Our final days of village living wound down and my thoughts centered on two things: (1) how eager I was to leave the Taita Hills and get on with life in a more civilized locale, and (2) Bwana and Mama Mwakodi’s extreme generosity despite their poverty. I will always remember how content they were with the little they did have. They had exhibited joy and kindness that material possessions could not add to or detract from.
And I will always remember the ways Bwana Mwakodi and his wife had shown us:
- generosity that overwhelmed me,
- patience with our frequent cluelessness about how to live in their culture,
- grace upon grace, extended to us.
Nevertheless, living in their home felt awkward because of cultural and language differences. From the outset, I had counted the days until we could leave. During the final few days I even counted hours.
My thoughts went back to the first day of our three-month orientation. With only a vague idea of what to expect during the orientation, I knew I’d never experienced anything like it and that I’d need more strength, stamina, and tenacity—physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual—than I’d ever needed before.
For two years I had prayed, and prayed, and prayed, and psyched myself up for the orientation but, by the day of our departure, I still didn’t have a lot of confidence in myself.
Nevertheless, somehow (well, not somehow, but by God’s grace) my worries and doubts coexisted with faith that God would get me through if only I’d depend on Him and cooperate with Him.
The Bible says, “In quietness and confidence shall be your strength” (Isaiah 30:15, NKJV). I had told God I’d keep my mouth shut and take care of the quietness part if He’d take care of the confidence part.
So, armed with one very small chocolate bar and my friend Esther’s instructions on how to stare down a leopard, on September 9 Dave and I had set out on our three-month orientation, Kenya Safari. (From Grandma’s Letters from Africa, Chapter 1)
And then, when November 29 arrived,
I looked back with a soaring heart.
God had shown me His loving, strengthening,
calming presence every single day.
Indeed He showed that
He gives strength to the weary
and increases the power of the weak (Isaiah 40:29).
What a reason to rejoice!
That final day in the Taita Hills, I celebrated—I ate the last ragged square of my chocolate bar. (I had oh-so-carefully made that one little Cadbury’s bar last me through three months of stresses and surprises!)
We shook hands with Bwana and Mama. “Asante sana!” (thank you very much) we said, and we really meant it.
We climbed into The Pearl, waved goodbye, called out “Kwaherini!” (goodbye!), and then
Dave motored down through the
lovely Taita Hills for the last time.
(You might enjoy looking over a Google Map of the area: check out “Dembwa, Kenya” and “Wundanyi, Kenya.” Zoom out a little and see how close the Taita Hills are to Mt. Kilimanjaro!)
We gathered with our fellow trainees at Dembwa, the little village at the foot of the hills where that segment of our odyssey—the most demanding part of our orientation—had started.
The day we drove out of the Taita Hills was a happy, happy day for me,
though I have only the best
memories of our stay there.
The Taita people had shown us what it looked like to live as people after God’s own heart. (From Grandma’s Letters from Africa, Chapter 3)