Thursday, December 10, 2015

A Season of Rest and Final Preparations

It was a cool and cloudy day last week when I said to Eli, "I feel like I'm breathing deeply for the first time in months."  I was resting in my favorite recliner, nursing our baby, and not thinking about anything else but being present in that moment.  I literally took a deep breath and let it out slowly.  My soul was at rest.

It's a bit of an understatement to say that we've had a busy year, but...we've had a busy year.  We began training and fundraising on top of visiting family we hadn't seen in too long.  We traveled by plane eight times...and those were just the times we took our children with us.  We've sent more emails and made more phone calls than any other year because it's true what people say: preparing for long-term missions is like acquiring a part-time job.  We've made new friends in the process (and have deepened existing friendships) and have let our hearts and minds expand as our circle of friends does too.  And we added a new member to our missionary team by doing this not-so-little thing called "having a baby" which made our hearts and minds expand further still.  So we've had a busy year, but God has been gracious to sustain us as we've cast our cares on Him (Psalm 55:22) and now we've entered a new season: a season of rest and final preparations.

A beautiful thing about resting is that it's part of our final preparations before heading to Kenya.  We don't want to be tapped when it's time to go and be so exhausted that we're unable to function when we get there.  We don't need to go full-speed till the day we get on the plane; life has enough things to keep us busy as it is.  Dishes need to be washed, children need to be fed, potty accidents need to be cleaned up, emails need to be answered, groceries need to be bought.  So in this season of rest and final preparations, we're acknowledging what else needs to be done: candles need to be burned, chocolate needs to be eaten, naps need to be taken, Tickle Monsters need to visit, Netflix needs to be watched.  We are doing this to refill our empty tanks and breathe deeply before going to the mission field.

We're also doing some fun things during this season of rest to further prepare ourselves for living in Kenya.  First things first: learning to drink chai.

People in Kenya drink chai, or so I'm told.  The problem?  I don't like tea.  Or coffee, for that matter.  My hot beverage of choice is hot chocolate, which isn't that popular even here in the States let alone overseas.  But I knew that virtually anywhere else in the world we ended up, I'd have to learn how to drink tea.  I put it off and put it off, but yesterday I finally began the endeavor to achieve this goal.  My best friend likes chai tea, specifically spiced cinnamon chai, and she made me a cup and doctored it with extra fixings to make it palatable.  I was surprised and thankful that it tasted alright.  I drank the whole thing and decided I could do that again.  Later I went to the store and bought my own supplies in order to experiment further, and tonight I made my first cup of chai.  The result?  Not great.  But not awful either.  I have some work to do but I'm determined to figure out how to enjoy chai so I can drink it in Kenya!

We're also using this time to learn more about Kenya because, truth be told, we don't actually know much about it.  We know that it's famous for safaris and has one of the better economies in Africa, but we know little of its history or landscape or tribal culture.  So last week we headed to the library and found three children's books to start with.  And we're making it a family activity.  I've been reading the books out loud in the car as we drive around town, and Caleb's been enjoying the pictures and maps.  He can confidently tell you that Kenya is near the Indian Ocean, but will also tell you exactly where Michigan is within the country of Kenya.  It's a start!

Something else we hope to achieve during this season of final preparations is to learn some basic Swahili by watching YouTube videos.  We will be attending language school when we arrive in Kenya, and we are now well equipped to continue language learning because of the skills we just acquired at Mission Training International, but it never hurts to have a head start if possible.  There are many online resources for learning Swahili and we plan to utilize them before heading to Kenya.

So at the end of this busy year we are continuing to prepare for the mission field by resting, drinking chai, reading children's books, and dipping our toes into language learning.  It's good to breathe this deeply.

1 comment:

  1. Drink you chai with lots of milk and sugar as that's how it's served at tenwek, I think it's quite tasty.
    ~Annette, a missionary at Tenwek who you haven't met yet.