In the Deep End

Michael had casually mentioned yesterday about going to church today (Sunday), to which I had agreed and when Joseph arrived all posh this morning and said he was also going as he led the service. Michael told me he had mentioned to Joseph about me talking to the congregation, you could have knocked me down with a feather, I didn’t have my robes with me, but I didn’t have any fear about doing it though, what a blessing. When we arrived the service had already started and the sound of the singing gave me goose bumps, I was so glad I bought my recorder with me. The service continued and eventually Michael stood up and lead me up to the front. I suppose there was sixty or so people in the congregation, all looking at me as I was introduced  and my first words were ‘etta supa’ (greetings in Maasai) to which come the reply ‘oiyie’ (response).  As I spoke about God’s garden, giving to the land not taking, how we are the greatest of God’s creation and creators of our experiences, Michael interpreted, but seemed to embellish what I was saying in a way that engaged the audience and although I didn’t have a clue what he was saying, it did feel good though.  I think the only thing I was concerned about was how my eye looked, (bee sting) have to keep up my facade. The rest of the day was restful and I finished reading Desmond Tutu’s book “God isn’t a Christian,” a book about his speeches and writings over the years, most enlightening.

In the morning we planted all the trees we had bought in and around Nairobi and with the ladies help mulched many of the trees that had been planted without any.  Francis and Mica were back with their families in Nakuru for a while so I showed Jeffery and Peter how to prepare the soil, plant and mulch, Peter just loved doing it and it was hard to slow him down and go for a break. We actually managed to stop early today and have a dinner in the daylight, Michael prepared chapattis and I cooked them and also a stir fry and combined them into a pizza, bloody awesome end to the day.

We are on the road again today, I am heading for Narok and Justus’s village so Michael is taking me part way and collecting Francis and Mica as the impending rain will make traveling the dirt road impossible. We stopped for the night when we came to the end of the dirt road, in a small town on route and a typical hotel for Kenyan people. The room was like the jail I spent a few nights in when in the army, a small pokey room big enough for a single bed, a big heavy iron door that could be locked from the outside and bars at the window so no one could break in (or break out), very clean, but still felt like a cell. In fact there were ten rooms down each side of a court yard and as each inmate opened their door the rattle of keys and clanging of the door shut, yes a prison made of fear and I suppose who can blame them after the all the atrocities that have happened.

After an early start (for us) we reached Nakuru where I was to leave Michael and catch a Matatu for the three hour trip to Narok. Another journey on rough roads, heading across country with lush farm lands and where the only the highest slopes are left uncultivated. The green fields started to diminish as we got closer to Narok and the Maasai Mara.

I checked into the Seasons Hotel again, had a much needed shower and went for a dinner of Ugali, cabbage and curried vegetables. I am starting to be ok with Ugali; you just have to eat it with something that has flavour. After a two hour session on the internet I went to bed.

I met Rose the next morning in Narok; we were traveling to Bomet and to the teachers training college she was to attend, some two hours away. We walked into the stadium (dirt yard) and found a Matatu which was just leaving and we were shoved inside. The tables were turned this time, now I know how it feels to be the fourth person on a three seat row and had to endure sitting on the metal edges of the seats either side and being right at the back didn’t help the situation. The 14 seat Matatu had 19 people on board, (21 is the most I have been with) I suppose it is the difference between break even and profit.

For the first hour we just past, as far as the eye could see, thousands of acres of wheat turning a gold colour, nearly ready to harvest. Some of the villages we passed had combine harvesters (us Aussie’s call them headers) ready to go. They must export a lot of grain here because it’s difficult to know why so many people are hungry. The Matatu starts to climb (that slows them down) towards Bomet and now maize is the crop and is being harvested as around Maralal the maize is still green. In all the villages and towns we pass through you see huge sheets laid out on the ground all covered in maize seeds, drying in the sun and usually bare footed, men and women gently shuffling through it to turn and dry it evenly. The higher we climb the greener the landscape gets until we finally reach our destination, thank goodness for that, my bum had gone to sleep.  We get a taxi to the college and Rose proudly shows me round her new school and we finalise the paperwork, she is one happy young lady.

As we ride back into town to get a return Matatu I long for the two front seats to have comfortable journey and guess what, we get the two front seats next to the driver and in a nearly new vehicle, it’s good to know you are being looked after, ay! I am also glad I arranged with Frederick (a taxi driver) to wait for us in Narok about 4.00pm because that is when we arrived and most other transport to Ngoswani was finished for the day. I collected some supplies, then my luggage and we picked up Rose’s brother (he was on leave from Nairobi Uni, studying accountancy) and began the hour and a bit journey to Ngoswani and Justus’s village.

