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  • Writer's pictureMayfair United Church

Preparing for Kenya

October 10, 2023

This excerpt from one of my favourite poets came up on my FB feed recently:

When you travel,

A new silence

Goes with you,

And if you listen,

You will hear

What your heart would

Love to say.

A journey can become a sacred thing.

Make sure, before you go,

To bless your going forth,

To free your heart of ballast

So that the compass of your soul

Might direct you towards

The territories of spirit

Where you will discover

More of your hidden life;

And the urgencies

That deserve to claim you.


What an invitation! Here I am, more than comfortable, healthy, not just one home but two, adequate food, clean water and everything I could possibly need available to me…. And one of the preparations for this trip includes several vaccinations. Because I am going to a place where all the above are NOT a given; where water and food and insects carry disease and where access to health care and regular vaccinations are NOT a given. So, I woke up in the night, a few nights ago, shivering, uncomfortable and aching. Knowing that the reason was somewhat self-inflicted didn’t help (much). But I had lots of time to think. And to be grateful that I have the privilege and opportunity to be planning a trip to Kenya.

But I do ask myself…. Do I have any business traveling to Kenya to gaze at some beautiful creatures of God (Kenya has one of the highest concentrations of bird species (over 1100 recorded!) and large mammals in the world) and into peoples’ lives?

My mom has lived and volunteered in Kenya twice now. It was her dream to see some part of Africa and to help make a difference in another part of the world. She worked in an organization supporting children and their education both times. This year she wanted to go back and visit as well as celebrate some mile-stones for those no-longer-children and I thought I could accompany her. She is a vibrant and healthy 80-year old, but I still didn’t want her traveling alone. The congregation in which I serve, Mayfair United Church in Saskatoon, has been supportive of my time away being taken as ‘continuing education’. Little did I know that the ‘education’ would start right away.


'Practicing' with my Tilley Hat!


Some of the thoughts and questions and learnings – what are my own biases about Africa? What are the images and cultural teachings that I have inherited as a Caucasian North American? Why so many vaccines? How has colonialism affected the whole world and what might my learnings have to say to my call to decolonize church and culture in Canada? How will I ever get used to bargaining in the markets, where it is expected?! What do I have to offer and what will I learn?

What more will I discover of ‘my hidden life and the urgencies that deserve to claim me’?

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Oct 11, 2023

I hope you post some of your thoughts while traveling. My sister in law and her husband have done several missions to build schools in Kenya and then often end with a safari or birding. They have loved their experiences and getting to know the people. I think it could be challenging coming from a place of privilege and very educational at the same time. Safe travels!

Mayfair United Church
Mayfair United Church
Oct 11, 2023
Replying to

thank you. I will definitely post my thoughts and experiences. I have heard the bird species are just amazing to see! and I am looking forward to just spending time with the people. My mom really enjoyed her time there in the past. Rev. Shelly

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