces my dresser in every house i've lived in. and, once in awhile, i'll take out the memory album i created, blow the dust off, and page through the pictures, re-visiting the little mountain town of kabartonjo.
there were 8 of us young canadians who followed our experienced missionary "parents" into the vast, unknown, gorgeous country of kenya to share God's love with highschool students. all the good intentions of keeping in touch with the other team members hadn't really been successful until the whole facebook craze began. though i'm "facebook friends" with 5 of these people, i never really connected with any of them. until laura.
from the moment we found each other on facebook, laura and i have been writing to one other regularly. thrilled at the fact that we now live in the same state, we've been planning to visit one another and, on tuesday it finally happened! though i hadn't seen laura in nearly 9 years, i wasn't a bit worried about having anything in common or what we'd talk about. sure enough, though we managed to catch up pretty well on the past 9 years, the day was filled with wonderful reminiscing. its funny how certain memories stick out in my mind from that time, and laura of course has completely different favorite memories.
we remembered meals of ugali and sukumo wiki, goat stew, chippatis and lots and lots of chai. we remembered the students who we ministered to, the friends we made, what the town looked like on market day with fruits and vegetables piled high on the sides of the street, goats and cows and chickens wandering the roads. we remembered chocolate bars that tasted mildly of moth balls, our visit to a pokot tribe and the cute missionary named jeff there who we all had secret crushes on.
we remembered when our matatu broke down at the side of the road, mosquito netting, getting our hair braided and having to wear those horrid long skirts. we remembered our three delicious days in mombasa at the end of the trip and how decadent everything felt after living in such poverty for so long. we remembered so much more, but i won't bother to write it because to you all it doesn't mean much. but i can't tell you how happy i was to have someone, for one day, really understand and remember with me. it was marvelous.