The school was still there, unchanged, the garden fence was down and the rubbish I had collected and left in the bin was spread out again. I later realised after seeing the children playing that was all they had to play with and it amused them for hours. I went to see and greet Justus’s mum and dad, and dear Florence who looks more pregnant this time as she is due around the 9th August. As I spoke about the impending birth to her she laughed and went all shy, I am sure Maasai men don’t speak about it much and later Justus confirmed my suspicion. She tells me Justus is on his way home from Nairobi as he has a few days of ‘bush walks’ to do for Wildebeest again and she was very excited about him coming. I make up my bed, have some food and crash out, another busy travelling day safely behind me.

Seven the next morning Justus’s face appears at the wire screen (no windows here mate) “Rafiki Yango” (my friend) “Habari” (how are you), it was good to see him and at his home. He asked how P&K and Michael were then we chatted for a while before he left to do a bush walk. I got up, had breakfast and another familiar face appeared, Joseph, he was home also for Wildebeest, this time cooking for guests on safari who were close by, so he was able to be home at night as well.

Moses told me John Willetts would be here on Tuesday and could I stay and meet him, he was the tour guy who helped fund the building of the school. I found out he had built a bush camp on Moses land nearby and leads tours from the UK for students and specialised groups and this is one of his stops, so I am looking forward to meeting him.

I feel a lot different in myself this time and go of wandering in the bush, with Justus’s words ringing in my ear, ‘be alert.’ I find the bush camp that John has built, several small open huts, a shower and a dunny, all mod cons here, there is also a seated area surrounding a fire which is kept alight all night when people are there. I sit for a long while, staring across the plains towards the dried up river, seeing all the cattle, sheep and goats trying to find something to eat without much success in this dry, barren wilderness.

I return to my hut and find Rose has cooked me some brown rice, so I quickly prepare a salad and enjoy a meal as the sun sets.

Today, Sunday, the community is having a gathering, they are going to form a school committee to oversee the completion of the one I am staying in and the building of another for the secondary school children, as JW is bringing more funds to advance the project he started. I have been asked to speak to the gathering and wonder what to say to them. They start to gather about ten and much to my surprise there are some women amongst them. About two hours into the meeting I am introduced by Justus and Joseph is to be my interpreter, that Justus is a real statesman, he is aware of the conflict between Moses and himself, so gets Moses brother to interpret.

It was easier at church last week than compared to this situation. I start with the decisions they are trying to make, to decide from the heart/soul and not because of the angriest voice. I fall back on what I said at church, about us creating what we really desire from our soul and not our head and if it is from a place of giving and not greed then all things are possible. When I was here last time Moses and I talked about fencing off the school compound to protect the school, the children and of course the land from the animals (cattle, sheep and goats) and humans. I spoke of this and offered the $500 that was needed for this purpose, after much gratitude and thanks to all who had donated the funds; they asked how big it should be. My reply was that when they elect the committee they can decide, but I did ask that they consider not using barbed wire.

 I asked them to look at the bigger picture of what could be achieved for the community and to ask from the soul. There is much that can be done here using Michael’s example, I had sowed a seed, but they have to desire it. They also asked me to speak to JW when he arrives, which I readily agreed to. Justus informed me the next day that JW has been delayed and might not get here until Thursday or Friday. I decided to leave in the morning and head for Mombasa and my intended beach holiday before leaving Kenya.

I was awake before first light and began getting ready to leave, my plan was to walk to Ngoswani, but although I was leaving stuff with Justus and his family to share, but I still had three bags and to much to carry. I said my goodbyes to everyone who was around, but my goodbye to Rose was quite teary for both of us, up until that time Rose had been composed, she thanked me again and set off to work. Florence had arranged a motor bike to take me the four/five kilometers to catch a bus into Narok. Another new experience, the bus was full when I arrived, but no matter how many people on board there always is room for one more person and on the journey that happened several times on the way to Narok.

In Narok I bumped into Fredrick (taxi driver) again who said he would only charge me 100kes to take me to where the Matatu’s leave for Nairobi which I was glad of. This one was only a 10 seater, my LOA is changing, heaps of leg room. I asked the driver if he would drop me as close as he could to where the buses leave for Mombasa so I could book a ticket for the night trip. When I arrived as usual a guy would appear and over to take you and your luggage to the bus departure place and before you can decide my luggage is disappearing down the road. My trips always seem to flow and a bus is due to leave in five minutes and so I decide to go now rather than wait ten hours. Of course the bus isn’t full yet and so we finally reach the outskirts of Nairobi at three, Mombasa here I come.

Denis

God is Good

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