Today is New Years Eve, the close of a year...a wild adventure for our family indeed...an adventure that took us all places we never expected. Even Agnes. Our precious friend Agnes returns to Tanzania today. Here I want to brag and rejoice over Agnes! We love her so dearly.
We met Agnes in June of 2015 on an exploratory trip to Tanzania. She had us from “Karibu.” We stayed in touch the year leading up to our move and she met us at our guesthouse in Arusha the morning of June 2, 2016 in the midst of our jet lag and 22 suitcases...and we never looked back. You see, in Tanzanian culture, you hire helpers. It’s unaffordable and almost inappropriate here in the USA. But it’s normal and expected there...and when you’re new to the country, you’d be lost without it. Agnes was one of the team members we hired to help with the house, the kids, the cooking, etc. But we don’t have “staff”, we have family. We have team. Agnes has been with us through it all...language learning, cultural frustration, setting up house in Africa, hundreds of guests, sick kids, countless chickens, motorcycle rides to get Lily from school, market runs, she’s saved us from humiliation and pushed us past our fears. She protected us, served us, challenged us, shaped us, inspired us and loved us like we are her family.
Then Graceson had the stroke. In an instant we lost her and she lost us. During those dreadful days in Nairobi, Tricia and I asked ourselves “what does Graceson need most?” Our answer was: Agnes! They had formed such a precious bond already. So, we set out, with the help of the Lord and a great friend to get Agnes a passport and a US Visa (a process that could take 3-4 months) and she got both in 30 days! Two days later she was on a plane to us here in the states. And just like that, it’s been over 6 months...in our cozy little apartment with us, taking each step of this journey. She has kept my Swahili sharp, learned way more English, and she is now a physical therapist for the most precious little guy around! Our whole family here has fallen in love with her. Since we couldn’t be in Tanzania, Tanzania came to us!
Our hearts hurt a lot today, for ourselves and Agnes, but mostly for Graceson. Graceson and Agnes have a very, very special bond. He has no idea what’s about to happen. In fact, just yesterday, Agnes’s aging mother called from Tanzania rejoicing: “we have a name for Graceson, we have a name! It’s Immanuel!” In African culture, when there is a very special relationship like this, they’ll give them their “African name.” Graceson got one yesterday. Graceson Brave Immanuel Kaye
We hope to have Agnes return in March in order to utilize the remainder of her visa. Mungu anaweza!
One last thought: after this experience, we will never again in all our lives see cultural differences as barriers that separate, but adhesive that bonds us together!
Dada Agnes, safari njema, tunawapenda sana sana, na Mungu akubariki sana. Tutaonana.