Thursday, June 10, 2010

Day 18 "Mind the Gap!!!"

We arrived in London around 6am after a 2 hour time change and a nice 8 hour sleep filled flight (I can only speak for myself). Faria had planned to stay in London to visit her sister, niece and mother while the rest of us wanted to get out and see London for our 8 hour layover. Unfortunatley, more than half of our team got stuck in customs so we wasted a lot of time unpacking and repacking all of our carry ons :( We then decided on a bus tour which included a free river boat tour as well. It was cold outside (much different than Kenya) and we took the 45 minute metro ride to Pickadilly Circus to find our tour bus. We then got a wonderful tour of the city including: including Buckingham Palace, Big Ben & the Houses of Parliament, Downing Street, The London Dungeon, Tower Bridge and The Tower of London. We stopped and got off to take the boat tour as well which took us to see the London Eye and we got off at the Tower of London to eat. I had the traditional Fish and Chips with some beer (amazing dish). The rest of the team got some food they had been craving. We then took the bus tour to Picadilly Circus and returned on the metro to the airport.

The next flight was 8 hours from London to Chicago. We were all still tired from the time change and the lack of sleep for so long. However; I didn't sleep at all on the flight back! One reason was the crying baby to my left and the other was we would be returning to Chicago at 615pm and I didn't want to screw up my sleep schedule! To keep awake I watched 4 movies and read : ) We then arrived in Chicago, we made it through customs (despite the large dead bug they stopped me for last time) and got all of our luggage! Doug and Rachel had their ride waiting for them as they were headed back to St. Louis. So, we walked outside to wait for our van that was pre-booked, unfortunatley, the van had not even left Milwaukee!!! So thankfully Laura's family was nice enough to come with 2 vans to pick us and the luggage up. While we waited most of the remaining team got McDonalds.

After a 2 hour car ride and a long trip full of traveling we arrived at my parent's house at around 1030pm! We were all tired and full of amazing stories to tell our friends and families!!! I can't wait to post the pictures : )

Thanks for those of you that followed this blog, hopefully it was a great insight to what we did in Africa and what any one of you can do if you donate to Hope Without Borders!

Day 17 "Kwa Heri Kenya..."

So it was our last day in Kenya and the morning started out just like all the rest. We headed to breakfast at the Lukenya Getaway dinning room and thanks to the omlette chef we had fresh made-to-order omlettes and other tasty treats. Rachel and I were the first to arrive and then the rest of the team arrived very tired from the late night packing!!! We went over the many things that we had to do to prepare for the community development leadership conference that was to take place today starting at 9am. There was soooo much to do so we didn't waste time. Rachel and I quickly packed the rest of our luggages and brought them out to the van,which unfortunatley was being used by Lance and some other team members to purchase some sewing machines for Garissa. So instead we had to have one of the team members sit and watch all the luggage while we got things ready for the conference (sorry amanda :)

People started arriving and Rachel, Laura, Josiah and I registered them for the conference. This registration included providing them with a notepad, pen and writing down their contact information. The conference had about 35 local community development leaders in Kenya. Some had come as far as Mombasa others from local slum areas such as: Kibera,Makuru, and Machakos. It was a very good turn out and all the guests came with amazing ideas and lots of questions. Lance and the Hope Without Borders Kenya board helped lead the lectures as well as some community development leaders in attendance. Thankfully, Lance had booked a local dance team, "La-Tena" from Makuru slums to provide some beginning entertainment and during lunch as well. After a wonderful lunch, the conference continued until 4pm. Everyone recieved a certificate of training for participating and Mary from Exodus Children's home in Kibera brought more jewlery made to support the children. Even though we had no room left in our luggage, we all bought something. Even some of the community leaders bought the team some items to show their appreciation.

Afterwards, we packed our 2 vans full of ourselves and our luggage and dropped our luggage off at the airport so that we could lighten the load before the Good Bye dinner I planned at Carnivore Restaurant in Nairobi! When we got there they informed us that Amanda's ticket was for the day before! Thankfully, they easily transfered the ticket to tonight's flight and all was well! We then went to dinner with all of the team in attendance as well as: Duncan, Michael, Elijah, Kuria, Naomi, Esther, Margaret, Martha, Jillo, and Peter. The place was amazing, we sat outside and they brought you bread while you waited. They then went around with large skewers of meat to our table. It was so good. They had chicken, turkey, lamb, pork sausages,ribs, steak, ostrich, crocodile and many other tasty meats. We all didnt take long to fill up so we took the rest of our time to say our goodbyes....which were very hard....and thank yous! It was such a touching moment to express our graditude for all that they had done for us and to also replay many new and excitied memories that we had made together! After our bellies were full and our hearts content we went to the airport to say our final goodbyes.

Our flight didn't leave until 1120pm so we had some time to shop at the airport, thats right some of us still had shillings to spend and room to fit gifts. Some of us also spent the time playing our new favorite card game, "PICK." We borded the plane and the next thing I knew I was off to sleep for an 8 hour plan trip to London!

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Day 16 "Too much sun does not do a body good!"

