17 February 2014

Meeting the desire of Jesus: offering mercy when we encounter the poor and needy - - Part One

Jigger-infested hands and feet of a young man called Jomba

Reading the first four books of the New Testament is so fascinating to me. The accounts of Jesus reveal that he was quite an amazing man. I’m continually intrigued by him and his behavior as he moved around the countryside.

I marvel at how often Jesus reached out to touch people, even the outcast and untouchable lepers.

He took time for people, no matter what was going on around him.

Jesus saw the villagers for who they truly are. He felt mercy and had compassion on them. But he didn’t stop with just sympathy. He took the next step and acted on those emotions by healing the needy.

Sometimes he intentionally went out of his way to encounter folks that were otherwise despised and rejected by society.

When Jesus came upon someone, he stopped and listened to them speak. He was not irritated with interruptions and was always aware of people’s deepest needs. He was willing to satisfy their requests.

In just a short section of the book of Matthew – chapters eight and nine – several such happenstance meetings stand out to me.

Learning from Jesus, as he encounters the poor and needy
A leper appeared and went to his knees before Jesus, praying, ‘Master, if you want to, you can heal my body.’ Jesus reached out and touched him, saying, ‘I want to. Be clean.” Then and there, all signs of leprosy were gone. (Matthew 8: 1-3)

The compassion Jesus felt for this man obliterated the custom of the day – that touching an unclean person would bring defilement.

A Roman captain came up to Jesus in a panic and said, ‘Master, my servant is sick. He can’t walk and he’s in terrible pain.’ Jesus said, ‘I will come and heal him.’ (Matthew 8: 5-7)

Jesus was willing – ‘I will come’. He wasn’t too busy or too preoccupied to help this man’s servant.

Jesus found Peter’s mother-in-law sick in bed, burning up with fever. He touched her hand and the fever was gone. (Matthew 8: 14, 15)

Yet another example of Jesus touching someone. The simple act of touching people can be such a powerful gesture.

Jesus and his disciples were met by two madmen, victims of demons, coming out of the cemetery. The men had terrorized the region for so long that no one considered it safe to walk down that stretch of road anymore. (Matthew 8:28)

Jesus intentionally walked on this ‘stretch of road’. He potentially put himself into harm’s way in order to encounter these two men – men who had been rejected by society.

A local official appeared, bowed politely, and said, ‘My daughter has just now died. If you come and touch her, she will live.’ Jesus got up and went with him…. He took the girl’s hand, and pulled her to her feet alive. (Matthew 9: 18, 19, 25)

Jesus ‘got up’ from what he was doing ‘and went with him’ to meet this need. It was his desire to offer mercy to someone who needed his touch.

A woman who had hemorrhaged for twelve years slipped in from behind and lightly touched Jesus’ robe. ‘If I can just put a finger on his robe, I’ll get well.’ Jesus turned and saw her and then reassured her. ‘Courage, daughter. You took a risk of faith, and now you’re well.’ The woman was well from then on. (Matthew 9: 20-22)

This woman interrupted Jesus, but he was sensitive to her touch and gave her the time she needed. He looked right at her and ‘saw her’; he was gentle and kind toward her.

Jesus touched the eyes of two blind men and said, ‘Become what you believe.’ It happened; they saw. (Matthew 9: 29-30)

Touching the blind men is yet another example of the transforming power of ‘touch’.

When Jesus looked out over the crowds, his heart broke. So confused and aimless they were, like sheep with no shepherd. (Matthew 9:36)

The heart of Jesus bled with compassion. Everyone he encountered moved his heart and he offered mercy to everyone.

Jesus also has a need, a need I can meet

Jesus, who is always concerned about the needs of others, also has a need of his own. His desire (or need) is to see his children respond and behave just like him – with mercy.

He strongly states this need to the ever-critical Pharisees when they accused him of a wrong.

“I desire mercy, not religion.” (Matthew 9:13)

He also added this instruction – that we should ‘go and learn what this means’. In other words, I should not just read it and forget it, taking it casually or glibly. He wants me to study this concept, to actually learn and figure out what he means by it.

A few chapters later, Jesus chastised the Pharisees because they again pointed fingers for a supposed offense – this time at the disciples. 

“If you had any idea what these words mean, ‘I desire mercy, not an inflexible ritual,’ you would not be nitpicking like this.” (Matthew 12:7)

The Pharisees had not yet learned what he meant. Am I ignorant like them as well?

