Monday, July 10, 2017

Transition and Questions - A Blog by Madison

Transitions are tough. Anyone who’s ever moved, changed jobs, gotten married, or done anything else that alters your life knows this to be a fact.

Transitions are tough.

I’ve experienced many transitions throughout my life. Coming back after living at Tenwek for two years has been a pretty hard adjustment. Moving there had been tough also, but it was a different kind of adjustment. Then, I was going to a country I didn’t know that would become my new home. Now, I’m coming home to a country I thought I knew, but it is only a temporary home.

My transition back has been full of questions. I have questions of my own, and I am asked a LOT of questions. I get them from old friends, from family, from people that I’ve never met, from everywhere. Some of the questions are fun to answer, while others are much harder.

I found a blog a while back that is written for missionaries by missionaries. It has some amazing posts that my parents and I can definitely relate to. One of these was a post about the top 10 questions missionary kids would love to be asked. I answered five of them earlier for a talk with families from our church, but I thought I would turn those into a blog for those of you who would like to learn more.

Riding a horse in Aberdare National Park

I’ll start by introducing myself. I’m Madison Parker, and my parents are Bob and Andrea Parker. We live at Tenwek Hospital in Bomet, Kenya, where my parents are general surgeons. I’m 13 and going into 9th grade this upcoming year. I love reading, writing, listening to music and playing bass, cooking, and drawing. I also love Tenwek, where my family and I have lived for the past two years. We’re excited to get back. We aim to get back in March, God willing.

Now that you know a bit more about me, here are the five questions from the blog that I’ve answered. If you would like to read the original article, here’s the link:

Question #1 What is the funniest thing that has ever happened to you overseas?

            The church we go to in Kenya is right on the hospital grounds, and it’s where most of the staff of Tenwek Hospital go, along with their families. Our church is a mix of the cultures we live in. Nonetheless, there are still instances that remind us that we still live on the mission field.

            Before I tell my story, I need to give you one basic piece of background. In the local tribal language, Kipsigis, the sounds “p” and “b” are often interchanged. Hence the reason that signs reading “Pumbs (bumps) ahead” are not uncommon.

            So, we were sitting in church one Sunday during the prayer and praise requests time. People were occasionally standing up to tell their testimonies and ask for prayer, like normal. I had just leaned over to ask my mom a question when the room got quiet.

            Everyone was looking our way, but we weren’t sure why. We just kind of looked around, confused. The man leading prayer, who happened to be a good friend of ours, looked at us again and said, “Mrs. Barger, will you lead us in prayer?”

            My mom wasn’t very well-known in our church then, so she wasn’t sure if they were asking us to pray. To make it even MORE confusing, a missionary was sitting in front of us, whose name was Mrs. Burgert, who had been at Tenwek for a long time and is often called upon to pray.

            Trying to end the awkward moment, Mrs. Burgert stood up, assuming she was being called on, but the man waved his hand at her and shook his head, indicating she should sit back down. He looked directly at us, and said the name again.

            My mom stood up, finally concluding she was being called on to pray. But by then, no one was entirely sure what we were praying for, and unfortunately, my mom hadn't heard. She ended up praying for everything we normally prayed for (though usually at different times): offering, the kids' church, the prayer requests, and everything else she could think of. 

            After she sat down, the man leading the service just looked around and dismissed the kids to service after a few awkward minutes. This is a perfect example of the miscommunication we can sometimes experience. The language barrier isn’t too hard where we are, but even though I may be speaking the same language as the person I’m talking to, it can still be hard to understand each other.

Question #2 What do you miss about Kenya?

"The Squad"
            What I miss the most about Kenya is our community. I knew everyone there, and everyone knew me.  I had an incredible friend group (you can read more about them in the answer to the question below this), and have made many great friends during my two years there. I was able to go outside any time I wanted for the most part, and I could almost always find someone who would talk to me or hang out with me. I also felt very secure where we were, so I felt safe walking to my friends’ houses.

Rees and Madison in Greece

Question #3 Can you describe a regular day in your life?

            I wake up, eat breakfast and get ready, then start school around 8:00, usually. Our househelper, Regina, arrives around 10:30 or 11, and makes chai (Kenyan tea) for me. I have a break from school most days while I drink my chai, but sometimes I just continue to work. I have lunch at one. My parents are usually home for lunch, but occasionally I have lunch alone. I finish up school somewhere around 2 or 2:30 then the rest of the day is mine. I go and hang out with my friends for the entire afternoon most days. I come in at 6, then it’s dinner, time to hang out with family, and back to bed.

            Most recently, I have had five kids my age at Tenwek: three girls and two boys. We’re all really close. Most days just us girls hang out, but we do stuff all together a lot too. If we’re outside, we sit and talk, climb trees, play outdoor games like Cops and Robbers, or jump on the trampoline that one of my friends has. If we’re inside, we sit and talk (this happens a lot!), play a board game, or make/get something to eat.

Question #4 What characteristics of your host country’s culture have become a part of you?

            If you hang out with me enough, you’ll notice one thing right away. I say sorry. A lot. If you drop something and I didn’t even do anything to cause it, I’ll say sorry. This is a very Kenyan expression. It’s a way of showing you have empathy with another person. You say “pole” (Swahili for sorry) to show that you care for them.

Another one is that I’m relaxed and taking breaks all the time. In my mind, there is always time for chai. We can always stop and take a break from what we’re doing. Where we are, every morning around 11, almost everyone stops work and has chai, just like I do in school. I think those are two things that have become part of my personality.

Question #5 How can I pray for you personally?

            The big thing right now is just being back. Please pray for good adjustments and transitions to being in the States again, with our families. I would also love prayer for the right things to say when talking to people about where I live. Thank you for all those who pray for us already, and thank you to all those who will. We always appreciate prayer.
            Thanks for taking the time to read a little about me and what I do, and I hope that I answered your questions. Tutaonana! (Swahili for “Until we see each other!)

Overlooking the Rift Valley


  1. Thank you for sharing, Madison! I will be praying for your continued transition!

  2. Madison, very well written. The conversation you, Anna, and I had at Mission Church last week was fascinating; but your blog adds much more. Thank you for telling me that you had written this. Praying always and thanking God for the young woman you are becoming. Bonnie