1/10, 9:40 A.M. We are at Icelandair/Zambia Airways gate 10 at JFK International Airport, New York with Pastor Wes Clemmer, his wife Verna and their daughter Valerie who will travel to Nairobi, Kenya with us.
My thoughts go back a few days. I was remarking to Jeanette on the culture shock we shall imminently face. Perhaps the presence of God will also be more immanent, more immediate, in an environment where the materialism of America is far removed. I had thought of how the "re-entry" will be - back from vistas of natural grandeur to the artificially colored world of mass media. Back from what I imagine will be a slow-paced lifestyle to the rush of late 20th century suburbia. In three weeks I will know if this insight rings true. For now, we look forward to departure for adventure. We have paused for photos with Valerie.
2:20 P.M. - Our take-off and first 2.5 hours in the air have been routine. What will the first smell of African air be like? I hope this slight cough is not to develop into a bout with cold or flu.
8:00 P.M. - Monrovia, Liberia! Gravity feels the same on a different continent! So does the onset of a cold or flu. About one hour for refueling, etc., per flight crew, then on to Lusaka, Zambia.
11:55 P.M. Our DC 10 is winging its way over the grayish mass which is Africa. Magnificent bolts of lightning, silent from my vantage point, occasionally illumine the paler gray sky. Orion is fading with the other stars as the great light which God made to rule the day makes its approach.
I considered the ancient land below and that the same constellations, displays of power, and sun had been seen by Biblical patriarchs. What descendants of Noah and his sons had first entered this great, vast land? The stars have now vanished, the spacious firmament grown yet closer to its enlightened blue, an orange-pink wedge peels away cloud layers in the east. Lusaka is probably about three hours ahead.
11:15 A.M., January 11- Kenyan Airways' 707 is taxiing for lift-off. Finally, Nairobi in 2.25 hours per the flight crew. The layover at Lusaka was six hours but seemed interminable. However, I'm favorably impressed with Zambia Airways' quality of service. Lunch was served at the airport terminal and I tried an African dish, Nsima na nkuku, which turned out to be grits with chicken! Yellow- bereted Zambian soldiers lurked about the airport. I engaged one of them in a brief conversation when he thwarted my attempt to take an empty bottle of a Zambian soft drink, Kwench, as a souvenir. We are hearing languages and looking at faces from around the globe. We played the card game Mhing in the waiting lounge. We are all dead, dog tired. (As I edit this journal six weeks later, I realize that I am switching from past to present verb tense. Reader please understand!)
12:40 P.M. EST; 8:40 P.M. Nairobi time - We were met at Kenya's Jomo Kenyatta airport by our new friend Lynette Walters, Lynette's associate with Compassion, James, and the Means, Valerie's friends. Jeanette and I had to secure Kenyan visas in the airport. It looks like I'll begin my vacation with "Nyquil in Nairobi"; I'm now fully cold or flu smitten.
We drove to the pleasant accommodations of the Methodist Guest House with Lynette (and James Ondeng, native Kenyan). Our clean room has hot and cold water, nice beds, a "regular" toilet. A fitful night for me with Jeanette's Actifed substituting for Nyquil, which I never did obtain.
I awoke to the songs of dozens of birds. There were deep honks, pretty warbles, loud cries, myriad chirps. Unlike any I had heard before in terms of variety and richness. Lynette will soon be here to escort us on our first outing, Lake Nakuru and Tree Tops. This is to be a two-day jaunt.
Mid-afternoon, January 12 - En route to Outspan, another lodge which serves to receive guests bound for Tree Tops, we came upon four women carrying huge loads of firewood on their backs. This was our first experience of the perils of taking photos of Africans. We had to pay them, bartering there on that lonely road through the language barrier. As they turned to continue their incredibly long journey on foot as beasts of burden, the gigantic bundles of heavy wood immediately covered their forms completely.
5 P.M. Tree Tops - is a posh tourist spot actually built into a copse of trees. It resembles a tremendous tree house with overnight facilities for 70 people! From its various verandas and strategic vantage points, we can see buffalo, antelope, baboons, wart hogs, many birds. Elephants and possibly rhino may show up later to use the water hole and (man-made) salt licks which attract the beasties.
During the narration by one R.J. Prickett on the animals and their habits, he referred to the "30,000,000 year old" formation of the Mediterranean Sea. By way of comment during the questions and answers segment, I challenged that idea, referring to the many scientists who do not hold to evolution, which I averred, had no basis in fact. Prickett finally said the conversation was heading in a direction he didn't want to go. I offered creation as the alternative to godless "evolution". Praise God for this opportunity to speak for the truth!
9 P.M. - Close to 30 elephants did show, no rhinos thus far. As I am retiring due to miserable cold or flu (I never did determine which) I asked JG and LW to awaken me should the latter, or any hyenas (promised by Prickett) arrive.
11:30 P.M. - Rhino! One lone specimen of this endangered animal, hunted by poachers for its horn. The great but "skittish" creature returned at 12:30. I neglected to mention the Kikuyu tribal dancers at Outspan yesterday. The earth itself became their drum, their feet the drumsticks, with accompanying voices, bongos, a big convoluted sheep (I assume) horn with a deep base sound, and other instruments. Fascinating!
Dawn, Friday January 13 - Was stunningly beautiful!
Mid-afternoon, January 13 -
Kenya's Lake Nakuru is one of a handful of similar alkaline lakes in the world which attracts flamingo by the thousands. The sight of mind-boggling numbers of these large pink birds is breath-taking. As they fly, brilliant red and black under-pinions are revealed. The sound of their calling to one another dominates the ear. The lakeshore is as littered with pink feathers as crushed shells fill the sand of a tropical isle.
Well, what does one do when one finds his four-wheel drive vehicle stuck in the miry shore as a result of attempting to drive too close to the ornithological wonder? Lynette, Jeanette and I prayed. As I lifted my eyes from prayer, I saw four human forms loping easily toward us in the distance. As the leader approached, I greeted with the Kiswahili "Jambo!" He smiled and replied in English, "It seems you are stuck!" He and his three fellows were quite willing to help, at a profit. Following the inevitable dickering, and being assured that we were getting "the low price", we watched these four African men go to work with rhythmic precision.
The front right wheel was axle deep and the other three not far behind. With a lilting chant in their tribal tongue, our heroes did not push, but lifted the car out of the muck. They did not appear to be the most muscular men, but they had an uncanny ability to apply the necessary force in complete unison and harmony. I gladly forked over the proper amount of Kenyan shillings to each brightly beaming helper. Each seemed delighted in their success and our benefit as they asked, "You are happy now, right?"
Indeed we were and I remarked to my companions that I would have gladly paid any price. The alternative would have been to wait ad infinitum for an exorbitant tow-truck. The wait would have included the possibility, as nightfall approached, of falling prey to the mischievous baboons we had seen en route to our debacle. Those little marauders share the lakeshore with plenteous water buck, impala, and wart hogs.
6 P.M. -We are now resting in our comfortable pool-side room with mosquito-netted bed at the lodge at Lake Nakuru National Park. I said to Lynette that she must be lulling us into a false sense of security with all these fine accommodations before taking us on a rigorous adventure in remotest Zaire, far from all luxury.
9 P.M. -After a sumptuous dinner, we watched acrobat/limbo dancers. The very thought of the tortuous positions in which they effortlessly put their bodies is painful to me! Fire eating, tight- rope walking, and passing the hat for remuneration was included in their program. I kicked in "10 bob".
