Encounter Bungoma - August 2013 - A Reflection
So Pauline, Lorna and I land at Nairobi at 6 a.m. all bleary to be met by a cheery Phil and off we set on the ten hour drive, with a lunch stop in Nakuru, to Kipcheria. I had seen many photos of the orphanage, from a maize field marked out with human markers, to the striking blue roof being on, but I wasn't prepared for the wow of the first real look at it as we approached. The lump in my throat (I exaggerate not) when we stopped by the door and Beatrice was there to greet us - Beatrice who we had thought to be so ill, but was, so surprisingly, well enough to be there to greet us.
The children had moved in the day before we arrived and some still sleeping on the floor while beds and mattresses were sorted out, but even that was so much better than the former home. As ever, there are snags in new builds and a pipe joint failure to one of the water tanks gave me and Albert, a driver who was staying the night, a happy time between 2 and 4 a.m. sweeping water out of the building and particularly stopping it from getting into the room where some of the boys were sleeping on the floor.
I was wonderful to be there again, meeting old and new friends, helping out friends through seminars at the Arise and Shine and new Anglo Churches to better understand the Bible. Those who attend the seminars come with great enthusiasm, yes of course for the lunch we share, but also for the seminars themselves, some of which led to lively discussion on gender equality issues.
There was also opportunity to visit schools, including the new buildings at Pongola school where we had our second lunch of the day having already had breakfast twice!
Preaching on Sunday at Maeni church was once again a real privilege: although I had led worship in the UK informally for several years, being invited to preach on the day of Pentecost at Chesamisi on the 2012 Encounter had spurred me to come back and formally train as a lay preacher.
The most vivid image which I bring home is of course of the children: their resilience, their care for each other, their hard work at school and at the orphanage home on a day that is very long, and of course their singing.
We do so little in our short time there and there is frustration of wanting to do more, but, Bungoma Calling isn’t just about what we do, but who we are: people who have encountered something challenging, something new, something that changes us too, for the better, I hope.