A Different Perspective

A different perspective Recently, my husband and I had the opportunity to have one of the Leadership Development Program Moody scholars stay with us. You’ve met Richmond, Michelle and Tony. Well, “Jimmy from Kenya,” as he likes to call himself, is our newest scholarship recipient.

With Jimmy from Kenya (a.k.a. Jimmy Wambua) as a house guest, we were treated to the first reactions to life in America from the perspective of someone who had grown up in poverty.

After the first couple of days, I asked him how it was going and what struck him most about life in America. It was the cheese.

“In America, you are so particular about what you want. You take me to Subway and they ask, ‘What kind of bread do you want?’ ‘What type of dressing do you want?’ ‘What type of cheese do you want?’ In my country cheese is cheese. It’s this or it’s nothing.”

The variety in general was a bit overwhelming to Jimmy.

“When I asked Mike for tea, he opened the cabinet and there was so much. Tropical tea, dessert tea, tea cocktail. Even in cars you have variety. You have a car for different kinds of weather and different activities.”

At every turn, we seemed to be asking him to make choices. And let’s not even talk about our trip to Walmart.

He was also quite struck by our home and our neighborhood. We live in a fairly typical middle-class American neighborhood and home.

Before he came, I had felt a bit self-conscious because the other hosts of the students were older with nicer homes. I secretly thought he’d be disappointed to stay with us. I know this is a silly worry considering he was coming from a one-room home without indoor plumbing, but I was thinking about the Joneses.

His perspective was different than mine.

“This is the home of a politician. These are the couches of a politician … . This is what I’ll call stinking rich. You live in posh environments, but you don’t feel they are posh.”

Jimmy stayed in our basement, which has an attached bathroom. He said,

“When you first showed me my room, I thought, ‘This must be the main part of the house, the best part of the house.’ Then I saw it was just the basement. In my country, I could work for years and still not have something as nice as your basement.”

I asked Jimmy if it frustrated him or made him angry to see people with so much. I always wonder that when visitors come — are they secretly judging us? Jimmy was gracious.

“Someone without my background who is struggling might be angry. But my feeling is biased because of Compassion. I understand why God blesses Americans — what you give. I believe that spirit of giving has gotten into American culture. You’ve been able to be content with what you have and give to others instead of keeping it for yourselves. Because of your generosity, God has blessed. God rewards you for listening to his call.”

I hope I can live up to Jimmy’s generous attitude toward us.

13 Comments |Add a comment

  1. Jane June 3, 2012

    Jimmy is such an inspiration ,,,,God bless you.It has helped me continue touching a life at a time,,,,

  2. Susan Rodenbaugh Martin June 17, 2010

    Hey, Amber! We, too, will soon be blessed by the presence of Jimmy in our home. My cup runneth over with excitement. I want this to be everything and more for him. I already know this will be true for us. Now, I am fussing over the best way for him to spend his time here in the mountains with us! Thanks so much for sharing this time you had with him!

  3. nancy njenga August 19, 2009

    Thank you Amber for sharing this.Am from Kenya and what Jimmy has said is true.When i also visited America,i did not understand why my American friends would ask me for choices,like what cheese,dressing etc.In kenya you must be a politician to afford cheese,dressing etc and American genorosity is what makes America blessed.Like me am a mother of an autistic 6yr old boy who is back in Kenya and those children suffer a lot because parents can not afford special diet leave a lone supplemts for this kids.Parents live on less a dollar a day and they have other children to feed and pay school fees for.My coming here was to see how i can start a boarding school for this children back in Kenya,where i can try and get sponsors and that way they can feed well and get the therapies,supplements they require.May God Bless all those who share the little they have with the less fortunate.Love Nancy Njenga.

  4. Amy Wallace August 12, 2009

    Thanks for sharing this Amber! It’s a good reminder to be thankful for all we have, even if we aren’t living like the Hollywood stars.

  5. Mike Stephens August 12, 2009

    Thanks for sharing, sometimes less is more!!!

  6. Carol Alexander August 11, 2009

    Thanks for sharing this insightful story. Our sponsored son just asked why we do not visit him in Uganda. My daughter and I just cried because that is exactly what we would do if we had the money.
    I picture Americans’ wealth coming more from greed than God’s blessing for a giving spirit. Only glad Jimmy’s perspective is different.

  7. Juli Jarvis August 11, 2009

    So nice to see this great photo of you Jimmy! What an experience it must’ve been for both you and Amber’s family. I would love to have welcomed you into our home, too —

  8. Stephanie Green August 11, 2009

    Amber,

    So glad you shared your experience (and Jimmy’s) with us. It DOES cause me to pause and realize how very much I have and how very much I need to share.

  9. Theresa Yanni August 11, 2009

    I am unemployed on just lost out on a possible job and was feeling depressed. But then I started to think of all that I have and the pity party came to an end. I as so very fortunate and I am lucky I am not in a financial mess. I have used this time to volunteer at the LV Mission and other local charities. I have been to Tanzania so I saw first hand how the people live there. We need to be happy with what we have and share it with others. Amber enjoy your time with Jimmy. You will get a lot out of this experience. It will change your life.

  10. Endora Devilbiss August 11, 2009

    Love the story i met Michele and it is so cool to see how they feel when they come to our country and stay. Amber I love reading your stories.

  11. Chuck Guth August 11, 2009

    What a great perspective. I love his outlook and thoughts. I fear I would have felt the same way you did…too often we get caught in that trap. God provides so we can give. <

  12. Lindy August 11, 2009

    Thank you, Amber, for that well-written glimpse into Jimmy’s experience. You and Jimmy just made my house look like a palace. And you both encouraged me to be more generous! I hope you will give Jimmy a hug from us!

  13. Kees Boer August 11, 2009

    That is a great story, Amber! It’s good to read this and see their perspective.

    Blessings,

    Kees

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