I'M ON THE GROUND.
O.K., So that idea of posting from my Blackberry using the international data plan that I paid extra for?...nada. But I do have internet access on occasion. I'm sitting at a Kenyan Internet Cafe near my hotel right now. I think it costs about $1 an hour here. That's one American dollar bill for an hour of internet. How's that for for a deal?!
So, I'm sure it's obvious to you if you are reading this that I have landed. The flights went smoothly overall, but stretching out was indeed an issue. It was 16 hours in the air from start to finish, with an easy transition in Amsterdam. I made it to my hotel from the airport with the assistance of my friend Charles and a pastor that he is working with in the area. The accommodations are incredible. Very inexpensive, but I have slept well and the food has been incredible. My favorite so far...goat. Who knew those little guys could be so tender! I've also gotten my hands on japati which is one of their versions of bread. It's very similar to Indian naan if you have had it, but it is fried more. Mix that up with some mukimu, a potato based rice cake with hominy mixed in, and you have yourself a fine meal.
So far my days have consisted of conversations with people ranging from a woman who spends every day looking for food for her three children who lost her husband to aids, to a late night conversation last night with 5 twenty-something young men who are struggling to find hope and spread their wings amidst the extreme poverty and hopelessness they experience in their homes, on the streets and the death that is knocking at their doorstep every day.
Death here is like the unwelcome visitor who is so familiar that he has his own seat at the dinner table. I have met one young man, who has been my primary guardian and guide who has lost 7 friends in the last year alone; to accidents, disease, and infection. Just since I have been here, one of the churches I am working with lost one of it's members in a car accident. It is sad to me that death is so familiar that it seems as though it's hard for the people here to find the time or energy to grieve. Just when they begin to rest again, another funeral is on their heals.
As for what I've been up to, along with the many conversations, I have been speaking at primary schools in grades standard 7 and 8. That is like our middle school equivalent in the U.S.. I have had the chance to talk about AIDS, suffering, faith, and the joys of being a kid. My experience is the same as it has always been everywhere in the world. The adults may be carrying burdens that lead to death, but the children carry the joy that invites everyone back to life. I was just at a school a few hours ago and I listened to a class sing and watched them dance and clap as if all the burdens of the world slid off onto someone else's shoulders. Children know death here, but it refuses to crush their spirits.
In a few hours I am off to a coffee plantation. So, for all you Starbucks folks listening in. I'll bring you some pictures of where Kenyan Roast begins! After I pass through there, I will be meeting with some people living close to the fields who suffer directly from the AIDS epidemic. This will be my first time sitting with a group of people who's lives will be shortened because of a disease that has swept this whole continent like an Oklahoma tornado. There is no cure apart from the education that can help people to find the protection they need from a disease that many of them still don't understand, can't recognize, and even at times still don't believe exists.
The rest of the schedule I will be keeping will come day by day. I will in town for at least one or two more days, and then may be on my way for a bit with Charles to the coast. If not, I will remain here teaching in the schools and meeting with people looking for someone to help carry the burdens, even though I often feel so inadequate trying to do it.
I don't know what communication will be like considering that wireless isn't even an option on the table, and I burned out my power cord on the computer I brought. If I can get to a cafe, I'll be able to post, but every day seems to be a new adventure that doesn't always afford time to write. I'll try to drop a line when I can.
Thanks again for all your support. I miss home, but I love it here.
P.S. I am giving supplies away, and they are going to people who treat a bar of soap like a hundred dollar bill. Thanks for the supplies Interact and Richmond Beach!