We have arrived safely to Kenya. There were no issues other than a few hair products, soap and tootpaste that were left back in Toronto. All I can say is that the men need to learn to pack smaller. Gary Anderson, you’ll be happy to know that we made it to Kenya with all of our suitcases in tow. The nutrients will be disbursed some time next week when we do our site tours. For those of you who are following along with our schedule, yes it has changed already. Welcome to Kenya.
But I’m ahead of myself. We arrived on Monday night and were greeted by Irungo, who took our luggage back to Pace; three of Jeff’s friends: Jenga, Muratha, and Jackson, as well as our guide, John. We spent our first night in a Misisonary Guesthouse compound in Nairobi. There we tried to sleep. Jetlag kept many of us up during the night, but we managed to get some sleep. The next morning, after a great breakfast, we got an early start off to Masai Mara in southern Kenya just along the Tanzanian boarder. Ryan and Taryn had been in Nairobi and were able to join us. It took about 8 hours, but it was beautiful scenery. God’s beauty in nature is so evident. It’s amazing how the landscape could change with every corner we took…and we took some corners, mostly to avoid the holes in the road, and cars that were approaching us. My shoulder is still bruised from hitting up against the window. But the rains have started and the crops are growing. This is a much needed rain. It hasn’t rained in this area since about October and has been extremely dry until just a few weeks ago. We traveled through the Great Rift Valley which stretched from Syria to Mosambique. You can see for miles and miles as you stand along the edge. We stopped at a souvenier stop along the way were he guys were introduced to bartaring.
When we arrived at the Masai run camp just outside the Masai Mara National Park, we were shown our tents. They were very pleasant accommodations, with beds and table and chairs in each tent. We cleaned up quickly and got back in the van for the evening safari tour. The local merchants at the gate were quick to find Frank. Frank has this look about him that says, “Hey, that looks cool, how much?”. Ok, it was more than a look, it was a voice too. It was fun to watch Frank interact with the sellers. Let’s just day, Frank may need an extra suitcase to come home.
We only had til dusk to tour around. Our guide John was terrific at finding where the animals were. Last time I safaried, it was very dry and dusty, and the animals were just their standing around. This time, there was a lot of grassland, and we had to actually look for the animals. With John’s keen eye, he was able to detect the hyeanas and drove off the road toward them. There in the grasses were a couple of lionesses laying down. They didn’t budge. As a matter of fact, we nearly ran into them turning around. We were also very lucky to see a rhino that evening. And of course, zebras, elephants, girrafes, gazelles (who have the racing stripes because they run the fastest) and the antelopes and a whole variety of others.
We arrived back at camp and had a wonderful spaghetti dinner before sitting around the fire and turning in for the night. It was a real treat to spend some time with our Maisai hosts and learn about their culture. They are a nomadic tribe who live in mud huts. They are cattle and goat farmers for the most part. The women stay home with the children while the men take the herds out to feed. When they are in the area of their village, they bring the herds in for night and use a thorned branched fence to protect them from the wild animals. The men increase the number of wives with the number of cows they have. One of masai men there told us that his father has 100 cows and 7 wives. During our visits with them, we discovered that many of them do go to Christian churches and they were very interested in engaging in spiritual discussions with us.
As Taryn and I went back to our tent for night, we noticed a Masai man standing guard in front of our tent with his spear. He explained that they would stay up all night to keep watch. It was comforting to know, but even more comforting to us the next morning when we discovered that the “cow” sounds we’d heard at night were really hyeanas, and the soft purring were the lions in the distance. I’d heard a snort during the night just on the other side of Taryn, and I guess that was one of the hyeans that came through our camp that night. Many of us spent hours during the night listening to the sounds of Africa. We learned later that sometime after we’d left in the morning for our day safari, there were hippos that had come through the camp. I guess they didn’t know exactly were the park border was.
We spent the next day on safari. Our van had a top that opened up, so we were able to get a great view as we scouted for the animals. I must say that John did do a wonderful job at finding them again. Jenga was our other scout. The only one of the big 5 that we were not able to find was the cheetah . Mind you, the reward for finding it was being kicked by the girrafe. Not a good incentive. I tell you though, the lions lay very low. As we were driving along a little path, Jeff suddenly looked out his window at the face of a lion who had stood up when we were right beside where she’d been lying. Jeff pulled in his arm and rolled up his window faster than I’d ever seen before. The lion just turned around and walked away.
It truly was a wonderful day. We were able to not only enjoy the beauty of God’s creation, but enjoyed the building relationships with Jenga, Murathe, Jackson and our tour guide John as well as with eachother.
We spent another night with the Masai. As we were watching the sun set (which is confusing because they Masai call the moring sun the sun set and the evening sun the sun down) we could hear the thunder in the distance. We took a little walk over to the sausage tree. Then we heard the thunder closer. Some of us mosied over to the fire, close to the cover, others scattered a bit. Suddenly the heavens opened and the rain came down. Frank and Dave were running and the water was literally at their heals. Cam wasn’t so lucky. Taryn stayed in the tent until the rain stopped. Eddie stayed dry but forgot that he’d left the tent window opened. He found out later that night about an African waterbed.
The next morning was another early one. We traveled all day to Pace. We’d made a stop to Lake Navaisha. I can’t believe how dry it’s been. The lake is hardly a lake, it’s receeded so far. The dock is no where near the water’s edge. The hippos have manged to find a bit of water to swim in. The people are very happy that God has brought the rains. They are about a month and a half late, but they trust that God will provide as they require, and see the wait as God reminding them that they are not in control and must rely on him. It’s good to see their faith.
We arrived to the Pace Guesthouse in time to wash up and share in supper. It was so good to see Glenda, Kahika and Wangari again. Wangari was actually not feeling well, and came home from boarding school for a few days. We had a little time to meet with Wachira and arrange the schedule for the week. Because it has been raining in the afternoon, Wachira has directed Frank and Dave to work on the chicken coop. It is a priority and since they won’d be able to work in the rain, it’s important to start early. Cam and Eddie were supposed to do crafts and music with the kids when we discussed it last night, but they’ve been wisked away with Urungo, and I’m not sure where they are. The older children of the Acadamy have gone to a regional sports day with Taryn, and the younger children seem to be having a free day here. This is where the scheduel change happens again. You must be flexible when in Kenya.
On behalf of the team, I just want to thank everyone at home for their thoughts and prayers. Remember to pray for us as a team as we prepare for the youth event tonight and tomorrow. Pray for the youth who will come,that their hearts will be open to the message of God as we study John 3:16. Pray for each team member as they make the final revisions to our messages on Sunday. We will each be at separate churches and will need wisdom and courage as we walk boldly here in Kenya.
Well, I’ve spent enought time indoors. It’s time for me to find the team and get some info on the water project. So long for now….