I had promised that I would come back and visit the children and staff in Ilula in April since the high school kids would be home at that time. So true to my promise, I went up there for a few days last week. I thoroughly enjoyed the short week I had there. As always, the children were a delight, the staff were encouraging, and my 'family' was welcoming. I had the BEST time reconnecting with the high school kids especially the girls. I was able to sit one on one with most of them and just go through all that they are seeing, experiencing, thinking, questioning as they are now out in the real world. I can see they have a hard time talking to their parents about this as their parents are a bit more traditional and the youth culture in Kenya is changing rapidly. I had a chance to answer questions and pray with them as they continue to be teenagers.
One night, one of the older girls and I got to talking about everything. She opened up to me completely about everything that had happened in her life, all that she was thinking, and how she was processing all of it. She explained to me about how her parents died within a week of each other and how she ended up in Ilula. We talked about the way girls act at school, the music they listen to, and the boys they meet outside. It was a precious conversation.
Just as I was leaving, the girl ran to me and handed me a note. In the note, she explained how much she wishes I could be around all the time talking, telling stories, encouraging one another. She told me what a great friend I am and how much she loves me. She says, "nikole you always make me smile, fill my heart with joy. you are important in my life" AH! My eyes welled up with tears. I was so humbled. So humbled that God would use ME in the life of this precious orphaned girl. Honoured that He considers me worthy to experience a love and friendship like this. Thankful that He has put me in this position. Amazing.
Children eating Githeri (corn and beans) for lunch.
Dennis is the youngest orphan in the home.
Me and my good friend Mercy Jepkosgei. We had a great time catching up as she just came back from her first term in high school. She has been extra special to me ever since I met her. We are laughing at Dennis who can't seem to take a nice picture of us.
Prisca cooking ugali for lunch! This mama just had a beautiful baby boy on top of her 2 biological children and the 24 orphans she cares for. Her laugh is infectious. She laughs at everything.
I had given some treats from mombasa to one of the parents and the little kids were following him around wanting a taste.
Devotions has been one of my favourite times of day since I first came. 50 of them squished into one gazebo so that I could talk to both of them. Their singing gives me a little taste of what heaven will be like.
Chiri and Me. The first night I spent in Ilula I stayed in a dorm with Chiri and her mom. Chiri was only a year old and had never encountered a white. She was freaked. Now she is all grown up and doesn't fear white skin any more.
Luka is a cheeky boy through and through. He is enjoying posing for the camera as he drinks his uji. Uji is a millet based porridge that they drink instead of tea. I really enjoy it and I think it is pretty nutritious.
Timothy is one of the parents' children and is the cutest thing. He has just gotten over the stage of being scared of everyone and is now a delight. We hung out one day together.
Timo laying in the doorway. Too adorable.