Bonds of Friendship That Never Fade

One factor in moving to Kenya that Tom and I never really considered was our safety. It might have been closer to the forefront of our thinking today, but 25 years ago news wasn't the "instant access" phenomenon that it is now. We knew things would be different and that would have a lot to learn, but we just assumed everything would be ok.

Obviously, we came through that time in one piece, but there were some challenging times that not only we, but several of the mission team members went though. Some things may have happened because we were foreigners and as such were not as wise about our practices in the beginning as we learned to be.

For example, a man on the team asked for directions one time and was told to go through the park. He totally trusted the kind person who helped him, only to be jumped and beaten up by he and some of his buddies. That happened just before we arrived. We all learned to stay away from parks toward the evening hours when there were fewer people around. 

Tom's wallet was stolen during a bus ride out of town to study the Bible with a friend in the suburbs. Another time he was in a crowded matatu and someone again tried to take his wallet. He was much more aware of his surroundings after the first time and caught the guy as he tried to reach into his pocket.

One time as I walked through town a young boy ran up to me and grabbed my necklace. It scared me a bit, but the necklace had been a gift from my sister-in-law before we left. I was really sad to lose it. I should have stopped wearing jewelry in town, but I didn't and another time someone took an earring from my ears. Thankfully it was a post and not a hoop earring, so my ear didn't get torn. I did hide my engagement ring the rest of the time I lived in Nairobi and didn't wear it around town at all.

One of the sisters had several difficult things happen. She was hit by a car when she was crossing the street and got injured quite badly. She spent several days in the hospital. Another time she broke her ankle participating in tug of war at a fun day sponsored by the church.

I also wrote earlier about the time that Onyechi was arrested for taking pictures of passing tanks. That was unsettling to all of us. No one on the team had imagined any of us would be detained by the police.

Some other people had their apartment broken into. The noise they made kept the robbers from going into the apartment next door, where they had been headed.

One woman learned that her father had died tragically and she and her husband needed to travel back to the states urgently to be with her family.

Several members of the team had a difficult time finding jobs.  I've told you about our story. Another man was an engineer. It took him a long time to get a job. He started tutoring a young man in math and that finally led to him getting an interview with a company that needed his services, though not in the field of his expertise. Another woman on the team couldn't find a job and eventually needed to go back to the United States. I'm sure there are other things that happened that I can't remember right now.

Any of these things could have happened to us while we were living in the United States. All of these things happened in a relatively short amount of time to the small group of people who moved to Nairobi to help start the church. We were all becoming better and better friends on this journey and each difficult thing that happened affected the whole group. While we wish none of the things had happened, I think that supporting each other through each challenge brought us closer together and bonded our hearts forever. 

We don't not see each other often now and most of us no longer live in Africa. When we do connect and start talking about those times, however, the years fall away and it is as if we were still walking side by side down the streets of Nairobi. We have an understanding of each other we couldn't have gotten except by living through it all together.

Each and every one of the men and women on that mission were a treasure.
Whether they stayed in Nairobi a few months or for years, each one contributed unique qualities that helped the whole group grow and mature. Those difficult things taught us to work together, to support each other and to be grateful for each and every blessing we received.


Lori ZieglerComment