Doug and Jamie Ferguson
While in Kenya my daughter Jamie and I spent a few moments each evening recording our thoughts. It makes a long post but here’s our Kenya Journal!
Day One (Friday, 5 March 2010)
We arrived in Kenya this morning at 6:00 rather than the original plan of last evening. The change in our schedule was the result of mechanical problems in Houston that caused us to miss our British Airways connection at Heathrow. We were placed on a 7:00 evening flight and handed 40 pounds of food vouchers. Rather than spend the day in the airport Jamie and Dad elected to take a train to Paddington Station and the use the London Underground to a little exploring. We walked around Notting Hill and out onto the Tower Bridge and since it was freezing (and we were dressed for Africa) bought Oxford sweatshirts. It was definitely just a quick peek at London but a fun (cold) way to spend the day. We returned to the airport with plenty of time for our vouchers to provide dinner (and cupcakes with great icing) before boarding a Kenyan Airlines overnight flight to Nairobi.
All that means that we arrived in time for a full Friday but exhausted from two consecutive nights of sleeping on a plane.
We made our way through smoggy Nairobi rush hour traffic and eventually to our “home” at the Kikuyu Hospital’s hostel where we were greeted by our hosts for the week Stu and Linda Ross. We grabbed quick showers and coffee and were on our way again.
Our driver Joseph, who will be with us the whole week, drive us to Masai Land, which is located in the Rift Valley just over the Ngong Mountains. A native Masai, and close friend of Stu’s, David, lead us into his homeland. On our 2 hour drive we passed Olympic runners training, four giraffes (of course we stopped to take pictures) and a heard of gazelles (the book of Song of Solomon makes much more sense now!).
We arrived at a boy’s secondary school (high school). After meeting with the school board we took a tour of the school and saw the classrooms and dormitories. The boys attend school year round, three months on one month off, and travel reat distances to receive their education.
The biggest challenge the school is facing is the lack of clean water in the community. The chief and the principal, and many others made it VERY clear that they wanted our assistance in drilling a bore. A bore would provide not only clean water, but would also become a central location for people of the community to come and meet.
After our meetings and tours we gathered for a celebration under an Achaia tree where we were presented with beaded necklaces, dancing, singing, and a performance by the Boy Scouts (whom were inspected by Dad). Everyone made a speech, including Dad and he was given a Masai name by the chief Ole Saruni (meaning ‘one who brings gifts’) and made of member of the tribe. The cheif also taught Dad about the oringaa – a ceremonial stick that gives the chief power (Dad really wants one). Then we went back inside the school and feasted on buzzi (goat).
At the school we met Grace, a Masai women, who recently spoke at the UN representing indigenous people. She talked about how hard life it is for women in the Masai especially without water. For instance as part of their dowry the woman must build a mud house for her and her fiancé. Without water they use cow urine to mix the mud.
On the way back to Kikuyu we stopped briefly at a girls school and had chai (a British custom that is VERY important… Dad loves chai and is glad not to pay Starbucks for it).
We returned to the hostel in time for dinner, more meat and potatoes, and then all fell asleep quickly! What a wonderful beginning to our trip!
We woke up better rested (Jamie is completely on Kenya time), had breakfast (not potatoes) and then headed to the orphanage at Kari (kari means “washing basin” – we have water poured over our hands each time we eat or have chai into a kari. There we met Big T (Antony) who is the director of the orphanage, school and soon to be a vocational school. We toured the vocational school (under construction) where they will teach sewing, cooking, masonry and carpentry. Then we went through the shamba (garden) where they are growing their own potatoes and cabbage. We visited dorms, classrooms and the farmyard where they are raising cows, chickens and rabbits (for food). The hope is to make the orphanage self-sufficient. Then we went to Antony’s office for chai (no potatoes but sandwiches).
The highlight was distributing the quilts and crosses made by Grace members to the children. We went into each dorm and the kids greeted us with singing and then we gave out the quilts and helped them make their beds. We also helped them put on the crosses. It was a ton of fun! Afterwards we gathered in the dining hall to watch homemade music videos of the boys rapping – since it was Swahili we just smiled.
On the way back with stopped at two other churches, one Grace helped build and the other with a working bore. While we were there a woman came to get water from the church (which they sell at a discount). It was a great reminder of the important role water can play for ministry.
