Saturday, October 22:
We are invited to meet with Bishop Mechumo, Bishop of the Anglican Diocese of Bungomo. For the first time, I wear clerical collar and am met with a mixture of awe and curiosity by the villagers. We are supposed to meet with the Bishop at 10:00am. However, per usual, plans are adjusted. We leave a little late and make our way to Bungomo.
We are taken to meet Bishop Julius, a non-denominational bishop in the Diocese of Bungomo. He is a friend of Paul Kuto and offers a large welcome. He deems it important to explain his vision, all he has accomplished: A girls school, a huge water well and supply tanks, enough to supply most of the town of Bungomo. The well provides clean drinking water in an unlimited supply. This is an extremely impressive accomplishment. Without notice, I am invited to speak briefly to each of three classes in session and am given a tour of the new classroom wing under construction. We visit the large sanctuary which also serves as a meeting area and special class venue. It is clear Bishop is seeking private donors. I emphasize the purpose of our mission.
Bishop Julius then offers to escort us to where Anglican Bishop Mechumo, Anglican Bishop of Bungomo (Anglican Diocese) is available. We expect to be led to Bishop Mechumo’s office but instead find ourselves driving through the countryside until we come to a compound which holds a secondary school and church. The church is a country mud church and a service is already in session. We do not want to interrupt the bishop in the midst of his service, yet, much to our consternation, we are led into the church to seats directly to the side of the altar area. There are five young male priests and Bishop Mechumo in the midst of a service to pray for candidates who are about to take term final exams (the entire school.) Bishop Mechumo halts the service to acknowledge each of us. He invites Paul to speak, who then introduces Julie and I. The Bishop then invites Julie to speak and she does so. Then I am called to address the group. After this the service continues in Swahili and I am called upon again to pray for the church and congregation prior to the final blessing given by +Mechumo. Much to my delight, in a moment which I will never forget, I hear +Mechumo use the same blessing, word for word, that I use when presiding. We really are one church.
After this rather harrowing but heart warming adventure, Paul wants to show us some water falls. It took some time to get there and we could only see the falls from a distance. But it was something to see in the middle of Africa. On the way we saw an enormous paper mill, now shut down, further plunging the area into deeper poverty.
Home to bed….but not before eating yet another big meal of veggies.
Sunday, October 23
A new adventure begins…
It’s time to leave Chwele and make our way back to Nairobi in preparation of the next leg of our trip. We begin to bid farewell to the Chwele group of family. We hand out (Haiti) rings for everyone and pictures are taken with the family.
Margaret (Metrine’s mother) invites me to see her home. A mud home of three rooms….bedroom, living room and guest room in which I’m invited to stay next time. Currently Paul’s two older sisters sleep there….together in the same bed. They are like little twin birds….unmarried and delighting in each other’s constant companionship.
Margaret claims me as her daughter…..and Metrine and I become “sisters by adoption.”
After leaving all our new friends and family, we head out to make our way back to Kitali airport. On the way we visit Teremi High School, where Paul and Grace built a library in commemoration of Paul’s oldest brother. Paul attended this school when it was an elementary school. The school now has 1,200 students and is an upper level academic institution.
Issues arise at tiny Kitale Airport. At the airport security is up. It’s a one-room airport with very dedicated officers. They decide our luggage is overweight. Since we have just left about 50ibs of art materials, we fail to see how that’s possible. They are hoping for us to pay overages. However, Paul comes to the rescue and takes issue. I have a fleeting sense that we might be arrested or worse. However, they suddenly back off. Then, things become more complicated when Julie and I realize that somehow we have each other’s passports. I’m sure at this point, the officers thought we were either up to no good or were simply stupid Americans. Actually, in the case of the passports, they probably weren’t far off re. the latter. After considerable “exchange” we straighten the matter out and somehow managed to get on the plane without having to pay for the “extra” baggage.
Much to Julie’s relief, we have a larger plane than the trip down, and we fly back to Nairobi. We are welcomed back to Nairobi by Ben who takes us home to Rose and Julius’. Rose has, what we thought was dinner, ready for us at 4:30ish. We are very hungry and so each eat heartily of non-veggie macaroni casserole (African style) We are tired now but must repack for our trip to Daraja tomorrow. Just about to fall on the bed for the night when the real dinner is served at 8:30pm. I will definitely not lose weight on this trip.