"I have loved you with an everlasting love; I have drawn you in with loving-kindness. I will build you up again and you will be rebuilt...and go out to dance with the joyful." - Jeremiah 31: 3-4

Monday, March 1, 2010

Visiting Jackson

I left Kitale on February 14th with a feeling of excitement and anticipation for what was to come in the next three days. Finally, I was going to meet the reason I first developed a heart for Kenya – my sponsor child, Jackson.

We took a night bus to Nairobi and after getting some breakfast, got on a shuttle to Meru. Less than four hours later, after traveling at breakneck speeds down curvy mountain roads, we arrived at our hotel. It was a very nice hotel as far as Kenya goes. There was a great bird’s eye view of the town on one side of the balcony and on the other side you could look out to the mountains and gorgeous landscapes of central Kenya. The sunset was a great reminder of how beautiful our God is and we watched it until the darkness fully took over. It was a relaxing night after a whole lot of traveling.

Tuesday morning at 7AM, Edward met us at the hotel to take us to Jackson’s village. He was a great guy, very professional and helpful. It was slightly comical the way he was trying to tell me and Nate about Kenya as if we had only been in the country for a week. He was pointing out mud huts and the clothing of the people. He taught us words in Swahili that we had learned a long time ago. We appreciated his kindness though. The drive from Meru to the village took about two hours. The distance could have been covered in about 30 minutes if the roads hadn’t been so terrible. But hey, this is Africa.

When we finally got there, I saw Jackson standing by a tree near the entrance of the Compassion center. I immediately recognized him by his eyes.

The Kenyans who run the Compassion project were all there to greet us with open arms. We learned that we were the first white people to ever be in that area and that I was the first person in all of the eight Compassion projects that they organize to visit their sponsor child. Needless to say, it was a pretty big deal that we were there.

We spent some time learning about the project and I got to see Jackson’s folder with all of his school records and information. They also showed me all of the letters I have written to Jackson over the years. It was so cool. I met his mother and the pastor of his church. Everyone was so happy to meet me, but I think I might have been even happier to meet them.

The entire time Jackson was really quiet. He only knew his tribal language so I couldn’t even communicate with the little Swahili that I know. There was a translator there but mostly I just kept smiling at him. I couldn’t help it, he was just so adorable.

After a little while, we started walking to Jackson’s home to meet the rest of his family. We asked how far away it was, just out of curiosity and they said it was “not very far.” So I prepared for at least a thirty minute walk. “Not far” in Kenya is usually around two miles.

I was correct in my assumption but the walk was absolutely beautiful! It was all through hills and fields and there were amazing views. At one point, we had to cross a large stream. All the Kenyans were shocked when I took off my sandals, held up my skirt and walked right across, not caring about getting wet and a little muddy. They even took a picture of me crossing it on the walk back.

Jackson’s home was on about an acre of land. It was a tradition home made of mud and a thatch roof. Again, being the first white people in the area, we were welcomed by most of the community. I loved meeting Jackson’s family. His father was a great man and a hard worker that obviously loved his children. His mother was sweet, soft spoken and very kind. His younger sister, Freidah, was lively and spunky and his baby brother, Timothy was adorable and just kept smiling. He has two other siblings but they were both away at school.

We had a great time talking to everyone and continually thanked them for their hospitality. They were so glad to have us at their home and it was very clear that my sponsorship of Jackson was a huge blessing to them. It was good to see exactly where my money is going and how it is truly benefiting this family.

We walked back to the project and had lunch and shortly after said our goodbyes and headed back to Meru. It was an incredible day and such a blessing to everyone involved. Compassion is a wonderful organization and I was glad to be able to see that first hand. I would highly recommend sponsoring through Compassion if have any interest in sponsorship. Your money will help! I can’t encourage you enough to consider sponsoring a child. It’s such a small amount of money, but it makes such a huge difference in the lives of those children.

That's all for now. Check back soon for an update about my trip to Malindi. Another incredible experience here in Kenya. God never stops amazing me with His plans for my life.

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