Friday, June 6, 2014

Tutaonana, Kenya

I left Kenya over 2 months ago, saying tutaonana (see you later) instead of kwaheri (goodbye) to all the people I had come to know and love there. It was a sad day, but I knew I had already become one of those wageni (visitors) who keeps coming back, so the time will come when I will see them all again.

Before I left Kenya, I had to do a few very important things. Like…

1) Take the kids on one last run.
One of my favorite things about living life with the children being raised at Empowering Lives Ilula Children’s Home was the daily run we went on together. We would gather at the gate after class let out and then the big kids—ages 7 and up—would school me in how to run like a Kalenjin. I generally finished the roughly 2.5 mile bumpy dirt road trek in what I liked to call “second place from the back”, barely passing up one lone straggler. Oftentimes, I did the entire run holding hands with one or two of the younger runners. After the big kids were done with their run, I would call out for all the little ones— ages 6 and under— and we would run to the corner and back in a cuteness parade that is best likened to a kitten stampede. Those were good times.

Nicodemus, member of the kitten stampede of cuteness

Kimbia--run! The big kids racing for the finish line

Heading home after a run

2) Slaughter my kukus
I had been blessed with the gift of two chickens during my time in Kenya. When it came time to leave, it came time for those chickens to serve their noble purpose and become dinner. So I donned a blood resistant mourning outfit and did the deed under the instruction of Joel, the cook. Joel slaughtered the rooster with ease, showing me how it’s done. And then, my firstborn Bennie the Hennie, met her maker at my less skilled hands. The fried chicken and chips that Joel cooked up for dinner that night were delicious.

Joshua knocked on my door with the ill fated rooster in hand

Pre-slaughter game face

3) Make 200+ cookies
65 kids currently at the home…plus house parents…staff…volunteers…at 2 cookies each…cartons of milk all around…Cookie party time! I threw a goodbye party for myself on one of my last nights because I wanted an excuse to make cookies for all the kids. I think they enjoyed it. 

Cookie joy (or maybe somebody farted)

So good

To the last drop

4) Get a Kenyan flag hair weave
I had already had purple, and then later pink weave put in my hair. (Don’t worry, it was just a few braids. I wasn’t that American in Kenya with a full rasta head of brightly colored weave.) The kids loved the colorful braids, and would tell me that I must do a Kenyan flag before I left. And so I did.

Mama Kim does the best weave on the block

White girl goes to Africa, gets a weave

5) Take 10,000 pictures of people with shrubbery
I won’t say that I totally understand it, but I do know that 9 times out of 10 , when a Kenyan asks you to take his/her picture, a shrub will somehow be involved in the composition.  So, before I left, a lot of pictures were taken with the kids and their favorite greenery.

The classic shot, kneeling solo near shrubbery

The group shot, kneeling standing shrub combo

The casual shot, leaning on the shrub itself

The creative shot, get inside the shrubbery

6) Give a speech (or seven) and a hug (or a million)
Speeches are very popular in Kenya. And so, as I said my goodbyes, I gave speeches. I talked about how amazing God is that He would bring me to this place and expand my heart in such a way that sometimes it felt like it would break. I shared one of my favorite verses, 1 John 4:12, which says that we see God when we love one another. I sang Kalenjin hymns with good friends late into the night. And I hugged all the special watoto (children) in my life many times over.

I never could resist these two

I boarded the plane with so many memories making a quiet glow in my heart. The journey home was a long one, I took the creative route with a friend and we traveled for over 2 months to many different countries. Countries which I found fascinating and exciting, but none which could hold a candle to my now much loved Kenya.

 It’s tutaonana, see you later for now, Kenya. Lakini nitarudi, but I will return!

Out in the village, making friends

Crushing it

Until we meet again...

1 John 4:12

No one has ever seen God, but if we love one another, 
God lives in us and his love is made complete in us.

For more pictures of amazingly cute children and a life full of love in Kenya, check out this video.
Asanteni sana, thank you all so much for being part of the journey!