Fifty Cents a Day

If you have been reading my stories this year, you know it took Tom a long time to get a job in Nairobi. He started working just 2 weeks before Nicholas was born, one year and six months after we arrived in the country.
We learned so many lessons along the way. It was challenging, but it was good for us. One of the best things I learned was just how little I could survive on.

I also learned that it wasn't the big things I missed having at times, but the small treats that caused me the most struggles with complaining and unhappiness. I didn't really care about the fact that we slept on a mattress on the floor or that my dresser was a simple straw basket that doubled as a side table. And I didn't mind having friends over for dinner and serving them on my small straw table or that the four straw chairs we had was all the seating in the room.

No, it wasn't those things that got to me over time. It was the fact that I couldn't just go out and buy a candy bar when I wanted one. Silly? You bet! True none the less. For several months, when things were very tight, Tom and I had a spending limit outside the house of 50 cents a day each.  So I had a choice. I could spend that money on a treat for myself or I could use it to buy a coke or a cup of tea to meet a friend and study the Bible. A coke was 25 cents back then in Kenya, a pot of tea was 50 cents. So I could meet two friends for a coke or one friend for tea. 

We walked into town so that we didn't spend money on transportation. We lived pretty close to the town center and the exercise was good for us.  There were also times we used some of the 50 cents to travel to visit someone who lived outside of town in one of the suburbs.

It seems trivial to get upset over not being able to eat some sugar, but I learned a lot about myself during those times. I am selfish to the core.  I love sugar. And while most days I did want to meet my friends and talk and get to know them or study the Bible together, some days I really just wanted to go downtown and take care of myself first.

Today Tom and I can spend a lot more than 50 cents a day. I'm grateful for that blessing. But I am also grateful for the lessons I learned in Nairobi. I think of that time often when I struggle to stay content. It humbles me and helps me keep things in perspective. I have a deeper appreciation for what I have because of that time. I also learned to appreciate the real struggle that so many in our world face on a daily basis to cloth and feed themselves and their families. Even during the most challenging of times, I had nice clothes and a warm place to sleep, sheltered from the elements. Those times altered my perspective, changed the lens I had always looked through. They were good times.
Lori Ziegler4 Comments