Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Old family, new friends, and Christmas cookies

Hi everyone!  I'm so sorry we haven't been blogging as much as we used to.  Just think of everyday that we don't post as a day that was simply too exciting and busy for blogging.  Anyways here are some highlights.

On our last day at Chuilambo we were to be picked up at around 9:00 am.  Of course we planned to leave at around 10.  We had breakfast with Margaret, Winnie, Odaro, and a really funny old lady who likes to randomly dance.  After we'd eaten we got all of our stuff ready by the door.  Mama Margaret packed us some mandazi, chapati, biscuits, and bananas.  She also made us both wrap skirts as a going away present.  We'll miss her.  We had a bit of a photo shoot with a bunch of our friends (Daddy is a little boy who hates wearing pants, Kawika is Odaro's son who was really shy around us until, right before we left, he decided he actually really likes us, Lucy and Fidelle are the most adorable siblings in the world and there were a lot of others).  at around 12 we were still waiting so Odaro decided to start a dance party.  He got a bucket and started drumming and all of the kids circled around him dancing.  After a bit Odaro decided that the party was missing a certain something.  He went over to the nearest palm tree and started hacking off leaves.  He then cut them in half and made real-live hula skirts for myself and all the children.  Callie and the adults just laughed about how excited I was.  We ended up leaving Chuilambo at around 3 in the afternoon.

When we got to the IU house we were in awe of everything.  Showers! Computers! Toilets! People who fluently speak English!  We just ran around trying to fully appreciate the bouncy beds, the mosiquito nets that have hooks on the side, and the wonderful water pressure.  I don't say this to put down Chuilambo in any way.  I loved it there and it really did make us appreciate every little detail more.  Later that day Sarah Ellen handed me a huge amount of Reese's from my family.  I think I might have cried from joy.

Of course the reason that we were most excited to be back in Eldoret was our Neema House family.  Wow, we've missed them.  So the morning after our arrival we hitched a ride with Sarah Ellen to our favorite children's home.  We were happy to see Joshua and Miriam but we didn't linger long before hurrying to see the kids.  They were all playing outside when we walked around the school.  They all started yelliong and then chanting our names, and then sprinting towards us.  Boniface was the first to reach us and he flew on top of me.  After that it was impossible to distinguish children.  I was on the ground under a pile of people and I just kept hugging everyone I could reach.  Best. Moment. Ever.

On Monday we began our work at Sally Test Pediatric Center.  The center is a place where all the kids in the hospital can go to learn, play, and just get out of the wards during the day.  Right now they are working on a project where they make their own businesses.  There is a jewelry making company, a flower shop, a puppet store, as well as a newspaper and a restaurant.  The goal is to teach them about responisbility, problem-solving, as well as how to work well with others.  It's been going fairly well.  The main problem the teachers have been having is the constantly changing group of children.  We never have the same group two days in a row which makes it really hard to do ongoing projects.  Callie and I have just been helping wherever we're needed.  There are so many great kids and I'm really excited to get to know them all better.  We hope to start working on some art projects later this week after we've settled in to the center's routine.  We just really want to focus on making them as happy as possible while they're going through such a painful and trying time. 

Surprisingly, the activity that has been taking up pretty much all of our time when we're not at the center is Christmas cookie baking.  Yes, we started baking Christmas cookies on November 7.  No, it's not because Joe eats thousands of cookies every Christmas.  Every year Sarah Ellen gives a cookie to every child in the wards as well as the children at Neema House and Lewa Children's Home.  That is a TON of cookies.  We've worked for hours for the past three days and we haven't even completed a tenth of the cookies.  It's the icing part that slows us down.  Callie and I tend to get a little carried away.  We made little cookie sumo wrestlers as well as a Picasso cookie, a Pointillism cookie and a Jim Halpert cookie (from The Office).  We stopped at around 9:30 last night.  It's funny because I thought things like carrying bags of coal, and doing laundry, and shelling thousands of peanuts was hard in Chuilambo, but that was all nothing compared to Sarah Ellen's cookie boot camp.  We were actually sore from decorating.  I had no idea that was possible.  Of course it's worth it though.  Every kid loves a Christmas cookie!

I promise we'll right more!  Love and miss everyone!

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