Second Update from Kenya
We cannot offer hope to one, without offering Hope to all
The first few days of this trip has faded into memory, since last updating a lot has occurred it Is hard to remember what I have been doing never mind the day. The weather has been great; temperature-wise between 22-30’C, which is perfect, especially when I have to dress like a minister (which means trousers and shirts). My plans have changed somewhat I now am willing to confess I was probably being a bit adventurous to try and fit a trip to Tanzania into the end of this trip, while it would be doable; I have reluctantly decided after some prayer and reflection that it would not be wise, considering the program of events I have once I get home. So I will be flying home a week early.
The last post went up on a Friday morning, one of the first days that I had found a couple of spare hours to write anything. The reason, because Martin wanted to get cut what little hair he had on his head (I know the feeling) and he needed two hours, which is a bit like waiting in certain Barbour shops in the UK. Now, I am sitting in the ACK Guesthouse/hotel in Nairobi on my break between the two parts of the placement. At the stat of the week I was looking forward to getting away from Kajiado and having break, not for any particular reason just to see somewhere new. I have loved every minute and every experience of being in Kajiado especially in the company of Martin who is a Godly, passionate, funny and joyful man but Time waits for no man and soon the end of week arrived.
Friday was one of the toughest days I have had, not just in Africa but in recent memory. After the morning break where I had written the previous blog post, I had one of the best mornings. Martin arrived around 11 and declared we would be heading to a prayer retreat centre that was being run by the one of the clergy in the Diocese – “it is not far” he said. 30 minutes later and after trudging up a dirt road in a battered and well used Toyota Corolla a very good car in need of some repair, which when Martin gets behind the wheel turns magically into a Land Rover Defender. The sheer incline of the road had me fearing we would suddenly start rolling backwards. Eventually; myself, Martin and Tevin arrived at the front gates of the centre. The location is exquisite, an old house sitting majestically on the edge of a hill/mountain like a King sitting on his throne surveying his kingdom below. If you ever feel called by God to spend a few weeks in utter isolation to pray and reflect on God’s word, then I have to recommend the Center run by the Diocese of Kajiado. We did not stay long in the centre itself instead we took off towards the top of the hill, passing through the gardens being meet by different people spending time in Gods presence Praying and reading His word. The views were breathtaking, Kenya, especially in the rainy season, is like a tropically Ireland to look out in every direction to be meet by rolling hills and unending green was an echo of Eden. We spent time chatting, viewing and walking – before having to come back down from the hill and back down to reality.
Later in the evening, Martin wanted to go and visit the women who had been unwell with HIV, she has just been submitted to the government hospital. He asked I agreed – off we went. I knew what was coming, but I did not know I would not be ready for it. I do not like hospitals (I don’t know anyone who does) my experiences of them are sickness and death. This hospital, by African standards, is most likely excellent, but by my standards like nothing I have ever experienced before. It was a short drive out of out of town and surrounded by various local government buildings. We had arrived outside visiting hours, Martin being a clergy-person meant there was no issue getting in. We passed through the mains gates and walked down between different buildings, hosting different departments – I was amused by the sight of cattle grazing amongst some of the buildings. Eventually, at the end of the path was the final building; one of the Hospital wards. We entered and the brightness that was soon outside vanished literally. The building was so dark. Martin knew where he was going and walked towards the end of the building, as I followed him I kept expecting to meet someone who didn’t look sick or unwell, a Doctor or nurse but there did not seem to be any present, one of the first people we bumped into had been a security Guard. We arrived at the last section after what felt like an age, there was our friend lying limp on the bed, I had struggled to watch the loss of hope the last time we were with her at the house, this was the same feeling multiplied by thousands. There were eight people in the ward of various ages, in various condition’s and all had been diagnosed HIV positive. Our friend was lying close to the top of the ward, lifeless and hopeless on the bed with friends and families trying to tend to her. I waited impatiently for Martin