Today was Sunday, so of course we headed off to church. Before we had tea and happened to be watching a tv service. They were singing and dancing, so eventually all of us were on our feet dancing with the church on the television….it was so funny!! We were actually at the church we are going to be at the next couple of days for leadership training. As we walked in, it was only children crowding the small building, but as time went on then the whole congregation began to show up. Singing started off the service. I love the way they dance, using their bodies to praise God. I just wish we did that here!! The entire service was in the local dialect of Kericho, so even Erick could not understand what was going on. With just sitting and not understanding it was a long couple of hours! They introduced the team, the only visitors. Jonah interpreted for us, he works with pastor Philimon and has been traveling to most of the places with us. They asked for a presentation by the team, so Sam and I sang Revelation Song. This quieted the room in a way I did not expect. My voice rang out in the acoustics and suddenly I missed the sound of my mom’s voice. People looked at me, and even though they did not understand the words they knew it was for the glory of God.
Today was our first leadership training. After doing a quick morning devotional and our morning worship of hymns (led by me due to popular demand…or the fact that no one else can sing:)) …we ate breakfast and took off. Breakfast always consists of as many starches as possible, meaning toast, pancakes, cakes for the tea, potatoes, cereals…and that’s about it! I don’t know if I have mentioned yet how often we drink tea, often it is two times a day. I have now become quite accustomed to hot tea with milk and sugar, I will miss it greatly when I go home! Thinking we would actually be on time, we stopped into town for something and ended up being an hour late. But no worries, the group we were training was over two hours late. It was to start around nine and ended up starting at a few till noon. We were expecting around forty, only to end up having around twenty. First Laura started off, and we quickly realized that the kids were extremely quiet. They were not to answer any questions, nor were they to look at all interested! This created quite the challenge…not only for Laura but for Sam and I as well. Erick knows how to get them talking, but being new at this it posed a bit of a hard time for the rest of us.
Today, Friday- one week from when we left, was a rest day! After a leisurely breakfast and studying for our leadership training we headed into town around noon. We walked, since its only a few minutes away, and actually headed to the park for some monkey pictures. They were so common, so as we snapped our cameras people starred. There were probably around ten and a few baby monkeys floating around! It was crazy…haha they were like our squirrels. Next it was to lunch! I had a gourmet meal of beef and chips (french fries) costing all of like 4 dollars. We then headed to the internet café where I talked to mom and dad on skype for the first time since we left. One hour of internet here cost me all of 90 cents!! Crazy. Following we headed to the doctor for me. It took around twenty minutes, and the doctor I talked to seemed very educated. This was very encouraging! The entire visit and medicine cost around 8 dollars, I cannot get used to how cheap things are here. Lastly sam and Erick got a three dollar hair cut, and we headed back to the house.
Today was the hardest day yet. I have been sick since we left, and do not know how to fix it. First it took us roughly two hours to get to the primary school we were going to. This consisted on one hour on the highway…and another on the bumpiest dirt road I have ever been on in my life. Once arriving at the primary school, we saw the situation for what it really was….a 3 mile walk down a mud road to reach the grounds. By that time Laura and I's bladder were about to burst, and so we did what we had to do; We headed for the bushes. After realizing privacy was not really an option, for holes in the bushes were everywhere and our white skin had drawn a crowd of probably 15 people by that point, we just squatted right next to each other and went for it! Probably one of the funniest moments of my life! It was a great bonding experience, and hey, how many people can say they have peed in the bushes of Africa?!
God is working in huge ways in the schools in Kericho. We started off the day by going to the market to buy some supplies for the day. The schools we went to today were Borborwet Primary School and Kenugut Secondary School. At the primary school we simply exited the van and suddenly a minimum of two hundred kids had their eyes on Laura and I. Giggles spread across the crowd like a wave in the sea, and more kids seemed to be gathering by the second. Their laughs were infectious and soon the entire team we were with had a joyous laugh on their lips. We headed into the principles office for a quick introduction where he told us that he had only been taught by Americans three times in his life( and he was almost 50) and then headed back outside. This is when we realized how special our coming was to them, and what kind of an impact we were going to be able to leave. There were awaiting 200 hundred kids grades 1-3. They would not be attending the program we were giving so we gave introductions, telling them who we were and a little about our families. Afterward we took some pictures and then something incredible happened…they literally swarmed us. Touching our skin as though it was fine gold, and grabbing our hair as though it was silk. A hundred hands reaching to simply brush our white skin…and all Laura and I could do is laugh while others took pictures. After the principle told the children to let us go we headed towards the field where the older kids (grades 4-8) were.
Today was one of the most incredible experiences I have ever had. It completely reassured my hope to go to Africa after I finish getting my nursing degree. After getting some food stuff to donate this morning we got to the orphanage around noon. Grace, the leader of the Agape Orphanage, gave us a tour. Tiny beds filled tiny rooms and they slept three kids in each. The children were quiet at first, unsure of our reason for being there. After some introductions they began to warm up. Twenty four children in all, 12 boys, 12 girls aging from almost two to seventeen. This was an orphanage with kids infected with the HIV/AIDS disease, and yet so much hope radiates from there very smiles. To begin the children sang us a song, praising God in the most beautiful way I have ever heard. There voices shouted out loud, lead by the oldest in the group; It almost brought me to tears.
Today was noted a planning day, and we did just that. We ate a wonderful breakfast and a local pastor we are working with came over. Beginning with a study of Matthew 10, perfect for the journey we have made, we discussed everything from background of the orphans we will be working with to the school size. Some shocking facts we learned include that the typical school size we will be working with is around 600 kids, and there is the possibility we will be speaking in front of a local church convention of around 2000 expected people. As details were discussed I, and I believe the team as well, began to become more comfortable. This also arose unknown fears of speaking in front of large groups of people and figuring out how to entertain them. Erick brought to our attention the fact that because the team is from America, and especially due to the fact that Laura and I are white, means the children will put us on a pedestal and it is our job to interact with them in a way that shows we are equals.
What a beautiful and eye opening day. We ate our breakfast at the Mayfield Inn, then napped as we waited for Erics arrival. He arrived around ten along with Emily, her daughter Kimberly, and Peter, and we headed out to Kericho. The drive was about six hours, but it felt much shorter due to everything around to look at. Just outside of Nairobi were some slum areas….such brokenness fills the air as we pass through and my heart went out to those people. Literally they were living in shacks barely boarded together on all the sides. Children run around in clothes they looked as though they have had them for forever. As we got further out of the city we came upon the Great Rift Valley. It was simply breathtaking. Everywhere grew such wild vegetation that in a way it reminded me of inland Hawaii. Flat top trees and all the green you could ever imagine.
Well we are alive and in Kenya! That was a rough two days though, let me tell you! When in London, we had an hour to get on our next flight...and between people being so slow in getting off the plane, security, and the distance to our next gate we almost missed our flight. Had we gotten there even five minutes later we would have probably been looking at it leave out the window. Luckily though, we made it and headed the next nine hour to Nairobi. I probably slept all of four hours between both flights, but I did watch like 3 movies! We got to our hotel around eleven last night and did the best we could to repack as to leave one suitcase behind when we go to Kericho...we made it to around 12 and then passed out in our African decorated room under a rather large mosquito net. This morning, it was finally time to shower, and boy, the water was liquid ice!! I swear I couldn’t even stand in it, it was soooo cold, but at least I’m clean now!! Today Eric is picking us up today in a few hours and we will be headed off to Kericho, about a 5 hour drive. It is straight through the Great Rift Valley and apparently resembles the Grand Canyon of Africa. Great picture opportunities are a huge possibility!!