Jambo (hello) from Kenya!
After a horrendously stressful 3 day trip full of bumps in the road, our team finally arrived in Kenya on Saturday — and only a few hours behind our scheduled time (MIRACLE!!!). It seems like every time I get off the plane in Kenya it gets sweeter. This place is home for me, for my heart, and for my little spirit. It’s the weirdest thing because it’s so far from how I live at home but it feels just right when I’m here.
After greeting some of my favorite guys in the world — my Baba, our director Oscar, and my dear friend Leakey, we hopped in a bus and headed to Kakamega. As soon as we arrived we dropped our bags off at the hotel and headed for the orphanage. I said to someone on the team that day “I physically cannot wait another day to see the kids.” Sounds so dramatic but it was so true. I had this date in my head for so long and I wasn’t willing to sacrifice it for anything else.
Seeing the babies for the first time was worth every single second of stress and trouble to get here. The orphanage is like a safe zone for my heart. The kids fill me with a joy unspeakable. They are, above all, polite and respectful, but aside from that they each have their own spunk and their own sweet personalities. I don’t think I’ll ever be able to put into words how much I love these kids.
I would love to go into detail about each day we’ve been here, but I would be writing a small novel if I did. So I will pick some of my favorite moments. On Monday we went to the Deaf School where we continue to develop relationship with the students and the staff. My favorite moment from there was when one of our team members, Kristin, got to present the head teacher with a brand new touch screen laptop. The look on BOTH of their faces was enough to make a few of us cry! It was so special and so sweet. In addition, the gracious people at St. Rita’s gave a TON of books to donate to the school and we got to give those to a few of the kids which was also equally as special. They were so grateful.
Tuesday (I think) we went to the slums. I have never seen poverty like that. The huts are super close together with sewage and other stuff running down between them. The kids are barefoot and dirty and the mamas are worn out. Yet still, amidst the abundant hurt and brokenness, they were able to find their smiles to welcome us as we prayed with them and offered them flour, pads, and Father’s Love Letters. I was really unsure of how I was going to do in the slums, because when I see need like that I tend to close up since the need is far greater than something I can meet. BUT GOD. God was so gracious to me that day. Instead of feeling sick and upset I was able to carry the joy of the Lord and simply love on the people. And sometimes, I think that can go equally as far as a bag of flour can for these people. And as a special little treat, they named their brand new nursery school after me — hahaha – “Melissa Nursery School.” AFRICA.
As I continue writing, I’m finding that, honestly, the highlights of this week for me personally have all been at the orphanage. (We end every day there). I know I sound like a broken record but that place is JOY UNSPEAKABLE for me. It just is. I could sit on the rock and sing with those kids or run around crazy playing soccer or simply just watch as they play together and feel more contentment than anywhere else in the world. They make me laugh hard and they make me love hard and I couldn’t ask for anything more. The internet here is pretty spotty, but when I get home I will post more videos and pictures to show you what I mean. I just love them so much.
Last night we went to a little restaurant in town and got to treat 3 of the oldest boys, Hillary, Hottence, and Orestus. Oscar (our director) gave us permission to treat them since they have been such a big help to him at the orphanage. The boys were so excited. Every day Hillary would come to double check the day we were going out and reminded me 500 times that he wouldn’t be home from school until 6:30, which is when I would assure him that we would wait for him. THAT. KID. I love him so much. He is the smartest kid in the orphanage (by a long shot) and he knows it — yet he is the most humble, kind, loving, SWEET boy I think I have ever met. Sometimes I am sad that his parents aren’t around to see what a good boy he is, but then I’m reminded that if that was the case, we wouldn’t get to love him and watch him succeed. So thanks Lord for that.
When we were at dinner, Cory asked Hillary how many times he has been out to dinner at a restaurant, and he said, “Just today.” I think that was a reality check for all of us sitting there. We filled the boys plates with onion rings (YES LORD), meat, rice, vegetables, and more as they played on our phones and took pictures and ate their little feasts. I have so many selfies of them eating their food on my phone. I love how excited they were. And so appreciative, too. ACTUALLY — can I tell you a story about Hillary!? — on the way to dinner, we were asking him where he lived before the orphanage and he told us it was with his aunt. When we asked if she was good to him, he looked down and said “No. She was bad.” Austin smiled and said, “So you don’t miss her then?” And he responded…are you ready for it…. ”No no. I miss her. Even though she was bad I still love her.” Oh Hilly. I couldn’t love you anymore than I do. I was so proud of him right then. He loves so hard. And he teaches us so much.
After dinner we took the boys to Nakumat and told them they could each get ONE thing. I’ll let you decide how many things they ended up with. (But don’t worry, we got stuff for the other littles, too.) They were on cloud 9. We were on cloud 9. This life….ahh. It’s just so fun.
On Friday we also got to go to the hospital to attempt to deliver some of the mamas in the labor ward. Unfortunately we walked in LITERALLY right after they set the baby under the warmer, and we left RIGHT before another mama delivered. But the one that delivered first let us name her baby for her. So we decided to name him after Quinn, one of the girls on our team. Thus, Baby Quinton. He was so sweeeeeeet and squishy. The boys on the team were so patient with us as we waited for these mamas to progress in their labor and I think they got a pretty good education on it as well. So many funny moments and conversations as we waited. I think maybe it’s safe to say they appreciate women a little bit more than they did. 😉
Today is Saturday and we are spending the entire day with our kids at the orphanage. GLORY. I can’t think of a better plan.
I wish I could have squeezed every single detail of the trip into this post but it’s just not possible. To end, I just want to say how faithful and good our God is. We have seen him moving since the moment we left and it is such an honor to have been chosen by Him to be here. Each morning as we spend time with Him we are able to encourage one another with scripture that the Lord is speaking to us and share what we’re learning. In addition to that, I want to make sure you all know that your prayers have been felt here, too, and we are so grateful. The team of 8 we have here, in my opinion, is TOP NOTCH. I could not have picked a better group of people to travel with. They have been so gracious, so flexible, so loving, and so much fun to do life with. I adore every single one of them so hard. For reals.
Until next time,