Kauriong : Kenya Part Ii

happy wednesday ... hope you all are getting your groove back after a great holiday weekend & the start of school for many families.

It is time for me to share the second part of my experience in Kenya, literally copied verbadum from my journal throughout my two weeks there,
& now mixed in with my images throughout.

Before I go any further though,
I need to make the same important disclaimer as with my Kenya part I post :

You are about to read some things that will make you feel a wide range of emotions.
I want you to know that ALL of it, absolutely all of it, is written & comes from a DEEP, sincere place of LOVE.
This was by far the most intense & life-changing experience I have ever documented,
yet despite any of the hardships or fear-battles I faced, I would do it all over again.
I can only hope that you will be able to see and feel a sliver of what
Kenya & the tremendous Pokot people have taught me….
because that alone will fill your heart in more ways than you ever imagined.

Today has already been quite a day. & it is only 10:00am.

Early this morning we packed up our bags, mattresses & mosquito nets.
We had our morning devotional & ate our simple breakfast.
It seemed like a normal morning as we loaded into the cars
& began the 13 hour drive towards Kauriong.
*side note : before I go any further, I don’t think I have explained what it is like driving out here.
If you can imagine no paved roads & driving through dried up rocky riverbeds, you are getting close to beginning to imagine it.
This puts an entirely new definition to a ‘bumpy’ ride. On top of that, I honestly have zero clue as to how our drivers
(Tobias & George -- who are awesome by the way) even know where they are going!
Yet somehow, they do.
Our car was the first to head up the steep rocky terrain.
As we slid backwards, I thought our driver, Tobias, was actually reversing to get a better direction.
He ended up deciding to reverse & back up allllll the way down so he could get a faster start up the massive ‘hill’.
We passed the other big Land Cruiser which was filled with the other half our group cheering us on to make it up the hill.
the view before we turned around...
But by the time we turned all the way around the corner, we saw something we didn’t expect to see at all.
The other Land Cruiser, the same one that had been cheering us on,
halfway up the hill completely knocked over on its right side!!!

I did a double,
triple take,
not believing the sight in front of me.
There was complete silence in our car to immediate praying.
As soon as we could stop, we bolted out of the car & ran as fast as we could up that hill to help our friends.
One by one we helped them out of the top left driver door & slowly down the car.
I used my hands as ‘steps’, & although I know I am pretty strong,
was amazed by the strength & calmness God was fueling me with.
Two of our leaders, Karen & Jen, both had suffered gashes in their head and all were very shaken.
I'd be lying if I said the blood didn't scare me a little for them,
but thankfully no other serious injuries… just sore backs, necks, etc.

I keep running the series of events that just happened.
It all seems so surreal.
I keep praying for so many things & am trying to not be fearful.
This puts a whole new level on TRUSTING.

(see the glimpse of the rainbow in the middle below? this came out later that afternoon)
Now it is 2:00pm.
It is by far the HOTTEST day so far… I have no clue exactly how hot,
but I am feeling pretty overwhelmed & tired, yet very calm.
I feel embarrassed to say that I am feeling a little discouraged that we have to spend another night in Chemolingot.
I think it is just because in my head we were supposed to go to Kauriong today… that is, until the accident.
I know how incredibly lucky I am to have what I have & who am I to even think these thoughts
when this is where the Pokot live EVERY day?
Praying for patience & strength... locking my vision & trust on God.
Today as we waited around for everyone to get here,
I watched this little girl, covered head to toe in dust & dirt, eat this millet looking food,
all while lying on the dirty ground.
Her hands were her utensils… yes, her dirt-filled hands.
Then she slowly meandered her way into our room & carefully picked up a used up granola wrapper.
I watched her as she licked the peanut butter remnants, hoping no one was looking...

& felt my heart break again…
knowing I wasn't allowed to actually give her a granola bar & feeling hopeless as to what to do.
I almost felt paralyzed. I keep praying for God to show me the light in all these situations.
Which brings me to some notes of gratitude.

