Katie in Kenya: A Slow Moving Soul

Mukuru

My days move kind of slowly. It takes me two hours to get to work each morning. I start on the bus, getting bumped up into the air and try to not go flying into other people. An hour and a half later we are at the edge of Mukuru. I first thought that meant we had arrived, but Mukuru is an informal settlement that has six villages and over 600, 000 people — it is not a small place. Depending on where the bus drops us off we have a 20-45 minute walk into St. Mary’s parish where the office of Mukuru on the Move is located. I normally am a fast walker — this is due to being the shortest person in a family of tall people. But in Mukuru, I walk slowly. This is partially because I am trying not to trip on rocky ground, fall into a ditch, or trip over a goat. It is also because I am trying not to breath too deeply — asthma + dust + smoke + pollution + crap in the air = unhappy lungs. But walking slowly lets me see more.

The end of the day moves even more slowly — we walk back out past goats and people’s shops and homes. I try and see if I can win another game of “farm animal bingo” based on all the animals I see coming and going, but recently I have gotten stuck on 3 animals (Goats and chickens are a given, sheep and donkeys are rare and we’ve only seen cows once). Then it’s at least a three hour trek home, hoping that we’ve landed on a bus that won’t break down and that the traffic isn’t too bad.

There are other reasons I move slowly — I have a hard time going places in Mukuru without being overrun with children. It’s the best side effect of sticking out like a sore thumb the rest of the time. The kids yell “mzungu! mzungu!” when they see me and all try to hold my hand or get a high five at once. Sometimes I have eight children on each arm, and I am brought to a complete standstill. I really don’t mind though. The children make me smile and they’re so excited to see me. I’m pretty sure I’m the first white person that some of the very little children have seen.

I get to move slowly when I volunteer at the New Life Home. I just spend the day holding and feeding babies — it is the most beautiful kind of slow moving. Last time I was given one little buddy to care for while I was there. He didn’t even want to stay awake while he ate. That day was good for my soul.

I’m beginning to wonder if deep down I too have a slow moving soul. At home I have to be busy. I love to be moving, and I don’t generally let myself rest. I consider getting 6 hours of sleep to be an accomplishment, and Sabbath is a lovely idea. Now, I am a slow learner, and as previously noted, I usually need to be hit over the head with a 2 by 4 by the Holy Spirit to take notice. I’m guessing that getting pneumonia and then a lung infection and then having to get days of IV antibiotics in a foreign country and discussing whether I was fit to stay in the country might be such a wake-up call, just maybe…

I need to acknowledge that I too have a slow moving soul. Sabbath is actually not a suggestion, it’s one of the commandments. I don’t consider the command not to murder to be a suggestion, yet Sabbath is for those who have time. What if I didn’t consider Sabbath to be an afterthought? Or something I do when I’m too sick to move? What if I acknowledged that we all should have slow moving souls on a regular basis?

It is hard to have a slow moving soul. I cannot worship being busy, even being busy doing the work of the Kingdom. I actually have to acknowledge that I cannot always do everything I want to do in a day– that there is worship in stillness that I am missing out on. There is also the acknowledgement that my physical self seems to think being slower moving would be a good thing.

I am thankful for being shown my slow moving soul. For having to practice patience not only in getting places and having the joy of being slowed down by children but also in the frustration of 2 hour long bus rides listening to politicians argue about fertilizer. We can all slow down in unfamiliar place, the challenge will be seeing if I can continue to practice Sabbath in the United States, but I don’t know the answer to that yet.

For now, I will be patient with my slower moving life and acknowledge that this is training for life with a slow moving soul.

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