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Trip Start Oct 20, 2007
Trip End Dec 24, 2007

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Flag of United States  , Indiana
Friday, December 28, 2007

Hi Everyone! I hope everyone had a great Christmas. It was really good to be home and see everyone. It's also been a little weird. Almost like culture shock all over again. Not to mention, I am freezing my butt off here!

First, let me fill you in on the rest of my trip. I didn't get a chance to update for the last two weeks because I had no internet access so this might be kind of long...

One of the girls and I went back to Uganda for a couple days. It was a great time. Uganda is beautiful and the people were great. We went swimming in the Nile and hung out by the water a lot. After a few nights there, we went back to the farm. Our plan all along was to spend the last few days in Kenya back on the coast and to leave from there. Going back to the farm was kind of weird because I knew it was going to be the last time I was there for a long while. Packing up my things and cleaning up my hut was really sad and VERY surreal. I couldn't believe I was packing to go home. Plus, it's amazing how that place ended up really feeling like home to me.

I knew saying goodbye would be difficult, but I didn't know how much. It was horrible and I was hysterical. A big part of me didn't want to leave. Candice and I were the last two people to leave the farm. Saying goodbye to the kids was very very hard. Everyone was crying. I wanted so badly to express to them how much they have impacted my life, but no matter what I tried to say, it wasn't enough. Stallone wasn't home when we left and I was devastated at the thought of not getting to say goodbye to him. I kept calling and calling but he wasn't answering. We got dropped off at the bus station, that would take us to Mombasa. I tried Stallone one more time and he happened to be in town, so he came to the station. Oh my, was that hard. I am so happy I got to see him though. I really do not know what I would have done without him on this trip. He was such a huge help and he always looked out for me. He waited with us until we got on the bus. Pulling out of Bungoma was so strange. We kept saying how we couldn't believe we were really not coming back in a couple days.

We took an all night bus to Mombasa and arrived early in the morning. We met up with three other people who had gone earlier. The beach was wonderful and this time I got to see the city of Mombasa as well. We had a relaxing week. It was nice to sort of unwind before coming home. And I think it helped with the emotion of leaving the farm and the family. Three of the people left on Thursday evening, so for two nights it was just Maggie and I. We had so much fun....

Now it gets a little tricky... About a week ago my flight changed. The same itinerary, but one day earlier. My sister was the only one who knew and we decided to try and surprise everyone. The plan was for me to arrive in Chicago at 2 PM Sunday afternoon. That would be perfect because I would get to Michigan City during Sunday dinner at my Grandma's and could surprise my whole family at once. I was really excited about the idea and did a really good job of keeping the secret. We took off from Nairobi Saturday night and landed in London early in the morning. It was a smooth flight. We had a six hour layover in London.... Luckily I was flying with other girls or it would have been a really long couple of days. We boarded our plane for Chicago on time...

As we pulled away from the gate... our plane caught on fire! How nice, right?!?!? Everything on the plane shut off. I had a window seat and I watched as the smoke came pouring out and the fire trucks came up to the plane. They told us to remain seated... and we just waited for a while. Then they told us to get off the plane as quickly as possible and to leave all of our over-head luggage on the plane. I couldn't even believe it. We got off and waited for a while... surrounded by police. It was insane. After about an hour they announced that we couldn't take that plane and they didn't know if we would be able to leave that day at all. WHAT?!?! So we waited.... and waited.... Finally they announced that they found a new plane but we wouldn't be leaving until about five hours after our scheduled departure time. After about a million more changes we left... SEVEN hours later than we were supposed to originally. So I knew I wasn't going to be surprising anyone at dinner!

Our flight was pretty smooth until we descended into Chicago. The wind was horrible. By this time we were exhausted and just ready to get home. We waited in a huge line to get through immigration. The man who stamped my passport was very serious but as he handed it back to me, he looked up and said "Welcome Home". It was funny how those two words hit me. I remember thinking, Oh my gosh, I am HOME! We waited for our luggage for what seemed like forever. After some bags started coming, the belt just stopped with half the plane empty handed. We asked a guy walking around and he said, "Your bags are in London". I'm sorry, WHAT? Did I mention that it was almost two hours after we landed when we got this little piece of information. I wanted to cry. We went through customs and sat in a ridiculous line until we got the forms for lost baggage. Courtney was waiting for me and I was so happy to see her. By the time I got home it was almost 2 in the morning. Luckily, my mom was still awake so I was able to surprise her. She didn't believe I was home..... Neither did I!!

Christmas was great. I was so happy to see my family. Honestly though, this has been a weird adjustment. I feel like part of me is still very much in Kenya. I fell in love with that place. This is the most bittersweet thing I have ever experienced. I never knew what it was like to be torn like this. On top of the emotional adjusting, this whole jet lag thing is HORRIBLE! My sleeping patterns are completely messed up. I think it will take a while....

Within the next few days I will get my pictures organized and online for you all to see. Then I will write my final message... That is so weird, considering it feels like I just wrote you my first entry a few days ago!! I hope everyone had a wonderful Christmas! Love you all!

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