Both of these times, Jesus quoted a verse from the Old Testament –

“For I desire steadfast love, and not sacrifice; the knowledge of God rather than burnt offerings.” Hosea 6:6
 “I’m after love that lasts, not more religion. I want you to know God, not go to more prayer meetings.” (Message)

Another related and powerful verse is Micah 6:8, where God Almighty states his requirements –  

“The Lord has shown you, O mortal man, what is good. And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly, to love mercy and kindness, and to walk humbly with your God.”
 “God has already made it plain how to live, what to do, what God is looking for. It’s quite simple: Do what is fair and just to your neighbor, be compassionate and loyal in your love. Don’t take yourself too seriously – take God seriously!” (Message)

The easy reaction when I encounter the poor and needy might be to click my tongue or shake my head. I might turn away or walk a different route so I can avoid such people. I may even express criticism. Perhaps I do these things, all the while convincing myself that I really haven’t done anything wrong. 

After all, I’m busy… I'm busy being a missionary. I have things to do. I have a schedule to keep. And who knows... it might rain. I can't stop now.

But Jesus has called me to choose the better way... the way of mercy. Let me be the exception to the rule and demonstrate the love of Jesus to those I meet in my day-to-day activities. Let me follow in his footsteps and abide by the maxim that he expressed.

Have I learned what Jesus said? Let me determine to satisfy this desire of Jesus, by offering mercy to those I meet along the way.

- - - - -

Be sure to read the following post about Jomba and his bad case of Jiggers.

Meeting the desire of Jesus: offering mercy when we encounter the poor and needy - - Part Two

Jomba's hands and feet are badly infested with Jiggers. [Note: This story goes with the post above.]

I met Jomba last week. He's the fellow whose hands and feet are pictured here. The word 'jomba' means 'uncle' in Swahili. Kenyans often refer to men by the generic word, 'uncle'. Jomba's actual name is Musa (Swahili for Moses).

I had just gotten out of a taxi, after offering to walk the remaining distance to Agnes' house. The driver worried he was getting low on fuel. A few minutes later, I came upon Jomba as he entered the road from some trees. I noticed he walked with difficulty and assumed he might be an elderly man.

My pace was a bit quicker than his and when I caught up with him, we greeted one another. I was surprised to see that he was, in fact, relatively young. At the time, I didn't know his name and I hadn't noticed him in the neighborhood before. He seemed to be a gentle and unpretentious fellow, a bit in need of a haircut and shave. I liked his smile.

As we maneuvered around this small body of water, a fellow named Peter came up to us. He'd been working in his 'shamba' and wanted to alert me to the condition of Jomba's feet and hands. He explained to me about Jiggers* and the seriousness of the condition. 

I came to learn that Peter is an ambitious young man; he does a little farming so he can earn money for his college education. He had come to know Jomba recently and had given him a small room to sleep in; prior to that Jomba was exposed to rain and cold night temperatures. Peter had been trying to get a community initiative going to assist Jomba, but none of the other villagers were interested. 

Sadly there is much ignorance about medical issues. Some people believe that people with jiggers have been cursed and so they stay as far away from them as possible. Others believe the condition is contagious and refuse to shake hands with the victims or touch them in any manner.

When a rain storm arrived suddenly out of a blue sky, Peter, Jomba, and I joined three other people (including the woman below) who had already sought shelter in a small mud structure. They were all strangers to me, but by the time the rain stopped, I had become friends with two of them - Peter and Jomba. 

When the rain eventually stopped, we said 'good-bye' to Jomba and Peter joined me in reaching Agnes' house. Although they had seen each other now and then, Peter and Agnes were also strangers to each other. When we mentioned Jomba, she said she knows him very well and had been trying to help him - with a little work around her farm and an occasional meal.

Agnes now joined us in the conversation Peter and I had started. Together, we decided on a course of action to help this young man.

Another beautiful foggy morning at Agnes' farm, in the River Nzoia valley

The following day as Agnes and I walked to the house of our mutual friend, Mary Alu, we sought out Jomba. Agnes requested a lady to find him for us. After waiting a few minutes, Jomba humbly walked over to us from where he was tending the lady's cattle. I smiled at him and shook his hand. Agnes told him we wanted to help him. As we parted company, he said 'good-bye' with a smile on his face.

