Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Dust & Butterflies

Nairobi has been covered with both dust & butterflies over the past month. Both somehow slipped unnoticed into the rhythm of daily life - the dust coating everything, even my bananas, and the butterflies flitting in and out of buildings, traffic, and trees in their little white dance.

Neither were here when we arrived in November. When we arrived, Nairobi was sopping wet from weeks of solid rain, and the rain continued for weeks after we arrived. The dust was nowhere to be seen; the butterflies hid away in some pre-caterpillar state.

Now, they both abound. I didn't notice them at first - the dust or the butterflies. The dust slowly settled around the house, on the car, inside the car, on my shoes. The butterflies filled the air, and still do - even now, when I looked up and out into the parking lot, I saw one glide by. Nairobi is literally covered in millions of little while butterflies. They are beautiful.

Our lives have a similar theme, which you've probably picked up on if you've read the past dozen blog entries. When we arrived in Nairobi, we were relatively dust-free and didn't have a need to see the butterflies around. Now, having taken a few steps back I am able to more clearly see both the dust that has settled over our daily going-ons, and the butterflies which brighten each day.

Over the past several weeks we have continued to have interactions & circumstances that have been incredibly difficult. Though details won't be mentioned, due to the public nature of this blog, I can say the wind has been taken from our sails.

It's been a good time of rallying - of remembering why we moved our family in the first place, and upon deeper inspection, realizing we have met all the goals we hoped to achieve when we chose to move our family across the globe: I can be at home with the kids full time, we still live near family (especially when my parents come back on Friday!), our children are being exposed to the realities that daily face the majority of the world's population (poverty, importance of family, massive income inequalities, belief in a better future, the effects of treatable diseases not being treated, kindness to strangers, corruption, and laughter alongside difficulties), and we are putting our time and efforts towards causes we overall believe in. We are very thankful that 4 months into our move, we can see all the areas where we have met our original goals.

These are our butterflies. We may be covered with the dust of Nairobi, and will continue to be, but at least we have our butterflies.

Several people have asked me what I like about Kenya, and while it does take me some consideration to answer at times when the dust lies thickly, I have compiled a short, and not comprehensive, list:
* the natural beauty everywhere - even in the middle of the city, the vegetation is exquisite.
* the proximity of 'wildnerness' - within a 90 minute drive, we can be far, far away from any substantial cities and instead be immersed in the beauty of an absolutely stunning country. Whether we want desert, tropical beach, extinct volcanoes, lakes, your picturesque African savanna, tropical rainforest, or highlands - we can find it all.
* the kindness given to strangers - people are quick to help, to smile when greeted, to show love to our babies
* having help with the kids & household tasks is incredibly affordable, and I am forever grateful to & humbled by the kind service we are given by Scola, Augustine, and others who have lent us their services. If not for them, I may not have made it.
* the fantastic food - Kenyan food is amazing, and Nairobi hosts some of the most diverse & exquisite international cuisine in the world - in my opinion. Additionally, restaurant ambiance in Nairobi is unbeatable making
* produce is cheap, and delicious - I can drop off my produce grocery list at my favorite produce store & pick up my completed order 30 min later, at no extra cost. Amazing.
* the dozen quirky things that happen every day which remind me I do not live in a Western country
* the emotional support and empathy extended to me by so many of the other expat women I have met through church & social circles, reminding me I am not alone, and the obstacles facing me have already been overcome by those before me.

There is dust every day - we have to dust, both literally and figuratively, every day. But if I should choose to glance up from my dusting, I am certain to catch a butterfly or two out my window.

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