Of Dreams, Africa and Moving 8,000 miles Across the Globe

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Have you ever gone through a season of tears and aches and you sought answers and none was forthcoming?

Ever asked God (what you thought was) hard hard questions but instead of answers got the feeling that God was waiting on you?

In the last one year, I’ve had a fair share of those moments.

The background

To borrow Floyd’s words, “that yank on the belly of your soul’,  can leave one wordless. Or mumbling incoherently.

I hope to do neither…but this journey has been anything but neat or comprehensible.

A little back ground;

I am Kenyan (a gorgeous country in the Eastern part of Africa, lying at the equator).

Thirteen months ago, my husband and I moved to the United States.

Prior to our move, I was working at our start-up, a consulting and training firm, after closing a clothing and jewelry retail outlet.

We were loving the smell of new business, new clients and were absolutely excited about business potential.

My husband was loving his work – his career was finally aligning to purpose.

We adored Africa (still do). We knew God had called us to make a difference in our country and continent.

Our roots ran deep. We loved our local church and our couples group. We loved organizing couples seminars and singles events. We loved our mentors and enjoyed a deep connection.

We were not the kind that “dream of making a living abroad”.

The beginning

Nonetheless, three years ago things began to shift, though we had no idea at that time.

It was a normal day. I had a sick friend at a local hospital. I was about to board a bus to the hospital – and my mind was on what she wanted to eat, how I’d feed her, the stories she had, the updates from the doctor.

My mind was not on moving. Yet that’s the news I received before I boarded the bus. I called my husband and we laughed about it. And dismissed it.

The decision

But we have two years to think about it.

While we do not want to leave, we finally begin to open up to the possibility that maybe, just maybe, God is working out something incomprehensible but  divine.

Two years offer a lot of time to pray, consult, research, wait on God. We fleece and ask Him to confirm everything.

We (okay, my husband) has a simple way of looking at it.

If God wants us to move, He would show up in exact specific ways. He relaxes and gives God room to move.

I try to relax and to kick back but I don’t have the introverted relaxed personality my husband has. So I feel like I am picking up the fleece. Not a good place to be.

The process

In the middle of 2011 and armed with plans, connections, ideas and dreams, we finally move.

Having prayed and walked through the process with our mentors, we are at peace about our decision.

But we quickly discover that  nurturing dreams is one thing, walking them out is a different deal all together.

Now

We are thirteen months old in our new country of residence, the United States. I look back and wonder where time has gone. It still feels like we arrived yesterday.

My husband has connected with work he loves.

I have been in and out of small jobs – and they drove me crazy. People think am choosy. I am. We all are. I am just not good at hiding it.

I am now wholly devoted to kick start our business/ministry, from a slightly different angle than what we had in Kenya.

God has continued to be awesome at what He does – shepherding his two kids.

I miss home terribly.

I miss the crisp evening air and the sounds of an African morning. I miss walking to the roadside shop on a lazy afternoon to buy fresh produce for dinner. I miss the choice cuts from my local butchery.

I even miss the noisy traffic, dusty air, red soil, crazy public transport. And  the weird politics and shenanigans on evening TV.

Most nights, I dream of Kenya – I wake up surprised that am not home.

Growth

I think I have grown more in this past year than I would have if I had stayed in Kenya.

I have learned to trust God on a whole new level. When you are in foreign country and all you have is a big dream, you learn to trust God for everything.

Sometimes I think God may have brought me this far in order to get me alone.

I am a busy bee by nature. I detest idleness. I have always filled my life with activity – not always a bad idea, but again not always a good idea.

God did shut down everything – my usual life, business, ministry, busyness – so that I could sit still, hear and focus exclusively on the things He wanted me to hear.

Alone in this great land, defiant in my dreams and tenacious in faith, I have had no choice but sit still, listen and and learn.

It’s not all gloom.

I am falling in love with America.

It’s a fascinating land, a melting pot of world cultures. I am almost persuaded that at least every nation on earth has a representative here.

Coming from the stiff old-British culture (Kenya obtained its independence from Britain in 1965), I am amazed and delighted by the casual outlook here.

Casual in general life but cut-throat in business and work. Compared to Kenya anyway.

I love the efficient systems and simplified living. I may not like the frozen vegetables much but at least they are all cut up and ready to cook!

I love summer, early fall and late spring. I am still figuring out what to think about winter, besides “I can’t go through this again!”

I am loving the new connections we are making, the fresh opportunities that God is bringing our way.

Of dreams, Africa and moving 8,000 miles across the globe

Lessons I have learned.

If there’s anything I’d like you to take away from this post, it’s this; don’t give up.

