It all started on a road trip to San Francisco with my Grandpa and cousins. We were talking about my most recent trip to Kenya and I casually mentioned to Sunny (my then-16-year-old cousin) that we should plan a trip together over her Spring Break.
Fast forward about eight months and Sunny had saved enough to pay for her flights and raised enough to cover the rest and my bosses had been remarkably generous with my schedule (and trusting of small town wi-fi) and there we were, on the first of many flights that would take us to Kitale.
Three long, crowded flights later, we arrived in Nairobi. After a small issue with the lack of a printed visa, we collected our bags and were greeted by our friend Denis and his friend Charlie who took us to our hotel. (Of course, stopping for waters and french fries at the gas station on the way...as has become tradition.) We swapped stories about our lives since we'd last seen each other and made arrangements for a day of site-seeing before we catch our flights back to California...at one point, Denis stopped me to say, "Oh, you must be so excited to see Suzie!"
As excited as we were to have arrived, we were more exhausted from travel. We notified our parents that we had arrived safely and fell right to sleep.
The following morning, we had a quick breakfast and jumped back in Denis' Land Cruiser to catch our flight to Eldoret. We arrived in Eldoret and were greeted by our dear friend Mike, who works for Sammy at Precious Kids Center. He'd made the trip early that morning to pick us up from the airport and would take us directly to the Center to see the kids.
On the roughly 90-minute drive, Mike asked about our friends back home (mostly Cody and Jason) and told me stories about many of the kids. At one point, he stopped mid-sentence to say, "Oh, you must be very excited to see Suzie! She will be very happy to see you, too!"
We pulled in to the Precious Kids Center compound, thanked Mike for picking us up, and ran right inside to say hello to all of the kids and House Moms. I loved wandering from couch to couch hugging children and Mamas, some confused about what I was doing there, others as excited as I am to be together again.
Suzie playing it cool when I first arrived...
Dorcas immediately attached to our hips
The wonders of the front-facing camera. Suzie was killing me with the faces she was making.
The sweet house moms reheated some lunch for us (rice and lentils!) and we parked ourselves on the kitchen floor to eat. Slowly, but surely, we were swarmed by friends.
Sunny jumped right in! She has been working to learn names--and even a little Swahili--to connect with people as quickly as she can.
Quinta loves her!
Dinah, knowing she's too cute to turn down, crawled right up in to my lap and asked for a picture.
Quinta, Christine, and Zablon
And, the moment I'd been counting down to...a good snuggle with my Suze
I can't believe how big some of these girls have grown in the last year! Look at Maureen and Ericka!
We've known Ericka's family for years. Here she is (in pink) in 2009 posing with her family outside of their home. Her mother passed away around Christmastime this year, so she came to live with her older sister Lucy at PKC. She's so sweet, and so beautiful...and her English is really incredible for such a young girl!
After lunch, we headed to town to get groceries (and internet, of course) and then back to the house to make beds and get situated before nightfall.
When we were settled in, we made dinner and sat down to watch a movie, willing 8:30 (the time we had decided would be a reasonable bedtime) to come quickly. Around 7, the power went out, so we sat with a few solar powered flashlights pointed at the ceiling, scrolling through photos from the day and talking about plans for our time here. (The power was only out for 20 minutes or so--just long enough to be fun and not a total inconvenience.)
At 8:30, on the dot, we turned off the TV, washed our faces, brushed our teeth, and climbed in bed. Ready for a good night of sleep--and excited for two whole weeks in this town!