Experiencing Changes on this Mission Field
The first thing that comes to my mind, if I talk about changes in the last few years on this mission field, is wearing face masks. Surely it is a worldwide change. Anyway, the students who joined BCEA last year, I knew them in the class only with their face masks on. Only a few days ago I was at the Bible college soccer field watching the students play. They were without masks and I had a problem identifying them, “Who is he? I never knew he looks like that?” Really, they look so different with or without masks. If I had seen them somewhere outside of the college without a mask, I wonder if I would have even recognized them. Regardless of my years teaching and learning in the same classroom, yet we are like strangers to one another.
When this year began, most schools and public services were able to return to their normal routines and schedules. This brought people and vehicles back on the roads, making noise day and night. Maybe it seems that they are noisier after having such a period of silence when Covid-19 was regarded as serious and everybody stayed home. Nowadays, people walk on the roads without masks. Cars, matatus (public transportation), and motorbikes drive up and down the road just next to the college. They disturb life! Additionally, bars have recently opened up around the college. They never sleep during weekend and play music (?) the whole night. As the population grows in our area, more new buildings are constructed. Houses, grocery shops, car wash, pharmacies, and butcheries have been added on. Whoops! Now add to that, bars with music!
The increase in population in this area also brought a water issue. Our neighbors dug boreholes for water deeper than ours in the college. They even did it near to our college wells. The borehole in the college is of a depth of 150 meters, dug back in 1992. It has served the college for the last 30 years. Toward end of 2021, it didn’t pump water as used to do. At first, we simply thought that the pump was the main problem. That repair was costly indeed. Yet even then, there was not sufficient water to provide for the use of the college! The reason: our neighbors are taking the water. So, a deeper borehole must be drilled.
Another recent change in Nairobi is the internet, smart phones, and Wi-Fi service. With the installation of Wi-Fi, many things have become much easier. Looking back to when I first came to this field, internet service was available only in cyber cafés. Though you could have your own internet service, it was very costly. Comparing now with that time, I can see a big change! One day in downtown Nairobi I saw a sign board for a Samsung phone with 5G. I commented, “Wow, 5G available in Nairobi; we are so advanced!” Soon my friend said, “Yes, but let them bring electricity first.” What good is Wi-Fi if the electricity supply is poor? Yes, the electricity often goes out here – sometimes twice a day and we can even go for 24-hours without electricity! Fearing that the electricity may go out during an exam period, I always prepare and print out my exam papers when the power is available. Then I can give an exam regardless of the power.
When there is a graduation in the kindergarten (affiliated with BCEA), the children prepare a special presentation. Since last year, schools had operated with four terms per year instead of the normal three. This was done to make up for classes missed in 2020. So, for us, this made the kindergarten graduation set for this coming March. What can the children do for a special item? I remembered the Korean traditional fans that visitors had one time left behind, so I gave them to teacher “R”. Teacher “R” organized a performance for children to a song “God is so good” using the fans. What I saw in their practice was nothing of Korean tradition. The children, with the teacher, were shaking the fans like Masai sticks. I laughed at the change that they made as it was very imaginative. Anyway, who could imagine these children holding Korean traditional fans, and performing such as they did? The real change was not that of performance, but was more about things now available in Nairobi.
I have served here in the same place for almost 15 years. However, not a single day has been the same. The days have always been similar, but with different issues to deal with. This is mostly true because students are different and many changes have occurred with each year. To cope with them, have I learned to be patient and flexible yet spiritual in pursuing Christian goals and aims? Again, change comes along with years and years spent on the field, and they accumulate as experience. I don’t argue about it. However, I do ask myself if years spent really mean maturity. As gray hairs are added more with years, I think of maturity. “The glory of young men is their strength: and the beauty of old men is the gray head.” Proverbs 20:29
Please pray for BCEA that we can handle the changes in Nairobi and throughout East Africa, and that we can be efficient and faithful to the preaching of His Word. Thank you.
In His service,
Bai, Eun Young