January 14, 1989, A.M. - After another less than restful night dealing with this cold which seems to be getting better, we sighted giraffe after breakfast. Off we go in search of a closer view!
Our search is rewarded as we come upon a herd of about a dozen per Jeanette's count. As we drove on through the park, we saw other giraffe, also about 8 zebra, a couple of buffalo, numerous bucks and wart hogs.
My first experience driving on the left in a car with the steering wheel on the right! As we left the park and headed into regular traffic, it was strange. When we got off the main road and went into the small town of Naivashu for sodas, I almost turned right into a one- way lane for traffic turning left from the other direction!
Back to the Methodist Guest House in Nairobi for the night, to church with Lynette and then on to the Masai Mara tomorrow.
The Lord's Day, January 15, 1989 -Worship at Nairobi Baptist Church was very conventional. Mutua Mahiaini the Kenyan preacher, an elder at the church, is also a Navigators staffer. He held forth in excellent English with a doctrinal position heavily influenced by D.L. Moody. I asked him after the service if he knew of R.C. Sproul and he had. I remarked on Sproul's comparison of the unsaved to a man shot dead and sunken to the bottom of the sea with a millstone around his neck to Mutua's analogy of the unsaved as "drowning". I said I believed Sproul was influenced by the Ephesians "dead in trespasses and sins" teaching.
Praise to the Lord, the Almighty, the King of Creation was one of the hymns and it had two more excellent verses previously unknown to me. The collection taken in a congregation of over 600 was received in green cloth bags held shut tightly as passed among the people. The pastoral prayer was similar to those in most American churches I have attended. N.B.C. has three morning services, we attended the middle (10 A.M.) service. Mutua also did the Scripture reading, passages from Acts 4 and 6. We met Lynette's Kenyan friend Peter Kimuyu, one of the deacons, and planned to attend the Bible study at his home the next Wednesday.
The congregation consisted of Kenyans black and "East Indian", also white non-natives - missionaries and missionary support personnel. (There is a significant white native Kenyan segment in the nation.) The choir was predominantly black Kenyan. All in all, we felt very much at home at N.B.C., worshiping with God's people of many tribes and tongues. What a showing of true brotherhood such as the world only philosophizes of, or attempts to coerce from its citizens!
P.M., January 15, 1989 - Imagine yourself on the loneliest road you ever traveled. In your mind's eye, strip this road of asphalt or even gravel. No street lights, telephone wires or poles, or large signposts; nor any mileage indicators, roadside stands or fuel and food pit stops may intrude into this reverie. Picture yourself and one companion being chauffeured by a driver of a different nationality who speaks your language in accented, broken fashion. You speak perhaps fifteen recently learned words of his. The fully windowed vehicle grinds through mire and bombs over craters of gargantuan size. As you negotiate makeshift detours, meandering through a foreign wilderness, you wonder what would happen should a breakdown occur.
Now, did I mention that you should add to your mental image the fact that along this boulder-strewn, shoulder-less, one-lane path you may not have seen another vehicle for an hour? Did I inject the reminder that the last human you may have seen was a Masai cattleman in his striking, utterly alien garb; or that the last human habitation was a rough-hewn enclosure palisaded with long, sharp sticks?
Don't get too secure as you traverse this vast, savage territory. Consider that your destination is called Kichwa Tembo (Elephant's Head). Include in your fantasy that you have passed within a stone's throw distance or shorter the following: a pride of lions as well as two lone males at two other locations, various small groups of elephants, giraffes, several hyenas, buffalo, baboons, antelopes and gazelles of ten or twelve varieties, wart hogs, zebras, topi, wildebeest, huge hideous vultures, eagles, kites, and two ostriches.
We trusted the Lord to bring us through this road and we loved every minute of it! The boulevard in question is one originating at its tamer terminus near Nairobi and becoming increasingly less user-friendly as it enters Kenya's Masai Mara Game Reserve. The stunning experience of it is only hinted at, in the preceding invitation to imagine.
10:30 P.M. - Now nestled in our "tent" at Kichwa Tembo lodge. This is a tent, but erected on a foundation, having four electric lights and a bathroom with a real toilet and shower. I write at a desk while Jeanette sits on a comfortable bed. This is of course after an evening at the main lodge which boasts a restaurant and lounge. "Smoke pots" dot Kichwa Tembo, I surmise to repel game. There are warning signs to stay within the camp's borders. It is a legal offense to get out of your game viewing vehicle. We arise at 5:45 A.M. to go on safari.
A.M., January 16, 1989 - With Julius our driver out to view animals again until breakfast. We saw many of the same animals, also: hippopotami, crocodiles, and jackals. Oxpeckers, parasite birds, suck the blood of live buffalo. Many more lions. There were secretary birds, herons, and plovers. How absurd evolution seems in light of this vast array of creatures glorifying their Creator!
Many of the Proverbs which illustrate human life through animal life take on new meaning. Proverbs 6:6 - "Go to the ant, thou sluggard! Consider its ways, and be wise!" Here in the Mara, these tiny creatures build hills the size of a truck. Proverbs 30:29 - 31 speaks of those four stately majesties, "a lion, mighty among beasts, who retreats before nothing; a strutting rooster, a he- goat, and a king with his army around him." The male lion indeed strides along fearlessly, lord of the land.
P.M. January 16, 1989 -
I knew (from experience) that a pint of Tusker, Kenya's sturdy domestic beer, was less than 10 bob. As I sat with John Ole Maytawang and his three sons of Olo'ololo Masai village, John sought to sell me photographic opportunities. Desiring something more tangible, I pointed to the two clubs held by eldest son Yosef.
"I will buy you all a round of brew for that."
Yosef reached for the larger, less seasoned weapon which was of better appearance. Father John, reckoning himself concealed to me, deftly caused the lesser club to be substituted as the payment was made. Now I reckon value to be established by the judgment of the market, so I did not flinch. I knew that the youngest son could drink only soda, even cheaper than beer! I considered that I had obtained a very worthwhile souvenir for roughly $2.00.
Jeanette, an amazed spectator to these proceedings, took the prize to our tent. She would also return, she said, with a couple of sewing needles, prized by Masai women, in the event that further trading could be done. In her absence, the subtle side of the Masai was seen. John Ole Maytawang, a man standing over six feet tall and surrounded by his sons, all men armed with clubs, said that of course, I had meant two pints each. The bartender, an African of other tribal descent, looked at me inquiringly. His eyes seemed to communicate what least one other African had verbalized to me, "The Masai are crazy people!"
"Of course, two rounds, John!", said I. So the club of Yosef was mine at double the cost - still a great bargain in my estimate. We laughed together and engaged in further cultural (only) exchange. Jeanette and I (Lynette was not with us on the Masai Mara safari) then left for our 4 o'clock game viewing trip. This turned out to be the exciting observation of " Nduma anawinda swara" - cheetahs hunting antelope.
Later P.M., January 16 -
I could not fail to see the similarity to that human quest in the spectacle of cheetah on the hunt for succulent gazelle and topi which Jeanette and I watched today.
Our guide/driver Julius advised that we were quite fortunate to happen upon the 'nduma (cheetah). These great cats patiently waited and eyed the grazing swara (antelope) several hundred yards upwind. They stalked, they stopped, the crouched. They did not seem to allow themselves to be distracted by the humans who looked on from following vehicles. They drew near, they were scented or seen, and their swift quarry made an incredibly rapid escape. Then the entire drama began again. We did not witness a kill, but the suspense was a greater and more natural one than Hollywood's greatest movie ever offered.
