Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Last day in Chepnyal

Today is our last day in Chepnyal. We took one last adventure to the cascading waterfalls nearby, where it was lots of hiking down steep cliffs but eventually we got to the big waterfall, which was incredible. Raelynne and I took turns falling on the way, only once, but the grass was slippery and we were at a pretty big angle. We quickly recovered but not without mud all over. We hiked down the rocks a bit and at one point Matt got a wet foot, then I of course proceeded to get a wet foot on the way back on the same rock he wiggled loose the first time. It was really fun climbing up and down rocks, I feel like I would be a pretty good rock climber if I tried. Anyways, we were muddy, hot and tired by the time we came back but I would do it again in a heartbeat. I just took a cold shower…I’m not quite sure how some people say they find them refreshing, but either way, I am all cleaned up now!
We will spend the rest of the day finishing up some last-minute stuff and packing. Tomorrow we will travel to Kitale with some stops along the way and stay overnight. We will travel to Nairobi on Friday, but stop at a game park along the way (where I hope to hang out with some giraffes!). This will very likely be my last post while we are here unless I have internet access in Nairobi. I promise I will try to blog in Nairobi if the opportunity presents itself.

            So let’s see, where did I leave off…

            We traveled to Linyough (Lin-yo) on Thursday to eat lunch with the elderly people who come twice a week to socialize and keep each other company for a bit. I could write a whole blog on this experience, but I will just say this: People don’t live to a very old age here, and when they do, they are often on their own with no one to care for them. Thanks to the DoC, they have an opportunity to meet and share a meal together, but many of them live far away and are physically unable to come. While we spent time with those who were there, those who weren’t were on my mind and in my heart, and I hope that maybe someday they could join these gatherings. We had rice, vegetables and goat with them, and afterwards went outside were they sang, clapped, and danced. We joined in where we could and they loved having us there. What a blessed experience!
            Friday and yesterday (Tuesday) were probably two of the most interesting and challenging days for us. This is where we spent time helping women who have either started a business or who are trying to start a business. They are looking for extra income so that they can feed their children and pay school fees for them. This could also be another blog in itself, but I will summarize as best I can. Nick and I were at Linyough with the production unit workers, helping them with inventory and quality control issues, and Matt and Raelynne went to Tamugh (Ta-mu) to help the women who had started or wanted to start businesses. Nick and I presented on numerous areas and had a group of about 25 production unit workers who really appreciated our insights and were taking notes on the suggestions we had made for them. Matt and Raelynne had an information gathering session, finding out the obstacles the women faced to start a business and the challenges they had when they were able to establish something. They ended up with about 85 women, and because their interest, decided to go back again on Tuesday to do a follow up meeting with them.
            So the experience was interesting to us because three of the four of us have degrees in business; and it was challenging for us because of the language barrier and many of the problems they face are things that aren’t even factors in the U.S. All four of us went back on Tuesday, and most of the same 85 women showed up, some were new even and I hope and pray that what insight we gave them will help make a difference for them in the future. As a thank you to our group, they sang us a song, and as they were singing, I had to stand in the front of the room with a bag in my hand because women started bringing us eggs as gifts. I think we had a dozen in all when it was over but one by one, they presented us eggs that they had carried to the presentation. Matt got this on video so hopefully I can share that with you when we return.
            Saturday and Sunday we made dinner for the sisters and I baked two pumpkin pies. It was my first time making them from a pumpkin, so it was interesting, especially not having a blender or anything. We have made a lot of stuff here – burritos, salsa, guacamole (of course! Side note…they have an avocado tree in Kitale so they brought a lot of avocados to Chepynal for us! Most people should know – especially the ladies at work – that I love avocados so I am very happy!), fried rice (Raelynne’s specialty), spaghetti and meatballs with homemade sauce (thanks to Nick!), and have even made our own homemade chips which we have deemed Chepynal chips because they look like no other tortilla chips I’ve ever seen J Still tasted good though!
            Monday we had the fun day for children with disabilities. Many of the kids that came were those that were sponsored by the DoC to have corrective surgeries or to help with other disabilities.  I had a lot of favorite days here, but this by far was at the top of my list. We made crowns with the kids, made tambourines and had a parade. We had bean bag toss, bowling, guessing games and all sorts of things for the kids. After lunch we made fleece blankets, and played with the parachute. There was one child in particular that absolutely loved the parachute. His back story is that he had a fever when he was younger and he had lasting damage from it. He has some learning disabilities and may even be slightly Autistic. Either way, he was so happy, not only from just sitting under the parachute as we shook it, but when we got everyone to lift the parachute, run under it and create a bubble and he just shrieked with delight. After hearing that, it could be designated as the third time I had to fight back tears of joy.

Before I get packing, here are some of the more humorous stories from along the way have been popping into my head to share:
1)      Our mission house has a lock on the outside to secure it and even without the lock, if you slide the handle over, it will lock the people inside in the house. Sr. Mary warned us of that when we were deciding where to stay and told us there were keys to a lock in the bathroom that would allow you to unlock that window and jump out the back of the house to exit. Well, literally the first day here, Raelynne went out on a run with Sr. Mary early in the morning and wouldn’t you know, locked us in the house. Since I was the smallest one left, I was tasked with unlocking the window, jumping out the back and letting Matt & Nick out. Glad we got that out of the way early!
2)      They have a thing called the “Pokot knock” here. Basically the people here do not want to disturb the Sisters, so they stand at the front door when they need to talk to them, but do not knock at all – they just wait to be noticed by someone inside. This has been deemed their way of knocking – just standing around waiting to be noticed. What we have noticed though, is that this does not apply to kids – they walk right up to the door and knock nice and loud!
3)      The other day Raelynne went to Chepynal girls’ school to play soccer with the girls, and Nick and Matt went to watch. (I was going to go, but got caught up  baking pumpkin pies J) While they were there, Nick’s contact fell out and the girls just swarmed to him in disbelief. They thought part of his eye fell out and didn’t realize that contacts were a way to help us see instead of wearing glasses. He had it on his fingertip and was explaining to them what it was and they just couldn’t believe it.
4)      There are animals all over the place. What that means is that their poop is all over the place too. I know by writing this today I will somehow destroy my streak, but so far I have somehow avoided stepping in cow/goat/chicken/sheep poop. I also found out Raelynne wasn’t so fortunate the other day.
5)      Matt has coined a new term because of how often and easy it is to twist your ankles between the loose stones and random holes in the ground. He fell while playing volleyball the other day and twisted his ankle, but thankfully it was not bad and he did not have any pain later in the day. He decided that he has strankles – strong ankles.

Things I am grateful for this day:
1)      God’s great earth…we are surrounded by fresh air, wonderful people, noisy animals and absolutely breathtaking scenery. I will truly miss this the most – waking up surrounded by mountains, bright blue skies and green as far as the eye can see…going down to our mission house at night and seeing every star imaginable, including the Milky Way. Last week we were finally able to see the moon – it lights up the night sky in a way I have never experienced before – to the point where we don’t need flashlights to get to our mission house. Incredible!
2)      Health insurance – no matter how awful you may think our health insurance system is, you have no idea how great it is until you travel around the world.
3)      The people of Kenya, especially the people of West Pokot, for making me want to always strive to be the best version of myself, for everyone in every situation. Talk about seeing Christ in people – you can see Him in everyone here.

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