Thoughts from Callie

Callie Daniels-Howell, 2009 North Church Youth Trip

I am not quite sure how, but after two weeks this is my first time writing in the blog. I have attempted many times to start a post but have failed every time. Though some of these times were because of distractions, others were because I was simply at a loss for words. But now, as I sit in Lindsey’s and my room with friends, listening to Simon and Garfunkel, I find myself wanting to type for forever.

Fortunately, I will not be leaving Kenya tomorrow with the rest of the group but will be staying with Joseph (Umoja Project director) and his family in Kakamega, Kenya for another week. Last night at dinner, Richard asked me if I was excited to be staying or was ready to go home. Immediately, without much thought, I said I was excited to be staying and definitely wasn’t ready to leave this gorgeous country. However later as my roomie, Lindsey, ran off somewhere (she disappears often), I began journaling and thinking about my feelings toward staying behind as the rest of my group would be heading home. I realized that I can’t possibly go home tomorrow. Though if I didn’t have the opportunity to stay longer, I wouldn’t revolt and refuse to board the plane, I know I would be very upset about our departure. I cannot leave Kenya yet. This is partly because I have fallen in love with the country and also because I have not been able to comprehend any part of the trip thus far. I have loved every minute being here, even through the heartbreaking moments, but I haven’t processed anything I’ve seen or learned.

The last night in Eldoret, Richard told us all that we shouldn’t be worried or pressured about how we individually reacted to the trip because everyone has their own processing schedule. That was something we all needed to hear as we had all been having very different experiences and all express ourselves very differently. I have kept that in mind since then, especially this past week, as I have been so overwhelmed that I haven’t comprehended anything fully since we have arrived. But last night, as I was thinking about my excitement and whether or not I wanted to be at home, I realized that I need to do some of my processing while in Kenya. I think it is important for me to relay the events of these weeks and truly think about them while I am still in the country. One can only be here to truly know what Africa and its culture are like. One can only be here to truly understand the overwhelming hospitality and graciousness of Kenyan people. One can only be here to feel more humbled than it seems possible in a lifetime.

So, though I will be sad to say goodbye to the group who have become my family tomorrow, I need to stay in Kenya. I need to be here and take more in and continue to be around the awesomeness of Kenya, Kenyans, and Kenyan culture. Otherwise, if I am not here, I worry that I will forget. And I can’t forget, for that thought scares me more than anything else (including when I am fed an entire fish, including the head, eyes, and fins, and it is turned so it is staring at me).

I hope that as the group goes home tomorrow and begins to feel the effects of all that we have seen they remember the names and faces of those in Kenya. It’s important to remember them, because they matter. We, as representatives taking in as much as we can to bring home, must never forget the people — we can’t forget Vicdes, Monica, Calvin, Charles, Moses, Katherine, Steven, Joan, Judith, Faith or countless others who have graciously shared a part or moment of their lives with us. As most leave and I start my 3rd week tomorrow, we must prepare our memories to never forget the faces, names, stories, and indescribable moments that we have experienced in these two weeks in Kenya.