Well, I’m back to work now and things are going well. Just before my parents came, I heard from my advisor at MSU that, yes, my research was too big and too broad and that I needed to focus it more. I was only trying to look at everything related to development in the community! So I spent a good bit of time rethinking and replanning my research and am focusing in on self-help groups in the community. They are a good example of what local people themselves are doing as well as the potential for collaboration between the government, NGOs and local groups. I feel very good about it now and although it will be a busy 6 weeks, I think I can get it all done and have something that is good and useful in the end.
Today, I went to Butere, the district headquarters, and then came from there to Kisumu where I am spending the night. I tried out the guest house that Jessica, my Peace Corps friend suggested and it is nice. My computer is plugged in, the light is on and I can take a hot shower in the morning. Or even tonight AND in the morning if I want a full dose of it. There is a toilet AND it has a seat AND it flushes (this is a big deal).
This morning, on the boda boda on the way to catch a vehicle to Butere, I saw Mt. Elgon in the distance. It is the first time I’ve seen it since I’ve been here. Or at least it is the first time that I’ve looked in the right direction in the right place on a day that was very clear. I saw it in the distance and suspected that it was Mt. Elgon (it was in the right direction) so I asked Mukabane (my neighbor, the boda boda driver) and he said that is was Mt. Elgon. Woo hoo!
Dave is coming in 6 weeks. That is really exciting. When I think that we still have 6 weeks left until we see each other, it still seems long, but when I think that I only have 6 weeks left to finish my research, it seems very short indeed. But when I realize that we have finished 21 weeks and only have 6 left, I realize that I really can wait. But it’s almost tangible to have him hear. I can almost touch him. I can imagine how it will be to go pick him up from the airport, to hug him. I’m really excited.
My time in Kenya has been interesting. While there have been certain (very intense) difficulties, overall this is a much less agonizing experience. I feel like coming back to the same village after an okay but VERY difficult experience, has really redeemed that time and the place in my mind. I even have significant visions for the future for my involvement here. After living in Tanzania over the summer, I would definitely prefer it as a place to leave. I really liked Tanzania. But, I know that my calling is in Kenya. My vision is to bring together my community in Detroit and my community in Kenya. The places are fairly different in their context, but the underlying problems are the same. I want to build a partnership between my church in Detroit and my church in Kenya so that we can share together, learn together and support each other. I want to send missionary groups from Detroit to Kenya and from Kenya to Detroit. We’ll see what God opens up, but from the vision he’s given me so far, I’m very excited to see what happens.
I’ve definitely learned a lot. I’ve learned a lot about forgiveness. I’m becoming a stronger, more determined person. I’m getting better at following through on things. I’m learning more about what it means to be cross-cultural, maybe multi-cultural. I’m learning how to be me in a cultural relevant way. I’m learning to be firm and stand up for myself.