|Jenny Korwan and me in Nairobi|
Greetings! I hope your Easter was filled with immeasurable joy and love! I was fortunate enough to spend my Easter holiday in Kenya with Jenny Korwan, the YASCer in Nairobi. Jenny is working in the Nairobi area with an NGO called Tatua Kenya. Before I get into all the cool stuff we did while I was there, I want to make a quick appeal for you to all visit my fundraising section! My mission with YASC can’t happen without your financial support. Please give today! Now back to the blog post.
I arrived in Nairobi on the Monday of Holy week. Jenny works for a community development organization. They work with several different projects in the Nairobi area, including many children’s homes. For my first couple of days in Kenya, we went to visit several of these homes. It was really cool to see how Jenny works and get another prospective of the YASC program. I love the fact that all the YASCers are in such different places doing very different things, but we are still having very similar experiences.
|Jenny with the boys from Tumaini|
It never ceases to amaze me what the human spirit can endure. Most of the kids in these children’s homes have gone through things that are unimaginable and incomprehensible. Things that no child should ever have to go through. Yet they still wear the biggest smiles on their faces. Smiles that warm the hearts of everyone they meet. I’m in awe of their strength. I’m also in awe of the hearts of the caregivers at these children’s homes. They are without a doubt some of the kindest souls I’ve ever met. Like Moraa from the Furaja home, or Charles from Tumaini. God is working everywhere in the world, but there are some places where it’s just easier to see. People like Moraa and Charles are angels among us.
|Charles from Tumaini|
|Moraa from Furaja|
|Jenny and Jacob leading a class at Dreams|
|A girl from Dreams|
|(Insert Lion King reference here)|
It was great to see the part of Kenya that Jenny works and lives in everyday, but we also got to do some touristy things as well. For example: SAFARI! Did you know: Safari is Swahili for journey? O man, was it cool. We were picked up in Nairobi by our Safari driver in what was, more or less, a minivan on steroids. We then drove about 6 hours to the Masai Mara game reserve. The Masai Mara is one of the favorite game reserves in Kenya. It’s smaller than all the rest, so you get see almost everything without having to travel long distances. Though I can’t say for sure, this is probably where Disney came to make the Lion King. Spot on classic Africa feel. We saw so much! They refer to the large animals in game reserves as the Big 5 (Lions, Leopards, Rhinos, Buffalo, and Elephants). We saw 4 of the big 5, which is really good for one park. The only one we didn’t see was a rhino, but we got to see a leopard! They are extremely rare to see in the wild. We also got to see lions eating not once, but twice. Another rare occurrence! Take a look at the video I shot below. Lion cubs shouldn’t be so adorable while feasting on that buffalo, but they sure are!
|Too close for comfort, but sooooo cool!|
|If you look hard enough, you'll see a Leopard|
|He tried to snuggle with his wife. She did not want to.|
He wasn't very happy about that...
|Our Safari Tent|
We also got to see other really cool animals. I’ll try to name them all: Gazelle, Impala, Giraffes, Hyenas, Wart hogs, Meer cats, Monkeys, Wildebeests, Hippos, and probably more that I’m forgetting. We Safari’d for 3 days and 2 nights. Each day the driver would take us into the park and drive us around to all the cool spots, and then take us out to an awesome tent camp where we stayed. It was really an awesome experience!
|Monkeys are so cool!|
|Our Safari Chariot|
|On the Kenya/Tanzania border in the Masai Mara|
During our YASC training in Toronto last July, the YASC group met missionaries from the ELCA that were also preparing to leave for overseas service. Mike and Leslie were part of this group and were also placed in Nairobi! They’ve pretty much adopted Jenny as their Kenyan daughter while she’s there. Mike is the pastor at a Lutheran Church in the Nairobi area. We went to Mike’s church on Maundy Thursday, and then joined them for dinner at an Ethiopian restaurant! It was great to see both of them again and to catch up!
Easter weekend was quiet and relaxing, but could have been very different. As you may know, the Kenyan elections took place in early March. Everyone had been on edge about them since the 2007 elections turned violent and deadly. The 2013 elections turned out to be relatively peaceful, but were extremely close. Raila Odinga contested Uhuru Kenyatta’s victory in court, which dragged out the election process. The court announced its decision on the election the Saturday before Easter. We had been advised to stay inside until the courts made their announcement, so Jenny and I had a quiet Saturday at her house. Thankfully, everything was peaceful. The court upheld Kenyatta’s win. (Side note: Uhuru Kenyatta is currently under indictment from the ICC for inciting violence during the 2007 Kenyan elections. He is the first sitting head of state to be under indictment by the ICC. They are saying that he will have to be at The Hague for most of his presidency.)
For Easter, we headed back to Mike and Leslie’s church. Afterwards, we had brunch with another Episcopal Missionary in Kenya, Zach Drennen. The church is quite far from where Jenny lives, and travel in Nairobi is a nightmare, so we stayed in town and went to a movie. Yes that’s right, a movie. In a movie theater! This might not be as exciting to you as it was to me, but I haven’t been to a movie theater since I left The States so cut me some slack. After that, we had dinner with Jenny’s boss, Natalie.
|Nairobi traffic. Where does it start? Where does it end?|
Only God knows. And maybe a few taxi drivers...
There’s so much stuff that we did while I was in Kenya and it’s hard to make it all fit in a blog post! I’ll mention some of the stuff quickly though. Kissing Giraffes, feeding crazy yet adorable monkeys (see video below), lunch with people from the community, sitting in traffic, visits to the immigration department, sitting in traffic, and much more! Did I mention sitting in traffic? For all of you back home who think your morning commute is bad, come to Nairobi. You’ll forget all about your traffic worries. Nairobi takes traffic to the next level. It’s anywhere and everywhere, and for no reason at all. A trip that should realistically take you 15 minutes can take up to 2 or 3 hours. And there’s no getting around it. You just have to deal with it. It’s nice to be back in Lesotho where the only traffic is caused by herds of animals crossing the road!
|She didn't even buy me dinner first!|
|Feisty little critters|
|But adorable as well|
|Lunch at Tumaini|
All in all, it was a fantastic trip! I’m extremely blessed for the opportunities that YASC is giving me. Thanks to Jenny Korwan and the Tatua staff for putting up with me for 2 weeks. Also, did I mention I’m 23 now? Seems impossible, but it’s true. Thanks for everyone who sent me birthday wishes! That’s all for now. Sala hantle!