It amazes me how someone could have one of the most exciting, happiest, most loving moment of their life yet have the saddest, most heartbroken moment of their life in the same week. That’s how I feel today. It brings up memories of last year. Today was our last day in the community of Kiu and because of that this blog could possibly be a little longer than usual (even though they’re already crazy long) and most likely a lot more personal from my perspective on the week rather than just talking about what we have done.
We headed into the community early this morning and it seemed like we hit the ground running and never stopped. IT was the final celebration day so that meant goat… Yes, we started the day off with the very humane slaughtering of the goat. Probably the most gruesome event anyone on our team has ever experience but it is part of the Kenyan culture and when you understand that you have a better understanding of the people we are partnered with. This year was much different than last year though. There were more of our team involved with the slaughter this year and some of our teammates truly dove into the Kenyan culture and took the opportunity to do what they have never done before. Girls were skinning the goat and our great friend Kennedy (410 Bridge Kiu Community Director) even showed his true Masai culture by drinking the raw blood instantly after the slaughter. But by far the most impressive of all was our very own Cullen Casey. After skinning the goat, Sammy (410 Bridge Kiu Councilman) , started cutting the goat open to start the extraction of organs and one of those organs was the goat’s Kidney. Whenever Kenyans slaughter a goat, some of the organs are eaten raw from the body. Again, culture. SO our very own Cullen Casey stepped up and ate the goat’s Kidney raw out of the body. Yes it is all on video and he said it wasn’t really bad. I almost lost it filming it…
He has become a truer Kenyan that all of us now. And I think i’m OK with that.
We had a chance to visit a true Masai village in Kiu after the morning kill. We were invited to the Masai village last year after announcing that we were partnering with Kiu. Masai is one of the two tribes that make up Kiu and it is a great honor to be able to be in their homes. Last year the only Masai we experience were one’s that charged to visit their homes in Amboseli Nation Park. Seemed very illegitimate since they made their homes a tourist trap. Today’s trip to the Kiu Masai was very much legitimate and some of the team even got to purchase hand made jewelry from them. Very cool to be trusted by the Masai.
Being that today was our last day in the community, I had several final things I needed to capture for the Reskiu Film so I was not always with the team. After the Masai village a lot of us walked back to the schools and on the way stopped by to finally see Sarah Kisui (Sammy’s wife) at their house. Sammy has done a ton of work to his house since last time we were there and it’s always so awesome to see how proud Kenyans are of the work they do. He had windows, doors, curtains, some furniture, and even a roof when last year it was just walls. We talked in debrief tonight about the week as a whole and of course a lot of people were in tears due to the emotion we all experienced this week. For me, leaving Kiu is heartbreaking. I wish I didn’t have to. One week just doesn’t seem long enough to spend there. Over the past week if you’ve been keeping up with the blogs you read about the sea of children and the joy that is in the children and the villagers here in Kiu and no doubt that alone is heartbreaking to leave. We don’t have they joy in America that Kiu has and it’s hard to explain it to anyone. The only way that any of you will ever understand is if you come and experience it for yourself. So leaving the sea of children and the joy is no doubt incredible hard, but what really hits home is when you have made a personal connection with someone in Kiu. When you have seen how they live and how little they have, yet how joyful they still are and how dependent on Jesus they are, it rocks your world. Leaving that person or people is what I find to be one of the hardest things on earth, even if you know you are coming back. Last year when I had first come to Kiu I experience the joy for the first time, so I knew what to expect coming back this year, but last year I connected with several people on a very personal level and it just so happened to be that instead of all of them being different people with different stories, I connected with a family of 5. Sammy, Sarah, Nancy, Faith, and Kevin make up the Kisui family and over the past two years they have become almost like my second family on the other side of the planet. Since last year I played scene’s in my head over and over again of what it would be like when I got to see them again and when I finally did, it was greater than I imagined. I didn’t get much time to spend with Sarah last year and Faith and Kevin were a little too young to understand everything. But I connected with sammy and nancy on such a level that I found them to be almost like a sister and father that they were such amazing friends. I focused some of the shooting this week on the relationship between Nancy (America) and Nancy Kisui (Kenya) because of the relationship they built over the last two years with being like mother and daughter to each other. We got some amazing stuff and in the process found out that Nancy Kisui actually came to a point where she thought we weren’t going to return. The day we arrived Sammy ran into her secondary classroom and dismissed her, surprising her with the news of us screaming for her from the courtyard. Hopefully you all got to see the reunion between Nancy and Nancy on the video we posted the other day. Nancy, Faith, and Kevin are all adopted but there family is closer than I see some families in the US. Faith was a little older this year and we connected on a much personal level than last year. She may have been the hardest to let go of. Three or four times this week I would be shooting something in the community when all of a sudden my legs would be drowning in a little girls arms wrapped as tight as she could muscle them to. When I looked down she’d be looking up at me with these HUGE brown eyes and she say “I wuv you wobbie”. Talk about a heart melt man. That will give you a perspective on life right there. All of the kids in Kiu are precious but when one comes up to you saying I love you and the look in their eyes is deeper than just an amazement of your skin color, you can’t do anything but pick them up and let them know you love them too. I’d stop whatever I was doing and pick up Faith every time and squeeze her tight until she started giggling and she wouldn’t let me go until she had too. Those of you from Northstar know that the Daraja Children’s Choir will be joining us for a Night of Worship on June 29th. Daraja does two tours a year. One is in the Florida, Georgia, Alabama area and one is in the Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi area. Faith will be on the Daraja Choir in the Fall and I fully intend on traveling to one of their nights to see her. Everytime I think of her I my heart wells up with joy. All of the Kisui family is that incredible to me. I can’t wait to see them again next year.