I want to encourage you – yes, you. You are busy working on your dream, following the Lord but you feel like the world is on your shoulders. You feel like it’s easier to let go or find something else to do.

I want to encourage you – nothing else will make sense other than doing what God created you to do.

If you hang in there, if you keep doing what you are doing long enough, breakthrough will come.

I know. Not earth-shattering news, you’ve heard it all before.

But hang on to it like it’s the truth.

Because it is.

God does not owe man anything. When He says He’ll do something, He does it.  If you keep putting your foot in front of the other, you will reach Canaan.

Lessons

I cannot sign off without sharing some of the other life lessons I have learned.

1. You will not always understand or know where your dreams will take you.

You only need to know the Dream Maker, the Dream Giver. Surrender the details to Him.

2. You actually know way less than you think you do.

Be humble, stay teachable, hang on to God for dear life.

3. Try and enjoy the process.

Otherwise you might find that you lived 10% of your life (destination) and missed out the rest of the 90 % (the process)

4. The world does not revolve around you.

Seriously. Grow up, release people to be people and live your life.

5. Only God can bring your dreams to pass.

Don’t hustle people for promotion. Tone down expectation.

6. Knowing who you are (in God) will carry you through ugly soul-deadening seasons.

7. Treasure your relationships

Family, friends. Life has it’s ebbs and flows. It will not always be the same.

8. Learn to let go of seasons.

Grieve, cry, roll on the floor if you must. But let go of the past and embrace the new. Don’t hold on to what is already gone.

9. Learn to cleave.

Your relationship will help you weather the toughest storms.

10. Treasure your mentors, people who pour their lives to you.

They won’t always be there. Not always in the same way anyway (some props will be kicked out down the road)

11. If you can (please try), learn the needed lesson the first time round.

So that you don’t have to go round the same mountain again.

Question – How is your journey? Are you pursuing your dreams no matter the the cost?

 

Related post

Unclothed and unashamed: Pursuing God’s best for your marriage and life

When you vision is impossible, too expensive and a little crazy

Keeping quiet in a roller coaster ride

You know you are a Kenyan in America when you do these things

 Image – Angela Highfield

26 Comments

  1. I came across your blog by accident and this is the first post I have read. It is definitely now a coincidence; God led me here. I have been married for one year and about nine months into our marriage, we moved to England so that I could start my PhD. This post is so encouraging because the journey has NOT been easy. Thank you I feel refreshed.

    1. So amazing Daisy, isn’t it. I am so happy you have been encouraged. Relocation is NOT easy 🙂 I pray God keeps you, strengthens you and refreshes you.

  2. Hi Ngina,
    I can appreciate this post. I am learning #6, trying to live #3 and walking in the midst of several of the other ones listed. Ah, what a time, what a time! There is a lot of meat here.

    1. Ahh Mae, it’s like that saying goes, when it rains, it pours! 🙂 Amen to new levels and new lessons. The higher the building the deeper the foundations. Glad this was an encouragement today. thanks for stopping by.

  3. Hey girlfriend! This post has made me miss you more 🙂 I agree, time really flies… it seems like just yesterday you guys bid us goodbye and left “us”. Any way, you encourage me a lot… I don’t get to mention often, but yes. Just like Barb, your blog is so unrelaxing in a good way, it makes me wake up from my slumber 🙂 Bless the Lord for giving you the burden to help people like me “grow up” by force 🙂 As for the question above, I ashamedly admit and say NO. Not yet… because I guess I have had a wrong perception of the course of my dream…thinking its connected to people more than God. But your point No. 5 (Only God can bring your dreams to pass. Don’t hustle people for promotion. Tone down expectation.)
    As much as I know God and trust in Him, quite often I forget and link my dream with people to make it happen.

    Lemme say again, I have never been so much enlightened by your post like this one…

    Keep up dear! and may God continue enlarging your territories.

    Love you! and regards to Tommy

    1. Aww Jess, now I miss you and home even more!!

      I am glad the post has helped you think, cos I believe that’s where everything begins..we got to start thinking about the direction of our lives and our part in making it happen. the next big thing is action of course but it begins with a change of mindset.

      For me, intentionality in pursuing my dreams has been borne out of desperation and deep desire to live out God’s dream for my life. I find that God is always working out situations that leave me with little-to-no-option but to push hard and trust God. .

      Sometimes we are too comfortable in our circumstances and life and it takes a gentle – or not so gentle – nudge to start moving in the right direction 🙂

  4. Ngina, you asked: “How is your journey? Are you pursuing your dreams no matter the cost?”

    As you stated in your post, just keep putting one foot in front of the other and you’ll get there. I am pursuing my dream. But, not “no matter the cost”. I’m not one to step on toes and push people out of the way. Within reason works best for me. I am pursuing none the less. Great post by the way!

