“There will be 24 visitors and they should arrive somewhere between 4 and 5pm this afternoon. They will need an evening meal, bed and breakfast.”
It had been raining almost every day for the past few weeks so after more than three hours in the Easter Sunday service, the humidity was almost overwhelming. It was with a certain relief that we sang the recessional hymn and stepped outside for something like a breath of air. Just as we arrived back at our house, the two local area chiefs arrived with the message that we were to expect an exceptionally large group of visitors at our small guest house!
There was to be a big political rally nearby on Easter Monday and the Deputy President was the main speaker. He was to be accompanied by senior officials from the Kajiado County government, so the security personnel for both had to be on site the day before to make sure all security arrangements were in good order. And because of the rains they were reluctant to go back to a town across the river in case it rained again overnight and they would be unable to come back to attend the function – so they decided to stay in Oltiasika!
We weren’t expecting visitors and there was no food in the guesthouse store. Due to its remote location, it only opens on prior bookings. As the nearest town to buy food is 1½ hours drive away, we were left scratching our heads – what do we do now? So, rather than list all the things we couldn’t do and didn’t have, we thought to list the things we actually could do and did have.
Luka knew where to find at least a dozen tomatoes, Sam said he could get a cabbage and about 6 carrots and 2 green peppers – even though they were a bit wizened! Agnes had 5 eggs at home. We also searched around for some rice, maize flour, tea, milk and sugar. We sent David to look for a goat – at least if there was meat we would be ok. Then Simon arrived with another goat so we were well supplied with meat. Firewood was an issue as all the trees were wet after the rain but we managed to get enough to start a fire!
The local women were having a meeting in the church after the service so they were nearby. Maggie organised as many as possible to start making beds, begin making tea and chopping veg. The next thing we knew the visitors all arrived in on top of us asking if their rooms were ready and where was the tea? We all ate about 8.30pm and everyone was satisfied and ready for sleep.
We had no bread available so breakfast was going to be a challenge. Maggie was awake at 2am to start making pancakes. 150 pancakes later and all the visitors were filled again and ready for the busy day ahead!
There’s a saying here in Kenya, that I’m sure many of you have heard before,
‘We are, therefore I am.’
It tries to express how an individual can find purpose and meaning in their lives by being part of a wider community. That is exactly what happened in this situation. These visitors weren’t just ours because we run a guesthouse. No, everyone in the community welcomed them as their own visitors and so pulled out all the stops to make sure they were well looked after. They were very happy to share what little they had from their own kitchens to ensure the visitors had sufficient.
It is such a privilege for us to be part of a community like this, that teaches us the value of unconditional love and support, even towards visitors whom they have never met.
It is the practical outworking of the verses found in 2 Corinthians 9:6-15, which states that “God loves a cheerful giver.” And in v11, “You will be made rich in every way so that you can be generous on every occasion, and through us your generosity will result in thanksgiving to God.”
By counting our blessings rather than our problems, we were able to meet the challenges of the day. Although we’re not sure if we want it to happen again anytime soon!