June 8th, 2011

June 8th
Wow, today was an amazing day.  Baptisms, Singing, Dirty Rivers, Small Hikes, Bacon for brekky, cashews at night.  Shoot, even a “white girl” was baptized, but I will get to that in a minute.  Right now the focus is on the Shikusa Boys.

Today is the day where we get to be a part of the baptism of ~50 boys at the Shikusa Boys Detention Center.  Now, I have been to Shikusa a couple times in the past, once for an introduction and once for a Christmas Party that the Kakamega PEFA Church Youth gave them.  The status there is at present a good one, at least while recognizing that those kids are in jail and unable to leave.  In prior years, before I ever visited, it was not such a pleasant place.  Horrid living conditions, kids were always sick, bad food, … Actually, it was probably as bad as what most westerners would envision an African detention camp.  Like most jails throughout the world it generally encourages the youth to continue committing infractions because they know nothing else and don’t learn anything while in jail –  and yes, that is a very general yet condemning statement that I shan’t attempt to prove.  Dr. George Matimbai (I’m not sure on the spelling of his last name) came across Shikusa through his own dealings with some of the boys there in a story that I shall not relate here as it may be private and I haven’t asked permission.  Anyways, Dr. George visited the compound, saw the dismal conditions and decided that he needed to help them.  He is now a member of their board and has been instrumental in revitalizing the compound into more of a Juvenile Re-Education Center.  By Re-education I mean that most of those boys have learned few good things in their lives and while they are forced to spend 1-2 years in this compound they now have the opportunity to learn a variety of skills such as construction, sewing, upholstery, carpentry, …  Something to at least make it worthwhile to earn an honest living.  In addition to the physical help they receive there, many of the staff are Christians and the boys receive spiritual assistance there as well, as such many of the boys have chosen to follow the Lord.  They even pick spiritual leaders amongst themselves to lead small groups and such.  It is that reason that we are here today, to baptize many of those who have committed to follow the Lord.

But first, a few pictures!

 Here we are meeting one Shikusa head, I believe his name was Joseph.  A real nice, friendly gent.

The boys depicted here are constructing a house, for school as well as for use obviously.

This was great.  Right next to the house that the boys were building lay a large pile of rocks that will be used at some point in the building process I assume.  But crawling all over the rocks were baby goats, enjoyed the themselves quite thoroughly.  As my wife would say, “Adorable!”
The above boys are working on there schooling.  Essentially their goal is to be able to pass the High School / SAT equivalent tests with good scores which may allow them to enter college.

One of their sleeping houses.  The boys lay out their mats at night, and clean them up in the morning.  This makes for a clean sleeping arrangement, no places for rats, or bugs or whatever to hide, bite, and make the boys sick.

Here is another house that has some beds for the boys.  I do not recall if they were made on the compound or offsite.  I seem to remember them saying that they were welded onsite, but I don’t recall seeing a welder around.

 Carpentry Class!

During the pre-baptism ceremony, where Richard and Simeon were preaching – talking really – to the boys about baptism and their own experiences (both having been converted while confined in a Jail!) I felt a tap on my knee and looked over to see Heather with tears in her eyes, and she told me – to my utter astonishment due to the surroundings – that she wanted to get baptized.  “Today?” I whispered.  With her affirmation I turned to Richard next to me (Simeon was talking) and asked if they would baptize Heather.  I believe his response was “Sure, if she wants too” and then both he and Valerie looked at Heather and their faces turned from a quizzical look to an “oh, wow, umm, okay, great!” look.  Not a facial expression you could fake.  😉  So after a pre-baptism talk and some worship, we all walked about 1 mile on a trail down to the river that I shall call the Shikusa river.  Though in reality I guess the river didn’t have a name, no one knew what to call it.  I guess the locals just call it the river cause there is only one and they don’t go elsewhere. 

Here is worship time with the boys, pre-baptism.  
They were rocking and a jiving!  
Walking down to the river

Beautiful countryside.  We are carrying towels and shirts for the boys.

At the baptism site the water looks utterly delightful, and by delightful I mean completely dirty.  They weren’t sure if they wanted Heather to get baptized here or not due to the possible contamination in the water, like cow feces. 

Some of the boys were really scared about going underwater, many of them don’t know how to swim.

Long line of boys to enter the water with us wazungu looking on.  We would towel them, anoint them and pray for them as they came out.

Praying and anointing post-baptism.
And last but not least, out of the water came the white girl!  
My lovely wife Heather, or as the kenyan’s say: Heatha’. 

After all the baptism stuff was done, we hiked back to the compound and met Bishop Simeon on the way there.  We gave a post-baptism service where we each presented some gifts to the boys, Heather and I presented socks to the counseling department.  We then proceeded to eat a late lunch with the guards, which was quite delicious!  An excellent lunch, ugali, meat, fruit, japati (fresh tortillas); very standard fare but always excellent and we were all quite pleased to see it. 

On the way home we dropped by Nakumatt for some minor dinner fixings, I bought some yogurt and cashews.  We brought all our goods together into Kathy and Cindi’s room for a hodgepodge of a dinner.  Mango slices, someone made noodle soup on the stove, avocado, nuts, yogurt, … like I said, a hodgepodge.
And that was a good, long day!