We all were glad to have some comfortable beds and showers as it had been awhile for both : ) We all headed to breakfast at the Lukenya dinning hall, it was very good they had made-to-order omlettes, potatoes, beans, crossaints, and our favorite-crepes! After breakfast at around 8am we proceeded to have a pretty relaxing day for most of us! Lance, Duncan, Elijah, Kuria, and Michael were running around most of the day attending to last minute details for the community development conference that would be taking place tomorrow. However, for Laura, Amanda, Rachel and I decided it would be fun to get a little African sun so we could come home with a tan! This was a great idea despite the cloudy day; yet, after about 3 hours of sun (without sunscreen)we thought we had finally gotten some sun! It wasn't till later that we realized we had more than just a tan.....we were all BURNED badly! Amanda with her georgous shorts tan line, Laura with her freckles, and Rachel and I with glowing red faces and shoulders! Thankfully, Martha (Michael's youngest daughter)came to play in the pool with us and even though we had to play in the shade we had so much fun.

Afterwards, we changed and decided to go on the advertised "walking safari" in the surrounding grasslands around Lukenya Getaway! Unfortnately, this "walking safari" turned into more of a "hiking safari" and they did not worn us to wear appropriate attire. We had on shorts or capris and sandles! After about a 20 minute walk in knee high grass and many animal droppings...we arrived in front several giraffes! They did not really like us there as they were very observant of us the entire time and as we got closer they moved away. However, we got very close to all of them as well as the beautiful baby giraffes. We took many pictures and continued on our way! As we continued to hike around we saw zebras close up and some gizelles! After about a 45 minute hike through tick infested (and I'm sure large snakes) tall grass we made it back to the dirt road back to Lukenya Getaway! As excited as we were to see all the animals we were sure to inform the staff that they should require pants and hiking boots!!!

Next, we were just in time for dinner and Lance and everyone had returned to join us. Also, Jillo, Peter and Lora had returned to eat with us. Dinner was good with Ugali, Vegetables, spaghetti and minced mutton for the sauce! We talked and caught up on everything and then we found out that one of our new friends Lucas was going to play the guitar and sing with all of us. We found him and about 10-15 other students from Daystar University to sing together and play the guitar. It was a fun way to get to know some of the students and some of them gave us a performance. Also, Josiah graced us with a wonderful performance of a Paramore song! After we had fellowshipped it was very late and we still had to pack because we were leaving the next day!

When Rachel and I returned from the sing-song session we had much to pack and un-pack so that we could have our bags ready for the airport at 9am!
We finally went to bed around was very hard to sleep with our full-body burns but were glad to get some rest for our busy day tomorrow!!!

(A sidenote-Faria had traveled to visit her aunt that she has not seen in 20 years near Eastleigh, and also to buy some beautiful scarfs as requested for some of the team. When she returned we were all glad to see her and picked through her many amazing scarfs!)

Friday, June 4, 2010

Day 15 "we are very close, very very close or very very very close....we dont know the difference!!!"

We woke up early at 700am to go on a morning safari to see many animals. We also got a very close up look at 3 lionesses who had just missed their morning breakfast of zebra so they were relaxing near eachother! Unfortunately, we found out that we had to be out of the park before 10am otherwise we would have to pay another $560 for another 24hour park pass! So we hurried up our morning safari and raced back to pack our things!

As we gathered all of our belongings (whatever fited into our tiny backpacks for the past 3 days) we met for breakfast, another amazing meal and were on our way to the gates of Amboseli park! Unfortunately, as we got to the entrance we realized that the other car (with Duncan, Michael, Elijah, Naomi, and Kuria) had gotten lost. So the rest of the team in the 9 passenger van had to get out and wait for Lance and Simone (our driver) to go back and find them. As we waited we were bombarded by the many sales people selling african artifacts and Masai beadwork. However, after 1.5 hours of waiting the team arrived but without the other car. We found out that 2 of their tires had blown and they had flipped the car sideways! Thanfully nobody suffered great injuries just minor aches! However, now we had to wait for the mechanic to fix the tires. By the time we were on the road again we had lost 3 hours of time and were quite ready to get to Muchakos!!!

Thankfully, I slept most of the 4 hour drive to Muchakos! However, the rest of the team was very restless because they had been in the car for sooooo long! We were all ready to get out and with the many bumpy roads needed some fresh air and food because we hadn't eaten since breakfast!!Also, there was a running joke with the team and Simone, everytime we said how close are we he would responde with very close, very very close or very very very close! By the end we think he was just tired of the question so kept adding a certain number of "Verys" to tide us over!!! We did finally arrive at Elijah's Orphanage in Muchakos despite us all being tired and hungry we were sooooo excited to see all 24 children. They all had wide smiling faces and were just as excited to meet us. They surprised us by showing us the many things they were growing in their garden such as: pumpkin, maze, green beans, mango trees, carrots and kale! They also had one large sunflower : ) They then made us all dinner of rice, lentils, chicken and chapati (my favorite), followed by Kenyan coffee! It was so kind of them! Then they went on to sing for us and even made us all gifts!!!! It was so humbling to see them give us so much when they all have so little! They then showed us their rooms, in which they share 4 to a bunk bed! One even told Rachel that if she wanted to stay they would make some room in their bed! The team then sang right back to them and then we gave them all that had been donated! They were so grateful for all of the toys, books, toothbrushes/toothpaste, and school related gifts! It was the least we could do for them. One thing that I did notice from the beginning that this didnt feel like an orphange it felt like a family and we all hate to leave them because we felt a part of their family even if it was for a short time!

