In Kenya I expected to see breathtaking landscapes and villages that transcended time. I expected to meet people whom I would never forget. I was not disappointed.
I am teacher. I have had many interesting and challenging experiences as a teacher, but leading a class with 98 four and five year-olds was daunting. After carefully writing numerous lesson plans before the trip involving colors, shapes and numbers, I quickly realized when we walked into the classroom at the Kawira Primary School that adaptations were needed – to say the least. Once I held my hands up in an attempt to quiet the class and get their attention. They noticed, but to my surprise and delight, the whole class burst into song! The song has motions that begin with hands held above the head. “Higher, higher, higher, higher, higher, Jesus takes us higher.” Our team learned a new song that we would love to sing at Nativity someday.
The joyful music from voices and homemade instruments praised the Lord from the dirt floor of the small church to the heavens. Cyprian, age 14, led a few of the songs of worship and proclaimed Jesus as his personal savior with commitment and delight. I was taken with his young fervor and will never forget how he made me feel.
After church I went up to a sweet chubby faced baby and smiled and fussed over him. When he looked at me I saw horror in his eyes! Who was this strange woman? he must have thought. I could not console him, and his wailing got louder. I slipped out of church with a brief apology to everyone. But, everyone else in church was very friendly. (Poor baby.)
We made chapati! Cooking these pancake-like breads on an open fire with women of Kawira was wonderful. I am comfortable in the kitchen and rolled the dough like a Kawiran. Jeff, Eileen and I sat and drank chai and ate our bread and chatted with family and friends. We felt at home.
In Kawira we walked in a small band through the chocolate -red dirt streets of the village. Our team and the faith-filled villagers could have been strolling on roads like those that Jesus walked. We held hands or were arm-in-arm as we stopped to pray along the way. We prayed with the sick, for the crops, the businesses, for those who had no relationship with God, for the well-being of the entire village, and we prayed for each other. Walking and praying together, living our faith together was being in the company of God.
Maya Angelou once said: “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”
The people of Kawira, whose language I understood very little, whose culture and way of life was foreign to me, made me feel welcomed, joyous, full of grace and full of the love of God. It radiated from their souls. I want to leave people with this feeling. I want to live my life to the fullest each day.