Thursday, February 21, 2008

fondest memories

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.

the only thing i would change about tuesday if i could is to rewind to the point where we went to starbucks. i definitely would NOT have ordered my mocha made with soy milk. it was a first for me and also a last. thank you, laura for trekking down to my neck of the woods and remembering with me :)


Ken, Natalie & Liam said...

I can completely relate- I felt the same way after returning from Thailand. After moving last month I came across my album that I did up from my trip... brought back a lot of wonderful memories. That's great that you were able to reconnect with your friend!

Aimee said...

Great post Heidi. Loved the little peek into your trip and to the feelings surrounding coming home. Glad you and Laura got to reconnect!

Grandma J. said...

Heidi, I hope I wasn't one to have a glazed eye look as you wanted to relate stories - I know that time in Africa matured you and strengthened you in your faith. Thanks for sharing about your day with Laura.

Megan said...

My name is Megan Beck. I have read your blog for awhile now and am touched by this last post of yours. When I was young my family went to Kenya lived there for 3 months as missionaries. It was a time for me that I too will never forget. If there is one place that I would love to take my husband and children one day it would be to the Masi Mara. The beauty and elegance of God's creation there is breathtaking. I can truly say I understand the feelings that you felt when you returned. I can only imagine how your time with your friend would have is in those times that are truly meaningful and special. Thanks for helping me remember one of the places that I will forever love and cherish.

running wildly said...

Just so you know, I'm still contemplating joining your "fit girlie club." I've even taken the photos. But now, I've got to gain the confidence to join and post them.
Can you send me the link and I'll sit on it for a while until I'm ready?!

Janet said...

That is awesome. I haven't traveled out of the U.S. Someday Daniel would love to return to Germany. Thanks for sharing, I am slowly but surely getting to know you. LOL!

Cherie said...

Ahhhh I hate ugali!!! its so disgusting!! chippoties were amazing though:)

Kathy said...

Heidi, How special that you got to share beloved memories with your friend. Isn't that something about having different favorite memories. I find that with my brother and our childhood. He'll say, "You DON'T remember THAT??" in sort of a disgusted way. I am SUPPOSED to remember all his memories :)

Thoughts on Life and Millinery. said...

Oh Heidi, isn't it difficult to read about all that is happening in Kenya now?
We have students from there at my college, and all us faculty members have been advised to be mindful of what trama they are going through right now. I always wanted to visit Kenya, and now I wonder if and when it will ever become a safe place to visit again, and also how the missionaries are doing.

I loved reading your happy memories, you were so blessed to be able to do such a wonderful trip.

Lovella said...

Heidi, we had a wonderful speaker from Kenya a few Sunday's ago. I wish I could have read this post first. My heart broke for the people of Kenya and all they are struggling through.
As usual. .I felt a little goosebumpy when reading your writing. You have the ability to draw memories and emotions out of all of us as we read.

lil said...

It's been fun reading your blog about Africa, and also the comments. Just wanted you to check out another blog of a friend of ours from Cranny. It's at, and Rachel has been in Uganda for several years.

Check it out sometime.

lil said...

Sorry, Heidi, it's plural "places4ewe" and then the rest. =)