In the morning I was waken up by the amazing choir outside, I’ve never heard anything like that. Hundreds, if not thousands of birds’ voices were making a fabulous harmony. Whatever and whoever says anything to me I am certain it is the morning prayer of His creatures. On comin out I started to the bamboo pulpit standing right in the middle of our area. It is an amazing place for reading and prayer.
Ayub, an overseer of this missionary basis, is a former Muslim who experienced a radical conversion to Christ. He makes a short tour for me around this marvelous place rented by Steve.
I am meeting Frank, a missionary from Texas who like each American I came across here at the equator is working for the Lord. He had come here with Steve like everybody else I had met here. It’s his 10th time in Kenya and he builds a church in Kitale alongside with other pastors.
Acquaintance with the guys who are in fact adopted kids of Steve makes me shocked. Three of them are refugees from Rwanda. Hannah survived the murder of her mother when she was 4, it was a horrible genocide made by the tribe Hutu in 1994. Her mother had time to hide her daughter under the flour in the house and persuaded her not to say a single word and be quiet in her shelter. The young woman, alike other member of the big family, was killed that very day. And besides they cut her arms and chest in pieces, they cut a baby from her womb and threw it out of the window…
Hannah, like her brother Emmanuel, survived miraculously and only in a couple years in a refugee camp in Kongo their father found them but soon he died of AIDS. The orphans were wandering the streets until they met Steve one day.
To get to his house they saw lots of miracles. The children were nominal Muslims. Now, Like their friend Julia they worship Christ genuinely and live in Kenyan house rented by Steve. One more girl, Leila, also lives here and helps, like everybody else, to Steve in his missionary work. She also teaches English her friends – Tutsi.
Hannah told me an exciting story. Steve brought along a magazine about the genocide in Rwanda with lots of pictures. When it fell into her hands for the first time she immediately could recognize people who tortured and killed her mother. Regardless of years past after those tragedy her memories from childhood kept those faces who rushed into her house and destroyed her childhood. It’s good to know that those executioners are in the dock.
We’re getting out of our headquarter and moving forward to the Christian orphanage “Oasis of hope” nearby. I test local cycle service Bodo Bodo on my way and regardless of my decent weight a fellow was very fast pedaling, making some modest Kenyan shillings as a taxi driver. The bike owner here is a middle level businessman but sure enough the scale of his profits can’t be compared with motorcycle taxi service Piki Piki. It is much cooler, folks. They are waiting for their clients, absolute kings at the cross roads.
There are about 140 kids in “Oasis of hope” who attend services and watch cartoons. They make a luxury even if spontaneous concert with songs and folk dancing. I cannot resist – we dance together! Half of the children don’t have parents at all. Others are just from extremely poor families. The guys come here in the morning and their time is organized by the attendees of the local small church who started this kind of day time social rehab center.
The children are given some food (not much as I could see) and they teach them in classes. Sure enough they play soccer and have other entertainments. I talk to a young man – founder and Principle of the center. A short tour overwhelms me. Fantastic poverty and no end of work. I start dip into my pocket. I give a brotherly donation from our children’s center “Republic” Pilgrim” for them to buy building materials. We make some kind of partnership covenant between the children’s centers. We promise to pray for each other, And of course I start making plans how we can help them from Ukraine. I met one more missionary Lydia Monroe… guess from what church she is…??? Exactly! She’s also from Californian Saddleback , and Steve is directly involved in her coming here in Africa!!!
On having lunch in the local place that reminds me Soviet times with its design and level of service of this so called “restaurant”.
At once after that we’re going to the city center and looking at local street kids who banged on me shouting “Muzungu!” and it breaks my heart. Hundreds of street kids toxic addicts with their tubes of glue that has become a rare phenomenon in Ukraine as our rehab work switched to social orphans after years of work with addicted teens. Like with a time machine I find myself in Mariupol 12 years ago plus local indescribable poverty.
Sure enough I start hanging out with the kids and dip into my purse to buy them sweets. The fight for candies they start surprises even me shabby in homeless life. To be frank, I didn’t expect. I can’t remember fights for candies in Mariupol even in the toughest times taking no notice on age and sex. I take the situation in control (fortunately, I am skilled enough in it) and we have some educational conversations with African “Pilgrims”.
Right near the central store we make competitions on overcoming the floor; I bought some chocolates especially for that. Beside a mob of street kids there were lots of grown ups. Show had success and I made friends with some street kid sin such a way. Some eyes imprinted in my soul so I start realizing I got involved in the trip seriously.
I leave the city center escorted by a mob of street kids who were shouting at last: Kvakhedi, Muzungu! (Bye, pale faced!)
