We are on our way home. We left Nairobi at about 5:30 pm local time after being dropped off by our friend and faithful driver, Robert. We had a lot of fun with him over the last week and will definitely miss him.
Today was another good day. We visited long-time friends Pastor Charles and Rose at Joysprings School in Kibera. Kibera is a very large slum with a population estimated at over 1 million people. I believe it is the second largest slum in Africa (I think Soweto takes the number one distinction). Kibera is probably the most famous of the Niarobi slums as well. It was featured in the movie The Constant Gardner and American Idol did something there a few years ago to raise funds, etc.
Charles and Rose and their F.E.T.C.H. Ministry are amazing. The focus on Feeding, Education, Training, Clothing and Health. Since the last time I was there, they have done a major expansion to the school facility. They were finally able to purchase the neighboring strip of land that they have been wanting for a number of years. They rushed to finish construction by the end of the year - they were working on December 31 - so that everything would be ready for the new school year. They currently have 367 students and Rose shared with us that this year is the first year that some of their graduates have completed secondary school and will be attending university.
For any that have been to Joysprings before, don't worry - although it is roomier, it is the same place. It remains filled with love and happy children. Alex kneeled down in the courtyard for a picture with some of the kids and was absolutely mobbed! Rose was her typical classy, genuine and friendly self. Charles remains quick to laugh, still has the gleam in his eye and is fun to be around. While everyone seemed to love Alex's hair while we were in Kenya, Charles was the first person to be over the top about it - in walking from class to class to meet the students, he repeatedly told them that he LOVES Alex's hair and asked them how many of them thought it was cool, too!
It was good to see how their ministry has grown and how the school has progressed. It was inspirational for us in the context of Hope Educational Centre (electricity everywhere, some computers, a library (though it was on a third floor and pretty high up!), extra rooms that could be used to house visitors, etc.).
After leaving Kibera, we decided it was time to take it a little bit easier and start shifting into a traveling frame of mind from the heavy experiences of the past few days. We visited the elephant orphanage in the Nairobi National Park. For 500 Kenyan shillings (US $5), you could go in and see all of the young orphaned elephants and learn their stories for one hour while they played in the mud hole. Alex got close enough to touch a few of them. He also got close enough to get pretty splattered with mud thrown by one of them!
From there, we didn't have much time, so we just got lunch - pizza! - and did a little bit of shopping at the Nakumat Galleria shopping center. From there to the airport where we were pleasantly surprised that my United status gained us access to a Kenya Airways lounge (though we are flying Ethiopian) that had air conditioning!! We had a nice flight to Addis Ababa (the plane was pretty empty so both of us took a row for ourselves) and are now here waiting for our next flight and hoping that it, too, will be pretty empty. We are passing time in an Ethiopian Airlines lounge here. Alex has scoped it out and suggested that because of all the food they have, we should just eat dinner here rather than airplane food!
We have had an amazing trip - much more than these updates can convey. We have hours of videos and hundreds of pictures so that we can hopefully put things together to share the experience and some of the needs. While it is hard to leave, we are really looking forward to seeing our family and friends. We also are really looking forward to returning to some of our creature comforts (like showers that allow you to adjust the water temperature and do not have a toilet in them), though we will appreciate them much more.
Thanks to everyone for the support through funds, donations of supplies and prayer support as we have been on this trip. Without all the support from everyone at home, we could never have done this.