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Kenya Trip Day 7- Sunday Birthdays, Cake and Church

July 5, 2012

Over my travels I have wandered my way through ages-old Hindu temples and Muslim mosques in India, beautiful and well-preserved cathedrals in Italy, damaged ones in Guatemala, a Serbian Orthodox church in Washington state, and a handful of other religious institutions throughout the U.S. Now I can say that I have been to a Methodist
church service in Meru, Kenya. The church itself was simple, but the service was the main attraction and reason for going.

My mother told me that I should never discuss religion or politics. Both topics will get me into trouble, and so I will not go into any great detail about beliefs or opinions. Suffice it to say that church service in Kenya is unlike anything that I have witnessed before and definitely a unique experience that is worth checking out.

Boniface, our driver, picked us up early enough to choose any pew or aisle we wanted. So why not the very front? We spread ourselves between the first two rows and minutes later the back door opened and who turned out to also be the drummer and choir singer for the church, and children dressed in school uniforms started filing in and taking their seats. towards the front and off to the side. Realizing that we might be occupying their seats we moved ourselves back a couple of rows. Still not enough. Those kids kept coming and coming. We switched rows a couple more times and personally couldn’t help feeling like a clueless tourist that did not read the section “know before you go.” The service began with singing and dancing with much more rhythm and soul than I’ve ever heard or seen at church. Songs were sung in both English and Kimeru, and were backed up by our very own Boniface on the drums! Seriously cool.

It also turned out that it was Boniface’s son’s birthday that day. His son, Victor, was turning five years old and we thought it would be fun to throw him a little birthday party after church service. We bought little toy cars, a couple of shirts, and bubbles as presents. A cake was also in order as no birthday would be complete without one. Boniface, his wife, his mother, some friends, and of course Victor arrived after lunch. We sung Happy Birthday and let Victor cut his own slice of cake. Victor took that piece of cake in his hands and ate it in one bite. I just love kids. They get right to business and don’t waste their time with forks.

Our day ended at the Kithoka Amani Community Home where we had dinner followed by oral hygiene instructions to the fourteen orphans who live there. We gathered the kids around a table and discussed the basics, followed by a tell-show-do technique. Judy, the house mother who takes care of them, was extremely supportive and thanked us for coming. We said our goodbyes, and as I was about to leave Betty, one of the orphans, stopped me in the hallway. She asked me where was Purity, and I understood what she meant and knew she was referring to Preeti Iyer. She told me to give Preeti the message that she hoped to see her again in the future and would call her. I asked her if her and Preeti had had fun together. She said “yes,” and that they had played hide-and-seek, soccer, and other games together. I was touched. Dear Preeti, you have a friend in Kenya.

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