Emily, our only guest house mate, was technically a mini-missionary like us, who usually don't stay longer that a month. But she just could not seem to leave. We could often hear her, talking to her parents on Scype, crying in the privacy of her room. She missed them greatly. But then she would come out, pull herself together, and go sign on for two more months.
Emily once got a very large thorn embedded deeply in the top of her foot while playing soccer. After some time, she mentioned it to us. I told her, I was very good at digging thorns out with a needle, as long as it was not in me. She finally agreed. I saw it was very deep. As I dug deeper and deeper, she toughened up and never complained, other than making weird little Emily sounds. This was not working. Too deep. Then I thought to ask her how long it had been in there. She said weeks. That changed things. Sooner or later, a thorn will just try to work its own way out. I squeezed really hard all around it, and It just popped out.
There were two other young women missionaries there, and they, also, were very brave. They thought nothing about walking to a distant market in a rough looking area, alone. Or, they might hop in a car and drive long distances alone to a church they had never been to. But when a lizard got in her room, Emily totally came unglued.
Word was getting around that I worked with wood pretty well, and Yeen Lan wanted me to build her a nice bench. Doug said, just find whatever wood you need, and build it. I found some still rough dark wood, and did it. It looked really good. Too good. When Doug saw it, he turned pale. I had used his Mahogany, very hard to get, very expensive, that he had brought to trim the lunch tables with. A very valuable bench.
Barbara was given the job of looking for baptism records for the children. In looking at all their records, she had an opportunity to see the first picture, taken when the child first came in, beside a current picture. I think that affected her very deeply. In each case, the first picture show a child with all hope gone, dullness in the eyes. In the later photo, they were obviously happy, the light had been turned back on in their eyes. That, as well as anything we saw, showed what was being accomplished at Rafiki.
Yeen Lan stayed very busy trying to get a birth certificate for each child. It was a major task. Many public officials were very lax, or at best, just didn't care. She would get all her paperwork in order, get it before a Judge, drive a long way over very rough roads to get to court, only to face total incompetency. It just wouldn't be ready. Sometimes, they would complain about all the work involved, expecting a bribe. She would just stare them down, saying, "I only want you to do your job." Then repeat it. Sometimes, she would be told at the very end, "This requires a parent's signiture.""So, you're telling me, I just need to take this orphan out to the cemetery, dig up a parent, and get a signature?" Once, a Judge told her he had left the papers at home. "So let's go get them." The Judge pointed to a long waiting line "I'm sure they would all be willing to wait, so this child can get an identity." So they did. Anything to get this woman off his back. At home, the Judge couldn't find them. She started through his papers, and found them.
It was time for our Safari! We were to fly, instead of driving as was normally the case, because people were still killing each other in the countryside. When we arrived at the dirt runway in our 30 passenger plane, a man was busy clearing the wild animals off the runway. We were at the Masai Mara, the Kenyan portion of the Serengeti. When we stepped out, Our guide had a small folding table set up beside his 4 wd vehicle. He constantly watched for dangerous animals while we had cookies and tea.
Our guide, Wesley, drove toward Kichwa Tembo camp, which would accommodate 60 or so, but only we and 4 women were there now. All white people in Kenya now were still UN related or missionaries, and this group was no exception. Wesley had been one of Kenya's top distance runners. He told us they all got into distance running because it was the only chance they would have to come to America. He Ran a 4 minute flat mile in the finals, but didn't qualify.
We went to our tent to stow our stuff, and get ready for our first outing. Monkeys were all around us, and Warthogs were everywhere. When we left our tent, I tied the doorway tightly, as instructed, to keep out Baboons. Our first trip went well, for a time. It was a big plain with sparce trees. Many large animals could be seen scattered throughout the plain. After we had gotten a good close up look at a lot of animals, and were miles from camp, a major storm blew up, just before dark. Wesley got out rain gear for us all in that open Jeep, But it did little good in this storm. The plain was flooded, and we got stuck, again and again, each time finally managing to get out. After dark, I kept my face covered to try to keep out some of the rain. I looked out, Just as a big Lion jumped out from in front of the Jeep, and stared at us hard. I knew this was the last place on earth that I wanted to spend the night. We finally got back to our tent, on the edge of the Plain. We were freezing, but felt safer, and they had placed hot water bottles in our beds. Two guards wandered about, armed with bows and arrows."Arrows? against a Lion?" I thought. But These were Masai Warriors, the most experienced people in the world with Lions. I had read that President Obama had also used Masai Warriors for security when he went on Safari.
Early the next morning, I was awakened by big animals of some description, growling loudly, around our tent. "You've got to be kidding me," I thought. This just had to be recordings, played to make our experience more real. Didn't need that. It had been far too real already, last night. Turned out, a Warthog was in heat and a couple of males were fighting.
Once in the Jeep for our morning outing, Wesley got a message from another, in Swahili, so we didn't get the drift, But he headed out fast. On the way, he explained, Large animals just see the Jeep as one big unit. Step out of the Jeep, they see you as a meal. Don't get out for any reason. He told us of a honeymoon couple a few weeks earlier. They were filming a Lion, and the husband stepped out to get a better picture. The wife was operating a video, and she filmed her husband's death.
Two female lions had just killed an Antelope, And as we got in close one tore the face off. Barbara was on the corner of the Jeep nearest the Lions, but for once in her life, she would have gladly given up the best photo angle. With misgivings, we shot pictures like crazy. Maybe get something for our kids to show at our memorial service back home. continued