I think I only have a couple more Kenya trip posts in me. These posts have been such a struggle. I guess because I haven’t even finished processing my thoughts yet therefore it’s hard to write them down in a way that makes any sense at all. I’ve got thousands of photos I could share and just as many thoughts and stories I could tell but that’s just an impossible task and you would get bored really quickly.
Jumping in… I will share a photo or two and a brief’ish’ story from each day of our trip. (After finishing the post, it turned out to be much longer than I’d planned. Oh well. It sort of morphed into what it needed to be I think.)
We flew from Singapore to Doha to Nairobi. I absolutely hated leaving Tommy. The hardest part of this trip by far was experiencing Kenya and it’s amazingness without him.
This is Doha. Doha is very plain and very uncolorful. From the air anyway.
After about 15.5 hours in a plane, we arrived in Nairobi. We got through security and the visa process very smoothly thanks to great pre-travel advice. Moses, whom you’ll “meet” in one of the last photos in this post, picked us up with a very friendly Kenyan “Jambo!” and we drove for about an hour to The Heart Lodge where we stayed for the first two nights. Day 1 in Kenya provided a fabulous first impression in every way. And each day to come would just be more of the same.
This day started out with me feeling so blessed. Way beyond what I deserved. The scripture that came to mind over and over during the trip was from Matthew 5, “Blessed are the poor in spirit for theirs is the kingdom of heaven…” There is no possession that I have or could have that makes me rich. It is my spirit which will award me great riches. This is the spirit of Kenya. They have so little but are truly rich.
After breakfast and a devotional with the team, we headed out for our first day of school visits. I think we visited four different school this day. The children and school staff were so welcoming and we really enjoyed each school. We were able to visit with certain classrooms asking them questions and then they asked us questions. It was so much fun and humbling. Our kids in the US and even Singapore have it good. Many of these children get up at 4am, do their chores and leave for school. Some without breakfast. Some will also go without lunch. But they still smile. Inspiring. Anyway, they begin their school day at 6:30 or 7 and finish their school day at 4:30 or 5 and then walk home for more school work and chores. Before you feel too bad for them, though, remember that while they are in school, they are safe. They are being educated and they, in many cases are given love from the teachers that they don’t get at home. But our kids should definitely be reminded to be grateful for schools that are comfortable, air conditioned, with buses or cars to take them there, clean with running water and proper toilets and in Anna’s case with home schooling, a 7:45am (or later) wake up time. To which, when she announced that after one child’s question, the classroom gasped in horror. “How could anyone be so lazy???” This was the look on their faces.
Anyway, one of the best schools we went to was the school where the Havilla Children’s Home kids go to. We were surprised to see our girls there, Gladys and Rahab and many others we recognized from the 2008 Daraja choir tour. This photo is of Gladys (in the orange shirt) showing off her photo album that we had brought for her. She was so very proud to get that. It was on this same afternoon that we went to Havilla Children’s Home and spent hours with Gladys, Rahab and Mercy. You can read more about these sweet girls in this post.
We left the city of Nairobi for a more rural experience. Our first stop was where the Daraja 2011 choir was staying for training camp. This photo was the first thing that happened. Well, aside from being mobbed with adorable children in the driveway as soon as we got out of our bus. I walked in behind the others and these sweet children had already gathered with our team of ladies and begun to sing songs that were written on the blackboard pictured. It was a beautiful sound and just a little piece of heaven on earth. I just cannot begin to imagine how amazing it will be to sing in heaven.
And a short video clip of what I heard as I walked in.
If you are someone who sponsors a child and you ever wondered what their faces look like when they receive a letter from you, wonder no more.
We stayed at Panorama that night. Another beautiful hotel. This is where one of my beautiful sunset photos came from. The hotel was amazing but this was what greeted us at the gate. It just makes me smile.
We drove out to three different rural communities that partner with 410 Bridge and attended church services. Three other ladies, myself and Anna attended the church in Kwambekenya. We were welcomed in as if we had been attending for years. They asked us to come and share something with the church. Each lady shared from the heart. Anna spoke so confidently and boldly. I was so proud of her! She told them that she was my daughter and that she was 12 years old. NO one in Kenya believed she was only 12. It became something that everyone laughed about. We were told that her telling the congregation that I was her mom and that she was 12 enabled them to connect with us better. They are mom’s. They are 12. We’re just like them only white and we don’t speak their language.
I was able to share my scripture passage that was what carried me through the trip. Colossians 1:9-18 with a special emphasis on verse 17. I was able to encourage the church, the leaders and the community to follow God with their heart and not just their heads and to let them know that “He is before all things and in Him all things hold together”. It was a very special moment for me to hear my voice read the Living Word, a very meaningful set of verses, then to hear it spoken again after me in Swahili. The passage I read was very long and after it was finished I sort of started feeling bad that it was so long but Muchei (sp), the guy who was sort of assigned to our group and interpreted, told me later that he saw one lady in the congregation feverishly trying to write down the passage. If only for one…
So, after we picked everyone up from their communities, we went down to the place where women and children used to have to go 4-5 times each day to get water. It was treacherous. I can’t really describe it so i won’t even try. Even the photos don’t do it justice so I won’t even post any. But on the bus ride back to town Christopher entertained us with stories. What an entertainer! He told us about how the elephants used to be a real problem and seriously injure or kill people in the community until they got an electric fence put up to protect them. Then he told a story about a lion and all of a sudden, at a very intense moment in the story, he roared SO loudly with lion hand motions and all and almost gave us all heart attacks. So funny! He laughed and laughed.
