Today was our last day in the Kiria community. It’s 11:44pm Kenya time and I’m just now lying down with the hopes of decompressing and digesting all that’s happened. I’m so emotionally drained but spiritually filled – it’s quite the dichotomy I have going on. Is that the word I’m looking for? Dichotomy? Who knows.
I wasn’t sure what to expect today, but I’m going to do the best I can to digest it all and unpack it. Only so much can be unpacked with words on a blog.
Here’s what I’m going to do (this is all stream of consciousness and I’m figuring this out as I go, so bear with me) I’m going to lay out the logistics of the day today and then delve in more deeply to the things that I saw, felt, experienced.
6:30am: woke up. Hit snooze.
6:40am: hit snooze again.
6:49am: hit snooze a third time.
7:08am: done hitting snooze. Got out of bed. Got ready for day.
7:57am: Muchai (our Kenyan team leader) makes me laugh because he was trying a s’more flavored pop tart that Katy brought and he called it a sweet cake
8:00am: devotion with the team led by Brit (who did an awesome job)
8:36am: loaded bus to Kiria
9:17am: stopped at a duka (shop) in town on way to Kiria to buy bowls and pitchers for the manicures we’d be doing on the women that afternoon
9:18am: kids outside of the bus in the town are scared of me – I ask their name – kid says his name is Jackie Chan. I think he’s lying.
10:02am: arrive in Kiria. We are welcomed by the kids singing and the adult women singing
10:06am: we get to work. The men are working on breaking up rocks in the floor of the school – the women went out back to take the dirt that we dumped out from the floor of the school and use it to spread it around and fill in the many, many holes in the field where the kids play.
10:08am: I start shoveling dirt other team members carry dirt
10:16am: my back hurts – I’m still shoveling
11:29am: still shoveling
11:59am: still shoveling and my back really hurts
12:00pm: we are called away to lunch – we load the bus
12:15pm: we head up the Aberdare Mountains (behind the village) and into the Aberdare National Park – this park is famous because Queen Elizabeth found out she was going to become queen in this park and this is also the park where Prince William proposed to Kate last fall.
12:17pm: we arrive at this really flipping sweet treehouse type thing on the side of the mountain – we climb up it and have lunch overlooking the valley and Kiria. Amazing view.
1:30pm: head back to Kiria
1:49pm: begin doing manicures on the women. This was such an honor to wash their hands and see the smiles on their faces and they got crazy colors on their fingernails. It may sounds strange but it was a very intimate and important time for us and them.
3:30pm: the farewell ceremony begins. Lots of crying. Lots and lots of crying. More singing and dancing. The community gave us each gifts as a respect and thank you.
4:30pm: end of ceremony. Lots of Hugs, tears, laughter, etc. Big surprise for me which I’ll talk abut later.
4:47pm: load bus back to Lake Naivasha
5:54pm: stop at the Supa Duka called Naivas (it’s like their wal-mart) I got some hilarious greeting cards and some gifts for friends and family.
6:35pm: Muchai tells a guy on the street selling machetes and warrior swords and stuff that “They are Christians, they don’t need weapons.” as a way to get him to leave us alone
6:37pm: head back to Panorama hotel
7:59pm: we get a surprise visit from real Maasai warriors who do a traditional dance for us!
8:40pm: Maasai warrior photo op and hilarious moment which I will save for a separate post.
8:50pm: debrief with team. More crying.
11:00pm: we take communion as a team.
That brings me to now.
I’ll probably spend more time decompressing later because to be quite honest, I don’t have enough emotional energy in me to do it all now. Plus, I don’t think it’d be possible, really.
But I do want to tell you about a few significant things that happened to me today.
So, do you remember Rechel? The woman who approached me yesterday because she said she liked me and wanted to give me a gift? Well, she came to the farewell ceremony and brought her children. I forgot to mention yesterday that Rechel’s husband died a few years ago and so she is a young, single mother raising 8 kids in the village. She wanted to introduce her kids to me and take a picture together. That meant so much to me. As she hugged me goodbye, she looked at me with tears welling up in her eyes and said, “God bless people like you. You will come again and we will all praise God for bringing you back home to see us again. I love you.”
Yeah, that was tough.
Then there came the moment that will be with me forever.
So, there is an organization called BrightPoint for Children (brightpointforchildren.org). They are a partner of The 410 Bridge (the organization Newhope partners with to sponsor Kiria) that does child sponsorship. They list kids in their communities that are in need, a sponsor sponsors that child, and the money goes directly to the child’s school and programs in that school. ($39 a month and $32-$33 of that goes directly to them.) Many of the people on my team have sponsored kids in Kiria through BrightPoint and have said it’s amazing what they’ve seen done with the money. They’ve been able to hire and pay four teachers for the school, get chalk for the chalkboards, books, and testing supplies. Their next goal is to use the money to provide lunch for every kid since for many kids, that could be their only meal that day. Etc. Etc. Okay, that’s the background.
So, there was this little girl named Anacstacia in the village who was available for sponsorship. I met her and just felt this instant love for this sweet, beautiful, shy, 6 year old. So, I decided to sponsor her. I did it because I feel a personal connection to this community and see the potential and I don’t want my 5 days in the community to be only that – I want to continue to support and provide and serve them.
Well, this morning when we were working with the women, I got to meet Anacstacia’s mom. Hr name is Mary. She has 11 children and I’m fairly certain her husband (Anacstacia’s father) is not around. It was so great to meet her and serve her and tell her I was sponsoring her daughter. She was so grateful. However, I didn’t see Anacstacia. I asked Mary where she was and Mary said she was at home working and wouldn’t be coming to the school today. I said oh no! She won’t be here for the farewell ceremony? Mary said no, she was home working and their home is on the other side of the village. Let me just say, that the other side of the village is not a short walk from the primary school. Well, I was really sad that I wasn’t going to get to say goodbye to Anacstacia, but I told Mary to hug her for me, say goodbye, and tell her I can’t wait to get letters from her and send letters to her.
Well, we had the farewell ceremony and I was hugging kids, taking pictures, and saying goodbye to Rechel and the man and women. I turned around to head towards the bus and there, running across the field, is Mary with Anacstacia. Mary had walked all the way home to get Anacstacia to bring her all the way back to say goodbye to me. I immediately got the biggest smile on my face and ran towards them and just lost it. Anacstacia was smiling so big and so was Mary. I balled. Jordan (from my team) was awesome enough to take some pictures for us.
That moment will stay with me forever. The fact that Mary would walk all that ways just to bring her daughter to say goodbye meant so much to me. There are no words to describe how that made me feel.
Anacstacia and her mother Mary:
Me with Mary and Anacstacia:
I cried the whole way back to the hotel.
There’s a whole WHOLE lot more, but that’s all I can muster up tonight. I promise I’ll fill you in on the rest later.
Also, I want to compile all the hilarious stories into one separate post. So, you have that to look forward to, too.
Kiria, Kenya: you have my heart.
All for now and much love,