Monday, August 9, 2010

Together in Spirit

I returned back to America yesterday afternoon. Patrick and I landed at JFK International Airport in NYC and parted ways. It felt strange being separate, and newly independent for the first time in ten weeks, as he walked away. I couldn't have asked for a better partner-in-service than him this summer. He caught a connecting flight to St. Louis and I am staying in the NYC for a few days to spend time with friends before flying home to Florida. It feels good to be back in the U.S., but I'm already missing Kenya incredibly much.

On the night before we departed, we exchanged gifts with Welliminah and family. After ten weeks of amazingly generous hospitality, Patrick and I were surprised to receive a gift from them as well. We were each given our very own beautiful African kikoi shirt and konga fabric to give to our mothers. They were moving gifts - whenever I wear the shirt I will think of my Kenyan family, their beautiful country, and their warm hearts.

The next morning we were up early to depart. I was proudly wearing my new kikoi shirt. Susan arrived with Okwemba to take us to the airport. In almost perfect symmetry, we ended our stay at Welliminah's house the same as we started - by bowing our heads in prayer. Welliminah said a touching prayer thanking us for our time together and wishing us safe travels until we return to Kenya in the future. I'll never forget what she said: "Our bodies are parting ways, but our spirits remain together." Sitting here in New York, I couldn't agree more, because I can still feel it. On the return flight across the Atlantic, I kept thinking back to our final goodbye in Welliminah's front yard, and I couldn't stop thinking to myself, "Why am I leaving Kenya?". That's how comfortable and natural and alive I felt there. I'm already anticipating the day that our bodies and spirits are reunited once again.

As bittersweet as it was being driven away from Es'saba village in Okwemba's car that morning, there was a large feeling of accomplishment as well. As I took one last look at the beautiful scenery surrounding Kisumu with a clear, sunny, blue sky all around, I knew that we were leaving Kenya better than we found it. And not nearly just because of the success of our projects, although I have great pride in what we accomplished. We were flying away from a new Kenya - a young democracy with a bright future ahead of it, with a new Constitution in tow. The country overwhelmingly passed the new constitution on August 4th, and did so peacefully. As Okwemba, the driver whose interest in politics I profiled in an earlier post, delivered us to the airport, he remarked, "You see, this country now is peaceful and happy because the people have been heard."

Their peace is my own. Their happiness is my own. I will continue to watch Kenya and stay in touch with my family there with much interest in their growth and progress. In the coming months, I will watch as 30 Kenyan students work with 15 American students to promote solutions to the global water crisis. And until the next time I return to Kenya, I will keep their spirit, and my own, alive deep inside my heart.

Myself, Ann, Divo, Welliminah, and Esther the day before I left


Александра Киселёва said...

Recently just came the news recently sgoryaschih schools in Kenya This horror as for such a short time burned so many good schools, I hope it's all ever stop and everything is normal, at least I hope that after all this, the new school will be.

Александр Тетеря said...


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