Sunday Up In the Kalenjian Highlands

My first Sunday service for this mission trip was to spent way up in the Kenyan highlands with the Kalenjin tribe. There are many tribes here in Kenya, and several of them are related, are a part of the same tribal group. The Kalenjin are a part of the Nilotic, which include the more popular or known Kenyan tribe Maasai. The Kalenjin are also the Kenyan runners we see in most marathon races…and the ones who often take home the prize.

The ride was a long, painful, and tedious one up a rough narrow winding dirt road (more like path). You really need a Jeep Rubicon to make the journey up the hills. I never know how their cars make it. One thing for sure is their tires are made from a far superior rubber than our expensive ones in America. It seemed to take an hour to reach the place. But I imagine it was only about 30 or so minutes ride.

Despite the rough ride, it is one filled with much natural beauty as you climb higher and higher. The red earth against the lush green hills that seem to just roll up and down as you go along. As you travel along the dirt road you see people, old and young, moving up and down going about their normal life. There are dirt bikes with their passengers, sometimes with as many four people on a single bike, moving quickly up and down the hills, dodging the holes, cracks and mud puddles.

Finally we reached our destination way up in the hills. The building itself seemed to lean sideways on the hill, resting in place. Securely resting in place.

The service was already underway when we arrived. We simply took our place in the front and joined in the service. Time is not really a factor in rural services here. I guess simple because many have walked miles to be in service and are in no rush to get back on the road.  So though the service had already been going for some time before we arrived, there was more singing and speaking from the other preachers and pastors. It’s not thought of as rude for someone to get up and exhort before the main speaker. I’ve become accustomed that tradition. And actually it serves me well, being that it’s hard to preach an hour message when you have to constantly pause for the interpreter.

This Sunday I preached about Mary in Luke 10 and John 12, how she broke the traditions and customs what was considered right and proper among Jewish women. She broke custom twice in order to 1. learn and hear Jesus teach 2. to submit herself in the most intimate way a woman could in worship to Jesus. In doing so Jesus elevated her to a status that was reserved for men, and for a wife in the later instance of her exposing her hair to Jesus. Customs and traditions are very strong in Kenya, especially customs as pertaining to each tribe and the role of women. After the service was over and I was getting my things to go to the car, a young lady came up to me. I assumed she was just going to give me the usual greeting. But instead she fell into me and begin to weep. You can never go by the expressions or “Amen” here. Often the people just look at you while you minister with an occasional response. No, here they listen with straight faces. And I personal have no problem, because its typical of me when I’m listening to a message. However, this was the first time I can remember having a young adult respond this way after the message. Because we didn’t speak a common language all we could do was look at each other smile and hug.

The congregation enjoyed a special moment later in the service. The Member of Parliament for the county had made the journey to the service. Bishop John wanted to bless her in prayer and also give the people an opportunity to meet her. Her assistant is a member of Bishop John’s original congregation in the village where he is from. In one way the Member of Parliament see’s Bishop as a spiritual leader. Following the service we had a n opportunity to enjoy Sunday dinner back at the house in the village. Bishop John no longer lives in the village, but now lives in the small town where the late Apostle Derek Hubbard lived outside of Nairobi. So this visit and meal was a special treat for Bishop John’s mother and those who had the privilege to assist in preparing the meal, because their were two special guest in the house – the member of Parliament and an American.

After a long Sunday, and a sleepless weekend, it was nice to be back at my host home outside of Nairobi on Sunday evening. We arrived just in time for dinner and bed. It’s normal to eat and then call it a night here. That may be why many of the men have nice plump and round bellies. Of course I made sure to enjoy a nice long sleep, and a lazy day around the house relaxing and catching up on my blog post.

Now as I sit on the balcony in the cool of the evening, enjoying my music playing through my mini-speakers…I bid you all farewell and a blessed Monday on the other side of the world. May the grace of God be with you all!

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Back Here After Four Years

What a difference time can make. It has been a little over four years since I’ve last set foot in the East African country of Kenya. On Tuesday, February 28 I arrived on familiar soil to a place that has undergone several changes and upgrades.

First noticeable change, though I knew about it, was the airport. The Jomo Kenyatta airport had a major explosion and fire nearly four years ago. That required the international section to undergo a major much needed renovation. Prior to the upgrade the airport seemed to be locked in the 60’s or 70’s, very gloomy and old. So it was nice to see a newer looking airport, though going through immigration and customs was still very slow and confusing…not much had changed there. For the first time I’ll make use of the airports domestic terminal later in the month when I travel to and from the coast. Being out of practice and getting a little older (that excuse seem to work for everyone else), I’m just not in the mood for the nine hour bus trip to the coast and nine hours back.

Of course there were a few other changes I noticed as I traveled to my hotel that night, and later the next day as I traveled to the home of my host. There are new business hotels that hopefully will remain economical for those traveling to this extremely expensive country for those traveling solo. For a nice safe and clean hotel one can expect to  pay a minimum of $160 a night for a single room. And that just starting out. Want a stay at the American hotels like Hilton or Holiday Inn, then look to pay around $230, and you that may not include breakfast or internet.

The major upgrade, thanks to the Chinese who also own some of the new business hotels, is the road improvements. The Chinese have been very busy upgrading Kenya’s roads and highways. Years ago the Germans had made major contribution to the upgrade of the main highway between Nairobi and Mombasa, which was desperately needed as the journey is already long and tedious.  Now the the Chinese have taken over all major road work. And whether the roads are quality will remain to be seen, but they are very nice for now.

Unfortunately, the driving is still as scary as ever. I’m trying to embrace the custom and sit back and enjoy each trip…but while I’m in the Nairobi area I’m staying put as much as possible and just enjoy the lovely home of my host.

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