Edgar, Anaya, and Mary Alu with Agnes after we had lunch with them

After a nice visit with the Alu family, Agnes and I hopped on a 'boda boda' (motorbike taxi) and headed to the market at Kona Mbaya. I purchased the necessary medicine plus hydrogen peroxide and a bar of disinfectant soap. I also got a pair of 'slippers' (flip-flops) for Jomba to wear and a basin with which to bathe. Lastly, I got an antiseptic spray to be used in and around the small room where he sleeps. I also left one of my shirts with Agnes to give to Jomba.

Peter promised to make some simple improvements on Jomba's room, including spray the anticeptic. He will also buy him another pair of trousers and a blanket. Agnes' role is to administer the medicine and have a simple bed frame built for Jomba. Currently, he sleeps directly on the mud floor. When he comes for doses of medicine, she'll also give him a meal. Edgar informed us there's a community health group that can visit Jomba and assist him further.

- - - - -

This encounter is a vivid example of what the life of Jesus exemplified. As he met people, he stopped and looked at them. Jesus spoke to them and he touched them. He gave them the time and concern they needed and he healed them. 

Jesus demonstrated mercy to everyone he encountered.

I do not believe it was mere happenstance that Jomba and I met on the road. Nor do I believe it was coincidence that Peter was right there to bring us all together. 

Please join me in praying for Jomba's complete healing. 

I haven't shared this story in order to receive any accolades. Rather, I've shared it to spur you on to also follow the example of Jesus. Allow me to challenge you to also extend mercy to those you meet along the way.

By doing so, you will meet a need of Jesus himself!

Wow, what a thought!

Perhaps you can leave a comment sharing a recent example of offering mercy to the poor and needy in your own neighborhood and life.

- - - - - -

* Jiggers
A female flea burrows head-first into the host's skin feeding on blood vessels. They remain there for a period of two weeks while developing eggs and swelling greatly in size. If the flea is left within the skin, dangerous complications can occur including secondary infections, loss of nails, and toe deformation. These are relatively rare, but heavy infestations combined with unsanitary conditions greatly increases the likelihood of complications.

Many villages in Kenya have been completely infested with them, and mass infections have rendered people unable to walk. In more serious cases, people can die from jiggers.

More information can be found at -

10 February 2014

Missionary stress; living in a foreign culture

Missions has always been accompanied by danger,
     but the world has become an even more dangerous place. 

Missions has always been full of stress,
     but today's missionaries live with two to three times the stress
     of those who live in their home culture.

Missions has always been hard work,
     but today's missionaries are experiencing levels of exhaustion
     that leave them bone weary in body and soul.

All of these add up to profound needs which, left unmet,
     often end the careers and/or effectiveness of these dear people.
-George and Connie Blake, MTI missionary de-briefing leaders

- - - - - -

Stressed-Out Missionary
Laura Parker, missionary in Asia

When stress levels reach above a 200 (on the Holmes-Rahe scale), doctors will advise patients to make life changes– drink a glass of wine, exercise, sleep more, that kind of thing. The goal is to keep stress levels below 200, since anything over that can result in some incredibly negative effects, especially over the long term. In fact, 50% of the people scoring a 200 were hospitalized in the two years following the scoring with heart attacks, diabetes, cancer, or other severe illnesses. Apparently, the cumulative effect of stress on the body and mind can be an extremely damaging one.

Then, they used the same standards and scale to assess missionary stress levels. They found that the average missionary’s stress levels for the first year are typically around 800-900, and the sustained stress levels of a cross cultural worker stays around 600.

Sheesh. 600. And 200 might get you a heart attack or cancer.

So, yes, maybe there is a shred of evidence for our entire family needing to recover in an air-conditioned room watching a movie at 2:30 simply because we braved the grocery center on a Sunday afternoon.

Maybe there is something behind the fact that we “accomplish” less and are tired more each day, something true about the reality that depression, anger and miscommunication are dangerously a hairline fracture away, all the time.

Perhaps there’s a good reason why we gain weight. And have shorter fuses. And oftentimes resent the very culture and people we are trying to love. Maybe there’s a reason we burn-out faster.

Apparently, missionaries can be a stressed-out bunch.

And while I don’t offer many solutions, I will just say this to my fellow expats: You’re not crazy if you freak out after a simple trip to get bananas. You’re not an awful missionary if you can’t cross off anything from your to-do list because just surviving a day literally sucks every ounce of effort from your soul. You’re not broken if you sometimes - or even, oftentimes - hate this thing you've given up so much to pursue.

