Thursday, April 29, 2010

Short-Term Team Time!

I haven’t blogged, because the internet has been very sketchy since Saturday. We were told that it is going to go in and out in all of East Africa until yesterday. Today has been a little better. So here is sort of a random update!

We have a FULL house! Not in the Danny Tanner sense (I know you are disappointed), but in the sense that there are 9 people in addition to our family of 4 living in this 3-bedroom apartment. However, surprisingly we couldn’t be happier about it. I love having people around (especially in Africa!) and the kids feel the same way. They longingly look out the window as the documentary team drives away each morning. Not to mention, the people who comprise this team are a pretty great group who we are lucky to spend time with until Tuesday. And the kids have their Papa here, too, which is such a treat!

The kids and I are getting back into our groove, and we were able to visit the orphanage yesterday. We were happy to hear that the sweet baby girl that had fallen asleep in my arms just a couple of weeks ago has now been adopted. There were even more toddlers today (especially really little ones), so we helped with them first. T loved helping to spoon-feed this little 15-month-old, Bazil. While being fed by T and me, he kept putting his chubby little hand out for B to give him a high five and then he would giggle and grin each time.

In fact, B is a pretty big hit around there. As I was carrying a baby in from outside playtime she helped to lead another little guy in. However, once he was inside she had to go back to hold hands with a different little boy who was very jealous and just stood and cried until she would walk in with him. It was adorable to watch and she was very pleased. When the toddlers left for their naps, T wanted to go and “see the other babies!” So, we were able to give a bottle to a 4 month-old twin before his nap, too. J

B making PB&J sandwiches for the team :)

B and T love the kids at the orphanage, and they also love the kids in the neighborhood. They took Frisbees (thanks, Nana and Papa!) downstairs yesterday and we spent two hours with their 7 neighbor friends. Things just move more slowly here, so while T was chasing the Frisbee wildly, B and I had a chance to hunt for bees and watch them getting pollen from flowers. It’s the little things like that which we really enjoy. B definitely enjoys playing with the boys, too. She said her shoe was stuck the other day and immediately had three boys rush over and kneel down to help her. She is getting spoiled as the only girl in the complex!

I have had much to think about as well. I feel very humbled by a conversation I had with the woman who is cooking and cleaning for the team of 9 who are in town this week. She goes to church with one of the LIA staff members and is a lovely lady who is a couple of years younger than me. However, her life is drastically different from my own. She came dressed in a professional pantsuit and had her hair beautifully braided partially on one side. She looked so put together that she put to shame my make-up-less face and my wrinkled shirt and capris. I never expected that we would have the conversation that followed throughout the evening. It was little by little that she felt more comfortable in opening up by sharing another small fact or two about herself.

She eventually shared with me that she lives with her 14 year-old brother who she raises since her parents have passed away (she had lost both by the age of 15). She also sends money to her sister in a rural area who has twin two-year-olds but lives below the poverty level. She mentioned that Nairobi is very expensive and she has a difficult time being able to afford living expenses on her salary, so instead of shopping at the grocery chains here she will often shop at slum stores where she can buy things in smaller quantity and at a somewhat cheaper price. When I was asking her what to do with our old large drinking water bottles (assuming there was a place to recycle) she said she could take them and use them and share them with her neighbors. She said they are always needing ways to store water as the water distribution truck in her area is often unreliable. At this point I was realizing that I didn’t know exactly what area she was from; she had mentioned the name earlier, but I only know a few Nairobi neighborhoods by name. She then told me she actually does live in a “slum” (in her words.) I was quite surprised.

It was hard for me to imagine such a well-spoken and bright young woman lives in one of these places I have read about. How can that be? Why does she have to struggle daily to live, when I can go to any chain store I want and never have to think twice about whether or not I can buy bread that week? How very personal it is when you are able to have a lovely conversation in your living room with someone whose plight you otherwise could ignore. I just feel very…humbled. She shared stories of working for families where they look down on you and others where she had been appreciated and included. She said she knows you just have to deal with the circumstances you are given. She definitely didn’t want pity but there was a hint in her voice that she would just like it all not to be so…hard. So she presses on and makes sure that her brother is getting a good education. And, I am blessed to have a week with her in our home.

She said she can even help teach me to cook. We all know I could use the lessons. Now, I just wish there was some really good gift I could give her…. Perhaps, the documentary team’s time in the slums will be the beginning of such.

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