Monday, August 1, 2011

THE SMELL OF SNAIL MAIL



We still like paper. We almost never get a paper letter these days. However, we do get lots of communication. Our inbox in a multiple of e-mail accounts is usually full. Facebook seems to capture our attention. Our phones seem to continually ring or receive messages. Now, even “technologically challenged” Dave is on twitter. (Dave was described this way by our brother- in-law, Greg Carr, and many years later he is still stays about three years behind the cutting edge.)




Eighteen years ago, we moved to Uganda to start life anew. We were young and full of youthful ideals and dreams. We remember one of our daily highlights. We eagerly would go to the post office to collect news of home. During our initial days in Uganda if we wanted to receive a phone call from home we went to the Sheraton to stand in line at 4 phone booths where we could receive a phone call from abroad. If we wanted to make a phone call we went the National Post Office and stood in line for 1 phone from which we could make an international phone call using an AT&T calling card.




Then our world rapidly shifted. On year 6 in Uganda (1999) within a few weeks time we all had mobile phones, a landline phone in our home, and internet, and e-mail. It took us another six years of time with a year of lecturing at wireless campus, Oklahoma Christian University to get past the technology shock.




It is fun to stay so in touch with the world, but we miss quiet days at home without the disturbances of ringing phones and recent tweets. A favorite memory of those days is playing sandlot baseball in a vacant next door lot with our small children.




Like the massive technology shock that came to our lives in 1999, 2011 promises to usher us into another completely new world. Our oldest child, Sophia will shortly be leaving us to attend Wheaton College.




In our Uganda pre-mobile technology days Sophia would stand at our porch and cry, “Don’t leave me daddy” as Dave went to work. On his better days, Dave would respond, “You will be the one who leaves me someday.” That day has come.




We are immensely proud of Sophia. Her accomplishments have been many. From her earliest days she was like her mother. She did whatever was needed to keep the family functioning and serve those God had brought into our lives. Our frequent houseguests were often treated to “Jenkins Dinner Theatre” as she cleverly tricked her na├»ve younger brothers into becoming performing actors. The Kampala Church of Christ saw her step up to the tasks of teaching children’s classes and leading worship when she was still in elementary school. Her first words were a combination of Luganda, Kiswahili, and English; and she quickly learned who preferred to be spoken to in which language.




She has excelled academically, in the arts, and she is our favorite writer of non-inspired literature. (In fact, Dave will read her blog much quicker than he’ll read Andrew Mwenda or David Hansen.) Sophia may be the best writer in our family. She carries the writing and teaching legacy of her grandmothers, Minnie Sophia Eichorn Jenkins and Janet Tarbet. If you have not read her blog you should at http://thoughtsofthewanderingchild.blogspot.com/




She has been accepted into her first choice of a college. She plans to attend the prestigious Wheaton College this fall.




As she writes Africa has profoundly changed us for the better. Sophia’s first steps were taken dancing to a Ugandan drum in 1993. Since then African rhythm has guided our life. Sophia’s education was a true African community endeavor. Our lives as nomads placed her in several different schools. Each one is a cherished memory. Sophia began kindergarten in Dave’s hometown of Prior Lake, Minnesota living with his parents, Lloyd and Lois Jenkins as Dave healed from a herniated disc in his neck. Upon our return to Uganda she was homeschooled by her grandmother, Janet Tarbet. As our family matured we formed a home school coop with other families and were graced by teachers Jenna Reynolds and Esther Tushabe. Twice during extended furloughs Sophia attended Oklahoma Christian Academy. In Rwanda for a season we did not know how we could be sustainable. Yet our community rallied and Kigali International Community School (KICS) was born. God has been our provider and guide throughout this endeavor.




Now we are at a place of new discovery mingled with the familiar discipline of God stretching our faith. As predicted many years ago, Sophia will shortly be leaving us. Wheaton and the USA government have been generous, but we still lack about $22,000 to pay for the next academic year.




Our seasons of life in African ministry have left us never without food or friends. The oldest of words to missionaries ring true, Jesus said, "Mark my words, no one who sacrifices house, brothers, sisters, mother, father, children, land—whatever—because of me and the Message will lose out. They'll get it all back, but multiplied many times in homes, brothers, sisters, mothers, children, and land—but also in troubles. And then the bonus of eternal life! This is once again the Great Reversal: Many who are first will end up last, and the last first." (Mark 10:29-31, The Message.)

Thus as our first born departs we will honor our African traditions. During Jana’s childhood in the early days of Kenya’s Independence when a community faced a seemingly insurmountable challenge, Kenyan President Mzee Jomo Kenyatta stirred the community with his message of “Harambee.” It was time for the community to pull together. The past was forgiven. Unity was lived. Sacrifices were made. The day was celebrated.




Since you are receiving this in the post you will likely not attend Sophia’s Graduation Harambee on Saturday, 6 August in Kigali. We are sorry you won’t be able to laugh, tell stories, and celebrate with us. I imagine our old Uganda drum will make an appearance and remind us that all God has made is good. By human sight it will not be financially possible for Sophia to attend Wheaton. However, in the God inspired vision of Mzee Kenyatta’s Harambee we are confident the day of celebration will end in Sophia’s send off blessing.




Old letters on paper tell our stories from Kenya in the 1960’s and 70’s and Uganda in the 1990’s. Thus today we are sending you a piece of paper. This is how friends communicate intimacy while at a distance.




If you want to join our Harambee please feel free write a check to “Sophia Jenkins,” and mail it to:

Bluestone Federal Credit Union
1252 Yankee Doodle Road
Eagan, MN 55121
Phone Number: 651-452-3131

Thanks for sharing this wonderful journey with us.

Dave and Jana

No comments:

Post a Comment