In the van again, now speeding along the Nairobi highway. They drive on the wrong side of the road in Kenya, and cars, vans, and trucks whiz past my passenger side window.
Eventually, we turn off the high way and begin bumping along a rural dirt road. My arm is propped in the open window, and my chin is resting on my hand. Leaning as I am, it’s easy to raise my hand and wave to people; men, women, and children gazing curiously at a white van containing three mizungus and two Kenyans.
We drive and drive, weaving back and forth across the road to avoid the deepest potholes and the widest ditches. Motorcycles and bikes zip past us, and we all maneuver our way through the occasional flock of sheep or cows that meander across the road.
We once again turn off the road, this time onto an even smaller path, meant more for bikes than anything bigger. From next to me, a national volunteer calls out directions to our leader, chuckling gleefully as she teases him about forgetting where we are going.
And then we’re pulling into the open space in front of a small mud hut. The outsides of the building are smoothed over with dark brown mud, and a tin roof sits easily on top of the whole structure.
We grab our Bibles and a bag of food and scramble down from the van.
It takes a moment for our eyes to adjust, and then we can make out the inside of the house. Three chairs, a low-slung couch, a little table in the middle of it all. Sitting in the middle of the couch is a small woman, a plastic baggy containing her medications and a cup of water propped on the couch next to her.
We shake hands, exchanging greetings in English, Swahili, Luo, and then take our places. Our leader checks in with her about her medications; How are you feeling? Are you taking the pills? Have you been to the clinic?
And then, business accomplished, I brought you some visitors. He glances over at Anna and I, maybe they will introduce themselves. It’s short and we take turns; I’m Natalie. I go to school in Chicago. The woman on the couch nods in understanding as our translator (who also functions as our GPS) explains what we are saying. Then, at our leader’s encouragement, we open up our Bibles to share.
This is why we’re here. To share. To encourage. To build up. To walk alongside.
Anna reads from Isaiah, and then we sit quietly while the translator reads the passage over again, this time in Luo. A couple more encouraging words, an explanation, a question answered, and then we bow our heads. It’s my turn to pray.
Pray for health, thank God for healing already accomplished. Ask for mercy, thank Him for grace. Beg for wisdom, thank Him for provision, family, support, encouragement.
And then, Amen, and we must be going. Shake hands, God Bless You, God Bless You, and back out into the hot sun. Back into the van, back to the road, to another visit, another individual, another encouragement, because the Word of God is encouragement and hope to them, and encouragement and hope to us.