So I decided the last blog I posted was kind of lame cause I was distracted talking to my dear friend and apparently avid reader Alameen (Thanks dude! Miss you!) so I wanted to make up for that.
Anyway today I have exactly one month left here on the mission, so what does that mean? How have I changed? What do I have left to do?
What it means is sadness, a profound melancholy I did not expect. I have created for myself, or more likely it has been created for me, a family and a home. Yesterday the kids, about 200 of them, some watchman, some teachers, and I were watching TV as it was a Friday after all. The show we all like is an English dubbed Spanish soap opera called “In the Name of Love” and when it started everyone tried to sing along to the theme song in Spanish and half way though the younger kids fell asleep, and watching them made me realize how tightly knit all the lives on the mission are. How much love I had for the girls asleep on the floor. It made me want to cry when the kids sang along to the credits.
It also means that a new chapter of my life is about to begin. This time on the mission has felt like a prologue for the rest of my life. It has allowed me to do a lot of good for others but more so for myself. I have grown in ways I never expected and it makes me excited to start the next chapter. Also it has made me feel like I am actually living my life, not waiting for it to start as I felt for many years. I think a lot of people my age feel that way- particularly in high school- that they are waiting for their life to really begin and that it will after college, or when they have a job, or when they’ve moved out or whatever but now I feel like I am constantly living in a present that excites me. It’s an unfamiliar feeling, this sort of happy every day thing, and although a part of me waits for it to fall apart I know it won’t go anywhere if I don’t let it.
Which I guess brings me to how have I changed? Well first off I see an expansive future for the first time. My dad always talked about “ripples”. He was talking about the little things you do and how it can radically change the lives of many others. I understood this logically when he talked about but now I see it in action. When I watch the kids here whom we’ve (we’ve including all who’ve donated) helped it makes me want to scream and run and jump and cry out in joy for the future. I wish I could adequately explain how the world has changed now.
Peter, the boy from Loita who used to walk 30 kilometers through jungle to school, has gone from 27th in his class to 16th in less then 2 months. He keeps telling me he will be second in a few months. Yesterday he told me all about his plans to go to university and get a job to help his family, to get a job to help his tribe, to get a job to help all of Kenya. We even talked about presidency.
I am closest with Peter but I see the change in all of the kids brought here. Davin, for example, who used to talk to no one, has become a talkative and popular girl. She also finds herself in a bit of trouble every so often and although others see a disobedient girl I see the beginnings of a strong young women who is going to question and change what she sees fit. Ian and Junior are too young for my untrained eyes to see much but who knows where they could lead now.
I guess the change in me is I know live what I talked about when I spoke about the interconnectedness of everyone and everything. I can now see it the way others can see math or others can see physics. It is alive and real and physical to me.
I also understand responsibility now. Yesterday Peter asked me how long I would help him, when I asked what he meant he told me that he was scared of having to go home after class 8 because he couldn’t pay for secondary school. I told him that as long as he kept his grades up and stayed in the top 5 of his class I would be helping him. the relief on his face was obvious as was the tension in mine. This is an awesome responsibility I feel heavy on my shoulders. Yet the rewards are so great I finally understand why my parents never kicked me out during my rebellious stage (thanks guys).
I have the privilege of being intimately connected in a young person’s life, and of seeing the possibilities for them they cannot imagine. I can sit around for hour’s fantasizing about they day they graduate from University (hopefully on full scholarships). On their way to some school. I can almost taste the tears that will run down my face the day I hold hands with Madame Grace and Ian graduates and it seems as if it will happen tomorrow, because time is much faster and less forgiving then I ever imagined when I was younger.
Another change in me is I can feel the physical ache of a hunger for life. I sort of felt it before but it was a part of the waiting for my life to start feeling, but now after tasting a bit of what I always wanted the feeling is different. It makes me want to run towards the unknown at a sprint, arms open to whatever I can touch or feel. It’s sort of like I climbed a small mountain in Colorado and now my goal is Mt. Everest because why not?
But also I understand now that I don’t need to be high speed all the time to be living all there is to live. I am just as alive when I am cooling Ian’s tea in the morning, or buying clothes for Peter, or just staring at a sky I swear is bluer in this part of the world. There is no need to be afraid of slowing down, a lower gauge is just as nice every once an awhile.
What I have left to do? Everything.
In the larger sense I have the whole rest of my life to live, and everything left in the world to experience. It’s the less cosmic more physical sense that is killing me.
I still have so much money left to raise for the water project. If I could just get halfway through phase 1 ($5000) I think I might be able to be happy cause then I’d be half way to a healthy community with clean water.
Some of you might be a little sick of me talking about the water project but I don’t know if I have ever explained it in fact so here it is.
The Mission Well Project is vital and practicable. Working together with the Regional Water Commissioner and the Mission Manager, I have figured out how to get to the water and how to store it. More importantly, I have solved how we could provide the water to the rest of the town. I could share with you stories and pictures of puddles you and I would not step in, that young children drink directly from on the side of the road, but I trust you grasp the seriousness of this without a lot of drama and hysterics. It is simple, children get sick and children are dying. This one project will eradicate the 20+ reported cases of typhoid per month as well as the countless cases of cholera, Amoebiasis, Hepatitis E and other water borne pathogens.
Besides the health benefits the economic benefits are enormous. Right now any people go to the river and not only gather the water but sell it to the town. If the mission was able to access the water at a higher rate then they could employ the now impoverished and unemployed women of the town to sell the water at a reduced price, making money for the women and the mission pushing us towards further self sufficiency, not to even mention the immense building progress that could take place in the town as it is a documented fact that with water access comes higher prosperity in small towns. If this happens, and the town expands then the government might start paying more attention and pave the roads, help fix the public school, help…..who knows? The ripples of this could be huge. Will be huge.
But again my eyes glaze over in fantasy.
Man, I can’t believe I come home in a month. See you all soon!
Everyone can start calling my US number around Nov. 10th!