Tuesday, January 17, 1989 A.M. - More game viewing. Added ibis to our list of animals seen. It is called hadada in Kiswahili. During meals at the lodge, we learned Kiswahili words from our waiter, also at various other times during our African trip. This pan- African "trade" language varies from region to region. I have included a small Kenyan Kiswahili lexicon in this journal. "Ki" is a prefix meaning language of, but Swahili is not actually the name of an original African tribe. As I understand from a minister I would later meet in Mombasa, the Swahili were the result of Arab/Bantu intermarrying and were also often involved in Africa's ancient slave trade.
Most Africans we met spoke their tribal tongue, Kiswahili, and a "colonial" tongue.
Tuesday, January 17 -
The principle contained in these words of the Lord Jesus was brought to bear on my consciousness in a very graphic way through our visit today to the Masai manyatta (village) called Olo'ololo in Kenya's Masai Mara.
A manyatta is an habitation used for a time by the semi-nomadic Masai people, destroyed, and replaced when the clan moves to a new location. This manyatta was home (for the time being) to seven extended, polygamous families and friends of those families. We learned this upon going in. Entry was gained by agreeing with the (elected) manyatta leader, outside the gate, on a price for the palavering, trading, photography and general "gawking". The gate is simply an opening in a palisade of long, sharp sticks buttressed and augmented with brush. The manyatta is roughly circular and perhaps one hundred feet across.
As utterly culture shocking as all this was, it was seeing the huts which ring the inside perimeter of the palisade and learning their composition which really floored me. Entering a couple of them was an incredible experience.
The Masai tribe are cattlemen. Their tribal economy and culture devolve upon their cows, sheep, and goats which are innumerable on the face of their vast collectively owned land. It is not surprising then, is it, that even the dung of the animals would find a use? Yes, the very walls and roofs of the dwelling places of this people are made of dung.
Yes, the stench is overpowering as you enter the manyatta, and yes, flies literally fill the air. Strangely, our ability to overlook it all as we sought to communicate the people of Olo'ololo was not lacking.
I know I will never forget going inside a couple of those huts which I had to crouch to do. They were dark and I could not stand and could see little. Nor will I forget seeing people sitting, one woman nursing a baby, right next to piles of the chosen building material; or children peering at me whose faces were covered with crawling flies.
I was challenged by this encounter with the alien to consider the nature of my own society. Which is more vile - walls built from the waste of a grass-eating mammal, or walls which reverberate with and reflect what TV offers? Is a culture ridden with the "keep up with the Joneses" bug of materialism so superior to one which tolerates flies? What makes the dwelling places of men clean or unclean?
"To the pure, all things are pure, but to those who are corrupted and do not believe, nothing is pure... (Titus 1:15)
P.M. Tuesday, January 17, 1989 -
Kenya's highways compare rather poorly to the typical American Interstate. Having left the Masai Mara game reserve several hours behind, we were Nairobi bound on a major route. This thoroughfare is dominated by huge trucks which carry goods between the Indian Ocean port of Mombasa, Kenya and points in the interior of Africa, such as Kampala, Uganda. The thin pavement is pocked with larger and far more frequent "potholes" than any New York City street.
At one point, we came upon a few men on a tractor. Our driver spied their objective, a truck "belly up" by the side of the road. (We later learned that no one had been injured) As we reached the scene, several dozen men were preparing to right the vehicle by use of the approaching tractor and raw muscle power. I thought the spectacle would be good photo material and stepped out of the van to get a good shot.
As I faced my subject and began to focus, I was noticed. Several men reached for stones while others shouted angrily. It was quite obvious that they did not want their picture taken! My driver motioned me back into the van (as if I needed encouragement) and we hurried away unharmed.
The taking of photos of people in East Africa can often be costly, socially risky, or even dangerous as this incident shows. We would usually find resistance, based on superstition or other motives, on the part of the Africans to the dreaded camera.
Wednesday, January 18 -
Caveat Emptor! This ancient byword is supremely appropriate here in Kenya's capitol. Prices are most often not marked and bargaining is as prevalent here as we have found it to be in outlying areas.
Salespeople are extremely aggressive and seem oblivious to competition. For example, at one point about three teenage boys crowded around Jeanette, each seeking to sell identical bracelets. Each made his pitch simultaneously, with great determination, and "no" was a word they did not understand. Way to go for it!
These were among the goods offered for sale in downtown Nairobi: tropical fruits and vegetables, macadamia nuts in the shell, ebony and teak carved art objects, "kanga" (dress material), copper artifacts, malkite jewelry and bric-a-brac, soapstone carvings, woven baskets and bags, general merchandise.
We saw men piloting conveyances reminiscent of oriental rickshaws waiting for work - only they carried merchandise, not passengers. Some worked on foot; we passed a truck unloading 100 pound or more bags of potatoes onto human backs.
Jeanette is now the proud owner of ten Kenyan bracelets. We have also purchased just about as many souvenirs as will fit into our suitcases.
January 18, 1989 -
Was held at the home of Peter Kimuyu the deacon we had met at Nairobi Baptist. He and his wife Margaret are of the Kamba tribe. Peter is an economics professor at a local university. Their home was a delightful mixture of western comforts with African atmosphere. Before studying John 7 with Peter teaching, we enjoyed stimulating conversation with our hosts, Lynette, and another couple, Andrew and Julie. She hails from Perth, Australia and he from London, England where they attended a church called St. Gabriel's.
Peter offered his perspective on the issue of the relative value of different human cultures. As Christians, we were all in agreement that if a "culture", for instance, was based on the worship of a carved block of wood, that "culture" should change. We all recognized that an existential, relativistic view that all cultures are valid is an anti-Christian position. Peter shared that as late as the 1950's, his people the Kamba and the Masai people had warred against each other with bows, arrows, and clubs.
The tribal animosities are only beginning to fade in Kenya. The Christians at Nairobi Baptist Church often enjoy seeing the barriers broken down as tribes call one another brother and intermarry in Christ. For the Kenyans, these differences and walls of division are at least as significant as our American "racial" differences. To most westerners, only careful, intelligent observation can discover even the superficial (physical) differences between the tribes.
How much less long-standing points of conflict or value system differences! "They all look the same"!
Are those things which seem to create such wide gulfs between OURselves and OUR neighbors truly so great?
Thursday A.M. January 19 - I neglected to remember the names of the couple from Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada with whom we have shared a few meals while staying here at the C.P.K. (Church in the Province of Kenya) Anglican guest house. They are off today on a M.A.F. (Missions Aviation Fellowship) flight to Tanzania where they will visit missionary friends. He had been to New Zealand years ago and they were an interesting, friendly pair.
We have also spoken over meals with another missionary couple who are here in Nairobi from their work in Tanzania to get medical attention for their infant son. He had come down with an inexplicable rash and is now well improved. They are knowledgeable about malaria (cerebral malaria, the worst strain, results in death within 72 hours of contraction if untreated) and have proven fascinating conversationalists also.
Today we plan to finally get to the post office to mail our postcards. We walked in and around a park nearby after breakfast. I called Mrs. Jesani today regarding the gifts sent via us from her sister-in-law Firosa Dad back in Holmdel, NJ. Mrs. Jesani's husband, Mehboob, will come by this evening to get the candy Firosa sent for him their other brother, Abdul.
Tomorrow Jeanette, Lynette and I are off to Zaire! The adventure continues!
