Day 10 got off to a leisurely start with a late breakfast at 9am. It is difficult to sleep in here though because the roosters start cock-a-doodle-dooing from 6am. This chorus is added to by the local dogs and donkeys to diffuse the need for any alarm clock! The far guesthouse awoke to a crisis with the whole kitchen flooded as they had left their water tap to their tank turned on the previous evening when there had been no water. Sometime in the early morning the water began to flow again and when it filled the tank it started to fill the kitchen floor! Ah well, at least it got them out of their beds in good time for church! We made it to the church around 10.20am. There were already over 100 people there as the singers were practicing songs. I could sense the Spirit of God in the room as people sang words of praise to Jesus - i knew we were in for a treat! The service began at 10.30 with a time of worship and then we were formally welcomed to the service. I had to get up and introduce the team and took the opportunity to say a few words of thanks to the community for making us feel so welcome. More worship followed and then Stephen preached from Psalm 91 about the safety of God in the shadow of his wings - very relevant for a community feeling much insecurity in recent times. Yet more singing and dancing followed, some of which was led by the choir of the local girls secondary school where we had been building. The only instrument present was a drum and voices and yet the volume was amazing! The songs were very simple and repetitive songs that were sung by even the youngest worshippers there. I didn't understand one word of the songs and yet i came away 2 1/2 hours later, sure that i had worshipped the King of Kings. What a privilege it was to be there.
In the afternoon we had been challenged to a football match by the local team! We had 7 willing players that was made up to 11 by 4 locals. We made our way down to the local stadium (!) that was nothing more than a clearing of dirt with football posts at either end. It was far from level with pot holes and bumps abounding! Thankfully the sun was not shining and with a 60 minute match ahead we did not have a great deal of confidence! We got off to a great start with Stoddart making a break and scoring the first goal for the Tuum Builders after 3 minutes! There must have been at least a couple of hundred locals from the village down to watch the Big Match Live which i think gave us the motivation to go on and win 2-1! We were all in need of a lung transplant by the end of the game but delighted none the less! We had lined up a traditional Kenyan 'goat roast' for the evening which meant that 3 goats were on borrowed time. Some of our team were very keen to be involved in the killing process - needless to say i was not up for it! Indeed i wasn't too sure if, when it came to the crunch, any of the boys could go through with it - but i was wrong! Watsy, Gareth and Jamie did not chicken out on what was a very nauseous act to witness. It made me very grateful for Tescos just around the corner at home! The fire for the roast was started in the traditional way with too sticks and before long the meat was cooking on a metal grill placed over an open fire. My conclusion on roast goat is that it is very tasty when cooked well. The first taste i had was a little on the rare side for me! A fantastic experience for everyone though and a community occasion that was attended by over one hundred of the locals!
Some great conversations with the guys have developed following the evening spent hearing the stories of Stephen and Angelina. The guys have been challenged about eternity and faith but seem to struggle with accepting that God's grace is sufficient to cover all the mistakes we make - past, present and future. Please keep on praying.
Today was day 11 and Stephen and Angelina had arranged a guide to take us up the nearby Mt Nero. Tuum lies 4500ft above sea level and the summit of Nero is 9000ft. Not all of the team felt able for the challenge but there were 6 of us who made it to the top! It was a bleary eyed 7am start in the cool of the day on a climb that we were told would take us 2 hours to the top! 4 hours later (!) we finally reached the top on what was the most challenging climb of any of our lives! We were all exhausted but the views over the valley were spectacular! We eat a pack lunch and then took a walk along the ridge of the mountain for another hour before starting the hairy descent via another path. This was extremely steep with loose footing and so it took us another 3 hours to reach Tuum again - an 8 hour expedition in all. Surely that must be at least a Silver Duke of Edinburgh! I am currently in a lot of pain but it was definitely worth it and despite much moaning along the way i believe the guys all felt they had achieved something today!
Tonight is our last night in Tuum. We will depart at 5am to make an 10 hour journey to a National Park where we will take a safari trip on Wednesday. My hope is that i will see elephants and lions - that would make me happy! Pray for us as we travel as the roads can be treacherous!
By the way, i am posting by e-mail at present and so will be unable to publish any comments until i get home on Friday evening!