An Echo from Kenya's East Coast

An Echo from Kenya's East Coast

Cyprian Taah mhm

At midday on the 18th of April 2017 with the sun shining brightly from a clear blue sky and as the people of the coastal region of Kenya were praying for the long awaited rains, the Mill Hill teams of Sts. Francis Xavier and Josef Freinademetz Malindi and Witu/ Kipini Parishes respectively, gathered for a meeting. They had come together not only to share their successes and challenges of mission but also to pray for rain and to remember in a special way those who participated in sowing the seed of Christianity at the Coast of Kenya. Vivid in our minds was the memory of Br. Brian Thorp the anniversary of whose death had just slipped by. Some of us had met him in person when he was alive. Others never had.

The Malindi team was welcomed heartily upon arrival in Witu. We had lunch together as we introduced ourselves. Both before and after supper on that day, we continued to share and enjoy each other’s company.

The following day, the 19th of April 2017, we left very early for Lamu Island. At about 11:00am, we arrived at Mokowe village, the mainland port to Lamu Island. There we boarded motorboats and headed for Shella, which is at the far end of the Island of Lamu. It was exciting and refreshing to cross on boats to Shella.

After about an hour, we pulled up at the shores of Lamu Island, at Shella. Not more than a hundred and fifty meters from where we disembarked was the grave of Br. Brian Thorp, hidden behind a beautiful wall. Led by Fr. Albert Buijs and Br. Franz Bischof we walked into the smalll grave yard through a narrow door barely one meter wide. As we entered the grave site we were greeted by fresh breeze from the Indian Ocean.

We removed the weeds around the grave before settling down to pray the rosary. Some insects which I could not identify hissed from the overhanging green broad branches of trees next to a house adjacent to the grave yard. These branches and a few other trees on the grave yard that offered us a welcome shade, for the bright sun shine seemed merciless.

When we reached the third glorious mystery, the hissing sounds of the insects blending in the atmosphere above us reached their maximum. After a while, they died down as we drew to the finish. All went well. We had remembered Br. Brian. We posed for photos by the grave side just to remind ourselves of the visit when we returned home.

It was time to go off. We trekked from there to Lamu parish where we had scheduled to celebrate the mass of the day. It was in this same parish where Br. Brian had lived and worked for many years. With the scourging sun overhead everyone arrived there tired from the trek. We all settled down, drank water, rested and regained some strength after a while. The parish priest, Fr. Anthony, welcomed us.

Tony Emeka mhm

Everything for the mass had already been put in place. It was time to remember in celebration another missionary event: the fourth anniversary of the ordination of Fr. Anthony Emeka, mhm. He presided over the Eucharistic celebration and Fr. Albert Buijs mhm concelebrated with him at the altar.

In this celebration, we prayed for the repose of the soul of Br. Brian; for our male and female Mill Hill Missionaries who are in various mission vineyards all over the world, that God may fire them with more zeal to Love and Serve his needy people. It was a memorable celebration in a Church which Br. Brian himself built before he was killed. It was a beautiful celebration.

At about 01:30pm, we assembled in a hotel about five minutes’ walk from the parish. We all had rice for our lunch and each of us drank or carried away half a liter of bottled water. At 03:00pm we set off for the journey back home. The boatmen who had brought us were already roaming around preparing to take us back to the mainland port at Mokowe. We boarded the boats again pleased with what we had been able to do that day.

It was a safe ride across to the mainland with no strong sea waves to battle with. On arrival, the rear right tyre of our Toyota Pickup was flat. The spare tyre had also deflated. The rim of the spare tyre wheel drum had rusted. As these were tubeless tyres it was difficult for us to take them off. The other team had to drive off leaving us behind. I hired two motor bikes and took the two tyres to Mokowe centre. By good luck, I met a skilful young man who did a good job. I managed to get back well in time.

We fitted one of the tyres without delay and took off. The journey went well until about half way when the front right tyre got torn completely. In less than a minute it was flat. We removed it and fitted the spare tyre. Since it was also old and worn almost as badly the one we had removed, we prayed God that we might reach back safely.

To our great relief our prayer granted. By 06:30pm, shortly before night fall, we arrived back in Witu. Tired but relieved. After supper we entered a crucial part of what had brought our two communities together i.e. processing of our experiences. Everyone was given ample time to share how he/she felt called to religious or priestly life; his/her inspiration, the work he/she is currently doing and the joys and challenges of the journey.

It was a moment filled with very touching experiences. Some caused a lot of laughter and others aroused feelings of sympathy. Everyone ended the processing feeling supported and encouraged to accomplish more in our mission areas. We closed this session with a prayer asking God to accompany us in our apostolate. We finished at 10:00pm, well into the evening with every one of us agreeing that we need more of such moments so as to process our experiences, understand each other more and be present to one another better.

The following day at 07:00am, we had morning Mass. Then the Mill Hill team from Malindi departed after breakfast. Each one carried along all these memories to cherish and appreciate. This process meeting was arranged by Br. Franz Bischof and Fr. Ta-ah Cyprian.

Fr. Ta-ah Cyprian mhm.

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