I wrote that title before writing this letter and then realized afterward, I hadn’t even mentioned what I was thinking about when I wrote the title. Where I am for the next three days I have room and board. I was told this about the food they would be serving me before I came here: “If you were just arriving in country from America, you probably wouldn’t care so much for the food. But since you have been in Kenya for over a month, you will find it delicious.” That was prophetic. I love the food here, but might not have a month ago; it’s all a matter of perspective. And that all comes later below…
I had an awesome time at Mark Daubenmier’s home with Mark and his family and spent the night there last night before traveling on to Nairobi today. Of course, we both shared our Kenyan travels stories from the day when we first got together—he had made a trip into Nairobi during the day and was planning to be back around noon and arrived home around 6 PM. I had a challenge with the bus that worked out but was a little like Keystone Cops for a few minutes.
If you recall from my last letter, after having had a crazy time traveling to Nakuru, the 4th largest city in Kenya, it was a simple matter to get a ticket on a GOOD bus for my trip onward. At 8 AM, with buses leaving hourly, the earliest bus I could get on was at 1:30 PM, so I grabbed the ticket, took my computer and parked in the restaurant to await my departure time. I did create myself a minor panic, because they were constantly announcing buses departing for Nairobi, which is how my bus and ticket were scheduled—they were just going to stop at an intersection along the way and drop me off. Well, as they were announcing these, and with my difficult hearing, I decided to go outside so I could be sure I didn’t miss my bus. I still had an hour to wait they assured me so I sat down on a seat outside the bus terminal, wrapped my arm in my small computer bag strap and leaned on my computer and promptly fell asleep. I’m talking about sitting on a busy sidewalk outside a teeming bus station with big diesel buses roaring in and out constantly and all the vehicles that brought the departing passengers to the station coming and going and all kinds of vendors hawking their wares… and I went sound asleep.
Understand, I have sleep apnea and use a CPAP to sleep properly. That is an electronic medical device that pumps air for me to force my breathing; with it I sleep very well, without it I am constantly restless and do not sleep well at all. The problem here is the first part of the description of that device—electric—because I’ve stayed as many places where I had no electricity available as I have with it available. Or the one outlet is so far from the bed that the extension cord I brought won’t even reach it. Now, after a crazy drive and no real sleep, I fell sound asleep sitting in a chair on the sidewalk outside the bus station. And slept. For over an hour. I awakened, looked at the time and panicked. It was 1:35… had I missed my bus?
Well, I hadn’t missed my bus, I got on and even got a front seat so I could watch road signs to be sure I got off at the right place. And the bus left right on time, Kenyan time, an hour and 45 minutes later.
The drive was superb with vast herds of zebras everywhere; one large herd even sprinted across the highway in front of us, ducking between vehicles and causing some general confusion as people were forced to stop suddenly or swerve to avoid collisions. Then there was a herd of cape buffalo that I estimated between 300-500; I had never thought about them being anywhere near a highway. They are one of the 4-5 most dangerous animals in Africa. We saw hundreds of baboons right along the highway, apparently picking through people’s litter. There was also one flock of flamingos that must have numbered in the hundreds of thousands as it streamed across the sky for 10 minutes. It was a thoroughly delightful drive for me as I just love both the wildlife and watching the people.
The only really different traffic thing I would share with you that I witnessed on this ride was something that caught my eye on the highway well ahead of us and caused me to double check to see if I was seeing what I thought I was. Sure enough as we pulled alongside and passed a large truck, there was a man on a bicycle who had a hook on a rope and was being towed along at highway speed about 3-4 feet behind the truck, with the driver obviously oblivious to what was happening behind him. The man on the bicycle was a delivery man it appeared as he had large plastic crates with jugs of milk on the rack behind his seat. In fact, he was carrying 24 gallons of milk behind him… and he had one foot propped up on his handlebars cruising down the highway hanging onto a rope hooked to a truck!
