Thursday, August 23, 2012

Camp is done...next stop...business planning!


Camp in Mungit was a very different experience for us this week. First, I need to make a correction to my previous blog…it’s actually a 40 minute drive and about a 1.5 hour walk taking short cuts. The 40 minute drive is definitely more like an amusement park ride because there are no paved roads, and since we were going out even further, the roads were either rocks or grass. The first ride there Matt and I actually felt pretty sick for awhile because of how much rocking back and forth that we were subjected to in the car.

Side note - Matt just read me this line out of a Kenya tour book about Pythons that live near the lake in Nakuru Game Park: "One of these huge snakes dammed up the Makalia stream after dying of internal injuries after swallowing a gazelle." Lesson: don’t go near pythons. Noted.

When we arrived, there were tons of kids waiting for us, definitely more than last week. Turns out, we had almost 300 kids come for camp! We were going to send the real little kids home, but most came with their older siblings so we decided to do our best for the day with all of them and then tell the little ones they had to stay home the next day. By doing that, we would still have about 150 kids, which is much more manageable for us. So, needless to say, the first day was pretty frazzled but we managed and had a good day with the kids. Raelynne and I taught about 100 of the kids the Hokey Pokey and then started teaching them Old McDonald had a farm. Turns out it’s easier to modify the words a bit so the beginning turned into: There’s a farmer who had a farm. They didn’t quite get through the whole song but we made some progress that first day.

The end of that first day was a lot of free play, but one of the things that kept them occupied for a good hour was letting the kids touch the skin on my arms. They are fascinated by our skin color and my skinny little wrists allow them to see my bright green veins so they were going nuts just touching them. The other thing that they went crazy laughing about was when I took my hair out of my pony tail and headband and just shook my hair out. Left and right the kids were touching it – not used to such thin, fine hair.

Day two, we all walked to the camp, nice morning hike in the bright sunshine. As we arrived, I could hear the one classroom of kids singing Old McDonald! Turns out one of the other volunteers had got there early and was really teaching it to them line by line so they were singing it really well…what a great surprise!

The kids did not bring their younger siblings so it was a much more fruitful day with more space for the kids to do their crafts and activities. Many had never glued before, cut before and some never colored before. What a delight to take their hands and show some of them for the first time, and have them immediately become experts. We were able to show them a few games that they really enjoyed and these kids also really liked playing soccer as well. Day three we ended with our home-made rockets and the 24ft parachute. We also had a visit from the three other VLM from Kitale so it was nice for them to see the area we were serving and chat with them for a bit.

Another side note - as I am writing this, the chickens have snuck into the backyard of the sister’s house through the back entrance of the house and Sr. Pat & Sr. Sharon have just discovered them and are trying to shoo them out. There is chaos ensuing right now, lots of noise, and now Sr. Pat is trying to lure them out with a trail of bread. Last week, the chickens and roosters were punished to a week inside their cage because the week prior they grazed all the way into town. Looks like they may be confined again for a few days (by confined, I will say they do have a large pen, so it’s not really that bad of a punishment). Just another day in Chepnyal!

All four of us walked home from Mungit yesterday, and we had a posse of about 30 kids with us for the first ¾ of the hike (mostly uphill, see photo below). They would slowly drop off as we got to the juncture where their houses were but it was fun because they were teaching us Pokot words and phrases and then giggle at us when we didn’t pronounce them correctly. What a beautiful hike, through corn fields, along ridges, it was truly an amazing walk. We also delighted in some local fruit, closest to our cherries, but much much much more tart! I’ll be the first to admit that I was dead tired and ready to collapse around 8 pm that night and my legs are pretty sore today!

Hiking up with the kids

Chepnyal VLM as we hike up the mountain home. In the very bottom right-hand corner, you can see the top of the school we were at in Mungit

I have had two notable moments of overwhelming happiness that almost put me into joyful tears since we have been here. The first one came at the end of the first week of camp when Sr. Sharon put together a video of pictures from camp to show the kids before they left. Their reaction to their photos was so joyful and innocent I couldn’t help but be filled with joy myself. The second time was this Tuesday, our third anniversary. We walked into the dining room and it was decorated with balloons. After dinner, Sr. Esther and Sr. Pat snuck away and Sr. Mary turned out the lights, just as Esther and Pat came in with a cake, lit with three candles, singing, “It is a privilege to have you here, it is a privilege to have you here, it is a privilege to have you here on your anniversary!” After many thank you’s, we cut the cake, but did so while they sang the specific cake-cutting song of Kenya. All I remember is a lot of “cut the cake” being sang, but not sure if there were more words than that. We enjoyed cake, and then opened a card and gift – which was an incredible African Bible. What a treat!

Today, we will rest and plan for the celebration for children with disabilities, and play volleyball with some of the workers here this afternoon. I believe we will also be traveling to Linyogh to have lunch with some of the elderly Pokot people. They supposedly eat a lot of goat so our brother-in-law Tony has already prepared us for this cuisine!

Matt’s goal for today: not to hit his head on low door frames. There are many here.

Things I am grateful for this day:
1)      No major health issues for any of us – few colds/allergies/upset tummies but none lasting for more than a day or so.
2)      The opportunity to share all of our meals with the sisters; hearing their vocation stories, and for the blessing of laughter that always ensues at each meal.
3)      The freedoms of our country, especially for women. Many long walks with our volunteers have brought about many conversations about the roles of women in this society.

3 comments:

  1. Ok, so you got me all weepy before going to work today 8^) so proud of you guys!

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  2. So in my study of Redemptoris Missio (Mission of the Redeemer, Pope John Paul II, December 7, 1990) I came across this paragraph and thought of you. JP II wrote:
    "Missionaries, who come from other churches and countries, must immerse themselves in the cultural milieu of those to whom they are sent, moving beyond their own cultural limitations. Hence, they must learn the language, become familiar with the most important expressions of the local culture, and discover its values through direct experience." Thank you for your yes!

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