Thursday, March 26, 2020


(If you have not already read them, in order to preserve the continuity of these writings, please scroll down and begin reading with How it All Began, and make your way upward.
Remember that these are written in the “historical present” sense, meaning that I am not in Kenya now, on March 26, 2020, but I arrived on the date below, November 15, 2017. But I am writing as if it were happening now)  

Journal Entry – November 15, 2017

All that I had written above in the previous post concerning my trip to Ethiopia
took place last March and April. It is now the 15th of November, a mere seven months later. Right now however, that trip to seems like another lifetime to me.

I wrote yesterday while sitting under the clock of the silent worker at the Amsterdam airport, who dutifully erased and painted the new clock hand at  each minute. But today I am in Kenya. I arrived in the middle of the night to the airport in Nairobi. By the time I made it through immigration and customs at the airport, it was about 1:00 AM. It was with some trepidation that I walked outside of the airport terminal.

Would I find a taxi driver holding up a placard with my name written on it? In preparation for the trip, I had first tried to reserve a taxi through this hotel, but the website seemed not to work properly. I did receive some kind of cryptic confirmation that gave me hope that I may have a room, but none at all concerning the taxi.

It is for this reason I reserved yet another taxi from a separate website. This gave me more confidence, but being used to some cities to where I had flown in the past, maybe the taxi would be waiting and maybe not. And it was 1:00 in the morning—not the time of night that I want to start to figure out what to do in a strange city of a strange country, and after a long and tiring trip.

I was uneasy on this huge continent, and all of this made me a little nervous. I told myself that if I had flown to a city in Latin America instead of Africa, I would not have felt this way.

In my previous work I had flown into several cities in Central and South America, so I was accustomed to doing so. I knew the language and I had previously interacted with many of the varying cultures of that continent. I knew about what I could expect.

But never to Africa and never to Kenya. When I arrived in Ethiopia on the previous trip, my son Levi was there to meet me and to ease me into what to expect there. He could speak the language, and he knew what was and what was not reasonable.

But I did not know Swahili, the national language of Kenya, and I had no experience with the country. I assumed that at the airport there would be English speakers, but when you do not know the national language of a country, it immediately puts you at a disadvantage. It is especially true if you are a first-time visitor. You are more easily manipulated by anyone who would wish to take advantage of your inexperience.

Thankfully, I saw none of this upon my arrival into Kenya. The airport staff was very courteous and helpful, but not overbearing. I was not swarmed by countless hawkers trying to get me to come to their hotel or on their safari. No one came up to me with a fist-full of bills, asking if I wanted to exchange money at a better rate than the exchange houses can give you.

I was surprised at the high level of English spoken. It seemed as if everyone spoke English, even among themselves. Many of my fears about my arrival immediately vanished.

As I stepped outside the terminal, there was not one but two young taxi drivers holding up placards spelling out “Mr Donald Rhody.” Apparently, the hotel had received my request for a taxi, and so did the taxi company. Understandably, both drivers claimed they were the ones that were hired.

I expected there to be some harsh and competitive words, but I explained the situation to them—how I could not receive a confirmation from the hotel, so I felt compelled to find another before my arrival.

The taxi driver hired by the hotel handed me his phone. “Kindly talk to the hotel manager,” he said to me.

I took the phone from his hand and explained the predicament once again to the hotel manager. Again, I expected there to be some words of argument. After all, whether I rode in his taxi or not, the hotel would have to pay the driver.

Again to my surprise, there was no disagreement. The manager simply said that he understood, since they had had trouble with that website in the past. I took the taxi that I had reserved from the independent company, and heard no more about it.  

Journal Entry – November 16, 2017

The hotel is small and quiet—a low budget one but quite comfortable. I rested well last night. Despite the mix-up with the taxis, the manager (who turns out actually to be the owner) is a very nice fellow and quite warm towards me. The hotel is called “Bermuda Garden,” I think because the owner had spent some time in that Caribbean island country.
I'm sorry now that I did not take more photos,
but I liked this little statue of a nursing mom
and baby that stood in the outside dining area.
A tribute to Motherhood
I will be here for a couple of days before Joel comes. I planned it this way since I wanted a little time alone to recover from the travel, start becoming accustomed to the eight-hour time change, and just to begin to get a feel for the country.

I can tell that God has been helping me on this trip. I don’t think that I am a natural worrier, but several matters that I had been uneasy about have turned out fine. Also, there have been more than a few things along the way that have encouraged me.

Even on the plane down from Amsterdam, I found myself sitting next to two sisters from Kenya who had immigrated to Holland. They were returning to Kenya to visit family.

One of the sisters had apparently become somewhat successful in her business in Amsterdam, and was also helping to fund some children in Kenya with their education costs and with living expenses. She became very interested when I told her about the reason for my going to Kenya, and about the connection that I had made with Pastor Joel from Kisii.