to ‘do his thing’ (Pray), which he eventually did, but every second saw me scanning the room and taking in things that made me more uncomfortable; a room full of human beings who were HIV positive and not one of them had a usable mosquito net, the sight of dried vomit and blood on the floor, the lighting, beds without pillows or sheets and the utter despair etched on the faces of every person in that room wondering why I was there. Martin asked us to pray, we did – normally this would mean we would exit a place but to my anger and shame, this time, it did not. Once he had finished praying for our friend, he then moved onto praying for every person in that ward, that they would know the presence of the Spirit and the power of God and would get home soon. Then we slowly started to move down the corridor bumping into Nurses and Doctors who were tending to more people than they could, Martin again stepped in and chatted with people and prayed with them, moving into the side ward where a young daughter was caring for an epileptic mother who had fallen into a fire during a fit and badly burned herself. At that Moment Martin was Christ-like in my eyes; offering comfort, hope, and support he asked me to pray (I did) and again we moved further down the hall where he prayed for the final ward. I think he could sense my discomfort as he uttered words similar to “we could not pray for one without offering hope to all”, in my discomfort I knew God was challenging me and calling me to something more, to the example of Martin. An Example that did not offer let his distress affect his call to minister and bring the hope of Christ; to the suffering, hurting and hopeless.
Over the last few days, I have experienced various aspects of life in Kenya, From the PCC (Parish Church Council) in our terms a Vestry (it’s just like a vestry). To Sunday worship at the cathedral, where we had the privilege of being joined by Bishop Gaddiel and the Local MP. I was preaching at the young service which was long and vibrant, with different people performing songs or dances with encouragement from Martin – it was magnificent. Straight away we marched for the Swahili service, similar to being in Tanzania but more polished by the fact, the church has a sound System and projector. This week has been more chilled, with me sitting in on some local clergy training the standard of which has been excellent. Visiting homes and exploring with Martin. One of the high points has been dropping in on the Diocese Youth conference being held in the cathedral where over 60 young adults are learning about God and how to overcome their human Limitations. I have witnessed worship and talent shows and the Joy that their faith brings them.
I am so thankful for being here, even though it has been a lot tougher than I thought. This is my 4th or 5th trip to Africa, but my first alone. I have struggled in the evenings to occupy myself, becoming bored of reading – even though I like my space I also like the luxury of friends, family and people I know. This is something I have missed. I would ask you to pray for the following:
- For the Church: Emmanuel cathedral is a Parish, that does wonderful outreach into the community, pray that it is able to fulfil all that it sets out to do. For the Provost, Henry and all the staff including Martin who seek to minister. That they would be filled with the holy spirit and live a life worthy of Christ (they are and do)
- For the Shalom hospital, the Diocese runs as it ministers spiritually and physically to local people. For every hospital in the area and the doctors and nurses who wonderfully serve the sick.
- For Ronnie and Maggie – the local CMS Ireland missionaries who work as part of the development Team in the Diocese in a very remote area of the Diocese close to the border with Tanzania and in view of Kilimanjaro. Pray for them as they work and spend a lot of time travelling to fulfil other duties.
- Pray for the Diocese Synod at the end of next week, that they would seek God and discern to do his will.
- For Myself: I am tired, very tired – Mostly mentally it has been a long year, with 8 essays and a never-ending stream of things to do. I have loved every minute here, but it comes at the end of a time of Duty and I am looking forward to getting some rest over the next few weeks. Pray that I would have an abundance of energy.
- That I would enjoy spending time with God. he would challenge me, rebuke me, change me and make me more like him.
- Pray for the second part of my placement in a town called ‘Ke-tan-Bella’ (phonetic spelling) that the accommodation there will work out and I will enjoy and learn as much as I can.
- Pray for my journey home, that all will work out and flights will run on time (Leaving Nairobi airport on the 3rd of May, arriving in Dublin on the morning of the 4th)
Update: The patient whom had been HIV positive has since God to be with the Lord. Pray doe the family and church as they prepare for the funeral.
Yours in Christ,