DO YOU THINK THIS LION LIKES DUBSTEP?!?
Jambo! It's Josh Swiss and Dougie Barnard. So for a quick roadmap of this epic blog post, I (Josh) will give a brief summary over all the incredible experiences we've had so far. So after what felt like a million hours traveling, we arrived at the Nairobi International Airport. To my surprise, I stepped off the plane and found that everything in the airport was pristinely clean, the floors were vacuumed, everything was polished; while it was an older facility, it was quite evident that it was treated with the upmost respect. This was my first introduction to the Kenyan work ethic; one that embodies hard work and courtesy to all others. We spent the first night in Nairobi in a nunnery and before any of us could believe it, it was already the early morning and time to head out in our vans to the Maasai Mara. The Mara is a huuuge game reserve that we were fortunate enough to explore TWICE with our awesome drivers Erastas, Charles and Cyrus. We saw the big 5 (lion, leopard, elephant,cheetah and at the very end, the infamous black rhino)! Did I mention we stayed at the absolute most ridiculously nice resort? It was called the Mara Simba Lodge and to make a long story short, we were insanely spoiled. These first two days were great for group bonding and seeing all the animals up so close was a sight unlike any other; it is with a heavy heart that I must say the Indianapolis zoo is just not gonna cut it for me any more. In the afternoon of our second day in Maasai Mara we had the great privilege of actually visiting a Maasai tribe. Their leader was named Dickson and he gave us all a very warm welcome.... And proceeded to humiliate our un-athleticism when we competed in a ritualistic competition of jumping. Actually, Dougie held his own in the competition haha, it was kind of awesome! There was so much to learn from these great people which mr. Doug E. Fresh will cover in a minute. This morning we left the Mara and ventured out 8 hours on the roughest, bumpiest, would destroy any of our cars at home-- road. At the end though it was well worth it, on our road trip to Eldoret, we passed through the Nandi Hills which may have very well been the garden of Eden. Honestly, no amount of words could really do the sights justice, it was just vast sprawling vegetation; the most incredible hues of green that you could possibly imagine. Wow... I'm still taken aback from it. Also, we metDr. Joe Mamlin tonight. I'd could write a book about how moved I was by the work he does, but to save you the time, Ive just got to say he is a great man. To finish my part up here, I just can't say enough how thankful I am to be here. Though I've been siked about this trip for a year, none of my anticipation or fantasizing could really encapsulate how good of a time I've already had.
--NIAJE. This is yah boy Dougie Doug with the breakdown of some of the best moments of this trip thus far. Yesterday we visited the Masai and it provided us with a plethora of interesting moments to digest. Dickson thought I spoke Swahili and said "swali?" (question?) to me every time we got together as a group. It was fascinating to learn about the Masai culture and way of life. Walking into the mud huts had a profound impact on me. It is hard for me to fathom and comprehend the simplicity, small size and darkness of their homes. The Masai experience was very captivating in that they welcomed us as guests, sang, danced, and jumped with us, showed us their homes, and swarmed on us like a pack of wolves to sell us merchandise on our way out. And yes they pretty much took Josh's college tuition money by taking 1500 shillings from him in exchange for fire making tools (two pieces of wood). What a deal. The Masai experience didn't hit me until we reflected as a group that night. We discussed how the men have many wives and how young women have arranged marriages at age 15. My mind was spinning and emotions were surfacing when Obi One (Ken Kobe) dropped some wisdom that was a trigger point for me. He said something like, "Visiting the Masai was an experience that you'll take with you forever. It's hard for me not to get emotional about this (awww). We are all just so lucky to be alive. When you're on your deathbed you will look back at the day you had today." That pretty much did it for me. At that moment two things happened. I fell in love with this trip and I fell in love with Ken Kobe. It was the first time I've felt vulnerable on this trip. I didn't see it coming and my heart was pulling in two different directions. In my head I pictured a mud hut of the Masai right next to my now seemingly gigantic home. I felt guilty about all that I have. My heart bled for the Masai especially the women because of the freedoms they will never experience (example: freedom to choose a husband). Next my mind traveled back home to my sister Eva. I thought about where she came from and what a miracle it is that she is ours. I thought about where she might be today if we hadn't adopted her. That destroyed me inside. All of these thoughts overwhelmed me and I needed time alone. I returned to the room after our reflection and let it all out. After thinking and reflecting and listening to the songs Waiting on the World to Change and Waka Waka I came to the realization that my purpose on this trip is to shine my light on others (kenyans and members of our group) while also shining light on myself. If I can do those two things to the fullest, there will be no walls holding back my mind and spirit. The Masai are not worthy of my pity for this will solve nothing. Rather, the Masai are worthy of my respect and understanding. McKayla put it brilliantly by saying, "Our lives are no better than theirs- just different. I learned to transform my guilt for the insanely awesome life I have into inspiration to transform the lives of others. The tears that rolled down my face took with them the mask I've been wearing. I no longer felt distant, uneasy, guilty, or helpless. For the first time my spirit came alive and I'm so grateful to have truly connected with myself. When we feel overwhelmed and emotional and are not sure what to do with our emotions, the first person we need to share our feelings with is ourself. Long Live the Masai for they taught me an invaluable lesson.
Tonight we met Sarah Ellen and Joe Mamlin. I have heard countless things about the beauty of these two individuals. I went into our get together aware that these people were amazing but I wasn't sure what made them so special. Tonight I was in the presence of two angels. From listening to Dr. Mamlin speak I connected with two awe inspiring conclusions. The first is that DM (Dr. Mamlin) sees no end in sight. He has goals and dreams that pave the way for more goals and dreams. His attitude of not being content with getting rid of AIDS but rather next focusing on establishing clean drinking water, sustainable farming methods and ways for all kenyans to receive the medical treatment they need is an attitude that is common among heroes of this life. DM also manages to maintain a humble heart that expects nothing in return for the work he is doing. He is one of the most selfless people I've ever met. What most impresses me about him is that despite his achievements and triumphs he has no ego. He doesn't think of himself as any better than any other human being. He also taught us a new word: fltr. Find em, link em, treat em and retain them. He and Sarah Ellen are proof that one couple can love what they do and change the world at the same time. After listening to him I have accepted the attitude that Nothing is Impossible. And it's a great feeling.
This concludes Day 3 of our trip. Thanks for reading. Lala salama.