9 A.M., January 20, 1989 - With a lively party of five other persons Lynette, Jeanette and I are on board the smallest aircraft I've ever flown. Lynette tells me it is a Beechcraft 99. Also on board are an American medical student, Ann Spalding; Jean-Francois Negrini, a French/Swiss missionary doctor; a former MAF pilot named Max Grove; and pilot and co-pilot John Preece and John Miller. Seats have been removed and the plane could carry 15 passengers. The pilot advised that our cruising altitude would be about 12,000 feet and, being a propeller plane, our airspeed is slower. Were it not a bit hazy, these two factors would doubtless result in a magnificent view. I can see out of the front windows (about 10 feet in front of me). The aircraft is fairly noisy, but the ride is smooth - Jeanette is napping.
The haze is thinning and I can now see Kenya below. An average landscape of greens and browns. Our first stop is Entebbe, Uganda, the site of the famed Israeli army rescue. Max will disembark there. There will also be restrooms there - none on board. Our flying time to Entebbe is 1 hr. and 20 minutes from Nairobi's Wilson airport. As we near Entebbe, we are flying over huge lake Victoria, a major element of the Nile system.
10:20 A.M. - Touchdown, smoother than I expected, in Entebbe, Uganda. The airport terminal was smelly, photography forbidden (but I discreetly took a few pictures) I was glad to take off again. Our next stop: Bunia, Zaire.
Noon, January 20, 1989 - We were met in Bunia by Dave McAllister, Compassion International's head man in Zaire. We would later meet his French wife Sabine and their two sons Daniel and Philip. The Bunia airstrip was an experience of its own. The officials there were the first to search our luggage. They had no uniforms or other accoutrements of bureaucracy. We finally escaped in David's landrover. Ann and Jean-Francois continued on to another destination, Nyankunde.
Afternoon, January 20, 1989 - The day that followed is an indescribable whirlwind. The new information and perspectives were a sheer deluge. We came to our latest quarters, the Karibundi guest house run by an Irish couple, Ann and Eric Magowan. Hunting, and ivory trade, are open in Zaire and Eric shared hunting stories over dinner. We also learned of the Zairois (French for Zairian) receivership/parasite economy, the lack of initiative on the part of the people, and the extremely corrupt government.
There were humorous anecdotes regarding the loss of the ever-sporadic electric power. We swam in a nice pool at the Greek club in Bunia, which has a Greek population of shopkeepers and merchants. We went to the native marketplace where one dollar is worth 400 zaires. There we saw sun dried fish complete with swarming flies, paw-paw fruit, mandarin oranges and scores of other strange items offered for sale. Palm oil, which must be kept hot as it is being marketed, was sold at little "booths" to which buyers brought their own containers.
We learned from Eric that evening about another use of the palm - a fermented alcoholic beverage is concocted overhead in the tree itself; imbibers would often fall from the trees in a drunken stupor! Gas stations in Bunia (there are two, I believe) are rough-hewn stands with fuel in barrel drums. At the "airport", our Beechcraft 99 was being re-fueled as we left. The process involved rolling a few barrels out onto the airstrip and starting up a dilapidated pump to fill the tanks. The guest house and the home of the McAllisters are enigmatic oases in the midst of this African interior, former Belgian Congo land. The former is filled with ivory objets d'art, fine mahogany furniture, and an immaculately clean and homey feel.
The Compassion office is staffed by a handful of warm, sincere "Zairois" Christians with names like Padu, 'Mbafele, 'Mbele, and Kalongo. We had a minor run-in with a low level official, who, like most of the all but totally unpaid officials, sought to profit illicitly from my taking a photo on the main street of Bunia. He asked our guide David if I had a "permit" for photography. Dave replied that it was none of his business, get the "chef" if he so desired. This required that the fellow abandon his effort to "squeeze" us or bring it to the next official higher, who would try the same thing. The matter ended there.
French is spoken here and I am having an opportunity to brush up. The Kiswahili is slightly different. There are absolutely no telephones but the missionaries all have CB's.
The list could go on and on. I find it virtually impossible to capture the fullness of the richness of the new sights, sounds, ideas, thoughts, and experiences in the scope of this little journal. Perhaps only a biography of someone who has lived here, or similar literary endeavor, could even begin to transfer the whole of it from one mind to another. Even this, I fear, would fall short of communicating all. Go for yourself, reader...go for yourself!
January 21, 1989 Nyankunde, Zaire - is a thriving little town which began as a medical missionary station. It is a lovely little community with a hospital, a publications house (Editions Evangeliques), and a school for deaf children, Ephphata. We got to Nyankunde via David's landrover and one of Zaire's notorious roads, although this was one of the better ones. Zairois women carrying impossible loads of pottery, firewood, and other bundles on their heads or backs frequented the road. Many Zairois men use bicycles. The people burn brush to reduce the tick population, to clear fields for planting, and because it grows back more lushly for use by cattle when burned. We had a flat tire en route to Nyankunde.
We (the McAllister family, Compassion staffers Kalongo, Ramon, and another man, Lynette, Jeanette and I) made a pit stop at another Compassion project called Kambokabo on the way to Nyankunde. We watched and helped the kids build another latrine at their school. They CARRY water from a nearby source, make mud, and "plaster" the elephant grass frame with the mud. The roof is thatched grass, as is the roof of the school building itself. The children sang for us, the Compassion people did case studies and took individual photos for updates on sponsored kids. The school director served us a lunch of chicken cooked in palm oil, rice, and tea.
At Nyankunde, we spent some time with Mary Watson, a missionary from Wisconsin who began her work in Nyankunde in 1954. She is something of a grandmother to the local kids of all colors. She works with the deaf ones mostly. These children were friendly and adorable. Jeanette, Lynette, and I helped them with a world map jigsaw puzzle on Mary's dining room table. We saw their school and dormitory. A couple of the children must walk two days to school. They stay overnight in a village along the way. They only go home two or three times a year. They must really want to go to school! What a contrast to many American children who have opportunity to learn so much more under such vastly superior conditions, yet have such a poor attitude!
The deaf children later donned their very best clothes for us and assembled in a classroom to show us some things they had learned. They sang a few gospel songs and showed how they could "recite" memorized Scripture verses in sign language. One older boy prayed the Lord's prayer in sign language. We met their dorm mothers, middle aged widows from the area. We left Nyankunde in time to get back to Bunia before dark.
The Lord's Day, January 22, 1989 - One awakens to the smell of wood fires in Bunia. Ann Magowan is used to it and doesn't even notice. It's like being out camping.
Sadly I discover that a roll of film was not properly rewound, but had sheared off inside the camera. Re-loaded and ready to head for church.
Probably the most unique worship service I ever attended was this French language one at Bunia's Brethren church. The congregation were predominantly Zairois as was the pastor. A few whites were in the congregation and a white seminary teacher, Gordon Molyneaux, was today's preacher. The choir, mostly very young, used drums in their music. Several in the congregation shared passages of Scripture or prayers before the sermon. I recognized Romans 8:28- 39, the "more than conquerors" passage, and followed along in my English Bible. The sermon was on 1 Peter 2:19, suffering unjustly. I introduced Jeanette and myself in French during the recognition of visitors segment of the service. Lynette added that we were from "Les Etats Unis".
Ann Magowan has asked if I would share a devotional with their small missionary's fellowship group this evening. I plan to offer an encouragement based on the letters to the seven churches of Revelation. (This Bible book is NOT called "Revelations!!!) chapter 3.
