Things As They Are, Things As They Shall Be

NAIROBI TO NYAMIRA

After breakfast we loaded up and headed to the airport for the quick flight over to Kisumu. On the trip, I noticed how much Kenya and Uganda look alike. The same markets set up along the roadway. The same buildings with the same vendors and the same advertisements. Much of this seemed like familiar ground, with the exception that Kenyans drive on the left side of the road, though they insist it is the right side.

At the airport, I got a chuckle out of one of the airline names: JamboJet. Brilliant! 🙂

The flight was only 30 minutes. They served the best package of mixed nuts I’ve ever eaten, but we had to wolf it down because the flight was so brief. One attendant passed out the snack and another came right behind him to collect the trash. The sun was bright and the clouds were large and billowy, casting dark shadows on the ground below. As we descended, I noticed the sun reflecting off the new metal rooves like a thousand diamonds on the ground.

Landing in Kisumu, we met Pastor Moses. I learned that Emily is his wife. He is gracious and good, clearly a man of many gifts and abilities. He serves as Executive Pastor of a church in Nairobi and is the administrator of GRASP International here in Kenya.

We stopped for lunch, not so much because we were hungry, but because there is a great deal of civil unrest in Kisumu and the mall where we ate was secure. The presidential elections in Kenya are in a state of flux. The Supreme Court nullified a previous election for irregularities, and new elections were set for Oct. 17. Those were later reset for Oct. 26. As we were arriving, one of the major candidates has withdrawn entirely from the election, and under their laws, that may necessitate rescheduling the election yet again. People who have been out of power and feel oppressed are seething, and unrest has spilled over into the streets. Demonstrators show up en masse and fill the roads. They will also throw large rocks and debris into the streets, set tires and brush piles ablaze, and generally do whatever is necessary to block passage. So Pastor Moses had hired a driver who was from Kisumu and who was well-connected to drive us from Kisumu to Nyamira. Our driver and Pastor Moses stayed in constant contact with others over the phone to determine which streets were passable. Based on these communications, they determined it was best to stop. We stretched lunch out for a couple of hours to allow some hotspot to subside. It was all a bit disconcerting, of course, but Pastor Moses and the driver calmly assured us that we were completely safe. I take some solace in knowing we are under the care of these good and knowledgeable men. I find ultimate peace, however, knowing I am here to do God’s will, that not a sparrow can fall from the sky apart from His notice, and that we are worth more than sparrows in His sight. There is no place safer than the will of God, no comfort greater than a reliance on His kind providence.

Within 30 minutes of leaving the secured mall, we were out of the city and travel was much quicker and more obviously safe. We stopped to buy sweet potatoes from three ladies who had many children between them. I spoke to the children and shook their hands. The oldest was a boy of 8 or 9 years. “How are you?” I asked. He gave the standard answer, the same one I hear uniformly from Ugandan children no matter their condition – “I am fine.” “What is your name?” I asked. The answer made me chuckle. “Frankly Obama.” I was reminded of how excited Kenyans were by the election of President Obama and how they rejoiced for his visit here. And I could not help but reflect on the sharp contrast between that spirit of hope and optimism and the current state of political fear and uncertainty.

In talking to Pastor Moses at the restaurant, I asked what was behind the political turmoil. In a word, the answer is tribalism. There are 43 tribes in Kenya, some large and some small. The large tribes gain power and use it to enrich themselves. There is no incentive to share power. To the contrary, the tendency is to hold on to power by whatever means necessary, including the suppression (even oppression?) of others, political corruption, fear-mongering and maintaining absolute solidarity within the tribes. Now, if you’re like me, you just had a succession of thoughts: 1) How primitive! 2) Wait minute, this sounds eerily familiar. 3) Isn’t this the logical progression/outcome of identity politics? 4) Aren’t lock-step voting blocs just “tribes?” 5) If we don’t straighten up our act in the U.S., this movie being acted out in the city streets of Kenya could be coming soon to a theater near you. Sobering to me, truly.

Within just a few minutes of meeting Frankly Obama, however, the Lord provided what is for me the ultimate relief from all those harrowing thoughts. We pulled into the more rural grounds of Nyamira and onto the site of Echoes of Mercy, a ministry overseen by Pastor Moses. I knew we would be staying here, but I didn’t realize that Echoes of Mercy operates a school with 320 children, who were all assembled (well past school hours now) to greet us. Being welcomed by the sweet serenade of African school children is an experience that must resemble what it will be like to be welcomed home to heaven by God’s angels. It is impossible to think of the world’s politics and turmoil, and impossible to feel anything but love, joy, peace, hope, humility, thanksgiving. When they sing, all is right, and the world is at it should be.

An on-site mission home will be our residence for the next week. We settled in, and I enjoyed getting to know Pastor Moses better. In my experience, Americans tend to think that Africans are somewhat backward, perhaps a bit lazy. It isn’t so. Pastor Moses is typical of what I find here. He is wise and good, clever and creative. He simply lives in a world where resources are scarce and opportunities scarcer. And still they work on, building a ministry out of nothing more than a vision and a determination to fulfill the call of God. I am in awe of these people. Absolute awe.

As we talked, a storm passed over us and we experienced a torrential downpour. The rain on the metal roof was a beautiful symphony. Pastor Moses grabbed plastic washtubs to gather the water. “I blessed the rains down in Africa.”

Betty, a ministry helper here, cooked supper for us. Chicken soup and spaghetti with meat sauce, all prepared to accommodate American tastes. How thoughtful. As we ate, I got one good reminder that I was in Africa. The power went out. I laughed heartily for this wonderful, humorous reminder of God’s goodness in bringing me to this place I love.

gkr1996 posted at 2017-10-11 Category: Kenya 2017