Saturday, March 8, 2014
Our Journey Begins...
"Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it's the only thing that ever has."
- M Mead
We began our 25-hour journey to Tanzania from LAX on March 6. As we came together, we immediately noticed the excitement on all of our faces as we began the adventure we have all been looking forward to.
Our first leg was to Portland, Oregon. We slept as much as we could during this short flight. In Portland, we shared a meal together and, at a moments notice, we heard the loudspeaker mention our flights final boarding. In a fluster, we booked it to our gate and luckily made it at the very last second.
After we were all settled on the plane, we were still restless thinking about the trip so we continued to play games and watch our favorite movies together. Once we arrived in Amsterdam, we didn’t have much time until our next flight. However, many of us were intrigued to visit Europe for the first time, even though it was just the airport. Although we were tired, giddiness spread as we approached our final stretch to Kilimanjaro Airport. We were all quick to relax as we found our eyes starting to shut.
We awoke to the flight attendant announcing our arrival in Africa. Stepping off the plane was a moment that many of us will never forget as we cheered and couldn’t believe that we finally made it. Right when we got off the plane we were welcomed with a warm breeze and a distinct musty, earthy smell. There were no lights as we made our way through the darkness of the night towards the inside of the airport. Once in the airport, we had to wait in line to receive our visas. We all made it through and grabbed our bags to meet Small Steps Director of Operations and friend, Juma.
It was quite an experience just to drive to the orphanage itself. Those who were their first time realized that the trip was already far exceeding what they had expected. We found ourselves looking through the trees trying to take in as much as possible. People were walking along the street as if their day was just beginning, even though it was around 9 o’clock at night.
Once at the orphanage, we saw a gate, in which was labeled Small Steps for Compassion, and the property just revealed its beauty to all of us. There was also a new building before us and seemed to be almost completed. We were then given a tour of where we would be staying. As we were receiving the tour of the kitchen, we heard a small laugh and we turned to see an adorable little 4 year old girl, Happy, smiling at us. Her eyes were filled with joy as she ran and jumped into each of our arms welcoming us as family. One by one each girl woke to meet the Small Steps Team with open arms. After about an hour of dancing, laughing and holding the girls we put them to sleep. The connection was natural. We were simply overwhelmed by the work of God here in the lives of these girls.
As we ended our day we fell asleep to the sounds of beautiful Tanzania and waited for the next morning to come.