We spent the afternoon at the Greek club pool, discussed Zairian economics and Compassion's ministry with Dave. Learned that the Canadian and American governments respect the Protestant missionaries, likewise the English ambassador to Zaire. They seem to realize that the missionaries are the ones who will really serve the best interests of the Zairois, not the Zairois government or massive projects which only seem to embezzle funds in the former case or waste them in the latter. David said the best way the average sponsor can help is to remain committed to seeing their child/children attain education.
We met the quintessential Englishman, or properly white Kenyan (several generations living there), pilot Rob Gromley. Jolly good chap. Tomorrow: Lubondja or bust!
7 A.M., Monday January 23, 1989 - As we drove onto the Bunia airstrip, the inevitable Zairian military personnel stood nearby with high powered rifles. Our pilot Don Davis joked with us (me, Jeanette, Dave, Kalongo, and Lynette) as we loaded into our single propeller Cessna 9Q-CMA. The cabin was equivalent in size to the interior of a limousine, but narrower. Take off was smooth. As we flew, it was strange to be able to see the landing wheels below and the wing above. The snow-capped Ruwenzori Mountain range was an awesome sight. Our tiny plane made its way through a low pass and the sides of the mountains seemed within arm's reach. Dave said that the territory below was unexplored - no one knows what is in those forested slopes.
The next sight was Virunga (or Ruwendi) National Park. We passed dozens of hippos in the rivers, flying not too far above them, and saw a few buffalo, elephants, and antelope on the plains. We then began to see lava flows (now cool) from a volcano system which, according to David, last erupted in 1984 and is still active. Lake Kivu followed, devoid of life and large, comparable to North America's Great Lakes. Lake Kivu is "dead" because heavy methane gas is trapped in the silt at the bottom and destroys anything that would begin to thrive otherwise as it slowly escapes into the water. Another "dead" lake recently experienced an explosion of the methane and 400 lives were lost in the ensuing mud slide.
Occasionally we flew over a road or other signs of human presence. We passed one of the presidential homes and a few villages, some of the structures with thatched grass roofs and some with the popular corrugated metal "roof toles". This material is ideal for roofing but beyond the financial means of most Zairois.
We landed for fuel, sodas, and restroom facilities at the airport at Bukavu, Zaire. The town itself we flew over a few minutes after take-off. It was a metropolis compared to Bunia. The country of Rwanda is east of the Ruziz river with Bukavu on the west bank. The view was magnificent as we flew on into southern Zaire to Baraka, the final destination for the airborne segment of our pilgrimage to Lubondja, the village of our sponsored child, Mtoka Afulu.
Pilot Don "buzzed" the town of Nundu, where Compassion has a school and where a church conference was in progress. Children came running from everywhere to see the low flying Cessna. We passed about 10 FEET above the heads of a small herd of cows feeding on what would become the Nundu airstrip. Flying at tree-top level was amazing! The bloody red baron never had so much fun, Snoopy!
At about 11:30 A.M. we landed at Baraka, a small Zairian town on the western shore of Lake Tanganyika. What a reception!!! Mtoka Afulu had walked two days with his father Afulu Musengu from Lubondja to Baraka. He presented us with 1/2 dozen eggs and a bouquet of flowers. The eggs are of extreme value to a poor Zairois village family. The entire town gathered around the Cessna. Mtoka had never seen an airplane. The director of the Lubondja school, a young Zairian man, read a speech that had been prepared for Jeanette and me. (It was in French, a copy appears at the end of this journal.)
We drove to the home of Nate and Priscilla Thompson, missionaries soon to go on furlough, in another of the landrover type vehicles, the only viable land transportation in Zaire. We would stay at the Thompson's home this night. We gave them the eggs. During the rest of that day, we visited the dispensary/hospital which their mission board runs here. We spent some time with Mtoka, his father, his sister, the school director, the class teacher, and local pastor from Lubondja. Rev. E'engele Alombwe, the man who translates sponsor letters, also was with us.
Our new African friends gave Jeanette the name 'Ngena, meaning compassion, and to me Masoka, goodness (if they only knew!) We gave one of the soccer balls we had brought, courtesy of Tim Wilson and Michael Allwood, to the director for the school children in Lubondja as a group, and the other ball to Mtoka as his very own. He immediately found some friends to play with. We gave Mtoka's sister, also named Masoka, a "Creation '86" green frisbee. We gave them each a t-shirt when we learned that Mtoka's class consisted of 48 pupils and therefore we'd have a few extras. At 4 A.M. tomorrow morning, we will head for the home of Mtoka and family. "Afulu" is not a surname as we know them; the African system is much more complex than our western way.
The family and their co-villagers are of the previously cannibalistic Babembe tribe. We met the newly elected bishop/legal representative of the Free Methodist Church in Zaire, Rev. Bya 'Ene Akulu Ilangyi. He stopped by the Thompson's from the church conference in Nundu to meet the sponsors from America. A distinguished, totally bald African gentleman who will be consecrated by his fellow bishops in Seattle, Washington in August 1989, he was delighted to receive one of my ad specialty pens and pose holding it with two other churchmen and Mtoka and his dad and Lubondja Primary School staff.
The geckos we saw and the bats which left malodorous evidence of their presence must have "spooked" Jeanette who awoke in the middle of the night screaming. The source of her scare turned out to be my hand.
4:30 A.M., Tuesday January 24, 1989 - With missionary Jim Stilman at the wheel of a winch-equipped off-road vehicle, Jeanette and I are off to Lubondja, Zaire. Lynette Walters, Dave McAllister, Kalongo Rwabikanga of the Wahema tribe, Mtoka, his father, E'engele the translator and our other Babembe friends complete our group of adventurers in the African bush.
A map of Africa might show the Capetown to Cairo highway as a bold, red line bisecting the continent. Through Zaire, it only qualifies as a road at all in the most charitable sense of the term. It is diversely a gully, a set of ruts, or a trail through the elephant grass towering on either side. Lubondja is less than 90 kilos or 56 miles from Baraka, but the trip consumed 5 1/2 hours of continuous jolting, bouncing, sloshing, slipping and sliding in our long wheel base, diesel Toyota land cruiser. Our average speed was about 10 MPH.
About 1/2 hour out, we approached the Mutabala "bridge". In order to make it across this span, Jim had to winch the steel plate which partially covered the steel beam frame of the bridge closer to the foot. Then, we placed boards to form a path for the wheels. The mid-section of the bridge clears the water by only a couple of feet and the far side swings upward at a steep angle to deposit crossing with a crash on the opposite shore of the river.
After a few more precarious crossings (accompanied by innumerable bugs of every species) and after a few small detours and after many bangs and with very sore bottoms, we arrived at Lubondja.
11 A.M., January 24, 1989 -
Or in this case, goat. The family and friends of Mtoka Afulu greeted us warmly and joyously. Jeanette received a flower and gave Mtoka's mother a watch/bracelet. After various greetings, I noticed a small black goat tied by the feet. Dave advised me of the goat's destiny and I followed its butchers with cameras. I watched in fascination as two of the young male villagers slaughtered the animal. A dull knife was placed at the throat of the beast and I heard the tearing of flesh and a final bleat. The hacking continued while a dog approached and began licking up the blood as it drained from the dying goat's jugular onto the reddish clay ground. The animal was hung up by its mutilated neck and flayed.
