When in Kenya, you learn some things. One of them is that it can take a while to get place – sometimes, a long while – much too long. Such was our experience on Thursday. Messiah had funded a field trip to Mt Kenya to see the wildlife in the national park. The girls were hugely excited. For some, it would be their first bus ride. For all, it would be their first time to see Mt Kenya, the second highest mountain in Africa. We were excited too. A special t-shirt had been designed by one of our team members. Everyone – the 41 girls making this trip, the seven teachers and thirteen of us – would be wearing the t-shirt. The staff at LOH had designed the trip and arranged for a bus. We would visit an outdoor Bible story display and then the wild animals, spending a couple of hours at each.
One of the problems in Kenya is that looking at the map, we should have been able to make the trip in 3-4 hours. It took six. By Amerian standards, part of the road was impassable but not by Kenyan standards. The broken pavement and massive potholes meant the bus moved very slowly, swerving from left to right and prompting some car-sickness in the back of the bus. We got to the outdoor Bible story and instead of the 3 hour tour, we asked for the 40 minute version. We had time to eat lunch and after several attempts to find the national park, we decided to return to LOH. This time we took what would be better roads through Nairobi. But in Nairobi, the traffic at 8:00 p.m. was complete gridlock. In places, cars were attempting to go all four directions at the same time. The return trip was even longer than six hours. It was frustrating and disappointing. It was a long, long day on the bus. Such is travel in Kenya.
But I learned a few things:
- The girls have an amazing spirit. There was not one single complaint from the girls – or from the teachers. Turns out that we were the ones doing the complaining.
- The singing on the bus would have made your heart sing. And it wasn’t just singing, it was worship.
- Restroom stops (called toilets, here) can happen anywhere and in far less time than I remember it taking our family of four.
- The scenery in Kenya can be breathtaking. Driving through the mountains, we could see mountain sides covered with tea fields, coffee, pineapples, sugar cane, banana trees.
- There are troubling sights that at first seem beautiful but are not. We stopped alongside a pod of elephants that included a baby. It appeared the mother was playing with her baby. However, the longer we stopped, the more agitated they became. Then we realized the baby had been caught in a poacher’s trap. One – elephant charged the bus and fortunately, the bus moved just in time. (Later, the bus driver called to report on elephants. Today, we saved an elephant.)
- We had a “loaves and fishes” moment on the bus when a few leftover peanut butter sandwiches and bananas were divided so that every child and teacher could receive something for dinner.
- Maybe this is most significant: Luke 12:7 (in the midst warnings about this world, Jesus proclaims that we need not be afraid because God has even the hairs on our heads numbered). We made it back to LOH safely – when there were moments that was in question – such as when we were lost, stopped for directions and a villager with a machete firmly in hand threatened to cut off the head of one of our team members who was standing only a few feet away.
So, I look at another day in Kenya and these words coming to mind, often repeated by the girls. “God is good all of the time. All of the time God is good. For that is His nature. “