Hello everyone! I am emailing from the Post office (Posta) here in Kitui. The past week has been exhausting physically, mentally and emotionally, but the downs are pretty equally balanced out with these amazing "I can't believe I am in Africa" moments.
After flying into Nairobi and staying for a few days at a guest house there, we went on to Kitui. Since we had been confined to the guest house in Nairobi, the ride to Kitui was the first we had really seen of Kenya. The land was just so incrediblly beautiful that despite not having slept well the night before, I couldn't keep my eyes off the scenery. Whatever you have seen or thought about what Africa and Kenya would be like, that was it.
In Kitui, we stayed at the training center for a while before meeting our homestay families. My family is just my Mama (mama is a term of respect for all middle-aged women here) and some men who work on the shamba (farm). We do not have running water or electricity, so I take my baths in a bucket, and study at night by parrafin lamp. My Mama lived in the UK for a while, so she speaks very good English, but the men who work on her shamba don't really speak english, so they are really eager to help me learn kiswahili, and I am very glad for that.
I have found that my name is very hard for many Kenyans to pronounce, so my Mama gave me a name in Kikamba (the local language for Kitui, and the first for many people here, kiswahili is the 2nd), so people here are calling me Mwende, which means 'loved one'... she gave me that name because as we walk through town, everyone wants to stop to greet me. I have learned enough Kiswa to greet people, tell them what my name is, where I am from and to ask the same of them, but beyond that, when they start rattling off in Kiswa or Kikamba (I can't tell the difference yet!), I just have to shrug my shoulders and say "sijui" (I don't know).
Training is going to be overwhelming for a little while, I can tell. THey've given us loads of work, which is hard to do when you're just trying to adjust to everything being so different. But I am sure that as I become more comfortable here, I will cope better with the work load. At least I have really wonderful co-trainees, and we have already been helping each other through the rough parts, and I can tell that they will soon be like family to me.
I should get off the computer so I have some time left on my card to use later! I think I may be getting a cell phone some time next week, so I will put the number here so that you can call me! It will cost you money, so pole ('sorry' in Kiswahili), but I can get calls and text messages for free, so feel free to call just to say hi!
Also, feel free to write me, I promise that I will write back, as I get lots of free time! I usually go to bed around 9 (with no electricity, there's not much to do after dark!), and get up around 6, so in the evenings, there is not much to do but study my Kiswa and write!