Monday, August 4, 2008

A Whirlwind Week

What a week! From flying over Sudan in a DC-3 to, a day later, living in a village eating boiled chicken and rice with no electricity…these past few days have really worn me out.
After getting back from Sudan late Thursday night, it was a short day at work before I headed upcountry with one of my co-workers in the hangar. Mzee Stephen Kituo has worked for the past 20 years in the AIM Air engine shop. He is also a pastor and has a fairly large shamba to which he invited me to this weekend. I was excited to finally live in a village setting for a few days and get out of the hustle of Nairobi…and a hustle it was.

Mzee and his wife

Our trip began at around 11am. Mzee has to leave this early in order to arrive home before dark. We boarded a matatu for the bus center. After trekking through the streets now mud covered instead of dirt covered, we boarded our bus. Wanting to leave one always boards the fullest bus. This ensures you leave sooner than a less full bus…yet doesn’t ensure you a good seat. The only one left for me after Mzee took the open seat in the back, was more of a half a seat; the other half taken up by a rather large woman in the seat next to mine. For the next 4 hours I attempted to remain in my seat and not the isle which was less than a foot wide. My legs had no where else to go except the isle…that is until it was occupied. Every so often, the bus made routine stops. At these stops vendors were so gracious enough to board, at least 20 at a time, the bus and bring their merchandise to your face…literally. The less than foot wide isle was filled with vendors trying to squeeze by the others trying to make a sale. Needless to say, I got up close and personal with the lady next to me as well as some posteriors of the vendors passing by. When we weren’t stopped, I was lucky enough to have been seated next to the speaker; which, cranked up as loud as I think that small speaker could go, provided me with 4 hours of blaring reggae music for my entertainment. Complete with live chickens in the luggage rack, this bus trip was a memorable one to say the least.

Mzee is also a pastor in his village for the past 5 years. This is the reason he makes this trek every weekend to be with his family and to lead his church. His wife, sons, daughter, and grandchildren were gracious hosts. Normally he does have power; but his inverter has been broken for the last 2 weeks. Thankfully I was able to help him fix it while I was there. He should have power when he gets the parts and goes back home next week. I got the full tour of his shamba. He has many crops, cows, chickens, and goats to keep him busy while he is there. The scene was much different than Nairobi, almost desert like. The river was completely dry that sustains this valley and the villages around. This being the dry season everyone digs wells and carries the water to their crops and livestock.
Sunday was the highlight of the trip. I was able to go to Mzee’s church and worship together with them. While I did not understand a word of the Kamba being spoken during the service, I was able to sing (as best I could) with them and enjoy being with them that Sunday. Mzee allowed me, with an interpreter, to share my trip with them and what I plan to do in the future, right before a guest speaker from a local college gave the message (I am told I am lucky this is the case…or else Mzee would have asked me to preach, which he often does with guests who come).

After Mzee completed some meetings he had with church leaders, we both rode on the back of two piki piki’s (motorcycles) to the nearest town. We stayed in a hotel there for the night before getting up at 2am to catch the matatu back to Nairobi.
Needless to say, I am very exhausted from that trip and from both trips so close together. Yet they were both a good experience. Not all entirely enjoyable…yet good. It was very interesting to see how hard these people in the village work just to sustain themselves. Living, or making a profit to live, all depends on the rain or your efforts to work. While I still have not gotten my picture taken in a dung hut yet…I am thankful to God (and the Kituos) for this experience at the end of a whirlwind week.


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