From Bev: While the medical team is being overwhelmed with patients and the academy team is being overwhelmed with children, Melva and I are peacefully working at the back of the complex in the kitchen. “Kitchen” is a very loose term for a low concrete hut with dirt floors roughly the size and shape of a chicken coop. Inside there is a low ledge that serves as a four burner stove – four holes on top of the clay ledge where the pots rest and four holes below that the cooking ladies feed with long strips of wood. They pull the log out into the room to lower the heat; they add kindling for a quick flame to bring water to a boil. The kitchen has two pieces of furniture – a counter height table that is given over to Melva and me for chopping, and a low old coffee table where Suleiman stoops to knead, roll, and shape dough that she cooks one by one into tortilla like bread as she stoops over the fire. By the time we arrived for duty at about 10 am, the cooks, Suleiman, Lucia, Caroline, and Anastasia, had already made the bread dough (only for the mission team; the children do not get bread), picked vegetables from their garden (Pastor Mark from Burneyville, Ok brought seeds last March), and finished cooking rice and a mixture of beans and hominy for the children’s lunch. Melva and I joined in to chop onions, cucumbers, tomatoes, green peppers, and parsley. We chop them the way my father-in-law, who grew up during the Depression, likes things done – carefully peeling off just the skin and cutting off just a sliver of the stem, and slicing paper thin – nothing wasted. We have a little pan of water, maybe a pint that we use to wash all the vegetables, and rinse our hands. A soda bottle serves to mash the beans for a stew and to crush the garlic. Pieces of cardboard serve as pot holders, although the ladies seem hardly to notice the heat as they move pots on and off the open fire. Chickens, a dog, a kitten, and an assortment of toddlers wander through and are good-naturedly shooed away. With fire pits, a few large kettles and pans, two knives, 1 spoon, and one large paddle to stir, we prepared a delicious meal for the mission team and a hearty basic meal for over 400 children. It feels almost like we’re witnessing the loaves and fishes every day.
Today I began the day sorting supplies for the rest of the week. As complicated as VBS preparation is at home, it’s easy to imagine how hectic it is here having brought all supplies from halfway across the world. We sorted the different piles for bible story, imagination station, games, and Chadder videos then decorated the room where the opening would be, helped with posters and swirls that hung from the ceiling. Then Siera and I added crayons to all the envelopes sponsors had sent from home. The envelopes were stapled to coloring books, but the children didn’t have anything to color them with. Soon it was time for lunch. The huge pot full of hominy and beans for the children was already in the room where they eat. Jenny, Kelsie, and I scooped out beans (only enough to fill the bottom of the bowl for the younger children, a little more for the older ones) and stacked up the bowls to prepare for the influx of children that was coming. They had formed a line outside the door, and as they came in one by one I handed them their bowl while Jenny and Kelsie kept scooping. They then went to sit on the floor and eat their lunch with their hands. Some I had to hand two bowls: one for them and one for the little child they were carrying on their hip or back. I was concerned some of the wobbling toddlers would spill their bowls, but there was no food dropped or wasted. It went very quickly because there was always another child waiting patiently. I had some free time after our delicious lunch (it was much more elaborate than the childrens’) so I sat outside with some kids. They are so eager to be near you and are more than happy just holding your hand. There is a language barrier, especially with the little ones, but most know to respond with their name when asked and say “I’m fine,” when you ask how they are. They are always smiling and attentive. They played with my hair and watch for as long as I would let them, but then I went upstairs to set up bible story.
VBS began around 2 or 3 with singing, dancing, and videos. They divided into 4 groups based on which school they attend, not including the preschoolers who did their own thing. I mainly helped in bible story and with returning any lost kids to their groups. All the kids were so enthusiastic. VBS was mostly older kids, so they could understand most of the English. Games got a little out of control considering the largest group was about 50 kids, but everyone had fun. They learned the daily chant of “trust God” instantly and chanted it with us throughout the afternoon. It was another incredible day seeing the light of God shine through all the people here. I’ve been learning so much – can’t wait to spend another day here tomorrow.
After a hearty breakfast of toast, mini bananas, other fresh fruit, and various other delicious options, our team took off to Maisha. We drive through the outskirts of Kisumu, our bus being chased by eager young kids yelling “Mazoongoo! Mazoongoo! (which means “White person! White person!”) When we arrived to Maisha, I was immediately pulled in all directions by eager young kids longing to hold my hand or arm, touch my long hair, or repeatedly point at my braces trying to decide what they were. Hensley, Evan, Kelsie, and I entertained the kids (or maybe the kids entertained us) until it was time to serve them lunch. One of the cooks, Anastasia, came and gathered us 4 and took us to the kitchen to help carry big buckets of hominy to the room where we pass out food. The kids were directed one by one into the large room while we loaded and passed out 83 plates for the younger kids at Maisha. I was able to head to the sewing room next which is full of about 10 hard working women. Yesterday we passed out the sewing supplies that had been collected and it was so fascinating seeing how the women were so amazed by the tools we see as common. The scissor sharpeners were a huge hit and when we showed how to work the needle threaders the ladies exclaimed “do it again!” until Velta and my fingers hurt. The things the ladies appreciated most were the glasses that we brought up from medical; Velta says one lady even grabbed her and said “Thank you. I have been praying for glasses and this is such a blessing” and all the ladies clearly were speechless with joy.
Our team took a lunch break around 1 and afterwards my mom and I began blowing up balloons and stuffing them in paper sacks for VBS props. Within minutes, our entire team was helping us build 100 blocks and carry them to the room we needed them in without my mom or me needing to ask for help. My mom, a few volunteers and I built a house and fence out of our props and made final preparations for VBS before a storm of kids tumbled into our room. We did many fun activities with the kids like following Jesus across the room (my sister, Carrie, turns out to be a wonderful Jesus), acting like a Roman soldier, and my personal favorite, marching while chanting. My mom had a VBS rhyme to say while we marched around, but when that became repetitive, I asked the kids if they had any songs to sing. Almost immediately, every single child began singing “We are Marching in the Light of God” (one of the many songs they are taught). The sound of their singing was filled with so much joy and laughter and could have brought anyone to tears with its pure, simple, beauty and happiness. I’m sure the kids at the orphanage are having a wonderful time and I KNOW every single volunteer is having too much fun to even express. I’m so excited for all of the experiences I am having and can’t wait till tomorrow!