The Veranda

Thank you Writeworld for giving me a prompt to start writing again, it’s always fun! So here is a little short story for those who care to read it
Writeworld mission: Write a story, a description, a poem, a metaphor, a commentary, or a memory about this sentence. Write something about this sentence.
“Even your own body hates you.”

Transformation days are the worst. Even your own body hates you. Every emotion and nerve ending is amplified nearly beyond bearable. Not only are you a mass of overwhelming emotion, but a roiling tumultuous ball of pain as your body is warped and maneuvered to fit the mold you designated. Even thinking about transformation days make my stomach heave, but that is life here in the Veranda; fix all the flaws, make yourself into perfection, choose the right mold and live ‘happily’. Happiness is an act. The Verandans fool themselves with jewels and food, parties and intrigue, but they don’t understand happiness like those who have lived in the fringe. Still, we put on this facade; it looks like we have it made, and every day there are more and more Fringers that try to sneak into the city. Maybe if they knew just how much pain we put ourselves through for a fake happiness they wouldn’t try so hard to get in… I know I would have stayed in my hovel in the forests of the Fringe.

The Hills are alive! With the sound of music.

What do hiking, the Sound of Music, sandbags, and cold have in common? Today in the Ngong Hills

Compared to Longonot, the hike today was awesome (at least for me).  The temperature was cool, even cold at times, windy, and cloud covered.  Our hike was not as long, nor as strenuous.  There was however the 10 kg (22 lb for Americans XD) that weighed down my pack.  Honestly, after today I hate sandbags… infinitely. Next weekend we’re doing the same hike, same weight, but since we’ve done it once already… it should be easier.

The Next Weekend
Well the hike this week was definitely easier, same place and same hike. I actually kept up really well compared to the last week when I seemed to be dying every now and again.  The downside of this week’s hike was the sun. It was out and cursing our existence. Still, overall a great hike.
The Last Prep Hike
I don’t know how far we walked… all I know is it was nearly 6 hours of hiking. We started away from the main base of Ngong,back in the country somewhere.  In the beginning it was all like, oh yay! it’s easy.  We went through a lot of greenery, attempting to follow a mix of cattle trails and human trails, as well as making our own.  When we got down to the river gorge I thought we were getting close… No. the hike following the river (dry) was the longest part of our hike. So sometime in this gorge I get a thorn in my shoe.  I thought it was inside and so I ignored it for quite a while, it wasn’t consistently pricking my foot so I thought I could manage.  Eventually though, I got tired of the pain and took my shoe off to get it out… it was much to my agony and horror to find, after putting my shoe on and walking a few steps that I did not complete my task.  From then on it was a constant annoyance.  As I climbed to where our bus was 2 Corinthians 12:7 kept popping into my head. “And lest I should be exalted above measure by the abundance of the revelations, a thorn in the flesh was given to me, a messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I be exalted above measure.” I was honestly a little bit pissed at God because after all I did stop and try to get the thorn out so I could hike properly.
At the bus we ate, and I again took off my shoe to fix my problem.  I think the worst part of the entire hike was what came next.  Normally hiking up to the rocks is a good part of the hike, it’s when we are fresh and ready to go… Today our beginning became our end. We struggled and dragged ourselves up the hill (the thorn was still in my shoe) We all made it there and back down, utterly worn out.
It is then that I take a good look at the bottom of my shoe… THE THORN WAS THROUGH MY SOLE. Legit, this stupid thorn worked its way through the bottom of my boot and was pressing against my foot through the bottom of my shoe.  The worst part is I have yet to successfully extract it, and I need these boots for next week…

This is the Story of How I Died

A quick Breakdown of Mt. Longonot:
3.1k climb to the rim through dust
7.2k climb and descent around the rim
3.1k back down through a dust storm of your own making

Honestly I loved the hike… once I was on the descent. The ascent to the rim of the crater was definitely a time when I questioned my existence on the planet Earth.  I have a problem with starting way too fast, so by the time I got to the first gazebo (end of the first ascent) I was not ready to continue going up… I honestly considered going back, just because I knew it was going to take determination to get up the next ascent.  Thankfully, about this time, I stumble across Keith who, like me, started off too fast.  We were possibly a very pathetic sight.  so for the rest of those 3k Keith and I pushed ourselves up to the rim, stopping probably ever 4 meters.  During this whole time I thought I was going to end up puking… but I didn’t

The rim was victory number one.  Which we celebrated by sitting in the gazebo, catching our breath, and drinking some more water.  Then came the next part of our journey… the rim.  Comparatively, the rim was not nearly as bad as the first ascent, even though it was a further walk.  The worst part of the rim was the climb to the summit… from there, I declared it was “all downhill” which was a lie. There were more ups and downs, each one bringing us a little closer to the final descent.

The second arrival at the gazebo was greeted with jubilation, and lunch! after a quick apple and water we headed down for the last 3.1k stretch with the students who were in front of us.  The descent was my favorite part. Granted my toes started hurting and I was basically taking a dust bath like a chinchilla, but a bit of running and jumping and not having to drag myself up another hill made it my favorite.

So the moral of the story is, GO! Go find an adventure and finish it, because once the end is in sight, you can forget most of the horrible stuff that happened on the way.

Ash, Soot, and the Fires of Mordor

The first long weekend of the school year, a time longed for and cherished by all.  AND I SPENT IT CAMPING!!! Needless to say it was epic amounts of fun.

