Hello! Hello! As you might have guessed, we have been quite busy the last few weeks. I started typing the post below two and a half weeks ago. Though we are back in the US now, there are still many things we want to share with you and record for ourselves. In the meantime, I figured I would just share this short post with you.
Our last week at Tenwek flew by. There were so many errands and things to do to prepare for our departure that I told Scott more that once I felt like I was running around “like a chicken with my head cut off.” One of the things I did was host a gathering on our last Monday evening in honor of our Kenyan friends. For the get-together, I made an array of desserts:
- Banana Fosters layer cake,
- Chocolate cake with chocolate orange frosting (Kenyans, at least at Tenwek, are not familiar with frosting so these cakes were quite novel to them),
- Mint chocolate chip (brought from the US) brownies,
- Pumpkin (they have pumpkins here!) pecan (pecans brought from the US) pie (This was my friends’ first ever pie and they really enjoyed it!),
- “fruit punch” with mango and pineapple juice mixed with a Stoney (a soda here with a strong ginger flavor).
The food table after the party. I forgot to take a picture before and during the party! Pictured here clockwise from top: empty punch bowl, mint chocolate-chip brownies, Banana Foster’s cake, savory roasted tomato bites, pumpkin pecan pie (Clearly Kenyans don’t know that pie is normally sliced into triangle wedges! They scooped this out like a casserole, which is an ok way of doing it too!), and chocolate cake with chocolate-orange frosting.
All items turned out great, despite many substitutions according to what was available. At first, our Kenyan friends didn’t quite know what to think of it all, as everything was very different from what is normally available to them. Thus, they were a bit timid to try the foreign desserts I prepared. After sampling one thing though, they had to try everything and told me they loved it all saying, “It is too sweet,” which is a great compliment here!
The rest of the week was filled with laundry, packing, travel planning, cooking big batches of food to last us the rest of our stay as well as provide snacks during our two weeks of travel, and many “goodbye” errands. The goodbyes were bittersweet because we don’t know when we’ll be back, but yet they felt good because we realized just how much we’d accidently come to mean to these people and how much they appreciated us, without us ever doing anything “extraordinary.” We are in awe and so thankful for all of the relationships the Lord blessed us with in Kenya.
Below are some pictures from our last week in Kenya. Looking at them now makes me “homesick” for Tenwek and these people! Praying that the Lord himself will go before them and will be with them. He will never leave them nor forsake them. May they not be discouraged and fear far from them. (My prayer paraphrase of Deuteronomy 31:8)
Some of the teachers that I taught with and myself. Due to the teachers’ strike, these were the only teachers present at school the day I went to say goodbye to them. These teachers were not government employees and therefore not part of the union. Even then, they did not teach for fear of retaliation from other teachers. For a few days during the strike I taught math to the 8th graders (who are having “life-determining” national exams in two months), but then I too stopped just in case my teaching might cause a ruckus. I was sad not to see everyone before I left and sad not to be able to teach!
My teacher friends who were at school my last full day at Tenwek were very glad to see me and were sorry about the national strike. We chatted for a while and they would not let me leave without taking lunch first (pictured above, rice with beans and carrots). I was happy to do so because I had come to really love these humble, but tasty meals!
Before I left, I snapped a few pictures of the 8th grade boys playing soccer (football!). The 8th grade class was still coming to school despite the teachers’ strike so they could review material on their own together.
I love this action shot with the ball up at the top of the frame. I also like that this picture shows the normally neat and tidy uniforms as haphazard and ripped in this picture, giving the viewer more information.
The road in front of the hospital on my way back from visiting the school. You can see the piki pikis on the left, women roasting corn over jikos in the top center, and cars used as taxis on the right.
I passed by these mamas’ stalls . . .
This is Nancy. Nancy is always sweet and smiling whether I buy fresh produce from her that day or not. In front of her, you can just make out a bowl with fresh beans in it. She was shelling beans to sell them when I took this picture.
This is Amy. Her stall is next to Nancy’s and she managed to sell me more bananas for “banana cakes” than I can count! Amy also always greeted me with a smile and a handshake and asking how I was and then “How is Daktari?” finally instructing me to greet my husband/family for her when we parted ways.
