More Preparations for Kenya
October 23, 2023
Here is the road: the light
comes and goes then returns again.
Be gentle with your fellow travelers
as they move through the world of stone and stars
whirling with you yet every one alone.
The road waits.
Do not ask questions but when it invites you
to dance at daybreak, say yes.
Each step is the journey; a single note the song.
~ Arlene Gay Levine ~
In just a few weeks (Nov. 15, 2023) I will be leaving for Kenya, on the ‘trip of a lifetime’ with my mom, Pat Tinney. She has just turned 80 and has been to Kenya twice before. She worked a volunteer organization both times, in a rural area on the west side of the country. My Kenyan history and geography-knowledge are slowly growing as I realize how little familiarity I have with African realities.
On this trip, through "stone and stars" we are not officially ‘working’ with any organization, but my mom wanted to visit some people she spent time with in the past and I offered to accompany her. We are doing some things that would be considered ‘touristy’ then being open to whatever might come about. We will first have some time in Nairobi exploring the Museums and National Park, as well as a 3-day fly-in Safari in the Masai Mara. I realize what a privilege this is to be able to do this.
The next two weeks of our visit will find us staying in an apartment in the town of Bungoma, about 100 km north of Kisumu, a large city on Lake Victoria. We will almost be right ON the equator.
I don’t know exactly what I’ll be doing or what our schedule will be. I do know we will be visiting people my mom met on her first two trips, we will be meeting children at some schools, connecting with folks who work with a mission to street children in Bungoma, going to church, offering some expressive arts experiences and possibly even speaking at some church services and other gatherings.
Lunch time at the Davis Mercy School
This somewhat vague travel agenda might have otherwise stressed me out. I DO know where I’m staying, but I usually like to travel with transportation organized, somewhat structured days and connecting with people I know. In this case, I know my traveling companion pretty well, but it will certainly be life-changing to do this trip with my mother (of about 55 years and 9 months). My other "fellow travelers" I do not yet know, and yet we are already on a journey together: the woman who runs the B and B in Nairobi and offers a simple meal to those arriving from the airport; the pastor of a rural church whose school/sanctuary building was partially constructed by my step-father, Ross; the young women, now mothers themselves, with whom my mom worked at the organization, Robin’s Nest.
As we connect in this dance, moving ‘through the world of stone and stars’ I pray that I will stay open to the learnings. That I will receive the invitations of ‘the road’, and to the challenges that will come as I consider the colonial histories of my own home country, my ancestors, and the Indigenous peoples of every land.
I had the great gift to meet a fellow traveler at just the right time, before I even leave for this journey: Rev. Dr. Ali Tote who is an ordained Lutheran Pastor as well as a PhD in Epidemiology. My new friend is originally from Cameroon, West Africa, and he has been so gracious to listen, answer my questions and share his thoughts with me. One thing that I will try to hold with me as I go is his invitation to a ‘cultural and racial humility’. I am sure I will make mistakes; I am sure that my assumptions will become clear in uncomfortable ways, but I pray that if I practice the recognition of the agency of EVERY person I meet, and know that the only truth in relationship is being my authentic self, then I will be open to the invitation of the road, the dance, the fellow travelers and the light under which our whole world shines.