You guys, I’m finding it harder and harder to come up with the right words to describe what’s been happening the last few days. And I find it even harder after today.
I will spare you my existential thoughts for the moment and get right to the day.
We spent the morning in the preschool classroom again working with the kids on songs and then helped them with a craft. We worked with them to make little foam crosses that had stickers that spelled “LOVE GOD” on the cross.
It was so cute to see how hard they each worked on their crosses. Granted, they needed some guidance because they hadn’t exactly ever seen foam craft supplies before, let alone stickers. But each kid was so proud of his or her work.
After putting together their crosses and really jazzing them up with crayons and other stickers, the kids wanted to show off their hard work:
We had a little break in between classroom work and home visits and so I got to hang out with Anastacia, my sponsor child, for a little bit.
She’s eight years old now and it’s so cool to see how her personality is really starting to show. She was so shy last year, but she’s really starting to come out of her shell. She’s talking a lot more, she’s playing more, and she’s beginning to open up to me more. She was telling me how she really wants to be a pilot when she grows up. So, we talked about what she needs to do to make that happen.
After break, we split off into our smaller groups for home visits.
Home visits are some of the most rewarding, but some of the most difficult times during these trips. It’s our opportunity to go into the home of a family in the village, pray for them, spend time with them, get a tour of their home, and end with some Chai tea and Chapati.
We visited the home of Gladys, a woman of 33, and her children, Isaac (age 11), Mwangi (age 8?), and Esther (age 3). Her sister-in-law Wanjiku (age 26) and her two children, Isaac (age 10) and Mwangi (age 7) were also there.
This is Daniel (pictured below), he is a pastor in the community and was our translator in Gladys’ home. He was showing us the radio they have in their home to listen for national announcements. It runs on a few D batteries that they purchase when they are able to get to town.
They had actually just used the radio the previous day to find out that the teacher’s strike was over! The teachers and the Kenyan government finally came to an agreement. Thank God! Kids are back in school!
Anyway, after that, Isaac gave us a tour of their home.
After getting a tour, we headed outside to the kitchen to begin making Chai tea and Chapati. We also learned that the main reason we came to visit this home was to pray for Gladys’ son Mwangi. They refer to Mwangi as retarded. The fact is, Mwangi can hear, but cannot speak (except for an indecipherable word here and there). In working with some special needs children in the past, from what I can tell, he may have something along the lines of Fragile X syndrome or another similar developmental disability.
However, since Mwangi can hear but cannot speak, he can’t go to a special school for the deaf and mute… he has to be BOTH. So, needless to say, the resources to help a child like Mwangi develop or succeed just aren’t there. There’s no one to really guide him and no one really knows how to handle his disability.
He’s a bright kid, he’s so sweet, and his smile lit up the room – he just needs help. This is a common issue in the village (and similar villages) – there just aren’t the resources to properly equip parents and teachers for the needs that special needs children have.
This is John with Mwangi. They were just two boys watching the girls work hard in the kitchen. I love this picture.
Teri and I got to work on the tea and chapati.
This is me hard at work on kneading the dough (see the title now?? )… I hate that “focused” face I get when I’m working. So awkward.
This is Wanjiku and her son Mwangi (Mwangi 2) in the kitchen helping to guide us in the right direction. Teri and I were novice chapati makers, to say the least.
Tea and chapati dough:
After making the chapati and visiting, John, Teri, and I had the honor of praying for Mwangi. To stand in that kitchen and pray for that amazing boy and his family was both wonderful, humbling, and very tough. It’s times like that when you feel helpless, but you know that all you can do is turn to God for guidance, protection, and love for this family.
This is us with most of the family (Mwangi had decided to run back out to the field with his cow for a while).
It was honestly something I know I will never forget.
After home visits, we headed back to the primary school for lunch (which I was so full on chapati and tea I couldn’t eat a bite of) and play time.
I hung out with some of the older girls for a while – they showed me their classroom, their desks, and they even decided they wanted to braid my hair.
This is Pauline, Tabitha, and Susan:
Then, the clouds began to darken it begun to rain off in the distance. After getting stuck TWICE this morning, we sadly knew we had to leave a little early. I was so upset. We all were. We knew the sad truth that we had to leave (even though it was a little later than previously) but it’s just getting harder and harder to leave them.
The kids kept yelling, “I LOVE YOU!” and chasing after the bus.
I know our time here in short, but I feel so in my element with these people. Serving them and loving them and showing them the unconditional love of Christ. It’s something that I often feel like I’m missing back home (not always, but often).
One of our team members likened our longing for staying in the village and our feeling of wanting to be near them and close to them to that of God’s love for us. He just wants to hear from us, to be around us, and for us to invite Him in.
I hadn’t ever thought of it like that, but the more I marinated on that idea, the more it made sense.
It still doesn’t necessarily make it easy now, but maybe in the future after we’re home.
I don’t know. My mind is all over the place.
For now, I will leave you with more pictures:
“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” – Jeremiah 29:11