Extracts from letters from Rev. Dr. Peter Ensor on his return to Kenya as a mission partner, appointed to Kenya Methodist University. Meru, as a New Testament tutor.
This morning I went for a long walk, exploring a track away from the tarmac road which leads from near the university to the Meru-Isiolo Road in the direction of Mt. Kenya. I returned via the tarmac road through Kaaga, and at a market I came across bought some very large avocado pears for the equivalent of 14p each and some oranges for the equivalent of 7p each (at another place on a previous occasion I bought 14 bananas for the equivalent of 28p!) - how about that for good value?
Last Sunday I had an amazing experience. I normally see baboons on my daily walks around the perimeter of the university, but last Sunday I saw a herd of at least 7 elephants feeding on the edge of the forest which borders on one side of the campus. At one point I got to within about 10 yards of one - yet was still safe, being separated from it by an electrified fence and thick hedge. Apparently these visits are not uncommon.
This week I have been reminded again of African ways of doing things which are foreign to ours. For example, I was given just one day's notice of a departmental meeting summoned mainly to discuss our draft exam questions. When it met, it lasted much longer than I expected, about 6 hours (including a lunch break), and so prevented me from delivering some of my lectures (about which I was not able to forewarn the students). Moreover the whole meeting seemed to me to be unnecessary in any case.
On Wednesday I had a long dental appointment in Meru Town with Dr. Mwiti, the dentist who is also a local preacher. He was mainly preparing some teeth for a multiple crown (which will hopefully be ready in about 3 weeks time), but also fixed back the crown which had come off. Unfortunately it came off again 2 days later (for the third time in recent weeks) and I am hoping to see him again about this. The following week my dentist in Meru recemented the crown on my tooth, and so far at least it has stayed in place. On the same visit to Meru Town, I had my first haircut since my arrival. It cost the equivalent of 70p!
I received my first invitation to preach today. It came through one of my students from his home church, which is less than 2 miles away. My student and I started walking along rough paths and tracks to the Runogone Methodist church at 7.30am. on Sunday morning. On the way he asked me if I would preach at a second service in another church later in the morning, which I accepted. When we arrived at Runogone we called at the superintendent's manse which is next to the church. Just a few minutes before the English service was due to begin at 8.30am, the superintendent asked my student to be the worship leader, which he readily accepted to do, though he had done no preparation. The service started about 30 mins late, and people kept coming in as the service progressed. There must have been about 30 adults present by the time it ended at 10.30am. They normally get more for the Kimeru service later in the morning, I was told. I preached from the lectionary reading of Exodus 32 about casting away our idols. After the service we were given a cup of tea and piece of bread in the vestry, and then started to walk along other paths and tracks to the second church, about 1 mile distant.
This congregation is only about 6 months old, I was told, but already has about 90 people on its community roll. They worship under a flimsy structure of poles and plastic sheeting, with one side completely open to the elements. We joined the service while it was already in progress, and after many items of worship (including the auctioning of potatoes, sugar canes, cassava, huge courgettes and other garden produce for church funds) I eventually began my sermon at 1pm. This time I had to be translated into Kimeru (which was done by my student), but I kept it short and we finished the service at 1.30pm. Afterwards we were given a lunch of rice, beans and tea, and were then taken back to KEMU in the car of the church secretary, who is also a local clinical officer.
Extracts from letters home, edited by his father but approved by the author. October 2013
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