We had our ceremonial final lunch with the council leaders and school teachers for lunch. It consisted of just about every part of a goat you could imagine, chipati, potatos, chicken, and soda. Basically carbs, carbs, carbs, carbs, carbs. Mmmmmmmm. And as I was preparing my plate, Edward decided I should have more so he gave me a heaping 3 scoops of goat meat. I can honestly say I am very much not a fan of goat so this was devastating in some sense, lol. Luckily I had a great friend that had eaten a raw goat Kidney earlier and had loved the taste of goat meat so much that he wanted to swap his almost empty plate of potatoes with my very full plate of goat. We have all grown very close this week and Cullen became a great friend of mine for this simple act.
After lunch the ladies did manicures and pedicures with some of the Kenyan women while the guys played volleyball. I on the other hand went and shot peope if Kiu telling their stories of how the 410 Bridge and Northstar Church have effected their lives. Hearing local talk about Northstar’s impact was incredible. (I think I need to find some more words to describe joy when I come to Kenya…) I can’t wait to get home and start working on the film. Coming away from this week, I feel like we have finally gotten enough to make a film and tell the story of Reskiu. I missed some of the closing ceremony because of filming as well, but what I caught of it, it was great. More songs, plays, and speeches from the community members, teachers, students (both primary and secondary) as well as the closing remarks from the team. The children made a human wall around us. It always a great way to leave, although a very emotional closing. Leaving the community is ridiculously hard. Hugging Sammy, Nancy, Faith, Edward, Veronica, Francis, Leonard, Moses, and all of the others for the last time until who knows when is so difficult. I can see myself living in Kiu one day for some amount of time, even if it’s just for three months. The people are the definition of joy and generosity in my book and I can’t wait to get back and continue the relationships. Driving down the dirt road out of Kiu when children are running after or screaming at the bus breaks your heart yet fills you with joy. You know that although they have nothing, they have everything. Jesus. That’s all they need. That’s all any of us need. Yet we can so easily be tainted with our society’s idea that we should each be on our own and better than the next. I pray I can come home this year and keep the people of Kiu in mind when I face struggles of selfishness or upset. I hope I remember my friends, my family, the Kisui’s and remember what they have and what they only depend on everyday. I hope all of you one day get the opportunity we have had this week. Next year we are wanting to do two trips to Kiu to continue to invest and grow with our brothers and sister’s in Kenya.
Last night during debrief we of course were emotional. Some of us were given letters from friends in Kiu that we read and you can see that our entire team has been changed. We are now a family together. I know last year’s team can agree that you grow incredibly close with your teammates during this trip and we all can’t wait to share with our family and friends when we come home. In the middle of sharing everyone’s thoughts last night we looked up and everyone’s breath was taken away when we saw an eclipse! We got the staff of the Miryam Hotel to shut off every light in the hotel and the sky lit up in in an awe struck way. There was a breathtaking view of the Milky Way Galaxy and the eclipse assissted the stars to shine brighter than I have ever seen in my life. Billions of stars laid among our team as we laid on the ground with pillows and blankets for hours watching shooting stars and God’s indescribable glory. I will never forget last night for as long as i’m alive. Someone said on the way to bed, “we started the day slaughtering a goat and ended with an eclipse and view of the Milky Way. This day was epic!” And I can’t say it any better. Epic day, epic trip. Now off to Amboseli. We’ll be dropping the next update tonight! Thanks for keeping up. Below are a few photos…