Well, we have made it to Kenya everyone! We have been here for a few days now, and I can honestly say that it is even greater than what anyone has ever tried to describe it as. Our travel days were quite fun. By the end of it, we had seen the sun rise and set so many times, none of us had any idea what day it actually was. We were on the planes for a total of 21 hours, and I don’t think too many of us actually slept much.

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When we got to Nairobi, we had to go through customs, which took a while considering we had 40 people. After customs we went to find our bags. Luckily, we only lost one bag out of all 80. It also happened to be a Youthlinc duffel, and we could go without that for a couple of days, so we’ll call it a win! We had a fun time trying to figure out how to get all 40 of our personal suitcases. 40 Youthlinc duffel bags, 40 carry-on bags, and all of us into buses, along with tons and tons of water. We had to have two vans just for our bags. We got to our “hotel” about an hour later. I say”hotel” because it was more like a room full of beds. The specific room I was in had 6 bunks, so 12 beds. We only needed to put 8 people in there. We were lucky enough to have two bathrooms.

The next morning, was our first African meal. It was actually really good! They had these tortilla type things called Chipati. Haleigh told us they would have these in the village as well. We were excited about that. We loaded back up on our buses and went to a mall where there were a few banks, and we were able to exchange our money. Most of us were okay getting our money, but I guess anyone that had Key Bank, had a hard time getting money out of their account.

Once we finished there, we hopped on the buses for the four hour drive to Kajuki. It was really cool to drive through all of the different areas and see how people live. As we drove through, everyone waved to us as we yelled “Jambo!” to them. Boon would try to yell it, and most people gave him a dirty look. He would say it different every time, so I assume most of the time it was probably wrong. When we finally arrived at the village, the kids just swarmed the bus in excitement. They kept grabbing us and wanting to hold our hands. They loved to have their picture taken because they don’t normally get to see themselves. One little girl, Pauline, made a point to come up to every single one of us and tell us that her skin is better than ours because she can be in the sun for a long time, and we can’t. We couldn’t really argue because well, she had a point. She’s extremely sassy!

After our initial greeting in the village we went to see our dorm for the first time. It is basically one big room with a bunch of bunks in it. Our bathroom has four toilets, and four showers. That’s fun at night time when 40 of us are trying to shower! A lot of us just baby wipe shower each night, except for after construction, they get first dibs on the showers.

After seeing our dorm, we went to opening ceremonies. They had a lot of dances and songs for us. We met all of the teachers from St. Peters school then we had the chance to sing the USA National Anthem, and “You’ve Got a Friend in Me”. Then the entire team took turns introducing ourselves saying our name and age. That was really fun. Next, we were able to spend some quality time with the kids. We played soccer and taught them some games. After closing ceremonies was over went to dinner, team meeting, and we were all in bed by 8:00.

The following morning, we all woke up around 6:00 am.  On our own, I might add! That morning we got to go to Mass with the students. It was one of the coolest experiences I have ever had the chance to be a part of. After Mass we went to breakfast and split up in our committees for our different activities for the day. Business and Medical committees went on home visits, and that was so cool. My specific group went to four different houses. We were able to just sit and talk with the families about their lives. Education committee got to go see the school, just down the road where we will be teaching. Cultural committee got to be the first to start on the construction. Vocational started their classes. There are 11 women in the vocational group. Vocational committee started by teaching them how to make hats. All 11 of the women finished at least one hat. One of the women, Mama Rose, has worn her hat all day, every day since she completed it.

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After morning activities we broke for lunch. After lunch we came back to the dorm and got to sort the duffel bags in the dining hall. The sorting part ended up turning into a huge dance party, and it was so fun. We have a lot that we want to accomplish while here. Sometimes that can seem overwhelming so the dance party was a fun way to just let us hangout together for a second. Dinner was after that, tjem we had our team meeting, and again headed to bed around 8 o’clock.

The next morning, Sunday, we all split up into groups, and went to Mass with the Seminarians at churches throughout the village. Most churches only had about 10-20 people at each session. It was really cool to see the similarities between our church sessions, and theirs. They like to sing, a lot. Some groups even received hats from the local women. We came back for lunch, and were supposed to have cultural conversations set up, but unfortunately, that didn’t work out. So instead, we got to play with the kids, which no one ever complains about! We had a soccer game with Youthlinc kids vs St. Peters kids. It was so fun.

Toward the end of the day we helped a lot of the kids wash their clothes, had dinner, and headed to bed around 8. Monday morning, was really our first day of scheduled work. We had the Alum Leaders teaching, with a few kids assisting; a group at construction; and a vocational group teaching. We met back for lunch, and split up by committee again. The heath team had a very successful women’s health fair. Business talked to a lot of the vocational women how to turn their sewing skills into a viable business. Education helped teach the afternoon classes at the Ntumbara school, and cultural was split up between teaching and construction at Kathwana school. Overall, a very successful first full day!

-Taylor Ostmark