We’re going to Kipsongo with Steve – local slum. In this place about 3000 people living in barracks made of plastic bottles and trash. Steve warns me take along nothing but taking into account my size I dare taking a camera. Right by the entrance of the slum there was a half ruined church building. Even in this hell at the equator His Word is preached steadily.
However even what I saw within the last 15 minutes spent there – overwhelms and breaks my heart. “Holy nuisance” – one famous preacher called this state – it is not only getting out of scale but, it seems, it starts growing into depression.
I keep silence on my way in the car and tears stream down my cheeks. Steve probably understands so he decides not to bother me with a talk. Frankly speaking, I didn’t expect to see what I saw…
On our basis I was expected by the surprise. Ukrainians! A group of missionaries – graduates of Bible college, as it turned out, rent a place not far from us. I am so proud for Ukraine! Not only Saddleback church works all over the world! Zhytomir, Ternopol, Dnieprodzerzhinsk and even Mariupol are represented in our team! The joy of meeting ours is marred by the sad news that the majority of them were infected with malaria. But I still hope to see them one of these days.
Having finished the fellowship, I went upstairs and realized I can do nothing. This trip was evidently crucial for my life. Having some skills with the street kids in Ukraine I am sure I won’t be able to forget the eyes of those local street kids I saw here. Hundreds of smiles and glances I saw merged into one boy who followed me all the way in the city center. It occurred to me before. Our “Pilgrim” In Ukraine once started with the similar impressions….
Shouts: “Fire1” – woke me up of my stupor I fell into after such a day. Running outside with Steve and his daughters – Tutsi I see a big glow. Praise to God my first thought that our roof is set on fire is not confirmed fortunately. It is thatch gazebo burning. A captain of fire service woke up in me after 20 years out of practice in Moscow after demobilization. Involuntary I take command on myself.
Assess the situation, trying to cut off the fire from palm trees standing next to. What rescues is that it does not flare up, with very succulent leaves in the rainy season, besides; I manage to cut off her splendid branches of already burning in the entire arbor. So I tasted haze almost forgotten for years, and slightly relaxed from her plague status.
I share with Steve the version that God decided to rescue me from the nervous break down in such a way. Steve confirms the possibility of this interpretation and shows me a video made in the midst of fire where I play part of a Hollywood stuntman jumping in the fire! The video impresses… I will upload it ASAP on Youtube and in “vkontakte.ru”…
On finishing my work within 30 minutes with a nice and very international team without waiting for any help from the fire service I go to the shower and switch off. It is too much for only one day! Kvakhedi, Jesus! (Good bye)
The probability of arson and shocking density of orphans on a square meter. “ barrack –kitchen” and dreams about beds. Testimonies in Galgal and amazing tidiness of orphans.
Today in the morning the birds made something unimaginable. How strange it might sound I could digest yesterday’s pain within the night and I feel like it starts turning into energy of some so far vague plans and projects.
I am trying to understand the reasons of fire. I conduct investigative inspector work, and, to my regret, the considerable chagrin of Steve, his version of the electric circuit as the cause of ignition, does not fit into the overall picture. I do not want, nevertheless, agree with the option of arson, but it is very likely. For this reason, the steward of our house brother Ayub conducts inspection of the territory along the perimeter and in some places strengthens the protection under the bushes and barbed wire. However, inspection of fences and barriers makes me smile. Any of my kids would be able to break through this defense in 2 seconds, being invisible at night in our territory.
We start to one more boarding school. Something like our Christian orphanage under the name Galgal. What I see there breaks my heart once again. The kids from very poor families or often without families study in the premise under reconstruction (half ruined). In the room with clay floors there are some beds and a pile of old weary mattresses mixed with other stuff. When asked how many people live in the “room” I get a depressing answer: 18 girls!!! The associations with “Republic “Pilgrim” 10 years ago get stronger but still to the benefit of Mariupol state of former street kids. So I dip into my purse once again…We arrange the future gift from pilgrims – couple bunk beds for a girls’ room.
The children accept us joyfully. We pray, sing Steve turns into the Worship leader! Hannah testifies telling her story of salvation in the times of genocide in Rwanda and conversion from Islam through love showed by Christians. Deathly silence in the hall, some young people shed tears. Christ reigns here! All this work is made by the church and they do it in His name!
When examine the kitchen in Galgal I can’t stop thinking how minimal are our Ukrainian kitchen difficulties in comparison with Africa. Yes we also have difficulties but not so huge. There’s no electricity all over the orphanage. The kitchen is something like a barn where they make a stew on fire. But in contrast to the “level of comfort” the tidy kids look weird. And besides, there are no washing machine and drying machines.
We’re getting home, breaking through the thunderstorm! We don’t see such things every day! I go to bed early, – too many impressions for 2 days. Buana Asifiwei! Usika Meima! (Praise to God and Good night)