Life has been pretty crazy since coming back from Kenya (the holidays and an “emergency” ski trip in Colorado to take advantage of my free flights before I age out). Life’s craziness combined with my own procrastination is why I have not recapped my trip yet, but now I’m finally getting around to it.
As many of you probably already know I decided after my trip that I would like to move back to Kenya more long term. Right now I am planning on leaving for Kenya in May and living there for about two years to begin with. I am hoping that this time frame will give me enough time to really get used to living abroad, but also give me an approximate end date to be able to evaluate how everything is going and if I should go to grad school or do something else for a bit before (hopefully) moving overseas indefinitely.
There were many factors that I considered when making this decision- some that came up when I was in Kenya and others that came up once I got home. Over the past eight months I have been feeling like I could be happy doing anything. This has been both a blessing and really confusing because when I was younger I felt like I could only be happy doing work overseas. However, this contentedness made the decision that much harder to make because if I can do anything that make the question of what I should do that much harder.
There are many reasons why I made my decision, but to put it succinctly I believe that Nairobi is the place that will give me the best opportunities to grow in my faith in this season of my life. I believe that Jesus is leading me to Nairobi because it is the place where I will get to know him the most intimately.
At the beginning of my time there, when I was still feeling uncomfortable, I was babysitting Mikayla (the little girl in the family I stayed with) and, of course, we were having a dance party. We were listening to Philip Phillips “Home” and I felt God whisper into my heart that He was going to make Nairobi my home. I was skeptical. How could the answer come that quickly? I still had over three weeks left of my trip. Also, I didn’t know if that meant God was going to make Nairobi my home in a few months or years down the road. Later that night, I spent some time with Jesus just asking him to help me feel at home in Nairobi and to give me more direction if Nairobi was what he had next for me.
He was faithful to answer that prayer.
Before I left I wrote a list of things that I value, and that I would want where I live. Everything that I wrote on that list of values is easily accessible in Nairobi, even good coffee shops. Yes, I did actually write down good coffee shops as a value.
One of my primary concerns was finding community. I have been blessed with such wonderful friends here in the states that I was really anxious about not finding that same level of friendship in Kenya. This was the first prayer God answered. We had a house church meeting the day after I arrived. I felt so comfortable with everyone, and felt as though the people in the group could become my good friends.
There were other blessings that made me feel at home as well. The way that Julianna decorates is very similar to how I decorate. Also, Brandon, Julianna, and I were at the same place in a show we all happened to be watching on Netflix. It was fun to be able to hang out and bond over the show during our free evenings. There was even a Bikram yoga studio within walking distance so I was able to get in a couple great workouts.
In yoga we talk about going to our own “personal edge” meaning to push yourself past your comfort zone, but not so hard that you hurt yourself. Nairobi is that for me. It has enough that is different and challenging that will provide opportunities for growth, but it also has enough that is comfortable so that I have places to retreat when I get overwhelmed.
During my last day in Nairobi I had a wonderful quiet time where God really affirmed me being chosen by him. He spoke over me that my calling doesn’t come from an organization or person or even myself, but from him. It was so comforting to receive that affirmation, and it gave me confidence to move forward into that calling.
Even with all of these things lining up, I still wasn’t sure if now was the right time to move to Kenya because of also wanting to do so many other things. After a couple weeks being back though I realized that moving to Nairobi is the open door for now. I have peace in moving forward knowing that God has been directing my steps to this point and that he will continue to lead one step at a time.