Marian Baker

Board member Marian Baker sends a letter from Africa

Marian Baker is a NH Council of Churches board member and a registered Quaker minister. For the next six months, she’ll ministering in Africa! Please pray for her safe travels and for God to work through her heart, hands and mind.

Here’s an update for you all:

While in Nairobi I got my new smartphone up and working, but to keep my old number on my regular phone, I’ll have to do it in Kakamega.  I left Nairobi on the 8 am bus and travelled all day across Kenya to Webuye (near Lugulu) arriving around 4PM. All the zebras and other wild animals we used to see along the highways seem to have been moved to National Parks, and I noticed a lot of new buildings along the highway.  Edigar, one of Agneta’s sons, met me and helped carry my heavy bags to reach her home before the rain and the dark.

I was warmly welcomed to a home full of grandchildren. Five of her six grandchildren now live at her home. Her one son moved back from Tanzania with wife Patience, and two girls, Marian and Kristen. The two sons of her son who died were here for holidays. (all schools in Kenya closed in late October instead of end of November due to the elections. Edigar’s wife had just given birth to her first born this week. A lot of joy, song, and excited kids. Elkhanah, one of the orphans Agneta raised, who now teaches in Nandi, arrived here with a gallon of buttermilk which all enjoyed feasting on like yogurt.

On Saturday, Agneta and I took a piki (motorcycle) via the rural countryside short cuts to the funeral of Bilhah, (Elizabeth’s sister). Elizabeth was very grateful to see me arrive and Agneta and I were asked to join the funeral procession of the 10 remaining sisters of the family along with the deceased’s children. We sang, danced, and celebrated the life well lived of Bilhah. Bilhah had worked as a nurse and matron of hospitals in many parts of Kenya with many different tribes. When she died suddenly of an aneurism and stroke that killed her brain in the States this month, all Kenyans in USA joined together across tribal lines to help get her body back to Kenya. Then the nurses’ union in Kenya helped transport it from Nairobi to the village in Shikoti, Kenya. I joined the sisters and gave a short note of thanks (in Swahili) for the helpful, but too short ministry Bilhah gave in the US. Since she had been active in many churches, bishops from several different churches led the celebration.  Nurses from all over Kenya in their uniforms and with candles led the procession to the gravesite. She was buried next to her favorite mango tree. The rain began to come, so Agneta and I left quickly. We had to stop for shelter twice, and when we reached a rocky, muddy, very slippery downhill slope, we walked the remaining 3 kilometers to Agnetas’ home.

On Sunday, Agneta, Patience and I all went to Shirugu Friends Meeting. Agneta took us around to each of the sessions- Adult service, young kids and older kids Sunday schools to introduce us (an American and a Ugandan, her daughter in law). The rest of the day I rested and drew pictures with the grandkids.

Monday morning, I was greeted with the news on Kenyan radio of more violent shootings in USA. It seems so much more peaceful here, and the two opposing presidential candidates in Kenya have shaken hands, so we are praying that peace will continue.  After the heavy evening rain’s mud had dried, I went on a piki all the way to Elizabeth’s where I unpacked and settled in. Elizabeth had just returned from the funeral, and immediately she was involved in preparing for Alfred, her faithful mechanic’s wedding in the neighboring Catholic church. Here in Kenya, many live together and raise their families (common law), and then when they want to be in leadership in the church, they have their legal wedding. In this village of Ebwambwa, many have had very little education, so as treasurer for the wedding, Elizabeth had to train people how to budget, how to organize the wedding. I was glad I was able to at least help her with frosting the six cakes she’d made for the wedding. Then when the “caterer” turned out to be someone wanting money, not one with catering skills, she ended up as cook for the 200 plus people wedding! Praise God it did not rain on Saturday, the first full day of sun this week. By the time I came back to Kakamega after the weekend at Agneta’s, Elizabeth was exhausted. Agneta came by today on her way back to FTC (Friends Theological College), to encourage Elizabeth.

In between heavy rain storms, the third visit to the local Safaricom (cell phone co.) was successful and I was able to keep my old number on my Kenyan cell phone.  Thus, if any of you need to reach me I can be reached at 796 400 004 (if calling from USA, add 011254 in front).                Good News- Kenya has now banned all use of plastic bags we carry extra cloth bags with us to carry anything we buy each day.  I wish USA would follow suit.

I met with Eileen Malova and Margaret Musalia in Kakamega on the 8th of November to plan out our ministries of this year. Eileen had gone to Uganda several times and Margaret had gone to Tanzania, so we joyfully updated each other. They both send greetings to all my supporters. This week will be spent meeting various people planning out the schedule of activities for the year. This includes visiting FTC to plan our first journey to Uganda with Alfred Wasike, UYM General Secretary, who is studying at FTC.  I’ll also meet with the National Coordinator of Kenyan Friends Sunday School Teachers, visit the Executive of USFWK, and visit with pastors some of the elderly women needing prayers. The full support committee will meet on the 17th.

Thanks for your prayers. They are needed especially during these rainy days when travel is difficult.     Marian