Missionary Update: Roger & Julie Tate in Kenya [May 2013]

April 26, 2013

When Dave asked us ladies to write the newsletter this month in honor of Mother’s Day, I struggled with what to say…because there is too much to say. So, let me share just a couple of joys and struggles that I face here in Kenya as a missionary woman/wife/mother.

One of my absolute favorite things about living on the mission field here in Kenya is being among a multitude of people groups and nationalities. In the States, I knew a few isolated people who were not native to our country; but, in Kenya, my family has had to learn to co-exist peacefully and respectfully with people of many diverse ethnic groups: South Korean, Pakistani, Norwegian, Icelandic, German, Swiss, Swedish, Jewish, French, English, Danish, Indian, Tanzanian, not to mention the different tribes of Kenya with their unique cultures. There is so much beauty in living among these different cultures, because it’s just a little taste of Heaven. Don’t get me wrong; I love America. I love our American heritage, and I want my children to treasure it as much as I do. But, America is not all there is in this world; we are really only a small portion of it. I am so thankful God has given Roger and I – and our children – the opportunity to learn to love the diversity of people and cultures God has put on the earth. I am also thankful for the occasion it brings to grow, stretch, be humbled, and learn to extend mercy and grace in the midst of many challenging differences. It’s amazing how people can be so alike and yet so different at the same time! One of my favorite memories was when all our friends here in Kitale gathered around to wish Emily well as she left to go to boarding school for 9th grade. In our cozy living room were people from 5 different countries – including our Muslim friends from Pakistan and our Jewish missionary friends from Israel…peacefully together in the same room.

There are also many challenges. It is difficult living in a culture where finding trust-worthy people is a bit like looking for a needle in a haystack. It is difficult sticking out like a sore thumb, being stared at, and being seen as a potential resource rather than as a real friend or even as a fellow human being. It’s difficult watching my children try to develop friendships only to have the Kenyan children bribe them and use them. It makes us all deeply thankful for the few real friendships they have. But the most difficult challenge for me right now is getting ready to send Emily off to college. Here in just a few months, we will leave for furlough as a family of five knowing that when we return, there will be only four of us. In the middle of July, Emily will graduate from high school and then will have only a few weeks at home with us. Those weeks will be filled with a lot of “lasts.” She may never be here again. She won’t come home for Christmas, Spring break, or summer break. She can’t come for weekend visits – she’ll be 8,000 miles away, and a round-trip ticket is over $1,000.00. Grandparents and other family and friends will be doing all the things for her that we, her parents, should be doing. We’ve already had some lasts: this past Christmas was likely the last Christmas she’ll have with us at home – the last time decorating the tree together, the last time taking silly family pictures in front of our own tree, never getting to hike on Mt. Elgon again, never staying at Hampton House in Nairobi together again, never again seeing people who have come to be like family to her, not having family game and movie night together…and it goes on. There is high likelihood of not getting to know her future husband well, not being able to spend time with grandchildren and getting to know them. So many things I don’t feel quite ready to sacrifice. Actually, I don’t feel ready at all. And she is only the first; this will be the path for all of my children. In fact, it will start almost as soon as we return to Kenya because Amy will then – Lord willing – begin attending Rift Valley Academy (another challenge in Kenya is schooling; Kenyan teachers cane children, beating them even over the head and shoulders with rods) which means she will be away from home 9 months out of every year. It is suddenly very clear to me the degree of sacrifice being a missionary will entail in this area, and my mother’s heart hurts.

But God…He is good. He is faithful, and He is true. He is my all –in-all and the treasure of my heart. He is my comfort and my stay. When all the props are stripped away – the malls, the entertainment, the distractions of Western living…I see all the more…He is my strong tower, and He is the Lover of my soul. He is the Lover of my children’s souls. Ultimately, it is He, and not I, who ensures their lives and their paths. This is an area you can really pray for us right now; all of us, Emily, Amy, and Josiah included. We’re all hurting a bit right now.

~Julie Tate

Roger & Julie Tate (and Emily, Amy, & Josiah)
P.O. Box 96
Kitale, Kenya 30200
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