Posted by: MamaPatricia | May 17, 2007

My first trip to Kisumu Kenya August 2006

My first trip to Kisumu Kenya August 2006

 

I thought it would nice to post my dispatches from Kenya from last years’ trip.

I hope you enjoy!

Dispatch 1 from Patricia:

On Tuesday, we had breakfast with Bishop and Jan Fick at the Pantry. It was so nice to visit with them and receive their well wishes and prayers for our journey. There were a lot of last minute things to accomplish before we left. I started to feel the effects of an ear infection around 5. I called the doctor and had him call in a script for antibiotics. We received a late call from James Koyo, son of Bishop Koyo, who lives in the states; he wanted to drop off some things at our apartment to take for his brother Moses. It was a good visit with him.

The sleeping part of the night was way too short for me! We were up at 4:30 to get ready. We left out apartment around 6:15. 6 bags, 4 checked and two carry on. We went to Fr. Michael and Tanya Orr’s home where we transferred our luggage to their SUV car; they blessed us and drove us to the Detroit Metro Airport.

The Trip to NYC was uneventful. We met up with a young girl just out of college who was going off to Africa to serve as a teacher for 10 months. She was so excited and nervous. I showed her the slide show of connection Kenyan. She enjoyed this very much. We spent several hours with her. We met many other interesting people at the airport. I saw a woman dressed with full chador and a Harley Davidson long sleeve tee shirt on!

Our flight to Dubai was about 14 ½ hours. I tried to sleep but it was not meant to be. When we arrive in Dubai, we had a 14-hour layover. Ed, one of the physical therapist that I work with, told me that I should check into the airlines that we travel with to see if they would provide us with free overnight accommodations. They did and I was so grateful for this information. We were put up at a nice hotel and given food vouchers for dinner and breakfast. Oh by the way, when we arrived at 9:00 pm, the outside temperature was only 120 degrees! It literally sucked the air out of me.

We arrived in the morning at the Dubai airport to check in. Now that is an interesting place. People sleeping on the floor and in chairs waiting for their connecting flight. I guess they don’t work with Ed! There is a very large tax-free mall at this airport. I did take a walk around the place. I was so very aware that I was not in the US. My freedom at home became so much more real. There were so many woman dressed from head to toe in black. Men walking around in white robes and red checkered veils on their heads. I had my first experience with an interesting bathroom there and I survived! I laughed all the way out of the ladies room.

I wore my African dress for the trip to Nairobi. This was a good thing. I had many interesting conversations with people about my dress. I actually felt like I fit in! Our flight to Nairobi was only 4 ½ hours long. I looked out of the window most of the time. It was something to see the desert, and I was amazed how the people survive there. This made me realize that I have been so blessed all of my life.

When we arrived in Nairobi I was struck with the landscape. Beautiful wind swept trees. It looked very dry, mostly brown in color with the exception of the dark green trees. The airport is on the outskirts of the city. We were met by Moses and Delmas who is the son and bother-in-law of Bishop Koyo respectively. They were so excited to see us. The weather was so comfortable, high 70’s with a nice breeze. They picked us up in a very small car and by the grace of God our entire luggage fit. The first thing to get accustomed to was the fact that they travel on the opposite side of the road. I remembered what Fr Francis said about traveling by car, and I worked so hard not to cry out with the near misses of the traffic. Those of you that went to the Philippines know what I am talking about! I was stunned by the utter poverty of the city. People living in ramshackle homes, thousands of people walking to and from their work, just as many riding bikes. There were open-air markets with produce, meat, fish and chicken. I noticed that there were the vendors selling what looked to me like used clothes. They were everywhere. Most hung up on hangers but in some places, there were huge piles for people to pick through. We stayed at Moses Koyo’s home, in a neighborhood call Buru Buru. These homes were all connected and they had courtyard walls built around them. On the tops of the walls were large pieces of broken glass sticking up, the Nairobi way of a security system. The home was very small by American standards. A small kitchen and two seating areas and a small bedroom were on the first floor. Three small bedrooms and one toilet and a separate tub area were on the second floor, maybe 750 square feet for the whole house. The place was very clean. Moses and Elizabeth (Moses’ cousin) and several other people share this home, which is a custom here in Kenya. They served us a meal and we talked till we could hardly keep our eyes open. We slept well until around 3:00am when we were awakened by the mosquitoes buzzing around our room. We had no mosquito netting at this place. I am glad we took our medicine for malaria. We washed up early next morning. Elizabeth provided us with hot water so we could wash up.

