Sometimes you just can't put into words the things you have felt, seen, heard, smelled, tasted, and touched... That is how I feel.
So, where did we go today?
It is impossible to describe the place with only one word. But we do.
We call it a slum.
You cannot imagine the filth and the stench. Garbage and sewage is trampled underfoot. Animals rummage through it, looking for a bite to eat. Unidentifiable fumes and smoke thicken the air, along with the smell of unwashed bodies. Vendors work in their stands, selling everything from clothing to fish. Flies swarm everyone and everything. Children run around freely, wearing shoes far too large, too worn, or none at all. As you drive by, everyone stares at you; some smile, others grimace. The children chase the van screaming,
"How are you?! How are you?!"
If you take the time to smile and wave to them, their faces light up, and they return the kind gesture. As you continue on, you see women and young girls with babies slung on their backs. Hardly anyone is idle; they are all doing something. Some are carrying loads on their heads, others are hauling wood in a cart, and still more are just walking with no destination in mind. The little meat-markets are scattered throughout; but they have no way to keep the meat clean, cold, and safe for consumption. Tables of dried minnows and fruit are close by, being touched by the stale air.
And amid all of this, there are the schools.
At the first school, all of the children fell in love with us, and us with them. They held our hands, talked to us, sang with us, danced with us, and laughed with us. Immediately, we all became good friends.
Zoe, (age 11, and a true joy to have on the team with us,) met and became close to two young girls by the age of 11 and 12. They were inseparable from the moment they met.
I became friends with a girl who was nearly 15 years old. She was a translator for us, and was so sweet to me. I also had the privilege of meeting her mother, who is one of the teachers there.
The whole school just warmed my heart! The children were genuinely excited for us to visit them.
We were there for perhaps 30 minutes, and then it was time to go. When the young children heard this, they wrapped their arms around us and cried,
"Don't leave us! Take us home with you!"
It absolutely broke my heart. I felt so many emotions, ranging from sadness to anger to shock. I felt like my heart was being torn in two. I was angry at myself, because I could not stay longer with them. I was shocked and bewildered that they had reacted this way, and because we had all become so close in such a short time.
Love is a curious thing. It brings such joy, but can bring such sadness too...
Zoe and I held it together. We smiled and waved to the kids, out the van window. As we drove down the road, we both sat in silence. I think I can speak for both of us when I say our insides were aching.
Susan, (our pastor and team-leader's wife,) looked in the back and saw us sitting. She asked if we were okay.
"You know it is okay to cry..." she said.
As soon as she said that, the floodgates broke loose.
Visiting the other schools was not as hard.
Each school had a short show to put on for us. They all sang and danced beautifully!!
I was very humbled at the second school.
They were living in the middle of the trash and muck. The had very small rooms with little light to see. Their uniforms were ragged. But they were all so proud! And they were so thankful for the fact that GOD had provided a clean concrete slab for the children to play on, for transparent sheets to use as skylights in the rooms, and for plenty of rice and beans for their children to eat.
They had so little, yet had so much.
At the last school, (which was held in the church we taught the conference at,) there were many small children. Before the program started, I ran to the restroom. (I'm not going to lie, I have tried to avoid speaking of the restrooms, but I have to, so you can understand this story...) The restrooms at this school/church are, quite literally, holes in the floor with shaky stalls made of wood and sheets of metal.
After I had went into the stall, a little kid came running in, trying to open the door. I was pushing against the door to keep it closed, because there were no locks on the inside.
Soon, a little face was looking through one of the many cracks in the door.
I shoved my hands over the crack, telling them to not come in.
The child stopped trying to get in, but I heard a small, rattling sound on the other side. When I looked closer, I saw that there was a lock, but it was on the outside. The kid locked me in the bathroom.
Well, I kinda freaked out... But I didn't scream out to someone, because I was mortified.
What to do?? I shook the stall, hoping the lock would slip out. I reached through the cracks, trying to reach the lock. And finally, I shoved my fingers through a half-inch space, and scooted the lock out of the pin.
When I came out, nearly 15 minutes later, the ladies were wondering why I took so long.
When I explained my situation, I could not get them to stop laughing...
We are heading out to Kitale!! Please pray for safe travel, and for all of our luggage to arrive on time.
Thank you for your time! :)