Continued from pilgrimage on the Backroads ... continued 4
Race for Rwanda The Rongo workshop ended on Thursday afternoon, but we were still a long way from home. Our goal was to wrap up all the last activities, photos opps, handing out notes and certificates, closing speeches by 4:30 so that we could grab a matatu and make it to Nairobi by around mid-night. After saying our last goodbyes, we dropped by to see some old friends, Dennis and Mary Okoth, who had so kindly loaned us their car for the week. They gave us a quick tour of their retirement home before giving us a lift to Kisii town where we met up with others heading home to Nairobi from the workshop. Ten of us arranged for a matatu and left for the city by about 7:30. The group dropped us at the Mennonite Guest House about 12:30 a.m. and went on to their drops in different parts of town.
Nancy and I were settling into our room when I discovered that my wallet was missing. Oh, No! Surely we had had enough drama for one trip! I quickly looked up a name and cell phone number on the workshop participants list. Marube had been on the matatu with us, but he and a friend had already dropped and taken a taxi for home. He said, “Hold on, I will call you back.” He immediately directed his taxi driver to follow our matatu. They caught up with it at the next traffic circle in time to see Julianne alighting from the matatu with my wallet in her hand wondering what to do with it. Marube took it from her and ordered the taxi driver back to our guest house, then gave us a call that he was on the way. At 1:00 a. m. he delivered it to us. Thank you, brother and praise the Lord! What a relief! Imagine losing your drivers license, credit cards, $300 dollars and 17,000 Kenya Shillings on public transportation in a big city ... not a nice thought!!
The Mennonite is a quiet old guest house in the middle of a busy city where we have stayed dozens of time over the past 30 years or more. Friday morning was a leisurely break as we re-packed bags we had stored while we traveled out west.
At noon we headed out to the airport a little early to check in to our flight to Rwanda. The check in lady at the Kenya Airways counter said that our bags were over the weight allowance and we would have to pay extra. We made to rearrange and redistribute the weight among our bag and she finally forgave us for being overweight.
But she said our co-worker, Mustapha Sandi, a citizen of Sierra Leone, would have to show proof that he had applied and been approved for a visa for Rwanda. She said even if she checked him in, they would check him at the gate and would not allow him to board. Don’t tell me! I realized that I had forgotten to remind Mustapha to make his visa application online. Now it was too late to do so for this flight. We had him lined up for trainings beginning two days from now. I got on the phone to Rwanda and asked Charles, our administrative assistant, to call immigration and see what he could do. He said he would need a letter of invitation and that he would need 72 hours for a response from immigration. What to do now ...? Finally the agent checked Mustapha in when I said I would get on the internet and make the visa application. I was on the phone so Nancy picked up our passports, boarding passes and luggage tags.
As we looked for an internet cafe in the ground-level concourse a person of peace ‘happened’ by. She was also a staff person with RwandAir and seeing our anxious faces asked if there was anything she could do to help us. Mustapha explained his situation and she immediately called a contact in the Rwanda Embassy in Nairobi, who told her that if Mustapha had visited Rwanda before and possessed a letter of invitation, that he would likely be granted a Rwanda visa at the Kigali airport. Our person of peace encouraged us not to worry. But ... I was still worried because I had not done something I should have done and thus could jeopardize the mission.
I looked around the airport and couldn’t find a way to get online. We checked through immigration and went upstairs to a coffee house where I sat down and quickly typed out an invitation letter addressed to Mustapha as I intermittently talked with Charles, answering questions and trying to come up with a solution. Charles advised letting Mustapha stay in Nairobi for a few days until we could work on obtaining a visa but on such short notice I couldn’t think of a way to do that. With the invitation letter on a thumb drive I went into an internet cafe to see if I could get it printed, but they wouldn’t accept my thumb drive for fear of infecting their computers with viruses. Give me a break! I use Apple computers and we don’t have such things as viruses! I was forced to give up on printing out that letter.
Well, I had done all I could. It was time to start settling back and watch the Lord at work. But my flesh, my mind, was still whirring with contingencies, names, contacts, possibilities and ‘what if’s.
It was time to check through security one last time and move through to the boarding area. This would be the test: would they let Mustapha board the flight? To be continued ....