‘Welcome to Kineni!’, the village of Javan & Susan Bokea. They live in the lush sloping hills 20 minutes from Ogembo, and approximately an hour from Kisii Town. The road between Kisii and Ogembo is bitumen, plus a few major pots holes, which Denis has enjoyed navigating- particularly when we all go flying over the speed bumps concealed to the foreigners eye!!!
Sunday morning we awaited the arrival of Javan and Susan, to meet us at the hotel in Kisii, before they escorted us and showed us the way to Kineni Village.
An hour and a half later than expected, we decided to walk down the Main Street of Kisii to check things out whilst we waited, then all of a sudden, they pull up infront of us, 3 on a motor bike. I guess we kinda stood out and were easy to spot amongst the hordes crowding the road!!
It was hugs and laughs, huge smiles and tears (mostly on our behalf) as we finally greeted each other after months of communicating. We walked back to the hotel, and talked while some had a cup of African tea, and chapatti- Kenya’s version of tea and biscuits ( this one was much better than the last- Kerry was the guinea taste tester before Denis and I were game enough to go there again!).
Jarvan and Susan were super keen to take us home, so we decided to head out to their village for the afternoon, to meet everyone and assess where we would be staying and any provisions we may require.
From Ogembo, we turned right, onto a dirt road that became less and less formed, as we discovered the car we were bring was the first car many of the children in the had ever seen, let alone meeting mzunga’s (white people). Transport for these villagers is predominantly by foot, or the occasional motorbike.
At this stage, we are unsure how successful the car will actually be here. As it is quite steep, and a couple of rivers to cross- plus the track from the ‘main’ track, up to Javan, Susan, Charles and Mary (Javan’s parents) and the orphans compound, didn’t exist before yesterday! Many machetes had been busy chopping down a section of sugar cane, alongside their walking track, to enable us to get the car and all the gear up to the huts. As it was a tree or two was removed just ahead of us as we kicked in 4WD to make it up the slope. It would be impossible during the wet- so there are a few things to discuss regarding care and accessibility of the car.
Our journey in was slow, as we met many people who had been waiting for us ‘to bring the good news’, and to welcome us to Kenya. We met Javan’s older sister Scola, and her two children, who were selling grains by the side of the road. Then later a group met us at the bottom of Javan’s ‘new’ driveway. After hugs all round, and the overwhelm beginning to kick in, we jumped back in the car to ascend the slope. Very few people in Kineni speak english, in fact many do not speak Swahili either- they speak Kisii Language. It’s quite surreal to greet so many, when words and language fail us, yet the heart and soul understand each other perfectly. Look into another’s eyes, your hand and theirs linked together held against your chests, between hearts- no words are necessary, although our brains tell us we must try. We actually found the majority of men to be softer in nature, more open and heartfelt in their greeting, than the majority of women. I am still shocked by this, I obviously had a preconceived notion of what to expect! Perhaps the women are wary, or unsure of us? Or perhaps it is part of the culture. As when we first met Javan & Susan, after greeting us, Susan stood back from the three of us andJavan. We had to invite her and encourage her to stand with us, among us. It was really obvious when it was just the 5 of us, perhaps the same thing was occurring in the larger group, only we had so many people around us wanting their attention, and to greet- that upon reflection, we may have missed the subtlety of this gender inequality playing out.
As we settle in, and relax, being ourselves, perhaps they will too.
Now, back to our arrival.
Windows down and a few deep breaths, we then heard from 500m away, although we could not yet see them, the voices of 160 orphans, villagers and families, echoed down to us as they sang our welcome to their home. No words can possibly describe the waves of emotion that flooded through us! The car became surrounded by 100s of beautiful smiling, singing faces- their eyes and hearts out pouring their gratitude for all that we, collectively, have done, all that we bring to share, and their sincere joy in welcoming us to their home. Even now as I write this, the magnitude of their gratitude and joy overwhelms me, and I melt into tears. I know I haven’t fully allowed myself to accept their love and gratitude into my heart, yet, as I knew I would be a blubbering, drooling mess, and didn’t feel that was a good first impression, when there were so many brothers and sisters to meet!! Perhaps I should have dissolved into tears there and then- it was bloody hard to hold back the tidal wave of tears wanting to run down my face. If really let go, I didn’t know when it would cease. And, I felt I needed to honour the people who had come to greet us.
I’m still learning the Truth, in situations like this. Love of Self, Love of Others. So often, I choose to Love Others before I Love myself. Perhaps I did myself a disservice, by not allowing myself to fully feel and experience all that was coursing through me. Perhaps I missed a golden opportunity? Perhaps I could have bawled my eyes out and greeted people at the same time? I am still uncertain about the most loving course of action in a situation like this- all I can do is keep engaging and see what happens.
But I know it is there to be felt and received, the Love and Gratitude being expressed to us – writing this now has shown me that it is still there to be received. I know it probably sounds ridiculous, but it is going to take courage on my behalf to allow myself to receive all this love flowing towards me (us), just as it is requiring courage to accept and allow God’s Love into my soul.
Here is another example of their welcome:
I have had some issues adding videos to the blogs, however when there is a will, eventually you find the way!
NB: The original of this post is somewhere out in the ether. This is the portion I salvaged. Another challenge of being in a less technological developed country- when you think it is saved, chances are IT IS NOT!!!