So begins the famous Karen Blixen movie ‘Out of Africa’.
Yes, we too had a home in Africa, it was in Tearfund’s Guesthouse and office complex in Nairobi, Kenya. Very shortly our grandson and his wife and four of our great grandchildren are planning a move to Africa, so last Sunday we had a special service for them at Church. They are going to work for one of the UK’s children’s charities in East Africa. He and his family are following in his father’s and grandfather’s footsteps! Africa, ah! that brought memories flooding back!
There has been great deal of development in Africa in recent decades, and whilst the cities are in many ways similar to any city around the world, (except perhaps for the shanty areas on the outskirts) the challenges of working in rural Africa are still very real. There always seems to be another urgent task needing attention, and often the resources and expertise are not readily available. Nonetheless, as I’ve said in a previous blog, if you have ever had the privilege to live and work there, truly Africa does get ‘under your skin’.
With a rich inheritance of people coming from a variety of cultures, tribes and languages, combined with many new sights and sounds, the first impact in coming from Europe is decidedly a “wow” factor. In the city people rise early and soon the bustling crowds are heading to their workplace, or school, college and university.
In the villages the children have often to walk long distances to school, and workers are heading to their ‘shambas’, or to one of the sugar, coffee or tea plantations. Of course the daily task of wood and water collection, and regular trips to market are still all a big part of everyday life for many rural people.
Tourism contributes a large part to the economy, certainly in East Africa, where the beauty of villages, savannahs, mountains, game parks and coral lined beaches, are a huge attraction, or were, prior to the current pandemic.
One could write a book (and many have) of the abundance and variety of animals, birds and insects, not to mention the trees, for example, the Acacia, the beautiful flowering Jacaranda, and the amazing Baobab trees, all of which seem to be forever imbedded in your mind.
Here are some memories from our 5 year stay and many subsequent visits to East Africa.
First – the people …
So many people are asking, what do you think of your grandson and his wife moving to Africa with your four great grand children? Some express excitement saying, it will be a great adventure, others seem more apprehensive, will it be safe? Why give up your home and jobs here to face uncertainty there, even if it is just for a few years?
I remember when my wife and I left for Kenya, many such questions were similarly asked.
Yes for sure, it will be an adventure, a huge learning experience for them all, there will be fun and laughter with the children, along with trials and frustrations, and the need always to take care of the security issue. So what is the motivation?
Well my grandson was brought up in Africa, and went to school there, my grand-daughter-in-law became a Christian in Africa, visiting this same children’s centre as part of a work team, so there is an element of ‘Africa under your skin’!
The real motivation however comes from their Christian faith. Jesus invites his followers to come and ‘take up their cross and follow me’ and sends some of his children to the ends of the earth. When Christians ask the question ‘Lord what do you want me to do’ ? The answer to that question sometimes takes a while to become clear, but when it does, it is time to act. It’s amazing to see how the skills of my grandson and wife completely match the needs at the children’s centre at this very time. God’s timing is always right.
A home in Scotland, a home in Africa, and a home in heaven! Jesus said to his followers ‘In my Father’s house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also’. Now there is something to look forward to no matter your age or how many homes you’ve had down here! He also announced how to be sure of being there.
Jesus said, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me. I’ve never regretted coming to Jesus.
Video – A Home in Africa!
Hope you are all having a great summer now that restrictions are easing!