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Sunday, January 22, 2012

Home Base

in the last few weeks we've been blessed with a number of visitors. Africans always see visitors as a great blessing, and since my cooking is usually a topic of Swahili vocab and conversation with my teacher, whenever I say that we have guests he is exceedingly happy on my behalf. A family of missionaries in which the father was long-ago an RVA student coming to reconnect, kids who attend school coming a day or two early to get over jet lag, a single missionary from a remote and hard-to-live place coming for some family time, a family from a remote area of East Africa coming to investigate enrolling their child at RVA, a mom coming to check on one of her boarding kids, medical students and residents from the US coming to learn and explore and ponder their futures. Some of these have slept here, others we put up in the local guest house and just had over for meals. Many conversations, good meals, lingering, movies and games and fireside fellowship, tours and introductions, and some prayers.

I was praying with one of the long-term station women on Thursday, and we talked about this role God has given us in our lives here. The role of home base. Of safe spot to return to, to launch from. Of accessible food and medical care, of organized worship and recreation, of abundance of relationship. Kijabe and RVA are like the hub at the center of the wheel of missions in East Africa. People pass through because they have history here, or friends. Or because they're sick and need care. Or because their kids are here.

This is not always felt to be a very glorious role, particularly for the women who are mostly consumed with being moms. But I believe it is a crucial one. Because I've seen it, a good number of times, from the other side. We were once the people passing through. We first came here for safety when preterm labor threatened our baby, and stayed for a good delivery. We came here again in a time of war and upheaval and uncertainty and found a healing rhythm of work and community. We passed through other times to attend conferences and visit friends. And twice for life-saving medical care and surgery (Scott with a serious leg infection accompanying a visitor with an appendix disaster; and Jack with an incarcerated hernia). Until a year ago, Kijabe was a place whose existence allowed us to survive, and to continue living on a dangerous front line. RVA was a place which allowed our two oldest to progress further in school without having to return to America. The existence of this sprawling station with its resources was a safety net for us.

Now we are starting our second year here, appropriately, with a spurt of visitors who are using the net, touching the home base, as we once did. Now we're the people who provide the listening ear, the meals, the arrangements. It is different from the rest of our life in Africa, to be sitting on this breezy porch on a Sunday afternoon, undisturbed. To have a cold electric fridge that we just stocked with easily 15-20 different varieties of fruits and vegetables. To have a washing machine that churns out clean clothes for our travelers. To have heard a very good sermon in English with modern praise songs and American handshakes afterwards. To be able to send this post by a fast and fairly reliable internet connection.

In Genesis, Abraham and family were continually promised a land that they would use to be a blessing to others. A nation that blessed the nations. Kenya does flow, literally, with milk and honey, with dairy projects and bee hives. I still miss so much of Bundibugyo, but I do embrace the home base role, and pray that each person who passes through our life here will be strengthened and blessed for the journey.


KenyaBird said...

Thanks Jennifer. I needed to be reminded of that. Hard to embrace that role of serving others. But I am sure that God has us here for that purpose. As we pray for others, serve meals, encourage; provide fellowship, refreshment and rest; it helps enable others to go out to the tougher places. But sometimes I just want that rest and refreshment all for myself!! Haha. God is good.

Anonymous said...

What is an American Handshake?

The Bergs said...

Loved this post. Thanks. Hope we'll get to meet in person sometime this year. Maybe we'll even get to use that washing machine.....or be one of those families on your porch for an hour or so....

David and Sunshine Okken said...

Hello Jennifer! I love reading your blog and would love to someday come over there and see Kajabe and visit with you all. You are in our prayers.