Some of the pictures in this post are of poems written on the blackboard, which you may have trouble reading. Combination of children leaning against the board and glare from the flash on the camera. Sorry.
June 10, 2012
Arrived yesterday, but still don’t have modem working. Today, Sunday, was a day of tears as Fr Kiriti celebrated his last Sunday masses. Tears were flowing freely, especially mine, as I am very close to my emotions. He gave a beautiful farewell homily, blending the gospel of the day so well with his message of serving his people here. He has accomplished so much, having come in 2003 to a virtually non-functional parish. Amazing and the people know it. They are all so sad to see him go—and so far away, to East Pokot, 5 ½ hours from here if it hasn’t been raining. If rain, you can’t go because the last 2 ½ hours is w/o roads. Car might wash away in a gully.
This evening the children in Mji Wa Neema children’s home had a farewell dinner for him. Cyrus came back from his studies in Nairobi. After a wonderful meal, each child tried to tell him how much he has meant in their lives. Some were so overcome with sadness they couldn’t speak. The tears rolled down my cheeks the whole time. He has been such a force in their lives, managing to fulfill the missing father role for 35 children. They all call him “Dad”, which Cyrus told us means something much deeper than father or daddy.
He has set a very high standard of behavior for them and has expected them to perform at the highest. Those expectations have meant everything to those children, most of whom were not even in school when he arrived. Now most are either in high school or will be in a year or 2. It’s a terrible time to lose him, but then he was left here for almost 3 years over the time priests are generally left in a parish. I guess the “cup half full” spin would be they were so fortunate to have him in their lives during these formative years. Cyrus, the oldest, who is now in his first university year, was particularly eloquent tonight, expressing so well the sentiments the others just couldn’t articulate.
They had written poems on the blackboard and sang a heart-wrenching song, the refrain of which was “Daddy don’t leave us now.” Some of the kids were so overcome they couldn’t sing. Patrick had his back to us, sobbing and eventually ran out.
This says it all.