After a long emotional day at Kari we came home took a nap and then had dinner at Stu and Linda’s. It was a Texas dinner and this time the potatoes were mashed! Before dinner Gilbert (who markets local artists) brought us items to purchase and it was worth his effort!
We headed to church at Murakrara. dressed up – Dad in a tie and Jamie is a Kenyan dress. This is the first church Grace helped build in Kenya.
We met with the pastor and elders and Dad sat up front with the pastor on the chancel. Jamie stayed in the congregation with Linda – surrounded by kids – who admired her blue eyes and white skin. Dad brought greeting from Grace and then the pastor and elders bestowed us all with gifts. Dad got a stool and a cane and a Kikuyu oringaa and they clothed him in a shuka. Jamie came up and was first asked if she was married and then wrapped in a shawl and given and purse. We also both got Kikuyu names. Dad – Camauw and Jamie – Muthoni (which means “not yet married”). Church was good (long but good). The choir was amazing.
After lunch we headed to an old British plantation that has been transformed into a restaurant. “The Rusty Nail. ” There are beautiful gardens and great food. We were surprised by a visit of the Moderator of the PCEA – Rev. David Gathanju.
After a busy first two days we are relaxing this afternoon and evening (and catching up on this journal. Tomorrow we head to Embu!
We left this morning for a 3-hour drive to Embu and the Gateway Church. It rained last night and was rainy all along the way. We passed through coffee and tea plantations and lots of shambas. About half way we stopped at a Del Monte plantation and enjoyed some cold pineapple juice.
When we arrived at the Gateway Church we were greeted by Jimson, Mama Jane and Evelyn. We sat down for mango juice in the church vestry before going to the dining hall for lunch – more buzzi!
After lunch we headed to the church of an official welcome. It began outside with singing and dancing that continued as we entered the church (Jamie has more rhythm than anyone in our group)! Once inside everyone offered the typical welcomes. Then we toured the clinic and talked about the vision for expanding the ministry .
We spent that night at a conference center run my Mama Jane and her husband (Ngju). It has beautiful gardens each with Biblical names (we are writing this laying on the grass in the Garden of Eden. They do wedding in the gardens. The center is named for the Shunammite women in 2 Kings 4 who provided a bed for the prophet. It is all very beautiful but the mosquito nets over our beds reminds us that this isn’t paradise. J
Dinner however was pretty close to paradise! We enjoyed some very good food and thanks to Mama Jane – ice! Making ice for us really was a sacrifice and a labor of love – but she knows how her American friends like things cold. She even brought us ice cream to help celebrate her 38th wedding anniversary.
We ate breakfast at Mama Jane’s house a special display of her hospitality and love, and then went to the Rogoi church, a mud hut with a dirt floor made smooth by cow dung. Plans are in the works to build them a mabati church. There was singing and dancing and chai and genuine love felt from the congregation (we had to sing in Kikuyu). It really is amazing how powerfully God is at work in this place. It is clear that many people are going to continue to be introduced to Jesus because of the work that is underway.
Back at the retreat center our Gateway friends presented us with gifts and then we were on our way back to Kikuyu passing Mt. Kenya (in full view) as we left!
All packed up Joseph took Jamie, Dad and Linda (Stu’s wife) to the see giraffes and elephants. First we headed to the giraffe sanctuary. It was amazing. We got to feed a Rothchild Giraffe named – Kelli (seriously). Great pictures. Then we headed to the Nairobi Wildlife refuge where we got to see orphaned baby elephants that are being cared for until the are old enough to be released into the wild. They drank milk and played “soccer” in the mud and it was awesome to see how social they are with one another.
Then we rejoined the entire group at the Java Hut for an American lunch (burgers and French fries) and Gilbert met us in the parking lot for a few last minute gifts.
On the way to the airport we made one last stop – at the Emmanuel Church in the Kibera slums of Nairobi. This was the site of much of the ethnic violence following the last elections and both the church and manse were damaged by petro bombs – curious those who damaged the church have all have accidents since …. The church has been rebuilt and so has a vocational school that is reaching kids in the slums. Compassion International is also onsite operating a center out of the church.
It was an amazing week. God is on the move in Kenya and Grace is blessed to be a small part of that movement.