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Watsonopolis is a place where the Watson family posts their writing, reflections, images and videos.

Most of the stuff we post are our own thoughts, wonderings, and stories that emerge from our lives, our living, the world around us and the world within us.

You'll find us reflecting on our travels, our faith, justice, and what it means for us to live well in 21st century America. 

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« To Kenya & Back, pt. 2 | Main | Christmas in Memphis »
Friday
Jan092009

To Kenya & Back, pt. 1

The blogs have been skinny recently due primarily to a flurry of holiday activity which included a 10 day trip for me (matthew) to Kenya.  I along with 5 roughneck boys went to Kenya and served at an orphanage called 'The Haven, that one of the members of Living Hope established about 3 years ago.  It was an amazing trip for me and my first trip back to Africa since we left Nigeria nearly 2 years ago.  

The purpose of the trip was to serve alongside the Kenyan staff of the orphanage in facilitating a camp experience for the children who live at The Haven and a neighboring orphanage about an hour away.  Also, I think a few of the neighbor kids popped in to have a good time with us as well.  

I traveled with Alan, who along with his wife are co-founders of The Haven and who fled the country a year ago following post-election violence in Kenya.  Also with us was J.R. our young adult pastor and 3 young men; Jimmy "Hot Rod", John "One Liner" and Ben "I wanna be Martin Scorsese".  In other words, an all around happening bunch of guys.  

Call me stereortyping, but orphanage work isn't something i typically think of a bunch of 20-30something males engaging in, but here we were.  Departing Memphis the day after Christmas and looking forward to what lay ahead.  After a day long delay in Atlanta we were on our way to Kenya via Lagos, Nigeria of all places.  

Honestly, there are so many stories to tell and pictures to show, and I don't want to be THAT guy that bores you with a slideshow.  But let me start this way...

The flight from Atlanta was a swirl of emotions for me.  We were heading to Nigeria first then on to Kenya.  Consequently the plane was full of Nigerians, loud ones.  Not unlike the ones we lived with in Jos, and that live on our street across from 'De Benjamins'.  Without going into details, the way in which the Watsons left Nigeria was difficult and in some ways, if we're not careful, could taint much of our memory of that special place and time.  So, to be headed back there, with this band of brothers from Memphis, on this plane, in this way...it was, at times, overwhelming.  So much was familiar and attractive, and at the same time strange and frustrating.  Like being pulled down a memory lane that you want to go down, but unsure if your ready.  

I found myself in the back of the plane with some of the Nigerian men drinking rum and coke and talking about the electricity problems of Africa, laughing about the ridicularity of it all.  I enjoyed it.  And was scared of it.  And was glad to be back around Nigerians.  

Our layover was in Lagos.  An airport that I've never been to.  Nothing in Nigeria is easy.  And International Airports all the more.  Nevertheless, we found favor with an immigration officer who walked us through the process, through the security, out of one terminal, over to another and to our departing gate.  As we walked, I discovered he was from an area north of where I once lived in Jos.  I spoke Hausa to him. He grinned.  We talked about pounded yam, egusi and other dishes i knew he would have eaten over the holidays.  He laughed.  And once at our gate, he shook all of our hands, wished us Godspeed and left. Without asking for anything in return.  

And then we were on to Kenya.

Reader Comments (1)

What a fabulous picture of you in Kenya. I can't imagine how truly beautiful that must be in person. I am glad your trip was a success and I look forward to hearing more about it.

January 9, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterSusan

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