Our final two days in Kenya were spent on safari in the beautiful Maasai Mara. We saw 3 of the Big 5: lions, elephants, and buffalo. We stayed in a resort and slept in “tents” which were more like houses, and everyone got massages before our bumpy ride back to Nairobi this morning.
It is sad to think we are leaving Kenya, but we have so many incredible memories to look back on. A lot of our plans fell apart, especially with St. Kizito’s, but we learned to take failure in stride and make something beautiful out of a mess. As our team said, we “made lemonade out of lemons” and found a way to serve the people around us even if it was different than planned. We really had to trust God with this trip and learned that nothing will happen if it’s not in His plan. It’s been a long 2 weeks and we are all exhausted, but excited for what comes next for us with St. Kizito’s and Kenya. This is not the end, but only the beginning. We plan to continue fundraising at churches and working hard to provide the money needed for St. Kizito’s to purchase new land. In the meantime, we will not stop praying for these children and this beautiful country.
Thank you all for your support over these weeks and for following us here!
I don’t think any words or a blog post will ever do justice to our experiences at St. Kizito’s or the emotions that ran through our heads when we had to say goodbye to them on Wednesday. Tearful goodbyes and a hundred hugs from the children left us heartbroken as the van pulled away from the school. We didn’t realize how invested our hearts had become or how much our time with them had affected us. God has done some beautiful things at St. Kizito’s this past year. As Wanjoi told me as we said goodbye, this wouldn’t be so hard if there weren’t something deeper, something beyond six college students visiting some orphans for the day. There is much more to our connection with St. Kizito’s than that.
Our plans to provide shoes to every child at St. Kizito’s fell through with the wrong order of all adult size shoes that Buckner International sent to us, and our attempts to correct the problem or find more kids shoes proved to be an exhausting process in which nothing turned out right. We took the reimbursement of $400 from Buckner, bought school supplies for the kids, and headed to St. Kizito’s with the intention of washing every child’s feet, putting new socks on them, and distributing school supplies among the classrooms.
We set to work as soon as we arrived and set up benches and buckets of water. Starting with the older kids, we explained the purpose of washing another person’s feet. We told them about how Jesus washed his disciple’s feet in an act of complete humility and service. Child by child, we pulled off their worn shoes and removed their tattered socks. We washed each foot and replaced the old socks with new, clean socks. It was such a beautiful experience that represented the complete grace and humility in our Savior, who washes our feet daily. One of the older boys smiled and said he felt just like one of Jesus’ disciples. When we were finished with all of the 120 children’s feet, we were covered in the red mud of Kenyan soil that had come off of the children’s feet and where we were sitting, and so the teachers took our places and began to wash us. I have never experienced such a beautiful act of humility. It was a moment none of us will ever forget.
We gathered everyone together and sang Waka Waka with the kids for the last time. Everyone joined in a prayer of blessings over St. Kizito’s, and then it was time for us to leave. We will never forget the hundreds of hugs and kisses from every child and teacher. I think most of us were crying before we even left the gate. As I hugged a dear friend and teacher, Rose told me “Mountains don’t meet, but people will,” which is an old African saying. The people of St. Kizito’s are some of the most hospitable and loving people we have ever met. All of our months of fundraising, petitions to churches, meetings, and e-mails culminated in this moment as we hugged our dear friends goodbye and the emotions of our time with St. Kizito’s overwhelmed us. I can personally say that I have never been so affected by a place before, and I know that this passion does not end with our return to the U.S. There is something much deeper to our relationship with St. Kizito’s and God is not finished with our work there. Our time at St. Kizito’s this year only ignited a deeper passion in both the old and new girls to help this place. This is only the beginning.
If you want to know more about St. Kizito’s or how you can help, check out our tab at the top of the blog under the photo!
~Posted by Hayley
We have finished our safari in Maasai Mara park and are getting ready to make the 6 hour trip back to Nairobi tomorrow. Our flight is tomorrow night. There is a blog post about our last day in ministry at St. Kizito’s, so watch for that to be posted tomorrow. It is definitely worth reading and the most powerful day we had on the trip! We’ll also post more about the safari tomorrow. Thank you for your prayers during this incredible trip!
