Friday, August 14, 2009

Safari Roadtrip: Week 2, Conference & Vacation

Day 9: How amazing is it to wake up in a resort where someone else will make my bed and create fun breakfasts for the kids?! This morning I woke up totally lost as to where we were. I guess that happens when you’ve slept in 5 different rooms in the same week! Quickly, it came to me – vacation!? How do I do that? It’s been 6 mos at least. I spent most of the day trying to force myself to relax. It was Joel’s birthday today too, so there was lots to do. We kept asking him what he wanted to do, but it seems sitting in the kiddie pool surrounded by other little MKs was bliss enough. I thought he’d at least ask for a camel ride! After Kent saw that Joel was not going to be high-maintenance, he took off for a nap in the room while I read by the kiddie pool. I was really surprised not to see him for another 2+ hours! That was some mid-morning snooze! Then I remembered that it was Kent who had driven (in rough conditions no less) nearly 1,500 miles across Africa. I hadn’t helped with even ONE kilometer! Large trucks with manual transmission for your left hand are not my forte. All in all we rested enough to head into meetings tomorrow. I love the Kenyan coast with soft white sand and corral reef and slow warm waves, baobab, palm, mangrove and frangipania trees. Ahhh!

Day 10: Somehow we forgot to prep the kids for the fact that they don’t get to swim today. Oops. They were somewhat shocked and mad that they have to go to classes today instead of swimming. The team of 20 young people from Calgary who came to minister to our kids (kind of like running a VBS program for them this week) are awesome and wonderful! A few others came along as our worship team too, which has been really fun. Last night we were able to meet our children’s teachers and thankfully they were not at all freaked out by the 1 page, single-spaced, that I gave them on James and how to care for him. They really came to minister to us and our kids and it showed. What a blessing!

Day 11: Okay, it’s harder than I thought to sit in meetings all day while everyone else is lounging by the pool! I don’t know if I’ll get even one swim in today. Thankfully, the kids are loving their new friends in the their classes (most of whom are MKs in Tanzania). Maybe it somehow validates their own experiences – they are not the only “lighter-skinned” people who grow up here. Anna is particularly excited about so many little girls. While others are bawling their heads off at check-in time, my daughter walks confidently in saying over her shoulder, “Bye Mom! I’m playin’ with the dirls!” I couldn’t count how many pictures she colored today. Somehow it makes it easier that they are enjoying themselves while I sit in the A/C and discuss and pray. Our speaker this year is a pastor who has had some great teaching too, which I wouldn’t want to miss.

Day 12: Sabbath!!! What better place to spend a Sabbath than sitting under palm trees, swimming and playing bocce ball in the white sand on the beach. The worship team and pastor provided us with something like ‘church’, and the afternoon was truly lovely.

Day 13, 14, 15 & 16: These days were some intense times of fellowship, prayer, discussion, some disagreements, reconciliation, some confusion, but not a whole lot of rest for sure! Kent had several significant conversations lasting over 2 hrs. Thankfully the kids were having a ball! The other bonus is that ‘kids dinner’ is at 6pm, while the dining room doesn’t open until 7pm, so we had time to feed them and put them to bed and go to a quiet dinner together afterward – like a date night, every night! (with 150 of your colleagues trying to do the same thing…)

Day 17: We finally have some time to swim, sleep, and play with the kids. Praise God for vacation! Really not looking forward to the trip home. Long. Arduous. Hot. Bumpy. Besides in 2 more days I have to have an endoscopy to check out the ulcer idea – really not looking forward to that either. To top it off I feel the cold descending upon me that so many others had last week. YUK! How can I travel across countries while sick?

