Mercy and How it all Came to Be

Another day, another ridiculous twist of events.  What has transpired today has us both laughing hysterically over the fact so much stress was caused the last couple of weeks for pretty much nothing.  We are constantly in disarray and always exhausted by the lack of ease here.  The lack of consistency or the fact as I mention that no plan is a plan cause nothing makes simple sense.  Well, ironically enough the one time we actually had a plan that we were suppose to count on, we shredded it 100 different ways and basically assumed it would fall through and sabotaged it ourselves.  But one thing we both agree on is SOMEONE higher than us had his own plan and he was going to make sure we followed it.  Where we are now, is so opposite to all I have talked about in two weeks, this is not a slum or a cheap Nairobi hotel or a shanty make shift orphange. We are actually living in the lap of the finest Kenyan luxury and we are stunned and acting like we have never seen a couch or curtains before in our lives.  In just over a couple of weeks we went from middle class Canadians to living a life of struggle and basic needs to being dropped into an eastern Kenyan mansion and we are afraid to touch stuff cause we feel don’t belong. It’s so weird.  Meanwhile back at home this is not even that luxurious but for Africa, this is living with Simon Cowell.  How it all came to be…

Well, when we first arrived in Nairobi back about a million years ago, we met Mercy.  We spent about 10 minutes together in a car with her and her friend Koi.  This and that leads to we have plans to be in Meru on the 27th for a birth kit workshop that she has organized for me at a teenage rape pregnancy rescue center.  Well we exchange numbers and she guarantees that she will come get us in Nairobi on the 27.  No time given, no place given.  Just see you the 27th.   No big deal, we will just be in touch over the next week and all will be straightened out and organized.  Nope.  Doesn’t work like that…. you see fully made organized plans are failed plans in Africa, but plans that are not real plans but suggestive and seem sketchy in nature are the ones that are a 100% guaranteed to be fulfilled and we are just two stupid muzungas that didn’t know that duh! It kind of reminds me of this conversation me and Kendall had that sums it up Africa driving to Meru:

Driver – in Meru there are plenty of vegetables and fruits and he lists all the stuff we will find…. it is eastern coast and they have good soil

Me: oh in Matunda we didn’t have a lot of that.

Driver: oh you will have lots of Matunda….

Me and Kendall:  Huh what we will have not much?

Me: oh you mean fruit (matunda means fruit in swahili)

Driver: yes! you will have watermelon, passion fruit and oranges

Me: oranges wow I haven’t seen any oranges at all that would be nice.

Kendall: what are you talking about there were oranges everywhere in Matunda

Me: what no there were none I would have bought some.

Kendall: they weren’t orange they were green

Me: what those were limes

Kendall: noooo the limes were those tiny tiny green things the oranges were the big green things.

Me: are you freaking joking me the whole time we could have had oranges that I thought were massive limes.

Kendall: yup green oranges.

Me: of course we are in Africa why the hell would an orange be orange now that would just make to much sense and be way to easy.

Kendall: no kidding is this an orange or is this green?

and of course we are exhausted just having that conversation!!!!

So, basically what happens is we make this plan that seems like a plan but when there are no details it’s not really a plan.  Through the week I had emailed Mercy about 5 times and had no response, left messages at the Ripples organization which they kept saying Mercy is not around, and tried calling her cell that was pretty much off every time, we assume there is no plan. Well, we still keep the possibility alive because she said the 27th.  So by the end of our first week in Matunda, and all that we had been through, Kendall is not keen on another village, orphange or any type of charity work.  She is dead set against it and no way no how is she going to meru if the lady happens to call.  Well, I on the other hand really feel that a plan might still be a plan and I say that we have to go if she calls.  Kendall is like nope nope nope.  So it’s the 25th and we had made an agreement to leave that day when we thought we had a meru plan and even though we didn’t we made arrangments to spend a day in nairobi and then go on Safari thursday and made a new plan to have a safari driver pick us up.  I am NOT happy about the safari at all.  I think that safaris are ridiculous and chasing animals though a wide open space for three days while hitting my head on the steel roof from the bumpy roads was not fun and just disturbing the wildness of the animals and really how is that different than walking a zoo.  So her and I are at crossroads.  but the safari is booked.

My phone rings in Nairobi and we are in a tour at the Karen Blixen house and I can’t answer it.  I am sure it’s Mercy and Kendall is not happy and says I’m not going to Meru.  the number is a 233 area code which is Malawi and I am like it can’t be her.  of course I call back and again phone is off.  so nothing no more calls.  I have a heavy weight in my chest like something is not right and we need to go to meru not a safari.  I finally say if Mercy calls I am going to meru myself and you go on safari and she is not happy.  But something kept telling me that I had to be in Meru and I can’t even explain it.

