This past week has been quite crazy. On Sunday we started off with attending the local church on the compound. Afterward we assisted with a young program teaching kids scripture- these kids know how to memorize the Word! It was actually quite impressive. In the evening, we separated from the boys [Andrew and Peter] and spent several hours with the Standard 8 girls of the boarding house of the school on the compound- 8th grade dorm students. These girls were just so precious. They just finished learning about purity and how it affects their relationship with the Lord and others. It was incredible to talk to these girls even just in simple about modesty, behavior and dating. To Kenyans, dating is a no-no. You court and usually don’t begin that process until your 20s where with familial approval courting can begin. But with the culture that also struggles with trying to be progessive and different than tradition, girls are very confused on what it means to honor the Lord, maintain tradition, and yet still be able to live normal lives in the midst of confusion. All in all though, it was a great time with these precious girls who are so curious about life outside their bubble. They even performed a skit they prepared for us because they wanted to do something special for us the Mazungu [white person] visiters. Even in their skit there was an element of innocence, curiosity, and yet desire to serve the Lord.
Early morning on Monday we prepared to leave for the Bush in Northen Kenya about 3 hours north. The reality of any trips around the country is that you cannot really pay attention to the mileage because the roads will definitely incease the amount of time it takes to get anywhere. For us, we traveled north on a normal black top two lane road. As we traveled further North, the road began to disappear…literally. The paved road became a dirt and sand road full of holes and rocks making it nearly impossible to drive comfortably and definitely not faster than maybe 20 miles an hour. Any faster would surely break almost any car. At this point, driving on this particular road, we were surrounded by the Bush… desert land with some scarce vegetation, hill lands, and rocks. Upon arriving almost to the village, we stopped in the closest “civilized” town where we ate lunch and had tea. Every Kenyan will eat their meal then have HOT black tea. The “restuarant” we ate at would most certainly fail every inspection of American health code, but we really didn’t have much choice. The bathrooms consisted of a hole you squat over…nicknamed a squatty potty or in Swahili, the Cho. Definitely were not in Kansas in anymore. When we finished eating and had our last “real” bathroom to use, we embarked on the final stretch of the journey to our village. The following moments at the village seemed like something out of National Geographic and Discovery channel. The village was literally in the middle of nowhere yet surrounded with a glorious landscape of desert, bush, and mountains. We stayed with the villagers for a few hours where we were greeted by kids, some of which had never seen a white person before. We played with them and of course took their pictures. The elder of the village gave us a “tour” of their village. In summary, the village has huts made of sticks and mud, and animal hides, as well as anything else they could find to add to their shelter. The huts were also separated into men’s and women’s sides- the men have multiple wives, so each wife and her children had separate huts. In the middle of the village was the animal pin where during the night hours, their goats and sheep stay within their makeshift fence walls made of thorn bushes. There were no bathrooms. Most kids ran around naked or half naked, especially the boys. Women were wearing wrapped tops or even topless but wearing large and vibrantly colored necklaces of the tribe, the Rendili. The men- the elders- wore wrapped skirts that shoes their leadership, carrying around a large stick as one would see a shepherd. The elders even have their own part of the village to lay back and relax in a dry river bed under some acacia trees. It was their place of honor.
Later on in the afternoon, we left that village to go to a nearby village where we were invited guests to see part of a wedding of two tribes- the daughter from that village marrying a son from another. At the [second] village we got to experience the tribal dancing that takes place as part of the ceremony. With painted faces, bright colored skirts, and huge staffs, the men- the warriors- danced and chanted toward the women, dressed in bright dresses, wearing beaded masks, and brightly colored necklaces. It was quite beautiful and definitely something unique. Having been at the village for about 2 hours and still no bride, with the sun beginning to set, we knew we had to head back to the other village where we were presenting the Jesus Film in Swahili- perhaps the first and only movie most of the villagers would ever see- from that village and the surrounding ones, including the one with the wedding.
We arrived back to the main village of the Rendili to fight some of the elders in the field getting a goat. To our shock and yet intrigue we watched [as told to] them slaughter the young goat, drain its blood, and prepare it as our meal for dinner. This is not something people of this tribe, or most tribes, do. It is something of honor and of to not take part in this ritual would be highly offensive. We watched and tried to maintain a calm response to what we were witnessing. As the elders began to prepare the goat for us, and only us, we got the film ready to show the entire village plus people from surrounding villages. Many of these villlagers have never heard the gospel, some have heard it only a few times, and only a handle of the villagers were even Christians. Hearing the Gospel in their own language through movie was something that was incredible to experience. Though we are uncertain of how many people have accepted Christ because of that evening, I am convinced that in the desert bush of Northern Kenya, a movement of God’s love and spirit is coming forth. Under the stars of the evening, we closed out the movie, villagers either went home or to bed, as it was almost midnight and they arise early. We however, joined the elders at the fire where the goat was being prepared. We sat and ate cold goat’s meat and cold thick rice….with our hands. We attempted to eat as much as we could but were unable to finish the large amount of goat meat and rice so the elders gladly finished it for us. The thing to understand here is that this village literally sacrificed a goat from their herd to give to us even though their own people may not have eaten much or at all that day. It was a very humbling experience and something I cannot and will not forget. The next morning we arose to an early start and remained in the village through the morning. Sadly, we were unable to stay longer than the two days and one night, for various reasons. Luckily, the ministry here with Abby and Andrew includes planting a church on the site of the village – they will be returning very soon, along with a team to begin groundwork. Though we wish we could have stayed longer, we know God’s purpose for our ministry their was great and his work is not yet complete.
Later on we experienced what I believe was my second major National Geographic/Discovery Channel moment…a safari. Now I understand this is not ministry, but their is something magnificent to being out in the desert and the bush knowing all sorts of animals of various levels of danger were out there. During our safari we saw a leopard, giraffees, zebras, baboons, warthogs, gazelles, oryx, empallas, crocodiles, monkeys, dikdi, hyena, a lioness, and elephants. At one point we were semi-charged by a mother elephant, with a large herd surrounding us. An exhiliarting feeling paired with the possibility of “it could get much worse” and “let’s get out of here now”.
For the remainder of the week, Thursday, Friday and today [saturday], we have been working more locally with the minsitry of Abby and Andrew. We have worked with the school kids, dorm kids, and at the children’s homes. It has been way less exhaustive as the first portion of the trip, but fulfilling and exciting nonetheless. Tomorrow, Sunday, we will have another busy day ahead. We will be working with the church in the morning, youth program in the afternoon working on scriptures and Bible lessons, then in the evening partly at a ladies bible study for local women and then with the boarders/dorm students. Monday will be our final day in Nanyuki so it will be a day of rest, shopping and some touring. Tuesday morning we leave early for the long drive back to Nairobi. The trip has been incredible, life-changing, and even life-provoking. I want to live my life, wherever God calls me and leads me, with a passionate heart, obedient living, and in deep love for his people.