I had a challenge on the bus because the driver didn’t speak English and there was a misunderstanding about where I was to be dropped. It had been explained to him prior to our departure from Nakuru that I was to be dropped off at the intersection of Kijabe Road to go to Kijabe Hospital. The Rift Valley Academy where I was actually going is next to the hospital but since the hospital is much better known by the locals it was easier to say I’m going to the Kijabe Hospital.
When we arrived at Naivasha, (accent on the second syllable) the driver stopped and indicated for me to get off.
No, he INSISTED I get off; essentially kicking me off the bus. (as if he could do that if I had refused)
Fortunately, I had my large backpack in the bus’s luggage compartment so the driver had to get out too to unlock it so I could get my bag out. We argued, not speaking the same language; rather he let on that he didn’t speak English, and a vendor (we got swarmed the moment I stepped out of the bus) actually started translating. I KNEW my intersection was 20 minutes PAST Naivasha; well, it turns out that the Kijabe road leaves and returns to the same highway and there are actually 3 intersections that could be labeled—if they ever labeled anything here—Kijabe Road. But when I convinced him mine was 20 minutes PAST Naivasha, then he knew where I wanted to be and I took my big bag on the bus with me and we forged onward, arriving 20 minutes later where I was supposed to be.
Amazingly, from this point he was very friendly to me and had suddenly developed the ability to speak English and was asking me questions as he drove. He even got off with me at the correct stop and accompanied me as I got a taxi about 100 meters from the bus, just in case I needed assistance—or a translator! Oh, and I never had to lift my big bag at all as 2 “helpers” grabbed it the minute I tumbled it down the stairs and off the bus, and carried it to the cab… to get paid of course. “Oh, it was heavy, we carried it… surely you would be so kind…” and yes, I paid them and we were both happy. Until you get used to this, you get the impression someone is stealing your luggage as they push and shove one another to grab it.
Mark was to have met me at the intersection but his morning run into Nairobi had turned into an all day thing, we were communicating by text, and I took a cab from the intersection to the school and Daubenmier’s home. In earlier letters I’ve referred to Steve Peifer, founder of Kenya Kids Can and author of A Dream So Big: Our Unlikely Journey to End the Tears of Hunger; Steve returned to the U.S. for a furlough the week I arrived in Kenya and though we had been visiting, our meeting in person on the trip wasn’t going to pan out. Mark though has assumed the reins for both the programs of Kenya Kids Can; feeding nearly 20,000 children in public schools daily and installing secure, solar powered computer labs at remote public school locations. Rift Valley Academy is a ministry of African Inland Missions and is a boarding school for the children of missionaries whose children need an education they couldn’t receive where the parents are working. They have students in all grades from 30 some nations, but Steve Peifer, when he was a dorm parent there started these other programs to help the children of Kenya. The work has been transformational for tens of thousands of children and families and both programs intrigued me. When I hear about someone who has conceived an idea then managed to implement it in the real world and that idea works, well, I want to see what they are doing, how they are doing it, what pitfalls they encountered along the way, how they’ve changed the program as they have progressed, what it costs to do it, whether we can network together for the benefit of their ministry and ours… essentially, I don’t just want to hear about it and read about it, nor do I just want to witness it. I want to know everything I can about it.
This is Christianity with leather soles actually walking into people’s lives. And this ignites the passion within me.
So, when I was coming to Kenya and I had read about one of the greatest impacts any one person had envisioned and inspired upon the Kenyans, I made it a point to put Kijabe on my agenda. What a blessing it was that I did so!
Of course, it was novel too just to be in the home of an American family in Kenya. I’ll share photos later of some of the homes I’ve been in… let me tell you, it feels wonderful to be back in an American home, even if that home is in Kenya and everything speaks of Africa wherever you look. And it was novel to have an American wife/mother cooking dinner and sitting down with a large family to enjoy a meal; they have 7 children, including 3 adopted Kenyan children. This family was an inspiration just getting to know them.
The taxi ride to their home was wonderful even in spite of the road. Once we left the highway, we drove off the cliff. Well, that is almost literal; we drove off the edge of the Rift Valley, the largest natural geologic feature in the world at nearly 4,000 miles long and hundreds of miles wide. It is a valley that drops about 6,000 feet from the edge to the floor and then has some of the deepest natural lakes in the world in it, including Lake Tanganyika at about 5,000 feet deep.
