Sunday night and I leave tomorrow, flying out of Nairobi at 11 pm. I arrive Dubai 5 hours later, have an eternal layover (4 ½ hours), leave Dubai 9:10 am arrive SFO 16 (!!!) hours later. Yes I will definitely be jet lagged, but culture shock is always the worst part. I realized a few years ago that it was shocking to be around so many mzungus after spend all this time seeing virtually none. It takes some getting used to.
We ended the tuitioning on Wednesday, although we had students teaching on Thursday. My plan was to have plenty of time to pack up. Ha! Another case of “People make plans and God laughs!”
Wednesday afternoon I worked, organizing my things, the crafts, the house….. that is, I worked, between someone at my door, either a friend to say good bye or a kid with a problem, one right after the other. I felt like I was putting out fires all afternoon, one issue after another, someone needs a room, someone else needs a revision book, someone wants to talk, someone needs some math help. Later in the afternoon Catherine came by to take me to her home for tea and to see her place, which is really nice, with a great view of the lake (I think, because it had clouded up by then and the lake was hidden in the rain.) I’m happy to see where Joseph and Lucas will be staying until school takes up September 4. Back home, more packing, tossing out, organizing in the evening before I fall into bed, exhausted, with much more to do.
Oh well, I have Thursday, Friday, Saturday, Sunday and Monday morning. Plenty of time. Can you hear God laughing? Sure, I organize all day Thursday. It’ll be fine. Titter, titter from on high. More fires to put out, meet with Hillary to plan for the kids who are going off to college for the first time, who pays for what (ETW or the parish?), how do they get there.? Will Fr. Kiriti allow Hillary to borrow the car to take them—Margaret all the way to Mombasa, far away, some to Nairobi, some to Nakuru (opposite direction)? He says OK, so that’s settled. Meet with Tabitha, parish accountant to discuss the shopping for the younger kids going back to school in 1 week. ARGH!!!! I really miss Julia. She took care of all this and now it’s me. Evening and I got a bit more organizing done. Still much to do. Oh well, I have Friday, Saturday Sunday and Monday morning. Ha, ha, ho, ho.
Espedita, whom I hardly knew before this year, popped in Friday morning (I’m still in my PJ’s) to say she wanted to take me to lunch. She’s one of those folks whom I knew pretty quickly we were kindred spirits, so I said yes, trying to figure out how I would fit that with Agnes arriving from Nakuru at 3 to spend the night. And when was I going to finish??? I got some work done in the morning, and went off to the Buffalo Mall with Espedita for lunch. Right away I saw why I like her. She has an abusive husband, but instead of being cowed into submission like many women, especially African women, she isn’t having any of that. She has laid down the law!!! They live in the same house because he wants to have a connection with the children, but that’s it. No relationship, no nothing and no more abuse. Very strong lady—just the kind I like!
The rain began as we received our lunch. Another elephants and giraffe’s event and we were still eating when Agnes’s matatu was supposed to arrive. I called her. She was almost in Naivasha. “Don’t worry. Find some shelter. We’ll pick you in 15 minutes. The roads were awash with water, literally like a river in the road. I spotted her standing under an overhanging roof. She ran to the car and soon we were at my small house. As I introduced the 2 of them, I realized they have the same story. Abusive husband, wife who’s having none of it, some sort of accommodation because of the children. So I invited Espedita for tea and to get acquainted. My instincts were right on—-they really connected!
Among Agnes’s many accomplishments is her work in peace and reconciliation. I think her work may be a big part of the peace in Naivasha (where she worked with Catherine’s assistant, Wanjiru) and in Nakuru, both sites of major violence in 2008. I had introduced Catherine, Agnes and Wanjiru some years ago and they also connected. While we talked, Wanjiru called Agnes, who invited her to join us. She did. Wanjiru is another no-nonsense, straight talking powerful woman. I tell you, there was so much energy in that room, the walls were quivering!
