meaning to write and update everyone.
Busy days packing and buying supplies, getting birth certificates, citizenship cards and passport renewals.
The Terror Threat___________________________
Today we visited the Canadian embassy. It is like fort Knox, or how the saying must go, as I have never been to Fort Knox! 8 security guards, new 20 feet high cement wall with barb wire atop, 2 bomb sniffer dogs, 2 Kenyan army men with their AK47’s, 2 ex pat personnel with kevlar vest and much too large machine guns, spiked barricades and all,- all to meet the threat so it seemed of the Callaghan family of 7. Now I now we can be intimidating… but really.
We are not allowed to drive into our embassy, so we get a taxi drop off, go through the mandatory, screening before the front gate, enter through the gate through another security check, past the dogs which are none too friendly, and into the security room, where you are patted down, checked through metal detectors and have to surrender any electronics. Our cell phones were taken as was Jesse’s fisher price, light up ABC phone. I am not sure who they thought he was going to call with National secret details. It seemed that Jesse was a paramount threat today at the Embassy. Jay was dealing with a wailing Eve and an insistent toddler who wants to follow mommy into the booth to meet with the application service representative. Jesse’s low whiny moan relegated him to sit around the corner on the stoop for a time out in the parking lot giving a moment’s sanity for Jay who is bouncing a baby while encouraging the older kids to continue their game of eye spy. (In a typical Canadian minimalist fashion there wasn’t much to spy on, save 4 plain metal chairs, a glass coffee table and the help counter window… and of course the patriotic poses of all the government officials.. ) So the whining Jesse provoked a ‘top floor’ command that he be removed from the immediate premises of the stoop as he was causing a security issue. Jay tried to argue the point, but given we had no fisher price phone to call for assistance felt rather bullied back into the building. On our way out I thought I spotted Peter MacKay which was a bit exciting and the closest to feeling political in the longest while. The fact that I remembered who he was and had read about him from MacLeans Magazine… how much more Canadian can I get I wonder.
_________The journey North____________________
Well we made it to Kurungu in one piece. We spent the night at the Simba Lodge in Nanyuki, very thankful to find a hoteli that seems secure and is reasonably priced. The next day on the road was hot and dusty but uneventful, a new road cut down the trip by about 45 minutes, and we stumbled upon a huge construction site for the road builders who continue to work on improving (making) roads in the North.
We see that there will be significant changes in the coming days. When we arrived home to Kurungu, we heard news that 3 of our guards had left to find jobs with the big development companies who are involved in building the largest wind power farm in Africa. Ways that the village will change will be endless,- although we see some benefits for the people, with provision of jobs and some improvements locally, there will be many stresses put on the community. On transport routes often there is an increase in the prevalence of HIV and other diseases. Families being separated due to contract work, disputes over which tribe gets which jobs has already begun, and we hear there are fires and road blocks in the village/town 8 km up the road today. Please pray for these changes. Billion dollar projects in a place that has had little to no investment, attention, development is quite a leap to make.
The return to “normal” missionary-family life________________________________
I am beginning to realize that life here is all about the transitions. Since we have come to Kenya, we have slept in more than 30 different beds in various cities, villages, hoteli’s, retreats and lodges. Thankfully no occasion (yet) to sleep in the car. It is no wonder that Jesse is a bit confused where ‘home’ is. Another transition for Jesse, in addition to the new baby is the new bed. He has been working up the courage to sleep in his own bed, however there is usually a 4 am wake up call and a half awake toddler parading in the dark looking for mommy or daddy, fearing the “monskers” that hide under his bed. Eve seems to be doing well and is the novelty here. The ladies croon over her, saying “key kuni” (so small) and “kesapati” (good). My parenting skills have come into question on more than one occasion, as any white woman seems to be under the scrutiny of all African mama’s when she is out with her baby. Too hot, too cold, sun in her eyes, head not straight, neck falling off…. Does it not matter that I have four other children to prove that my track record for child survival is somewhat positive? I relinquish the baby to the mama that will fuss over her for a few minutes during chai time, enjoying the empty arms for a few minutes while I sip my tea talking with the people who come for news or a break in the work morning.
Nathan, Luke and Lily love getting back to their haven of bunk beds, lego’s and even I think the cobwebs and mice which now have a distinctly ‘Kurungu’ feel. The last few nights some difficulties falling asleep with the sound of drum beats and singing that serenades in rather an incessant fashion and heightens the night time sounds of odd cat fight, ornery cow and hyena.
