Wednesday, May 18, 2011

A Bittersweet Walk

So lots going on for us here.  And it has all been too unsure to commit to writing but things are looking more committed so I am making the posting.

As we close out our third school year in Kigali I am packing the house for our relocation to Nairobi, Kenya in August.  It will be a great new chapter for our family with new opportunities to serve, deeper school resources and a whole new environment to engage.  The discussion has been ongoing but we did not know for sure until about three weeks ago.

Same mission and same region just an expanded focus for me as we establish our regional management office in Nairobi for multiple reasons.  Nairobi offers enhanced infrastructure, a full service airport to all the countries I will be working with and the opportunity to network with every other peer or funding organization working in the region.

Ashley and the kids are already back in Louisiana for some furlough time and I am packing things up.  The container will be loaded at the end of May then sit for potentially months in storage until we complete all the paperwork and visa needs required to bring it along with us.  God has provided a furnished house in Nairobi for us to rent from other missionaries taking an extended furlough as we wait on paperwork/furniture and find our future home.  The kids will be going to Rosslyn, a fantastic missionary school, in the fall and are looking forward to it.

Anyway onto the "walk"

I got a call this morning from the Kenyan High Commission that my request for a one year multi entry visa from a while ago had been approved and that I was welcome to bring in my passport for the proper processing procedures.

It feels like it is going to rain today but currently the clouds are shading the sun and there is a slight breeze so I decided to walk as I also needed to swing into the bank, purchase electricity credits and visit the postoffice which are all within a 3 kilometer circuit from our house.

I strike out from home, pass two USAID funded NGOs - one HIV related and one youth skills training (maybe covers for Seal Team Six, who knows as you can never really tell where the money is going).  Walk up hill and make the corner past the European Union building and the Embassy of the Netherlands (very cool 70s architecture - or at least cool in the 70s).

Make my way down the palm tree lined boulevard that has been repaved twice this last year (election year and funded by the Chinese Government then repaved by Chinese road crews so money goes back to China - smart) and into my bank.  Great morning as it only takes 20 minutes to cash a check so I am ahead of schedule.  I have spent as many as 4 consecutive hours trying to do the same thing in days past.

From the bank I continue past the British High Commission where we have had some great times in the three years we have been in Rwanda.  They have a pub called the Gorilla and Goat right on the property with live music on Thursdays.  Love the Brits, they know how to live abroad.  Getting a bit sentimental about my stroll and places that will no longer be a part of my home.

Before I make it to the Kenyan compound I hear the telltale sirens that indicate the presidents motorcade is approaching so I an my fellow pedestrians make for the tree line to avoid the motorist being run off the road by the advance party.  Quickly following passes the beautiful fleet of blacked out Landcruisers and Range Rover.  Back to strolling.  All goes as planned a the Commission and my nearly full passport has another visa glued inside for my travel needs.  This passport is nearly ready for retirement as it has already had the maximum additional booklets of pages added.   Reflect on what an amazing journey my family is on and how cool it is that God has chosen us to be a part of His Kingdom work.

As I leave "Kenya" I dart across the 4 lane boulevard and make my way back the direction I have come. Passing the old Novatel where we spent so many days early on in our residency letting the kids swim and play.  It is now owned by Libya or whomever controls that investment fund these days.  It is a huge place for Rwandan wedding pictures on Saturdays and Sundays and you can see some amazing costumes at play if you make it by on the weekends.

Just up the road a bit is the corner market where I can purchase electricity credit for the meter at my house....when they have it to sell.  It is a middle man chain and KWH are only available on a first come first serve basis.  Today is a good day and I am able to purchase 40,000 francs worth which should last me until I leave or very near too it.  Need a bit of bread and some other supplies for my bachelor's rations.

My excitement builds as my next stop up the road will be the post office.  I am eager to see if they have started sorting the mail from March yet.....But it's May you say?  Yes but we are looking for the March packages that should have been delivered by Easter for treats from the grandparents to the kids (which will be all mine at this point.....or to share with some local kids).  The calendar holds little sway in this world.  Things are sorted and notice posted when they are sorted and posted.  Unfortunately my little post box is devoid of slips so my desire for chocolate will have to be satisfied at another time.

My next stop is home.  I reflect all the while on my morning walk and the places I pass and think in terms of the bittersweetness of it all.  Of the great times, friends and work of the last three years and of missing them.  Of the seemingly first world buildings and institutions and then the realities of the third world processes going on inside of them.  Of how it frustrates me but then the reality is I love it - how boring it would be if it all worked all the time just as you expected it too.   How suburbia is just not for me or my family, how we fit into this bit of reality and work well together.

I am going to miss this place.  These people.  These smells and sounds.  The great news is I will be back often as Director over the region.  It will be great to visit.