    1. Thanks Kimberly, glad you are pursuing your dream, a step at a time. Those steps add up pretty well!

  5. Ngina, your posts are unrelaxing to read because I feel like I have to get out a pad and pencil and take notes every time I read them! I loved hearing about your moving experience – I’d never heard the story before and was always wondering about the details. It was fun to read. All of your points resonated with me. Point number 3 – enjoy the process – is the one I most need to work on! Thanks for another great post.

    1. Lol! Your posts are the same Barb! Just deeper, with lots of “ouch!” Am glad you enjoyed this one and got to know more about the details.

      Am also learning how to enjoy the process/change. Am really not that good at change! (although I thought I was!). Thanks for reading

  6. Thanks for sharing! I am an American and moved just within the continent (although from one coast to the other) and find myself pondering the same things you wrote about.
    Again, thanks for sharing. I really enjoyed the read. God bless you.

    1. I am glad you enjoyed the post April! I find the details of change to be the same, regardless of distance 🙂 It’s about the connections and relationships we have and the newness of our new place! Wishing you all the best as you adjust, settle and grow.

  7. Ngina, seems I have to make this post a daily till I soak in the lessons you have shared. Truly appreciate you sharing your journey.

    “nothing else will make sense other than doing what God created you to do” ~ Personally my journey has been a roller coaster experience, and I am having fun. Whether or not we reach the destination, we have got to enjoy the ride.

    1.  Yes, JepB we must enjoy the journey!

      I know am guilty of thriving at the mountain top but enduring the journey.

      Am glad you are hanging on to God in your ups and downs and enjoying the whole journey. With Him, every day is precious!

  8. Great story and lessons. I think it’s so important for those who have been raised in America that  it’s much easier to chase after your dreams. I have seen how so many people are content with what they have and are doing when they have the potential to do and become so much more.

    1.  Agree with you Dan, there’s so much more we can do with our lives. We just need to get out of comfort zones. I think everyone should read Jeff Goins book ‘wrecked’ 🙂

      Thanks for sharing

  9. “Keep doing what you’re doing long enough, breakthrough will come.” That is the statement for success and winners in this life. Most people throw in the towel after a time and miss out on the sweet nectar of success which is only sweet due to the blood, sweat, and tears put into it. 

    You and your husband have my respect. To go to a new country and pursue dreams at the direction of God is no small thing… and He will bless you abundantly. And we get to be blessed by your words of encouragement… All in all I’d say this is a pretty sweet deal… I’m praying for you and your husband, keep the faith my sister. God has given you a wonderful gift.

    1.  Thank you for your kind, encouraging words and prayers Floyd.

      God has been so good to us and we continue to trust Him.

      Indeed it’s a very sweet deal! You can’t loose, when God is in the mix.

      God bless and thank you.

  10. When you are speaking about moving 8,000 miles that is a BIG gigantic move.  Your faith must have been HUGE and you are really showing your faith in God by listening. I know getting used to a new culture can be difficult but you have come in and are making waves in this community and really sharing some great information. I thoroughly enjoyed hearing about your journey. It really helps put things in perspective. God Bless you and your Husband.

    I have some Great friends from Cameroon that are Business mentors to me. Awesome people.

    1.  Thank you Lincoln. I thought it’s a good idea to do a post that explains my background – the move has really shaped me in big ways. Always good to have a place i can link back to to share my story.

      It took faith but even more so God Himself enabling us :).

      Thank you so much for your kind words.

  11. Betty Draper says:

    You are speaking my language Ngina.  God has moved us all over the world only to bring us back to America.  He has given us a wealth of knowledge on living in foreign countries and learning to listen to that small still voice that speaks when we quiet our hearts to hear.   I must tell you settling back into USA culture has actually been the hardest because we did not want to leave Papua New Guinea and our ministry there.  Timing when it’s God’s is perfect and that gives us courage to be used in our new season of life.  It takes no risk to live in hindsight but oh to live on in the now, not questing the future take courage.  I can tell by your post you are a courageous wise hearted woman.  Enjoy this move of God in your life.  Blessings
    Betty

    1.  Wow Betty, God has been moving in your life – that’s a deep moving story.

      I tell my husband that next time God moves us, we’ll be like old hands 🙂 – cos we now have some experience. From your thoughts, i see that the roots will go deep again and it may be just as hard to leave, like the first time.

      I agree with, it takes no risk to live in the past -for me it was almost default :). But to face the now and trust God with the future takes courage.

      I pray you continue to find His blessing and favor too in this season of your life. Thank you so much for sharing your story. I am blessed.

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