I am thankful for this pressing need to journal…
so far I think I have journaled more than any other trip!
Okay, well maybe with the exception of my first Ciao Andiamo documentary trip in 2009.

I am grateful that these children have each other to play with.
I am grateful to have my family & my health.
I am grateful to be able to capture what I am capturing & hopefully bring more peace to the Pokot.
I am grateful for the precious smiling faces.
I am grateful for the ability to think, feel & write what is on my heart.
I am grateful for safe travels…

I am grateful for life.

I keep thinking about “what if I had been in that other car?”
“would my camera bag have squished me against the window pane,,, or worse, squished somebody else?!!!”

I know these are all fear thoughts, but they are what they are. I pray that they go away.

I miss Mark.
I think I have stayed away from writing those words from the fear that I will break down crying.
As I write this my eyes are welling up with tears… and I just DO NOT want to cry.
I don’t want to break down. I am not sure why – it’s almost as if I want to prove to myself that I am stronger than that?
my head is itchy & I haven’t had a good shower since Sunday evening. Once again, who am I to complain? SERIOUSLY.

But I do. I miss him more then ever & cannot wait to see him, hug him so tight & hold his hand.
I cannot wait to go for a walk with him & Jones in cool spring weather!

I want to read another one of Mark's cards today but I will be patient.
Somehow I secretly hope that that will make me feel closer to him & better
but deep down I know I really need to turn to God for that.

God, I am just so thankful. I love you.

(...the front of one of my favorite cards from Mark while in Kenya.)
This morning I decided to leave my shirt here that I wore yesterday.
I am embarrased to write this, but... I actually struggled for a second with that thought because
it was a brand new shirt that I bought for this trip and I REALLY liked it.
I literally only wore it once. so at first, I packed it up (completely driven by my ego of course) until I heard God’s whisper again…
and I knew without a doubt,

I had to let it go.

What was the value of that shirt to me as it would be for someone here?!

When I bought the shirt I bought it because it looked “African”...

now it truly is.

...and just like that, I felt the immediate blessings from God’s sweet grace.

( these two iphone photos were the only photos i had of the shirt to show you )
still feeling frazzled from the incident,
some of us decided to take a walk into the downtown area to check it out, & hopefully shake it out a bit.
Kenyan ground & bottle caps
the next morning, we packed up & headed on the road once again.
oh, hi!
...along the way, we met some new faces
and saw some new things.
in case you were looking for the latest 'fashion'
remember what i said about driving through dried up river banks?
well, i forgot to mention driving through ACTUAL river banks!
I named him Gus, the goat.
"candy kiosk"

It is probably around 10:00pm & I am tucked into my mosquito-netted bunk bed,
lying on top of a soggy mattress due to the downpour of rain that happened
on our 13 hour travel from Chemolingot to Kauriong –
with our mattresses on top of the Land Cruisers, leaving no way to escape the drench.

We are in a small cement dormitory & there is a musky smell in the air.
I’m trying really hard to ignore this wet feeling on my back & praying for patience.

I am SO grateful that we made it here safely today.
I don’t think I have ever experience bumpy “roads” like I have here.
Even in Ethiopia they weren't this bad
and they were BAD there!
I keep thinking how am I going to be able to explain the roads to Mark? My photos do not even do them justice.
I don’t think he would be able to handle the bumpiness with how easily he gets car sick.
I’m not sure I even want to, to be totally honest.
I really don’t like the nighttime here.
Insects & bugs are not my favorite & considering these living conditions, we are pretty much living with them.
I just had to pause to put another piece of duck tape on yet another hole I found in my mosquito net.
I am trying hard not to be so paranoid & keep praying for the bigger picture here. i know being exhausted & cold isn't helping.

…& even as I write that, I feel silly. duh!
The bigger picture is literally the countless moments captured
& those FACES,
those SMILES,
those HOPES
& DREAMS in their eyes.

Yet, I get all fussy & scared because there are two huge mud wasp nests
on the INSIDE of my bunk bed above my head AND my feet!
Let alone a bunk bed that I am most likely borrowing from one of the Pokot girls in the school...
who is now most likely sleeping on the floor so I don’t have to.

