This Is Africa

Last night as we went to bed, Pastor Moses told me the agenda for today. We are to go to a nearby village, visit another pastor, and he will show me his ministry. We are to leave by 9 a.m.

But This Is Africa. I’ve done this dance enough to know the steps.

In America, if you were my visitor in Barnwell and I wanted to take you to Blackville to introduce you to my friend Pastor Ken Frederick, we might rise at 7, eat breakfast at 7:30, and leave by 8:30 or 9 to pay our visit. We might even share lunch with Pastor Ken. A long lunch. But we would be home by 2 p.m.

But This Is Africa.

Here, we rose by 7 and ate breakfast until 8, and that is where everything in the agenda changes. It is par for the course. We wait for this person to return from the bank. The person who will accompany us has not arrived, but we expect him shortly. We sent the car to do something else while we are waiting for everything else. It drives most Americans batty, but after a while you adapt and learn …

This Is Africa.

Now, when the moment arrives and all the tumblers fall into place, you had better be ready. If you were lulled into thinking the wait was permanent, you learn abruptly that you were mistaken. There is no time to use the bathroom before your trip, or freshen up, or grab that item from your room. The moment is NOW, and people will let you know. “Chop chop!” “We go!” In the U.S. we have a saying, “Hurry up and wait.” It is almost exactly the reverse in Africa … wait and hurry up!

So we pulled out just before noon. We drove a couple of hours to Koru Bible College. It has a magnificent and idyllic hilltop campus, but the roads (I’m using that term generously) are impassible for anything but a large 4-wheel-drive. Established in 1960, the school flourished for a time, but is now down to only a handful of students. Still they labor on, faithfully trying to keep their motto of 2 Tim. 2:2, “Entrust these things to reliable men who will then be qualified to teach others.”

Then we traveled to Kisumu. We took an early supper there on the shore of Lake Victoria. Then it was on to the house of Pastor Maurice. We visited him because of the death of a colleague. We sat together in his home (a very simple home, the kind I hope we can build for Zipporah), with two men who may have been family members, church assistants, or both, and were served tea and bread. One of the fellows intrigued me by taking two slices of bread and eating them together though there was nothing between the slices – a nothing sandwich.

After an hour or so, we went to visit the widows of the colleague. He had two wives, not unheard of in Kenya. One wife lived nearby, and we went to her home in the village of President Obama’s grandfather. The home was also a simple structure, but I noticed two things. Her walls were not exposed concrete. Instead, the room was “wrapped” with a woven fabric much like our cotton throws. Also, there was a hodgepodge of large laminated posters, all of which would strike us as peculiar. Some had Roman Catholic images of Jesus. One was a large 2017 calendar produced by a Kenyan tool distributor. The one closest to me was a poster of “Ten Commandments of Marriage,” like “I will always respect your individuality,” or “I will give you freedom to be yourself.” All ten seemed odd to me. Perhaps it requires some African context that I’m missing. But that would not explain the giant image in the corner of the poster, of Prince William and Kate on their wedding day.

Everyone was concerned for this wife, because under tribal customs, she would now be inherited by someone related to her late husband. She would fall under intense pressure to marry him, and if she refused, she could be harmed, even killed. She is completely vulnerable. Pastors will do their best to help her withstand these pressures, but they cannot surround her with security. So she faces a bleak future. I’ll spare you a second rant about traditions.

When we had prayed for her, we left for the long ride home. We had to pass through Kisumu. As it was late into the night, we had little concern of encountering demonstrations. So we faced a moment of alarm when we found ourselves in the sudden commotion of stalled traffic with people running everywhere in the streets and shouting. It turned out to be a traffic accident. Quite a serious accident, I think. The man had struck a large rock in the middle of the road. Demonstrators had put it there earlier. It would require lots of people to move it, and the people are not inclined to do so for two reasons. First, the people generally side with the demonstrators. Second, removing the stones could prove dangerous to one’s health.

We crawled back into the compound just before midnight. I had only a moment of internet access, so I tried to check on any developments concerning Zipporah. Nothing substantive yet.

I used my last minute to wish Debi a happy 37th Anniversary at precisely midnight. Not much of a present, huh? So let me take this occasion to say, “Honey, I love you. I’m honored to be your husband. Thank you for being the kind of wife who understands rather than complains because your husband is half a world away on our anniversary. ‘Many women do noble things, but you surpass them all.’”

gkr1996 posted at 2017-10-18 Category: Kenya 2017