I could see it all happen as though in slow motion. The driver tried to slow down. The rest of the flock and a few random cows had gotten out of the way on the busy street, but one particular sheep had no idea what was coming at him. The huge blue worker man truck (as Watson called it) had tried to stop as quickly as it could. But the collision could not be avoided. Upon impact, the sheep fell to the ground. Sitting in our rental vehicle on the other side of the road, I couldn’t watch and closed my eyes. Was the sheep alive?When I made myself peek, the poor sheep was slowly wobbling away…dazed and confused.
On this particular day, I immediately identified with this shaken sheep. We were embarking on our first journey driving in Africa and it was clear we were out of place. We had stopped briefly to find a friend near the matatu station and a gentleman approached our vehicle. He asked in a matter-of-fact Kenyan way, “You okay?” to which my interpretation was something like… “You lost? This isn’t a place for mzungus.”
Um, wait. What are mzungus? WE are mzungus. Mzungu is a widely accepted word used to refer to white people or foreigners. Some say it is loosely translated from the Swahili word “kuzunguka,” which means “around.” To the local people, foreigners seem to walk around in circles looking lost! Seems fitting. When you don’t know where you are going, what you are doing, what people are trying to say to you, or how to talk to anyone…you feel quite dazed and confused.
This day wasn’t the first time I felt this way and it hasn’t been the last. Just like the sheep, I don’t always see it coming. We often are surrounded by Westerners and/or Africans who speak English so the impact of our differentness isn’t felt daily. The first few times I was struck by this, I was able to get up and wobble away. But cumulatively, these experiences sparked questions and doubts. It gets harder to get up when – in your own strength and wisdom – you don’t know what your next move should be.
Feeling like a lost sheep, running into obstacle after obstacle in this new land, the only thing we can do is continue on a deeper pursuit of the only one who can save us.