I’m up around 5. Everyone else appears to be asleep. That’s a good sign.
We get ourselves together and out of the lounge by 6, which is all we’ve paid for. Boy, was that ever worth it.
We have an hour until boarding at Gate 15. We hit some of the shops, which, surprisingly, are open this early. Then I mention that if we’ll go through security and enter the other end of the terminal, which is where our gate is, there’s a coffee shop … instant agreement. We drink our water, since we can’t take it through security, and on the other side, right next to our gate, is a Java House. It’s a well-known chain here, with consistently good coffee. I let everybody get a little something, and the cashier lets me pay in US$, which keeps me from having to hit an ATM or Forex for just this one transaction in Kenyan shillings.
Then next door to our gate, where they’re boarding. Out the door, onto the bus, where we wait for an inordinately long time, but meet a girl from the US who’s traveling alone to join her tour group. We have a nice conversation.
The plane is an ATR 72 turboprop, which seats about 40. We board quickly and get moving. It’s a 45-minute flight to Kilimanjaro, where on approach everybody on the left side of the plane gets a gorgeous up-close view of the mountain. And the team is all seated on the left. Kilimanjaro is the tallest mountain in Africa and the tallest free-standing mountain in the world. And yes, there are snows on it. Very impressive.
At Kili we stay on the plane while the Kili crowd does its business. Some get off here, and a lot get on, so that the plane is full when we leave. It’s just over an hour to Mwanza.
I’m puzzled that we haven’t been through immigration yet. I’ve never had to do that in Mwanza, so I don’t even know if they have the facilities. And the folks who got on the plane in Kili were already in country, right? How will the officials know who needs immigration and who doesn’t?
Well, they do immigration in Mwanza, to everybody on the plane. They take our temperature, and the lady asks where our vaccination cards are. I explain that her government doesn’t require any vaccinations of visitors. Surely she knows that; why is she acting as though the card is required?
In the end she lets us through, and we get our visas stamped. Then customs. The agent opens and lightly checks the 6 footlockers for Tumaini and then waves everything else through.
Then we have to lug our luggage back out onto the tarmac and in a door to the baggage claim. This is the second-largest city in the country, and their airport is, well, pretty much an afterthought, it seems to me. At the baggage claim porters swarm us; if they can get a hand on our bags—bags of 10 Westerners—they can claim basis for a tip. I ask them to help with the footlockers but insist that we can handle our own bags. In the end we settle for a reasonable price.
Rachelle and Katie are waiting for us in the dirt parking lot. Rachelle is the assistant director of the orphanage, acting director while Beth, the director, is on medical leave. Katie is the acting assistant director. Did you follow all that? We get the luggage and the humans into 3 vans and drive 30 minutes or so through the city, from north to south, to Tumaini. The children are shy at first, as is normal for them, but they happily jump in to help carry the luggage.
We begin by showing the girls the 2 housing options. The guest house sleeps 5, with a full kitchen and sitting area as well as 2 showers and 2 toilets. It will be the team HQ for the duration. There’s also a small apartment next to mine a few yards away, with 2 bunkbeds and a single bath with shower. When the girls decide who’s where, we move the luggage and take some time to get moved in.
The hardest part of this arrival day is always staying awake. We’re tired from traveling and didn’t sleep much last night. And it’s a 7-hour time change from EDT. The key to beating jet lag is staying up till bedtime on arrival day. Take a nap in the afternoon, and it’ll take you forever to get adjusted.
Best way to stay awake is to keep moving. So after move-in we have a quick lunch, then a tour of the campus and a time of general questions and answers—just the basic stuff for now. Then some free time until we gather for lunch down on a patio outside one of the missionaries’ houses. Rachelle has made minestrone soup, Katie has made bread and cookies, and the missionary family has made salad and fixin’s. It’s a good meal.
Besides the Tumaini leadership, there are 2 missionary families here. Dan & Jana are on furlough right now; I saw them in Greenville a few weeks ago. It’s their patio we’re having lunch on. Matt & Laura Gass will be heading out for furlough after Dan & Jana get back. They both work with the Bible college and the church-planting network, and not with the orphanage, so while we’ll see the Gasses often enough, we won’t really be working together.
After supper some of the girls do the dishes while the others make friends with some of the children. We have a brief logistical meeting about 7.30, and then I encourage them all to get to bed and get a good night’s sleep. Church tomorrow is at 8.