June 27, Thursday
We were all sad to leave Bungoma today (although not particularly disappointed to leave the Bungoma Tourist Hotel).
Amy was sick this morning - worse than she has been the last couple of days - so Larry suggested she be taken to the hospital. Kenyan hospitals are known for spreading HIV, however, so we are going to wait it out a little longer. We prayed over Amy and then sent her with Nicole and a driver ahead of us to the guesthouse in Eldoret.
The rest of us loaded up our things and took the trip to the Lurare School in Kimilili where Samson and Ruth are the directors. This couple is wonderfully kind and soft-spoken. I love their marriage; they are clearly in love and adore their young children, who also were sick today with fever. The Kenyan flu is going around!
There are about a hundred or so children attending Lurare, but only 44 are sponsored right now. These kids are darling. They were taking an examination when we first arrived and the baby class (preschool) was already being tested over addition! I was impressed by these smart kids.
After the children were finished taking their exams, we were able to speak to each classroom and encourage them to follow Jesus and to pursue their studies. They performed songs for us as well, and called each of us by name to join their dances!
The Lurare School could use a little work. It's very clean and well-kept; an acre or two of land is available so the kids can play. The classrooms are unfortunately much too small. Sixty kids fit into a mud room smaller than my bedroom and must pay attention and learn. The classrooms are all made of mud and sticks. There is no electricity. Some of the walls are not finished yet, so there are crumbling gaps between classrooms.
However, the school is growing and constantly improving. With support, these children will be well-provided for and will have bright futures!
CRF has offered to send these kids to school, but their parents refuse. They need people to help work their land. These children work all day on a farm and their future will be no better than the struggle of their parents. This story is not unique. At least 3/4 of the children I see, especially in these rural areas, are unschooled. Many are hard at work, herding cattle and selling fruit on the roadside. Just today I saw two little boys no older than five pulling heavy rocks out of the road with a rope.
I enjoyed so much playing with the children at Lurare. I haven't met children so sweet in a long time. They were very shy, as they rarely receive American visitors. Mzungu is a word I heard a lot today. But these children were thankful, intelligent, and welcoming. We had so much fun playing games together.
Samson brought us to the Baptist church where he is pastor. It is small and made of mud, but it is beautiful. They keep the inside immaculate. Everyone sits on lawn chairs or small wooden benches. They are so proud of this building, and it is a lovely thing; the only downfall is that it is very small and the church community consists of about a hundred people! We all gathered inside to pray and worship before heading to Samson and Ruth's home. I love this community.
The grandmother ran to meet us as soon as we arrived at Samson and Ruth's home. She was 82 years old and joyful, clasping my hands and raising them high before blowing on my closed fists. She said, "Swa, swa, swa, swa!", which one woman told us meant, "hi," in her tribal tongue. The Kimilili area is full of the Luhya people. Kisumu is mostly Luo. Bungoma and Eldoret are both mostly Kalenjin. Tribes are very important and distinguishing characteristics for people in Kenya. The children I meet are often surprised that I don't identify myself with a tribe.
This family was very poor, but they brought us soda and crackers. So generous, so hospitable, so kind. Christ radiates through the love of this family. Audie bought 24 bananas from a woman on the roadside for 50 shillings, less than an American dollar. We had the opportunity to pray for healing over Ruth and Samson's sick children before we got back on the road for Eldoret.
When we finally arrived at Francis and Consolata's home, we were greeted with so much joy. This couple is madly in love with each other and with Jesus. Neighbor kids are always running around, looking for extra food; they are all welcomed inside. What the Biis have, they give to those who need it more. What a godly family this is.
Consolata cooked a fantastic meal for us. It was delicious... but there was so much! We filled our plates with chicken, broth ("soup"), white rice, brown rice, cabbage, potatoes, chapatti, and then Francis came around and filled our plates again. He piled the potatoes shockingly high on my plate as a joke; he and I could not stop giggling. Consolata brought a third round of food before we were finished with the main course.
When I stayed in Mexico City, one was very much obligated to finish their plate. To leave something to waste was considered extremely offensive. Nothing goes to waste here. What we don't eat on our plate is given to hungry children or to the farm animals that help these families survive. "There are hungry children that would love what you're having" is taken quite literally here.
After dinner, Consolata brought out fruit: bananas, oranges, and mangoes. We'd only thought we were full. Homegrown Kenyan fruit cannot be beat! The best kind of dessert.
By this time, we were all stuffed! And then they brought out hot chocolate and chai! Oh my. I will have gained a hundred pounds by the time I leave this country. We spent several hours at the Bii household. This family is full of grace, joy, and contentment. So much laughter and teasing can be found here. I think Francis has my favorite laugh of anyone I know.
After we ate until we could not eat anymore, we went outside to play with the dog and all of the neighbor kids. I handed out some small bracelets to the kids, which was enough to cause reactions of extreme excitement. These children have very little to call their own. They would run to show their mothers their colorful new bracelets, giggling and shrieking and holding out their skinny little arms. Sweet things.
The group met back up in the house at nightfall. Whenever we enter the home, we sit down. Francis explained how sitting down is a symbol of blessing the home. If you do not sit down, the home does not receive your blessing, so it's considered extremely impolite to remain standing. So after we sat for a few minutes, we stood back up and Consolata led us in a worship song and we prayed. The presence of the Lord is in this home. You can feel it as soon as you set foot in the doorway. Such love is there.
Our new hotel is nice. Our room is spacious and fairly clean, although there is no toilet seat or much plumbing! My bed is comfortable and warm. Like every hotel we've had so far, our window is made to stay open. Eldoret has a high malaria rate, especially at this time of year, so I'll give my mosquito net another shot tonight. Maybe.
God is good and that's His nature. Wow!
Three years ago: 40 Reasons to Eat (Part 4)
Two years ago: Interesting Facts About Me