‘All the believers were together and had everything in common ..(and).. they gave to anyone who had need.’
It all started one late Thursday afternoon, shortly after we arrived back to Oltiasika. This was the first time that Maggie and I were both back in Oltiasika after our Land Rover accident in October last year. The first to arrive was Stephen, our Tractor driver, and the first words he spoke were 'Pole sana' (very sorry). He asked numerous questions about the accident and how we were feeling now. As he left he told us 'Remember God is still with us.' He then gave us a container of honey as a gift from him and his wife - from their own bee hives - to help in our recovery!
Then various members of the local community dropped by to say ‘Pole sana’ in ones and twos, and they all had the same message: ‘God is still with us.’ Our other two staff – David and Nchukut came later on and asked for a bucket with a lid, but didn’t disclose what it was for, and off they went. The next day David’s wife, Lucy, arrived to say her ‘Pole sana’ and gave us another container of honey, from her own bee hives as well! Then Sam came, he runs the little shop on our compound, with a full tray of eggs from his own hens back in his village. People just gave of what they had – and therefore the gift was much more precious.
As the day progressed we had a number of other community members stop by with no other reason than to say ‘Pole sana’ and to assure us of their prayers. This was all very moving and almost overwhelming and gave us such a sense of belonging.
Later on that second day David and Nchukut came back with the bucket, and yes, you guessed it, half full of very sweet honey comb, from our own bees here on the Centre! I’m not sure what we’ll do with all the honey but we will surely remember the kindness and thought that went into bringing such gifts to us.
When I was out looking at our preparations for the covering of another of the underground tanks I came across an elderly lady, one of the leading members of our church at Oltiasika, who was carrying home a 20 litre container of water to her family. You should try to lift a 20 litre container some time to see just how heavy it is, and she had to carry this about one kilometre to reach home. So, when she stopped to talk to me I really appreciated the effort she was making to stand there with this heavy weight on her back so that she could tell me how much they loved us and cared for us and that they pray continually for our full recovery and healing. After a few minutes she turned away and continued her walk home.
The following Sunday we attended church and enjoyed the unreserved worship of singing and praying. We were given an opportunity to come and greet people, but before we could go forward a number of others wanted to stand up first to say how happy they were to see us back in church after such an ordeal and that we could be assured of their continued prayers. So, standing in front of all those people who showed such love and support and who have pleaded before God on our behalf left us just about speechless…..
Maggie shared the following passage:
‘Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.’ Philippians 4: 6-7.
As the service moved on to its completion there was a time for greetings and testimony. A young man called Jeremiah stood up and off he went with a long story full of actions and gesticulations as he moved around the church – but it was rather long… At one point our Lay Reader, Paul, stood up from his seat at the front of the church and with an unusual turn of speed managed to intercept Jeremiah on one of his sweeps across the church and stop him in full flow. Paul then suggested that as the service was going on for quite a while that, if Maggie might be getting uncomfortable, she had his permission and blessing to leave the service – which she gratefully did. As soon as Paul turned to go back to his seat Jeremiah was off and running again as if he hadn’t been interrupted at all! This was a very considerate gesture on Paul’s part – and one that I have never seen him do before.
This sense of family and belonging is, and will always be, a highlight for us in our time here in Kenya. The accident was a difficult thing to understand and process but these last few days here in Oltiasika have given us a whole new perspective of what it means to live, work and worship in a community.