Friday, July 26, 2013

My Daughter's Shoes

June 30, Sunday

Today was a great day.  We gathered for breakfast and then split up to go to different churches.  Joel came in a car to pick up Kevin, Nicole, Naana, and me to take us to the Kipkaren Church of Christ.

For a Church of Christ, the Holy Spirit was alive in this place!  I loved it.  The worship team sang loudly through speakers that nearly blew our eardrums!  The congregation and worship team prayed and danced and moved and called upon the Spirit unlike anywhere I've ever seen.  We all ended up dancing by the end of the worship session.  I spent the morning holding a tiny African baby that danced happily on my hip.  The baby was precious; I was content to stay where I was for hours, if allowed.

As soon as I stepped through the gates of the school this morning, a tiny girl sprinted towards me and leaped into my arms.  When I caught her, she turned around to look at her friends and gave them a thumbs up and a cheeky grin, as if to say, "Look, now I'm friends with a real mzungu."  

Kevin preached this morning over Genesis 37, the story of Joseph.  The Lord spoke so much through his message.  Everyone was listening eagerly.  Lives were changed today.

Two children sat next to me.  One was Faith's brother.  He was using his sister's new Bible I gave her two days ago.  I forgot to write Faith's name inside and when I looked, she had written, "To Faith Jepkoech, From Milton Jones."  Sweet thing.  Of course every child that attends Milton Jones Eagles Academy will expect all of their blessings to come from Jesus and Milton Jones.

After the service, I watched to see if Faith's brother would return the Bible and he did!  I was wondering if he had stolen it, but no, Faith has good brothers.  I met them both today.  Faith's older brother is named Kevins and her younger brother is Nehemiah; he's only four.  Nehemiah literally hung on my arm, swinging and laughing, all afternoon, the booger.

The entire congregation meets outside after church, greeting each other in a large circle and shaking hands.  I probably shook the hands of 200 people today.  I was swarmed by children who were completely unafraid of me, much to my delight.  They hung onto my arms and said, "Picture!  Picture!"  Of course I was happy to oblige.

Faith found me almost immediately and hung around me for the rest of the day; at first, standing a few feet away and then eventually growing the courage to pull her chair right next to mine and grinning up at me every few moments.  Everywhere we went, kids would ask, "Is this your daughter?  Is this your daughter?"

The last two times I've seen Faith, she's worn this awful pair of sneakers that are literally falling apart and much too big for her.  Today, a couple of older girls approached me and said, "This is your daughter?"  When I said yes, Purity replied, "You would allow your own daughter to have shoes like these?"

This put me in my place.  I was extremely convicted.  "I'll make sure she gets new shoes," I said.


"Yeah, sure, today."  And they were satisfied.

Taking pictures is a big deal here.  Usually kids wherever I go will ask me to take a picture of them as soon as I turn on my camera.  Today several mothers with babies and toddlers approached me to ask if I would photograph their children.  They were so proud of them.  Several of these babies looked very healthy and fat, which made me so happy.  I praised their mothers and they beamed at me.  How I wish I could give each mother a printed copy of these photographs!

Lunch was taken in a back room: beans, rice, chapatti, and potatoes.  It was very good and self-service, which is a good thing in this country, where it's considered an act of hospitality to urge people to eat more and more.  They did urge, but we got to make the final decision this time.

Faith was waiting for me on the front porch when I finished lunch.  The church pastors asked if I would teach the youth, which I thought meant children.  I agreed.  The youth turned out to be what Americans consider youth: preteens and teens.

I shared the story of the Prodigal Son, a short version of my testimony, and the Gospel.  I made the entire lesson up off the top of my head and used an interpreter, so the fact that the teens responded well was totally because of the Lord's power.  Nicole prayed to finish and Kevin gave a final word of encouragement.  All in all, we had a wonderful youth class this Sunday.