In the next hour or so we toured "Ecole Primaire Lubondja". We saw the foundation for a new school building which had been laid. We saw a brick firing kiln (they make their own clay bricks for building purposes) which had been destroyed by rains before the bricks could be hardened, as well as the new kiln. (Simply piles of bricks with spaces to light fires) They must work so hard to achieve (by our standards) so little! Our t-shirts were distributed to Mtoka's classmates. Teachers and Mtoka's family also received shirts. We saw their poor little classrooms and tattered but treasured textbooks. The pupils had no desks, only low, hard brick benches.
Upon our return to "downtown" Lubondja, a tiny village comparable in size to what we would call a neighborhood, we enjoyed our goat repast. I received the liver, considered a choice portion. With the main course, which had several coarse black hairs in it, was served raw sugar cane, boiled plantain and boiled rice, ugali, which is the mantioc or cassava root prepared into an almost tasteless substance most resembling paste, and water which we could not drink. Fortunately, we had our own. The cooking had been done over rude wood fires. We were served with plastic bowls but metal forks and spoons. (no knives) Another speech was made by Mtoka's father and the school director. The pastor gave thanks for the food. Mtoka recited a paraphrased version of the David and Goliath story from 1 Samuel 17 in Kiswahili. My last memory of Mtoka is seeing him washing his new soccer ball with grass shoots in the village water hole.
Shortly after eating, we loaded into the Toyota and bid farewell to Mtoka and his family and friends of Zaire's Babembe tribe of Lubondja village. We re-traced our route (the only one) and got back to Baraka by about 8 P.M. At the Thompsons' again, we met missionary Rivadine Quested who had just survived cerebral malaria by the skin of her teeth.
A mosquito bite received just before leaving Africa could make possible the contraction of malaria up to a week after we get home.
January 25, 1989, 7:30 A.M. -
The essential seasonal distinction in East and Central equatorial Africa is dry or rainy. Recently, the "harmaton" effect has also effected the weather. It is black dust in the atmosphere from the Sahara desert which causes a lot of haziness.
Just before dawn today, a terrific thunderstorm struck the Baraka area, which is in the midst of rainy season. The thunderbolts were jarring, mighty blasts with lightning that filled the sky. By the grace of God, this storm did not strike yesterday, which would have prevented the Lubondja trip or caused us to stay overnight in Lubondja, which we were not prepared for. The rain would most likely have made the "road" and its river crossings impassable, as I suppose is now the case.
9:45 A.M. Wednesday January 25 -
We lifted off from Baraka airstrip leaving dozens of curious Zairois onlookers waving. As we ascended, the green hills west of the little African town in the background, the mud buildings with thatched roofs below, I realized what an astounding experience I had just been through.
Pilot Don Davis treated us to a thrill a few minutes into the flight. Dave McAllister placed a pen on the dashboard (?) of the cockpit and said, "Watch that pen!" Don pulled the wheel back and we climbed sharply. Suddenly Don pushed the wheel down. Our stomachs seemed as though they were left somewhere over our heads as we plunged earthward. For seconds, we were falling. The pen was suspended in midair. Lynette and Jeanette let out little screams. It was over all too soon.
A few minutes later, the news came over Don's radio from back in Baraka that Lynette's suitcase had been left behind. Since it contained sponsor letters and other important mail, etc., we swung around for an unplanned return to Baraka. So, we would have a chance to experience another Cessna landing and takeoff. We re- fueled, lifted off again, and landed at Bukavu airport about one hour later.
P.M. January 25, 1989 -
The "meat man" has just come to deliver to the home of Bud and Lois Ansted, our missionary hosts for our 24 hour layover here in one of Zaire's biggest cities. Their comfortable home high on a hill has a magnificent view of Lake Kivu and the nation of Rwanda across the lake. Bukavu is far more developed than Bunia, but less so than Nairobi. The 45 minute drive here form the airport offered some of the loveliest vistas we have seen in Africa. Tall graceful trees adorn the flowered slopes which cant back from Kivu's shore. Gentle breezes waft the temperate air through the town's 5,000 feet elevation streets. Jeanette and I walked through the Ansted's neighborhood. There were fine homes and a little market, a smaller version of the one we had seen in Bunia.
The Ansted's are formerly military people who moved around in the States a lot but consider Seattle home. They will be leaving Zaire soon to take up their senior citizen's touring business BLT (Bud and Lois Tours). I remarked to them how much our African adventure has had a multi-cultural flavor. In addition to all the Africans we have conversed with, we have met people from all over the USA, from Ireland, England, Germany, Italy, France, Australia, Belgium, Switzerland, and Canada. We will have been to six African nations: Liberia, Uganda, Zambia, Tanzania, and of course Kenya and Zaire. We have seen two others, Rwanda visible from here and Burundi from the air. We talked to a young lady heading to South Africa while in Lusaka airport and heard Scandinavian and other languages all during our trip from JFK. I've collected souvenir coin or currency from Senegal, West Africa, South Africa, Zaire, Kenya and Germany.
Greeks dominate the business community in Bunia and "East Indians" that of Nairobi. We learned from one of the Australians that his country is a favorite vacation land for the Japanese who "love to bring stuffed Koala back" to Nippon, the land of the rising sun. Many of the new friends we have met have been to yet other lands and told us about them. Lynette once took a seven week bus tour from Bombay, India through places like Pakistan, Iraq and Iran all the way to England. She has also spent time, in her career with Compassion International, in Haiti and Indonesia. Dave McAllister told me a lot about North Ireland, where C.S. Lewis' Out of the Silent Planet, a Christian novel, is a book recommended by their government! We met a black Kenyan woman married to a white Italian. Her little dark-skinned daughter spoke fluent Italian and there was a certain wry humor of incongruity in it.
Only Latin America and the communism-darkened lands have been omitted from this potpourri of peoples, tribes, and tongues; this smorgasbord of internationalism which this sojourn has been. Well, I suppose I could mention the two Chinese girls who rudely rebuffed my attempt a friendly conversation in Nairobi!
P.M. Wednesday, January 25 - This evening the Free Methodist missionaries in the Bukavu area are meeting at the Ansted's for Bible study and prayer. Bud is leading us in the study of Mark 14:53-65 and 15:1-20, Jesus' trials before the Sanhedrin and Pontius Pilate.
Further conversation about life in Africa followed. A couple of the missionaries had experience with the pygmy people. Bud knew Africa explorer and adventurer Clyde Beatty and related a story of Beatty's about the pygmies: On a previous visit to their area, Beatty had formed a friendship with a clan of pygmies. Upon his return some time later, the old chief he had known was on the verge of death. Two factions were vying for the right of succession, one of the chief's sons and another man. Civil war was about to erupt one day when a rogue elephant crashed into the pygmy camp. When the deranged beast threatened the life of the rival of the chief's son, crack shot Beatty killed the animal with his rifle. The rival fell at Beatty's feet and said, "I'm dead. Now I belong to you." The war was averted.
Bud said he uses this as an illustration of Biblical truth: when a person comes to saving faith in Christ, that person is to reckon himself or herself as dead to sin and their former life without God. Now they belong to the Lord Jesus and are to live for Him.
Thursday, January 26, 7:30 A.M. -
At about 10 A.M., Bud will drive Jeanette, Lynette and me to Bukavu airport for our return flight to Nairobi on the "Beech" (Beechcraft 99 airplane).
