(reeeally long, but lots of pics)
We said goodbye to Ethiopia and flew into Nairobi, Kenya early Wednesday morning. Mama Florence and Nora (Lameck's mother and sister, who both work at Fountain of Life) met us at the airport. They drove us to a smaller airport, where we boarded a little 10-seater airplane to fly to Maasai Mara for our safari. That in and of itself was amazing - flying in a tiny little plane over Kenya...
(Mathare - the biggest slum in Africa, from the air)
... but the safari was unbelievable. Everything I'd ever imagined about Africa - this was it, Lion King and all.
Our first excursion started right when we arrived (about 4pm). We split up the girls & the boys, of course. We met Clara (Lameck's other sister who also works at Fountain of Life) there and she went on the safari with us. Our driver's name was Charles, and he was awesome! So knowledgeable and friendly. That afternoon we saw...
Approximately 2 seconds after this was taken, they stood up, walked a few feet, began mating, then stopped and just chilled like nothing happened. We followed them and got pretty close.
In case you missed that sweet dumpling...
& hyenas, which are disgusting, but I love the animals against the horizon.
We came back for dinner where we were staying (Siana Springs, and during dinner some of the Maasai came and did a traditional song and jumping competition for us. It sounds funny, but these guys can jump so high - like a 4-5 foot vertical! And apparently whoever jumps highest gets his pick of the village women. Sounds like a deal.
After dinner, we went on a night safari excursion. It was pitch black and there was a big guy with an automatic rifle in our Landrover with us. I didn't take any pictures, but we saw mostly scurrying little things. My favorites were the springhare (aka "African kangaroo") and the dik-dik (aka "cute mini deer"). Then we drove into the middle of a plain, the drivers turned off their lights, we got out and looked at the stars & the drivers made us hot chocolate. The stars were out of control. I have never seen stars glitter and sparkle like that. Words can't come close. God is so cool.
The tents we stayed in were pretty sweet... they had indoor plumbing.
The next morning we got up at 6am for our third & final safari outing. We saw...
baby lion cub
water buffalo (everybody's got one, right?)
(please note cute baby water buffalo)
a bunch of variations of deer-type... things...
& wart hogs. Interesting tidbit: Did you know the wart hog's brain is so small that sometimes when being chased by a predator, they'll forget they're being chased?
After breakfast, we took our little safari plane back to Nairobi. When we arrived, we went straight to Fountain of Life.
A brief history of Fountain of Life. The church was started by James & (Mama) Florence Mwanthi. The two of them had a heart for the street boys they saw all the time, so they decided to start cooking meals for them on Saturday nights. Well, after doing this for a bit, one night some of the boys showed up and asked if they could stay with the Mwanthis because of destructive things happening at home. So James & Mama opened their home, and that was the start of their orphan/street boy care. As more boys began coming to stay with them, they decided to build a home for them. By 2006, they were caring for about 60 boys. Halfway through 2006, James passed away, leaving Mama and her 3 children to care for the boys. The government had been trying to purchase the Mwanthis land from them for some time, but they continued to turn them down. However, a few months after James died, the government came with bulldozers and demolished the church and home in the middle of the night, leaving Mama, her children and all her boys with nothing, on the street. But they didn't give up, and God was faithful. They found property to rent, and in 2008, they were able to purchase new land to begin building a new home and a new church. They are still living in the rented property and having church under a rented tent on the new property, but the foundations for the new homes and the new church have been laid.
We toured the rented facility and then had home-cooked Kenyan food. After lunch, the 34 boys (along with 3 girls who go to school at Fountain of Life) did a presentation in which they sang and danced for us. It was awesome.
Afterward, we got to hang out with the boys - playing soccer, chatting, running around - just getting to know them/falling in love with them.
We headed back to our hotel for dinner & debrief & bed!
Good morning, Kenya.