The Giving Tree

9:02 AM

I have been in Kenya, Africa for a little over a month now volunteering.

This has been a very raw and eye opening experience for me. I don't even know where to start so I will tell you about the home in which I live. I am living with a wonderful woman named Grace who has three children. We are staying in a very "nice" part of town. A gated community and we live on the top floor of a three story building. There are 3 bedrooms, one working bathroom, a living room and a kitchen the size of a closet. At one point in time during my stay here, there were 14 people living in the house. The children are 7, 4 and 1.5. They bring me so much joy! In American standards this home would be in the ghetto. It has chipped walls, the power is constantly going out, some windows don't close completely, the toilet has no seat, they have to hand pump the water into the house, there is no stove or oven, we hand wash our laundry. I could go on and on but these are things I barely notice. I see the happy smiling faces, the kids dancing in the living room, the delicious food they graciously give me. The company here is some of the best I have had in a while. 

I worked at one child care center for the first month of my stay. On my walk here I would turn a few corners into a slum. The buildings are falling apart and there is open sewage along the roads. There are always piles of garbage lining the roads as well as the occasional pig or donkey eating it. I walked through a market where they lay the food along the sides of the road on small tarps. There are always a ton of people wandering down the roads to work, school or just out. Matatu's and busses would fly down the bumpy roads at shocking speeds passing only a foot or two away from you. The bottom floor of every building along the walk was some type of small shop, their store fronts always painted bright colors. As I walked down the road I would hear people of all ages shouting "mzungu!" which means "english speaker!". Children would run up to me as ask for a high five, shout "how are you??" at me, or shyly touch my skin and run away giggling. It was a pretty dangerous part of town but I love it. I felt comfortable here, recognizing faces as the day went by and saying hello to strangers. 

The childcare center I volunteered in was small. It was a small hallway with apartment complexes on one side and the classrooms on the other. The whole building it made from tin which turns everything into a furnace in the afternoons. They have a kitchen that is around 3X8 feet. Two classrooms, one bedroom and small restrooms with squat toilets. There were around 25 children there who attended school and they were all such happy and loving spirits. They would run up to me and hug me every day, stick their heads out of the classrooms and smile as I came in. They were always so full of energy and always wanted to play. 

Since being here I have learned a lot about people. There are people so kind that it doesn't even make sense and there are people so cruel that you can't even look at them. I have met those who steal and cheat even though they've been given something amazing and people so grateful for anything they could kiss your feet. From my experience here so far, the people of Kenya are some of the sweetest and most hardworking people I've ever met. I can't begin to explain the love and kindness they have shown me since coming here. 

I am grateful I was given the opportunity to give my time to these people. I am so fortunate to travel to this beautiful country and experience the culture here. I know my Heavenly Father knew this was the best decision for my family with Payden being deployed. It can be hard to have a good relationship with your spouse when you are separated and have little to no contact. I've found that keeping myself busy while also serving others is my way to get through it. Along with sweet treats and a coloring book. 

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