Sunday, July 28, 2013

In the Shadow of Luxury

July 1, Monday

All night long, matatus drive by anyone who happens to be out on the street and honk as loudly as they can to try to gain more passengers.  Because our hotel is located right next to a busy street and because our window is fixed open, I could hear these impatient matatu-drivers blasting their horns.  I didn't sleep as much as I would have liked, but after a little bit of grogginess in the morning, the Lord completely sustained me with His energy and rest.  He is faithful!

We were supposed to leave at ten this morning, but we were running on African time.  We waited in the lobby for an hour and then our drivers showed up.  Even when we're waiting, our team is never bored.  We've grown increasingly close, so our time together is always full of jokes and laughter.

After we eventually packed our matatu full of luggage and Americans, Jake offered up a single bottle of Coke to anyone who wanted it.  Cassie, Nicole, and I were all sitting in the very back seat.  We ended up sharing the bottle, passing it down the row as each of us took a drink.  It was like taking soda communion.

The ride to Kitale took just under two hours.  I'm trying to savor the Kenyan landscape while I still can, but I always fall asleep when I'm in a moving vehicle.  I just can't help it!  When I was in New York last summer, my family would laugh at me because whenever we rode in the subway, I would nod off within minutes.  And in our matatu in Kenya, I could not keep my eyes open... and then we would hit a speed bump and I would whack my head against the window and stay awake for a few more minutes.

Because there are not efficient ways to keep Kenyans maintaining proper speed laws on the roads, speed bumps have been constructed every fifteen yards or so, even on the highway.  This is actually a good idea; otherwise, I can imagine that many Kenyan drivers would drive as fast as their cars would take them.  The speed bumps do make for an interesting ride on an already rough road.

Jason Beagle picked us up at the posta (post office) and led us to the children's home.  Most of the kids were in class, so we didn't get to meet very many today, but they did introduce us to a nine-month-old baby named Bravon.  He and his five-year-old brother were dropped off at the orphanage two weeks ago.  Their father abandoned them to the care of their dying mother who was in the hospital.  When AIDS took her life, the two boys were stranded with nowhere to go.  They were taken to the children's home to live.  Bravon has tuberculosis and HIV, but he is otherwise a happy and fairly healthy little boy with a bright future ahead of him.  He and his brother are both waiting for sponsors.

The children's home is located on a beautiful property.  Trees, flowers, and maize are growing everywhere you turn.  The land hosts turkeys, chickens, a calf, and a few hilarious and scrawny dogs (one of them named Obama was shut up in what looked like a chicken coop for being naughty).  The kids' rooms are also very nice.  Their walls are decorated with cut-outs of movie stars and the pages of fashion magazines.  Teenagers will be teenagers, no matter where in the world they live.

We were served a delicious lunch of rice, mashed potatoes, and probably the best chapatti I've ever had in my life!

Our hotel is amazingly nice.  It's called the Westside Hotel.  We each have our own room, seemingly working showers, and space to move about.  Everything seems to be clean.  Of course, my windows are jammed open (wherever I go, this seems to be a theme), but this is by far the nicest place I've stayed in Kenya.  Wow, I'm blessed!

I people-watched from the window of my room for an hour or so.  Several child cowherds walked by, skipping and carrying long sticks or rope whips to convince the cattle to move.  A few mothers were walking their young children home from school.  I saw married couples and even a female police officer walking along the dirt road.

There is a mud hut resting directly in the shadow of the Westside Hotel. Its occupants, a family with several young children, work a small maize farm to grow food that they probably sell on the roadside.  I have not gotten to see the family up close, but I enjoy so much watching the children play.  Earlier today, I heard what sounded like several loudly-barking dogs, so I looked outside and their four or five kids were running around on their hands and knees, barking at each other like puppies!  I used to do this when I was a young child.  When living in poverty, many children are forced to work such long hours and difficult labor that they forget what it's like to play.  It brings my heart so much joy to hear the laughter of the children across the street.  I can't imagine what it would be like to live in a single-room mud hut without running water or electricity while living next-door to a hotel as nice as this one.

Jake, Amy, and I went to the restaurant next door to have some fresh mango juice.  After letting us rest and wander the hotel for about an hour, Jason picked us up and brought us to his home for dinner.  It was fantastic.

The Kitale Children's Home
I love the Beagles.  This missionary family has such wonderful stories about how the Lord has used their family to change the lives of impoverished children in Kenya.  You can feel the presence of the Lord in their stories and hope.  They are a precious family.  I so enjoyed sitting around their living room and hearing stories about what it is like to sell everything and move to a third-world country, simply trusting that the Lord will provide.  And He is faithful.

We had Mexican food for dinner, made by Amy Beagle and one of her helpers.  They had ground beef, salsa, and tortillas.  They even fried ugali to make chips for us to dip in the salsa!  The meal was delicious.  I've been craving Mexican food my entire time in Kenya, so I was thrilled to have a taste of back home.  We even had pink lemonade!  What a treat.

Later in the evening, the Turkana group arrived.  They were browned by the desert sun and had many stories about the turkana tribe and their experiences in this region.  Christian Relief Fund has been working hard to build wells in this bone-dry, struggling region of Kenya.  These people are dying.  Beggars beg for water instead of coins.  There has been a drought for years in this impoverished area.

A church meets weekly under a tree to worship Jesus.  Thirty people were baptized yesterday in the river.  I saw video footage of the praise songs, and let me tell you, these people were eager to worship the Lord!  They danced and sang and beat drums.  I would have loved to rejoice with them.

The wells CRF has helped to build in this dried-out place are saving lives daily.  It looks like the Lord is transforming hearts in Turkana and through the people there!  I am determined to visit this place one day.  It is a more dangerous region because of the Somalian pirates and because it is much more rural than where we've been, but one day, I long to meet these precious children of the Lord.

I think I'm caught up on my adventures so far.  I'll write more tomorrow.

Three years ago: 40 Reasons to Eat (Part 7)
Two years ago: Cute Old People

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