God has preceded our moving here and we have been welcomed...

So Much Different

Posted March 15th, 2012 by mapalmiter with 2 Comments


Too much time has lapsed since our last post.  There is even a certain amount of guilt knowing how many people we have left out of the loop for the past few weeks.  We’re sorry!  As you can imagine, we have been in a whirlwind of change since arriving in Nairobi.  Part of adjusting to a new culture is recognizing what’s new, what’s different, and what is still the same.

It has been an adventure figuring out what parts of our lives fit into each category.  The most challenging are the things which are new.  Living next to Africa’s largest slum, Kibera, provides many new sounds at all times of the day and night and an added perspective on security.  Transportation has so many differences that it gets to fall into the “new” category.  Not only do you drive on the left and sit on the right to drive, but the unspoken (and unwritten) rules of the road are wrapped up in the African culture.  Driving is about relationships and public transportation is about quantity over quality… the more the merrier?

Different.  Where to begin?  Always shake hands and greet people.  Kenyans do not have a word for “Hi”, the closest to it is, “What is the news?”.  Life is about fellowship and eating.  Just like it should be, right?  You pre-pay for things: electricity, water, phones, internet.  The city water is only on on certain days, which is when you fill your storage tanks.  If you want water to actually come out of your pipes you have to turn on the water pump to get it into your upstairs tank.  If you want any of that aforementioned water warm then the water heater needs to be turned on.  We do that for about 45 minutes every night for showers.  Sugar is not white.  We did not have to  lose an hour of sleep to the time change.  No one uses voicemail.  Vegetables and fruits need to be bleached before processing.  Gas is $5.50 a gallon and usually stays at that price.  DUST!  It’s everywhere every day.  Everything is exponentially locked – your community (we go through two gates to get to our personal gate), your gate (latch and padlock), your door (ours has 3), your windows, your car (alarm, doors, fuel shut-off), the rooms in your home, and your stairwell.  Rush hour is approximately from 8am-2pm and then 4pm-10pm.  Going out to dinner can mean walking to a nearby gate with a hand painted sign on it and sitting in someone’s living room while they go in their kitchen to cook you a meal you ordered off of their menu.  ”Take-out” can mean calling a cell phone, explaining what you’d like, and then going to a home with your own tupperware to pick up a meal.  Bacon = ham.  Manual labor is about 100 shillings per hour – that is about $1.21.  Meals should be warm – cereal and sandwiches are foreign ideas.  Tea (chai) should be taken at 10 and 3.  This list could go on, and on, and on!

Thankfully we are constantly reminded of that which will never change.  God has preceded our moving here and we have been welcomed into this community warmly.  We meet people on a daily basis that smile and are genuinely glad to have met us.  The church body is present in this city and there are many opportunities to worship.  We have a perfect little house that keeps us safe and all of the resources to have everything we need.  Our marriage still consists of two best friends wanting to serve God with the gifts He’s given us; and here we are in a place full of opportunities to use them.  Not only that, but we are genuinely excited to be here.  To have a home.  To meet new people and to make new friends.

Here we are, sent by so many people who love and support us.  Across an ocean but still in the same world.  Living each day pursuing joy and love amidst the new, the different, and the consistent.

2 Responses to “So Much Different”

  1. Autumn Miller April 19, 2012

    Beautifully written. Thanks for recording your first impressions & giving us a glimpse into life in Nairobi. Although very different, it reminds me of our small scale culture shock moving to Port A.


  2. Mommo/Daddo May 1, 2012

    Wow! Great writing, kids, and what a joy to see that God is controlling your perspectives and bringing much fullness to your lives as you learn, adjust, and learn some more! He is such a faithful shepherd and loves to lead when you love to follow…sounds like that’s what’s happening. It warms our hearts to know that you’re cementing friendships among your African families and they’ve been so accepting of you. Keep the smiles bright for His sake ; -) Love you both so much!


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