Glimpses of Heaven in mud huts, and other news from Kenya
Hello again from Kenya. We’ve had a good week here: positive news about Millicent, the politics are settling down, at least for the moment, and we’ve found plenty to do with our friends here.
Let’s start with Millicent. She had her triple bypass operation on Tuesday (31st October) and it went very well. Every report we have had since has been of good progress. She is out of ICU and back on a normal ward; she is eating light meals; sitting up and talking and there seems to be every prospect of a full recovery. Once again, thank you to everyone for your thoughts and prayers: Millicent and the family are very grateful. They give thanks to God for the way he has led them through this difficult time.
And now let’s get the politics out of the way! If only it were so …. The election came and went. Uhuru Kenyatta won again with over 98% of the vote, but only about 38% of eligible people voted after the opposition called for a boycott, so there is much dispute as to whether the result is valid. The constitution says that the President has to be sworn in within 14 days of the declaration of the result, but the opposition leader has said he will not allow this to happen (not sure how), and has called for an ‘assembly of the people’ and for his supporters to boycott various companies which allegedly support the government. Last night we heard that the Coast region (around Mombasa) is looking for independence from the rest of Kenya. Eric says he despairs of what is happening to his country. Please continue to remember Kenya in your prayers.
For the moment, the demonstrators have disappeared from the streets: we were even able to go through a rough area of Kisumu the other day to reach the only hotel within 30 miles where we feel safe to eat the food. We enjoyed a relaxing afternoon with Eric and his daughter Adeline enjoying our meal by the shores of Lake Victoria.
The relaxation came after a long morning which relates to the headline of this blog. Kind people from UK sent us here with some money and suggested that one thing we might do was to try to help some of the poor widows around this area. Eric and Millicent not only work with the children at the Care Centre and the School, but also make a huge contribution to the whole community here, so Eric identified seven widows who he thought we should visit with some basic groceries. This was one of those experiences where any temporary benefit we gave them was vastly outweighed by what we learned from these remarkable women.
Let me briefly tell you about three. All are living in what can only be described as abject poverty: mud huts with minimal furniture and the inevitable chickens wandering in and out. First we visited Stella, who was the first matron of Mier Pamoja Care Centre. She is now 79 and is in poor health. Her husband died many years ago and she has no children, but she has neighbours who are kind and helpful. She radiates the love of God. Then we went on to Zilpha. She is 90, almost blind with cataracts and has Parkinsons disease which means she can’t keep her legs still. As soon as we arrived, she burst into singing a hymn, and at various times during our visit we were treated to more songs from her and her son. This son had recently buried his own son, a lovely boy by all accounts, upon whom the hopes of the family for providing for them were pinned. How can Zilpha, with such poor health, living in such poverty, with such difficulties, be so full of joy? Surely her heart is fixed on ‘things above’ – her treasure is in Heaven. We ended our visits with Truphena. She also lost her husband many years ago. Tragically, having given birth to seventeen children, she has just one, a son, who survives. She has many grandchildren living in her small house and is still trying to care for them. We are hoping that we may be able to do something to help her practically with a house extension, but once again, there was not a word of complaint: only praise to God and a sense of peace in her heart. This was a morning that we will never forget.
The children in the Care Centre also bring us much joy. We have continued, slowly, with making repairs to the room where we want to make a library – we were concreting the holes in the wall and the floor this morning, with the help, as usual, of various children. It felt like something of a concreting jungle at times! The silly games are also always well received. ‘Paddy from home’ was great fun, especially when we changed the words of the traditional song to counting in Luo from one to ten! And ‘Hungry bird’ is always a hit, with the children blatantly cheating by carrying around tiny pieces of newspaper to stand on when the hungry bird comes to catch them!
They have also enjoyed writing their letters to sponsors and drawing numerous pictures: many of them are very good, and all are done with love. Some of the older children, who are now at Form Schools, have also been coming to write their letters and show their reports. Once again we have been appalled at the standard of the reports their teachers write, which show complete disregard for individual learning needs. If you are a sponsor reading this, please remember that Pamoja has no control over these reports: we can only try to improve what happens at our own school.
We also helped Eric run a men’s Bible study day: ten men gave up their Thursday to listen and discuss areas of Christian growth. Those who attended appreciated the day and they would like more of the same.
I think that’s enough for one blog. We plan for the next one will include a snapshot of life here in our tin hut, and the funeral experience from which we have just returned exhausted.
Well done for reaching this far: you are beginning to achieve Luo feats of endurance. We have been told that there is no Swahili word for ‘maintenance’: there is surely no Luo word for ‘brief’!
Thank you for your interest, thoughts and prayers.