The Final Countdown

Psalms 126: 2-3 “Our mouths were filled with laughter, our tongues with songs of joy. Then it was said among the nation, ‘the Lord has done great things for them.” The Lord has done great things for us, and we are filled with joy.
This is the verse that popped in my mind this morning when we were at breakfast. As we embarked on our final journey for this trip I couldn’t shake the feeling that we were leaving Africa. It felt like it had been just yesterday that we had arrived. But all good things have to end. Today we made sure to end on a special note. We had gone to the orphanage in the morning to visit and hangout with the girls. Upon arrival we were all in for a surprise. The girls had been getting their hair done. And once again it amazes me how much these girls can make us all laugh. The girls had their hair standing straight up. Their braids were out and their hair was standing straight up like Marge from The Simpsons, but in a super adorable way. IT WAS SO CUTE!!!

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As the house moms finished doing their hair we began the best and scariest part of the day, PLAYTIME! Now I say it was scary because the girls were kind of sick. Maureen had unlimited ammo of snot rockets drooling down her nose, and we were the targets. No amount of tissue in the world could stop this boogie train, but we didn’t care. It was the last day, and we were going to get some serious playtime in. There was some playing, merengue dancing and workouts, and then it was time for us to go have lunch at the Game Lodge with the girls, Juma and the house moms. We had wanted to thank all of them for their hard work taking care of the girls and also being so welcoming and wonderful to us. We were wishing we could bring all of Small Steps staff, but some people had to stay and work and look out for the property.

Upon arrival we were surprised to see zebras up close! The girls ran to go see them. But something even better happened, while the zebras started heading back we saw an Army of monkeys in the trees next to us. We took the girls and put them in our arms to get a better view. All the girls were so excited that they couldn’t stop saying monkey! Well, except for Dori who was afraid and clung on to Elivia most of the time. But baby Dori eventually got excited about the monkeys too. We had a wonderful lunch with everybody, and then afterward we went to see some of the other animals at the Game Lodge (peacocks, porcupines and one lone crocodile).

 Our Small Steps for Compassion Family!

Our Small Steps for Compassion Family!

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Then the time came to say goodbye to the girls. There was a pure moving feeling that passed through me as I saw Mama Josephine starting to tear up. And I realized that we’re all going to back home, leaving… but they were staying. It hurt in my heart, but I remembered psalm 126 and a sense of calm came through me. What a wonderful time we have had with our girls, with the staff and with each other. And while it is sad that it is coming to an end, we all have God in our hearts and know that one day we will see each other again. We said our goodbyes and then drove on to the hotel.

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We had about an hour and a half to shower and finish packing at the hotel, and since I was ready I thought it would be a perfect time to buy this Maasai robe that I had been thinking about. Since I didn’t have any schillings on me Doug gave me 14,000 shillings and told me to bargain what I can with it. I mentally prepared myself because I wanted to redeem myself from the last time I tried to bargain. (if you don’t know the story read the blog! Like seriously a lot of cool stuff happened here! So yeah… back to the story.) Well, let’s just say the price started at 15,000 shillings and with my new set of skills it ended on 12,000!! I ran back with excitement like a little boy on Christmas, Screaming THIS WAS THE BEST EVENING EVER!!! When Juma and our driver, Chapae, arrived we put everything in the car and headed to the airport.

Things are a little different here with airport check-ins and security etc. We finally managed to get all our bags tagged and ready to go, and then tried to find a few snacks since we would not be eating a formal dinner. Then after having our passports checked about 5 times in a 12 foot area, we made it to our gate. Well, the room for gates is the same for everyone pretty much (just a big room), they just announce when your flight is boarding. When it was finally time we walked out into the night air, climbed the stairs to our plane and breathed in our last farewell. It is sad and sweet at the same time. Tanzania and the girls at Small Steps will hold a place in our hearts forever.

-Mike