This afternoon, I arrived at Ilula after being in Kipkaren for four days. Though I had had a regular routine of 4 days in Kipkaren and 3 days here for a while this year, the kids here got used to me not traveling while teams were around. One would've thought that I had been gone for weeks!
Little Brian waited patiently while I visited with his dad, till he realized I wasn't seeing him. He threw his arms around my legs and gave me the tightest hug a 2-year-old can give. Edison just hung out next to me, smiling shyly at my every so often. And then giving me his yellow rubber band as a gift. Jesse had to show me how he can do a roll. Raymond brought "Where's Waldo" to point out on every page where they had found not only Waldo, but also the wizard and some of the other hidden objects. Scopia came to show me her new dance moves and asked me to give her one of my signature hugs. ("No, not like that! One of those...!" she'd say and stand on her toes to try and get her arm around my shoulders from behind me.)
I joined my friends Mary and Ruth in the kitchen, and while sitting around a little fire where Ruth was cooking rice for a special dinner, we shared some news, even some tears. Then I joined them for dinner at Ruth's house, where we welcomed some new staff. Over dinner, chai and fellowship, we laughed till the tears rolled down Ruth's cheeks for the second time today. Exactly what we laughed at, I'm not sure. But it was good. And I think the new staff (Luka, Leah and their 3-year-old Carole) felt at home.
Though it was cold and rainy when I finally walked home, my heart was warm. I have grown to love my friends (big and small) here at Ilula.
Starting next week, I'll be spending almost all of my time in Kipkaren. I'll come to Ilula for a weekend visit, perhaps once or twice a month, to show the kids a movie, to have a meal with my friends, to check on the Sifuna kids... But there are far more projects in Kipkaren that need my attention, and in order to get more done, it would be beneficial to be in one location.
I could not tell the kids. I will wait a few weeks before I tell them. How does one make a change like this and not make the little ones feel rejected?