Thursday, April 09, 2009


Kalacha, Kenya
10 March-
I am sitting on a borrowed oversize cot, under bright moonlight, plunking away on our macbook. It is 11pm and the temperature I am guessing is finally in the 80’s. Kalacha may not be a vacation destination for most people, but it is where the AIM missionaries from northern Kenya chose to have a prayer retreat. We are excited to be here, to hear firsthand what is happening in the far north. An added bonus: the station manager was my first roommate from LeTourneau.
Northern Kenya is not like the southern half. While Kenya is considered a Christian nation, missions is a relatively new thing here. Less than one percent of the people around are followers of Christ. In fact, the only reason there is a Christian outpost here at all was that thirty years ago a missionary was invited up to start a forestation project, on the edge of the salty Chalbi desert. Missionaries were not desired here, nor ever welcomed, but they wanted trees in hopes that rain would come to the hills again.
The people here are camel herders, nomadic, and almost by default, Muslim. The church is struggling, and made up mostly the outcast of the community around. This is to be expected, since when someone becomes a follower of Jesus instead of Muhammad, then they lose their family around them.
The missionaries who started the station here had foresight to know that they did not have the resources to chase down every nomadic group and share with them the wonder of God. They did realize that if they provided wells, it would become a place everyone would be drawn to.
So, here in the dry heat, we have oodles of water. It is incredible. There is a “swimming pool” even that holds excess water off the windmill pump. There are wells all around that were put in for the community. And people have come. The one or two houses that made up the village thirty years ago has grown to about thirty or forty.
The people are being drawn in. The church is struggling, however. Finding healthy leadership is a challenge, and takes time. This is not an assignment most pastors volunteer for.
Tomorrow we are taking the morning to pray just for Kalacha that church would do well and those from the community would be drawn in.
14 March-
Our farewell to Kalacha started the evening before when we all drove out to the desert together, stopping on the way to visit the little Catholic church and an artesian well that supplies the oasis and a group of farms just outside town.
The church had paintings done by an Ethiopian artist that were vivid scenes from the Bible. Everybody had an African look, and apparently many of the gestures were Ethiopian. They had been brought down one by one and arranged in the church in two rows wrapping around the whole interior of the church.
The artesian well had been modernized with cement around its head and then with a small canal system to carry the water off. The kids, both wazungu and Kenyan, loved playing with the water as it rippled by. A sick camel lay in the background, completely abandoned, but watching us with great interest. The shambas (gardens) that were started using the canals flowing with water would be a great way to supply fresh fruit to the northern region ... except for baboons. It is tough to keep them out.
One of the old timers in the group have been working with the Rendille people for decades. They said the Rendille don’t have any water flowing above ground like this. To them, this is how they picture heaven.
We loaded back up- I jumped on the roof with several kids, and we left a lush green farm area and were immediately in the great salty desert called Chalbi. The sun was setting, and it was remarkably cool. Andrea, our fantastic cook from Kurungu, had made a ton of pasta salad along with a fruit salad. It was like a feast. Of course the fruit went immediately. After eating, the stars came out and we could see almost all of them as well as a few satellites :)
The next morning we packed up the tents and cots we borrowed, and I took the kids walking into town to search out a duka to find some Cokes and other soft drinks. On the way back, Isaiah was fairly non-responsive. He acted tired.
A half hour later he felt hot and we noticed he had a fever of 104. So we cooled him off with wet washcloths and gave him some children’s motrin.
The car was loaded, complete with a goat and lamb on the roof rack, so we needed to leave before the animals became too angry.
In the car we kept a cold cloth on Isaiah, while I was praying silently for him as often as possible. He cooled a little bit, and was in and out of sleep.
We stopped at a salt flat to fill up some gunny sacks with the desert’s salt. It is quite a sought after commodity around the area.
After we crossed the Chalbi, we stopped at a small “hotel” and ate some lunch. Fresh goat with hot chapatis. It was better than I expected, and even more surprising, Grace finished off all the goat. She and Isaiah are in a dead heat for pickiest eater of the family, and here was she was eating grilled goat and wanting more. I was quite amazed.
20 minutes from Kurungu disaster struck. Isaiah let fly with all the water we coaxed him to drink plus crackers. It went all over Breanna’s skirt and my shirt.
“Should we stop?” our friends asked. We thought about it and realized we don’t have any options. We can’t just pull over and get water to wash with, there aren’t any bathrooms anywhere. So, our only option was to keep driving.
It was a long 20 minutes, but then I started to realize a little more what it takes to live upcountry here in Kenya. Some things you just deal with until you have opportunity to properly address the issue. We finally made it to the house and washed ourselves and Isaiah off.
He is still not able to keep anything down. We pray it is a short lived flu bug, and he will be healed soon.

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