I woke up in Kenya to a World Gone Crazy
I was excited to head to Kenya for my fourth Humanitarian trip. We had plans made and work planned.
The trip to Kenya was uneventful, long and we were happy to see our Masaai warriors waiting for us at the airport. We always feel at home and safe under the care of an impressive Masaai network.
As with each trip our first stop was our bungalow at the Troy Hotel. By the time I made it to sleep it was 2am Kenya time, sleep was a welcome guest after the roughly 35 hours since any measurable amount of sleep.
I have heard for a long time to resist the temptation to pick up my phone first thing in the morning. Yeah, I am not very good at that. So, nice and early I habitually picked up my phone to check the time and submitted to the temptation to check messages. I was bombarded with information about COVID-19. It didn't matter where I looked there were warnings of the virus and then I saw a post about Trump grounding airplanes. I thought, "that can't be good".
At some point in all the information overload my mind made a choice, it was if I went on auto-survival mode. I quit looking at all of the information, there was just too much. I needed just the pertinent information to make educated decisions, not information that would create unnecessary fear. Fear was easy enough to experience without any extra information.
We continued on our journey, and called our contact at the embassy and others trying to get information. We decided that if anything was going to happen quickly the Mara was the safest place for us to be. Lucky for us, that is where our next hotel was. In fact, we were staying at one of the nicest safari camps on the Masaai Mara. The Masaai Mara is the #1 safari destination in the world, and the safari camp we stayed in was very nice. The camp had tents, if they could actually be called tents. They were like a small pavilion with a nice bathroom on one end with stone walls, only this pavilion was sitting over a tent. I spent much of my time outside in perfect weather overlooking a long bridge and a pond. It was strange to think that this whole camp was inside the game reserve, the only thing between us and wild animals was what looked like to me a wimpy wire fence.
We had a choice to make. We could try to get a flight out quickly and travel with the masses, or wait for our flight to be rescheduled once the airlines had things figured out. As we waited for information we stayed to our schedule, washed our hands constantly and social distanced the best we could. We went on safari and visited the Masaai village. We introduced Pearls with Purpose to the women of the village. They are very interested in helping. We were also able to go train women in Nkareta and see how the projects were coming at the training center.
Then came word from the Kenyan Government saying that we needed to quarantine until we could leave the country or 14 days. So we did what we could from our hotel until we were able to get a flight home. We had awesome people taking care of us I will forever be grateful for them. There were times of worry and confusion, fake news was everywhere and we had to work our way through what was true and what was not. But the peace and reassurance I felt that we would make it home was strong and constant.
The hardest day to stay strong was the day it hit me that Dalton was coming home without me. Dalton is my youngest and has been in the Philippines for 18 months serving a mission for our church. As I followed what little information was coming out about getting almost 2000 missionaries out of the Philippines the stress got to overflowing. It was time to take a break, and I did. Lots of prayer, beautiful music and scriptures. And this picture.
I did it again - I woke up in the wee hours of the morning and checked my phone. There I found a post on Dalton's mission page about the missionaries with a few pictures, including this one of Dalton front and center, looking right at the camera. I saved it, shared it and went back to sleep (well tried). The next day the post had been removed. I was so grateful that I had a copy and believe that it was posted for me. It truly was just what I needed. A current picture of my boy, waiting for his flight out. He was on one of the 6 chartered jets bringing home the missionaries. He arrived home 4 days before I did. What are four days, or two weeks, I get him home 5 months early.
The flight we left on was the same flight many of the families from the embassy were on. We arrived at the airport plenty early. Our flight was direct to JFK. I had my own row so I tried to sleep. There was nothing quite like flying in to JFK, seeing the New York skyline and knowing we had made it back home. Even with another 6 hours to fly, it didn't matter I was back on American soil, I could feel it.
Getting off of the flight required more paperwork and our temperature, I must of passed because they let me through. ;) JFK was deserted, it was eerie. No lines at immigration, the only people were coming off of our flight. As we went to get on our next flight many of the other passengers wore face-masks, some were even in hazmat suits, all were social distancing. Again we had our own rows. In Minneapolis everyone was actually asked if they wanted their own row, I'm sure most said yes.
Getting home was so awesome! It was just so strange to not be able to hug Leesha when I saw her. She had everything ready, and went to grab me some dinner. We literally were living on opposite sides of the house. I was upstairs on one end, she was on the opposite end, downstairs.
I realize the 14-day quarantine is only a precaution but one that I was glad to fulfill. It's not because I thought I was going to get sick, because I honestly believed that I would not. The chances of me having contracted the virus were minuscule. When I left Kenya there were only 25 cases in the whole country, I had my own row on every flight and the airports we disinfected and desolate. My feeling is not that I would get it, but what if my some strange fluke I had. I did not want to be the one that brought it to someone else. I had already been in Kenya and worried about giving it to the people there, the thought was sickening. It's not that hard to stay at a safe distance until this passes.
After this whole adventure one might ask if I will go back or even want to travel - Yup I do. I love traveling. Do I want to go tomorrow - Nope.
This trip did one very important thing for me.
It brought me home.
I don't actually think I have been home for a long time.
I have loved being involved with all the projects that I have been doing, being part of others dreams.
But it's time to figure out what I want to do, what are my dreams for me.
And they start at home.
So what will you will see first? Well after family stuff?
Thermal Cooking stuff - more articles, videos, recipes and whatever else I can think of.
Until next time....