During the conversation, I happened to mention Lucy, who is pretty vulnerable now, having run away from Mji some years ago and now at age 23, (I think) with 3 children and no education, no skills, no job so no money. Wanjiru listened for about 2 minutes, then announced, “I will take care of her. I will be her mother.” I called Lucy, they talked, made plans to meet and I sighed, happy to have one fire well under control. Later I mentioned Kantai, another troubled Mji kid. He has had training to drive heavy equipment and trucks, but also has no contacts and no job. This time it was Espedita who picked up her phone. I found Kantai, introduced them and maybe something will come from that. Fire # 2 under control? Maybe. Espedita and Wanjiru left together, newly acquainted, but already planning some mutual projects. I was sorry the quartet was broken up but it did give me time to fix some dinner for Agnes and me and for us to chat. It’s always good. I got some more organizing done, then fell into bed. Oh, well, I still have Saturday, Sunday and Monday morning to finish.
Agnes left early, and I got to work—until Cyrus came in to talk about Mukami, who will be studying at the Kenya Wildlife Service station in Naivasha, but since Mji is closing, she needs to find a room. ARGH!!! Where is Julia when we need her? Cyrus takes over, plans with Mukami, she goes off with Mungai to find a place, and I get more packing done until Cyrus comes in again. He and Joseph had been working to clean up the Mji compound. Joseph confessed he was very sad about the closing of Mji, where he had finally found some degree of stability until April when Julia announced she was leaving for the US, where she would get married. Joseph was devastated. Now he was facing another 2 weeks before school took us for the third term and he didn’t know where he would be. No one, not me, not Cyrus, not Catherine, not Fr. Ngaruiya, no one had told him that he and Lucas would be living with Catherine and her children. ARGH!!! I hadn’t given it a thought. I assumed someone had talked with them about it and determined that’s what they wanted. OK. We find the 2 boys, bring them into my kitchen and tell them. Neither looked very happy. Joseph still was unreconciled to the closing of Mji and Lucas wasn’t much happier. I call Catherine. She says she has planned an outing for her kids that afternoon, and she’ll pick up Joseph and Lucas to join them. They’ll eat lunch in a restaurant and go on the outing. I thought they’d be very excited. Many of the kids have never eaten in a restaurant! Lucas, “I don’t want to go.” “Have you ever eaten in a restaurant?” “Yes. I didn’t like it.” “What’s not to like. You can order anything you want.” “Do you like hamburgers?” “No”. “Hotdogs?” “NO”. “Chicken?” “No”. “Fish?” “Yes.” “OK, order fish.” Catherine and Francis arrive, the boys get in the car and I pray they’ll have a good time. Three, maybe 4 hours later, they returned, beaming!!! They’d gone to the lake, had fish for lunch and taken a boat ride. Then they’d gone to Catherine’s house where they saw the room they would share and suddenly it was great. They’d had a nice afternoon with Michael and Louis and the big worry was gone.
While all this was going on the kids were cleaning the compound and as I inspected, some ladies arrived with lots of food. The church compound outside the Mji wall was teaming with kids, there for a big event and they were to be fed within the Mji compound. ARGH!!! Bound to be more mess. I went to the market to buy our Saturday dinner and upon return found at least 200 kids within our area, jumping, yelling, racing around, playing on the teeter totter, tumbling down the slide, eating little lollipops on a stick, having dropped the paper on our newly cleaned up ground (and later dropping the paper stick). I retreated to my house and put a few more things in the suitcase. The one Fr. Kiriti would bring in October was complete and others were filling up. I began to believe I would actually be ready at 2 pm on Monday.
You may be wondering why I had so much to do. Because Mji is closing, I’ve decided not to leave anything of mine here. It will all be stored at Fr. Kiriti’s house here in town. Since my return next summer is very uncertain, I am bringing home stuff I might have left here. Moreover, I have 3 suitcases to fill with many fragile crafts. Each item I picked up had to be classified, (1) stay in my metal trunk, to be stored at Fr. Kiriti’s house, (2) go in the suitcase Fr. Kiriti would bring over in October, (3) go in the checked luggage (2 suitcases) (4) Go in my carry on. (5) be given to one of the kids, (6) to be tossed. And I still didn’t have all the crafts until Saturday afternoon. The lady who makes the mama dolls had been burned out by thugs after the election. She barely could get 12 more made. As I’m making those decisions, kids and friends are poking heads in for one thing or another. By the time I turned in Saturday night, I felt things pretty much under control. And I still had Sunday and Monday morning.
To be continued.