Jambo (hello). Habari yako? (How are you) In case you’re wondering, this post title means welcome I’m feeling good (my Kiswahili is limited and I didn’t know how to say I’m doing well lol.)
So the first week and a half I was in Kenya was spent going to a few different schools and participating in a medical clinic and some functions for kids with disabilities. I spent this time with Greg, our leader and his short term team (marisol and Tom, a married couple from Pennsylvania, and MJ and Fred an 80 something year old married couple. Side note: MJ has cerebral palsy and her and Fred have only been married for 2 years.), our driver George (a Kenyan native – super great guy), and my co-tutor Sarah (an amazing 35 year old who recently quit her job to follow Gods call to missions). We stayed in jamindas hotel on the outskirts of kakamega, Kenya. This hotel was nice. We had beds with mosquito nets, hot water showers a majority of the time, electricity except for around 2 hours every day when it rained, and good food. The hotel is probably equivalent quality to a 30 dollar a night place in America, but here it’s a slight step down from a Hilton.
I enjoyed this time. Marisol and Tom became my step in parents, and I really grew to love the people I was working with. We went to the kwyrini school most days, and I began to develop friendships with the kids and teachers. At the school I taught some Spanish, some English vocabulary, learned some Kenyan dances, participated in basketball (the boys school team vs the teachers) and just did life with the students. We would regularly take tea in the staff room around 10, and the bathrooms were little shanties around holes in the ground that doubled as many flies home. The principal of that school is named James. I would soon get to know him and his family very well.
Having gotten over my initial homesickness and begun to get comfortable…naturally God decided it was time we move. Last Thursday, Sarah and I said our goodbyes and went to stay with principal James, his wife Regina, and two of his 3 boys (josemaria 22 and Joseph 20). Their house is full of laughter. Josemaria is following in his parents footsteps and becoming a teacher (both his parents are principals). He is in the student teaching portion of his education and posted in kakamega. Jo is studying to become a lawyer, I think his university must be in kakamega cause he’s at home as well. They are constantly debating politics, sharing school stories or just stating their opinions on any subject. It’s fun to listen and occasionally join in. Sarah and I shared a tiny room with a toilet that sometimes flushed and a hot shower when there was enough water available. With no sink, the bathroom doubled as a toilet and place to spit after brushing your teeth. Another interesting fact about bathrooms in Kenya: the shower head is in the same area as the toilet just a couple feet over. So basically it’s like putting a toilet in your shower. Our room was located were right next to the chickens and turkeys and geese so each morning around 4, we were awoken by cockadoodledoo and jdhsdukfhuesh or whatever noise turkeys make. I learned to sleep with headphones haha. We engaged in cooking with a gas burner and watched a fresh chicken being prepared. I learned how to make chipati and peeled and cut carrots with a knife and my hand – luckily I still have all 10 fingers. We washed some of our clothes using buckets and powdered detergent and hung our clothes on the clothesline to dry. Although our timing was poor…the rains came right as we hung our clothes so it took them a little longer to dry. Friday we went to Uganda for the day. That was an experience – worth its own blog post. We are going back next weekend and I’ll get to see Debbie!!! I can’t wait! The highlight of the weekend was going to Jo’s rugby game on Saturday. It was a big college aged event and we stood out like sore thumbs and got many stares, blown kisses, muzungus and a few proposals. (Muzungu means white foreigner – I think that was the first word I learned) Jo is very good and it was fun to watch although they lost. That was the most muscular and tall Kenyan men I’ve seen since being here. Many of the Kenyan guys are shorter and scrawny. Again I became comfortable in a new place and God said “oh it’s time to move her.”
Monday we arrived at principal Josephine’s house where we would be staying the rest of our time. It was a very nice house. We were given our own rooms a flush toilet (that’s a big deal because many just have holes in the floor), a sink, and hot bucket showers (the shower head hasn’t had water and when it does, the water isn’t hot so we use a bucket and pour it.) We have full size beds although mine is as hard as a rock. I woke up at 130 so sore I had to take ibuprofen before falling back asleep haha and we don’t have pillows but one of the sweatshirts I brought has proven to be an okay make shift pillow. 🙂 We do have mosquito nets which is nice cause there are a lot of bugs here. We don’t have wifi, but we really are spoiled. It’s a little different atmosphere. Josephine isn’t very talkative and when she does talk it’s so quiet I can barely hear her and I find it lulls me to sleep. I have to concentrate so hard on keeping my eyes open and saying something that makes sense back because I usually don’t know what she has said to me…needless to say, meal time is a little awkward. It’s very separate here. We don’t really ever see her except at meals and those she’s even begun to eat on her own..
She’s taken in two of her nephews (Manu 14 and royals 10) and a girl she took under her wing (Beatrice 19). They don’t eat meals with us though. It’s strange. Kenya is very much a master servant culture and I think there’s some of that going on in this situation but I don’t really know. Royals created the friendship I now have with them. He would come into my room most nights to say hi or just stare at me. He doesn’t know a ton of English. The other night he came in and so I borrowed some coloring materials from Sarah and we colored and then Beatrice joined us. They taught me some Kiswahili and then Beatrice had to go cook so I came and helped/watched. I learned how to cook ugliest. That’s the staple food here. It’s maize (corn) flour mixed with hot water to form a bread paste rice it has literally no flavor. Manu came home from school around 8. So I hung out and talked with them. I’m amazed by how hard working they are and just how joyful. Manu has never seen a zebra and he lives in Kenya. He’s never gotten out of kakamega – broke my heart. I’ll have to write about them more in another blog post.
Mugamori, the school we are mainly hosted at, is not very friendly. Apparently the teachers are shy, but they all just talk in their own language and don’t include us very much. We are kept mainly in the staff room and have to beg to see the kids. It’s a frustrating thing. We did get to go to a show choir competition which was quite an experience and i got to teach a math class, but altogether the kids are less welcoming and they make fun of us some (mainly me). They make jokes in kiswahili and they tell us the wrong names or just say some rude things. It’s very strange. It was so bad at one point that I was uncomfortable being around these group of girls without a teacher or Sarah around. Kind of pathetic I know… Sarah and I talked to the girls about how making jokes at another’s expense or being rude is wrong and hurtful. it’s gotten better and there are a few girls I’ve built a friendship with and one teacher I really enjoy but overall it hasn’t been the most enjoyable week. I’ve spent a lot of time in prayer and in the word. been learning a lot!! God has really stretched me and made me deal with some of my insecurities head on. He continually pushes me outside my comfort zone and I’ve had to rely on him and his strength a lot this week. however, Nataka kwenda (I still want to leave) lol. Greg our leader arrived back today, and he is going to help us out. We are going to go to kwyrini and be with those who really want us – where we don’t feel as much like a nuisance. I think we will only spend one day a week at mugamori. We also might move back in with James and Regina – im not sure yet. Being with Greg and the team tonight was so energizing. I feel strengthened and happy and hopeful! I’m looking forward to the next 3 weeks and hope they go a lot smoother. I’m glad I’m here although I do miss home and at times think twende nymubani (let’s go home). If you haven’t noticed I’m loving learning some Kiswahili. Lol. Continued prayers are always karibu. 🙂 kwaheri (goodbye)