Make no mistake, long-term stress will produce fissures and cracks. And cracks, if left unattended, can end up shattering, spilling, and wrecking things.

And, yes, maybe God doesn't give us “more than we can handle.” And, yes, our weakness provides opportunities for his strength and love to show up, but, still - don’t be stupid. Or go all-superhero.

Get a massage. Take a vacation. Go eat at a Western restaurant, even if it is more expensive than the local food. Consider exercising a necessary to-do, and consider prayer an even more necessary one. Do whatever it takes to relieve some of the natural stress which comes from living in a different - and typically much more difficult - environment than the one you were born into.

Tightly-wound rubber bands typically end up snapping people, after all.

- - - - - -

What Missionaries Ought to Know about Culture Stress
Ronald Koteskey, Member Care Consultant at GO International

What causes culture stress?
Many factors enter into the amount of culture stress one feels while living in another culture:
  • Involvement - The more you become personally involved in the culture, the more culture stress you may feel. The tourist, the business person or someone from the diplomatic corps not committed to being the incarnation of Christ in that culture, may feel little culture stress.
  • Values - The greater the differences in values between your home culture and your host culture, the greater the stress. Values of cleanliness, responsibility, and use of time may cause stress for years. Cultures may appear similar on the surface but have broad differences in deeper values.
  • Communication - Learning the meanings of words and rules of grammar are only a small part of being able to communicate effectively. The whole way of thinking, the common knowledge base, and the use of non-verbals are necessary and come only with great familiarity with the culture.
  • Temperament - The greater the difference in your personality and the average personality in the culture, the greater the stress. A reserved person may find it difficult to feel at home where most people are outgoing extroverts. An extrovert may never feel at ease in a reserved culture.
  • Entry and re-entry - Most missionaries, unlike immigrants, live in two cultures and may never feel fully at home in either. Every few years they change their place of residence, never fully adapting to the culture they are in at the time.

What are the results of culture stress?
Many of the results of culture stress are the same as those of any other stress:
  • Feelings of anxiety, confusion, disorientation, uncertainty, insecurity, or helplessness
  • Fatigue, tiredness, lack of motivation, lethargy, or lack of joy
  • Illness (stress suppresses the immune system), concern about germs, or fear of what might be in the food
  • Disappointment; lack of fulfillment; discouragement; feeling hurt, inadequate, or 'out of it'
  • Anger, irritability, contempt for the host culture, resentment (perhaps toward God), feelings of superiority or inferiority
  • Rejection of the host culture, the mission board, or even of God
  • Homesickness

What can be done about culture stress?
Much can be done to decrease culture stress and make it manageable:
  • Recognition - Realize that culture stress is inevitable for those attempting to become at home in a host culture, and look at what factors cause you the most stress.
  • Acceptance - Admit that the host culture is a valid way of life, a means of bringing Christ to the people who live in it.
  • Communication - Beware of isolating yourself from everyone in your home culture, those with whom you can relax and be yourself, those with whom you can talk.
  • Escape - You need daily, weekly, and annual respites. God made the Sabbath for people, so be sure you keep it. Reading, music, hikes, worship, and vacations are necessary.
  • Identity - Know who you are and what you will allow to be changed about you. Acculturation inherently involves changes in your personality, so determine the unchangeables.
  • Activity - Since stress prepares you for fight or flight - and as a missionary you can probably do neither - you must have some physical activity to use that energy. Sports, an exercise plan, and active games with family or friends can reduce stress.
  • Befriend a national family - Get close to a national family just for fun, not to learn or evangelize. Learn how to have fun in that culture.

Can culture stress be prevented?
The answer to this is simple and short. NO! 

Stress in general cannot be prevented; we all experience it in life. Trying to become at home in another culture is always a challenging venture. However, like other stress, it can be managed, decreased to a level with which you can live-stress without distress.

The factors that help you cope with stress are summarized in the three enduring things mentioned by Paul at the end of 1 Corinthians 13:
  • Faith - In addition to faith in God, faith in yourself as a person created in God's image and called into his service will help you cope.
  • Hope - Rather than feeling helpless, having not only the hope of eternity with God, but also hope in your future, knowing that he has good plans for you, will help you cope.
  • Love - Finally, having both God's love and the love of his people to give you support in the stressful situations you face daily, will help you cope.

Stress is a part of life. Everyone learns how to manage it or suffers the consequences.

