Monday, May 17, 2010

“Don’t Get Off the Bus”

There is a saying in Kenya. “Americans have clocks, Africans have time.” Basically we were warned right off the bat that time was relative. If we were told that something would happen at nine am, it might happen at nine or ten or eleven. In the journal I kept, I tried to keep track of what time we did things at, but in general, I really had no idea. I’m pretty sure that I eventually stopped wearing my watch, as did the rest of the team, because of the frustration. Meals also just kind of happened; we rarely ate lunch, but once we stopped concentrating on the time, we never missed it.

So, with that in mind, sometime that first morning after we arrived in Nairobi, the 15 members of our team loaded into the bus for the first of many drives. I don’t remember if we were told where we were going, probably because it would not have mattered anyway.

Our first stop was Brydges Orphanage. Later in the week, we were going to be taking the orphans on a field trip and had to stop to pay their fees to the park we were going to. After riding in the bus through narrow, windy, dirty roads, we pulled into a tiny driveway.

Jen and Dave got off the bus and told us to wait there, that we didn’t have time to get out.

Some of the children came out into the yard and waved shyly at us, their round faces filled with smiles. Then they were shooed back inside by one of the women who runs the orphanage. She boarded the bus and introduced herself to us and invited us inside. Jen had snuck up behind her and her gestures undoubtedly said, “No, do not get off the bus”.

We graciously declined the woman’s invitation to come into the orphanage.

Pretty soon another woman got on the bus, introduced herself and graciously asked us to get off and meet the children. Again, Jen was motioning behind her back to not get off the bus.

Then Dave came out, climbed on the bus and said, “Let’s go in for just a minute.”

Time is relative.

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