with divine assistance
Things are going well and Kenya is fun.
I spent the first few days here feeling a bit up and down.
One minute – Wow, I’m in Kenya baby!!! (How exciting!... said like Scott)
Next minute – UuugGGGGHHH, this is impossible.
Next minute – Positive about work and task and staff I work with
Next minute – What are the thinking!!?!?! (other staff at work)
Next minute – Wow, Kenya baby!
Next minute – Return to hotel room and feel a bit lonely and unsettled.
The ups and downs have subsided a lot now that I’m getting to know the situation at work and have moved into a nice apartment with some UN interns. I spent all weekend looking for rooms in shared flats. I wanted to have people I could go home to at the end of the day and chill with. Being alone is not really me, but particularly in Nairobi, where to go out anywhere (especially after dark) it is necessary to get a taxi.
On Saturday night, in desperation, I texted an advert that wanted female flatmates who were committed Christians. Hmmm. Well, I got a nice response saying room was taken, but she had a friend who might have space. I could meet her after church… by the way, did I want to go to church with her.
I thought, no harm in that. I’ve never been to an African church.
So, Anna picked me up on Sunday morning and took me to breakfast and then to her Nairobi Penticostal Church. What a blast! It wasn’t exactly my cup of tea, but a definite cultural experience. It was a couple of thousand Africans on two floors all singing and dancing and waving hands and loud “Amens” being shouted out from excited congregants. Really, it was a lot like on TV, but better. And perhaps what the british evangelicals are aiming at, except it really seems to fit in this culture. Didn’t feel weird at all, like it can do when middle class white brits are trying to imitate it. However, I don’t think its somewhere I’ll be frequenting.
There were bits outside the singing I was less keen on. And some really bizarre bits.
For example, they were just finishing a bible marathon, during which some members were reading the whole bible over a year. They had a quiz in the service sheet with questions about the bible eg.
David said to the Lord “… I have sinned greatly in what I have done… take away the guild of your sevant. I have done a very foolish thing…”. What sin had David committed?
a) he had committed adultery with Bathsheba
b) had counted the fighting men
c) had planned for the death of Uriah in the battle field
d) had eaten bread from the temple
The people who had read all the way through the bible were asked to stand up and others marked there service sheet. The pastor was rather disappointed that nobody got 11 out of 11. Then the best 6 people were summoned up onto the stage / sanctuary. Now, my fear at this point had been it would become a holier than though, I know the bible type of thing… but it wasn’t at all. Nobody was judgemental that people got some questions wrong, or that others hadn’t finished the bible. Up till this point it really had been away of making it a bit of fun and letting the whole congregation share in the experience…. What was really bizarre was the following quick-fire round of questions in order to gain prizes (donated by church members). And we’re not just talking about a bunch or flowers or chocolates… but
1. a laptop
2. a tv
3. a 3 year scholarship to a catering college
Anyway, after church I did indeed meet Anna’s friend, Sihnae, from South Korea. And she had a lovely flat, at a reasonable price, with great flatmates, and more great people living upstairs.
Work is going well too. The NGO (Non-governmental organisation… or charity) where I work has very recently taken on some new staff who have a very positive attitude about bringing accountability, transparency and efficiency to the organisations work. They seem quite excited to have me work with them and seem to appreciate my ideas. The programme officer (number 2 to the boss) insists on calling me Dr Priest, and just yesterday emailed all their collaborators to tell them about how a ‘Senior Officer’ from the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation was working with them. I’m not sure I’ve quite reached that place in the UN pecking order yet (my Terms of Reference describe me as a volunteer).
It worries me slightly that I’m quite enjoying having the authority of the UN behind many of my pronouncements. On certain controversial methods, when I want more weight behind my statements, I sit back on my chair, cross my legs, (if I had a pipe, I’d puff on it gently) and say
“well the position of FAO on this one is that…”
I, of course, only use this when I know that my comments reflect those of my superiors.
Is this the start of a lust for power which will corrupt and destroy my very core? Maybe I should go back to that church…
Also had a sweet meeting with the African interns at the NGO yesterday. They had cle
Oh, forgot to mention that my apartment has a pool. I’m sure those of my friends who lived with me in Sri Lanka will understand the hardship I suffer when there are leaves in it.
Don’t know what I’m doing for Christmas yet.