Kenya 2016 Mission Trip, Post #2

Published October 21, 2016 by David Johnson

Road to Maua: "Karibu" - "Welcome"

When I think of Africa, I visualize hot, desert land with wild animals running around, kind of like what one would see at Walt Disney World's Animal Kingdom exhibit. I was pleasantly surprised to be able to ride in the truck with Elijah, on my journey to Maua, and to discover lush vegetation along the base of Mt. Kenya. Reality was nothing at all like what I visualized Africa to be like.

We left Nairobi at 11:15 AM, after exchanging money and getting drinks and snacks at the local mall. Elijah became my tour guide, explaining all about the landscape and people of Kenya, as we drove the road to Maua. We traveled a two lane road with cars, motorcycles, buses, transport vans, pedestrians, as well as farm animals all along the way. In Kenya, the cars drive on the "wrong" side of the road—oh, wait, I mean the "other side of the road" than how we do it in the United States. I noticed that when cars flash their lights at oncoming vehicles, they are actually trying to get traffic conditions up ahead. A friendly wave means that the traffic is clear, whereas turning on the windshield wipers means there is heavier traffic up ahead.

As we started down the road to Maua, we came to small villages and towns, as well as larger populated areas. Thika is the area where pineapples are grown. Mangos are grown in Muranga. Khat is cut and chewed kind of like tobacco, and may have some medicinal effects on people. Khat is a cash crop in Kenya, where it might be considered a drug in other countries.

We drove beside pineapple groves, mango trees, rice plantations, coffee farms, pumpkin patches, banana trees, field potatoes, eucalyptus trees, greenhouses filled with vegetables, flowers, and fruits for export, wheat fields, watermelon fields, pine trees, not to mention street vendors selling all sorts of fruits and vegetables along the way. We also drove beside cattle, sheep, donkeys, goats, elephants, monkeys, chickens—wait, did I say elephants and monkeys? There were elephant crossings at the base of Mt. Kenya, where we saw a herd of elephants wandering in the forest. We visited a treehouse cafe that had monkeys climbing all over the trees as we ate lunch together as a group.

We drove beside boys playing soccer, men playing games at a table, girls in uniform walking home from school, ladies carrying bamboo on their backs, motorcyclists with 3 passengers on the motorcycle, transport carriers with up to 20 people in their vans, men leading donkeys down the road pulling their carts and loads of hay, men pushing bicycles up the hill, cows grazing by the side of the road, carcasses hanging in the butchery windows, donkeys either fighting or playing on the side, shepherds walking their flocks by day, using short sticks to prod the cows, sheep, and goats along the way.

Cars were passing motorcycles, while oncoming traffic was headed their way. It was a seven-hour continuous drive of playing "chicken" with oncoming vehicles! There were no street lights along the highway, so once the sun went down, stars would come out at night and one could easily see the oncoming vehicles up ahead.

All of this reminds me of the old hymn, "This is my Father's world" as I encountered beauty and majesty of the land I was traveling through. The dry, arid lands that showed up as we circled around Mount Kenya reminded me of West Texas or Arizona because of the cactus and what could probably be passed off as mesquite bushes. Timau County was at a much higher elevation and the area was a good bit cooler. This area was home to sheep with merino wool, with greenhouses on either side of the road, filled with roses for export. Water-catch systems were used for the dry season. We finally made it to Maua town, with its majestic mountains on both sides, to arrive after dark to our destination for the week.

Yes, the road to Maua was spectacular, and yet, I believe it is just the beginning of the journey for what God has planned for the Sodzo International mission team, as we prepare to go to "the farm" to interact with the boys. The people of Kenya that I've come in contact with are inviting, friendly people and I can't wait to see how God will use me to minister to the Kenyans this week.

David Johnson grew up at South Main. He is married to Susan Johnson and the son of Anne Johnson, and has three daughters and two grandchildren. He works in the SMBC Broadcast Ministry and serves on the SMBC Building Committee.