Saturday, October 18, 2008
Hi Mom....Call back please!
Thank God for technology! Yesterday morning as I was getting ready to go to work, I checked the clock as I do many times a day and considered what time it was in Kenya. Until we change the clocks in a week, Kenya time is 10 hours ahead of California time. So, to calculate, I always say "Flip it and subtract 2". By 'flip it', I mean that when it is morning here, it is evening there (and vice-versa). So, if it is 8 am here, it is 6 pm there. In a week, it will be an 11 hour difference, since Kenya doesn't "Fall Back" with their clocks as we do. Of course, when in Kenya, I have to calculate it backwards to figure out the right time to call America.
An evening at 'home' in Kenya with Moses, Edwin and Martin...calling my mom in America.
Anyway, I usually call the kids in our group homes every week. The best time to call is around 7 pm their time. At that time of evening, they are all home...doing homework, playing in the yard, preparing supper. It is a noisy time of day, to be sure!
So, as I said, I was thinking about calling yesterday around 9 am and then realized that since it was Friday night that the three wonderful 20-something Americans that are staying in Kenya for 6 months and who work with Oasis 3 days per week would be at House 2 having supper with the boys. So, I decided not to disturb them and to wait to call another day. (You can check out their blogs at the right of this page)
Daina with Edwin
Allison with Paul
Chris with John
Just at that moment...my phone rang. The caller I.D. announced "unknown caller". I picked up the phone and said "Hello". Then a very familiar voice said, "Hi mom. Call back please!" It was the voice of Stuard from House 2.
He had been thinking about me at the same time I had been considering calling them!
So, using my international calling plan (which brings my rates down to cents a minute rather than dollars!) I called back to their house dad's phone. The great thing about Kenyan mobile phones is that only the person calling gets charged; unlike our phones where both parties pay. So, as long as they have their phones charged, I can call and it doesn't cost them anything.
After greeting Dad Robert for a few moments, I asked him to put Stuard on the phone. "Hi mom! Thanks for calling back. We just really wanted to speak with you!"
Each of the 7 boys in the house (Stuard, Johnstone, Martin, Joseph, John, Moses and Timothy) took turns with the phone. Our conversations have a predicatable sequence. First come the Kenyan greetings. Greetings are essential in Kenya. "How are you? I am doing fine. How are you? I am good too." They always inquire about my mom, whom they call 'grandmother'...making sure that she fine as well; and always making sure that I promise to "give their greeting" to my mom.
House 2 (from bottom right): John, Joseph, former House dad Simon, Steward, our good friend Heidi, Timothy, Martin, Moses, Me and Johnstone (photo from February 2007)
They usually ask "How is America?" or "How is California" and until recently, I always said "Fine, the same as always". But, because I am always truthful with them, this week I said "Things are pretty tough here. Our economy is having some problems. Pray for America." They each replied in earnest sincerity that they would and that America should "Trust God." Hmmm...out of the mouths of babes, eh?
I always ask about school. They all just completed mid-terms exams (in primary school!) and they each told me which subjects they felt that they did well in and which ones they struggled with (usually math!). They told me how they were all going to my house tomorrow to do a Bible Study with Allison, Chris and Daina and get a little tutoring from them as well.
Some of the boys had special concerns or questions and I did my best to give them encouragement and insight. This week, they all wanted to talk about Edwin (from House 1) running away and tell me what they knew about the situation. I told each of them, "When God opens doors for us, we have to walk through them. God gives us free will. Edwin used his free will. We have to pray for him and hopefully he will come back soon. He is part of our family. We love him." They all assured me that they would never run away and that they didn't understand why Edwin did. For these boys, who have little family except each other...it is a huge loss to have one of their brothers leave home. They wanted to talk about their feelings and I did my best to council them and reassure them....from half a world away.
Edwin...still not home.
We always end our talks with "I love you and I miss you." Sometimes I get kisses over the line and the question "Did you receive my kiss, mom?". And always the question, "When will you be back?"
It isn't the same as being there. But, these calls are a lifeline for all of us. I can tell from their voices if they are well and happy. I can tell by the order in which they talk to me if one of them has an issue he doesn't want me to bring up. They know that I always find out about their grades and their behavior from Geoffrey. If one of them has gotten in trouble....he will always be the last one on the line and his hello will always be quiet and tentative.
I wish I could have this moment back with Edwin.
I want to be there every day. I want to sit and look into their eyes when they have a problem to discuss. But, for now at least, that isn't possible except for a few months each year. So, as families do.....we make the best of it. Thank God for technology!