This World is Not My Home

49 Commentsby   |  07.30.11  |  Kenya

We are coming to a close of our eighth and final week in Kenya. The last week at Sam’s Place proved to be somewhat typical: teaching, playing and enjoying African life. The Friday before last was overcast, suggesting a much needed rain which unfortunately never came. The majority of the night was spent with Elphas, the oldest boy at Sam’s Place, spinning the kids around and around by their hands. I’m not quite sure how he managed to maintain the velocity, but the kids were spinning so fast that I thought I would be sick from just watching! Saturday finally brought rain so we played with the children inside and later that day Savannah got a weave, just a typical day in Africa! It took 6 hours for them to braid hundreds of fake hairs into Savannah’s real hair. The result was extremely interesting to say the least but all the women, including Naomi and Nancy, oohed and ahhed at the result, trying to convince Bonnie and I to join the club (after much debate we declined the offer…it just wasn’t for us). Our final Sunday service was spent at a newly founded church of Christ in Kisii and it was apparent that Simeon saved the best for last. The singing was absolutely life-changing and of course the trilling was unrivaled (a major determinant for me obviously). A couple of the members even sang us songs in English, one of which being “This World is Not My Home.”

Monday was the coldest day yet (maybe it was 65 degrees but in my book that constitutes as potential hypothermia weather). There’s a boy at Sam’s Place named Geoffrey who gives the greatest hugs and has the biggest smile in the entire world. He’s one of those people that lights up the room when he walks in. His smile literally consumes half of his face and is absolutely contagious. We knew something was wrong when, for the first time since we arrived, we didn’t see his teeth all day. It started off as a limp and the teachers assured us it was a pulled muscle. As the day progressed, so did the pain. By the end of the day, Geoffrey was admitted to the hospital because he couldn’t move his leg without enduring an outrageous amount of pain. The doctor said he tore part of his muscle and he was able to came back to the orphanage the next day. We didn’t see much of Geoffrey after that and the absence of his smile made the already tough last days of our stay even tougher. Please pray that Geoffrey heals fully and his smile returns two-fold!

In addition to Geoffrey’s return to Sam’s Place on Tuesday, it was also the last day of school! In Africa, children have a month off every three months of school. Although the children at Sam’s Place do not have parents, some of their relatives are still alive and come to get them for their breaks. I’m so glad for the children that have family to spend their vacation with, but it’s the children that either do not have relatives or whose relatives choose not to return to Sam’s Place to get them that I truly feel for. Three children were left behind at Sam’s Place last break, one being the most precious little girl in the world, Emmaculate. She’s one of the two girls in my class and she has the most energetic and outgoing personality ever. However, her usual eagerness was absent the last week of school, knowing that her family wasn’t coming to get her. It breaks my heart that children who have had to endure the deaths of their parents as well as the loss of their hearing have to experience unnecessary hurt and abandonment. I ask that you include Emmaculate in your prayers too!

I realize that this blog seems to be a bit of a downer, and perhaps that’s partially due to the fact that we’ve been pretty down ourselves ever since we left Sam’s Place on Thursday. But, there’s one more day to discuss that exceeds all other days spent at Sam’s Place combined. On Wednesday, we woke up to a schedule of events, or as we understood it an entire day dedicated to our departure the following day. So after packing, we played with the children while the teacher’s and staff cooked and prepared for the party. We weren’t allowed to help (however, not without continuous persistence) but we inconspicuously watched them make all of our favorite African foods such as chipati, rice, and cabbage. We all assembled in the dining hall and the children surprised us with dances that they’ve been practicing! We were so proud to see them perform amazingly after only a couple of weeks of dance classes! Then Simeon introduced the guests, two of which were preachers from churches of Christ’s we’d visited over the summer and one being a complete surprise; Nancy took a mutatu all the way from Kisii to be their for our party! After they each spoke and prayed, the teachers and staff were introduced and they each spoke briefly and then gave out awards to the children for academics, athletics, and overall character. Then Simeon and Naomi stood up and, in shaking voices, spoke to Savannah, Bonnie, and I about how we are the daughters they never had and how proud they were of us for everything we’ve done this summer. I’m not a big crier, never have been, but here’s the deal, I love Simeon and Naomi more than words can describe. They were literally our adoptive parents for the summer. They protected, helped, but most importantly, loved us for the entirety of our stay and I will be eternally grateful for their hospitality and Christian spirit. But anyways, I might have teared up when Naomi presented us each with traditional African congas. Lastly, Savannah, Bonnie, and I each spoke (signed) to the teachers, staff, and of course, the children. I had a hard time finding the right words to express how extremely blessed I have been for this opportunity. If memory serves me right, I said ,“I love you more than you will ever know,” probably a hundred times and, “I will think about you each and every single day,” possibly another hundred. But the thing is is that it’s completely true. Not a day will go by that I don’t reminisce on this summer, not a minute will pass that I won’t wish I was back here, and not a second will escape that I don’t think about every single one of these children. I’m full of cliches today but I’m serious when I say that I left a piece (I would say a good 50%) of my heart in Rongo, Kenya.

We spent the remainder of the night eating the AMAZING dinner they prepared for us and drinking sodas (a huge treat for the children…I’m not even sure when the last time they had sodas was…maybe 6 months ago?) and taking pictures and laughing and crying and hugging and trying to soak up every perfect second of our last day at Sam’s Place. We stayed up much past the childrens’ bedtime, unwisely giving them full reign over our hair (let’s just say I spent the remainder of the night picking out miniscule braids and icing my sore scalp). We agreed that a great farewell surprise would be to make everyone pancakes, so we woke up early and got to work flipping jacks. All morning I was secretly plotting on hiding in the choo until the driver of the mutatu gave up looking and left without me. However, somehow I made it through the hugs and goodbyes and ended up in the van.

It’s a surreal feeling sitting here writing my last blog. Saying this summer “flew by” is an understatement. It literally feels as if I arrived here yesterday, yet somehow I find myself leaving tomorrow. When the realization hit that my days here were dwindling, I found myself viewing the scenery with more appreciation and eating the pineapple more slowly, trying to enjoy everything Africa has to offer just a little longer. Before I left for Africa, people constantly told me that I would come back a different person, that this experience really puts one’s life into perspective. I didn’t understand this until now. The lifestyle I use to enjoy, consisting of an overload of shopping, a reasonable amount of eating out, and frequent visits to the salon, is hard to envision after what I’ve witnessed. In a country where the clothing is tattered, soda is a luxury, and a bathe consists of a bucket of river water every other week, how can anyone come back to America and live the same life? How can you experience absolute poverty and be the same person before you came? It’s just not possible. God has blessed me abundantly. I have an amazing family, devoted friends, and a lifetime of opportunities. God placed these blessings in my life so that I could, in return, bless others in His name. I don’t know who or how many people kept up with this blog, but if I have a purpose in writing it would be this:

“Our desire is not that others might be relieved while you are hard pressed, but that there might be equality. At the present time your plenty will supply what they need, so that in turn their plenty will supply what you need. There there will be equality, as it is written: “He who gathered much did not have too much, and he who gathered little did not have too little.” 2 Corinthians 8:13-15.

For those that have followed this blog, I hope you were, in some small way, able to live this amazing experience through me. I hope that you have grown to love Kenya as much I have and I hope that you will pray for and think about these children often. Thank you for your support, prayers, and continuous love. May God bless you abundantly, and in return may you bless others!


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