Thursday, September 1, 2016

A Day in the Life of a Missionary Kid

Our kids love Kenya.  They definitely still talk about Michigan and Minnesota, but this is home now because that's just how little kids are - their whole world revolves around the present.  Our life is so different here, but our kids are adaptable and have found wonderful new things to love about our life here while also being anchored in the familiar routines we've always had - playing, eating PBJ sandwiches, playing, napping, and playing some more.

We've officially been in Kenya for five months, and it's amazing to realize how much our kids have grown in that short amount of time.  Little kids change quickly anyway, but our kids in particular have undergone a lot of change and development as they've experienced new people and new places within a new culture.  We've had so many conversations with them about what they're experiencing and routinely attempt to help them understand things that are beyond their comprehension!

So, without further ado, here are multiple snapshots of our three little MKs: Caleb, Kai, and Asa.

Crazy About Chameleons
Chameleons are everywhere around here, and all the MKs take joy in finding them and watching them eat flies.  Caleb and Kai absolutely love these little guys!

The Waterfall
Tenwek's electricity is provided by a hydroelectric dam placed in the Mara River, which is down the hill from the hospital.  The boys love to walk to the waterfall and throw rocks in.  This particular picture was taken during the dry season.  The water really roars during the rainy season!

I work through a preschool curriculum with Caleb and Kai about 2-3 times a week.  We work on letters and numbers, plus a bunch of concepts.  Every so often I'll pull together a craft or hands-on activity to go along with the curriculum.  The boys love when it's time for "a lesson."

Exploring Outside
Tenwek is the Land of Eternal Spring, as we like to say around here.  The weather is virtually perfect all the time: sunny and mid-70s during the day (with some rain during the rainy seasons), and down in the 50s overnight.  All that to say, it's a great place to be outside!

The Garden
We have an amazing garden right behind our house.  We share it with a couple other families and have been growing things like lettuce and green beans and zucchini.  The boys love helping us pick green beans, and also love to help water the garden.  It's the first time we've ever had a garden, and we're particularly grateful since some things (like lettuce) cannot be found anywhere around here unless you grow it yourself.

The Balcony
We live on the second floor of a 5-plex building and have a great balcony with locking gates on either end.  It's perfect for sitting outside and reading a book while remaining within earshot of napping kids.  It's also great for being outside with said kids while also keeping them contained!

We live less than three hours away from Maasai Mara, one of the most popular places to go on safari in all of Kenya.  We've been twice already, once just for a day trip and once to stay overnight during the Great Wildebeest Migration this past month.  It was amazing!  When you live this close to one of God's greatest creations, it's imperative to take advantage of it!  The boys talk about safari a lot.  Caleb's recent repeated phrase is, "I can't believe we saw the big cats!"

We've gone into Nairobi a few times for supplies and to get a break from the hospital.  Usually we try to do something fun in the midst of our supply run, like taking the kids to the Giraffe Center to feed giraffes or taking Caleb to the Snake Park at the Nairobi National Museum, or simply eating chicken nuggets at KFC.

Betty and Ebenezer
Betty is one of our househelpers, and she and Asa became fast friends.  She adores him and he adores her!  Betty's son is named Ebenezer, and he's the same age as Kai.  Caleb, Kai and Ebenezer can often be seen chasing each other around the house or finding trouble outside.  Even though Ebenezer barely speaks English and our kids don't speak any Kipsigis or Swahili, they play together really well.  And Ebenezer loves Eli too!  He quickly learned from our own kids that when Daddy comes home for lunch it's time to run and jump into his arms.  All three of them do it every time Eli walks in the door!

Trips to the Hospital
All three boys have been up to the hospital exactly once.  Asa was the first, with a weight check when he turned 9 months old.  They still use an old-fashioned scale here, and Asa had fun hanging out and getting weighed!  Caleb was next, so Eli could check his ears with an otoscope for a suspected ear infection.  He was excited to go because I said he'd earn a sticker on his Culture Chart for it.  (Caleb and Kai each have a sticker chart for having new cultural experiences.  We've discovered that it helps to motivate them and keep them brave when they're nervous about new things here.)  And lastly, Kai made his debut trip to the hospital for an x-ray, which thankfully showed no broken bones after he jumped out of a tree and injured his foot and was limping around for over a day.  After the x-ray was done, he proudly claimed, "I did a good job working at the hospital!"

MK Tie-Dye Day
Another missionary family hosted an event for all the MKs to do tie-dye T-shirts.  It was a blast!  In the end I had to do all of our kids' shirts for them, but they loved the end-product and proudly wear their shirts with all the other MKs here at Tenwek.

Crazy About Chameleons, Part 2
These creatures really are everywhere around here, and our kids really do love them!

Cooking from scratch
Most of our cooking has to be done from scratch, and occasionally I let the kids help me.  They love to stir and taste test and make an absolute mess!  But they're learning a ton about cooking, which is a good thing.

There's a 12-year old MK that lives below us and she quickly became a very important part of our life.  Madison officially babysits the boys once a week for me, and unofficially helps out in all manner of ways the rest of the week.  She is amazing and our kids absolutely adore her!  In fact, Caleb has a complete crush on her.  He talks about her when she's not here, he gets shy but excited whenever she comes over, and he boldly declares, "Mom, I reeeaaallly like Madison."  She's like a part of our family.  I honestly don't know what we'd do without her!

Solar Eclipse
Just this morning there was a partial solar eclipse that could be seen from East Africa, and we joined all the other MKs for "science class" and saw the phenomenon through special glasses.  Another mom made donuts for the occasion and it was great fun to see all the kids admire the moon blocking the sun.  Caleb never actually looked through the glasses, and Kai wouldn't do it more than once, but they've been talking about it all day, so clearly the event made an impression!

These kinds of things cement the MK experience - learning and exploring and playing together in a unique setting, and watching them help each other and love each other through it all.  These kids are living a unique but extraordinary life, and we're excited to see how our own kids will grow and develop continually through their own journey as an MK.