Our weekend off group that went adventuring in the Chyulu Hills included the Doss family (Richard, Hadassah, Zivah, and Zhara), The R’s (Lari, Robyn, Larissa, and Zander) and four SMs (Me, Jacqui, Katie, and Macy).  So despite the long and grueling car ride, where Larissa and Zander found it most enjoyable to bicker and whine (mainly Larissa) we made it no worse for wear.  Haystacks and setting up camp as well as discovering the “toilet” completed most of the night’s activities… MOST. By some twisted turn of fate, Macy and Katie ended up next to each other in our tent… basically Katie stole Jacqui’s spot.  And there was a battle. (aka we were up a while longer and Katie hit people)

Once the next day came, we were all quite sad about our campsite… it was very… lame. So after adventuring in lava tube caves (Jacqui tried to die about 3 times in the last one) we all emerged from the darkness into the very bright world.  Upon concurrence that we would stay both Friday and Saturday nights we set off to pack up and move.

Now for the fun… Riding on top of the R’s car… GLORIOUS! Wind in my face, sun on my skin, and off roading to boot.  We traveled

I personally love this picture

over hill and dale, fearless explorers, going where no one had ever gone before… ok that last part was a lie.  However I still felt epic sitting on the top of the car.  Next in our epic journey were the fires of Mordor… An exaggeration of course, but as it was Lord of the Rings weekend and the hills were on fire (spontaneous or intentional I don’t know but there was a lot of fire!) I decided that the Fires of Mordor was an apt description.  We could hear the crackling and see flames, there was so much smoke that it turned the sun orange.

After much toil, travel, and ducking to avoid tree branches, we arrived at what would become our new campsite.  What drew us was the amazing view of Mt. Kilimanjaro… if it weren’t for that I don’t know that we’d have stayed there.

Why you may ask? Soot, ash, EVERYWHERE! Our feet and hands were covered in black charcoal.  The land there was recovering from a fire similar to those on the hills, set to get rid of the old grass so fresh nutritious grass can grow.  We were a sight to be seen when we left.

Definitely the best camping trip thus far and to quote Katie it was a “Buttload of fun. I’m going to bring some White Bread next time. Maybe Iced Tea too! Can we go see the Flamingos?” Hahaha oh if only life was always so carefree and fun!

So after many pictures of Kilimanjaro, lazy chats around the lantern, songs about the bathroom, and meeting some Masai guys, we left our temporary haven for work and showers.

After less than two months I feel like I have lived more than a year at home. Truthfully, I don’t know how I’m going to leave, Africa is becoming more and more a part of me… but we’ll cross that bridge when we come to it.

Fare Thee Well

Our First Campsite

Our Second Campsite

A week… maybe two… and a half

The close of another week… with some rain. I’m sitting in my office, just watching the guys play soccer as the rain falls… it’s actually a pretty cool scene. I wish I was out there playing…

^That was a week ago haha Apparently I can’t keep up with a blog to save my life…
Well, to recap, I have thrown a cat out of the dorm several times, seen baby elephants, gone to town, played volleyball in the rain, and overall done normal stuff.

The hardest part of every day is getting one of my students out of bed and on her way to class. Honestly I believe it is one iota shy of impossible to make sure she’s on time for classes, but one can only hope she will eventually make it to breakfast on time. I can wish, hope, pray…

This weekend was my weekend off, which means I got to venture off campus and have some extracurricular fun.  Thanks to the R’s and the Doss’s Me and the three other SMs off had a blast.  We witnessed the beauty of the Ngong Hills; handmade beads painted in beautiful colors; baby elephants that were so adorable; glassware being made; and I walked on a sketchy bridge (obviously my camera was with me the entire time).

When I’m not off scampering the Kenyan countryside like a crazy person, I seem to always be hiding out in the dorm… Not that I mind, I actually enjoy the time I get to spend with these girls, as obnoxious as they can be… I thank God daily that he’s pulled me a long way with my patience. I know I couldn’t keep my head and my temper in check if it weren’t for his guidance and the example of his love. Every day I have to ask again for his assistance but day by day it is getting more and more routine. Thank you God for that… Anywho, I love you all and miss you too 🙂

Laters!!! ~Taylor

And so it Begins

Habari ya jioni! Good Evening! Thank the Lord it is almost Sabbath! For general information purposes, I have a very hectic and long schedule. My normal day begins at 5 am, when I come into the dorm, and ends at 8 pm when Mrs. V (the principal and current dean) takes over for the night shift. The only time this changes is on Wednesday, when I go from 5 am-11:30 or midnight, and then do my regular shift on Thursday… pretty crazy, I was definitely in zombie mode.  Other than the long hours and the continual confusion, I love my job. I love the girls here. As anywhere, there is a huge variety, some are ridiculous wimps, some scream a lot, others are very studious, and all of them have many talents.

This week contained plenty of fun, from pulling a drowned gecko out of the bath tub drain where it had gotten its head stuck, to almost being hit by a matatu driver. I’ve been printing and compiling records, forms and schedules like… an office secretary on excessive caffeinated beverages, but without the luxury of caffeine. It’s still nice and cool here, I’d actually like to build a fire in the fireplace for funsies.  Thankfully today is Friday and the girls are getting this dorm cleaned up (there have been boxes down from the attic all week that were really getting in the way).

The only thing I don’t like is being continually separated from the other staff, I’m often in the office alone working on something or, like now, writing. I also have one student, whom I love profusely, but it will be very hard to have patience with her. Every day I pray for extended patience to help her.

Now a few hours later, I again come back to the reason I’m here.  Tonight after vespers, we had one of the best afterglows I have ever experienced.  We sang and read some bible verses and then refreshments. However, as the students were getting refreshments, our group of SMs, joined by Richard (the boys’ dean) began singing in a small circle. At first no one else really sang with us, but soon we had expanded our circle to include nearly the whole area that afterglow had been held in.  We just kept singing until thirty minutes before lights out for the students.  It was truly beautiful for all of us to be there praising God on this Sabbath evening.

Fare Thee Well