I had a rather scarring church camp experience when I was young and have never been a fan of church camp songs. However today I loved those songs of Jesus, shields, and jungles. After church, all of the kids went out to the playground and field to play before lunch. After a while, all of the kids migrated from the usually-popular playground to the new, cool hang-out spot on the field where Annie was beating the kids in basketball. I have never been one for physical activity, especially that which involves balls and hand-eye coordination. Had they put a ballet bar or a small dance floor in the middle of the field, I may have partaken in the games. However, this was not the case so I walked back towards the playground to see if there were any other low-life children who were anti-exercise like me.
I looked up into the little tree house and there was Margaret, who is about seven, lying in the shade amongst a pile of sweaters, big and small, that had been cast off in the heat of the sun. I climbed the tree house and sat next to little Maggie, who looked up and said “Callie!” as she so often does. “Maggie!” I replied. Maggie was one of the children who accompanied us to Makueni and has become a dear friend to me. Though the language barrier between is pretty large, she only being in Class 1, we always manage to make each other smile.
In Makueni, Annie and I taught the kids “He’s my rock, my sword, my shield” in a desperate attempt to contain the insanity that Annie described in her last blog posting. The kids loved singing along and making the hand gestures with us, especially during the “flubba hubba, flubba hubba, flubba hubba” portion of the song. So, as Maggie crawled onto my lap up in the little tree house, we began to sing “He’s my rock”. It’s a beautiful day today; the sun is shining and there’s a cool breeze that doesn’t blow you over, but is enough to cool you down and make your hair tickle at your neck. We could hear some 30 children laughing and playing in the field nearby.
After about our 5th time through the song, I attempted to start new tunes but Maggie only let me sing a few words before it was back to flubba hubba. Eventually a little boy, Kennedy, climbed into the tree house as well, lying down next to me and falling asleep within minutes. Then Kevin also came and layed down in the shade. So there the four of us were, taking solace and comfort in the shade of the little house, piled on top of one another, listening to Maggie stumble joyously through words about Jesus’ return and lilies of the valley.
In those moments I was utterly grateful for my lack of athletic talent and inability to catch a ball without covering my face in terror. I was grateful for my not-so-lovely church camp experience. I was even grateful that there weren’t little girls in tutus amidst the cows waiting for me to do pirouettes with them.
This is when our plan for this trip fails miserably: our reason for coming was to build relationships and make friends, we never thought about what consequences might come with this. Now that we have all of these wonderful friendships, it’s time for us to leave Neema. It will be a bittersweet goodbye on Friday; painful departures come with loving friendships. Yet I would go through a hundred farewells before giving up what we now have with these kids. As the number of ringworms on us grows (I believe I just discovered another on my wrist), our love for those who initially gave us the worms grows.
I suppose if that’s a failure then I’m alright with not succeeding.