Let’s see… Where did I leave off? I’ve got a lot to catch you up on.
Well, it’s Saturday at 6:28pm Kenya time, 11:28am RDU time, 4:28pm London time and I’m on the last leg of our long journey home from Kenya.
The last few days have been tough, and I have no doubt that it will continue to be tough over the next few days / weeks / heck, even months.
We left the village and said our goodbyes on Wednesday and begun to prepare ourselves for the transition back to reality. So, the Thursday and Friday part of our trip was leisure and touristy type stuff to help ease that process. It was not easy.
We got up Thursday morning and headed to Lake Naivasha National Park which was right next to where we were staying. We got on a boat and went around Lake Naivasha looking at all the birds and amazing wildlife. We saw Kingfisher birds, pelicans (HUGE pelicans), storks, and so many Bald Eagles. They don’t call them Bald Eagles… I can’t remember right now what they call them… But they’re amazing. We even got to see HIPPOS! They’re so huge and adorable. We then docked the boat and walked around the national park which was amazing. Since there are no carnivores that live in the park (I.e. Lions) you can just walk around. We got so close to zebras, wildebeests, and giraffes. It was really cool.
Muchai even decided to pose with a victim. Gross. Yes, it was as gross as it looks.
I took a ton of pictures and it really was such a unique experience, but I couldn’t get my mind off the village. I felt guilty the whole time, like I shouldn’t be having fun. Please don’t get me wrong, it was amazing and I was so grateful to have the opportunity, I’m just being real.
We finished at Lake Naivasha and hit the road to Nakuru to check in at the hotel where we would be staying our last night in Africa and then do our safari. The drive was about an hour and a half across the beautiful Kenyan countryside. We passed this lake (of which I cant for the life of me remember the name right now) but it’s a lake that is a salt lake. Certain times of the year the lake water level gets really low and salt forms around the edges and people come for miles and miles to collect the salt. Crazy.
I used that bus ride to think about a lot – including all I’d experienced this week and how I am going to handle it – what I want to do with it – what I’m going to share, etc. It’s a lot to digest.
We got to Nakuru National Park (our hotel, which was more like a resort) was inside the park! How cool is that? As Muchai was checking us in, there were monkeys everywhere. If you know me, you know I love monkeys. They were seriously everywhere climbing on cars etc.
We then went into the park which is enclosed (to keep the lions in) – right away we saw giraffe, zebras, buffalo, antelope, and gazelle.
About 8km in was our resort – Savona Lion Hill Game Lodge – this was seriously one of the nicest places I’ve ever stayed – but immediately I felt out of place. I was surrounded by tourists and for some reason I almost resented them. I didn’t want to be around these people who were just spending ridiculous amounts of money to take pictures of birds and stuff. They were totally ignorant to the things that surrounded them in the countryside of Kenya. They had no idea the beautiful people of Kiria even existed. And again, I felt so guilty for being in this nice place “relaxing.” I have always wanted to come to Africa and go on a safari (basically exactly what these tourists were doing) yet I just wanted to be back in the village with the people of Kiria. It was really difficult. There was just so much going through my head – it was tough to digest.
We loaded the bus after checking in to go on safari in the national park. Lake Nakuru is breathtaking. We saw rhino, and more zebras, giraffe, etc. The lake had literally THOUSANDS of flamingos and pelicans. And baboons! So many baboons! We went up to this place on the mountain called Baboon Point and we got out of the bus and there were baboons everywhere. And so many baby ones! So cute!!! I took a bazillion pictures of them. And the view was incredible looking out over the park and the lake.
We finished up safari, sadly never seeing the lions. Muchai said they were probably hiding waiting to feed. But that’s okay, it was still an incredible experience. The good part about the safari was that we were able to just look at the wildlife and landscape, take pictures, and be in our own heads. You could tell everyone was dealing with that transition struggle.
We got back to the resort and had dinner which was, again, incredible. I’m eating this amazing meal and again, having this feeling of guilt. I kept thinking – I don’t deserve this. The people of Kiria have never had the opportunity to experience something like this in their own country, what makes me deserving of it?
At debrief that night I talked a lot about my struggle that day and felt comforted to know that I, too, wasn’t alone. Not everyone was feeling the exact same thing, but we were all dealing with it in our own way.
And a big part of me wanted to know why? Why did we get the opportunity to do these things? And although this isn’t the exact answer, it’s a paraphrase of the reasoning behind it: missionaries need vacation too. Muchai said that much of the culture and lifestyle of many of the people in Africa is centered around the landscape and wildlife (food, shelter, water, etc). He said one can’t fully grasp or understand the people without understanding and experiencing the wildlife too. Which made sense to me.
The other part of it (and most likely the largest part / reasoning) is that the leisure activities help to ease the transition back to reality. Many of my team members who are experienced missionaries talked about how when they went on mission trips and didn’t have that transition / leisure time, well, that the resentment I felt towards the tourists – they felt that towards their friends and family when they got home. They said that having this time is really important and allowed them to begin to shift their mindsets back to the real world. It’s not that it’s intentional to feel that resentment, it’s just natural and it happens. It was really good for me (and I know my team, too) to have that very candid talk Thursday night about our fears, uneasiness, concerns, etc. It made me feel a whole lot more relaxed and like I wasn’t a total nut job.
It also made me appreciate my experience in Africa as a whole a lot more. One thing that the Kirians showed me is how appreciative they are. It’s one of the many things I’ve taken away from this mission – love and sincere appreciation for those around you, what you’re given, and what you have. No matter what.
Friday was also a leisurely day of souvenir shopping along the way during our 3+ hour drive back to Nairobi.
We got to the airport at 9pm or so that night and had to say goodbye to Patrick our bus driver and Muchai. Saying goodbye to Muchai was so hard – he’s a part of our team. He was with us through everything this week – he knows our fears, dreams, hopes for the village, he’s laughed and cried with us, prayed with us, shared communion with us. That was really hard – but he’s made a promise that when Newhope is in Kenya, Muchai will be with us.
And that brings me to now. I’m exhausted, I feel like I’m getting sick, I’ve had like 2 hours of sleep, and I just want to be home and see my dog and my fiancé.
Over the next few days and weeks I’ll post more pictures, share more stories, and probably want to continue to use my blog as a place to “talk” out my thoughts.
I just want to say I can’t even begin to thank you to those of you who have been so supportive, who’ve followed this blog, offered prayer, and just been all around awesome. Thank you. From the bottom of my heart, thank you.
All for now and much love,