Well, let me tell you driving off the edge of that valley rim and starting the switchbacks downward is an awesome experience with some of the most beautiful scenery I’ve ever seen. And finally arriving at the school, less than a fourth of the way down from the rim, just a 10 km drive from the highway, I was greeted with what has to be one of the most beautiful campuses on this earth. It was founded in 1903 and Theodore Roosevelt laid the cornerstone of the main building which is still the centerpiece of the campus.
Then, this morning after exhausting every question I could conceive related to the Kenya Kids Can programs, viewing thousands of photos and videos and taking hundreds, I proceeded on to Nairobi. Mark asked me where I was staying and like most of this trip, I hadn’t actually planned that. I told him I wasn’t picky, I just wanted a quiet room where I could spend my final days in Kenya in prayer and meditation and the Word as I try to hear Father’s will for our lives. He suggested, then arranged for me to stay at the Mayfield House, a facility owned and run by AIM, African Inland Missions, to house missionaries of all kinds as they pass through Nairobi coming or going to their respective missions. Room and board, three meals a day, is under $40 for someone who isn’t an AIM missionary (unaffiliated, they call it), less for those working through AIM.
It is like paradise, beautiful grounds, small but quiet room, the most gracious service and Wi-Fi that works!!! But the highlight has to be meal times in the dining room. They set the tables, 6 to a table, and serve homestyle on each table and you sit with other missionaries from around the world involved in an assortment of ministries almost beyond description. I have yet to meet an American here, though they are well acquainted with J.L. and Patt Williams. I’ve eaten today with Australians, English, an Indian, native Kenyans of both African and British descent, and Koreans, and have seen many others from a wide variety of places. There are probably 30 people here right now. The conversation is incredible, listening to these people’s tales of what they are accomplishing for the kingdom; I’m humbled in the presence of these men and women. Sometimes I just sit and think, “What have I been doing with my life while these people have been changing the world?”
At the same time, I believe that Father gifted me for my work I am doing now; I think it was more than a transition career and am convinced I will always remain an Investment Advisor as that is critically important to the lives of so many Christians who are thereby empowered to finance the growth of the Kingdom.
…for "WHOEVER WILL CALL ON THE NAME OF THE LORD WILL BE SAVED." How then will they call on Him in whom they have not believed? How will they believe in Him whom they have not heard? And how will they hear without a preacher? How will they preach unless they are sent? Just as it is written, "HOW BEAUTIFUL ARE THE FEET OF THOSE WHO BRING GOOD NEWS OF GOOD THINGS!"
“How will they preach unless they are sent?” No missionary acts alone, he is simply the feet on the ground for those who SEND him, a partner in God’s work. And I help people do that. I don’t believe it was an accident that when my full time ministry ended and I moved to Phoenix for a computer engineering job, that the first day there “THE PLAN” fell apart and I was launched into a new career—a career where I rose quickly and have been gifted. I believe this is a part of God’s plan for my life and today I’m trying to sort it all out as I have also been called to train pastors in the most unlikely of places. (for me)
This is the prayer I solicit from you; that I hear Father’s voice as He guides me in His way; pray I be sensitive to His Spirit, immersed in His Word, wholly surrendered to His will for my life and Kellie’s.
And as I thought and prayed about all of you, particularly those of you at Dayspring, my mind tonight turned specifically to Daniel Pickering and Dwight Hicks who volunteered to step up as usher/greeters for Dayspring during my absence. (and hopefully beyond—hint, hint) You are both in my prayers as I am so grateful to know that this need at home is being filled.
And thanks to Cindy for being there for Kellie when she needed some help! You are all great friends, and I am so appreciative we have you in our lives.
In His service,
Jack was raised in a Christian home where he spent his youth preparing to preach God’s word. First published at thirteen, writing and speaking became Jack’s passions. Whether through newspaper columns, magazine articles, radio broadcasts or public speaking engagements, Jack continues to share his heart with his readers. His life’s motto: To Know God, and To Show Him To Others.