My Sincerest Apologies, Kenya



Two months to the day after my oldest son left to serve a two-year mission for our church we were missing him a lot.  We have four boys, and knowing that each of them would eventually follow in these same footsteps we became melancholy and a little misty when we would think of our boy out there on the other side of the planet (literally).  So, one Saturday my husband and I spent the day shopping for the contents of that first all-important package to send.  You know, the one that screams out, "Look!  I have not been forgotten, even though my room has probably already been turned into a storage closet!"

We picked up an SD card for his camera, a little flash drive, a t-shirt, food, a map of Kenya, medicines he had requested, dental floss, and some other personal items.  Many dollars later the package was sent through the USPS because the only other way to get things to Nairobi was by FedEx or DHL which only do overnight $278-dollar deliveries.  Sorry, but that wasn't about to happen.  So, we trusted that all would be well, even if it took three weeks.  He wasn't in a rush and we were fine with the delay.

In our back and forth emails we would ask about the package and sometimes there would be the response, "Not here yet, Mom." Or sometimes even, "Don't worry.  It will come."  To spare my concern Elder B. would sometimes avoid answering so that I couldn't get angry about it not arriving.  Then on Mother's Day, three months after sending it, we were able to talk to him on the phone.  "Sorry, Mom, but this is Africa and you can't count on me ever getting it.  Things just aren't regulated enough and someone may have hijacked it."

OK, now if I could have been sure that a poor man trying to support his family, or a single mother with babies to feed had gotten a hold of it I really think I would have been fine.  But in my mind I kept imagining some corrupt government worker who thought a package from America meant something good was in that box so he took it.  I was pretty mad about it for awhile.  We had spent around two-hundred hard-earned quid on that package and now it was gone.  Ugh.

Yesterday I was home for lunch and right about when I was heading back out to go to work the mail truck pulled up.  Up the sidewalk comes the mailman with a box in his hands.  As I took it I thought that maybe Elder B had mailed us something, but then I noticed it was from the USPS and was pretty banged up.  You guessed it.  After and eight-month vacation, my little package came home, a little banged up and dented in, but unopened and fully intact. We had neglected to put a P.O. Box number on the box.  It was totally my fault.  After laughing about it I felt real remorse.  Remorse for months of nursing negative feelings for this far away place.  For blaming an unknown person for something that was my own doing.  

I offer my sincerest apologies to Kenya, even though I know no one from that part of the world will read this.  I needed to throw it out into the universe, and I hope that will be good enough to clear my soul.  Weird thing though... I have taken everything out of the box, and the only thing I can think of doing is remailing it with a strange secret wish that some poor father or single mother actually will intercept it.  

9 comments

LisAway | October 9, 2008 at 11:18 PM

Wow! Eight months of wondering, huh? My goodness. I would have been quick to point fingers. In fact I'm pointing some right now, at the people at the post office here, who maybe could read that there was a camera in the package my mom sent Evie for her birthday over 3 weeks ago...

Okay, I am no longer pointing that finger. But what a huge bummer that all those things you were so excited for him to get, he didn't!

Marivic_Little GrumpyAngel | October 10, 2008 at 12:03 AM

Isn't that amazing? I assume that box travelled, hand to truck to mail room to cart to plane cargo hold to truck to hands to mail room and back again in 8 months. I'm thinking how many people were involved in transporting that box, and what lifestories do those people have? I can only assume most of those who touched the box were good people--- some probably had good reasons to steal but did not. If the box can talk about an 8-month journey and the people along the way, I wonder what tale it well tell.

I truly understand how you felt and the thoughts you had. I would be exactly the same way if I am to be honest. In fact I do it a lot. When something is not quite right I tend to think the worst of someone, and it is an amazing feeling to be proven wrong. Our faith in humanity remains in tact and all is well. I'm sure if someone in Kenya can accept your apology he/she will :-)

Luann | October 10, 2008 at 5:54 AM

It's an amazing story, this box could tell. And to top it off, you wrote a great post about it.

There are so many cool analogies and lessons to be gleaned from this little box's experience. I know you worked so hard and spent a significant amount of money to send something special to your missionary, but by waiting so long and finally finding it resting back on your doorstop, it's almost as if the box and all the people that handled it have sent you a gift 8 months in the making. This is a story you and Elder B will remember and be talking about for a very long time. :)

Heidi Ashworth | October 10, 2008 at 4:08 PM

Ain't life grand? This story will entertain generations of B's for years to come. BTW, The Spouse served in Mexico and there was always that risk that things would be taken out of letters and boxes. As far as I know, nothing was, but one of his native companions stole his watch that I gave The Spouse upon his high school graduation. Sad.

Graciesmom | October 10, 2008 at 4:31 PM

I can't believe that it came back! Wouldn't you love to know the journey that the little package do??
Karen, I love your posts!

Heather of the EO | October 10, 2008 at 6:19 PM

I love how you're thinking about this. Accepting the lesson of the missing box! :)

Really though, you are! Many people would not take a good look at their own thinking in this situation, but you are and that's a really respectable thing.

Great post!

midgelovesstamping | October 10, 2008 at 8:16 PM

If that box could talk......

charrette | October 10, 2008 at 9:18 PM

That TOTAlly osunds like something I would do...including the lamenting and berating of innocent third-world postal system, much to my chagrin! Oh my, 8 months in transit! That box has been farther around the world than I have, for sure!

Liked your reflections. Shows your abundant heart.

Miss Brandy | October 10, 2008 at 10:30 PM

What a cool story. I would have done exactly the same thing. I remember having a Russian penpal in junior high who would ask me to send him money. Even back then I knew that was a dumb idea. Thought it was funny though that he kept on asking. What will you do with it now?