Sunday, June 17, 2007

What a day!

This was one of those days that was packed with all kinds of good things.

I left home early, hitching a ride with a colleague since my car needs to go in for gearbox repairs. (Or it could be clutch repairs... I'm hoping it's the latter.)

We picked up a family from the area whose son needed to go to the hospital. The 9-year-old boy is deaf, and recently, his entire left side has gone totally numb. The doctors aren't able to figure out what is wrong. I felt really badly for the kid, especially since he seems to have never seen a mzungu before, so having me in the car was rather traumatic. Every time I'd turn around to talk to the growing number of neighbors getting rides, he'd start crying... I decided not to turn their way so the boy could relax.

The family got dropped at the hospital, neighbors and I got dropped at various places in town, and then Laban left to pick up a new intern at the airport. I was maybe 15 minutes early for the meeting I was to lead for the Kipkaren teachers. They had really wanted to leave Kipkaren at 6 am and have a full day, but since part of the purpose of the day was to relax, the headmaster (Mr. Rop) and I agreed that they could leave at 8:30 instead, which would have them to their first event by 9:30. They ended up leaving Kipkaren around 9:45. (Remember: There's no hurry in Africa.)

So the first event of the day was scratched from the program. (One of the keys to success in Africa: Be flexible.) We were to have chai at Poa Place, a local park/restaurant/pool, and play some table games. We still had chai, but sadly the group could only be there for about forty minutes before we had to leave for the place where we'd have lunch and the rest of the afternoon's activities: Kerio View.

And yes, we really had to leave since I had already ordered lunch for everyone and they were expecting us at a specific time. (I had called to postpone lunch by half an hour, else we'd have just gulped down the tea, which wouldn't have exactly been relaxing.)

So we drove to Kerio View where the team of teachers and some spouses were amazed by the view and the beauty of their area. Of the 16 people there, only three of us had ever been to Kerio View. Most of the team are from this area. They simply have never had a chance to travel and see much of their area, let alone their country.

We had a wonderfully relaxing lunch, where after I led a few activities in a gazebo at the rim of the valley. First, the team did the human knot, and I had the quietest teachers be the leaders. We really had a great time debriefing the activity!

Next, I had each one share about the teacher who had the most profound effect on their life, and we talked about the common denominator in each of these stories (i.e. individual care/attention). We had a chat about their roles as teachers and how they can strive to have the same kind of effect on the lives of their students.

We ended with a fun activity where they were lined up on a little wall and had to change sides without stepping off the wall (one side had "lava" and the other side was filled with crocodile-infested water). I wasn't sure how this activity would translate cross-culturally, since you really get into each others' personal space, but they seemed to have no problem with it. The purpose of the activity was to emphasize how we need each other in overcoming obstacles.

I had a number of other activities planned, but those will have to wait for another time. We wanted to get back to Ilula so they could meet our children, get a tour of the school and children's home, and join devotions. They really seemed to enjoy seeing how far our kids have come in Ilula, how well they could speak English, what confidence they exude!

For dinner, I also invited the teachers from Samro, the school in Ilula. Though the Kenyan way is to have many speeches, I asked if we could just visit instead, and only have the headmasters and the children's home director say a few words. Both headmasters emphasized how much they appreciated being able to visit with their colleagues and to exchange ideas. The teachers also exchanged phone numbers and some were talking about getting together to talk about specific ideas.

We closed the fellowship with a time of prayer for the teachers, which turned out to be a really moving time of the children's home parents praying for the teachers.

As the Ilula (Samro) teachers and the rest of us non-Kipkaren-school-staff left, the Brook of Faith teachers started a meeting to evaluate goals set earlier in the year and to plan the steps ahead. (It's three hours later and they just got done with the meeting.) In the meantime, the rest of us got together and played Uno, Yatzee, and watched an episode of Monk.

One teacher told me at dinner, "You know, I could not imagine why we should leave Poa Place. It was so beautiful there. But when we got to Kerio Valley, I was amazed. You cannot know what a gift today was to us. I have passed Kerio View so many times - my college used to be right close to it - but I never knew there was such a beautiful place right there. And to have the time to visit and do the activities was really special."

To those of you who are part of my support team: Thank you for how you blessed the teachers today through being part of the work God is doing in their midst.

The team will drive back to Kipkaren after breakfast and some songs by the Ilula kids. I'll stay behind since I'll be speaking at staff devotions on Monday. Please pray for me as I prepare to share with the staff on Monday.

Thanks again for the role you play in the ministry here in Western Kenya.

(I'll upload pictures tomorrow.)

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