En route, we saw dug-out canoes and other simple wooden boats. Beautiful red flowers adorned large green trees. Bukavians were "on solongo" - their civic responsibility, sort of a tax paid by laboring to beautify and further develop their city. This means that we saw hundreds of them armed with machetes, hewing down tall grass and brush.
The customs officials went through our bags twice. My carry-on bag was "smuggled" through. It contained two of our cameras and some mail the missionaries had given me to post in the USA. My little camera caused a small amount of concern when it was discovered in my large suitcase. The officials chattered away in their own tongue but nothing untoward occurred.
We bade farewell to Zaire. For good???
January 26, 1989, 4 P.M. -
Was an airport more modern than Entebbe or Bukavu, not quite up to the standards of Lusaka; but then it was a small airport. We waited in the "transit room" where neither American dollars nor zaires nor Kenyan shillings could buy a soda. When I stepped out the door I was urged back in by a female official of some kind. Finally our MAF pilot called us back onto the Beech and moments later we were airborne again, bound for Nairobi.
5:40 P.M. - Our arrival to Wilson airport was uneventful as was our clearing the health, immigration, and customs offices. James, Lynette's associate at Compassion, met the three of us. Jeanette and I went back to CPK guest house again for one night.
Tomorrow morning, Lynette has asked me to share at the devotional time at the Compassion office. Later, at 5 P.M., Jeanette and I will board a sleeper train in Nairobi, bound for Mombasa on the Indian Ocean where we will spend our last couple of days before our flight home at 5 P.M. Monday 1/30/89. The overnight train ride is about 12 hours and many of our new friends have indicated that it is an enjoyable outing and a scenic ride during the few daylight hours at the beginning and in the A.M. before arrival.
8:30 A.M., January 27, 1989 - I shared about our Lubondja experience with the Africa (Kenya) Compassion staff, relating it to Matthew 6:19 and following, where Jesus says not to lay up treasures on earth, but in heaven; and to Colossians 3:1-4, setting our minds and hearts on things above. I sought to encourage, as I had the missionaries in Bunia, regarding the profitability of their ministry in fulfilling the principle of the Matthew 6:19 verse. I also desired to admonish them from the Colossians passage, not to lose heart or become bogged down in the daily office grind and lose sight of the spiritual nature of the work and its eternal fruits.
P.M. Friday January 27, 1989 - A leisurely afternoon in downtown Nairobi, went to the Post Office again to mail Kenya-bound letters received in Zaire from our new acquaintances. We lunched at the posh Hotel Intercontinental and spent some time in its small casino. Lynette picked us up at about 4:20 and dropped us off at the Nairobi railroad station.
Our sleeper berth should make for an enjoyable ride, neither of us having slept on a train before. The beds are "bunk" style and Jeanette will have to strap herself in to the top bunk. The seat is comfortable and the large window opens. We will dine in Olde English fashion in the restaurant coach at the "8:30 sitting". Iron horse travelers may choose Eastern or European toilet facilities, the former being simply commodes which are flush, to coin a phrase, to the floor. One's body never touches the porcelain. It's actually more sanitary, I believe, if one can adapt to the squatting. Like the plumbing most westerners are used to, these flush and have similar hygienic accessories nearby.
As we pulled out, Nairobi warehouse yards and a city dump gave way to Kenya's "suburban" scene. Squatters on government land plant their corn in any convenient spot, many right near the tracks. We passed a station called Embakasi and continued in a southeasterly direction. The smoky diesel locomotive driven train rolled through a flat green countryside with mountains in the background. It was a bright and sunny afternoon, an occasional bird in the sky or animals in the fields, and our speed was a bit "pole pole" (Kiswahili for slow).
Marimbetti was the next station I noticed, followed by Athi River where some small boys begged for "shillingi" from outside the train windows. Jeanette and I tossed a couple of coins and they scrambled for the prizes. At 6:13 we passed Lukenya, just after the brown suited "porter" type trainman came by our berth and punched our tickets. Another young man in a white "ice-cream man" outfit came by to take our bedding (linen, etc.) order. Then we stopped at Stonyathi where more tiny mendicants acquired coins from the train windows of the dozen or so cars. Kapiti Plains followed with its cinder block, pink painted little buildings which had characterized most of the stops. At 6:51 the African sun set in the plains. We were treated by Him Who displays His glory in the heavens to a great view from our window which faced the west. At dusk we hit the larger town of Konza, then Kiu. The stars began to shine in the southeastern sky. It was cool and the crickets sang. We retired to our cabin again after dinner. As we slept we were only dimly aware of the station stops. One stop seemed extra long.
By dawn, the scenery had changed somewhat; there were more palm trees and the terrain was not as flat. The inevitable "urchins" appeared at Miritini, our first post sunrise stop, 7:02 A.M. Mombasa should be only 1/2 hour further. Saw a few of Africa's baobob trees just before reaching our destination.
Saturday, January 28, 1989 - This long, laid-back day on an Indian Ocean beach was idyllic. Mombasa is a well developed island town where tourists are catered to at dozens of luxury hotels. We stayed at the Plaza, checking in after breakfast. Moments later, we walked through the little garden with coconut laden palms to the sandy beach with its warm, calm waters. After swimming for an hour or so, we went boating in a rough-hewn double outrigger navigated by two enterprising Kenyans. We sailed out to the barrier reef where one can walk in ankle deep water, although the shore is almost a mile back in.
We got some beautiful shells from a snorkeling vendor right on the reef. A brief sun shower did not dampen the tranquility of quietly gliding in our small wooden catamaran. After lunch, we walked for two hours along the beach under an incredibly brilliant cloudless azure. Little white crabs skittered away as if on the edge of their own shells at our approach, often to disappear in minuscule holes. The global community feeling was again the order of the day as we watched and heard other groups of people from the four winds. (The beach was gloriously uncrowded, however.)
We also swam in the hotel's pool and saw strange Manx cats - the sort with extra high haunches and facial traits which distinguish them from the typical American domestic feline. We wrote our new Zairian (Embembe, language of the Babembe) names in the sand. 'Ngena and Masoka, if you've forgotten, also saw unusual seaweed, red starfish, unknown and gorgeous trees and plants. We spoke with several of the ubiquitous hawkers of carvings, paintings, and other articles who add color and spice to the Mombasan beach scene; many wear flashy native garb. We got sunburned and wind burned and thought about the imminent end of our three weeks in wild, wonderful Africa.
The Lord's Day, January 29, 1989 - The adventure is drawing to a close. I awoke early and took a final swim in the Indian Ocean at 6:30 A.M. I dove into the pool to rinse off the salt, back to the room to shower off the chlorine!
We're off by taxi to downtown Mombasa in search of a good worship service. It is our last full day in the land of some of my ancestors. It is a bright, sunny one.
We tell our driver that we want to go to a church in town. He takes us to Baptist service held at a high school. (Thus the Presbyterians never make it to an African Presbyterian church!) We hear a sermon in English, a topical message on "the wicked" which draws heavily on the Proverbs, one of my favorite Bible books. The preacher's name is Mixon, he and his wife and child give us a ride after church and a good explanation of the origin of the Swahilis. They are a mixture of Bantu and Arab which originated around the 7th century A.D. and were often slave traders, able to traffick both with Arab "dealers" and the people from the interior who became the chattel. Mixon teaches East African history.
Lugging our luggage, we find and tour Mombasa's historic "Fort Jesus" (the name doesn't not reflect Christian origin in this part of the world which has suffered under the darkness of Islam for centuries). We walk to the Mombasa RR station. We find our train compartment and prepare for an instant replay of Friday's ride.
