It is the aroma that most easily transports me back to Kenya - to Oltiasika and Lemasusu in particular. Even as I type this blog, having taken pictures of the gourd for the 365Project photograph. the distinctive smell of burned wood lingers on my hands.
Gourds are milk containers among the Maasai and are sterilized with a particular wood that is burned inside them. Women decorate the leather straps with beads and designs to make them attractive as well as functional.
When the Reverend Naftaly Lemooke stayed with me, during his studies in Belfast, I often kept milk in this container so that the chai would have the flavour of "home" for him! The memories that this little foot long item holds for me are many and beautiful.
My life is surrounded with Kenyan memories.
Every day this beaded watch strap with its two Kenyan flags is put on my wrist. The lady who made it was the one who sold it to me so it also helps to remind me of "Pamoja" - "working together with a common purpose". (That was the team name that we used for our time of partnership with the church in Kajiado Diocese.)
A Maasai drum hangs on the dining room wall at the rectory - and this brings back memories of church services where, to the rhythmic beating of the drum, the children (and others) executed the most intricate of dances and songs.
Even the goat skin is a reminder of the hospitality that we experienced wherever we went. When the work was almost completed on the building that we'd been working at the folk in Lemasusu killed a goat for a celebratory meal.
So, why am I reflecting on Kenya and bringing up GoogleEarth to look again at the maps?
The answer is a simple one really.
Early this morning one of the families from Saint Nicholas' headed out to join our partners in Kajiado Diocese. After months of preparation and fund raising (bag packing and a dance) Gary and Patricia and their sons Patrick, Richard and Connor have gone to work for a short time during their summer holiday.
Both parents are medics so will use their skills to teach others and will experience some days out with the mobile clinic for which we were raising money. The vehicle is there, equipped and staffed, but it takes about £100 per day to put it on the "road". For many Maasai this is the only medical help that is available at almost no cost and it provides not only treatment but also advice, counselling, testing and a whole range of other services that we in the UK take for granted.
The boys will spend time working with the Maasai Rural Training Centre and also do some building and school maintenance work. I know that our mission partners, Ronnie and Maggie, have lined up many interesting trips and experiences for them all. It brought back so many memories as we talked about the need for long trousers for the boys when they're working, and how that Patricia will wear skirts in circumstances where in this country it would be unthinkable! The partnership with the church in Kenya has been established over many decades, and there is a good understanding of things that might cause offence, so folk going to work with the church are well prepared. I hope they get a chance to go out to Oltiasika for a night or two. I wish I were going with them! The smell of the gourd on my hands is making me "homesick for Kenya"!
who called your Church to witness
that you were in Christ reconciling the world to yourself:
Help us to proclaim the good news of your love,
that all who hear it may be drawn to you;
through him who was lifted up on the cross,
and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and for ever. Amen.
Book of Common Prayer.
Collect for Mission.