Life in Northern Kenya has its challenges. First, it is remote. Really remote. Like a three-day’s drive on difficult, mostly unpaved and pot-hole ridden roads. Like no electricity, the whole house running on solar power. Like collect your water from the rain that comes off the roof. Like no fresh fruits and vegetables unless you grow them yourself, drive them up or have them flown in by plane. Like baking your weekly bread supply, making your own yogurt and making EVERYTHING from scratch because there is no grocery store to buy things from. Like drinking UHT (long shelf-life) milk brought up as a three-month supply from Nairobi because there is none to buy locally. Like having chickens to lay eggs for you or you don’t get eggs. Like no cheese unless you buy it in bulk from the city and freeze it in your solar freezer. Like no ice cream in that same freezer unless you make it yourself or have someone fly it up to you. Like fixing your own car whenever it breaks down because nobody living anywhere nearby knows how to fix a car, because they have likely never driven one, and may have never even ridden in one. Like working hard to learn the tribal language spoken there because nobody speaks English, and very few speak Kiswahili. Like always having a dog around to protect you from lions, leopards and poisonous Black Mamba snakes. It takes special people to live in remote places like these.
This is the life our friends Simon, Chantal and 16-month-old Janaie Martin live in the Hurri Hills in Northern Kenya. They are amazing! They are there with another couple, Brazilians Ange and Eddy Silva, with the mission of church planting among the Gabbra and Borana people who don’t know Christ. Lydia and I had the privilege of spending a week with them in their home in this very remote location, and during our week we had a blast! Yes, you heard me right, a blast! Yes, life there is difficult, but the Martins and the Silvas have learned how to make life great right where they are.
One of the blessings Lydia and I had was bringing them some treats from Nairobi. Now you may think of things like cookies and cake when you think of treats. But no, treats to them are vegetables…any kind of vegetables. Onions, potatoes, tomatoes, cucumbers. And even more of a treat is fresh fruit. Sweet melon, watermelon, apples, kiwi, bananas, and grapes. These are a few of the treats we brought to our friends. They were delighted. The last trip they made after Christmas from Nairobi to the Hurri Hills in their 4×4 took much longer than planned as they had multiple car troubles along the way. Because of this, the produce they packed to last them a few weeks wasn’t looking very good when they arrived back home. It did not last a few weeks as planned.
We were also blessed to be able to deliver Ange and Eddy’s new solar freezer to them. This was a huge blessing! I so enjoyed watching Ange make food that she could freeze and use later. She even made homemade ice cream while we were there for her husband who LOVES ice cream! What a blessing to be a part of delivering this to their home.
A few months ago, there was a long draught in the area where they live. They have three, 1000 gallon water tanks, strategically placed under the down spouts of their gutters so they can catch the rain water they will then live on through the year. In November, they ran out of water for a month. Because of this, they had to ‘borrow’ water, hauling it by hand from Ange and Eddy’s house a quarter mile away. They had to think about every drop they used. If they wanted to wash clothes, Chantal had to really make sure what she washed really needed it. If they needed to take a shower, or give their daughter a bath, they tried not to feel guilty. There was a lot of stress with not having water, when you cannot just go to a local grocery store and buy more drinking water, or call a water truck, because those are only in Nairobi, to come deliver water to you. And when you know you are using your friends’ only supply of water, you feel guilty with every drop you use. Let’s just say, they praised the Lord when it rained in December and their 3 large tanks were full to the brim once again.
So what does ‘just one rooster’ have to do with all of this? While Lydia and I were there, a Black Mamba snake struck and killed their rooster. A Black Mamba kills by injecting a paralyzing venom into its victim, then awaiting it to grow weak enough to eat it. Thankfully the Martins’ night guards heard what happened and were able to kill the snake, preventing it from hurting anyone or anything else. In the morning when we found out what had happened, Simon’s response was, “It was just one rooster…at least those are easy to replace around here. Everyone is trying to sell a rooster, it’s the chickens that are harder to come by.”
But let me back up and explain what has happened over the last fifteen months of life there for them. The Martins have had 4 dogs. The first dog they owned was Moshi. He went up with them in September of 2013, and soon after, a Black Mamba snake killed him. They then got Duke. An AIM AIR flight brought him up for their family’s protection. A lion killed him. Duke valiantly tried to protect his family when the lion came onto their property, but he sustained a bad wound to the neck in the fight. He made it through the night, but lost too much blood to make it beyond the next morning. Then they got Waffles and Pancakes, again for protection. This Christmas, it was Waffles. A lion killed her also. But this time, Waffles was in her kennel with Pancakes when the lion ripped open the cage and pulled her out to kill and eat her. She could not protect the family from the kennel. They believe it was the same lion that killed Duke who is still lingering about. They now have only Pancakes left. Over Christmas, all but one of their chickens died due to disease. So, when the Black Momba snake killed their rooster, Simon’s response was understandable. Did I mention that life in Northern Kenya is difficult?
Please pray for this precious family, and their ministry partners, as they serve the Lord in the Hurri Hills. They both face many challenges in their ministry and daily life, but they persevere because of their love for the Gabbra and Borana people, and their desire for them to come to know Jesus as their savior. Please pray for them as they continue the work they have been called to, and as they process all they have been through in the last year there.