17 January, 2011
Dear Heather, Nikki, Lauren, Lyndsay, Clare and Tami –
The weather is beautiful, I wish you were here.
You have no idea how true that is, especially after a day like today. Since arriving in Kenya, I’ve been in Nairobi – I’ve laughed with Irene, visited with Bridget and George, got sassy with the vendors at Yaya Market, walked up and down Ngong Road and, of course, treated myself to a lunch and iced tea at Java House. I wished you were here for all of that, but not as much as I wished you were here today.
Today we finally got out of Nairobi. Seated behind David and his furry friend hanging from the rearview mirror, I journeyed into the ever-beautiful Rift Valley with Irene and Faith, a new volunteer. Girls, you know that moment when you come around the corner of the road and suddenly – bang – there it is! One of God’s greatest and most beautiful creations: that rift that travels 9,600 kilometers from Israel to South Africa. A spinal cord that splits the continent and offers such wonders as the savannas of Maasai Mara, the flamingo-covered salt lakes of Elementita and Nakuru, the towering peaks of Meru, Longonot and Kilimanjaro and, of course, the dustiest children ever known to man. The view never ceases to amaze me and when we got out of the van so that Faith could take a closer look I found myself trying to open every pore of my body as to soak up as much of this beauty as possible. “Ah, Nairobi I don’t like,” David joined me at the viewpoint, and waved off a pair of vendors, “but here, I feel alive!” He smiled that broad grin he reserves for special occasions and readjusted his hat. David is quickly becoming one of my favorite people in Kenya.
We drove into the valley, which, if you can imagine, is even drier now than it was when you first met it. Even the areas around Naivasha (Naivashaaah!) that are usually so lush now carry a distinct brown-ness. This is January in Kenya. We continued on to the hotel where we enjoyed a late lunch and a view of gorgeous Elementita before heading on to Pipeline.
Pipeline. This is the point where I longed for at least one of you to be here, so that we might gasp together at the progress that has been made in the past fourteen months. We pulled up in our normal spot but there was almost nothing familiar about it. There was another group there, from a church in Wheaton, IL of all places, who had sponsored the construction of a large community center just next to the dispensary. The dispensary, by the way, will soon be a full-fledged government staffed health facility. “We have an incinerator,” smiled Moses as he ticked off the requirements on his long fingers, “we are digging trenches for the toilet and we have started a plan for piping water!” He took off his hat, scratched his head and smiled as he put it back on. “And Jenni, if we do all that, the government has promised to send a health worker. We are very motivated!” Oh Moses! The fearless leader of Pipeline is just the same: tall with long, thin yet strong arms, a soft face and kind eyes are so engaging and sincere. Moses is one of those unique people who really listen to others, who take the time and energy to understand and connect. Perhaps a little more gray than before pokes out from under his well-worn baseball cap, but otherwise he is the same soft-spoken, gentle giant of Pipeline IDP Camp.
“Moses,” I looked up at him, “I know that it must be hard for all of you to see all that has been done when you see it everyday, but believe me, your community has come so far since my last visit!” I swallowed back proud tears, “So far! Really, Moses, I can’t wait to come back again and see what more progress has been made!”
After a short romp with the kids, Faith and I piled back into the van happy and dusty. “Girls,” came Irene’s call from the front seat, “we have one more stop to make.”
With the kids running along side the van we slowly made our way toward the highway from the camp, leaving a large cloud of dust behind us. Instead of turning left to go toward the highway, David took a right and what awaited us was even more amazing than the progress we had witnessed at the camp. In the middle of dusty nothingness was a school. A school that is so beautifully constructed and detailed down to painted bag hooks and bright walls and desks. A school that would rival even those at home, built by GVN Foundation for the kids at Pipeline. Yes, it looks completely out of place but that is part of its beauty.
As Irene had a short meeting with the amazing contractor, Faith and I sat in front of the school and watched the sun drop from the sky and the light change from warm to cold. What a day it had been! Faith appreciated it, but not in the way that you girls would have. Seeing something change so positively in a matter of months is so inspiring and encouraging!
I hope to share more with all of you when I get back home. Miss you lots!