I mean, really?!!! What is my problem?
How am I this spoiled… and dare I say, selfish? It is embarrassing!
As I try to fall asleep tonight I will pray for God to show himself to me, for his continued guidance, grace & whisper.
I really need Him right now, and although I know He is always with me,

I need to feel His spirit now more then ever.
As I write, my hand almost seems to move itself & the words keep spilling out.
I have SO much to say & at times,
find myself wanting to voice record all the thoughts that go through my head throughout each day
…like how I haven’t had my normal shortness of breath nor much trouble breathing here
(ironic because the smell in the air is thick & not that pleasant).

I also thought about how the kids stand on the side of the dirt road, in the middle of nowhere,
waiting for us to drive by so they can wave, scream & sometimes even run to catch up with us.
In my mind, I compared it to how my nephew feels when he sees a big train or truck.

Or lets talk about how happy everyone in our group got when we were able to purchase room temperature Coca Cola and Fanta’s –
it was like instant HAPPY.
I can only imagine how everyone here feels… it must be the BIGGEST treat for them,
yet we Americans guzzle every type of pop under the sun without even thinking twice about it!

I can’t say the same for me because I don’t drink pop & have never liked it -- so maybe it would be more like my Starbucks treat coffee with whip?

Regardless, it really makes you think.

I wonder what I will feel when I get back home & go to the grocery store?
I can only imagine the type of processing that goes on then for me.
Today one the girls in our group, Michelle, who writes the global grants for Kensington Church,
said something I thought was quite funny & so true…
and having been on numerous trips to the Pokot, she is NO newbie like myself.

Michelle said,
“To get to the Pokot, just drive until you have reached the end of the world,
and then go a few more hours and you’ll be there.”

Yep, that pretty much sums up what today felt like.

I pray for a God-filled day tomorrow – it is, after all, Good Friday.
I pray to see Him & His presence in all we do tomorrow & throughout every click of my shutter.
I pray for strength to get through the day.
I pray for love
& to be able to give LOVE without hesitance.

Good Friday in Kauriong, Kenya – wow, who would’ve thunk it?
It is around 3:00pm & it has already been quite a day.
Last night was unfortunately my worst night of sleeping but I got through it. Thank God.
It was cold & damp & cold. I woke up probably 30 times… and I am NOT exaggerating.
I think I may have been awake more than asleep.
At one point I made the mistake to look at my clock… only 3:00am? FOUR more hours of this?!!!!I have never been so excited for 7am….
well, maybe on our wedding day but that was different.

Today’s devotional really resonated with me. Carol led it & read an excerpt from a book called “Jesus Calling”.
It spoke about God’s agenda, not our own.
His plan, not ours
made me think a lot about my prayers last night & letting go, letting God.

One little boy today was walking around with what looked like a bent broken elbow.
When we asked the nurse here she said, “He fine”…
I’m definitely NOT a nurse, but even I know his elbow did not look ‘fine’!

After a couple hours & persuasion from one of our team members, Peg,
she was able to get him (and another child who had something similar going on) to the clinic in Kiporia!

What amazed me is how this little boy, broken or dislocated elbow & all, did not whimper, cry or show any pain.
In fact, when I had to take his picture, he gave the BIGGEST of smiles.
How is this possible?
I know I would not have been in the same spirit if I was in his shoes.
These children want to hold your hand.
They want to know your name.
They want you to take their picture.
They want to take a picture with you.
They want to see your pictures.
They want to touch your skin.
They want to play with you.
They want to giggle with you.
They want to laugh out loud with you.
They want to know if you are married, if you have children of your own.
They want love.
Plain & simple.
absolutely LOVE everything about this photo
L O V E is all you need.
We have captured so many stories & profiles so far…
both for children sponsors for nochild.org & prayer partners for the Women of Pokot.

Today one of our team members, Kimber, had the women sew big felt purple hearts together,
fill them with fluff & a piece of paper that expressed their hopes, dreams & prayers on it.
It was so special to watch how excited they were to do it.

