Five Adjectives

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Being prayed over by pastors and elders my last Sunday at church.

So this is my last post from the Kenya side. Kabisa. It’s a bit of a surreal feeling thinking that I’ve just spent my year living in Kenya and as I look back I know that whatever the future holds this year has been special and an amazing blessing. I’ve learnt so much about myself, about missions, about God and about this country and continent. I’ve laughed and surprisingly not cried my way through and although I’m happy to be headed home I know I’ll constantly be thinking of this place.

My last couple of weeks have been filled with our AIM Kenya Spiritual Life Conference, a retreat for short termers in Kenya and numerous goodbye coffees, lunches, dinners and tears. It’s in a way almost less emotional to have these drawn out goodbyes because I’ve been saying them for two weeks IMG_3454now. It might have been better (albeit more stressful) if I had just one day where everyone could come say goodbye together.

On our debrief forms, the first question reads “Name 5 adjectives to describe your experience.” Since I have been the one handing out and collecting these forms since April I have been thinking about my adjectives all year. As I was filling in my forms I realized they may have changed as my year has progressed. If you had asked me after the first 6 months I might have said adventurous and challenging and other similar words. But sitting here on the other end of 2014, I realize that as my adjectives have changed, so have I.

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Here’s Trisha, Bob, Hannah and I on Day 1.

I’ve realized that maybe life is more adventurous or it just seems that way because nothing is the same as it is at home. Even everyday tasks are more difficult like laundry or even using the phone. But as I got used to the pace of life and realities of living abroad, suddenly a lot of those adventures seemed more commonplace. That’s just how life is when you’re living cross culturally. Plus, when I look back on my life I don’t want this year to be the most adventurous thing I did. Here’s my list of five in no particular order:

un·ex·pect·ed
ˌənəkˈspektəd/
adjective
  1. not expected or regarded as likely to happen.

Because nothing turned out the way I thought, from my assignment to my perception of Nairobi to how I would change. I’ve heard the suggestion that everyone coming out should write a list of expectations… and then burn it. Amen to that!

fun
fən/
adjective
  1. 1.
    amusing, entertaining, or enjoyable.

Fun because really whether it was the students, other short termers, the office staff or even the vendor at the Masai Market who quote “wants a woman just like this” I think I’ve managed to laugh my way through the whole thing. One of the dear people I’ve met here once commented “Angela, I think you have just about more fun than anyone I know in Africa.” To which I responded, “Kate, I try to have more fun than anyone I know anywhere I am.”

in·vig·or·at·ing
inˈviɡəˌrādiNG/
adjective
  1. making one feel strong, healthy, and full of energy.

I think within the first week people had already started commenting on how “Africa agreed with me” or similar comments. I think being here gave me a much needed boost of life and energy.

re·veal·ing
rəˈvēliNG/
adjective
  1. making interesting or significant information known, especially about a person’s attitude or character.

I chose revealing because I feel like God revealed so much of who He is and who He made me in this year. Issues and other stuff hidden somehow surface when you’re away from home. Your highs are very high and your lows are quite low.

for·tu·nate
ˈfôrCH(ə)nət/
adjective
  1. favored by or involving good luck or fortune; lucky.

Lastly, fortunate because in so many aspects of this year I feel SO fortunate, blessed, lucky, however you want to say it to have experienced and received everything I have. The people that I’ve met are some of the most wonderful people I’m sure I ever will meet.

Thank you for reading along with me this year, for following every adventure and laughing at every joke. 3000 views from 28 countries later I can’t believe the support I’ve received. They say it takes a village to raise a child but I think that even when the child is grown, it’s the village that continues to mould the adult. The words of encouragement that you’ve sent (not to mention the funds) have bolstered me daily and in those moments when I thought “I just want to go home” I’ve thought of all of you praying and thinking of me.

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Austen, me and Steve as we look off into our future… sad… forlornly… and scared?!

A most special goodbye to PJ, Emily, Sarah and Aiden. You have welcomed me as one of your family and I really, truly cannot express how much your family has meant to me over the last 12 months.

It’s not the last from me though! I’m going to continue blogging for a few months as I transition back into liberal Canadian West Coast culture. Too often we think that the journey ends once we step off that plane but I want to keep all of you posted on my experience with reverse culture shock and what’s next for me (also cause PJ asked me to) so stay tuned!

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