Sunday evening brings Lareno and his sister to our house. It is late in the day and Jay happened to be out in the yard and he spotted the two sitting by the gate. He welcomes them in and sees the condition in which Lareno presents. His face is bloodied and bruised, eye swollen shut, forehead mangled and chin cut up. I come to see him, and my heart is still. This 11 year old boy, the same age as one of mine. The same toothy grin, with missing teeth, the shy smiles, the lanky legs, the knobby knees and strength of youth, sits shoulders downward, huddled in a spot, frightened, big silent tears rolling down his face. He says nothing. His younger sister says a little Samburu, forgetting the barrier we have of language, her eyes plead for her brother. Asheta, Asheta, “thank you thank you” she says after we wash his face, and apply bandages. I pass out a sweet, which assists my helpless heart more than their need. The tale comes out that he was near to the warriors, and they chased him down, he tripped and they beat him with a piece of wood. How these brave warriors prove their strength by fighting little boys I can not understand. Not many months previous, Lareno’s little brother, was also beaten by other children. This culture of violence, the right of strength and status over sanctity of life is so disturbing. And those who would say, “leave culture be”, do not disturb it with the Gospel, has not borne witness to the despair and the damage when we devalue life, we marginalize and ‘own’ gender, we abandon widows, we beat children and without conscience watch the left out ones starve. Without redemption, without understanding our own depravity, our great need for Christ, for saving, for grace greater than all our sin, there exists a vicious ego, a power, a domination an arrogance that pulls the tide of humanity into the undertow of pain and despair, and many do not get the chance to come up for air.
Yesterday we had some visitors fly in who were working on Zebra conservation, following the more rare breed, Grevvy’s Zebra. There are a few pockets of populations of these zebra not too far from us which are using local watering holes. Three men from three different countries (Kenya, South Africa and Alaska) were very grateful to have the option to sleep somewhere other than under the wing of their plane. We had a lively dinner conversation as one of the visitors was planning to compete in a footrace across the Sahara. I tried to hide our zebra hyde coffee table (inherited with the house) as I thought probably not the most appropriate place to serve refreshments upon the skin of the animals they have come to save.
Today I wake up and find that there are 4 mamas, a warrior and 2 infants on my porch. They look into the house as I stumble to the kitchen looking for some coffee after a restless sleep with the toddler/infant combination of sleeping places and wake up calls. My first instinct is to complain. Really, before coffee,- who is letting the people in? I feel surrounded and watched like a fish in a fish bowl. Guilty that my kids are scarfing down a knock off version of way over priced Captain Crunch while the Samburu peer in the windows. I tend to Jesse who is unwell, (likely having drunk too much bath water,- why do they do that?) and start to feed Eve, who is non-too patient to wait until my morning brew is ready. There seems to be no way to schedule illness I figure. As much as I try to make some boundaries of time and treatment, the stream of patients keeps coming. I pray to see the blessing in what seems to be a busy morning. I go look for our new guard, LeMontan, who can translate for me, instead I see, Samuel our Sunday School teacher waiting also for me outside. He has come with his sister who is expecting her first child. She barely looks 16 or 17, her husband the morani (warrior) looks on in a protective or possessive stance I am not sure. Threatened miscarriage, or possible urinary infection, instructions, medications, onto the next patient. Eve starts wailing, I bring her outside to feed while I am discussing the next cases. Babies with pneumonia coming from the dispensary which has been without medicine for days now. Another boy arrives having been bitten by a spider or scorpion, hand swelling in pain. Lareno comes for his dressing treatment, the antibiotics already helping but he will need daily dressing changes for sometime now to keep infection at bay and to promote healing. The gash is about 3 cm wide and 1 1/2 cm deep. I worry about complications. I worry about his emotional state as his sullen face registers a deep sadness. And my instinct is that I want to rescue this boy, his family. I want to transplant them into another life that is full and without heartache. I want to help them have clean water, clothes, food to eat, safety from those who would strike against them. Lareno’s brother, “James” sings Sunday School songs while Lareno gets his bandage replaced. He is clapping and singing so mindlessly, so sweetly. The melody rises and makes me smile, makes me hope that the song, that the Song Giver is surrounding these children.
The Chai bell rings and Mzee Rudolphi shows up in gallant dramatic fashion. It is nice to see him sober and in a good mood. He has come selling charcoal, although the conundrum is if we buy his charcoal he will not be sober for very long. He comes and sits for chai, and dives into the community conversation of what we should call the mzungu baby. It seems the group concedes on Ntuni, meaning having come from far away. She was also given the Samburu name for “being lucky”, which at this moment I can not recall.
I return home from under the chai tree, and notice that Jay and the boys are cheering Buster as he chases a rather large (1 foot) lizard out from underneath their bunk beds. Come to mind the boys did say something was moving around in there last night… probably a statement lost in the bed time rush, post-hair cut and popcorn fiasco (probably not two events you want to multi-task with, especially when you forget to put the lid on the popcorn and are attempting a first time “buzz” haircut on wiggly boys.)
Oh, life is full. Some days too full. Looking to embrace the crazy days amidst the quiet, to take time to love well, not focus on how to efficiently I can move to the next task. To allow Him to make precious those little things often overlooked and always harried. “To open my hands and my heart, nodding my head in an emphatic ‘yes’ to all that You have for me.” in these days, I pray that I would be glad in the day the the Lord has made. (Ps 118:24)