My roomie, Brit outside of our hut.
It’s 9:25pm Kenya time (2:25pm RDU time) – we just finished our nightly debrief and I’m sitting by the bonfire decompressing from the day. The weather here is awesome – it’s like 65 degrees and there’s a slight breeze – such a nice change from the 100+ degree weather back home.
Today was, in a word, amazing.
During breakfast this morning, there was a TV on in the corner with a church service on. It cracked me up because it was basically an African Newhope church! I pointed out the comparisons to the team and we all had a great laugh. The stage looked the same, there was an African Pastor Fuller leading worship and dancing around, an African Celebration Choir on each side of the stage in beautiful matching dresses and suits, and even an African Jon on drums behind the little plexiglas case. Then African Pastor Benji came out and brought the word. It was awesome – I don’t know where that church is in Africa, but I want to go.
After breakfast and devotion we loaded the bus and headed to the village of Kiria for church.
I should comment that as we drive to the village, we always pass a TON of kids alongside the road that run alongside the bus waving yelling, “Hello Mzungus! Mzungus!!” Mzungus means white people, and needless to say, we are rare, so they get excited to see us drive by.
We got to the village and we were split up into our five groups again just like we were for home visits. My group, Dave, Sarah, and me went to the AIC Church which was the church of Nafthiri (gramps!), Mary, Lucy, Sampson, and Margaret.
There were a lot of kids at this church – close to 30. One of the first girls I met was named Lydia. When I said hi to her and asked her name, Sampson said she is deaf and mute so she can’t understand me. I used to teach a deaf student when I taught high school, so I know some sign language – not a lot, but some basics. So I signed to Lydia, “Hi Lydia, my name is Molly, nice to meet you.” As soon as I did that her face lit up and she smiled at me and signed back, “Thank you.” It was awesome.
The whole congregation welcomed us in with open arms. It’s amazing to see them all dressed up and decked out. Many, if not all, of them only wear these clothes on Sundays. Many of the kids have only one pair of pants and one pair of shoes or one dress and they only wear it on Sundays. The elders in the church all wear fancy dresses and suits to show leadership, but they have had these suits or dresses their entire adult lives. But you can tell how proud they are of what they have.
There was SO much singing, dancing, and worship. The service was 3 hours long and almost 2 hours alone was worship. The children sang and danced – they sang together, and then the older kids, then the boys, then the girls, then the adult women, then 2 girls did a solo, and so on. Everyone was so incredibly engaged and passionate about the worship – it was so fun to watch. They even sang “Blessed Be Your Name” in English and “Jesus Paid it All” in Swahili. Oh, and the kids sang this song that went like this:
Jesus love is very very wonderful
Jesus love is very very wonderful
Jesus love is very very wonderful
Sooooo wonderful love.
Adorable. Don’t worry, I have video I will post later.
The whole service they played with my hair, looked at my bible, and they kept petting my arm and pulling on my arm hair. They’re fascinated by it – haha!
After singing, we were all introduced as guest and Dave from our team did the preaching. Not only was it his first time preaching in that church, but also his first time preaching ever. He was great and the congregation was really inspired and grateful. It is so awesome to spend time with these people who worship in a completely different way and who are so different from us, yet we all worship and love the same God. That’s so refreshing and comforting.
During the service, this one girl who I noticed in the choir, sat on my lap. Her name is Njeri (jeh-re-ee – roll the r). This girl has completely stolen my heart. I don’t know what it is about her, but we just clicked. She doesn’t speak much and she’s probably no older than 3, but she’s so beautiful.
After church let out, the women made Dave, Sarah, and me lunch and served us in the side room. I felt so blessed and so honored that these women went out of their way to cook US, the visitors who are there to serve them, lunch. We had potatoes with peas and carrots and a shredded cabbage salad. The potatoes were amaaaaaaazing. The salad made me nervous because it hadn’t been cooked and they even said it had been washed and was “Very fresh!” We have to be very careful that we don’t eat anything that’s been possibly contaminated by the water – we even brush our teeth and wash our faces with bottled water. I tried to avoid eating the cabbage but they insisted so I had a few bites and just prayed that God would understand and bless the food so that I don’t get sick from it. It’s nighttime now and let’s just say, I don’t feel too too hot, but I’m hanging in there, it could be worse, and I’m hoping that whatever this little “thang” is, is temporary and gone in the AM. But to be honest, it was worth it. Their gratefulness on their faces for serving us was so important to me. Oh, and they made us Chai tea. So. Good. Seriously.
After church and lunch, we went to our actual lunch and walked down the side of this mountain through a cow pasture (and cow pies the size of me) to sit and have lunch. The view was beautiful and it was a good chance for us as a team to decompress for a bit and check out the scenery.
Then came the fun.
We went to the schoolyard with the soccer balls and face paint, and bubbles and got to play with the kids. These kids have so much energy and super lungs. I should point put that we are at like a bazillion feet above sea level (I don’t know the actual # – but I do know that it is HIGH) – so you get out of breath going to the bathroom. Everything wipes you out. But man, these kids can run forever.
We played the bug game where basically you just put your fingers to your head like antennae and go buzz and chase them and the kids laugh and scream and run from you. It’s hilarious. We painted faces which was a blast – Wes and James can’t draw (their words, not mine) so they just kept writing words like “Jambo” or putting check marks on faces. It was so funny.
As I played with them, I just had so much fun watching these kids just laugh and run and not have a care in the world. This is their zone – their happy place.
I did, however, wonder where my girl Njeri was. Then I saw who I thought was her sister so I asked her where Njeri was… She pointed and said “Over there!” I turned and there she was standing alone looking around – so I yelled her name and she turned around. The minute she saw me, her face lit up and her little legs ran towards me as fast as she could and she grabbed on to my leg and hugged me. It was the best feeling ever. So I picked her up and carried her on my shoulders. I painted her face and taught her the bug game. Njeri, Delicia, Lydia, and Purity were the girls that just sort of clung to me and it was so great getting to spend time with them and see them laugh.
Me with the girls (they loved being able to see themselves in the iPhone camera):
These kids are just so honest and pure.
Then we had to leave and head back to the Panorama. I was able to get this photo of Njeri (in the red sweater) and Delicia (behind her) before I left and I told them I’d be back tomorrow and that we will play more:
As the bus pulled away, the kids ran behind it chasing after us waving goodbye and there was my little Njeri running with the big kids. So precious and totally gut wrenching. That girl has my heart for reals.
Later after dinner, we gathered around the fire for debrief which I led and we all shared our experiences from the day. It is becoming more and more evident to me that God has brought each of us here for a particular reason and each reason is different – yet equally important. I can’t wait to see what tomorrow and the rest of the week brings – we just getting started.
There were three native Kenyans sitting around the fire just listening to us share and talk about our day, and before I closed us in prayer, they each apologized for eaves dropping but said a very heartfelt thank you to us for being there. They said growing up in Kenya, they know firsthand how important making a small difference in the life of a child is and they thank God for people like us. It meant so much for us to hear that – but the fact is, Kenya is making an impact on us. Honestly.
Well, tomorrow is our first day of work work in the village. I’m getting my muscles ready because we are going to be breaking up a WHOLE lot of very large rocks to use for flooring in the school. I’m ready!
It’s getting late here so I’m going to head to bed soon – partially with hopes that I don’t have any more of these weird falling sensation spells as I fall asleep. That seems to be a side effect of the malarone. Not scary, just weird, and then I have to try to fall back asleep.
Anyway. Again, another long post, just in the hopes of never forgetting a single detail.
All for now and much love,