Tuesday, July 2 and Wednesday, July 3



We left early – 6:45 AM – to make our way to Karuga.  It means “he jumps.”  It used to be close to Thompson Falls.  The falls are still there but they’ve been renamed with a Swahili name.  The event was supposed to begin at 11.  It took us till 11:15 to get there.  We stopped only once – a quick potty stop.  The crazy thing is it’s only about 150 miles.  It Texas, we’d cover than in just over two hours.  But they have no interstate system and they have no means to build one now.  There are speed HUMPS not bumps, in every community to slow traffic.  Everytime traffic slows, here come the hawkers.  Water, fruit, chipatie (Kenyan tortillas), cookies, potato chips, SHOES – I’ve seen it all being hawked by the roadside with people running up to your window with them.  Esp if they see a white face.  I’ve never been ashamed of being white – it’s how God made me after all – but it’s no asset here for trying to be incognito. 

Once we arrived, the conference was already underway.  The praise and worship team was singing.  The Visions of Glory Church of Karuga is a building about the size of a basketball court – 95x45.  The team had set up enough sound to fill our main auditorium at home.  Inside that metal building with a tin roof, it was overwhelming.  I’d estimate it at around 120 decibels.  My head was RINGING!  WAY too much sound for such a small space.  If I had been a half-mile down the road, I would’ve had no trouble hearing.  Of course, I was given the best seat in the house – right in front of one of the main speakers.  Oh my goodness!  I was really glad when the music stopped and we could get to the speaking.  I led a session and we had lunch – brown rice and beans, boiled cabbage and some sort of meat that I didn’t eat.  Laz led the first session after lunch and I pitched in a little.  Then Laz led the first part of the last session and I finished the day.  Just as we were finishing the session, the rains CAME!  I mean a frog-strangler!  On that tin roof, it was impossible to hear yourself think!  The blessing of it was we got to pray for our friends, the pastors and for Bishop. 
Afterwards, we had supper – Kigali (African cake made of cornmeal – mostly tasteless until you pour beans and gravy over it and it absorbs those flavors), beans, carrots, chapati and a meat ball looking dish that I didn’t try.  Not bad.

I stepped outside of the gates of the church (most of them have a wall around them here).  School was just letting out down the street.  A group of 20-25 boys, aged 9-12, we're coming past the church as I was standing there.  First, one of them stopped and STARED at me.  I mean the uncomfortable kind of stare like you've seen a wild animal or something.  Then, he called for his friends to come and see me.  They approached me timidly as I smiled and waved to them.  When I spoke to them (Jambo!) they seemed shocked!  I thought it was my really bad Swahili, but my friend Bishop spoke to them and found out what the deal was.  They had never seen a white man in person.  All of them - ALL OF THEM - wanted to touch me, hug me, have me place my hand on their head as a sign of blessing.  I was overwhelmed.  

The adventure was just beginning.  Bishop had told us he didn’t know where the hotel was.  He needed the local pastor to lead us there.  I thought that was weird.  We waited for the pastor and he led us to it.  In the middle of honking nowhere!  I was shocked that the hotel is as nice as it is.  No heat / ac but a nice bed, decent bathroom facilities and a free breakfast.  One of the attendants came to take my breakfast order.  I really only wanted Cornflakes, but she was genuinely upset about that.  I relented and ordered an omelet.  No telling what will be in it – that wasn’t part of the choices.  We shall see in just a few hours.

It’s bedtime on my next to last night in Africa.  I’ve enjoyed my time here immensely, but when I facetimed with Julie and Josh, I was homesick like I haven’t been in a long time.  I miss my family, my church and my home.  I’ve worn everything I brought at least twice now except what I will wear on the plane home – I saved that for the 4th of July! 

WEDNESDAY, July 3

I got up early and went to breakfast.  The omelet they gave me was. . . . . . interesting.  Throughout this trip, I've done my best to be an adventurous eater.  That's not my norm.  I like what I like and I tend to stick with it.  But on this trip, my lovely wife challenged me to be bold and so I have tried.  This time, however, something told me NO, don't eat that.  Your stomach will not like it.  So I did not, much to the disappointment of the wait staff.  It did not, however, go to waste.  My friend Bishop ate it for me.  

When we got out, it was COLD.  14 celsius.  If my math is any good, that's around 45 degrees.  Cold enough for me to see my breath.  Our car didn't like the cold much and was cranky about starting.  We prayed over it - Yes, God is sovereign even over mechnical things - and it came to life.  The conference was tremendous!  The kindness they showed me and my friend Laz was amazing.  I was humbled by their kind words and their encouragement. What a joy it was!  

Then, it was time to leave after lunch.  It had taken us more than 4 hours to get there.  Ultimately, it would take us nearly 5.5 to get home.  But the trip was so worth it.  We had crossed the Equator on the way up but we didn't have time to stop for a picture.  We did on the way home.  Where we crossed was at an elevation of 7747 Ft.  No wonder it was so cold!  

Julie and Josh called just as we got to the main road back to Nairobi - about halfway.  I was talking with them and wishing they could've experienced some of this with me.  No sooner had that thought occurred to me than we saw a small herd (4-5) wild zebras on the roadside.  Bishop saw them first and hit the ditch for me.  I turned the facetime camera around and shared a special moment of grace with my wife and son.  The looks on their faces as they saw what I was seeing was priceless.  Too soon, we lost signal and got cut off, but I was delighted for the Lord's kindness to me.  

A little while later, we saw a pack of baboons.  They were sitting near where the hawkers were selling their goods.  Obviously, the baboons were hoping for a handout.  I was trying to get a picture to send home.  Bishop said, "Darin, let me roll the window down so you can get a better one."  He started rolling it down and a baboon heard it and started RUNNING toward us!  He was expecting us to give him something!  We didn't, but that didn't stop him from looking longingly into our vehicle!  

Through patience and good stories, we got home just in time to meet with the rest of the group.  It was a delightful evening spent together.  

Tomorrow, I go home.  Back to Addis Ababa first to pick up my round trip and then on to Washington Dulles.  Dulles to DFW and then home.  I'm ready even though I'll miss my Kenyan friends and family.  

Thanks for reading this nonsense. This started as notes to myself and Julie so I wouldn't forget things along the way.  I'm grateful for a church who loves missions and me enough to let me run away from home for 17 days.  FBC Midland family, I'll see you Sunday.  

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