Sunday, November 7, 2010

The View from Above

A few days ago Kenji and John Njane not only gave the widow and her orphans a completely new roof but the next day they went back and re-did several barely standing external walls and also built an internal wall instead of the bedsheets she had hanging. It was a hard few days of labor (and required quite a bit of money) but the house looks like a proper Kenyan house now. It torrentially rained the night they finished and as I lay in bed listening to the sounds, I was happy that the old lady no longer has to get wet inside her house when it rains. It was a very small deed, to help just one family, but we could see the effects. And the villagers who worked for free know that some day it will be their turn to receive help. It's all about community and we felt good about the message.

The day after construction was done and I finished at the hospital, we decided to tackle the nearest peak in the Rift Valley: Mount Longonot. We got up before dawn and were on the road by 6am. We arrived alone in the park and headed up the long dirt path just before 7am. As the only ones on the mountain except for the animals, the cool early morning was quite peaceful. It was a tough climb for me since I'd had that asthma attack about a week earlier and had been using my inhaler about 3 times a day just to keep my wheezing at bay. But, I finally made it to the top about an hour later and the view of the caldera and Rift Valley below was breathtaking. Although beforehand we had agreed that the only thing we HAD to do was get to the rim, I knew that actually summiting was in the cards. We headed up the shorter but steeper climb to the top. It's a good thing I know how to rock climb and have mastered my fear of heights as several portions were only several feet wide with steep clifs on either side and required climbing on all fours. The summit afforded a 360 degree view of the valley below and our packed lunch was delicious at only 9:45am; this is, with the exception of the fake doritos. Two thumbs down on the Poco Loco Nacho Chips. As we made our way back to the trail down from the rim, we were happy that we had started out early-- 15 foreigners and two separate groups of Kenyan school children were making their way to the top.

We were back home just after noon and leisurely starting cleaning up and packing for leaving the country. While we were hiking, John Njane had called my cell phone to ask if he could bring a friend over to meet us. He kept saying, "Kenji was telling me that you guys don't go to church very often. I have a friend who wants to meet you because of the work you did and to share her message with you." Looking back, this should have set off alarm bells but I thought it was just the language barrier. (Note to self: always be suspcious.) We agreed that they would come over between 3-4pm as we were going to be home packing all afternoon.

At 3:30pm, John and Elaine arrived at our door. We all sat down at the dining table with cold pink lemonade for everyone and shared niceties. Elaine is a missionary who has lived in Kenya for over 40 years and in fact, she grew up in a missionary family in Africa. She is very kind. However, I started to get the point of this visit when she pulled a Bible out of her bag. We then endured an hour of Bible passages and admonishment that our lifestyle is not that of "good Christians." Poor Kenji got the real brunt of the session when she realized that he has not been baptized since he is Japanese. I thought she was going to collapse on the floor in a religious convulsive fit. After the interminable discussion of why we aren't good people despite the fact that we had acted like human ATM machines for the past several days and practically rebuilt this woman's house from the ground up, we all prayed together that K and I would find the right path. I politely led them out after the pink lemonade had been exhausted and tried not to feel betrayed by John and ambushed in our own home. As they were driving away, Kenji turned to me and said, "Next time, I'm just gonna say we go to church every day. Apparently we're going to hell anyway, so what's one more lie on top of everything else?" Word.

We are now on safari in the Maasai Mara and are in between morning and afternoon game drives. More on these adventures later!