Day 18: Okay, packing up wasn’t so bad. Kent was so gracious and paid for laundry service – alleluia! (So much better than hand-washing everything in the bathtub!) Now we have suitcases full of clean clothes and are ready to hit the road. Really feeling sick – head cold. I took my heavy-duty decongestant and hoped for the best. We decided, confidently, to skip the insane mud slide of a road and brave traffic on pavement instead. I was mentally prepping myself to help with the driving today. So much so, that I left my purse at the front desk, got behind the wheel, and drove down the beautiful Kenyan coast for 2 hours before realizing the my purse (the ‘everything’ purse) was missing! No driver’s license. No purell after potty stops. No maps. No phone (at all. Kent’s was dead). No game sheets. No medicine for my cold. How many times today has Kent said, “Where’s X?” and heard “In my purse!” So not my day. So many times I thought of Michelle Pfieffer and George Clooney in One Fine Day when she creates 2 impromptu costumes out of the contents of her purse, and he says “Where can I get one of those?” The ‘everything’ purse.

Again, God got us through. I pulled over once I realized I was driving without a license. We had to phone the resort about my purse. Someone had to find it before it was stolen. We really didn’t want to backtrack and add another 4 hrs to our 10 hr drive! If we could call a colleague leaving tomorrow, they could likely bring it for us. Oops we had no phone. BUT we had colleagues on the same route a half-hour behind us, and THEY had a phone! So Kent turned us around and put the kids on point to find our group’s van. Sure enough within 10 minutes (yeah for the slow traffic!) we saw them coming the other way. Kent flashed lights and honked his horn. The lead driver didn’t recognize us. We quickly pulled another U-turn to follow them and track them down. At that exact moment they had chosen to pull into a gas station to fill up! How incredible! We stopped with them, they lent us a phone, the purse was confirmed ‘found’ and would be carried for us the next day. Whew!

That day seemed more like a ‘series of unfortunate events’. After the lost magic purse, exhausted Kent had to drive… again. And we didn’t have maps. We weren’t sure of the distances between gas stations and ended up on fumes in a one-horse town where the locals had to direct us to a friend of a friend with a gas pump across the median full of construction materials. This was not a shining moment of triumphal attitude for me. Then it was lunchtime. The resort offers complimentary boxed lunches. We ordered 5. When we opened them for lunch on the road we found boiled eggs (again! And without salt…), dry white bread sandwiches with margarine OR dry white bread sandwiches with spam. Mmm. We downed what we could stomach and splurged on cheapo ice cream cups at the next gas station.

Lest I digress into despair, we were also clocked going 120 in a 100km/hr (that is going about 65 mph in a 55 – keep in mind this is the middle of nowhere! But to Kenya’s credit they have and are using radar guns to check speeds. This is a relatively new idea here and we were impressed. They had a plain clothes policeman taking makes/models of cars with speeds and then by radio or cell phone having his comrades stopping cars 3 km down the road. Very efficient. Every vehicle but one was pulled off the road with us. =) The one to keep ambling down the road at 30mph had 25 people piled on a pick-up and couldn’t possibly exceed the speed limit. I promised not to digress into only the sordid moments, so I will tell you the ‘good part’. =) Kent pulled every cultural punch he knows while the kids and I were praying in the car. He sauntered calmly over to the police car where 2 policewomen waited to write his ticket up. He took his time shaking their hands and greeting them. He explained how far we had been driving on this trip, asked them if they knew about Bible translation in Kenya and handed them a business card. After asking lots of questions they said they appreciate his work and put the ticket books away!

The last gift God gave us on this dark day was to see a family of giraffe grazing together just off the side of the road with a deep orange sun setting behind them. It was a gorgeous, gracious moment I needed and will never forget.

We pulled into Nairobi at something like 7:30pm as exhausted and hungry as can be. Our adoptive Mom, Dayle, had cooked a gorgeous meal and eagerly awaited us and our munchkins. We chowed down spaghetti and salad and checked into the nearby guesthouse to find only one bedroom, no bed for Anna and no hot water. After the purse fiasco, gas fiasco, and getting stopped by the police, driving for almost 12 hours with few breaks and sick with colds to top it off, we were to tired to care. Yay for the end of that day!

The ‘last leg’ of the journey, week 3, is coming up soon!


Dana said...

Good grief! What an adventure!!

I'm curious what kinds of things you told childcare regarding James. As a mother who will one day be using childcare this made my ears perk up a bit. :)

Michelle said...

Thank you SO much for sharing. I love hearing all about it. And now my computer battery is going to die, so I get to come back another time to catch the next part of the story! Loving it!