December 11, 2011
It is hard to believe that it over a week ago that I entered into a much different culture the culture of Kenya, the culture of Africa.
I arrived about 9:45 PM, was collected by the Brothers and was transported to Harlingham, the monastery of the Brothers, arriving about 10:30 in an exhausted state and promptly went to my bunk sharing a room with a beautiful brother, Brother Benjamin who was assigned to my room to take care of me. After arriving in a still tired state I went to the Eucharist celebrated by Brother Father Henry and as I was trying to unpack was summoned because I had a visitor, Kennedy, the one I have been sponsoring in the Technical medical College in Nakuru. After a brief breakfast we boarded the Mikado (sp) (public transport) to Nakuru where we eventually met a fellow classmate of Kennedy and went to the School to have a tour and to meet with the principal and the Administrator of Finance because I was trying to track a wire of money deposited by wire into an account which unfortunately unknown to me had been closed. Giving him the proper documentation, which I brought with me, he promised he would look Into it.
His friend drove us to Eldoret to a restaurant Bubbles where we met his uncle. We went to another restaurant with a kind of motel where after a late of dinner 10:30 PM and a long wait I finally got to my room such as it was. At least a proper toilet of sorts, for the night. After breakfast, we went to the uncle’s house to meet the rest of the family and then was transported to the public transport for a trip to Boguma (sp) after about a four hour drive and was taken immediately to the rectory where I was to lodge for the night. I was met by Bro. Crispinus, a friend since 2003 when I met him in Jamaica and again in 2008 when I went to Kampala. He introduced me to Fr. Leonardo, the pastor who welcomed me warmly. After a brief rest, we had a pleasant dinner after I had enjoyed a Tosca, a Kenyan beer. On Sunday, I went and celebrated a Mass for the cloistered Poor Clare’s, a wonderful community of sisters with one white sister from the U K. After which I returned to the rectory to get ready to concelebrate the principal Mass at 9 o’clock, which finally got underway at 9:30 AM and lasted until 1 PM. the Church, which held at least 800 people, was packed to the gills. The music, the dancing, etc., etc. was very inspiring and in the faces of these very poor and very simple, humble people you could really see the face of God. Because it was all in Swahili, I must say that I got a bit soporific and on occasion drifted a bit. We returned for a brief lunch and immediately got back into a car with Bro Crispinus and his brother, Kennedy and started our journey into the bush to visit Bro. Crispinus’ family. The roads if you can call them that were unbelievable.
As Bro Crispinus drove we got impossibly stuck in a mud puddle and provided a great deal of entertainment for the locals who emerged from the bush, to give advice, to help, to laugh etc. After a half hours struggle and those who helped splattered with mud (I was ordered to stay in the auto) we finally got on our way. Passing several round mud houses, we finally got to our destination and were warmly welcomed by Bro Crispinus and Kenndey’s family, very poor, simple, humble and obviously filed with a profound faith, a very humbling experience. They insisted on feeding us a simple but nourishing meal of chicken, I think. We returned to the rectory where we visited with the pastor and waited to welcome a number of priests mostly seminary professors to the rectory for fraternity, to meet me, and to have a meal. It was a wonderful gathering and a great surprise to discover that I had met one of the priests who had been covering for Fr. Peter Gregory in Pittsfield a few years ago. It was a great party but I was more than ready to crawl into be after 12 midnight. We arose the next morning, Monday and after a much simpler Mass and breakfast, it was announced that we could not leave without going back into the bush to bid goodbye to Bro. Crispinus’ family and so off we went for about a half hour’s drive and without getting stuck, were again greeted warmly by his family who again Insisted on feeding us. Although the pastor wanted me to stay another day we finally got on our way to Eldoret where we again visited the Uncle and his family (a great deal of time sitting around accomplishing nothing) before we finally got to a restaurant and finished a meal about 11:45 PM. I had to share a room with Kennedy and, as a result did not get much sleep. We arose early and after a bit of breakfast was met by the uncle who drove us to the public transport for a very long ride to Nairobi where I was Informed by the principal of the School that I would have to go the National Bank of Nairobi the hospital branch which took several hours to finally put to rest the missing wired account which was transferred Into another proper account. The Brothers met us and we went thankfully to the Monastery. I was extremely tired and exhausted and, as a result, I think, contracted Montezuma’s revenge, which lasted a few days. I really did not feel well and the next day spent between the toilet, my bed, the area where we wash our clothes.
Fr. Henry and six of the Brothers took off for a holiday in Mombasa so I have been celebrating the Eucharist for the Brothers and celebrated the Eucharist on Sunday at their corrugated tin chapel in Choca which was a wonderful experience, much wonderful music, much dancing etc., etc. Bro. Urbanus was my translator for the homily and at times through the Eucharist. The many, many, many children would crowd around me wanting to rub my arms, fascinated by the white hair on my arms, or rub their hands over my grey hairs on my head, delightful children. The walking is quite treacherous because of the uneven landscape. I went with a long walk with Bro. Benjamin up a very large hill and got wonderful views of the whole area a walk of about an hour and a half. It is interesting that often he would grab my hand especially walking back to the monastery from the apostolate and we would saunter hand In hand. I initially felt a bit uncomfortable but it is quite consistent with the culture so I finally got used to it. We have taken other walks up the other side to get magnificent views of other areas.
Bro Alex assigned me to go to a graduation with Bro Urbanus and Bro Benjamin, one of the choir members was graduating from teacher’s college. It was an inspiring graduation with many speeches, much singing, much dancing, 3 and 1/2 hours. The weather the first few days found us in intermittent downpours of rain but the last few days the weather has been typical for December, sunny, hot, and dry and in the afternoon very windy and increasingly cool. I have to sleep with at least one blanket and by early morning cover myself with another blanket. I take my shower in the morning in a small corrugated tin shower and use my corrugated tin toilet. The accommodations are typically MOP missionary accommodations.
To conclude this long and tiring expose of my time In Kenya, all in all it has been a wonderful experience. I miss all of you and try each day to pray for you. As much as this is a wonderful experience, I look forward to being back with you and hope that I have not bored you with this renditions of my Kenyan experience.
Love to all, Fr. John