First weekend

My Sunday has been awesome. Can’t lie, when I woke up I thought “I’m going to have to talk myself through this one,” but it got better continuously as the day progressed. It started by getting ready for church. It was a chilly morning, but I’m still in denial that it is cold here in Africa and keep expecting to be blasted by the famous African Heat. Today was another reminder that everything you hear about Africa is not always true, as I sat in church shivering with goosebumps all over my arms and legs.
The English church service begins at 7:30 and the goal was to be out the door by 7. My family has a vehicle, so we would be driving to church, which is in town. When my mama and I finished breakfast, it was 10 til 7. So I went to my room and changed clothes about 4 times before choosing the final outfit and still beat my mama, who was ready within the next 10 minutes. We went and sat in the car, and she began honking the horn to hurry my sister. After about 5 minutes of honking the horn, we put the car in drive and headed about 100 yards down our driveway toward the gate, where we sat and honked the horn for another minute to get someone to come open the gate for us so we wouldn’t have to get out of the car. Slightly amusing, but understandable. Then we were off to Church. The roads in Machakos are always interesting, from weaving on and off the pavement to pass to the gigantic, 3 foot wide speedbumps scattered randomly throughout town. Vehicles fume a lot, and by the time we got to church (which took less than 10 minutes) my throat was slightly sore. We pulled into a grassy/muddy pit next to our church. It isn’t a huge church, but it was very picturesque. White concrete with a crack going down the side, and beautiful windows with ornate decorative iron bars protecting them. The windows are all open, as well as the door, and music is playing. We are late. We walk in and have a seat in a pew near the middle of the church. It is long and narrow, and up front the pulpit is bright teal and green. There are 4 teenage girls wearing uniforms singing and swaying and several adults in robes behind them. I first noticed the height of the backs of the pews; I’m pretty sure that Sandi was unable to see over them while sitting down. They were high enough I could lean my head back while I was sitting. After the girls sang, we had a song by the choir (in Swahili) and then a man began to talk about upcoming events and introduce our preacher for the day. It was a lot like any other service, but once the preacher began, he was extremely lively and animated. He yelled and whooped and shouted Halllllllelu-yuh, then a gliss on the vibraphone keyboard. Another thing, when the choir sang, a man just improvises on the keyboard and selects a random beat to go with it. Very contemporary. After the sermon, which was about having faith and understanding that God is not digital, we had a few more songs. This was the interesting part. We sang traditional songs, but the one that is stuck with me is “I Surrender All” and the man who was the song leader has a voice that made me think of a bullfrog or lizard from a cartoon. VERY deep and raspy. And he did not know the words, but that did not hinder him in the least. He was belting it out, and the congregation was singing while others were praying into microphones, and a man in the front row was smacking himself on both sides of the head, simultaneously, throughout the entire song.
Afterwards, we get to the car and Sandi has a horrible toothache. It’s very difficult to do any kind of business on Sunday here, but we try to look for a dispensary for pain meds. Last night we established that Sandi has a cavity, her first cavity, and we had a big discussion about ways to treat a cavity. Some proposed solutions included: root canal, antibiotics, pulling the tooth, rinsing with salt water or perhaps a filling. The debate continued today and Mami insisted on a round of antibiotics as well as an herb/powder to put on the faulty tooth to kill the germs. So, we found a dispensary and got the antibiotic, then we stopped and found a man selling the powder out of his car parked near the matatu station. He saw Mami driving and therefore doubled the price, so we had to drive about 100 feet down the road and send Sandi back to buy it for the “right” price.
When we got home I felt stressed and bored, and VERY cold, so I crawled into bed and felt sorry for myself briefly. Then I decided to make the best of my day, and what better way to do it than learn how to wash your dirty clothes by hand??! It didn’t take long, but it was pretty cool today, probably only about 50 degrees, and after I finished it started to sprinkle. I tried hanging my clothes in my room, but they were dripping everywhere, so I put them outside on the line anyways. Within 30 minutes the rain stopped though and I decided to try out my new water purification supplies. Pretty productive day. It was easy, and the water was a little better than pool water, so I’ll take it. I now have 10L of potable water. It doesn’t go very far though, because I have to use it to brush my teeth also, which you wouldn’t really expect to use a lot until you try it. Plus, we drink tea like 4 or 5 times a day and I try to brush my teeth every time because I put so much sugar in it. Water doesn’t go as far as you would think.
All of my productivity led to a nap, which was amazing. I’m still adjusting to sleep here and have been having restless nights, mainly because I stress about getting up on time the next day. The rest of the afternoon was spent chatting with Mami about Kenya’s development and comparing school systems from Kenya and America. We watched a wedding show on TV and had chai and pancakes. I have been eating so much, but it’s all so good!
Before dinner tonight I had a call from a private number, which turned out to be my mom and dad! A wonderful surprise since I have only talked to my mom once since I left for a total of 7 minutes before being disconnected randomly. This time we talked for almost 45 minutes before it got interrupted, and I was even able to talk with Maggie a little bit! I can’t wait to show them pictures and wish that they could all see things the way I’m seeing it here, because it just can’t be described. Everything I see, it’s so similar yet so different from anything I have ever experienced before. I can’t wait to start putting pictures up for all of you to see. As much as I miss everyone from home, I am very happy and content being here. I haven’t been struck with any homesickness yet, though I do miss my family. I like it here, and I feel like I’m in the right place for now. Before I came I was worried that I would feel confused and out of place, but so far (even though its only been ~2 weeks) I feel completely peaceful. It’s a hard feeling to describe, but it’s just pleasant and satisfied. Let’s hope it lasts!

12 thoughts on “First weekend

  1. Go Kelsey! I love reading your posts. The writing is so good! I really feel like I’m right there with you. Your posts are the highlight of MY week. Thanks for keeping us updated!

  2. So glad you got to talk to your family! i cant wait to see pics! how longs does the 10L of water have to last you? until the next rain ? or do you have another way of having water if you run out before??

  3. So glad you’re having an awesome time! I get so excited when I see new blog posts because I love reading about your time in Africa thus far, and I am definitely looking forward to seeing pictures! Everything sounds so interesting…what an incredible experience! Miss you!

  4. I am so proud of you!!! I am so glad you’re enjoying yourself and things are goin well. Reading your posts make my day. I can’t wait to come visit and see all this awesomeness that I am so enviously reading about in your updates.

  5. Kelsey, I’m enjoying your posts. Glad you are adjusting so well. Some things (like the traffic) remind me of Bolivia. We are thinking of you and praying for you. Looking forward to pictures. God Bless!!!

  6. Hi,
    I work with your uncle at North Central State College. He told me you were going to Kenya. You can probably tell by my name I am married to a Kenyan. I will be praying for you. What you have blogged so far, is very similar to how I experienced Kenya for the first time. Good Luck. I will keep reading your blog.

  7. thankyou all! mosquitoes aren’t bad right now, but the cold sucks. can’t wait for that african heat! it comes and goes, but they say in the spring it is HOT

  8. Helpful tip i learned on pr camping trips: when rinsing your toothbrush without running water flip through the bristles with your thumb while you are pouring water over it. This cleans it out much faster with less water!

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