This day we woke up early and headed out to the same three communities again. Anna and I and two other ladies from the team went to a school in Karima. I was fortunate to get to take tea with the teachers in the teacher’s lounge. They were so proud to offer it to me and even more proud to offer me a piece of bread. I was treated like a queen in there. Such a special memory. I questioned them and they questioned me. They were most fascinated with the color and texture of my hair. They asked if my hair was natural. I told them that the curl was natural but that the color was “enhanced”. They said that the Kenyan women want to make their hair look like ours. It was such a blessing for me to share with them to just be who and how they were created to be. God made us all different and He didn’t want us all to be the same. We did agree, though, that some “enhancements” were ok.
Anna, again, rose to the challenge as we were each taken to separate classrooms to observe a class in session. She observed a Swahili class and one other. I observed a math class and part of a social studies class. I absolutely loved the teacher that I observed. This was a public school with what should be a ratio of 1-45/50 students which is the norm. The teachers in this school and in most of the schools we visited moved from room to room and grade to grade. This teacher that I observed knew each child’s name in the classroom when she called on them. I was impressed.
On to Eldoret. We went to Emmanuel School. This school was amazing. It was amazing because of the founders, the teachers and the vision and passion for education and family they all shared. Mama Grace, the founder, had all of the children together and she would say, “We are” and they would all say “WORLD CHANGERS!” Wow! The children here were happy, well cared for emotionally, physically and spiritually.
We stayed at the Kerio View Hotel. Oh my goodness! Another gorgeous place with a view to die for. This hotel was just outside of Eldoret. We went back to Emmanuel School today. The Primary school and then we went to the Secondary school as well. At the Secondary school, I was very grateful to be invited into the school kitchen. I met Morris and Immaculate. Morris was the “chef” and Immaculate was the girl’s Matron or more like their Mom since it is a boarding school. Those who know me know how much I love to cook and love seeing kitchens and kitchen gadgets and such. I loved this moment! And Morris grinned from ear to ear when I called him the chef.
After this school visit we were invited to Mama Grace’s house by her son, Dan, for coffee and cake. You will just have to experience Kenyan hospitality someday. Nothing like it. During our visit, one of the ladies asked Dan to share a little about himself. After about an hour of some incredible preaching he said, “And that’s Dan in a nutshell.” SO funny! I absolutely loved everything he had to say and that we all got to hear it but especially Anna. The girl got preached to in this Kenyan home and she was all ears. Dan talked some about Psalm 84 and how our journey is a steady, slightly sloped upward climb towards a right relationship with God. One in which we occasionally go through the valley but springs will well up to sustain us. He talked about how originally Adam and Eve heard God’s voice audibly. Face to face. They kind of messed that up. He said that our life journey was one that, if we choose it to be, takes us little by little to the place where we can hear God face to face once again. Oh how I long for that day. Thanks, Dan!
After we left there we drove for several more hours to get to our safari hotel, Sarova Lion Hill Safari Lodge. We were greeted by some huge monkeys and amazingly beautiful scenery. What a blessing to be here but I must admit I’d rather have beautiful Kenyan children hanging all over me.
This was a night for dancing. I actually got up on stage and danced with a Kenyan dance team. And I actually really had fun.
We got up at the crack (pun intended) of dawn and headed out for a morning safari. We’ve all seen a million pictures of safari animals so I thought I’d post this one for you just for fun or to crack you up.
Wow, the vision part of our trip is almost over. We stopped at one more school. This was Gordon’s school who was in the first Daraja choir in 2007. He’s about to graduate from Form 4 (Senior in High School). What an incredible man and leader he has become after living a street boy’s life for 3 or so years of his childhood. God has huge plans for him.
Now off to our city hotel in Nairobi, Mvuli House.
We wake up. We eat. Packed for the airplane. We go do a little shopping at the Hilton. A little more at Kazuri Pottery and Beads and then a little kissing at the Giraffe Center. Then we say our goodbye’s. Give our hugs. Anna and I have an earlier flight out than the rest of the team. This photo is of Patrick and Moses. Patrick, on the left, was our bus driver. Talk about a man with nerves of steel! Driving a bus full of ONLY women through rural Kenya for 9 days. Yep, he gets the award!! And Moses, in between Anna and I. A man who loves God and loves his family and loves his job. Also, two men who are showing other young men of Kenya a different way to be a man. A real man. Thanks guys! For keeping us safe and for doing what you do in the name of Jesus in Kenya.
Then at the airport, HAD to have a Nairobi Java House cuppa!
Now to retrace our “steps” back to Singapore. To my husband. I love “hello” hugs!