And then Nick’s duka . . .
This is Nick, in the center of the photo. I met Nick on one of my first few days at Tenwek. He was the first Kenyan-on-the-street that I spoke with. I remember I was a bit nervous and slightly scared/intimidated, but I just smiled and tried to be nice. Turns out that’s all I needed to do to make a friend. He works in his brother’s duka and we often bought napkins, toilet paper, or soda from him. Nick is trying to be a cool cat in this picture and refused to smile for me. He is missing his left front tooth so I think this is likely why, that, and he’s probably seen many a rapper pose like this.
I then started joking with Nick and managed to sneak this photo of him smiling. I felt bad resorting to trickery to capture him smiling in a photo, but after I showed him this picture of himself he was quite happy with it so I think it would be OK with him to share it with you.
Crossed the road that leads to Mama Joyce’s house . . .
Mama Joyce has a beautiful shamba where she grows many, many different things. When I visited her shamba she gave me a full stem (branch? stalk?) of bananas, two pineapples, and a 6 foot tall piece of sugar cane.
. . . and reached home where I had to pack up some things to give away. When I was just ready to leave one of my favorite students came to say goodbye. I was so surprised and happy to see her!! This girl, Dorcas, is awesome! Besides being smart and participating in class she is very wise and totally loves the Lord. As we sat and talked about life and the future, she referenced the Bible multiple times and I was amazed how well she could comprehend certain lessons of life I have only recently learned!
As a goodbye gift, she gave me some bananas and a loaf of white bread she had just bought at a duka (with permission from her mother). Of course the gift was completely unnecessary, especially when I have plenty of things, but I thought this was so, so sweet of her.
Dorcas and myself
I said goodbye to Dorcas and made my way to my two best Kenyan girlfriends, Mercy and Betty, to give them some food, containers, and ziplock bags (these do not exist in Kenya) that I hadn’t used up and they would appreciate.
Betty is on the left. She is a seamstress and a single mother to Victor, who is 10 months. Mercy is on the right with her son Caleb who is 2 1/2 years old. She too is a single mom and I met her because I bought a lot of fresh produce from her and she had Scott and I over to her home to have chai earlier on in our stay at Tenwek. She has great faith! She introduced me to Betty when I needed someone to sew me a skirt. Both women would come to my house after church on Sundays and I would show them how to make some typical “American” meal and we, along with their sons, nieces, and Scott, would all feast together.
After saying goodby to them, I went home and started packing again. When Scott got off of work, we went together to say goodbye to our friend James who runs and owns a duka and restaurant. On our way we fortuitously met some of my other 6th grade students!
Me with some of my most participatory boys. I was so glad to see them again! (Please excuse my outfit. I was testing the hiking boots, which I deemed to be too small and uncomfortable to use on Mt. Kenya, and the over-sized sweatshirt is Scott’s because all of mine were packed!)
Scott and I with James in his duka. We loved James! He has great English and is very quick-witted and fun to talk to. On this evening he was so happy to see us as he had eagerly waited to give us gifts. Scott received roughly 30 pieces of candy to help him climb Mt. Kenya for “energy boosts.” For me he pulled out a beaded bracelet he had talked about getting for me before so I could buy it from him cheaper than I (as a mzungu) would be able to get it myself and gave it to me for free. Then, after thanking him and raving about it for a little bit, he pulled out another one just like the first, but a different color. This one he also gave to me as he remembered I originally wanted the bracelet for a friend back in the States. I thought this was so nice and thoughtful of him!
On our way back home both Scott and I remarked how much we appreciated James and his friendship and how we had been so blessed with so many great friends in Kenya. We love and miss them all and because of them, our time in Kenya was truly special. We praise God for these promised blessings of friendship.
We packed late into the night and woke up early the next morning to leave Tenwek. Though we left it physically behind, I think we will always keep Tenwek, and the people there, close in our hearts.
P.S. There are more posts on their way in order to complete our Kenyan story!