Updated: Apr 12, 2022
GUARDIANS OF THE VISITATION MISSION TRIP TO KENYA began on October 18, 2021. I traveled from New York to Nairobi where I was greeted at the airport by the SSV Sisters. Sr. Leontine, SSV and Sr. Regineide, Regional Superior each presented me with flowers from the garden and collected me and with my luggage to travel to the the SSV Formation House in the Nairobi suburb of Karen. Even though the hour was very late, I was greeted with joyful song in Swahili by the thirty four Sisters, Postulants, and Aspirants. The warmth of this greeting I could not have anticipated nor will I ever forget. Thus began my mission to come and see the life of the SSV mission work in Kenya.
Before leaving the SSV Formation House to travel to O Moran I was blessed to accompany the Sisters in their Sunday apostolate of home visits to the sick in Kibera. It was an honor to visit families, to sit in the one room home of a grandma caring for her disabled grandchild who cannot walk or sit or speak but whose face is animated with understanding and watch her tenderly adjust his position on the small couch where he spends his young life. I felt complete and sated to have traveled so many miles for the grace of the moments spent in Kibera. In the road the Sisters greeted a young mother who is blind walking alone with her walking stick and bag over her shoulder. She was so very beautiful in her outward appearance and her face lit with a glorious smile when she heard the greeting of the Sisters. They spoke in Swahili and laughed as friends do when they meet each other. I asked Sister Elizabeth to interpret a bit for me and she related the mother was out looking for food for her four children because, as she quoted, "What am I to do if I stay home with her elbow on the table, my children will be hungry. So I get dressed and go out in search of food." The way she smiled and laughed will always stay with me. She was joyful. I could see her interior life in that smile. This is a Proverb 31 woman with faith in God's Providence, motherly industry, and mettle to laugh at the days to come. She stood as straight as her cane, with her chin turned slightly up, tilting her head to listen intently, and smiled a wide, eye-crinkling smile from the light-less-ness of her disability. Have I ever smiled like that?...seemingly unfazed by my burdens. In the space of a few moments chatting in the street a blind woman taught me what is is to be God's faithful daughter. Ten days in the future how many things will God have shown to me? I know I will return to Kibera and for that I am grateful. Mission is many small interior and exterior steps along an unknown path with hope as a walking stick. The example of the blind mother encourages me.
Kenya is very beautiful to see. Traveling with Sr. Monica Gitahi, SSV from Karen to St. Marks Catholic Church was an eight hour trip that took us quickly away from the city on the highway along the rim of the Rift Valley, with stops in Nyahururu to briefly visit the Cathedral of the Diocese, the Catholic Social Apostolate of St. Martin, and Thompsons Falls and again in Sipili for groceries and medicines for the Mission. Sr. Monica also took me to greet the children a a school for deaf children where Sr. Louisa, SSV, with ASL, teaches catechism to the children.
The highway ends after Sipili and the Jeep lurches along brown/orange roads through the savannah for another hour continuing on to OL Moran where we arrive after dark. I will always be very grateful for the beautiful greeting in song of the Sisters and children when we finally arrived safely. The Sisters kept the small ones awake to greet me. Karibu! indeed.