Remember that not everyone can be at home in two cultures, and it typically takes a very long time for those who do it successfully.

- - - - - -

I will appreciate your prayers for me concerning this very real issue.
     - deb

Wedding in the village, a great time of celebration for everyone

Edgar and Eliza enjoy a dance after the ceremony

Mary Alu (in white), the mother to the groom, with some friends,
including Agnes on the right (shortly before the ceremony began).
We waited a long time for the registrar to arrive.
It turned out he was confused on the date of the wedding.

Some of the groom's family members and friends. (Sorry it's so blurry)

Eliza, the bride, arrives at the church venue with much with celebration

Some of the bride's attendants

The bride enters the church, with young girls leading the way

Edgar, the groom, awaits the arrival of his bride so the ceremony can get underway

A fun part of the wedding was when the veil was removed
so Edgar could confirm she was indeed the one he was to marry :)

There was much drama as each one placed the ring on the finger of their soon-to-be spouse.

The new husband and wife!

Two nieces of the groom

After a 15-minute walk, the wedding party begins to arrive at the home of the groom for lunch, dancing, and speeches.

The M.C. did a great job leading everyone in dancing and celebrating!

One of the rare days I wore a skirt :)

Mary Alu, a good friend of mine and the mother to the groom, joyfully celebrating with a friend.

Subway, Rolf's, K-Frys, and playing Jenga

A couple of months ago, Masudi and I met for lunch. He was passing through Nairobi, 
traveling from the Coast back to Kakamega. It was great to see him again!

I'm SO happy Subway is now in Nairobi ... and it is absolutely delicious!

My church homegroup met at Rolf's Place for lunch.
I had Chicken ala Kiev. Quite delicious!

The kids enjoyed the pool! This photo represents less than half of us that met at Rolf's on a fun outing. 

Heading back across the suspended bridge to the parking lot.

Denise and I met for lunch at Pete's, a very nice place.
Although I didn't get a photo of her, I got one of this cool bike decoration.

More fun times with my homegroup, this time on New Year's Day.
We shared a lot of tense moments... plus so much fun and laughter playing Jenga.

Gichinga did a great job grilling the chicken and sausages.
In fact, he worked up quite a sweat in the hot sun.

Such a lovely day, with lovely people (most of whom I didn't get photos of)

Margaret, Carol, and I always have a great time whenever we are able to meet.
We encourage one another in the ministries to which God has called each of us.

03 February 2014

Wanjala - the 'hunger season' in Kenya

I traveled to Webuye to visit Agnes' oldest son, Tony, at Milo Boys’ Secondary School. Approximately two hours from Eldoret via matatu, this small town in Western Kenya is mostly known for its paper mill, although it hasn’t operated for many years. Like much of Kenya, there are very few jobs in the area.

Once there, I hopped on a boda boda piki piki (motorbike taxi) for the bumpy and dusty six-mile trip on a dirt road. Currently the dry season in Kenya, it’s hot, windy, and beyond bone-dry. And because huge billows of dust develop with each and every gust of wind, I wore goggles to protect my eyes. In fact, a layer of dust covers absolutely every horizontal surface, and amazingly some vertical ones as well.

After signing in at the school guardhouse, I spotted Alfred Mutambo, the school principal. He read a newspaper on a straight-backed chair, in the shade of a large tree. As I walked toward him he removed his reading glasses, stood, and greeted me warmly. An easy-going and very likable fellow, we've become friends over the past two years.

After grabbing another chair for me, we got caught up with one another. We also chatted about Tony and how he's getting along in school. I gave Mutambo the bank deposit slip for Tony’s First Term school fees and inquired about the ‘set books’ he needed. By then the classes were dismissed and Mutambo sent someone to find Tony.

Tony was surprised to see me, as he wasn't aware I was coming. He was especially happy about the ‘chips’ (French fries), sausage, and soda (pop) I had carried for him. We discussed the uniform requirements he still needed and I encouraged him to do his best at school.

Mutambo then pulled up in his car and gave me a lift back to Webuye town. While he assisted a student with a uniform, I bought two set books for Tony at a cubby-hole bookshop. Later, as we each sipped a soda at the hotel where I’d booked a room, I showed him a book called The Last Hunger Season. Much of the book is a narrative chronicling four farmers from Western Province as they try new planting techniques. The book also includes eight pages about Milo Boys’ School, because the son of one of the farmers was a student there.

