As is often the case, it is only when everything is stripped away that I can clearly see the abundance of life I have come from and truly appreciate some material conveniences I take for granted. I can also see the distraction that some of these things have caused in my life as well. It’s been about 3 weeks of village life, and I have found myself past any point of romanticizing on some of the aspects of daily living that feel a bit like camping. I like camping…I really do. But camping trips end, and when they’re over, it’s back to flushing toilets and hot water, ovens, etc. This is certainly not a camping trip, and I found myself tonight whining in the bathroom about how I was literally taking a bath in 2 inches of warm brown water that I had to boil on the stove. I’ve been pondering which modern convenience is the most sacred to me, and which one I would pick if I could only live with one.
What would you pick? Would it be a hot shower with running water? A refrigerator? A stove? Sidewalks that avoid muddy paths? A vacuum? I realized this week how absolutely delighted I was to cook some gluten-free muffins in my tiny oven. Even the neighbor kids were happy. I was nearly giddy about this simple treat. I love having lights at night. But I’m also ecstatic that I finally got a duvet this week and am not freezing at night.
In all honesty, I am sure in a couple of weeks or months, we’ll have installed all these modern conveniences, and I’ll be living by simple American standards, but lavishly by Kenyan ones. It’s not lost on me that this volunteer house is like a castle in comparison to everything in the village and that we’re one of the few with electricity at night. Despite being inconvenient at times, it’s also been refreshing to have limited internet and not be able to check my phone for messages at any moment of the day. I’m more focused, more productive, and happier.
If you’re living in the West and reading this, it’s likely that you are living with so many modern conveniences that most of the rest of the world doesn’t have. Consider yourself blessed as I too am reminding myself.
I think the most humbling thing that we have experienced so far is with our neighbor across the road. There is a family of four living behind a gate that is painted with a childlike drawing of a tree, and above it is written “Green Valley.” When you enter the gate, you’ll notice rows of beans, carrots, maize, avocado trees, and more. It is a little oasis. I didn’t know much about this place until a few weeks ago when Edwin came to tell me that the sweet family there is living in a house made of corn stalks—yes, corn stalks covering simple mud walls. I cannot imagine what happens inside when it rains. We decided to hire the husband to be helping with construction, and now several days a week, he brings us thank you gifts: fresh eggs, a bag of mangoes, carrots, potatoes. I am certain the man has more than paid back his simple earnings to us in fruit. I have seen that some people truly share every last bit that they have. Last week was a very trying week, the most difficult I have had in a very long time. And yet, I cling to this story of generosity because it gives me hope.
As you think of all your blessings this week, consider making a donation on Giving Tuesday, to help us finish the school. There are walls to plaster, a giant clean water tank to finish, desks and beds to furnish the school. Every donation is being matched up to $50,000, and every little bit helps. Facebook donations come to us 100% without any processing fees.