Kenya, July 22, 2008
I bet a smart thief knows the smallest bag has the most valuables, I mused, rearranging my luggage so my smallest bag wasn’t within snatching distance from anyone who might sneak up behind me. In it was my computer, camera, and canvas case where I carried my passport, e-ticket, credit cards, licenses and other important documents.
I wasn’t even supposed to be at the airport, except that I had misread my itinerary, thinking my flight was in the morning. I was so eager to be on my way, so looking forward to seeing my family and spending a long-awaited annersary on the coast with Jose. Now I was waiting for our driver to take me back to the guest house to await my evening flight.
It is my last day here in Mbita, and a good one. I have wanted to write more often, but this week has been so busy with working at the feeding center and getting ready for the evangelistic meetings in the evenings...
She was wearing a dirty little blue dress the first time I noticed her and took her picture. She was looking at the mzungus from a distance. There were lots of little ones who seemed to be wandering around without the mothers, but she was the littlest. She must be somewhere between two and three years old.
Karibu! Welcome to Kenya!
What, this is your first time in Kenya? How do you find it?
You may sit in the front seat of the matutu (minivan taxi), so that you can see all the sites. On our way out of ICIPE (International Center of Insect Physiology and Ecology), where we are renting a room, we pass the ICIPE primary school. Children in dark blue uniforms and with shorn heads are sitting on benches outside, heads bowed over their books. They come to school 6 days a week for 13 and a half hours each day.
It's 4 a.m. here in Nairobi, Kenya, and my body clock says it's not an appropriate time for sleeping. I flew in day before yesterday, and as soon as I got off the walkway I saw a lady holding a sign with my name on it. She was the sister of Mrs. Okumbe, who I had met in Chico just before leaving. I was so grateful. After nearly 30 hours of traveling with little sleep, I wasn’t in complete control of my faculties and it was wonderful to have someone lead me through immigration and customs without having to wait in any lines.
Ram Das decided to return to his village and share his new discoveries with his friends there. To his dismay, the Christians gathered there were opposed to his teachings. He found the Hindus to be much more receptive listeners. Though the laws against converting to Christianity was still in the books, they were rarely enforced.
The Maoist communism movement was beginning to gain power, and many of those who would become part of the rebel party were to come from the Rukum district. Ram Dhas was summoned to the Maoist office.
“Why are you preaching like this?” They demanded. They threatened him, but they could not stop him.
Traveling on foot, Brother Ram Das began carrying the gospel through the hills to other villages that had not heard. He established a congregation of believers in a village five days walk from his own, and yet another ten days walk. For the next 20 years, the faithful pioneer traveled between Kathmandu and these three villages.
Not long before his age prevented him from traveling (about 2002), brother Ram Das was preaching to one of the village churches, when the Maoists came and took him. Friends and family members followed, concerned, but the soldiers promised not to hurt him. Leading him some distance from the group, the soldiers sat him down beneath a tree.
“Tell us what you told them,” they requested. And so he did.
“It’s nice,” they said, “but don’t use Jesus’ name.”
“It’s impossible to preach without using His name,” the aging man replied. “We are ready to take a bullet in the chest for His name.”
The soldiers laughed. “We’ll talk about this later,” was all they said.
Today Brother Ram Das is too old to walk the narrow mountain trails with his message of Jesus. The region of Rukum is still remote, with only two soft runway airports for transportation in this large region with a population of over 188,000. It remains the heartland of the Maoist movement. The condition of the village churches is uncertain. But one thing is sure, the seeds of truth have been sown there, and surely it is true: “So shall my word be that goes forth out of my mouth; it will not return to me void, but will accomplish that which I please, and will prosper in the thing to which I sent it.” (Isaiah 55:11)
Her hair hangs down in ragged ringlets,
Her shoulders bowed with care,
She sits in the middle of a busy street,
Selling papers to cars passing there.
It was cool and dark the night I saw her,
But while other peddlers ceased to roam,
She slumped there as the cars screamed by,
And I wondered why she didn’t go home?
But I sped by with all the others,
Resting on a cushy seat,
While the little girl sat with her papers,
that were surely out of date.
And though there are a million like her,
I wondered, what was her name?
Did she have a mother at home,
To kiss away her pain?
I couldn’t get her off my mind,
Where would she go tonight?
I knew she still sat there, in the cold,
Still lived, though out of my sight.
How can I be content to be this thing,
This luxery passing poverty?
How can I go on my way
Forgetting the many in agony?
How can I eat, every day,
More food than I really need,
Sleeping under a feather quilt,
Complaining when things aren’t just my speed?
I would be a fool to think
I can heal all the wounds out there,
But is that an excuse to live
As though I haven’t a care?
I cannot help the million kids,
But if I give to God these hands,
Perhaps If i do what’s before me,
I’ll change the few lives I can.
The sun was just sinking toward the tops of the high, beautiful hills in northwest Nepal. It cast a few careless golden beams on the last disappointed patients, who were wandering around the closed doors of our little clinic. Sabbath was approaching after a long and weary week of travel and work, and we were eager to treat the last few patients and bid them a pleasant goodbye before sinking into the sweetness of heavenly rest.