I arrived safe and sound in Nairobi on Wednesday morning at 6:30 am Kenya time! For anyone who is curious I’m 9 hours ahead of Saskatchewan time so you can imagine what the jet lag was like! Thankfully with my flight landing so early, I tried to sleep the whole flight here (and anyone who flies knows how difficult that is!) and succeeded with staying awake all day Wednesday! It was a struggle, but I managed and jet lag should be pretty well dealt with!
Getting here was easier than I could have dreamed! I figured for sure there would have been delays, confusion, 20 year old ditsy little Canadian girl was bound to get lost somewhere, at some point! But none of that happened! Every flight landed earlier than expected, the airports were easier to navigate than I remember and my bags all showed up in Kenya! So for those of you who prayed for my journey, THANK YOU! I couldn’t have asked for a better trip over!
Yesterday I showed up at the guest house with minimal knowledge of what my “job description” was and was quite anxious to meet up with my host to be able to figure some more of that out! For many of you who know me (and for those of you who don’t know me as well) I am truly my mothers daughter, I love to organize and plan and know exactly what is going on and what my role is so anxious is probably an understatement when it came to figuring out what I would be doing and when I could get started! Well, I didn’t find out a whole lot more once I got here than I knew before I got here! It was made apparent that I was reaaally going to have to learn this “go with the flow” thing, in a different country, with new people, and while some of the sights, sounds and smells I remembered from before, I definitely worried and stressed over this “go with the flow” idea. I was then informed that for the first few nights, I would be on my own in the Guest house. My hosts have their own home with their family a distance from the guest house and even though upon arrival the guest house was busy and bustling with people sewing and cleaning and working in the office, around 5 that all changed quite quickly. This, also scared the crap out of me! Now, while being my mothers daughter some of you might be thinking “Well! You’re independent, you like time alone so that wouldn’t be that bad!” Well, for a 20 year old, slightly home sick, jet lagged little girl, with really no idea or parameters as to what her purpose of being here really was, in a country I’ve never been alone in, you can imagine the emotional call my parents received once the house cleared out!
My parents were great at calming me down, assuring me that I really needed sleep and then I should try to process this all again; let me tell you they couldn’t be more right! I woke up this morning knowing that I wouldn’t be seeing Brenda at all and that I needed to be ready to head out with a group of ladies who are staff with Jacaranda to go to Marurui to see the Sewing business, daycare, school and possibly medical center they have there. We arrived there and was told that the ladies I went with were doing an interview with a lady who was potentially going to be the new teacher to replace the one leaving on Sunday! And while they were in the interview that I was supposed to stay and play with the children, read with them, whatever I wanted really. What a burden right!? 😉 I was in absolute heaven! There are 38 kids in the school, 4 small class rooms in the school, each one not much bigger than my room, if they are that big to start with! I started out hanging out with the 6, 7, 8 and 9 year olds, I started by asking them each their names and once the intro’s were done I swear we had been friends forever! They were so eager and excited to tell me how old they were, point to different animals or ships or planes on the map of the world to hear me tell them what they were, they just wanted to learn! Then, towards the end of our time as things were slowing down and our limited communication had let us talk about basically everything we could, they started to sing. They started to sing songs about having Joy, how much Jesus loved them, the words to the one song I can’t get out of my head went like this “I know who I am, because I know who God says I am, he says I am loved”. It took everything in me not to cry! (maybe the jet lag hasn’t completely worn off yet cause the emotions were almost uncontrollable!)
It was about this point that the teachers came back into the room and I had two of them walk up to me and start talking, the conversation started off with “the girls told us you are here with us for 3 months?!” I responded with “Well, I’m not sure where I’ll be but if you need me here and Brenda can spare me I would love to be here!” they started telling me that I’m the arts and crafts teacher, that they have a little bit of play dough, some paper, they needed paste so the kids could stick things together, and that they were confident I was great at arts and crafts (although I’m not sure how they knew!) and they were so excited for me to be the new teacher! I told them that I was able to bring over crayons, glue, note books and things like that with me and would be happy to bring some to the school with me next time I visited which literally had one teacher jumping up and down! We all seemed pretty excited although I don’t know that we were all on the same page.
I just smiled and nodded and then snuck back into a classroom full of 3 and 4 years olds and hid not really knowing what to make of the conversation! I sat in a room with kids who touched my skin, played with my hair, looked at my blue eyes, and we just sat there and coloured and giggled together and the thoughts from my previous discussion about being a teacher here started to excite me more and more!
As we got back to the house one of the ladies who went to do the interview said “So, you’re going to be teaching there is that right?!” I said “well, I know Brenda does have some office things for me to do but when she can spare me I told the ladies I would be more than happy to help”. She seemed to think that was okay and I then asked “weren’t you doing an interview today for a teachers position?” She informed me that they were doing the interview but it didn’t go as well as they had hoped and since this teacher leaves on Sunday, the need for a teacher to replace her is great (seeing as there are only 3 teachers for 4 class rooms as it is!) and she thought it would be a good idea for me to be there! I visited with the ladies more about the school and the kids and all the branches of Jacaranda that there are and how it all works. They got me started on a project of taking the names and stories of all the children they have sponsored in the schools right now. As they told me the stories of the children who are HIV positive, who don’t have fathers or who have fathers that mistreat them or simply care more about drinking than they do for their families my heart was filled with happiness, but also broke at the same time.
During these conversations I got a phone call from Brenda asking me if I would be okay with going and teaching for the next little while, until they found another teacher for the school.. I couldn’t have been happier!
How lucky am I, that I get to be a small part of these children’s lives for a portion of time. How many relationships and conversations am I going to be lucky enough to have with these children who just need to know someone loves them. How many of those kids that I listened to, singing “Jesus Loves Me” and “I know who I am because God loves me” are going home to brokenness and hurt and heart break. And yet how amazing is it that being together, and knowing that God’s love is enough, puts a smile on their faces and it becomes an infectious smile and brings a smile to your face, you can’t help but know the happiness, the joy, the love that you see in those faces, it’s all incredibly real.
It’s only day one, and I’m so overwhelmed with thoughts, feelings, questions. Excitement knowing I get to be a teacher in Kenya! And yet somewhat fearful excitement (in a good way!) knowing that this is only the beginning, and there is so much more to come! I don’t know what the future holds but I can’t wait to find out!