It dawned on me that I left out quite a few things when I was blogging – LIKE WHAT WE WERE THERE TO DO! Ugh…I’d blame it on jet-lag, but honestly I think I just forgot. Old age, maybe? I know I mentioned items on our Facebook event before we left, but not as much during and after..so here are some highlights 😀
We went there knowing that we wanted to plant 5 new gardens. Other than that, we were kind of open to see what God might have us do. It quickly became clear that there were a few things that simply NEEDED to happen. That is where Steve proved invaluable to our team. Most of you know me rather well. I am handy, but only to a point. Heck yeah, I swing a hammer and saw some wood. I can even drywall, if need be. However, Steve proved that he can build a shelving system in 3-hours-flat, and build a urinal room in just a matter of days. What would have taken me at least a day just to draw up, calculate costs and plan, he accomplished in like four blinks-of-an-eye.
Steve headed up the new boys latrine and I was SOOOO grateful! I have a pretty stout stomach, when it comes to the grosser things in life. But this was just hot, nasty work. First, the “sewer” had to be dug up. Honestly, the stench of human waste, mixed with the heat made me gag. He spent days back there and never complained. He might not be a saint, but closer to being one than he was before this trip. 😉
The gardens were a whole other beast. So, it was hot…like really hot. If you missed Kim’s post about how they plant gardens, be sure to catch up and read it. Ariel, Jo and Eileen spent days out there hauling dirt, picking rocks and garbage out of the soil and mixing manure (sacks of dried, rock-hard animal waste that was mixed with food wrappers, plastic bags, bizarre-o bugs, discarded batteries and an assortment of other trash items) before we could even get to the “planting” phase. It was dirty and exhausting – but again, they never complained. I missed all of the planting “fun”; but do have some great pictures of the girls. (look for these soon 😉 )
The last project on our list came as a practical need that we saw when we arrived at the school. I asked Pastor Samuel where the dormers showered and he said they haul water from the well and carry it back (about 100 yards) and then wash up in buckets. So, 17 little girls and little boys carry bucket after bucket of cold water….just so that they can wash the day’s grime from their bodies. It just seemed senseless. Especially since there was piping run almost the whole way – from the back, all the way to the well. It reminded me of that painting where the “Divine Hand” is almost touching the other hand. SO…close!!! Well, we were able to join the two and now the dormers have running water. It’s still cold, BUT they do use the giko to heat water back by their rooms and they are also able to the wash in the privacy of their little world. For girls, this is a nice amenity.
Those were our main objectives. Here are some of the other very fun, very cool things that we did:
We introduced Grace to the food processor! Thanks to a good friend, I was able to fulfill a 3-year-old desire to cut Grace’s food preparation time in half. I have been praying that God would allow us to give the school a food processor, knowing that it could shred skuma and cabbage very quickly and efficiently, hence cutting the prep time drastically. I wish you could have seen Grace’s face – it was awesome! Her exact words were, “Wow, this makes it easy to do the work with a smile.” Not that Grace isn’t known for her cheeriness; but there was an awful lot of smiling in the kitchen and I am pretty sure we ate skuma more than was normally scheduled, that week 🙂
As Steve said in his post, we spent a lot of time with the borders. I haven’t really had the opportunity to do this on past trips. Most of our nights were spent laughing and playing games with these children. We got to know each little person’s smile and quirks. We laughed at jokes and told stories. We did hair and tried to predict who would marry who…Aidan had a few claims, he being my firstborn and all. The highlight of my time with these kids was the last night we were there. We transformed the church into a game room – setting up game stations (Twister, SPOONS, “Beach ball”, a balloon-animal-tying-station, a hair washing station, a makeup station and a blow-dry station). We spent the night just being big kids. We made a “Mexican meal” – some liked it, some not so much! Eileen and I washed the girls’ hair – and some of the boys’ hair. We built a campfire, told stories, sang songs and roasted marshmallows – thank you marshmallow donors! As I stood back and watched my team holding kids in the their laps and telling stories, I knew that had we not accomplished one task the whole time we were there, this trip would have been worth it. We would have accomplished the most important thing we came to do. We invested. Not in a building. Not in a piece of land. We invested in a future. We had the privilege to invest in the lives of seventeen little people who have known more pain and abuse and hunger than most of us could dream of. But as much as we were able to give, they gave back. They gave smiles and hugs and memories.
By the time we hit the airport Wednesday, we ( by “we” I mean Steve) had built some much needed food storage shelves, put in urinals and run piping to the back dorm area. We had planted gardens and played games. We were tired and dirty, but heartsick to leave. I miss my friends in Kenya. I miss the work that drops me exhausted into bed at night. I miss the peace that I find there.
We girls had a running joke about the “happy air” that seemed to infect me. I honestly cannot remember when I laughed so much or so hard. I know that God handpicked this team. He knew where my insecurities were strong and sent people with me to fill in those gaps. As your team “bus driver”, I just want to say “thank you” to each of you. Thank you for jumping in without hesitation. Thank you for making this so easy for me, and thank you for your friendships.
There is a freedom in doing what God has called you to. And so finally, I would like to thank the other team that invested so much in this trip and allowed me the freedom to serve. To my in-laws who opened their home to my children and invested so much love and care into their lives that I am not sure that the kids noticed I was gone – “thank you.” To my Aunt Peggy who cared for Israel and made sure he ate his veggies and felt safe and secure – “thank you.” To all of you who supported us financially and who donated toys and medical supplies and beautiful handmade dresses and toothbrushes and toothpaste and shoes and formula – “thank you.” To everyone who held us in prayer – “thank you.” Our trip wouldn’t have been possible without you. There really wouldn’t be a We Are Kenya, without you.