Karibu Rafikis! So we’ve been in Kenya for a week and two days! Bonsai says that is was our 1 week Kenya-verisary. He’s so goofy. We have been in TOT training for the past 5 days-TOT is “training of trainers”. It’s the training that LIA uses to train the volunteers in the churches that serve in the communities. Our days have been long and we’ve had a lot of information poured into our heads—I’m pretty sure we are all trying to process it. We’ve all definitely had to remember that we are on Kenya time and to just be patient and FLEXIBLE when the schedule doesn’t go as planned. We are training with 20ish other people from 5 African nations---so it’s like Africa-time on steroids! Overall, we are very thankful to have the opportunity to take part in the TOT training especially with people from multiple different nations. It’s been awesome seeing all these different cultures come together and to have a look into their worlds. It’s cool how diverse we all are as individuals and as cultures and nations, yet we are all under the same sky. We all serve the same Almighty God who is the King of kings and Lord of lords. We are brothers and sisters even though our worlds are so far apart—literally and figuratively.
Anyway, we haven’t gotten out in the field yet, but spending so much time with Kenyans (9.5 hours a day) definitely taught us a lot about the Kenyan culture. Here are some of the things we have learned so far:
- At least 7 different styles of clapping. If you are like me, you probably thought there was only 1 type of clapping. Well you are wrong—we have learned several different styles of clapping as we’ve appreciated each speaker at the end of each training session. They have varied from starting the clap with one finger and adding a finger after 5 claps to giving “a round of applause” where you clap while moving your arms in a circle. The Kenyans just love having fun and mixing things up from the traditional.
- The Kenyan way of dining is different from our culture. They mainly eat with their hands…I mean everything is eaten with their hands except for rice and a few other items. In some tribes its considered rude to eat with a fork. Our new friend Steve showed us how they ball up ugali (mashed potato looking stuff made out of corn and flour) and then they dip it in their stew or vegetables. Also, you are considered greedy if you don’t finish the food on your plate. So we have all been sure to finish our food so we don’t seem like greedy Americans.
- Kenyans LOVE shaking hands—it’s their form of greeting and you better believe that every person in the room gets greeted. It really speaks of how relational their culture is because no one gets overlooked. But I’ve learned at least 5 different handshakes or fist bumps.
- Kenyans speak at least two languages. They definitely put us Americans to shame in the language department. While a majority of us only speak English and rely on the fact that a majority of the world speaks English—Kenyans speak their mother (tribal) tongue, Swahili, and English. The best part about this is Bonsai’s joke that he tells EVERYONE he meets that’s not American. The joke goes:
“What do you call someone who speaks 3 or more languages?” “Multilingual”; “What do you call someone who speaks 2 languages?” “Bilingual”; “What do you call someone who only speaks one language?” “An American!”
Hahahahahahaha he has told that joke to every person in our TOT training which is like 30 people, every LIA staff he’s met, and some people from Holland. It’s his token joke and I crack up every time I hear him ask someone if they want to hear a joke.
- Kenyan Christians believe in the power of prayer! Man, can these brothers and sisters pray. I’ve been so inspired and impressed by their prayer life. They pray before and after every session and before every meal or tea time. I just love how they surrender EVERY thing into God’s hands.
And there ya have it folks…it’s definitely been an adjustment to culture, but the transition has been smooth and interesting. God has been so good to us as we’ve settled down into a new culture and adjusted to living with 7 other people (Mi2s plus our Sudanese roommate and Egyptian roommate). I’m excited to wrap training up next week and to get some hands on experience in the communities where LIA works.
Tomorrow we will be taking a day trip to Makueni which is a county that LIA serves in with 5 partner churches. We will be going to attend church and to learn a bit from the pastors, the TOTs, and the CHEs (community health evangelists) so that we can see real life application to better understand all that we have been learning in TOT training this past week.
So how can you pray for us?
· Team Unity: It’s been great so far, but we are not naïve to the fact that we will have conflict so just pray that even in conflict we can be united and strengthened as a result. Also, as we start engaging in ministry in the next week or so the enemy will try to divide us, so pray that we will be a firm support for each other and that our bonds will stay strong by the power and grace of God.
· Spirit reliance and Spirit led: We will be engaging in more ministry activities within the next week so please pray that we will be fully led the Holy Spirit in action and in deed.
· Time for prayer: We have been having such long days and having so much information poured into us that when we get home we either want to sleep or just hang out with each other. I know that I’ve struggled with disciplining myself to spend time with my Father and I feel like we are all struggling with that to a degree. So just pray that we are hungry and desperate for his presence and that we can discipline ourselves.
Thanks so much for all your prayers, love, and support! We appreciate you all and love you! -Amy!