The morning came early for me. I slept three hours, then was awake for 3 hours. I fell back asleep around 7am. When my alarm went off at 8, so I could meet George for breakfast at 9, all I could do was hit the snooze button. Again. And again. At ten of nine, I realized the three days of travel had caught up with me. I texted George to let him know 10am was more realistic for breakfast and got another hour’s sleep!
Kenyan breakfasts at a home usually consists of chai (Kenyan tea made with black tea leaves, hot milk and water, and a LOT of sugar) and bread of some sort. At a hotel, however, your room fee includes a full breakfast. My plate was well rounded: a hard-boiled egg, an English sausage, small banana, orange slices, an Asian-type fried cabbage roll, some arrowroot (tastes like a boiled potato – required LOTS of salt for me!), and several Mandazi – unsweetened Kenyan donuts. With full bellies and a cup of chai, George and I were ready to hit the road for our 8-hour drive to Kitale.
George had originally thought to save us funds by taking a taxi back downtown ($20) and then catching a long-distance bus (think Greyhound) to take us to Nakuru, where we would be picking up a rental car at lower cost than what’s required in Nairobi. The bus would cost $15 for each of us. So, a total of $50 and extra time going backwards toward the bus depot in rush hour traffic. Instead, we decided to ask the taxi driver who was picking us up if he would be interested in taking us all the way to Nakuru. He said he could do so for $40. Combined with the more than $100 savings from renting the car in Nakuru, this was a good deal.
It was a wise choice to eliminate the time traveling back to downtown Nairobi. On our way to Nakuru we encountered an accident where an SUV and a lorry (a large, long, low truck that looks like an extended tank) clipped each other head on. I was surprised to see that the SUV was still upright, though badly damaged. The lorry, on the other hand had shifted and fallen on its side, breaking both axles. Traffic was snarled up for quite a while, adding several hours to our travel time.
We arrived in Nakuru about 2:30pm, transferred to the rental car and traveled to my favorite lunch spot – the Midland Hotel –home of the best roast chicken.
When we first took our seats at lunch, George pointed out an older gentleman and said that this Pastor Kibe had been an early mentor for him. We took a moment to greet him, as he was gathering his things to leave and then went back to our table. This was one of those seemingly ordinary events that actually would soon unveil a miracle.
The Midland Hotel restaurant has an outdoor guest courtyard, dotted with tables and umbrellas. You can get a ¼ chicken- slow roasted and smoked oven an open fire where you can actually see it browning on the open-air spit, plus a side of cooked Sukuma Wiki (kale) and French fries, for just $6.50. We added a glass of fresh juice (mango for me and passion fruit for George) to round out our meal and were soon back on the road.
George and I whiled away the driving hours talking about current projects, the situation on the ground in Kenya and brainstorming all sorts of different possible paths to speed up the sustainability of the family and our projects. A few hours into our drive and conversation, George casually mentions that Pastor Kibe used to travel to the US every few years, spending six months doing any kind of work, including manual labor. Bringing home the money he made, he was able to buy a piece of land, then build a home, then buy land for a church and build a church that still stands today.
It took a chance meeting, 13 years after we first lunched at the Midland Hotel, to bring this memory forward in George’s mind. It planted a seed of possibilities for George, his wife Naomi and their family and the projects we support!
Since the day’s travel took longer than we expected, we arrived home in Kitale at just about 10:30pm. What a wonderful warm welcome from my Kenyan family. So many hugs. So many laughs. My first trip to Kenya, I spent a month living with the family. My second trip, I only had one day to visit with them in Nakuru as we passed through, since we were speaking at ordinations in Nairobi and Mombasa and traveling with the Kenya Pastoralist Network people, to work on mediation and peacekeeping tasks. So it had been closer to 13 years since I’ve been able to share time with them. I hadn’t met the twins yet – Paula and Paulette (I wonder who they were named after?); they are now 7 years old.
Paulette immediately approached me, talked to me, gave me a hug. Paula stayed back, observing. No direct eye contact, no conversation, no physical contact either. I clearly have my work cut out for me to win over my namesake!
We had chai, while we waited for dinner to warm. Between tea and dinner, I was eager to share the gifts your donations had made possible. Everyone was overjoyed.