For day three of my series on the “tripidation” to Kenya, the trip that was taken with loads of trepidation, I have chosen HOPE as the inspirational word. I just have a few thoughts to share with you and then I will leave you with some wonderful photos, taken by my Hubby.
When “we” (those of us living in Western affluent societies) go to a place like Dandora, one of the largest slums of Nairobi, we are faced with a palpable situation. From the smells (yes the city dump that resides there really stinks) to the visceral images of dirt and poverty, this way of life is very different. And if you look at it from the perspective of what might seem repulsive to you, then it is hard to grasp. But this is their reality. Yet, I discovered that amidst this, they have a grounded sense of hope. In fact, more hope than many people I have encountered elsewhere, especially those who appear to have more going for them in their lives. But it isn’t about a clean environment, pretty things or a big paycheck, it is about what it all means. Those things are all temporary anyway. So maybe this immense hope is their response, their knowing what the true meaning of life is.
Nothing describes this more than pictures. They tell the story better. It is a story of a community so passionate about having their own spiritual home, their sanctuary, right at the center of it all. Those with barely more than a shilling to spare in a year, raised money to build this new church. Yes, our church home in Santa Monica donated money to help as well. But we are sister churches and that is what you ought to do, help family. And just a reminder that the average income of those in Dandora is $125 per year vs that of Santa Monica which is $73, 649.
The day the new church was dedicated, the archbishop arrived to consecrate it, and everyone, and I mean everyone that could be there was there. The parishioners felt it was such an honor that his eminence would travel to the slums. It might have been the most important day in the lives of the congregation. The heightened emotion was multi layered, but certainly the most prescient was hope that it had all come to fruition.
What was once a piece of land, just dirt, overlooking a mountain of rubbish, became hope incarnate. After worshipping in a tiny ramshackle rusted patio/garage with a couple of make shift benches for over 20 years, they finally had a place that they could call home. Instead of numerous smaller masses in the old church, they looked forward to a spiritual oasis where they could all fit in together to sing, dance and celebrate as one. A break from the harsh realities of their daily struggle.
The photos below show the city dump. In the photo on the left you can see a person (most likely scavenging), a bird and a tractor. In the photo on the right you can just barely make out a roof of a building.
This photo below shows the whole picture. The dump and the new Holy Cross Parish Worship Center named Saint Andre Bessett Church . To the unsuspecting eye it looks like a church on top of a trash dump, but I think it looks like a Phoenix Rising from the ashes! It is an earthy vision of hope, one which I believe the people of Dandora have stored up in their hearts. That of a heavenly hope they long for one day.
Hoping for LOVE,