For quite awhile I felt as if my heart was at the top of an arc, as if it were a ball tossed into the air waiting to land. For awhile I didn't feel, people kept asking me if I was excited, but I didn't know I hadn't landed yet. Before leaving I felt sad and scared, I tried to keep my expectations low, tried to sound like I knew what I was doing. That I had gathered lots of information about what we needed and that I would arrive fully prepared, like a boy scout with linens. The arc of that ball lasted awhile as we choose to take a week to arrive in Nairobi.
The first leg of our journey took us to the mystical land of Wheaton, Illinois. We spent a few days with Scott's sister, Tara, and her family. We needed to see them before we left and it was just good to be with someone who would facilitate our last little bit of shopping and just tell me where to go. We did get to go on a canoeing trip up the Fox river, which was very entertaining.
The last leg of our safari took us to England for about three days. We spent time with our Aussie friends Elizabeth and Dave; they took us to the oldest pub in England (apparently frequented by the crusaders), Sherwood Forest, and on a walk in the English countryside. And allowed us to sleep as much as we needed. We also took ourselves to see Stonehenge where we shared the experience with 200 of our closest international friends. I would have liked to actually been able to walk up and stand among the stones, but, alas, I don't think experiences like that exist anymore.
Finally we landed in Nairobi at seven am and were greeted by an eternally long visa line, where all our official invitation letters were ignored and stamped right in. Several Tanari staff greeted us with smiles, took our baggage carts away from us and whisked us into the official Tanari van and off to Marcy and Muhia's house. Muhia greeted us in traditional African hospitality with chai and food. We were then left to nap and shower. Our first few days were spent wandering around the small area of Nairobi that we were in and visiting with Muhia and Marcy and their two young sons.
I started orientation on Wednesday night with a dessert fellowship. Scott and I were warmly greeted by the Rosslyn community. As orientation has continued I have been greatly pleased by the hospitality of Rosslyn and the eagerness of all the new teachers and their spouses. I feel like it's freshmen year of college and we're all friendless and eager to not be as soon as possible. I am in a slightly different position as many of the staff live on campus and I do not, and seem to already have built in connections to the Kenyan community with Tanari.
So far our largest concern has been finding housing. We are staying with Muhia and Marcy and enjoying them completely (quite frankly we're not in a rush to get out of their house) and thankful for their insider perspective and their intelligent, insightful answers to our tireless questions. In fact during one evening conversation with Marcy I found myself breathing a sigh of relief and thinking, 'we seem to have landed on our feet.' We've found ourselves torn between being up near Rosslyn, which is surrounded by a wealthy community and being closer to the Tanari office which is in a more middle class community. We don't want to separate ourselves from the average Kenyan by living outside of the city but at the same time it is peaceful, beautiful, and quiet up near Rosslyn. But we would also benefit from the nearness of others down near Tanari. And in all of this wondering is the consideration of cultural context mixed in with our decision.....
So far my emotions have remained suspended in that arc, we have been so busy visiting with new people that I have not processed through our arrival. I have not allowed myself to sit down and fully feel what I need to feel, because I think that I am afraid of what I would feel. Some mixture of relief, finality, and anxiety. To afraid to think that I may regret some of the decisions that we have made, to afraid that I may think, 'what have I done?' Mostly I've been to caught up in the practical (needing a home, meeting new people) to really take time to dig into my heart.
(posted by Lara)