We fly from Heathrow at 7pm tonight. Gregory in Nairobi emailed just yesterday with a question about accommodation. He proposed we change from the Methodist Guest House, Oloitokitok Road, to the nearby Musmark Christian Hostel. No problem in principle, but I wasn’t sure how to go about answering. Googling Musmark produced an American backpacker’s 2002 blog entry. It seemed the accommodation was okay. What made me smile was the further first impressions of Africa. So, I’ll give you mine, since I wasn’t posting stuff this time last year.
“Say, I hope you don’t mind me asking,” he leaned towards me. “I saw your red cross, and wondered what group you’re from?” We tried to find common ground. He was based some miles up country, in Masai territory, developing leadership training material in the local dialect. “We have a quarterly meeting here in town,” he explained,” So I decided to come a little early and give the girls a day out. Only...” he went on, “We didn’t think it was important enough to let our prayer team know. Hmm. We’ve had a miserable 24 hours - violent sickness. We missed that one, didn’t we?”
It was his matter-of-factness that I struggled to digest.
“So, we got straight in touch with them,” he was explaining, “And we’re okay now.”
I have other recollections of steps into a new dimension. There was our first Agape evening after having moved to Warwickshire. Pete, a resident leader of nine months’ local experience, declared, “Welcome to the battlefront.” C T Studd is recorded as writing home, “The spiritual atmosphere here is so charged, you have to sleep with your eyes open.” That was Africa, too.
What had I come to? Preparing to do warfare with mosquitoes had absorbed enough nervous energy. Needing a whole intercession team to ward off gastric bugs in the course of a perfectly innocent and routine trip left me disoriented. Suddenly, I felt very lonely. I was glad to be pointed in some helpful direction.
Well, by this time tomorrow, Ian, Jason and Jonny will have their own stories to tell. That’ll be interesting.