My wife and I recently returned from an incredible trip to Kenya. We went to spend time with our son, daughter in law and 5 of our grandkids. We were in Kenya 22 years ago and fell in love with the people and the country, so this trip had great meaning for us on many levels. I have been reflecting on our trip the past few days since we have returned home. Here are some lessons learned on this trip …
… I viewed everything I saw on this trip much differently than the trip 22 years ago. My first trip to Kenya was for a specific purpose of speaking in a few churches and to an annual retreat for a group of missionaries. I knew a handful of the missionaries before I arrived, but I had not known them for long. This trip I was visiting my own flesh and blood. I viewed everything, and everyone, I saw through the lens of how what I was seeing impacted the lives of my family. That changed how I looked at everything.
… I was deeply impacted by the experience of being in places that were out of my comfort zones. I was the foreigner. I sometimes looked different and I certainly sounded differently than those for whom this was their home territory. I really spent a lot of time during our trip thinking about being in unfamiliar places. When I encounter people in my church who are new to our church they are in unfamiliar territory. I am praying that I am more sensitive to the fears and concerns of people who are in places that are out of their comfort zones, in and out of the church.
… I flew on 6 different planes and they were operated by 3 different companies. My conclusion is that customer service, from those at the gates, to pilots, to baggage handlers, to the flight attendants, makes a huge difference in my impression of whether I had a good or bad flight. Let me just say that of the 3 airline companies, Delta was far above the other 2 when it came to customer service. This experience will influence my future airline choices.
… Jetlag is a very real thing when you cross several time zones.
… We worry way too much about little critters that crawl or fly in the U.S.
… It is customary in Kenya that if someone speaks to you, you will take the time to speak with them no matter what you are currently doing. I think that is a healthier way to live, but I don’t know how to do make it fully work in our time focused culture.
… The idea of personal space is much, much different in the U.S. than it is in Kenya. If you struggle with people invading your personal space, including on the highway, you will not enjoy a visit to Kenya.
… Technology is changing the world. Even in remote spaces in Kenya people have cell phones and many have other communication options as well.
… Time is viewed much differently in Kenya, and “on time” has a whole different meaning. This would take some major adjustments on my part if this was where I served. (Those who have worked with me are smiling at this last understatement.)
… I miss being able to be with my kids and grandkids on a regular basis. I love the reasons we are not able to be together. I love that my family is serving Christ and others wherever they believe the Lord is leading them. That being said, it doesn’t mean I don’t miss them.
… I was once again reminded that the world is a big place and that my part of it is small. I was once again reminded that my God is big and he created an amazing world.
Here’s hoping you are learning new things about yourself and the world each and every day.