The dining car experience is great fun. The waiters offer a wine selection and bring a four course meal with tableware proliferating the stationary tables. Imagine a variety of old movies or a Murder on the Orient Express scenario and you've got the picture!
Monday, January 30, 1989 - We awaken to a sunny, crisp morning, our last on St. Augustine's home continent, just outside Nairobi. I take the last photo on the last roll of film - Jeanette in her bunk bed! Our thoughts are much on home.
P.M. January 30 - We meet our traveling companion of three "eternities" ago, Valerie Clemmer, and her friends the Means for lunch. Strange dishes for lunch and good-byes to them. "Yes, I'll call your mom when I get Stateside to tell her you are in robust health and having a great time, Val!"
Later P.M., January 30, 1989 - We get through officialdom an Jomo Kenyatta International airport. "Good-bye, Lynette! Your inestimable help made this all possible! Let's be sure to keep our famous correspondence going!"
I buy my friend "Epi" some Kenyan coffee. (That would be Pat Tomasulo, my best man at "The Ultimate Wedding" of 11/15/86, Keith and Jeanette).
Moments later, we're airborne.
|Agano Jibia --||New Testament||Maji --||Water|
|Anawinda --||Hunting||Mingi --||Many|
|Apana --||No||Kitambu --||book|
|Asali --||Honey||Jambo! --||Hello!|
|Babu --||Grandfather||Jana --||Yesterday|
|Chai --||Tea||Habare? --||How are you?|
|Chumvi --||Salt||Karibu --||Welcome|
|Chuwi --||Leopard||Kichwa --||Head|
|Kidogo --||Small||Kinjana --||Boy|
|Kohowa --||Coffee||Kubwa --||Big|
|Kuku --||Hen||Kuni --||Firewood|
|___Iko Wapi? --||Where is___?||Matata --||Problem|
|Mawingu --||Cloud||Mchana --||Daylight|
|Mime ona --||I see||Mimi --||I, me|
|Misichana --||Girl||Mizuri (sana) --||(Very) well, good|
|Mtoto --||Child||MUNGU --||GOD|
|Kwaheri --||Good-bye||'Ndege --||Bird, Airplane|
|Lala --||Sleep||'Ndio --||Yes|
|'Nduma --||Cheetah||Omba --||Pray|
|'Ngape --||How much ($)||Ofici --||Office|
|Nimi elewa --||I understand||Niri ona --||I saw|
|Nyanya --||Grandmother||Paka --||Cart|
|Pole,pole --||Slow||Pompay --||Beer|
|Tatadhali --||Excuse||Tembo --||Elephant|
|Tikiti --||Ticket||Samake --||Fish|
|Sauti --||Sound||Simba --||Lion|
|Siku --||24 hr. day||Soma --||Read|
|Sukali --||Sugar||Sungura --||Rabbit|
|Shilingi --||Shillings (Kenyan $)||Umba --||Create|
|Umi elewa? --||Do you understand?||Usiku --||Night|
|Wanyama --||Animals||Wewe --||You|
DISCOURS PRONONCE A L'OCCASION DE LA VISITE
DE MR. KEITH GRAHAM ET JEANNTTE GRAHAM
A MTOKA - AFULU
A MSHIMBAKYE - BARAKA.
MR. KEITH GRAHAM ET JEANNETTE GRAHAM,
Nous sommes au nom de Jesus Christ tres heureux de vous acceuillir ici a Baraka, ce 23 Janvier 1989. Votre presence parmi nous nous cause une joie sans precedente, pour cela nous remercions vivement le bon Dieu qui vous a sauvegarde pendant le moment difficile de voyage. Au nom de tous les eleves de l'ecole primaire LUBONDJA, au nom du Pasteur Sectionnaire ci present et a mon nom propre, disons: Bien venu, bien venu, bien venu chez nous et que le bon Dieu rende agreable votre sejour parmi nous.
L'etat de la route d'ici LUBONDJA n'est pas bon. Les vehicules des Commercants arrivent difficilement, pourtant c'est d'ici 91 Kms seulement, cela nous cause beaucoup plus d'ameurtumes.
Il m'arrive le temps de vous parler un peu sur la vie de MTOKA-AFULU, age de 13 ans, il est ne d'une famille de 7 enfants, dont le pere et la mere sont vivants, il est 4eme de sa famille, il etudie en 3eme primaire. Sa famille est pauvre et vit dans une maisonette en paille.
Il etudie dans de tres mauvaises conditions. L'ecole n'a pas des locaux a elle, elle fonctionne dans des maisonettes en pailles abandonnees par les policiers de la Collectivite. Chaque fois quand il fait signe de pleuvoir, les eleves doivent sortir par peur d'etre mouilles en classe meme.
Le Directeur travaille dans des conditions difficiles, surtout a ce qui concerne le transport, il doit effecteur un trajet de 182 Kms a pied aller et retour; et ce, deux ou trois fois par mois de Bureau local de la Compassion a l'ecole.
Je ne veux pas terminer cette addresse sans pour autant remercier une fois encore "la Compassion Internationale", qui grace a elle nous nous retrouvons, soumettons nos problemes: nos eleves mangent, vivent et survivent toujours grace. Que Dieu benisse tout ce qui oeuvre en faveur de "la compassion internationale.
Que cette visite ne soit pas la derniere, nous souhaiterions q'apres elle vous ouvriez une serie de visites de meme nature.
Fait a Baraka, le 23 Janvier 1989. -
Pour L'E.P. LUBONDJA,
EKYOOI NUNDO, DIRECTEUR.
GOD - "Who commands all men everywhere to repent and believe the gospel" and "Who is not willing that any should perish, but that all should be saved", Who loves the people of this land and is at work among them. His ways are not our ways.
The Lubondjans - The citizens of a small Zairois (Zairian) village. Warm and friendly, they represent the typical native of the former "Belgian Congo". Although this nation of 25,000,000 is one of the richest in the world in mineral and agricultural resources, their economy is at a standstill. A viscious cycle of profound ignorance compounded with the oppression of a thoughtless dictatorship government makes the average Zairian subject to diseases which can be prevented by simple hygiene, places him out of touch with the rest of the planet, and keeps him in extreme poverty.
The Government (local) - are poorly paid appointees who cannot survive without resorting to bribery and corruption. The soldier/policemen of Zaire bully the civilians to obtain what they want. Petty tribal chieftains and officials roughly corresponding to mayors demand honor and innumerable forms of taxation. The entire government, from the fabulously wealthy "President" Mobutu down, does essentially nothing but feather its own nest. Zaire has no telephones outside of the capitol Kinshasha, where I understand they are few and far between. There are only a few paved roads in the entire country, and those are all in the capitol or 2 or 3 other major towns. the mail service takes months to deliver a letter - the Zairois and the missionaries we met send letters to Kenya by private means to post them outside of Zaire.
The Missionaries - Are a rare breed of men and women whose purpose in life is to serve God by bringing His light to Zaire. They are intrepid and self-sacrificing and all who I met have the good of the Zairois at heart. It is they who provide virtually all of Zaire's medical care as well many other services.
The Zairian (Zairois) Church - Is young and inexperienced in its Divine calling. Nevertheless, they are moving on. "Public schools" do not exist in Zaire and all education is a ministry of the various Christian churches.
Keith and Jeanette Graham - Two Americans who sang "The Star Spangled Banner" on the flight home, whose minds were greatly opened by this incredible visit.