By the time we finally arrived to the dormitories in Nairobi, we’d been traveling for a full day without sleep. Still, everyone was excited so we headed down to dinner (Kenyan food is the most delicious I’ve ever had — all of it). After dinner, there would be a brief orientation; but I couldn’t make it. I was beyond exhausted and too dizzy to stand. I excused myself to my dorm. Over the next two hours, I would go through one of the darkest experiences of my life.
I wanted to lie down and rest. But that was not going to happen. Despite my exhaustion, my mind was racing. I was in Kenya, thousands of miles away from home. I could barely walk. My heart began to race. The “what ifs” started. What if I get hurt? What if I fall? I shouldn’t have come here. My heart was pounding. I was having a heart attack. My heart was ramming out against my chest. I could feel it, I could hear it. My mind began to spin. I was having a heart attack and I was going to end up in a Kenyan hospital. I was going to need a blood transfusion. I was going to contract HIV. I fell onto my bed and cried. I wanted to die. It would be better to die.
I did not know any of my traveling companions very well at all. I knew the girl that I had driven to the airport with, Nicole, only because she lived near me. She was my only lifeline. I called her and I was hysterical. I told her what was happening, that I was having a heart attack. Her voice was sweet and calm.
“No, you are having a panic attack,” she said. “I’ll be right over.” And she came and talked me down. She had some Xanax leftover from the plane ride. She gave me one. Soon, I came back to reality. She was right. In my life, I thought I’d had panic attacks before. I hadn’t. Not like this anyway. This was the first real panic attack that I ever had, my first night in Kenya. Nicole was my angel.
Lesson 3: Angels come in all forms, shapes, and sizes. Allow them in. Accept their help.
I felt better the next morning. It is amazing what sleep-deprivation can do to the mind. After rest and a good breakfast, I was ready to take on the world (or at least Africa). That day we headed to Fourteen Falls just outside of Nairobi for our first excursion. It was a strenuous hike over rocks. A slight misstep and you could end up in the water. Luckily there were Kenyan boys playing near the falls. One of them held me by the hand & guided me safely along the entire trek. The kindness of strangers.
I was still dizzy, but as the day progressed, my vertigo faded and faded. By that evening, something miraculous happened. When I sat down to dinner — for the first time in a month — I was not dizzy.
For the first time in my life, I had experienced a true miracle. That night, my faith in a higher power was restored. That faith would continue to grow over the rest of my Kenyan journey.
Lesson 4: Faith can be restored at the strangest moments & for the strangest reasons. Never give up hope, no matter what happens.
This is Part 2 of a 4-part series that I will be sharing about my trip to Kenya, Africa. Read Part 3 here. ♥