Week one or was it two…
Wow this first week on the ground in Kenya felt more like two.
Four flights and two road trips spanning about 46hours of travelling and we finally got to Kitale on Friday at 6:30 pm. We arrived at the Mugwe Farm to find about 100 people mourning…loud music blaring…the gospel preaching…a widow in tears full of fear for her future.
Words fail to describe not only the sights but the smells. Here a funeral is a long winded community event with meals to prepare for whoever shows up. It began 6 days before we arrived but the main event began at 8:30 Saturday morning.
Saturday began at the hospital morgue followed by a processional behind an open pickup carrying the casket. 25 minutes later we arrived at the farm to find seating under tents for 1000 people. When we arrived there were about 175 people but by 10am there was 1500 and climbing. My thoughts turned to the Pandemic and suddenly I found myself praying in the Spirit for safety for all.
We followed the pallbearers carrying the deceased who was placed in the center of the tents, the music began blaring once again. This is so African. The singers half dancing sang joyfully making several trips around the casket. Then came the immediate family…with two women holding Mamma Desma up as she approached the glass covered open casket. Next it was our turn…and more tears flow. What seemed like an eternity ended as the pastor prays…then suddenly it’s time for lunch.
The Mugwe extended family, helped by Baba’s church committee, put on a feed for the crowd before the main event continued. African hospitality runs deep.
Another 6 hours of singing,preaching and prayers…ended with the casket being lowered into the ground…no…wait…there s yet more preaching and prayers as the casket was lowered..then each of the family members were given opportunity to throw a hand full of dirt down upon the casket.
Then more prayers and preaching, and singing as family members pick up shovels filling in the hole. About 25 more minutes pass and the grave is filled, a final prayer and it’s time for some photos around the gravesite. Then in an instant 1500 people vanish even quicker then they showed up.
My preaching that day focused on John chapter 11 and the events leading up to the raising of Lazarus. The compassion of our Savior towards those in grief. His tears for them genuine expressions of His love for those in mourning. Our tears the expression of the love seeping out. Jesus never leaves us nor forsakes us. He knows our frailty and loves us deeply.
The next morning from 8-10 I was in the dust bins. A part of Kitale where those who have fallen from community end up. The orphans, widows, people with drug addictions, glue sniffers and alcoholics. A church with no walls, no roof, and few chairs but this church is alive. No instruments, no PowerPoint just vibrant worship. People with nothing dancing before the Lord in joy, falling to their knees in prayer, tears streaming, washing a path down their cheeks. I spoke of God’s amazing grace and forgiveness for those who trust in him. The harvest was coming in. Then as the border closes to the country the gospel gets practical. We share with these men and women how to prevent Corvid-19. We know that if it hits these vulnerable people it will be overwhelming.
That was the first two days. Each day thereafter brought more opportunities to lift Jesus higher and point people to Him to find peace. Working alongside of Larry and Francine Carruthers who operate a clinic in one of the poorest neighborhoods in Kitale, I was able to prepare some info posters on best practices during the Corvig-19 outbreak. And as always there were opportunities for teaching tech, vehicles to fix, Pastors to encourage and so much more.
For the widow and her 3 children first order of business was getting a roof over her head, and clearing the land of old dangerous structures that long ago needed to be removed.
God has shown us each step of the way that He is still in charge and our obedience would not be in vain. Thanks to all of you who are partnering with us this trip. You are storing up more treasures in heaven! Blessings! Pastor Blake