We met bright and early at 6:15 a.m. to watch the sunrise together one last time. We worshiped. We shared joys from yesterday. And we prayed over four team members. Randy briefed us on the busy day ahead. Then we made our way back to our huts to pack and get ready for the day. Time was flying already.
Most of us had an opportunity to connect with children at the orphanage before breakfast. We sensed, we knew this was likely one of our last best opportunities to do so.
How do you tell an orphan goodbye?
What do you say?
What do you believe in your heart to be true?
What if you truly loved, and are now at a loss?
We said good bye anyway. The kids played. We inserted ourselves in their everyday. Shared glances communicated without a word.
Do you see me?
Do you love me?
Will you return?
Can we be together longer?
You are beautiful.
Joy was found in laughter, play, hugs, and quiet moments on the dirty cement surrounding the old boys’ dorm. Hands were held on one last long walk down the red dirt road to the other side of the orphanage.
Breakfast was delicious as usual. Homemade cinnamon pancakes and fresh-cut mangoes.
Then it was back to the other side to prepare for the arrival of 85+ widows served by Love for Kenya’s widows’ ministry.
Our team, along with orphanage staff, packed enough food bags for 93 widows. By the time we were done packing, many widows had arrived – some afoot from near and far, some made the journey on piki-pikis (motorcycles). Love for Kenya ministers to widows at Shangilia Orphanage every Friday. In Kenya, widows are considered outcasts, scum of the earth. But God calls us to serve and love on orphans and widows. Love for Kenya does just that.
Widows arrived one by one. Their familiarity with one another was evident in a second. They gathered in a large group on Shangilia Orphanage’s hills, sitting close to one another, hugging and chatting in community. Before long, they began singing, chanting, clapping and dancing. What a sight. What a sound. This was pure Africa. So beautiful.
Kehfa said some words. Pastor Randy spoke. Our team introduced ourselves one by one and greeted the widows.
We were welcomed and loved.
They were welcomed and loved.
Then they sang again. This time even louder. This time even more dancing. Our team dispersed among the widows, dancing and joining in their mother tongue as we were able. Then they called our team, one by one, up front and center to dance on display with the widows. It was amazing. Holy. Incredible. Completely joyful. A unique and powerful experience not to be missed or dismissed.
Song and dance slowly subsided after great, great joy.
Some of our team members joined widows seated on rocks or the ground, and connected more intimately. Hands were held. Friendships between widows and mission team members were forged in an instant. Relationship is key in Kenya. Going deep, seeing and listening long come easy to Kenyans. What a beautiful, beautiful thing.
Chai tea was served after a long period of community building between widows and mission team members. That gave us an opportunity to say more last good byes to kids at the orphanage and get food ready for distribution to the widows.
The widows got in line, received their food, placed it on their heads for travel and sang in joyful chorus all the way through. What a gift. What a joy.
When the line had cleared, the widows gathered near the gate and exited down the dusty, dirty red road that leads into and out of the orphanage.
It was time for a quick last lunch at the orphanage, then packing up our belongings from the huts. One load of our luggage and team into two vehicles, and off we went to the airport. We were running late, much later than planned, but no worries. Hakuna Matata. All was fine.
We arrived at the airport with 45 minutes to spare before take off. It was an incredibly quick turn-around, but we made it. Praise God. Hakuna Matata.
One short flight from Kisumu to Nairobi, and there we were, ready for one more night’s stay in Africa. We enjoyed dinner of pizza and chicken, debriefed as a team at our humble Kenyan hotel, then headed to bed.
Tomorrow we will safari and visit the Kibera Slums, 1 square mile filled with 1 million residents. A very-late-night flight will take us from Nairobi to Frankfurt. Then Frankfurt to Chicago. Chicago to Minneapolis.
One more long day in Kenya ahead. Tomorrow. May it be blessed. May we be a blessing.
Amy & Team
This blog post is part of a series I’m writing about my journey to Kenya, Africa, with the nonprofit organization, Love for Kenya, in the fall of 2015. Click here and you’ll be directed to the landing page where you can read ALL the posts from the series. If you haven’t already, read the post I wrote when I announced the trip. Otherwise, scroll to the bottom and you’ll find ALL the Kenya posts listed and linked for your reading enjoyment. Thanks for joining the journey, friends.