Hello from Matunda! Today we had church, which lasted for about 4 hours but I wouldn't have had it any other way! Eric (Sagala) picked us up from the Tabasamu Hotel (tabasam = smile) and I FINALLY got to see Holy Cross Emmaus Milimani in person! After years and years of being around Holy Cross Phoenix and seeing the continued success of the church and school through photos, stories, etc. I at last was able to be there to see HCEM with my own two eyes - such an exciting and amazing feeling! Anna was there to greet us along with Nancy, another one of the Sagala siblings, and we went in to sit and begin singing. I don't know about anyone else, but singing How Great Thou Art in Kiswahili was AWESOME. The fellowship we were blessed with was incredible and beyond words, so you'll have to wait till photos are posted. Oh, and I apologize for giving false hope of photos and things (for now) since I've been taking them on my phone, but I promise they will be uploaded before we head back home and you'll thoroughly enjoy them - worth the wait!
Pastor Samson Otieno, Henry (a catechism teacher that has graced the congregation with his presence from the ELCK, which I guess you could say is like coming from WELS) and Mike/Pastor Gurath led the service including 3 baptisms by Mike and communion. Kirsten gave the children's message and after the service concluded we all introduced ourselves. Mary and Anna helped share backgrounds of everyone and expressed how truly happy they were to have visitors return and that Pastor Gurath finally found a wife (that's me!). We had little Michael Norman Gurath (he's 3 now) come up to the front and take some photos with his "spiritual mama and baba" and then they proceeded with changing the altar table to a cake-and-soda table. We recreated the cutting of the cake (this "small cake" was 3 tiers) and after the dancing and singing was over we passed out the purple and white cake complete with everyone's personal soda. But wait, there's more! We then handed out stickers from Kirsten's grandma Ida, toys and bookmarks to everyone. The stickers weren't a hit until I took one from shy little Michael N. Gurath's sheet and put it on his hand. He instantly warmed up, other kids started placing them on their foreheads, and by the time I turned around again little Michael had them all over his face. Adorable.
Eric took the van back to the shop, so we just decided to start walking to town and maybe catch a matatu. If you're just joining us, that's a bus that they cram packed full of people and even have riders hanging out the sliding door of the van. So we had a nice walk through to the main drag and waited for one that could MAYBE fit all 8 of us in...wasn't going to happen. Mike finally said we should just take a motor bike (aka piki piki) back to the hotel, so Mary called two of them over and we rode the 5ish minute drive back. Anna gave her musician friend Benard a call after deciding that there was not going to be a matatu that would fit them all, so Benard gave the rest a ride. We had a nice meal at the hotel with everyone (Nancy, Irene, Mary, Anna, Benard, Eric's 2-year-old son Martin, and our team) then went back to our rooms for the night.
Tomorrow we go back and have some time with the school kids at Emmaus Hill School and I believe go to Soy in the afternoon so Mike can make sure everything is set up for the pastoral conference and have a late lunch. Tuesday afternoon we should have dinner at Anna's house, then Wednesday and Thursday are the conference for Mike (aka the girls get to relish in more fellowship!) and we leave for Uganda on Friday, Lord-willing.
The congregation here sends their greetings to all, including tall Shom, Russ aka Masai, Tom with the loud speaker and big stomach, Kate O, Jordan like the river, Pastor Maas, everyone back at Holy Cross Phoenix, and anyone that has visited these last, oh, I don't know, 10 years? They remember everyone and are so grateful for all of the American friends that they have had the pleasure of meeting and working with at the little church and school that could, would, is, and will!
Happy Fourth at home in 'Merica. Looking forward to sharing more from our time at our other home in Matunda.
Bwana Mungu, nashangaa kabisa
Nikitazama kama vilivyo
Nyota, ngurumo, vitu vingi vyote
Viumbwavyo kwa uwezo wako.
Roho yangu na ikuimbie
Jinsi Wewe ulivyo Mkuu,
Roho yangu na ikuimbie
Jinsi Wewe ulivyo Mkuu!