It dawns on me that I've never been so much the minority that people actually stop and stared at me as I walked by. Today in a crowded marketplace, far more intense than anywhere I have ever been in the states, small children ran up to me to rub my hands to see if the "white" would rub off. As I journey through this country that is both at times welcoming and wary of my presence I have noticed three things: they walk; they wait; and they work.
Whether we were in the center of Nairobi, a city of 3 million, or bumping along a remote, rut filled roads that jar you to the bone, most of the people are walking. They seem to walk with a deliberate intensity but not hurridly or in a rush. Often they are carrying heavy loads. I have seen women with what appears to be fifty or more pounds of sugar can and a small child on top of that, strapped to her back walking along a stretch of "highway." School children march in uniforms for miles, unaccompanied by adults, to and from school. Transportation is a luxury of the very few, mostly they simply walk.
They wait. From the amazing staff of the Plaza Hotel, Maua, Kenya (a converted jail where the rooms are former jail cells, kinda cool and humbling at the same time) who waited outside the hotel to carry our bags, to the infinite lines of traffic in Nairobi, to every place or business we have visited, the people here spend a lot of time waiting. They wait without malice. No one slams items to the counter, insulted by have to tarry for a few more moments to make a purchase. They simply wait.
They work, those who can find a job, and they work long and hard. The shop keepers work at getting you to enter their shops to make a purchase, even if it only a few hundred shillings ($2-3). The women carrying bundles on their back or selling tree ripened bananas on the side of the road. The driver who navigates the insanity of driving in a country with no stop signs, and where speed limits are suggestions and who never leave the vehicle, guarding it and your possessions, they simply wait.
I think I can learn a lot. What if I walked, walked to work, walked to the store, walked everywhere? Yes I would have to rise earlier but I would also have time to think without interuption. What if we pushed back from instant gratification and learned to wait? What if we worked with our whole heart instead of just our hands?
God may we walk with you without hurry, wait on you to show us the way, and work for you with our whole heart.