We were picked up by Bishop Koyo’s brother-in-law to be dropped off at the bus terminal. The city was just waking up and there were so many people out on their way to work, walking, riding boda bodas, (small bike taxies where you ride on the back fender of the bike) cars and buses. The children were up early on their way to school. In Kenya all the children wear uniforms. I was so touched by their happy faces. There are many open gutters along the way were people pour out their used water and such. We passed a butchering area along the way where people brought in by truck and bike taxies, meat to be butchered and sold. There was one truck that just had the horns of the animals killed on it.

It is very strange to be in a city of millions of people and be one of the only white people around. So many people, especially young children stared me at. I smiled at the children and they just smiled back. We got our entire luggage on the bus and took our seats. It did not take long to get out of Nairobi.

As we were leaving the city I saw thousands of people waiting on the roads for buses and taxies. These people were dressed so proudly, very conservative and professional in their dress. The availability of jobs here for the educated is very small. I believe that that is one of the reasons so many leave Kenya for other countries.

We were about 50 kilometers away when we reached the rural areas. The homes are found on what they call compounds, several homes in a hedge enclosed area with a gate. Most had metal roofs that have rusted over time. Some of these homes were made out of stone, others mud and stick, and I even saw some homes with thatched roofs. Those homes made me think of my own grandmother who lived in Ireland in a thatch roof home so many miles away, so many years ago. The journey to Kisumu was to be 6 hours. It was 8. Why you ask? Well of course when people needed to use the bathroom we stopped so they could go behind a tree. Other times we stopped to make purchases from street vendors selling produce, roasted corn and ground nuts. As we would travel along the way little children would wave at me from along side of the road with their big smiles.

I saw a herd of zebra’s, I woke Fr. Francis to he could see them too. The road was worse that any terrible road you have ever been on. I went through the Great Rift Valley. Words cannot describe the beauty of it all. You could see for many miles the valley and the mountains surrounding it. Rolling farms and tea fields all planted by hand.

You would be driving in the middle of nowhere and you would see people out walking across long fields. The people were all wearing winter coats in Nairobi and in the rural areas. I am talking down and polar fleece jackets. I had on a short sleeved shirt. I was grateful for the one regular bathroom break along the way.

We arrived in Kisumu by 3. Two women dressed in green from the woman’s unity group greeted us. Shortly after Mama Koyo greeted us. She cried as she welcomed me. I was so deeply moved. I remembered at that very moment, all of the people back home who sacrificed so much to send me here. I know it was worth it all! I am so grateful to you all, family and friends. When I hugged her and kissed her on both cheeks, I want you to know that you were all there with me.

We had to stop at a gas station to fix a puncture in one of the spare tires. People were going from car to car selling things. Just another indication of the lack of regular jobs here in Kenya. After some time we left for home. Mrs. Koyo or “Mama”, as all call her, spoke to me of the many young widows with children that the church is helping. Many of these women are sick as well, not all from AIDS but other illnesses like typhoid, and severe diarrhea.

She told me that a few people would be waiting at the church for my arrival. We talked on the way about the hardships that woman have here in Kenya. They live a hard life. I say many women carrying large loads on their head and babies on their back. When we turned to go down the road to the church Mama told me how happy she was that I was coming for the month. She said that no other woman has come for that long. She told of the great love and respect the people of Kenya have for Fr. Francis. She cried, I cried. I was not ready for what came next. There were close to 250 people on the road with palm branches, waiting to catch a glimpse of me. They sang songs, which contained my name in it to welcome me, and young children ran next to the truck I was riding in. I reached out and touch them. Ladies in green dresses wept and ran to touch my hand and welcome me as we drove down the road. This went on for almost a good mile till we reach the church. When I got out of the car so many people hugged me. They then took Fr. Francis and me into the church for more singing and praising the Lord. I was introduced to all of the clergy of the church including those visiting from other places in Kenya. I was introduced to the wives of the clergy and leaders of the church. They sang more songs and danced. I have never seen anything like this. I was overwhelmed to say the least.

We had a nice meal after we unpacked and went to bed exhausted. I slept all night. I am getting used to the time change but today I still took a 2-hour nap. It rained most of the afternoon and we lost power. Mama showed me around the compound before the rain. They raise chickens. This place is so clean and people are constantly working at it to keep it that way. Every morning they sweep the ground and are forever washing the cement that surrounds the buildings.

