#3 – Settling

I spent one whole day stumbling and tripping over my suitcases until this afternoon I couldn’t bear it any longer and slowly got most things put away.  I’m sure there will be much rearranging during the summer and I eventually won’t feel so inundated with “stuff” as I find homes for the many things I brought to give away.  Already I gave a young friend 2 very fancy bras that someone had given me.  She was so happy to get pretty, lacy fancy colored undies.  Slowly by slowly as I am able to match things with people, my pile of “give-aways will be pared down.  Also, I will have eaten my chocolate stash.  Yes, I have indulged my chocolate “dependence” by bringing a 2 ½ month supply of Trader Joe’s 72%, fair trade, organic chocolate.  Mathematician that I am, I carefully calculated how much I would need to carry me through the summer.  Because it isn’t very sweet, I’m not asked to share.  They all like sweethere.  Naivas has plenty of sweet, gooey, milk chocolate, right by the checkout, just like in the US, but sweet milk chocolate.  I like barely sweet and injectable strength!

Yesterday afternoon I began to deal with all the things I had left stored at Fr. Kiriti’s house (because this house is used for visitors and I’ve had things disappear or be broken when I returned), plus the contents of my 2 huge suitcases, plus all the shopping we did at my favorite Naivas yesterday.  I’m still adjusting to time and altitude changes, so not moving too fast. About 5pm Fr. Ngaruyia came to see whether the space formerly used by the matron but now vacant, had been cleaned and organized for a visitor.  He stopped in to say hi, and mentioned that Archbishop Kairo is visiting for a few days.  I remember him well from my first years here, in 2006 when there was a big confirmation, after which we had a lovely dinner in the rectory, to which Judy and I were invited.  I don’t really know how to behave in such august circles, so I was just myself. Kairo was just a bishop then, a very kindly, sweet, humble man who perhaps liked being treated like an ordinary person.  It was he who dedicated SFG, in July 2007.  Although he is now retired, he remembered me when I accompanied Fr. Ngaruiya to the rectory to greet him. He’s still a sweet, kindly and humble man who likes being treated like an ordinary person. 

It was raining while Fr. Ngaruiya stood at my door, chatting and then waiting for me to put on shoes and get my jacket, but then it really began to rain!!!  It’s like no other rains I’ve experienced, just a deluge, a true African rain!  He was carrying a huge umbrella, like the one that used to be on the Morton’s salt container.  I grabbed his arm and we sloshed through the wet, working our way around the streams of water rushing down the driveway. 

Later I prepared hamburgers for Mary and John, aka Durango.  The latter had never eatenn one and was a bit leery.  The both watched my preparation, adding cheese on top, mayo, ketchup, tomato slices and the Kenyan version of dill pickles.  John thought about it briefly and began preparing his own, first tasting the pickles, also a new taste treat for him.  To my surprise, he loved the pickles andthe HB.  We had cut extra tomato slices as well as carrot sticks—another first.  Here vegetables are definitely to be cooked.  When we finished, he carefully cut the remaining sticks, slices and a goodly bunch of the pickles into tiny, precise cubes and had his own version of salad. 

I never did know John very well after he entered his teen years.  As a boy he was the most helpful kid in Mji, coming in regularly to empty our trash, cleaning and generally making our lives I bit easier.  Then he hit the teens, became more withdrawn, secretive, quiet, finally doing something at odds with Julia and Fr. Kiriti.  He had to leave to live with an uncle.  During those years his life was a bit of a rough patch, but as he told me, he has seen the light, has really reverted to that sweet young boy we both loved and is on track to attend a technical college to become an electrician.  He loves hard physical work, loves to build and to learn how to do new things.  I’ve advised him to also learn plumbing and other construction skills with the goal of someday becoming a contractor.  I know one contractor here in Naivasha who does excellent work.  His price was too high for us to use him to build SFG, and we’ve been paying the price of inferior work ever since.  Retrofitting is more expensive than paying to do it right in the beginning!  Important lesson. 

As we talked I could see the possibilities growing in his mind.  We talked about the value and satisfaction of doing excellent work, being a person of integrity.  He smiled and his eyes were shining.  Time will tell, but he has real potential.

Mary, who was very disappointed with her KCSE results, will study with Kenya Water.  It’s not clear to me what she will do, but she has assured me that she is happy with that prospect.  Another of the Mji kids, Evans, is already doing that, so I imagine she has spoken with him.  I had urged her to retake form 4 and the KCSE, but she thought only about 30 seconds before soundly rejecting that suggestion. 

Yesterday afternoon, another Mji girl, Lucy, came to visit, bringing her 4-year old son, a real fire-ball.  Lucy had run away from Mji at 13.  She had had enough of school, punishments and lack of success.  She was pretty much lost to the streets for maybe 8 years, but now is quite settled, mother of 3 at age 24, married, at least in the Kenyan definition (living together), but seems quite happy.  She described her husband as “a good man.”  I couldn’t be happier for her.  She’s had a very hard life.  Now I’m seeing the sweet Lucy, open, wanting to talk and trying very hard to be a good wife and mom.  It gives me such hope for young people who seem lost and in a downward spiral—both she and John have come from the depths.  I’d like to think that their return is a reflection of the love they received at Mji from Julia and Fr. Kiriti in their growing up years. I’m learning a lot about the heaviness of being an orphan, not just here, but in listening to a recently published book, The Orphan Train.  I recommend it, but there are some really sad parts.  It’s a novel, but without doubt, reflects the terrible lives of orphans in the early 1900’s when children were piled onto trains, taken to rural American and given to families.  Many were abused, ill-treated and sometimes killed. 

Enough for now.  Shortly, I will be going to SFG for my first visit of the year.

Just as I wrote that, a terrible racket began at my entrance.  John is repairing my door, which is very hard to open and close.  Bless him!!!!!

Leave a Reply