It really amazes me as to how willing they are to listen to us, to pray with us,
to share their stories with us.
It makes me even more excited to do 'i want to know YOUR story back at home.
We also have been educating both the women & the men on FGM…
which stands for Female Genital Mutilation.
Unfortunately, although now against the law, that is still common here … which completely upsets, saddens & disturbs me.
I cannot even begin to imagine these women’s pain -- and I know that is why I am here.

I am here to love on them.
To bring back the story of these beautiful souls through a few words & many pictures.
a typical day in Kauriong.
one of our team members Jen, with some of the beautiful Pokot women.
Jen is also in charge of the Women of Pokot.
We went on a walk to see the dried up river today & by “we”,
I mean ALL the children of Kauriong seemed to come along!!!
It was a magical place,
but definitely a longer walk when you are carrying weight of a camera & camera messenger bag in high heat!
Which by the way, it definitely got HOT today.
Crazy how cold it was last night & how hot by day.
Literally “day & night” in difference.
showing me the little bit of water in the dried up river bank...
with his nails freshly painted by our youngest team member, 14 years old, Missy.
twisted trees...
"Education is the powerful weapon you can use to change the world."
When we got back,
Jen & Festus were teaching the women about the bead making & then the homemade women sanitary pads.
Someone back at home actually made 400 of these cloth pads with underwear to give throughout the Pokot!!!
They were beyond excited & grateful, to say the least!

the girl on the left, drinking water from one of the wells built by Kensington Church & on the far right, happily holding her sanitary bag.
speaking of drinking water,
this year i am running the Detroit half-marathon with Hope Water Project
to help raise money, build wells and bring clean water to the Pokot.
instead of sharing water with this guy.....
i want to see them healthy & smiling,
and sharing water from a good, clean source with their loved ones.
"Love has a hem to her garment that reaches the very dust.
It sweeps the stains from the streets and lanes,
and because it can, it must." ~Mother Teresa
love is love.
beautiful angel.
sweet pea
where we ate & had meetings with the Pokot here
" I have great confidence in you.
I take great pride in you.
I am greatly encouraged;
in all our troubles my joy knows no bounds."
Missy playing soccer with the boys
this fence was built by a team from Kensington Church to help protect Kauriong.
remember the African thorns i was telling you about in Kenya part I???
well, feast your eyes on an African thorn BUSH! I wasn't kidding.
babies carrying babies. simply in awe.
Paula all smiles with the children of Kauriong
so much depth in his eyes.
one of my top favorites from the trip, hands down.
this little girl from Kauriong stole a piece of my heart, forever.
where we slept, our dormitory.
neighborhood kissing camels
watercolor sky.
an aloe plant!
joy in the simple things
nighttime mud.
packing up...
gorgeous Pokot girls
running to show us the girls dormitory
inside this Pokot women's home, she so graciously invited us in.
I know I also have to come to terms that some people just won’t get any of this.
They just won’t care.
They will choose to take their running water and baths or showers for granted.

They will choose to not believe that making a difference in just ONE LIFE really does actually make a difference.
They will choose to ignore the reality of the world in this area & many others.

...& don’t get me wrong,
I get it.
This is hard work.
This is NOT fun.
This is by far the hardest work I have EVER done. EVER.
Definitely harder than Ethiopia… & boy was that hard!
Definitely harder than a 15 hour wedding day.
Yet,,, somehow time is flying by.

Usually the saying is
“time sure flies when you are having fun”

I can’t say we are having the worst time --
obviously helping & seeing the absolute joy of the faces of the Pokot is amazing
& at times even ‘fun’… if that makes sense?

But maybe the saying should be,

“ Time flies when you are Divinely driven. ”
Because I am.

As hard as this has been, I find rest & peace in it all.

I don’t know how that is possible,
so to me, it can only be divine & through our God almighty.

...our group with our sweet drivers & translators before heading to our next stop, Kodich.
until next time...
thank you for reading.
stay tuned for ' Kodich : Kenya part III '!

with love & gratitude,

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