I left Iddy and Chris this morning at a tennis lesson. Iddy was playing with a friend and Chris was sitting to the side watching them play, surrounded by four guys conversing in Italian. As they play a family of monkeys make their way across the top of the fence surrounding the court. I didn't make it very far (just out of the gate of the compound) when the beast broke down. It had broken down on the way to tennis but I was able to get it started again. This time, no. Ah... the beast. She is such a great car, but you just never know. We recruit a few men to help us push it out of the way (which is no small task... the thing weighs at least a ton), I take the black car, and I am on my way again. Chris and Iddy will catch a ride on a tuk-tuk when they need to come home. Inside the car I find a copy of the police report detailing the things that were stolen from us in a recent incident. I wonder if the police will really follow up on it or not. I decide it best not to put my hope in that and put the paper back down. Chris and Iddy have now gone for lunch with two other boys to talk about how to start a soccer tournament in town for the local kids in the community as a way to build relationships and also help keep kids out of trouble. I am here at the house by myself, as two young girls that we are close to have taken Abby-Jones and Ruth-Michael out to play at a local playground. This playground is hard to explain, but the best way I can describe it is to say that it looks like old equipment from a fairground which no longer has motors, and so the rides are pushed manually by local boys who work there to make a little bit of spending money. When I go with the girls, there will be a boy there who comes around with us and helps to operate/push the rides. The girls rode there on a tuk-tuk, which I think they enjoy even more than the playground.
Right now we are losing our big supermarket, Nakumat. This really is a shame because it provided us with daily outings (AJ would say let's go to Nakumat early and wait for it to open), I was able to get everything I needed in one place, and it was a great place to network as everyone else in Malindi did their shopping there, also. Not to mention, it provided a lot of people with much needed work. Well it would seem that someone at the top didn't pay the bills and things are falling apart. With the elections coming up, there is no sense in trying an overhaul now because no one knows if chaos will ensue after the election and there is always the risk of political uprisings and looting. We hope that after the elections, Nakumat will try to restock and start over, but for now, we disperse out to the other smaller markets, which are about the size of a large QuickTrip. I am trying to keep a stock of non-perishables in the house in case things go bad during the elections and food becomes more sparse. Unfortunately it's been very tempting to use the food from our stock supply to avoid another trip to the market, so the supply is dwindling... I gotta work on that soon.
Our relationships here are growing. Last night we had dinner with Jen, a friend who moved here from Kisumu with her daughter, Anyango (one of the young women that is playing with my girls today), and another couple, Dan and Elyse (a couple we met at Nakumat... sigh). It has been great to feel like we have friends here. I got to have dinner two nights ago with three other women living here, each one that I love and respect dearly. Chris graciously offered to take the kids so the ladies could talk, and he had 7 kids with him... we joked about starting a youth group, but it's not a bad idea. I imagine a circle around us that represents our community, and it seems to be expanding more and more as we stay here longer. You know that feeling you have when you plan a party, and you need a certain number of people to come to really feel like it was a success? There seems to be an imaginary cut-off line, such that after you reach that number of people, others will see and want to join, too. Or if you're dancing, there has to be a certain number of people dancing on the floor before others will feel comfortable to come out and join you. When we first moved here, I felt like I was out on the dance floor, dancing by myself... super uncomfortable. As more relationships came into my life it felt better, but still vulnerable. Now it's starting to feel a little more like a dance party. I'm so thankful for the friendships in my life and the love and support I have felt from people here, and also coming from the States. It's hard to pull people in from the fringes when you are just offering for them to come and dance with you alone. But when there is a group involved, and they can come be a part of it, it's much more enticing. Life here is funny... quirky. But when you do life together, the quirks are just something else to laugh about. When you dance by yourself, a funny dance move is embarrassing, but when you do it together, you all laugh about it and it just adds to your fun. Maybe that is what church is all about. A life lived alone can be tedious and arbitrary, but life lived in community turns challenges into strength and inconveniences into blessings.