I think if you asked people to describe me, the first thing most of my friends might say is that I’m social or a people person or an extrovert or however you’d like to describe it. I like people. I like being around family and friends and could easily go a whole day with no alone time and that would be okay. For those of you who are familiar with Myers Briggs or similar personality tests, I sway like 80ish% to the extrovert side. With that in mind, my social situation has been an interesting adjustment here in Kenya, one that I wasn’t entirely expecting to have to make. At home in Vancouver, during any given week I probably have at least 4-5 social commitments. Shopping or eating with friends, perhaps a game or movie night, small/community/home group and the usual apres church hang out etc. With a car and a general willingness to drive and pay ridiculous parking rates I find myself with a lot of different people all the time.
Here in Nairobi, it’s unwise of us to wander about after dark unless using a cab and even then you run the risk of a car-jacking or some other traumatic experience that I’d prefer not to have. But I have Hannah and so we make the most of evenings at home, watching movies (or doing face masks haha) and try to get out during the day as much as possible. We haven’t spent a Saturday at home and probably won’t by the time she goes back to Montana. It’s been okay because I would see lots of people at school or at the office so I’ve managed without feeling too deprived. I’ve even managed to build a variety of friendships here that replicate similar relationships at home. Hannah’s my go-to built-in friend and there have been other 20-something gals around. PJ and Emily are my slightly older friends in the next stage of life (shout out to the Haus), complete with kids to fill my kid time quota I used to get with nieces, nephews and church kids. Ruth and Jan are my surrogate aunt and mom who give me wisdom, encouragement and guidance. I also go to a ladies’ small group once a week where we can chat and eat baked stuff usually involving chocolate and it’s great!
In the midst of all of this building of a social support system, I haven’t realized till this last week that there are not really guys in my life. Now I’m not talking guys in terms of a dating pool or for romantic connection, I just mean guys to chill out with. At home, I think I have a fairly healthy collection of male friendships and I’ve got my bro. Sometimes you just need to hang out with some dudes doing dude stuff. I mean I love being a girl and I value my female friends and relationships very highly. But… sometimes there is a lot of estrogen around. It brings back memories of being a nursing student in an all girl dorm…
Cue the arrival this last week of some new short termers, Jason and Christopher along with Sara Marie and Katherine. There have been a couple other short term guys around over the months but not close enough to actually hang out and the single male missionary is what we like to call a unicorn. So rare is its sighting that having two together is practically a miracle (check out this video of my friend Steve, one of these unicorns). Hannah and I have hung out with them a bit, going out for food, drinking LOTS coffee and chai and watching zombie movies together. There are have been more hilarious moments and conversations then I can count but mostly it was nice to be reminded what having friends other then each other (and specifically guys who are our age) is like.
Then all of you can join together with one voice, giving praise and glory to God. Romans 15:6
I know that the first week that most people arrive is overwhelming, confusing, exhausting and full of questions and just trying to get your bearings. We come with assignments and intentions and expectations (even if we try not to) but at the end of the day we have no idea what greater purpose God has for us. It could be the one conversation you have with someone that changes their lives or it could be an intensive, deeply moving experience designed to lead you somewhere. For now, I hope they can take heart in the fact they’ve encouraged me at a time when I was feeling a wee bit bitter/bored/uncertain about life here and have provided me with (more than a few) laughs.