Today is the day Fr. Kiriti was to report to St. Paul’s outside Nakuru. We both had errands in NVA (Naivasha) so that by the time we were ready it was lunchtime. We decided to stop at a new restaurant just on the edge of town, owned by our good friend and Empower the World (ETW) board member, Joyce. It is small but nicely painted with round tables for 4. Joyce was not there when we arrived, so we ordered, hoping to get off quickly, but before our food arrived, Joyce came in, very surprised to see us. She is quite an entrepreneur, having opened another restaurant in Nairobi at the university. Due to student unrest, it is currently closed, but she hopes to reopen soon. The food was good, but service slow. Those who know Fr. Kiriti will not be surprised that he offered his suggestions (!!!)
With us was Hiliary, the new social worker for ETW, who was along to drive me and the car back to NVA after we delivered Fr. K. He’s a really nice young man, with a great smile and fun sense of humor. On the way we tried to cover all the topics we hadn’t thought about yet. It’s not as if Fr. K were going off to Siberia, not even as far as his previous assignment in East Pokot, but it is a good distance—about 1 ½ hours. Turning off the main road, we drove maybe 5 miles on a nicely paved road, then turned off on the familiar washboard road for about 2 miles, finally arriving at St. Paul’s. It is quite rural, but not dry and arid like East Pokot. This is a lush, green, abundant area with lots of rain, and as if to welcome him, the skies opened up as Hiliary and I were about to leave, raining giraffes and elephants—a real African rain. I was glad Hiliary was driving and he did it with great skill.
St. Paul’s church is beautiful (sorry I didn’t get a pic, but I promise to get one when I visit again.) The stonework design is intricate and so well built. As with St. Francis Xavier in NVA, the parish compound is quite large. The rectory, on the other hand is old and perhaps built by Mrs. Winchester. It’s hard to imagine what the architect (if there was one) was thinking. Fr. K hadn’t sat down for 10 minutes before he began talking about improvements he wanted to make. He really loves designing and remodeling—maybe a frustrated architect under the clerical collar. Mostly the place needs a good scrubbing and probably a good coat of paint. He is joining one other priest, whom he described as very hardworking. That’s important when you are Fr. K’s assistant! He was just going out as we were driving in, so I barely met him, but I liked his manner, open, warm and humble.
The rain lasted about 10 miles. We were suddenly out of it, long before we arrived NVA, which badly needs it. I dropped Hiliary, picked my new shopping bags from Joyce and was heading home when suddenly I thought, “Ummm, this is Wednesday, Rotary night. Off I headed to the NVA Sports Club, Rotary’s home. I was too early, but several members were there, including president, Pauline, who greeted me warmly. I didn’t stay, but will plan to be there next week.
I have not yet written of the great sadness we are all feeling at the passing of 24-year old Magdalene, late of Mji Wa Neema. She was born with a virtually inoperable hole in her heart. She managed it very well, but about 1 ½ months ago things went downhill.
Upon arrival Tuesday, when I went with Julia, matron of this children’s home, to visit her we were led to a private room where we were informed she had died the night before. It’s very odd that no one was notified, but that wasn’t my major concern at that moment. Julia collapsed into my arms, sobbing inconsolably. She has mothered all 35 of those children so lovingly.
Magdalene was a very special girl, a highly talented singer, dancer and actress. Her life ambition was to be on the stage. She was always the leader whenever the children were called upon to perform, which was often. This is so sad.
It’s just fortunate that I was here and that I have the car. Today we went to SFG to collect Magdalene’s sister, Mary and then to Naivasha Girls to collect another sister, Margaret. The girls are at a loss. Magdalene was the oldest, to whom they have looked for guidance all these years. I took them all back to Mji Wa Neema to be with Julia. I will be moving to my “house” there tonight and stay until the burial, next week sometime.
The girls have grandparents, but they are very old and unable to care for them. At Mji Wa Neema they had many advantages, the most important of which is education. The grandparents would never have been able to afford that. They were lucky to have food. Kenya Help has sponsored all the children as they move through school. Seeing these 2 sisters, not only orphans but also having lost their elder, I am so glad they have the opportunity to go to school. The grandparents will not last a lot longer and then they’ll be alone. But all the MWN children are like family. They refer to each other as brothers and sisters. The girls will always have them and of course, Julia, who is Mom to all of them.