December 2008

A brief business trip to Kenya, and a chance to catch up with Fr Joe Kengah.

Flying south to Nairobi, if the timing is right you see the sun rise behind Mount Kenya. Today we got a great view.

Down the Mombasa highway into/out of Nairobi, various birds roost in the acacia trees. My driver, Kimathia, stopped to let me take pictures. The Marabou Stork is claimed to be the ugliest bird in Kenya (it also has the largest wingspan of any landbird according to Wikipedia, shared with the .

Another tree dweller

And more

Their residence on the central reservation

A colony of Sacred Ibis

Hiding among the thorns.

I then flew down to Mombasa, where Fr Joe met me, and after dinner we drove via the Likoni Ferry to the Sacred Heart Sisters' place on Shelly Beach. We stayed in this guest house.

The view from the bottom of the garden

The view south.

We got stuck behind this bus (and sofa) heading south to Ukunda.

Fruit Stall in Ukunda

Off the tarmac road, heading into Joe's parish

Using the GPS over 24 hours we created a map of the parish - at least, of the roads we travelled (shown in red) and others gleaned from satellite photos (shown in yellow). They're all sand - there are no tarmac roads in the parish. The churches are shown with a "church" icon, the flags are other named places that you might find on Google Maps etc. There is a seventh church, somewhere near Mvuleni, but we didn't have time to get there.

The old church at Mwapala...

...inside (in 2007)...

...and the new one being built next door

It's nearly there!

Having picked up some youngsters at Mwapala we headed into the bush to a homestead where Joe was to conduct a funeral. In a clearing in the trees we gathered, with excellent African music...

Gathered around the coffin, the whole community - Christians, Muslims, all together.

The ladies on the hillside

Lowering the coffin into its prepared resting place was a team effort

The singing continued, accompanied only by the percussion of a bucket, a stick, and a hand.

All the men muck in to fill the grave.

People set out for home - many will not get there before nightfall in 2 hours' time.

The ladies in their colourful attire.

A shop at Shimba Hills

Next morning - the church at Mivumoni (Joe's "home" church) - this is the roof that needs replacing.

The glass needs replacing too

The fabric may need some renovation, but the church is full of people and full of life.

Fr Joe reads the Gospel

Fr Joe introduces Sam and Mark, brothers who are here for Christmas (Sam spent part of his gap year here)

The church is pretty full of people

The Offertory - the bag contains food - so obvious, but it doesn't happen in the symbolic west

Percussion - the only instruments

Joe blesses water for a parishioner

Fr Joe introdcues a new member of one of the two groups of religious sisters in the parish (St Joeph's and Franciscans)

The choir shares the sole hymn book

One of the sisters with another form of percussion.

After Mass, time to go home: either on foot or by bike

Many people gather in groups to chat

Various study groups assemble - these are the older ones

The Sunday School children

Another study group, in the shade of a tree

"Ladies of the Parish" in front of the church

We took some of the youngsters, including Sam and Mark, to the Msambweni turn. They were to walk to 14km to the hospital there to visit the sick.

Shimba Hills Church (pictures from 2007, we didn't stop this time, though we drove past twice)

The congregation at Majimboni church, waiting to celebrate their thanksgiving Mass.

We left Fr Camal (?) to celebrate Mass and Joe took me to see two further outstations. This is Msulma.

The church is on top of a hill, overlooking Shimba Hills National Park.

Dima church is rather basic, and doubles as a nursery school.

The congregaton were a little surprised to see Joe.

This one needs a new roof too really.

FDima church from the outside.

Back at Majimboni, people shelter from the heat of the sun under the eaves.

We shared their thanksgiving meal - goat pilau, with goat's intenstines as special treat!

The ladies eat their meal.

One of the parishioners was keen to have his picture taken.

Leaving Majimboni

Waving us goodbye.