Nakuru, Nairobi, and back to Rongo

0 Commentsby   |  06.26.11  |  Kenya

Long time no blog! This week has been a little different than the previous couple of weeks. Two Thursdays ago (June 16th) Savannah, Bonnie, and I were sent out on a special mission to retrieve the last needed supplies for Sam’s Place. So we started at Nakumatt in Kisii and picked up school supplies and toys, and then headed to a couple of book stores to pick up school books. On our way back to Rongo, we stopped at Lance’s School for the Deaf, an extremely poor school of about 50 children. The children danced for us and then invited us to dance with them! They were so much better than we were but it was such an awesome experience! After their (and I suppose our) performance, they prepared lunch for us and generously provided us the luxury of cokes as well, but our group could not help but feel guilty for eating after seeing the children’s torn clothing and makeshift buildings. The would not take no for an answer, however, and happily served us sakuma wiki and oogali. Later that afternoon, we met with the mission team, the current Sam’s Place teachers and volunteers, and Simeon (the director of Sam’s Place) to discuss the new curriculum for the children. That night we watched Out of Africa in order to prepare ourselves for the next couple of days. On Friday, we woke up at 5:45 and said goodbye to the children, promising over and over that Savannah, Bonnie, and I would be back in a couple of days. We then drove 3 hours to Nakuru, stopping for lunch at a beautiful tea room that housed monkeys that we got to feed! Once we reached Nakuru, we went shopping, and I should say bartering, at the market for goods to bring back to S. 11th and Willis Church of Christ. That night, as we drove down the streets of Nakuru, many children banged on the doors of our mutatu (van) begging for money. It was so hard not to reach into your purse and pull out a few shillings, but the natives we were with explained that the money they receive goes to buying glue to sniff. This was an upsetting realization, however, it was reassuring to hear that there is a program called Made in the Streets created in order to help street children with glue addictions.

Saturday was a full and fun day. We started the day off early with a safari in the Nakuru National Game Park, the location of the safari scenes in Out of Africa. Right when we entered the park, we arrived at the lake of flamingos, the famous scene in which the plane took off in Out of Africa. Bonnie, Mitchell, and I decided that we were not as close as we would like to be in the van, so we took off on foot to the edge of the flamingo lake. After exploring, we noticed a pack of zebras not too far away and walked to where we were within a few feet of them! They were beautiful! After that incident, we were advised to stay in the van by a worried driver but saw antelopes, giraffes, hyenas, wildebeests, and baboons (to name a few) from the safety of our seats (we did try to walk to the giraffes but hastily ran back to the van when the driver yelled that there could be lions…). We traveled up a steep hill and found ourselves at the picnic sight in Out of Africa, coincidentally the most breathtaking view I’ve ever seen! After the game park, we traveled to Karen Blixen’s (the main character in Out of Africa, played by Meryll Streep) house in Nairobi and took a tour of her property. Last, and my personal favorite, stop of the day was at the giraffe feeding park where we fed, petted, hugged, and kissed real life giraffes! From here we went to the airport where we dropped off the majority of our mission team. From Sunday to Wednesday, Savannah, Bonnie, and I vacationed in Nairobi, and by that I mean we slept, ate, periodically walked around Nairobi, oh and slept. We left for Rongo on Thursday, and we could not have been more ready to get back to the kids! Driving up to Sam’s Place was very similar to a scene you would see in a movie…they all ran up to the van waving and signing “I Love You!” I can’t even fathom the heartache I’m going to feel in 5 weeks when we leave for good.

On Friday, we started our first typical day at Sam’s Place: we woke up at 7, had chai for breakfast, and then Savannah, Bonnie, and I each taught our own class until lunch. Our biggest challenge so far concerning teaching has been computer class after lunch. It is very difficult to explain to people (and by people I mean the children as well as their teachers that will be responsible for teaching them computers once we leave) how to use a devise that they’ve never seen before. Everyone was enthralled with the typing program we were using and after a good 2 hours, we convinced the children to go play while the teachers stayed and practiced until one by one the computers began to die.

One of my favorite times of the day here at Sam’s Place is every night after dinner the children sign songs and then Simeon provides a lesson. The children are so enthralled with Simeon’s stories about Jesus and the bible and it breaks my heart (in the good way) to see how much excitement and love these children have for God. On Saturday, we walked to Rongo with Nancy, Naomi’s (Simeon’s wife) niece, and then helped her cook dinner…did I mention she’s an amazing cook? Today, Sunday, we had church with the children and then went to church in Kisii with Simeon, Naomi, William (their son), and Nancy. What an amazing experience! It was much less formal than church in America. When someone had a song to sing, they went to the front and lead it. They introduced us to the entire congregation and then asked us to sing a song for them, so obligingly we stood up and sang “Father God” for the congregation and they loved it! Kenyans are very welcoming and hospitable, and this congregation was no exception. They were so appreciative that we came to church and kept shaking our hands and inviting us to their homes. When we got back to Sam’s Place later that afternoon, we played with the kids until we were completely sweaty and bug bitten. This past week has been out of the ordinary and although it was fun and relaxing, I could not be more ready to get into the routine of teaching and playing with the kids! One thing I’ve already realized is that my being here isn’t only to help these children grow emotionally, educationally, and spiritually; God has placed me in this specific location with these specific people in order for them to help me grow as well. “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” Romans 3:23. No matter how much you pray, read your bible, or contemplate on God, you will never be at your fullest spiritual potential. God’s will is for us to constantly be growing in Him and my experience here in Kenya is just another way that God is enabling me to grow. I’m one of those people who believes that everything happens for a reason; God doesn’t leave things up to chance. He purposefully places people in your life to change you for the better. God desires nothing more than for you to grow closer to Him. Every day that I’m here I feel God working through and within me. I hope for nothing more than to do as much good for these children as humanly possible, but I know that God’s plan might just be for them to do as much good for me as I hope to do for them.

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