Today. Was. Spectacular. Our experiences today completely exceeded my expectations.
I awoke to a chilly morning in Kenya, complete with chai tea (which we have like three times a day and is absolutely incredible), hard boiled eggs, toast, and bananas for breakfast. We loaded ourselves into the vans for a short, five minute ride to IlTumTum Primary School. Full of anticipation, we drive down the dirt road that led to the school and were greeted by the smiling faces and cheering of the students. We began our day with a short, introductory meeting ran by Mary, IlTumTum head teacher and Renee, WRCC group leader.
Soon after, I began my teaching duties, unaware of the joy I was about to experience. Both Class 1 and Class 3 (first and third grades) hung on every word I said, even through the language barrier. It became apparent that the children wanted to please me and do well. They often smiled at me, waiting affirmation, which was quickly reassured through a high-five, thumbs up, smile, or a quick pat on the back. This innocent gesture touched my heart in a very unexplainable way.
There was a unique sense of respect toward the teachers that caught me by surprise. As I walked into Class 3, the students stood and announced in perfect English "Welcome Kasey to our class!" The environment felt very welcoming due to the kindness of the teachers and students. The children were so quick to give you a hug, a high five, or to hold your hand. They showed excitement in wanting to feel your skin and hair. One young girl told me my skin was "as soft as a baby's."
I felt so much indescribable life through the interactions with these children. Their openness and willingness to love complete strangers, despite our differences, were amazing examples of God's love. I really felt the presence of God through these children.
As is customary for visitors at IlTumTum, I was given a Massai name chosen by the students who got to know me today. You may now call me "Naiserian" (Nah-see-ree-an) meaning "safe."
Renee said this day will change you, and she was completely right. More than ever, I felt God's calling to continue my work with children in the United States and to love others as the students at IlTumTum loved us today. I am so thankful for this day and so excited to see what God has planned in the next six days of our Kenyan adventures.
Sere inna! (goodbye)