After the conference it was so sweet to spend some down time with Kess and Di. After checking our email to look for family communication and sitting outside trying to find the best spot for wi-fi, Di, Kess, and I sat processing our own thoughts. We loaded all of our pictures onto my laptop. As we scrolled through we saw Di’s friendly face greeting and hugging so many women. Her outgoing and encouraging personality blessed so many women she spoke to.
We saw Kess initiating prayer over Bernard’s mother as well as taking the lead in praying over me before my sessions. She loved on so many women, and God had more ministry in store for her later in the day.
We eventually headed to dinner at the hotel where I enjoyed some English tea and we took a short break from rice, ugali, and chicken – some traditional Kenyan food – to have some things like burgers, fries, and a croissant. Later Ruth, the conference director, walked over from the church to say goodbye to us. We chatted about how wonderful the event turned out, and then Lyn, the hilarious conference speaker, and Ruth’s two boys – Silas and Martin Luther – arrived.
We enjoyed such sweet fellowship hearing about Lyn and Ruth’s school days (they were both in their 50s now which is quite young now that I’ve entered my 40s!). We laughed with Martin Luther and Silas about finding Martin a wife – oh how I love to matchmake…. Its my spiritual gift!
These people had become friends in such a short time. Ruth and her boys needed to leave so we said our final goodbyes to all but Silas who we would visit the next day. Lyn remained as she had a room in the hotel as well. I was thrilled. This gal had something about her that made me think, “I want to get to know this woman.” She sat at the table with us and shared her story.
I’d tell it to you but I couldn’t do it justice. Suffice it to say – she knows about hardship, suffering, and grace. She has a heart for battered women, teaches at a Bible college (Church history and Romans are her favorite – no wonder I love this women!). She started a ministry called “Haven of Peace” where she counsels victims of abuse or those struggling in their marriages. She dreams of a ministry house where women can flee for safety and support.
We listened to her heart, passion, and vision. This imposing, tall woman in her 50’s exuded a humility and dependence on God’s power that I want to learn from. We talked about shame and its hold on women. Eventually we decided to get a picture of us to remember this incredible evening and found only one other patron in the eating area at this late hour. Tullie gladly took our picture. Kess then asked Tullie if there was anything we could pray for her.
She sheepishly admitted that she had been eavesdropping and was especially intrigued with our conversation about shame. She had traveled from the country of Namibia in southern Africa to Kenya for a work conference. After a brief conversation, Kess led us in a prayer for Tullie and we retired up to our rooms to shower and pack after the long day. Lyn stayed to eat and get to know Tullie a little better.
Kess came out of the shower and said she needed to get dressed and go find Tullie. Earlier in the day when we said goodbye to all the ladies we gave away all our books, many clothes, and gifts. Di and I even planned to read the Bible on my kindle since we encountered others interested in our Bibles so we gave them away. When we returned to the room earlier Kess bemoaned her finding of a book she had intended to give to someone. It was called, “How to find God” and contained the New Testament.
In the shower God spoke to her that the book was meant for Tullie and the Lord wanted Kess to go down and give it to Tullie immediately. She found Tullie talking with Lyn. Tullie had many questions and was truly seeking. She even commented that maybe God brought her to Kenya for a reason. Kess shared with her how much God loved her and was pursuing her. She gave her the book, and Tullie was thrilled and excited to read it. Kess came back to the room in awe of her God and excited to see Him at work in every detail of our trip.
We packed and puttered and fell into bed. I finally got a good night’s sleep. No melatonin necessary for our last night sleeping in Kenya.
As much as I had loved Kenya and its beautiful people, I woke up excited thinking of returning to my husband and children soon. Our flight didn’t leave until 11:30pm so we had a few more adventures in store.
After breakfast with Lyn we collected our bags and waited to spend the day with Pastor Silas and his young family. We learned some funny things from Lyn in that time –
When my friend Di kept saying she usually wears pants instead of a skirt to people, she would explain that in her profession she needed to be comfortable and flexible to do her job. When we told this to Lyn, she laughed because “pants” in Kenya means underwear. They refer to pants as trousers. All the people Di had told that to had looked shocked – we thought it was because they wear mostly skirts in Kenya. Now we know they either thought Di worked in her panties or else they realized the faux paw and didn’t want to say anything. This cracked us up!
We also learned that when the ladies mentioned “paying the debt,” they weren’t talking about money… coming home from being away meant something they owed their husbands. Never heard that expression in that context. Lyn was very educational.
We dropped Lyn at a bus station once Silas arrived to collect us. We missed her presence immediately. We headed to a mall so Silas could pick up a few groceries for his wife. (More universal traits!)
Security was pretty tight. We all had to get out of the car and open our bags as they inspected the trunk and underneath the car as well. We were getting used to security everywhere, but this was a lot. Silas told us that two bombs in buses had exploded very near this mall the Sunday before we arrived. Sean and I had read about these bombings the night before I boarded the plane. Silas said he had called his mom after the terrorist attacks to see if the American speaker was still going to come since the bombs were in Kasarani – the same location as the conference. We told him we had heard but weren’t going to be deterred in coming.
He chuckled that we were actually pretty safe to come since usually the same place isn’t hit twice because of the increased security an attack brings. We jokingly pretended that we had used that logic as well. At the grocery store we had a lot of fun taking pictures. I posed with a huge ugali spoon and our laughing and carrying on might have garnered a few stares.
We left light hearted and excited to spend the day with a young family. We drove by the church where Silas pastors and then arrived at his apartment. His beautiful wife, Lorraine, greeted us along with a shy John Wesley (1) while baby Paul (1 month) napped in his basinet under a mosquito net. We enjoyed an African lunch getting to know this godly young couple who had been married for 4 years. Most of the ladies at the conference were older so it was nice to get to see another side and hear about the younger generation in Kenya. We watched their wedding video and learned some neat customs. Not only does the groom pay for the wedding, he also has to negotiate a dowry. In Silas’s case, it was 13 cows!
Topics like ministry methods, evangelism, and serving God in an unstable world as well as the different approaches to life from the US and Kenyan viewpoints helped us learn from each other and find a common bond in Christ.
Then we scooted them out for a date so we could play with the children. Kess and Di took John Wesley out for a walk and met the neighbors while I held little Paul and fed him a bottle. We relaxed and snuggled with the babies and recounted the highs of our trip. (Ok I’m busted in that you can see my napping in the background… John Wesley had a lot of fun trying to get me up!)
Soon, Silas and Lorraine returned and we shared a meal of chicken, rice, greens, and ugali which we got to watch Kristine, their house helper, prepare. (Her spoon wasn’t quite as big as mine in the grocery store!)
As we left for the airport we stared out at Nairobi for the last time with bittersweet feelings – excitement to see our families – but greatly impacted by our experiences in Kenya. Now I’m sitting in Ohare airport in Chicago… where all flights have been cancelled due to a fire in the control tower. We are hoping to make it home tonight. Kess changed her airline ticket for a bus to Milwaukee since it’s not too far from Chicago. We are hoping for a flight out later tonight.
Its time to break camp and advance – back to what God has for us here. We’ll always cherish the time we spent in Kenya and hopefully continue some of the relationships we started as our world gets smaller through technology. For now we are excited to get a shower, bed, and time with our families to share all of the incredible things we encountered on our journey.