They call me Mama Patricia. This is how they honor me and I accept it as an honor. Many people take my hand into theirs and greet me. I have to go aside every now and then and cry. Mama tells me that they take care of around 250 orphans now, with around 500 on the waiting list. This woman has a heart for her people as does the Bishop. I will be traveling to all of the deaneries and am the guest speaker at the woman’s retreat at the end of August. Pray that God will give me the word that these ladies need to hear. I have been eating in the dinning room as the honored guest but I think I will ask to eat with the ladies soon. Oh by the way all is well with the bathroom thing. I worried for nothing. ☺

At the first class taught by Fr. Francis, Bishop Koyo passed out clergy shirt that were donated by the USA clergy. These men were speechless and overwhelmed all at the same time by the generosity of the people back home. One man who had no clergy shirt ran back to his sleeping quarters and put it on immediately! I have come to realize even more deeply, how blessed we are in the States.

By the way Sara (my youngest daughter) the entire church prayed for you on Friday for a quick and speedy recovery from your surgery. I am trying to get a ride into town to call you. My cell phone does not work here. You have been in my constant thoughts. Jesus bless you Sara.

It has been raining most of the day today. I have had time to unpack and start my dispatches. It is now around 8:45PM and Fr. Francis has just stopped teaching. He has been at it for over 12 hours today. The men in his class are just soaking up every word. They are excited and anxious to use their new information.

Sunday Liturgy was unbelievable. These people were so excited to be there. It started at 10AM and finished around 2PM. No one left early. The entrance procession was about 50 people, Priest, deacons, acolytes, singers, and dancers. They placed my in a seat of honor next to Mama Koyo, next to the altar. The music was so spirited. They used a keyboard and drums, as well as a kyumba to accompany the singers who all wore beautiful purple and white robes. Through out the service the flower girls would dance. They had special song presentations by the flower girls, Sunday school classes of different ages and a youth choir that was on the level of excellence of the musician in the Philippines. We had three bishops present at the Liturgy. The first group of students were so impressed at how smoothly and professionally every thing went. I was so proud for Bishop Koyo and my husband the teacher, because these people have understood the importance of a professional and reverent way to worship the Lord almighty. They knew they were on HOLY GROUND! The congregation all wore clean clothes, their Sunday best! They believe that God deserves the best. Men wore suites and ties; all the women wore dresses or skirts. The young children looked good too. They all participated with enthusiasm. I would find some of the small children that sat close to me would reach out and touch my skin to see what it felt like. At the end of the service the entire congregation greeted me. They hugged and welcomed me, Mama Patricia. Mama Koyo stayed close and interpreted when necessary.

The class following church was so excited to watch. Fr. Francis’ students were so excited and the discussion was so lively!

Monday we went to visit Bishop Otieno. He is the original founder of this church here in Africa. He is 94. He is not well. We had to drive across fields to get to his home because the roads are so bad.

The shower the first night was COLD. Mama Koyo has them bring me a bucket of HOT water. It was wonderful and I am so grateful for it. As I write these dispatches to you I can here the roster crowing and see the sheep grazing out side of my window. I heard a loud thump on the roof of our home. I went outside to see what it was but I just could not see. Whatever it was it walked all over the roof!

I sat with a young mother last night and looked at pictures that she had of her children. She was so proud of them. She showed me a picture of her youngest son who was 8 months old and died three months ago from diarrhea.

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Responses

  1. Thanx for visiting my native country,I mean my home village!I was born not far from where you stayed,and I still have pretty fond memories of ma early life there.
    Even though I sometime feel home sick,guess its human,I honestly don’t think I would wish to go live in that village again.Don’t get me wrong,I certainly don’t feel special,neither do I look down upon people who still live back there.I still have my family members in that ‘dala’ and I love them as much as you love your family.
    I guess due to many changes,both positive and negative,that have taken place since I last left my village,I just don’t find it intresting to stay/live there anymore.I for sure will still visit my family members and of course my old friends,but that is the closest I could ever go now.
    And did you take more photos you haven’t posted on the net yet?I would be really glad to see any apart from the ones posted on the site.
    Hint:There is an elementary school”primary” not far from where you stayed.There also a big warehouse on your right when you’re going towards the tarmacked road.Ah,you see,I know the area!


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