At the end, a young man in his twenties who serves as the youth pastor stood up.  He pointed straight at me and said, "Emily, I have prayed for a godly wife and you have come!"

Well, this was pretty much a proposal, but I managed to keep my reaction to a friendly chuckle and nod, hoping it would be forgotten.  "I'll pray for you to find a godly wife," I mumbled, and everyone started clapping.  What an afternoon this was!

Later in the day, Simon (another pastor) said, "Did you hear him?  He wanted you to be his godly wife.  You tell me you love Kenya, so listen to God's plan for you."

How awkward!  I smiled again and said, "I know God's will will be done."

Naana was teaching the women, so the younger kids outside asked if they could put on a fashion show for me while we waited.  Boy, can these guys strut their stuff, even the littlest ones.  I had a good laugh and they enjoyed looking at pictures of their antics.

After church, we all went to Simon's house for tea.  Simon is a pastor at Kipkaren Church of Christ.  He is newly married to a sweet, shy woman named Caroline.  She made us all chai.  Their house is very small and located in the slums, but they fixed up the living room as nice as they possibly could.  It felt very much like home. 

We then went and picked up Faith from the church so that I could fulfill my promise and get her new shoes.  She was thrilled when she saw that we had returned.  She climbed over everyone in the back seat and pushed at Nicole so she could squeeze in right next to me, grinning from ear to ear.  Sweet thing.  We took Faith to the Nakumatt, where there was a Bata shoe store upstairs.

Faith got to choose from all of the school shoes, and she picked out a pretty buckled pair.

The saleslady was very kind and clearly was happy to see that Faith was getting a much-needed new pair of shoes.

We didn't know Faith's size, but we found a pair that fit her well with a little room to grow.

Naana bought Faith her very first book-bag ever.  Faith picked out a pretty pink one and wore it outside so proudly.  We stuck those awful worn-out shoes inside and let her leave the store in her shiny new ones.

Finally, I told Faith to pick out a coke and an ice cream, so she was absolutely delighted by the end of this trip.  I have never seen a little girl so excited and happy.  She sat in the backseat on the way back to the church, eating her ice cream and smiling from ear to ear.  She thanked me several times, sweet thing.  As I told her goodbye, Faith said, "I love you, Emily!"

Simon thanked me for having concern for her, but how could I not?  How I long to put shoes on every child in the slum.  I cannot personally change the life of every child in Kenya, but I have the ability to provide aid for a few, all glory to the Lord.  And Faith is precious.  The love of Christ shines in her.

Our small team re-grouped and went to Mamma Mia's, an Italian food restaurant, for dinner.  It was delicious!  We all had milkshakes for a pre-meal dessert.  We don't get a lot of sweets here other than sodas, so ice cream was savored.  Stephen, our driver, had his very first milkshake ever.  He was a fan.

We went to the Nakumatt again before we returned to the guesthouse.  Cassie bought a little trophy for a few hundred shillings.  Later tonight, she wrote "World's Best Driver" on the plaque in front.  We'll present it to Stephen before we leave, as well as a collected tip envelope.  I can't wait to see his reaction.  We always tell Stephen he is the world's best driver after he gets us through crazy roads... especially after the fairly problem-free trip up and down Mt. Elgon in a matatu.  Stephen always laughs and laughs when we tell him this.

Stephen has five young kids, so we leave our leftovers with him after meals to give to his family.  He's such a sweet man.

We have only two nights left in Kenya.  I am not at all ready to leave.

Three years ago: 40 Reasons to Eat (Part 6)


  1. Lmbo!!! done went over to Africa and found a man! Kmsl I would have felt so awkward and weird after he shouted that out!! Sounds like you handled it well, though!Lol

    1. Haha, at least he didn't offer to buy my hand with cattle and goats, as is custom!

    2. Oh Lord...he would have been real serious then!!

    3. oh wow.. I just looked at the times that I posted both of my comments and they are both at the exact same time-12:34 AM! Weird lol