"I have loved you with an everlasting love; I have drawn you in with loving-kindness. I will build you up again and you will be rebuilt...and go out to dance with the joyful." - Jeremiah 31: 3-4

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Malindi #2

It was around seven in the morning when we arrived in Malindi and it was already HOT and HUMID. I was prepared for this but it still surprised me how much I was sweating after standing in one spot for five minutes. The bus ride had been long and I didn’t get much sleep but I was feeling good about being there and excited to get settled in where I would be staying. Martin, a 24 year old Kenyan guy who befriended Nate and Scott during their time in Malindi earlier in the year, came with a tuk-tuk to pick us up and bring us to his home.

We were staying in a place called Maweni, a slum that is within walking distance of the beach. Martin’s family’s home was on the very edge of the slum and a lot nicer than the other houses in the area. It was constructed out of bricks made with coral, which is what most of the buildings are made of in Malindi. It had three bedrooms, a sitting room, a small kitchen and an even smaller washroom. We were greeted by Martin’s 19 year old sister, Sarah, who I would be sharing a room with. She was sweet, friendly and spoke English better than most people I’ve talked to in Kenya. I liked her right away.

After washing with a bucket of water in a tiny room that also served as the toilet (a hole in the ground), I helped Sarah prepare a breakfast of chai and buttered bread. The boys were off washing at Martin’s place, a room that he rents about two minutes away from his parents home, and I thought it might be awkward being alone with Sarah because we had just met twenty minutes ago. I was wrong. She was very talkative and so funny! I had a great time getting to know her and we learned that we share some common interests – Titanic and Celine Dion! She told me how she volunteers with the Kenya Red Cross to keep busy while she is waiting to go to college. She has been out of high school for a few years now but she has to wait for her older sister to finish college before she can go because her family is only able to support one child at a time. She is a bright girl and hopes to someday get her Masters Degree in Communication and become a news anchor. Normally when Kenyans have these dreams, there is little to no hope they will ever achieve them but with Sarah, I think there is actually a possibility that we may see her announcing the news one day. She openly told me that she wants refrain from being idle because many girls have gone into prostitution because they are bored and have nothing to do. “God, did you just open a door for me in the first half hour of being here?! Thank you!” It was yet another confirmation that I was in the right place.

I asked Sarah if she had friends that she knew personally who were in prostitution. “Oh yes! So many! I have many friends in prostitution. They have nothing else to do so they watch pornographic movies and then go out at night and act out what they see in the movies,” she said boldly. “And these girls, they like getting money to have sex with strangers?” I asked her cautiously, not sure where the line would be drawn as far as how much was too much to ask. “They are usually high or drunk. They don’t care. They don’t realize what a gift their virginity is so they just give it away to anyone and then once it’s gone, they don’t see the point in worrying about who they have sex with.” Again, Sarah amazed me with her openness but I knew that these were things that God wanted me to hear so I kept asking question after question about prostitution and the girls involved. She answered every single one of my questions frankly and honestly. I learned a lot about prostitution that morning from my new friend, Sarah, and she even offered to set me up to meet some of the girls the next day.

That first day in Malindi is mostly a blur to me. We were all exhausted and the heat was draining what was left of our energy, but we were so excited to finally be there that it didn’t hold us back from jumping into what we had planned to do. Nate and Scott wanted to visit a friend they had made in January, so we took a tuk-tuk into town and walked to her home. She was sleeping when we got there because she had been up early searching for a job. This was the main reason why we were here. Nate and Scott had taken her out to dinner in January and while they were at the restaurant her boss saw her and thought that she was taking tourists to other hotels for business so she was fired from her job. Her other job was prostitution, but only out of desperation and only with people that she knew, never strangers and she has since stopped. I could tell as soon as I met her that she was a good person. She had a kind and gentle spirit. We only spent a short time with her before we had to go meet another Kenyan woman that the guys promised to visit. We made plans for have lunch at her home on Thursday and said our goodbyes.

After eating a dinner that Sarah had prepared for us, I was given a bucket of water to wash for the second time that day. You sweat so much in Malindi that you could take a shower every two hours and you still wouldn’t feel clean. It felt great to wash some of the dust and grime off of me but I was sweating again before I got into bed. As I was sprawled out on my thin mattress, not wanting any parts of my body touching, I finally had a chance to think and pray. Here I was, sleeping in a strangers home in the slums of Malindi, sweating nonstop, watching spiders the size of my palm crawl on the tin ceiling and I was loving every second! I felt completely at peace and I knew I was where God wanted me. I smiled as I thought of the awesome power He has to guide us into His perfect situations for our lives.

A lot of things clicked in my mind that night before I fell asleep. I began to understand the purpose of God bringing me to Kenya in the first place. I started to realize why He had allowed me to live in sin for years. It was all for His glory, so that I could bring His comfort, compassion and hope to women who may have already given up on finding joy. My heart was overflowing with God's love as I prayed for His guidance for our next day in Malindi. We would be meeting with the group of girls that Sarah was getting together and I had no idea what to expect. Would they open up? Would they think I was judging them? Would they get angry if I asked personal questions? I had never spoken to prostitutes before... but Jesus had and I trusted that He would give me the right words to say.


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