Our time here is fleeting. When I reflect back on the days that have passed I contemplate what it is about this experience that I will take home. It doesn’t take long for me to know that it is the beauty of the people of Kenya that I treasure. It is a beauty that isn’t superficial or skin deep. Kenyans speak a vast number of different languages, practice hundreds of distinct religions, live in a variety of types of dwellings, and engage in a wide range of economic activities. And, in the past 8 weeks God has blessed me by bringing two of these people into my life.
How did God bring me these two people? Let me explain, there is a cultural expectation that wazungu (white people) will hire locals to help take care of the house and gardens. This expectation can also placed on the more affluent Kenyans. Paying someone to come and help maintain the home is a way of sharing the wealth or providing an income to a family who otherwise might go without. It is an important piece of the economy.
When the missionaries who normally live in our temporary home left for deputation in the U.S. they made arrangements for the house help to continue on a reduced schedule. This assures some income for the help as well as keeping the house in order during their absence. Things grow faster here because of the weather and there is easily more dust and dirt then we have back home in the U.S.
This is how God brought me to know Mama Kingsley and Wycliffe as they are our house help. One day a week, Tuesday, they come into the home. Wycliffe attends to the garden or small yard. Mama Kingsley attends to the cleaning, laundry and cooking. They are the reason everything runs as well as it does. Over the past eight weeks it has been easy to learn to trust them and to care for them; just as they have trusted and cared for us.
Let me introduce you to Mama Kingsley. In Kenya women are given the title of “Mama” out of respect. When they have their first born, the child’s name is attached to the Mama. Mama Kingsley’s first born son is named Kingsley.
I have been told few Kenyans that live in Nairobi were actually born here. Most were born in what is called “up country” meaning anywhere outside of Nairobi. Mama Kingsley was born “up country” and is the oldest of 12. She met and married her husband, David, 22 years ago. David is a pastor and they have four children (2 boys and 2 girls) ranging in age from 20 to 8.
Mama Kingsley harbors a passion for baking and we have gotten to eat several of her praise worthy baked goods. She dreams of a day that she could open and operate her own business.
Next introduction is Wycliffe. Wycliffe is an orphan and lived on the street until he found his way into an orphanage. Missionaries helped him come to know the Lord. Saline, his wife, grew up in the same orphanage and they reconnected years later when bumping into each other on a bus. Shortly after reestablishing their friendship they married.
Saline had a dream to go to cooking school but no money to accomplish that dream. The lady of the house we are living in helped Saline raise money by creating journals from cast off pieces of fabric. These journals were sold to fund cooking school. She will finish the classroom and lab part of her schooling this December. Then, there is a three month internship after which she will hopefully get a job. Internships here only pay transportation expenses to and from work.
Wycliffe and Saline have one son, Brian, who is 9 years old.
Mama Kingsley and Wycliffe are both hard working but they do more than care for the house. They give friendship easily, are quick to laugh at themselves or a good joke, and are an excellent resource when learning about Kenyan culture. God could not have given us better house help, not just for the work they do but because of the relationship. It is this relationship that I treasure and the memory of it will warm my heart long after I leave Kenya. How thankful I am.
“And God is able to bless you abundantly, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work.”
2 Corinthians 9:8
Until next letter,