Not to mention we had some very excited little girls in the back seat! As we made our way along, there were so many unusual sights, sounds, and smells we got to experience. We witnessed people riding on the tops of cars, piling on one another into buses, in the streets working, socializing, or just walking from place to place. Majority of the women were dressed from head to toe in colorful cloth, some with massive loads of water or fruit balanced perfectly on their heads. There were children either tending to their daily chores, like collecting water, or playing with one another. Many of the older kids were walking home from school, as their uniforms proved right away. The sounds of people shouting, working, and conversing with one another felt so comfortable and normal. It was nice to see so many people talking face to face as oppose to looking down at their cell phones like we tend to do in America. There was honking in the streets and the very toxic smell of black burning diesel that petrified the air. It wasn’t so fun being stuck behind cars with that coming out of the exhaust for long periods of time! I caught myself contemplating about the distinct differences between the world we live in versus the people here in Africa, but then realized no one can even begin to compare the two places. I feel so ridiculously blessed to have family and friends who love me, to be born into such a spectacular country full of opportunity, a roof over my head, and an abundance of food to eat each day; yet I am often still complaining about what I do not have. Many of the people here struggle to find even these basic necessities, coming from broken families or selling anything they have just to make a small profit to be able to put food on the table. But these seem to be the people who are so happy and thankful for what they do have. Kind of funny how that works right?
A few virtues that I find so admirable in the people here are the strong sense of community and simplicity of their lives. Everyone seems to want to help each other, whether it be playing with homeless children, giving someone a ride to their destination, or simply smiling and shaking each other’s hands. You can always expect to be greeted by anyone and everyone you see! Many are looking just to meet their basic needs, so there is no excess when it comes to food, clothing, living conditions, and more. Even those who have all of their necessities are just very content with that. But the value I admire the most in these wonderful people is their faith. I think every other car we passed by had stickers or pictures all over proclaiming their love for the Lord. Young children in the streets singing songs they learned in school or church about Jesus, and men and women wearing crosses around their necks. No matter what religion, God seems to hold an extremely special place in the hearts of these people, despite all the suffering around them. I know each individual holds a special place in His heart as well! Not to mention on this day more than ever, I came to the conclusion we were all put into one another’s lives for some reason. The people here are ecstatic to see people like us in their country, but in turn, they never failed to make us smile!
We finally reached the Country Lodge in Karatu where we would spend the evening preparing for safari.
Corrinne and I were so excited to have this outing with Happy, Princess, and Maurine, and everyone in the hotel seemed to want to know what all of us girls were up to! Of course, the girls ran straight into the lobby, going to greet everyone they saw.
Luckily they’re as cute as they are, otherwise we may have had some noise complaints! After talking to a nice family from Oklahoma who absolutely loved the girls, a very nice lady named Susan approached us, saying that she overheard talk about an orphanage. Once Corrinne and I explained the founding and mission of Small Steps, she told us that she works with a school in New Hampshire, helping to coordinate trips for students to places like Tanzania and had been searching for an orphanage they could possibly visit sometime in the future. At that point I think it became pretty clear to all of us that God’s plan was working out just as He intended it! Definitely a beautiful coincidence to have all been in the same place at the same time. After dropping off our stuff in the room, we got to sit down for a delicious 4-course dinner. We invited Susan to sit with us, who ended up being a tremendous blessing when our little girls just couldn’t sit still any longer. Much to our surprise, the girls ate almost all of their food, and even got seconds on the yummy potato soup! With our bellies full we headed back to the room for bedtime. What should have been a 10 minute process turned into a 2 hour one. As we tucked the girls into one bed, they all of the sudden turned it into a massive slumber party. Then the fun turned into fear when they realized how unfamiliar the room was to them, and why they were even there to begin with. After lots of tears, we laid down with the girls for a few minutes. The second Corrinne and I stood up, Happy and Maurine decided they weren’t going to miss out on any of the fun either! So for the next hour we had to continue to use our amateur parenting skills to get our exhausted friends to sleep. We put both girls in a different bed, and by 11:30, everyone was finally out!