The Blue Bus

IMG_3196Our few days of rest and recovery from jetlag at the Mayfield Guest House in Nairobi ended on Tuesday.  We wake early to enjoy breakfast and to give ourselves time to thoroughly pack up the room, which is covered in clothes, toiletries, now brown shoes, etc. We bring all our belongings outside and pile them up, waiting for the buses to arrive that would take us to Nakuru. “Us” is nowIMG_3188 about 35 adults and 23 children, all who are new missionaries to Africa with AIM. Nakuru is a place that’s about a 3 hour bus ride from Nairobi where we’ll be spending the next 3 weeks in orientation to culture and ministry in Africa. The kids run off to play with their newest Uncle Chris. (Chris is a new missionary too, he’s one of AIM’s infamous shepherd boys in Lesotho (leh-soo-too), {read about these awesome guysIMG_3170 (2) HERE} but he’s single without kids of his own yet, so he is the perfect addition to this group where the children far outweigh the adults. I should give Chris a blog post all to himself in order to adequately cover his God-given gift of supernaturally adoring, creatively entertaining and including all ages of children…but this is my blog, so he only gets a few lines…for now. :)) We’re all checked out of our rooms so everyone’s pretty much just hanging around all the common areas of the guest house, playing cardIMG_3868s, checking email, getting to know each other, and waiting for the buses to get there, so the guys can start loading them down for the trip. The buses arrive and we are all happy to be moving on to this next step in our journeys. The guys successfully toss, hoist, shove, push and pull all the luggage to the top of the buses. The luggage is packed. The lunch bell rings. We enjoy our last round meal at Mayfield and begin the process of finding our way onto the buses.
The ABO leaders have assigned us to 1 of 3 buses.  There’s the green bus, that’s actually blue in color. The blue bus, that’s white. And the red bus, that’s also white. While this may sound confusing, and it was, you can quickly decipher which bus your family is in by looking up top and finding the luggage that belongs to you, piled high and roped in. I spot our red stroller and the purple-ish duffel with the floral print that looks like it will fly off with the first big pothole and I know which white bus is indeed the blue one, our bus! Everyone has previously toileted and has chosen the perfect seat on the bus, whether up front for those with motion sickness, or all the way to the back for those who still find riding on a bus to be an exhilerating experience when shared with friends. We’re set and ready to go! As we pull out onto the main road, I have a fleeting Kate McAllister (Home Alone) moment when “Sutton!” runs through my mind and I have to double check with a parent further back in the seating arrangement to make sure my middle child did indeed make it onto, yet also never exited, the bus. No worries, he’s there, safe and sound, just shorter than the seats, and being quiet. Whew, just dodged my first big parenting fail in Africa. With the red bus leading us and the green bus pulling up the rear of this caravan, the happy chatter amongst everyone begins and we press on toward our destination. We make it approximately 4 blocks away from the guest house, when we, the blue bus, are stopped by a Kenyan police officer. Red and green speed on down the road, literally leaving us in their dust. The armed officer pulls us off the road and asks to see our driver’s papers. And wouldn’t you know it, his Music Copyright Society permit expired in December. Nope, not making it up. His MUSIC COPYRIGHT SOCIETY permit! While I would like to say that this situation was a surprise to us, it really was pretty par for the course when traveling in Africa. The government there makes money on all sorts of ridiculous things they require of you in order to own and operate a vehicle. This was one of those things. Apparently, you must have a permit in a public transit vehicle to play music from your radio….something or another about musicians getting their due? I still don’t really understand. What I do know is that during that 2 hour, yes TWO hour delay, the 2T/3T Superman undies got the worst of the deal again. Nate may argue, that due to the lack of toilet paper in the bathroom where he rushed Beckett Boo, it was his tee shirt and the bathroom itself that got the worst of it, but I’ll leave that debate for another time. After a quick bath with the remaining wipes in my bag, a change into a pink Doc McStuffins pull-up from a fellow passenger and some hot pink 3T leggings that a friend in front of us was generous enough to share, our manly little fellow is back up to speed and happy as a clam. About an hour or so into the delay, our bus driver, who’d been taken away by the armed officer, returns. Our hopes are raised only to be dashed as he grabs something from the bus and heads off again without a word. The kids play their devices, the parents talk and the singles sleep. The kids realize we haven’t moved in a while, ask some questions, are appeased with our answers and go right back to their iPads. The second hour passes and everyone is still cool as cukes about the whole situation. Right before our bus driver returns, this time for good with the new MCS permit in hand, the bananas-for-sale-atop-her-head lady stops by our bus. Right through the window, one of the dads snags a dozen sweet little bananas as snacks for our 11 little 8 years and under passengers and we’re ready to roll again. We celebrate as the bus engine turns and the wheels on the bus once again go round and round. If you ask me, we had more than one reason to celebrate in that moment. If you ask me, I say we all had our first test and passed. No complaining. No whining. No worrying. As soon as we’d stopped some of the guys hopped right of that bus and started making friends with the Kenyan taxi drivers who were waiting beside us…missionaries in action. The moms were able to joke about potty training in Africa. The dads sang songs with the kids. Our glasses were indeed half full as we relished in the fact that it wasn’t a hot day, but instead cool and breezy. Nate, Mr. Prepared, was able to change into the fresh tee shirt he’d packed in a pillowcase for the ride, and even had a ziplock baggie for Superman to stay in, sparing us all from otherwise having to endure that unwelcome scent. The wheels went round, the breeze blew in and the babies slept. Over the next 3 hours, we saw our first zebras, impalas and warthogs. We saw lakes and trees we’d never seen before with cacti on top. We waved back at Kenyan women with babies on their backs and grins on their faces as they waved at us from the roadside. We stopped for cokes and when we arrived, right in time for dinner, mind you, the rest of our group was there to greet us, feel sorry for us and help us unload.  “Oh those poor people on the blue bus”, they thought. We ate dinner, had our first meeting and headed straight for bed. It had been a full day. As we tucked the kids into bed, Nate asked them what the best part of their day was today? Natalie’s answer? “The bus ride.”