Last Day in Kima

February 22, 2009

Solomon has had the (un)fortunate privilege of hearing my speak alot this week. Today I traveled along with Solomon, a 2nd year student here at KIST, along with others (Steve & Marilyn Cook from the US, Rebecca the school Nurse/Academic Dean, and three other students) to his home town, Kakamega, to take part in his church service. Solomon was one of my companions to Obunaka Secondary School earlier in the week. Between the conversations on that walk and others during this past week, it never came up that he is married and has two young children. The lack of a wedding ring also failed to prompt questions on my end. Today I got to meet Solomon’s wife, son, and daughter. He hasn’t seen them in over a month. When we first arrived to Kakamega, we spent some time in his home. It is a typical home, not more than 20 x 20. The walls are made of mud that has been sealed with cow dung. The roof is thatched which makes the home cooler but requires regular maintenance. There’s a single, common room when you enter and then two rooms set off only by a curtain. Cuckoos (chickens) have free reign. Solomon’s wife shared tea and bread with us as we heard more about his family. His mother is the second wife of his father. His mother had five sons and he is the fourth. In order to afford the school fees at KIST, Solomon had to sell off part of the land which is his inheritance. 

After tea, we drove just a few hundred yards to his church. A very simple building made of brick and a tin roof. Inside, two rows of benches faced a make shift stage comprised of two small wooden tables in front row of plastic chairs draped with purple linens. To the left of this area was a set of a plastic chairs for the choir. Outside the church, to the right, two latrines stood with cement floors and a square hole in the floor. Past the latrines, a group of women were already at work, cooking lunch for us, their guests.

As people trickled in, I realized that the predominate demographic was young children and older women. Very few men of any age and only a handful of younger women were present. The latter was partly due to the cooking outside. Still I was quickly overwhelmed with the feeling that I ought to, on the spot, chance my message. Speaking on wisdom and what it looks like to make wise decisions seemed a little out of the sweet spot of children and older women. During the hour between the start of the service and my time to speak, I asked God for clarity and wisdom myself. I decided to go with what I was prepared to share. I tweaked it a good bit from the same topic I developed for my talk at Obunaka, and felt confident in connecting with the audience. In the car, as we were about to leave, Phyllis (a KIST student) shared a word of encouragement that was so meaningful to me. She said that my message was very clear and that the people heard it and that it should be helpful to them. In international contexts, my main goal in speaking is clarity. In that moment, I was very grateful that Phyllis chose to share her reflection with me. 

Our lunch, after the service, was a veritable Kenyan feast. I couldn’t tell you (I just don’t remember!) the names of all the foods that sat before us. Most of us ventured into each bowl out of curiosity and gratitude. We did have an opportunity to specifically thank the cooks before departing for the trek back to campus. 

Our group pulled into Kima as the Sunday afternoon chapel was beginning. We ran in and joined everyone. Afterwards, I caught up with Donald. He was insistent that he would meet us when we departed tomorrow about 7:30am. I have some notes for him from some of you that I’ll combine onto a single sheet and print off for him. I decided to give him the shirt I wore this week during our runs. (I had it washed!) It’s a yellow shirt with “running” in green and a nike swoosh and it’s dri-fit material. A great shirt for a great runner and something to remember our friendship. 

In other news, the huge fruit bats that have been attacking the tree outside the house are gone tonight. They have dominated the sensory landscape at night all week. Apparently they had their fill or, perhaps, they’re on to a new fruit tree. 

I’m packed and ready to leave for safari tomorrow. I could fly home instead and be completely content. I’d be lying though if I didn’t say that I may have trouble sleeping tonight. I love animals…almost as much as people.

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