I thank you all so so so much for your prayers during travel. Apart from a tiny hiccup at the Nashville airport everything went as smooth as humanly possible. My planes were on time and I received ALL of my luggage (which is a miracle in itself). I was even able to sleep on the second flight!!
After landing and reaching my hotel I am embarrassed to admit I had that “what the heck am I doing moment,” and I definitely cried for about two hours and part of the next day and wanted to turn around and fly back home. I was exhausted, homesick, a little lonely from traveling by myself for so long, and not happy with my hotel. It had the right accommodations (shower, toilet with seat, bed, mosquito net, etc.) but it was not pleasing to the eye and it was attached to a club…that had a siren…I’m talking a rattling mosquito net at 3:45am type of club. My first Welcome To Kenya Moment the night I arrived didn’t help any. I went to adjust the showerhead heater thingy (Kenyan’s have shower heads with a built in water peculator thing that heats the water as it goes through…basically tank less water heaters) and it FELL OFF and was hanging by the heater wires and water going everywhere haha. After getting a hotel staff member to put the shower head back on the heater no longer worked for a couple of days….but cold showers are better than no showers. Right now this seems just about right and is hilarious, but it wasn’t at the time…trust me after travelling for over a day all I really wanted was a nice shower.
Anyway….I snapped out of that mode pretty quickly and jumped right into life in Africa. The first few days before school started were basically spent getting acquainted with my surroundings and learning how things work around here…still a hard task at times lol. The pastor who we’ve worked with in the past has a church and school on the same plot of land just outside of Nairobi, and this is where I would soon be spending 90% of my time. I also enjoyed catching up with nationals (Kenyans) who I’ve worked with on previous trips. Saturday the pastor and his wife invited me for dinner at their house. Every time I am invited to their house I consider it a great honor. His wife said I was welcome in their house anytime. That hotel is where I sleep, but their house is my home. This definitely helped with the homesickness.
I was able to meet with the other teachers on Sunday (school started on Tuesday) and learned that there is a first grade teacher that I would be assisting…at least at first. On Monday afternoon we got the classrooms ready for school by arranging furniture, sweeping the rooms, removing equipment being stored there, etc (There had been a one month break from school). I was very nervous about teaching the first few days, but managed to work through it. I observed the first day and then began teaching English to the standard one class (first grade). I was told I would also be working with pre-unit (kindergarten), but at that point I was mostly spending time in the standard one classroom. From the very beginning the teachers have been very welcoming and patient…which is a very good thing!! There is also a nursery class (four year olds), a baby class (three year olds), and a daycare at the school/church.
The standard one and pre-unit classrooms are in one building and the baby class, nursery class, and daycare are in another building. I have to say the baby class and nursery class are very curious about me. As one teacher said they are attracted to my skin and someone else said they can sense that a muzungu (term for white person) is near haha. They liked to hold my hand and rub my arms haha. If I went anywhere near their building I would shake one child’s hand and all the other kids would want to shake my hand. I would end up surrounded by a pack of three and four year olds. They would walk with me, and I would have to take cover in the pre-unit classroom (the teacher shooed them away when I walked in because she didn’t want that many noisy children in her classroom.). It was a little bit alarming, but very sweet! I made one friend right off the bat. She is three and has her little ears pierced. She especially likes to hold my hand and even wanted me to pick her up! It was so cute!!
In addition to teaching I found out the night I arrived that the pastor wanted me to preach in the children’s service and lead a youth Sunday school class from the book Sharing Faith Without Fear. As I said in my previous post these were a bit out of my comfort zone as I’m normally a people organizer on mission trips, but God stretching us is always a good thing. The first Sunday I just observed in the children’s Sunday school and the children’s service so I would know what to expect and how to prepare.
On Monday I changed hotels which is a much bigger deal in Kenya than it is in America. Apparently you have to talk to the manager of the hotel before leaving as a way of being polite. As you can imagine this could be a challenge because managers are all over the place. It took a few days, but finally on Monday I was able to change to the hotel across the street. (I cannot brag on the Kenyans I’m working with enough in this area for their help with the hotel change!!) It has pretty much the same basic accommodations, but the atmosphere is much more pleasing to the eye. The food at the café is a little more expensive but much better. I’ve very much enjoy the staff because they are very friendly. I have to say that Kenyan hotel staff overall is much better than most American hotels where I’ve stayed.
I had another welcome to Kenya moment on Tuesday morning (my first morning in the new hotel)…again with the shower. I was at the end of my shower and the water was nice and hot and all of a sudden the shower peculator thing shorted out and blue and white flames began shooting from it. It definitely took me by surprise not only because of the fire but because the showerhead is so close to the ceiling. I quickly turned off the water and cut the power switch to the shower (Just outside the bathroom door there is a separate power switch to just the shower head peculator thing). The fire went out, but it left a black spot on the ceiling. It was quite an eventful morning. The hotel staff was very, very nice about it though. They changed me to another room, and I received a lesson in how to use the shower properly lol.
I think that’s everything from about Week 1. Hope you enjoyed it!!