I have been back in my Canadian home for 6 months now, the shine is wearing off and I now miss my Kenyan home. Culture shock, or what happens when you come back, reverse culture shock, has its ups and downs. The first few months back I had some challenges but then I settled into normal. One thing that I do miss while in Kenya and have enjoyed here is time with family and friends. Getting to know my nieces and nephews again is wonderful. For the last few months I have enjoyed the shine of normal. The conveniences of North American life are great. I don't think twice before I hop in the car, do some groceries and stop at Subway or Dairy Queen for bite on the way home. The same is true for work at the hospital, I am surrounded by very well trained nurses, physicians, pharmacists, dietitians, therapists and others. Lab tests are ordered without a thought. TPN is automatic. We don't debate whether a patient really needs a CT or what a MRI might tell us if we could get one. Instead everything is at our fingertips. I throw away so many supplies that are hardly used that I would reuse many times at Tenwek.
So you may be thinking this sounds great, what's the problem. The truth is I miss my Kenyan home. I miss the simplicity of stopping at one of the many shops to buy my fruits (yes we say fruits there), vegetables and other staples. I miss holding her baby as the shopkeeper puts my groceries on the counter and puts my eggs in a small flimsy plastic bag. I miss showing up at work and greeting my co-workers before we get to work - although I often miss this, but they call me on it. I miss walking to and from work, sometimes multiple times a day to get something. I miss coming home at noon to a meal cooked by a lovely lady who helps me out 2 days a week (who wouldn't miss this). I miss the surprises when I get to work in the morning. Quickly trying to figure out who I need to see with the teams of doctors and trainees and trying to round with 3 teams at once. I miss being a part of the team called for advice at all hours. I miss the challenge of fixing a machine when I have no one to ask for advice. Taking the whole machine apart and then realizing I could have just undone 2 little screws. I miss putting that machine back together again and having it work better than it did before. I miss teaching the nurses, physicians in training and anyone who would listen so someday I am not needed. I miss the bible study with my interns where the conversation is always interesting and I am challenged. I miss stepping out the front door of my house and encountering multiple kids on scooters circling my house. I miss going for a walk and encountering another missionary and we can chat about life, and pray for one another. There is so much more that I could add to this list: the fun of trying to speak and understand swahili, going to church and singing song of praise together; it could just go on.
Many things on this list are the same thing I may have complained about 2 years ago. Life is strange is that way. So now I am continuing in this life here in Canada, working towards going back. I have gotten multiple e-mails from friends back in Kenya with a repeating question: when are you coming back? The plan is January. Will you help me get there? I need to raise support to get there. Check out the thermometer on the side of the post. I still have a ways to go. So why am I going back? Not just because I miss it. I miss it because that is where God wants me to be.