This post is to free Hayley of her committed blogging responsibility for the evening, and is written by Christian Smith with combined inspiration from Bekah Burroughs.
Today was unlike any other day. Driving through the luscious forest we earth inhabitants call Kenya, we found ourselves on an adventure trying to locate our destination. We passed four horses, twenty-one baboons, and eighty thousand two hundred fifty four rocks. How do I know these numbers you may ask? Bekah said so. We drove straight into the jungle, thinking we would never return!!! But without dismay, our lovely driver successfully found the route and delivered us to our destination, the Green Belt Movement home. Upon our arrival, we were greeted by a nice man who loves trees. Why does he love trees, you may ask? Cause Bekah asked. After the fun filled tea party, exciting documentary, and a nap, Bekah was ready to tree safari! Then we planted a tree.
After that, the two teams split in two. Half to Bomas, half to receive projectile vomiting provided by infants at New Life Home Trust, a baby orphanage close to our dwelling place. Christian had a wonderful time with the infants, while Bekah took another nap. Hayley also had a wonderful time, with only few setbacks. This does include the projectile vomiting, for those who are wondering. We are happy to say we all made it back safely and together so Christian could finish her statistics homework, and Bekah could take another nap.
BeKaH aNd ChRiStIaN <3
This morning our van pulled up to a street in the middle of downtown Nairobi at 5 in the morning. We got out and began to wake the huddles of women, babies in between each grown body, clutching each other for warmth. We listened to our friend Boniface preach and passed out packages of milk to each woman and child. The women sat and nursed their babies as they listened to us. In my opinion, this was the most heartbreaking and difficult visit we have had on this trip. Most of the babies were born out of prostitution or rape and as I talked to a woman named Hannah, I could see the intense fear in her eyes. The women didn’t even have shoes and so 3 of the girls took off their own shoes and handed them to the women. We prayed with them, but as I laid a hand on Hannah and her baby, Angel, the fear still didn’t leave her eyes. She told me she knew Jesus and that she hears Boniface preach every time he comes. She had been kicked out of her house 10 years ago, is now 23 years old, and now has a year old daughter and a son who has disappeared. I couldn’t comprehend having to live in fear of being raped every night. I don’t know what the pains of hunger are or the fear for your baby’s safety. I don’t know how scary it is to go into labor with nowhere to go. I don’t know what it’s like to have no shoes or blankets and live in the cold. I don’t really understand any of this or why they are considered the “least” and not me. We drove back to the hotel in shock, but encouraged by Boniface’s words at breakfast. We gave him money to buy diapers and blankets for the women and there will be another team headed over there tomorrow morning. We can only pray and trust that God has His hand on their life.
After street ministry this morning, we met with the Honorable Samuel Pogishio, the Minister of Information and Communication at the downtown offices. He shared with us a little bit about his role in parliament and then told us about his future plans for Kenya, including his goals to make Kenya the technological hub of all of Africa. After visiting so many desperate and broken places like the slums, meeting with Pogishio gave us the perspective needed to know that the future of the poor and women in Kenya does not have to remain so desperate. We asked him a lot of questions about his future plans, and we were particularly interested in the threats of al-Shabaab since the invasion of Somalia since we have noticed such heightened security.
We continued our political visit day with a trip to the U.S. Embassy, where we instantly felt as if we had stepped out of Kenya and into the U.S. It was shocking how different things felt and looked. We were escorted into the embassy and given a tour. We met with a man who works for the political arena in the U.S. embassy and he shared a lot of information about the U.S. role in Kenya and their goals for Kenya, which included improving democracy. This visit complemented the trip to Pogishio’s office and gave us yet another unique perspective to the influences in Kenyan politics. We were very hopeful after these two visits that the quality of life for the Kenyan people will improve with time. Both visits were very interesting examples of leadership over the places and people we have grown to love and we were so honored to be hosted at each.
After a quick lunch at an American style pizza place, we headed to New Life Home Trust orphanage. The orphanage was created by a British missionary couple and it has run successfully on volunteers ever since. We got a chance to play with and feed the babies and toddlers. Watch our video for the day to see more of this. It was so sweet spending time with these adorable babies. We had such a great time with the kids!
~Posted by Hayley
Day 6 in Kenya