Graduation Day

Day 19
Today was a downright exhausting day. It was the Havilla graduation and I had to be up and out the door by 7 a.m. to help set up.
I asked Mila last night if I would have time to get ready after setting up and she assured me I would. So I threw on some jeans and a pullover and was on my way. The site was at an abandoned school across the street from where I live. I stepped through the gate, crossed the road and made my way up a short, muddy road where I came upon teacher Tyson hanging up the decorations I made with Lydia and Virginia. I walked over and helped him finish hanging them up along with balloons. When that was finished we walked the rest of the way up to the school where the ceremony would be held.

It is a large courtyard which would be pretty if it weren’t for the broken down cars and the construction across the street. Tents were being set up and the chairs were pulled out in preparation for the assembly. Ian, Tyson and I sat down and spent 40 minutes blowing up balloons and tying them to trees around the courtyard. When we finished with that project we were sitting down waiting for our next orders when we were informed that everyone would be showing up at 9.  At that point it was 8:15 and I announced quite abruptly that I still had to shower and get dressed! I thought it started at 10! Everyone immediately began laughing so I ran home to get ready. I grabbed a piece of bread on my way to the bedroom and rushed through the motions of getting ready. I need not have worried because the families didn’t actually show up until 11:30.
At home I always joke that I run on Nikki time, I am guaranteed to be an hour late everywhere. Well, here in Kenya, I don’t believe they run by time at all, they just show up whenever they feel like it.
As bad as it was being there at 7 and rushing to get ready, the graduation lasted nearly 6 hours! I dare anyone to go to a graduation and sit still for that length of time and on top of it, everyone is only speaking Swahili. Talk about tough. They had about six guest speakers and every single one took a minimum of twenty minutes for their speech and it was all in Swahili. I don’t know if I’ve ever day dreamed so much in my life.
At long last it was almost over and I had to give my speech. Part of it was directed at the kids though and halfway through my speech I looked back to see the students had gotten restless and it would be silly t o direct the speech to them.

So I had to make up the rest on the spot, and let me tell you, I wasn’t nervous until that moment. When I sat back down I turned to Ian and said “well that was awful.” He said, “no, you did really well. And it was probably the best because it didn’t drag on for twenty minutes.” Relieved at the response I was able to go on with my day without dwelling on how terrible my speech actually was.
After we had gotten the venue cleaned up I stood talking to the teachers a little more. Discinda and Winnie both told me they will miss me so much and truth be told I’ll miss them too. They are the teachers I got closest with and we had become friends. My camera died so I had Bob take a photo of the 3 of us and told him to email it to me and I gave Discinda my address so we can stay in contact via letters. I am so amazed at how close I’ve gotten with the people here in only three weeks. They both kept saying “Dont forget us.” I told them that wasn’t a possibility, I will never forget them. And that’s the truth.
Once I was permitted to leave I went back to the house and spent a few hours talking to Bob and Ian before they both left. It took me a while to defrost from being outsize in a skirt for so long. It actually gets a bit chilly here from time to time.
I know you all are wondering about Ryan and waiting for an update. He was not at graduation today, there has been no sign of him. My heart hurt every time I saw an award that was supposed to be given to him. Damitilla made a comment in her speech to the parents telling them to watch their children over the holiday and keep them safe because there have been a lot of problems with kidnappings. I don’t know if that was in reference to Ryan, but it gave my chills and made me even more worried about him. I think about him often and it would mean a lot if yo u all kept him in your prayers. Thank you.

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