Sunday, January 18, 2009

Flexibility Required

There's another new post below, and a bunch more below that. Posts will slow down considerably in the next few days, so don't run away! hehehe!
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When I flew to Toronto for my orientation on Monday, January 5, my schedule for getting to Korr was as follows: I’d be in Toronto until Wednesday evening, arrive in Nairobi Thursday night (Nairobi time), have orientation from Friday to Monday, and then catch a flight to Korr on Tuesday morning, January 13.

Ah, but this is Africa, and things don’t always go according to schedule...

At lunch on Tuesday in Toronto, I was told that the rules are changing quickly in Kenya regarding work permits. It used to be that as long as the paperwork was in to the office, it was ok to come and start working. But no longer. They now want to have the paperwork on file for a certain period of time before one is allowed to begin working. The problem is, nobody seemed to know how long that period was. There was, therefore, a question as to whether or not I would even be allowed into the country. The AIM co-ordinator in Toronto told me that it was possible I’d have to hang out in Toronto for a few days, or even, depending on how long it was going to take to get approval to arrive in the country, perhaps fly back home to Vancouver while I waited. HA! And you thought saying goodbye at the restaurant and then walking to your cars together was awkward! Hehehe! Thankfully that didn’t happen, and I got the approval to fly to Kenya and proceed with orientation as scheduled, with the understanding that when I arrived in Korr, I’d just have to hang out for a while – learn some language, get to know the people, etc – until I had the permit to begin working. Well, perfect! I was actually kind of glad of that – it allowed me some buffer zone to settle in and learn a little language, etc first before BLAM-O! I was teaching in a new place, new climate, new language, new culture, with new people. Perfect-o! So off I flew to Nairobi...

But again, this is Africa, and things don’t always go as planned...

When I arrived in Nairobi and went in to the AIM office, I was told that the missionaries I’ll be living with, Nick and Lynne, were going to have to come down to Nairobi for supplies right around the time that I was supposed to arriving in Korr, and could I please delay my arrival in Korr until the 20th of January? OH! Um, sure! I was definitely not complaining about staying at Mayfield, let me tell you!

So I did my orientation, and the short-term co-ordinator here in Nairobi set me up with the ministry in Mitumba for the week and found me a fabulous Kenyan family to stay with while I worked there. While I am kind of itching to get to Korr, I’m really quite grateful that things have worked out the way they have. Had I flown up on the 13th as planned, I might never have known about Mitumba and would certainly have never met Esther and her family, who I have very much enjoyed staying with.

So that brings me to today, Monday, January 19. Up till last night at about 8:30, I wasn’t too sure what was happening today and with my flight to Korr on Tuesday. And then when the co-ordinator called me, I still wasn’t too sure! The missionaries, Nick and Lynne, were on their way down to Nairobi, and he was having a hard time getting hold of them. There was the possibility that I’d be able to drive up with them instead of flying, so he wanted to check in on that, but couldn’t get hold of them. So the plan was made to go ahead with the flight as planned. Te co-ordinator’s assistant, Janet, would pick me up from my homestay this morning, head back to Mayfield, do some last minute shopping and orientation, and I’d fly out on Tuesday morning as planned. Perfect-o! Sounds good!

But this is Africa, and things don’t always go as planned...

Murray, the co-ordinator called me this morning to tell me that he got an email from Nick and Lynne, and that, yes, they would be able to take me (and all my stuff!) back to Korr with them. They will be in Nairobi on Monday and Tuesday and will be driving up on Wednesday and Thursday, probably arriving in Korr on Thursday night or Friday sometime, depending on the roads.

But this is Africa...

They’re not sure if they can cancel my flight with one day’s notice, and they’re not sure if there’s room at Mayfield for me tonight, and they’re not sure if I should stay at Mayfield on Tuesday night or perhaps with Nick and Lynne so we can leave early on Wednesday morning...

So here I sit, waiting for Janet to make all the phone calls and arrangements. I might do orientation and errands today and fly tomorrow and stay with… I don’t know? I guess the other missionaries in Korr until Nick and Lynne get back? Or I might go back to Mitumba for the day today and stay in my home stay one more night (after I’ve already said all my goodbyes! Hehe!) and do the errands and orientation stuff tomorrow? And get to Korr on Friday? Or Thursday? Or tomorrow? Who knows...

Basically I’m just sitting here laughing my head off. I love it! Don’t misread me – I am not complaining at all. I’m actually kind of enjoying the different pace of life and really appreciating how organized everybody is, given the difficulties of communicating and co-ordinating with so many people and in such remote places. Murray and Janet and everyone have been amazing!

AH! My phone is ringing as I type! Hold on ...

...

YES! A plan! They were able to cancel my flight, so I’m being picked up in about 45 minutes, will do some errands this morning, have my last bit of orientation this afternoon, stay with Murray and his family tonight because Mayfield is full, perhaps help Nick and Lynne with their shopping tomorrow, perhaps stay with them tomorrow night, and drive with them to Korr on Wednesday morning.

WAHOO!!! Korr, here I come! :)

... but then again, this is Africa, and things don’t always go as planned...

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

Oh, Hunny! We are reading your blogs regularly and passing them on to Nana. I'll send you an email, too ~ hopefully you'll get it before you (finally) go off to the desert. Love, Ma

Adina said...

Sounds like you're having quite the adventure, Hillary! We are enjoying hearing all about your days in Africa! I'm sure you'll settle into Korr just fine. All the best, and stay safe...