As we left teary eyed and restless we said our goodbyes and traveled the 4 more hours it took to get to Athi River where we had plans to spend the night at Lukenya Getaway! It was beautiful but because we were all so tired we quickly ate dinner and headed to bed! We took time to reflect on all the children and to pray for every last one of them for their future and their courage! We then finally went to bed once again excited for what the next day would bring!

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Day 14 "Its raining bugs...."

We arrived in Mombasa after a 14 hour train ride that unfortunatley most could not get much sleep on. However, the morning breakfast was good despite when they turned the fans on (of course no AC on the train) bugs rained down from the fans that must have died on them. It was hilarious watching Laura, Faria, Amanda, Julie, Duncan and Kuria pick bugs out of their butter, soup and drinks! It looked a lot like they had peppered their food : )

Mombasa was georgous....Im pretty sure we all agreed that we could stay here the rest of the trip and be content!!! We visited fort Jesus, the marine park (some of us including me went snorkling), shopping and then back to the train to get home!!!

On the way back Amanda, Rachel and I had a bunk mate, a 20 year old woman that lived in Melini and went to college in Nairobi! Dinner was good once again but after a 4 am false wake up (we were suppose to get off at an earlier stop, Emali, but we were delayed due to an oil spill on the tracks) Unfortunatley, we had to all eat breakfast before they told us it would be another 4 hours till our destination! Also, we were locked out of our sleeping car because our room mate thought we were gone : (

But finally after a long wait we got off at Emali and the cars were waiting for us (since 530am) to take us to Amboseli National Reserve! After a 1.5 hour drive full of tired, hot, sticky (no showers for 2 days) group we were excited to see all the animals in the reserve! We saw several herds of elephants (many babies as well), zebras, wildebeast, ostriches, gizelles, and birds galore!!! And this was just on our way to our hotel called Serena Lodge...the same place that Lance and Julie brought me back in the day when I was 3 weeks old! It was beautiful we had lunch that was amazing.

Then we went to a Masai Village with Duncan, Michael, Naomi, Kuria, Lance, Julie, Josiah, Amanda, Laura, Rachel, and I! It was so enlightnening to see how they live day to day. They taught us a traditional Masai dance (even though they can jump much higher than the rest of us)! Also, they showed us how they medically treat their community. They use certain sticks or branches some soaked in boiling water others ground up and put in milk and drunk. One was said to help the Masai man solve all ten problems in one night (we learned that due to the polygamist rituals men can have up to 10 wives which they jokingly call we got what that medicine does : ) Then we were shown into their huts that they live in and were able to visit with their community! Lastly, they allowed us to purchase some beautiful work that they had done! It was so much fun despite a little rain! We then returned to the hotel! But on our way we heard there was a lion siting so we went to go see there were more than 10 lionesses preparing to hunt! However, rules are to be out of the park before 7pm so we had to get back and did not get to see the hunt :(

We had a wonderful dinner better than most 5 star restaurants that I have been at! And shortly after much fun and talk we headed to bed!!! Excited for the early morning safari and visit to Muchakos orphanage!!!

Then, we went into

Well we are all safe and sound and I will update as soon as I can!!!

Day 13 "Farwell to Alyssa and Mombasa here we come!"

We went to Kibera Slums to drop off some supplies to the Exodus Church/School/Orphanage! The rest of the team was able to see this large slum area that costs people 1000 ksh or about 15 dollars a month to rent their 10x10 shacks shared by large families with no electricity or running water! This is a lot when they make a little over a dollar a day!!! While most of the team enjoyed this...Faria, Duncan, Jillo and I went downtown to make certificates for the Day Star students and community workers! I never missed a Kinkos till now it took more than 2 hours. So while we waited we ate lunch at "Trattoria" an Italian restaurant that Faria demanded we go was amazing!

Then both Alyssa and Dr. Faraha were dropped off safetly at the airport to journey back home!

We then rushed to make our 7pm train to Mombasa. It had dinner and sleeper cars that were very nice but hard to sleep due to the noise and movement. (plus....Rachel and Josiah got very sick the night before and were throwing up most of the day so they were still recovering!) But the dinner on the train was good and we all got some much needed sleep!!!

Day 12 "Sunday festivals"

We went to church in Murkuru slums, it was a 5 hour celebration because the Bishop arrived and they wanted to celebrate Lance's Birthday which they did dances and gave cake and cookies! It was very nice! We then went to the Yaya market and shopped a bit!

Next, most of the team went to the elephant orphanage where we adopted an baby elephant named "sities" she was 7 weeks old very adorable! We were able to feed all the baby elephants and they drank water out of our hands. Also there were baby rhinos which loved to be scratched behind the ear! Afterwards we went home to an amazing home cooked AFRICAN meal made by all our friends and HWB members here in Africa it was very good!!!