She encouraged me greatly in this, and also told me of some experiences that she had had in her similar endeavor. It all helped me greatly. In in many ways, what she told me was not only educational and enlightening, but also a confirmation that I may not be such a fool in doing what I am doing. 

Later, in the afternoon of November 16

I have taken a walk around the neighborhood of the hotel. It is mostly a residential area and there is not a great deal to see. There is one park several blocks away where I spent some time. Again I am surprised that I am not swarmed by people trying to get me to buy something or to go someplace.

People seem warm, but not overbearing. I am treated like a person and not an oddity, especially an oddity with money. In many of my experiences in developing countries, that is how I have been at first perceived. When people see someone from America, they seem to see me as not having white skin, but a twenty-dollar-bill shade of green. They cannot wait to come up to me and become my “friend.” It has not so far been that way here. How refreshing.

And now I am back at the hotel, sitting in the outside dining
This guy came crawling up to me while I was writing this journal
"Karibu Kenya" (Welcome to Kenya)
area. I have a quiet afternoon, so I will take this opportunity to write about another validation that I received from God about coming here. This confirmation was given to me even before I began planning the trip. It is something that I think not many more than Vivian and I know about…Oh, and the Log Church of Kenya.

Earlier this summer (just a few months ago), a dark mud-colored mark quite suddenly appeared on the upper part of my forearm. I did not at first think much of it, and when Vivian asked me about it, I told her that it was just “an old man’s skin mark.”

But the mark very quickly grew into a bump, and then quite a large bump. It began to bother Vivian, so I covered it with an ace bandage.

“See, it’s all gone now,” I told her.

But I also was getting a little concerned about it and wondering what it could be. Of course, the thought that came to both Vivian and I was that it may be cancerous, but I was not yet ready to take it to the doctor.

One evening I was sitting in my chair and decided that I would try to pop it. The bump was now pretty large and seemed to be continually spreading. I took a pin to it. It was surprisingly easy to pop, and when I did, it emitted a strong smell of rotting flesh. This finally got my attention. The next morning Vivian called the clinic.

“It is either MRSA (A flesh-eating bacterial infection), or it is cancer,” was the doctor’s initial assessment when I went to see him.

I felt I especially needed to quickly find out which of these it was, since in a couple of weeks, we were coming up to communion Sunday at our church. As we do it in our church, as the pastor I place a piece of bread in each communicant’s hands when they come forward. I needed to know if it was something contagious. MRSA is a very aggressive infection, and quite communicable. If it was this, I of course could not serve the communion.

After I had popped the bump, it was now again a flattish mark. It became a rather nasty looking sore on my arm that was not showing signs of healing. The final word from the doctor was that it was not MRSA, but cancer.

This made sense to me since it was on my left arm—the arm whose elbow stuck out of the car window in the bright tropical sun as I drove thousands of miles all over Venezuela when visiting our training classes.

“But it is not as bad as it could be,” the doctor told me. “It is not melanoma, but carcinoma.”

Without going into an extensive explanation, basal cell carcinoma can usually be healed. I don’t remember now what they do, but it seems to me he told me that they surgically remove it, and this usually takes care of it.

His nurse made an appointment for me with a dermatologist. However, the earliest that they had an opening was in about two and a half months from the time when they called it in. That would make my appointment right about now.

In the meantime, the mark kept growing. By now it was not a roundish spot, but was growing in length. It did not bleed and it was not healing. It was then some two and a half to three inches long, and seemed to get a little larger every day. I thought by the time my appointment date would roll around, the cancer might have spread quite significantly.

I do not deny that by that time, it had me plenty concerned. I was not so keen about telling everyone about it, however. I did not want the attention. Still, I felt an overwhelming need for someone to pray for it.

“Ask the brothers in Kenya to pray for it,” the Lord seemed to say to me one day as I was thinking about it.

I wrote a text to Joel about it and asked him to tell the church so that they could pray. The following Sunday, when they were all together, they prayed that my arm would be healed.

My spot did not disappear like magic, like when you see a time-lapse film of something going through a change. But the following day, I could tell something had happened. Instead of the raw-flesh-like appearance that it had before, the sore now looked a bit shriveled. I was cautious about being overly hopeful, but it even looked as if there was a healing taking place. No scab formed, it simply began to look better.

On the following day, it looked even better—almost healed. Within two or three days, it was completely healed. I was left with only a tiny whitish scar on my arm, one that is not even noticeable unless I point it out. To see it now, you would laugh at me that I was concerned at all about it.

I canceled my dermatologist appointment. What would she look at? There was nothing there! She would tell me to just go home.

I decided to use the money that I would have spent visiting the dermatologist and to instead go to Kenya to tell the Log Church about it.

In a few days, I believe I will have that opportunity.

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