#24 Last Evening in Mji Wa Neema

Leaving is always hard, especially since I hate packing so much. However, virtually everything is in a suitcase or my big metal box of stuff that stays here. Tomorrow just the last minute things, the shampoo, tooth brushes, etc. It makes me nervous to think I am so far along in the process—surely there is something big that I’ve forgotten.

While Catherine Wanjohi (Life Bloom) was still in the US, we planned she would come to visit me on Monday night (last night). First thing I knew was that Louis, her class 8 son was at my door, along with an older boy, son of Catherine’s friend Rosemary. Catherine and Rosemary are still talking in the car, but I know what Louis wants—a grilled cheese sandwich. Years ago when Louis and his sister Laura came to visit at lunchtime, I made the usual—butter on outside of bread, sharp cheddar cheese slices melted on inside. They LOVED it and ever after I must make GCS for them. Only, I that day was almost out of cheese and these are teenaged boys. I made each of them 1, but about that time the 2 moms appeared and darned if they didn’t eat ½ of the boys’ treats. Oh well, Louis knows how to make them now and I explained to Rosemary, so they can do their own.

When Rosemary and the boys left, Catherine, still majorly jet-lagged, pleaded for a nap. I had packing to do, so agreed, but 1 ½ hours later I woke her for dinner, fearing if she slept too long she waken, starving in the middle of the night. I had just enough mince meat (aka hamburger) and a bit of cheese for make yummy hamburgers, complete with pickles (but I swear, I’m bringing a bottle of dill pickles next year. Gherkins just don’t do it!)

As always we talked past midnight, as I sat in admiration of all the incredible things that have come to her. She had been in Minneapolis to speak at an international community development conference. Her presentation was so well received that the president of the host organization sought her out for a 2-hour conversation, ultimately offering her the position of Kenyan representative of that group—big honor, nice recognition. There is a chance that Life Bloom may get some funding from a UN agency (can’t remember which one), which would finally put them on a solid financial base. That very morning representatives had visited the LB head-quarters site and were amazed and full of praise for the thoroughness of the organization, book-keeping, and sound corporate management they found. Pray, everyone. If ever an organization was ready for and needful of dependable financial support it is LB!

Tuesday morning I went to SFG with Fr. Ngaruiya to see how the painting is coming on. He’s using the colors of the uniform, blue doors, white trim and red under the windows. I wished so much I could see it, but they had just begun. All I saw was the white undercoat.

There is a great deal of deferred maintenance, but Fr. N is determined to make it look as good as it did under Fr. Kiriti. The initial contractor turned out to be a dud, so many things need to be corrected. Here are some examples.

#1 Painting SFG 2016#2 damaged wall 2016

This wall in the staff room was damaged by a leaking pipe. It will need sealing, then repainting. Below is the blackboard in the staff room. It was painted before the base material was thoroughly dry. Another BB in the biology lab was the same. FYI, the motto is “We must become the change we want to see.”

#3 Staff Rm b:bd 2016

I can’t wait to get back next June to see all that has been done. Fr N, like Fr. Kiriti could perhaps be renamed Fr. Winchester—he never stops working on the buildings!

Way back in 2010 Judy took a really cute picture of Toleo and Michael. Toleo was 5 and I think Michael was 7 or 8. It’s one of my favorite pictures, so when they were both as Mji Wa Neema for the reunion, we did a re-enactment.

#4 Toleo and Michael 2010


Michael has been adopted by Catherine. He’s now in class 7 and doing very well. Toleo was adopted by Fr. Kiriti and his family. She’s in class 5. Both are very tall and skinny, the way growing kids are in the pre-teen years.

#5 Toleo:Michael 2016

I was so well organized on Tuesday that I took some time to visit my friend, Minalyn, about whom I’ve written. I tutored her daughter, Sandy (see # 13). Minalyn has a warm heart for the down-trodden. She fosters a boy whose mother could not raise him, but the mother is welcome to see him any time, and does. Here are 2 shots of the workroom

#6 Minalyn wk:shop 1 2016#7 Minalyn wk:shp 3 2016

Driving back into the parish compound I encountered Fr. N again. “Do you want to go see how the painting is coming now?” “Sure, hop in.” and off we drove to SFG. It’s looking better, but still just the undercoat.

Tuesday was Lucas’ final visit to the dentist. He now has 8 top front teeth capped and beautifully white. They look a bit big right now, but he will grow into them.  He came to see me before I left on Wednesday. He’s still very shy, although I can see already his level of confidence has risen as a result of this change in his appearance. All the kids who have “Naivasha teeth”, stained, misshapen and weak from too much fluoride are extremely self-conscious about their teeth. Several have now asked me to take them to the dentist to have their teeth redone. Alas, I can’t do that—our work is educating kids. Lucas’ sponsor has been good enough to see that his teeth were exceptionally bad and needed to be repaired before he lost them. Here are before and after shots.


#8 Lucas teeth#9 Lucas new teeth 2016


When he came in Wednesday morning, he said “Thank you for transforming my life!” Wow! What a statement. I told him the way he could show his appreciation was to do his very best on the KCPE in November. He’s a very bright guy and is spending most of his free time in his August break studying. We are hoping he will qualify for one of the very good national schools.

Wednesday was the usual whirlwind of finalizing the packing up my house, my checked luggage, my carry on bag and my “purse”, which is a backpack. All morning people dropped by to say goodbye, I kept finding things that had to go in the trunk that I leave in Naivasha, Fr. Kiriti arrived to drive me to the airport (and was hungry—so we found some few items in my refrigerator), Fr. Ngaruiya arrived to wish me well, as did Hiliary from Empower the World. And there was Julia, tearful, as was I to leave for another 9 ½ months.

Here is my farewell committee: Hiliary, Lucas, Simon, Ruth, David Wekesa (front), “big” Patrick and Julia.

#10 Farewell 2016 - Version 2

The “boot” was filled to capacity with my things, but we had also to take Toleo and her cousin Sarah, back to Fr. Kiriti’s family compound in Mai Mahui, on our way. But even more, his brother, Michael, had been hospitalized with an infection and was to be released, so we had to take Michael and his wife, Margaret, as well. Michael has advanced cancer of the spine, so is in major pain. He sat in front, while Margaret, Toleo, Sarah and I, along with their “stuff” sat in back. Needless to say, it was cozy!

The road into the Kiriti compound is another typical Kenyan road, but the RAV4 withstood the weight, the ruts and the bumps well. The beautiful car wash the boys had given it earlier was totally obliterated, of course.

Finally we got everyone delivered, Michael settled, and were on our way for the 1-hour + drive to Nairobi over Fr. Kiriti’s favorite road and my least favorite road. It climbs out of the Rift Valley over perhaps 10 miles of narrow curves and is the designated road for trucks. This was not the day to be on it. Somewhere there had been an accident. The 1-hour + drive turned out to be 3-hours +. Then we missed a turnoff to the place we’d planned to eat. That took another almost 1 hour. But we arrived at the restaurant just in time to see the Olympic races, in which Kenyan runners excelled. That was the important thing—all was right with the world after all.

Fr. K dropped me at the airport about 7 for a flight that left at 10:45. It was fine, the wait wasn’t bad and I’m used to it by now.

(Next day, from somewhere over the North Pole)

Another wonderful year has ended. I’ll land at SFO in about 5 hours. I hope you have enjoyed reading my blog as much as I have enjoyed writing it. From time to time I may write a short report on happenings and send pix of the completing painting job. In the meantime, thank you for being a reader and especially I thank all those who took the time to write. I do need that connection with my other home!


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