It took us four flights and nearly two days to get to our final destination in Kenya, Africa.
Minneapolis to Chicago.
Chicago to Frankfurt, Germany.
Frankfurt to Nairobi, Kenya.
Then a brief overnight stay in Nairobi followed by another flight to our final destination.
As our final flight landed, the attendant announced…”We wish you a very good morning and have a blessed Sunday.” Anna and I looked at each other and simultaneously noted the wish for a “BLESSED Sunday.”
Certainly, we’ve already experienced ups and downs on this trip. A lost piece of luggage. Another piece of luggage left at the airport. One team member who became notably lightheaded at the airport in Nairobi and required attention to stabilize.
But all in all, the day and journey has been blessed, indeed.
Five Kenyans greeted us at the airport. Our team of 10, along with the five Kenyans, loaded our bags into three vehicles.
On the way to Shangilia Orphanage, we took in the sights and sounds of Kenya, asking the driver, Richard, a hundred questions about this and that.
Street kids picked through garbage on the side of the road.
The occasional grand estate for those who don’t care to live in the heart of the city.
Men sitting by trees and perched on half-built buildings.
Abandoned gas stations.
Discarded sugar cane littering the streets.
Cars stopped waiting for cows to cross the road.
A quick stop at the equator, even though the sign marking the landmark was removed a while ago.
I put my hand out the open window and let it catch the wind as we drove down the bumpy, rocky, red dirt roads. There’s a unique freedom felt here in Kenya. It looks different from our American freedom, but nonetheless, it’s freedom of a different kind.
Finally we arrived at our final destination, Shangilia Orphanage.
We heard the kids before we saw them.
There they were. The most adorable group of kiddos and staff huddled together, greeting us in song. We got out of our vehicles. Listened to the sweet, sweet song accompanied by clapping, clapping and more clapping.
We were all moved. Me, nearly to tears a few times. I looked across the way and saw all wearing smiles and others in near tears, too.
THIS is why we came all the way to Kenya, Africa. THIS is why we traveled down long, bumpy, red, rocky dirt roads to Shangilia Orphanage. To visit the sweet orphans, the sweet children of God, and let them know they are loved to the ends of the earth.
The sense of unity was most definitely felt. We are one. We are human. We are God’s children. We are here – together, in this place, on this earth - for a reason.
The sweet, sweet song ended. We made introductions, unloaded luggage from the three vehicles and brought it to the huts we’ll call home for the week. We got settled a bit, then acclimated to our new surroundings.
Our team toured the old boys’ dorm and new boys’ dorm that will open this week if all goes well. We toured the property, including the bathrooms, old homestead, soccer court, girls’ dorm, cooking building, and living area. Near the girls’ dorm, children were actively engaged in making chipottee for tonight's dinner. Randy even tried his hand at making a few. No doubt, rolling the dough was harder than it looked. But these kids clearly had plenty of practice. Staff made it clear. They’re working hard to teach the children skills they’ll need for life. They’re certainly doing their job. The kids were hard at work, patting, rolling, and frying the dough one after the other, after the other.
Our day ended with dinner at the former orphanage director’s house, followed by a team meeting, general planning for tomorrow, and an early bedtime for most.
Goodnight, friends. Goodnight from Kenya. Tomorrow will be our first full day here at the orphanage. Tomorrow, we pray God’s will be done.