While Mutambo distinctly remembers meeting Roger Thurow (the book’s author), he didn't know he had been extensively quoted in the book. When I showed him the pages, he thoroughly enjoyed reading lengthy passages out loud, with gusto and much laughter. I very much enjoyed listening and watching his simple delight.

The following day, I looked for a vehicle going to Kakamega, a 90-minute matatu ride south of Webuye. Not finding one at the bus park, I took a boda boda to the stage on the highway. Approached the junction, I noticed 40-50 very agitated men standing in the road. As they shouted and shoved one another, they were so engrossed in their anger that they were oblivious to the fact that they blocked traffic.

There were three matatus parked at the stage, all with doors flung open and half-empty of passengers. I inquired from some bystanders which one was going to Kakamega. The few passengers left in that particular vehicle were noticeably disgruntled. They claimed they’d been delayed there for two hours, due to the ongoing fight which included their driver and conductor. As I pondered what to do, those two men reappeared and I hopped in the front seat.

I glanced at the driver to see if he appeared agitated, since he’d been a part of the ruckus. He seemed to be calm enough, but I prayed for him anyway. At the first market stage, the driver pulled over to allow two passengers to alight. One of them, wearing a black t-shirt, hurriedly dashed across the highway. The next thing I knew, our driver jumped out of the car and joined our conductor and others in yet another fight. This one – with fists flying – created a much more intense scene! We passengers were left, not knowing what to do. Except for me, the rest of them had witnessed two fights in the span of just a few minutes.

The gentleman next to me explained that the young man in the black t-shirt and his friend were thieves. “Those guys are thieves,” he repeatedly exclaimed, adding that they had joined our vehicle after the other fight at Webuye junction. When they darted out of the vehicle, our driver and conductor were apparently quite upset and gave chase.

The young man wearing the black t-shirt, managed to escape from his attackers and walked back across the highway passing right in front of our vehicle. Still sitting in my front seat, I had a close-up view of his now very bloodied face. The anger and wrath displayed by him and his pursuers was palatable.

Ai, ai, ai! I’ll tell you what – one never knows what a day will bring in this country.

The last I saw of him, he was being sternly escorted by three men back behind some buildings. I do not care to imagine what might have ensued when they got him out of sight of onlookers. After living in this foreign land for 12 years, I’m quite aware that it might have ended very badly for him. (Later, when I told Bishop about the incident, he also suspected my worst fear).

Meanwhile, a Salvation Army church maintained their outdoor worship, standing in a semi-circle with the instrumentalist and drummers off to one side. While getting a few photos of the large group, I spotted another vehicle going my direction. I flagged it down and dashed back to get my backpack; my seat mate also opted to join me.

As we drove through the section of highway that cuts through the Kakamega forest, I suddenly became overwhelmed with the unsettling incident I had witnessed. Some of the massive trees brought to my mind that God is my strong protector. And just like the thousands of trees, he shades me from the hot sun of life and shields me from the ever-prevalent anger and danger of this world.

I began to pray and worship. I spoke out Scriptures like Micah 7:7 and the passages about Hagar, all of which speak of God seeing me and hearing me. He knows my every step and He watches over my movement and travels. Tears streaming down my face were a slightly surprising indication to me of how deeply I’d been affected. Just then a song came on the radio – ‘I have a Maker, He knows my name; He sees each tear that falls and He answers when I call’.

Lies, fraud, and deception seem to be rife in this land. Hatred and anger are just below the surface, awaiting an opportunity to erupt in violence.

Just like the title of the book, it’s currently wanjala in Kenya – the ‘hunger season’. There’s little food to eat in the rural areas, especially this year because the last maize harvest was very poor. The sun and heat are almost unbearable. Everyone awaits the rainy season, hoping it will arrive next month so they can plant this year’s crop of maize. It’s easy to be on edge during wanjala season.

Additionally, people have paid out a lot of money in school fees, as January marks the beginning of the education calendar in Kenya. In the towns and cities, those who had casual jobs (hired on a daily basis) have a hard time finding work. Except for school fees, very little money circulates in the country during January and February. Business goes down in every sector. Frustration and hunger are pervasive and an ever-present recipe for anger and violence to erupt. While I can’t be sure if that was a factor in the two incidents I observed, such outbreaks are not unusual.

- - - - -

I’m not sure how to conclude this story, except to say I had a lovely visit with Masudi.

And may I once again request that you remain ever vigilant in praying for my safety!