We get up today and we are packing for the safari driver coming at 7:45am. I am clearly disappointed and she just wants t0 get in the safari and know exactly where she is going for the next 4 days and just have a plan.  At this point I have no choice there were no calls and today is the 27th, I am sure we would have heard by now.  Driver comes, and we have to go downtown first to the Safari head office to make our trip payment.  We park, go through some convoluted contraption of a building to the top floor and it’s shady and nasty.  I am NOT happy!  I tell her something feels wrong.  and she just wants to get on safari…  Well, we sit down to pay and because we are using credit card they try to up the fee.  We freak out and they are telling us to go to the bank right now and get the cash.  We can’t even take out that much cash from a machine and we are trying to tell them its not possible.  Well then you pay more… I am furious and we are now scrapping with the entire office.  They think I called them rip off artists (and for some reason people here take offensce to being told they are ripping you off even though clearly they are trying to squeeze you, they just want you to be ignorant to it and can’t stand it if your not!) so finally they say no extra fee and then charge my card in shillings.  I look at the amount, do the conversion and realized they upped the conversion amount by at least 2 points so essentially they took the extra fee. So, I call them out on it, they freak out I am suggesting they are ripping me off and they are mad at me… I am now DONE WITH THIS COUNTRY, I officially lose it…. This is not what we are here for.  we didn’t come to Kenya to take a safari.. this is not where we are suppose to be.. you wanted plans and we had them in Matunda or meru… She is pissed and voila my phone rings…. It’s MERCY!!!! at that moment in that second!  but….. I am stuck, I just paid for Safari and Kendall won’t go to Meru and we are set to go and if I leave her she will kill me.  So I tell Mercy that I tried contacting her and there was never a response and we didn’t know what to do and so we booked a safari and we were at the office paying. She was extremely hurt that I didn’t trust her and said but there is a workshop I have planned for you to teach tomorrow, I have health workers and nurses coming, they are excited about the kits and hearing you talk about childbirth, I made so many arrangements for your visit to Meru.  I am telling her I am so sorry I can’t go.  She did not yell or say a negative word only that she told me she was travelling and was not reachable and that her word was a promise and she thought  mine was too and that the plan was the 27th.  THE PLAN. WE HAD A PLAN?? geeze so confusing and nothing is easy. She asks when we will be back but its too late to make a trip to Meru since we leave Monday.  I am so upset, I hate the safari and I knew we should have trusted her.  She is a prominent women here in Kenya, with a name, substance and not some flake.  She runs a huge organization that has 11,000 children sponsored in Kenya.  I hang up and I am crying.  I need her in my life right now.  I need her experience, her expertise and I need to be in Meru to build a relationship with her to help me with my own sponsorship organization.  I just told her I couldn’t go.  It was done. I lookup at Kendall and I am crying.  But it gets better cause the safari people are so mad at me for questioning there authenticity that they refund all the money in my card unbeknownst to me and so I say why did you refund the money now and the lady is like you didn’t want to pay and Kendall’s like she never said that now what….THAT’S IT!!!!! this was a sign.  I am not going on a safari. I grab my stuff and tell her to go on safari but I am not going and I am going to do something else.  I walk out and leave her there.  I call mercy back and of course phone is off. She is in Malawi with no reception. I am screwed.  So I am in the hallway crying and Kendall comes out and I say what are you doing she’s like I am not going alone and if you want to go to Meru then call Mercy, I tell her I did and that the phone is off. I told Kendall the fact we mistrusted her and she was the one person  we actually should have trust all this time makes me feel so guilty.  That Mercy was clearly disappointed and hurt and I did that to her.  Kendall at that moment has a brilliant idea… Mercy’s friend that was in the car with us that day gave us a business card let’s call her and tell her what happened and how we got all mixed up and maybe she can find Mercy somehow in Malawi. WELL BINGO.  Koi knew that all the plans were made for us in Meru and the Mercy was delayed in Malawi and could not make it today to get us but that a driver had been hired for us and that people were waiting for us in Meru and that she thought we would have tried calling her this week since we knew Mercy was in Malawai (which we didn’t know know but for some reason they thought we knew) SOOOOO after all this nonsense all we could have done was call Koi and voila we would have had a full proof plan in Kenya this entire time!

We take a taxi back to the hotel Koi said she will call me back as she has to contact the driver now since we are going after all and let everyone know.  Three hours later we are in a car with the driver that was already arranged apparently a week ago… there is a game drive arranged for us, a big seminar for me to teach tomorrow, and our rooms made up and events organized.  This plan was legit and the hospitality that was arranged for us is at absolutely NO COST TO US. It was so heartfelt and amazing, that we hated ourselves.  So we think we are on the way to a village to spend another 4 days in a similar environment as Matunda and when we arrive our jaws hit the ground.  A FREAKING MANSION… big iron gates with a guard. our rooms await with private bathrooms, this place is the Taj Mahal of Kenya.  We are touching the big huge awesome sectional couch like we never saw a couch before, we are standing in the bathroom like we never saw one before, there is even a beautiful white dog that looks like a long haired chihuaha all groomed and dainty, we act like a dog is alien to us… the funniest is we look to them like poor mazungas taken out of a village and don’t know how to act.  Well Mercy won’t be back till Saturday as she is delayed in Malawi but she has made all the arrangements for us and we will be looked after and this is her home and to feel very comfortable… there are chandeliers, a fridge a stove and even a water cooler. we are mesmerized!!!!

We then freshen up we get into conversation with the girl that let us in.  Her name is Mercy as well, she is in first year of college. Mercy saved her.  She lived in a Nairobi and as a teenager she had been sponsored by a family from austrailia.  This family randomly picked her and she never met them, they paid for her to go to school.  (Me an Kendall are just like are you serious this is not happening right now this story…) well the man collecting the sponsorship fees was apparently stealing and not giving her all the funds she was entitled to get.  She never knew the total amount it was never disclosed and all she knew was that she was able to go to school and that was enough.  But the family had sent money for her father to fix their house, for new uniforms, for medical bills (her father had been in a serious accident and bed ridden, her mother took off when she was small and never came back)  well this family one day decided t0 come to Kenya,  they had been sponsoring her her since grade 7 and she was now in grade 11 they had never met only exchanged letters.  they show up and they realize they had been cheated of most of the money that man had been keeping for himself.  They cut off the sponsorship and this girl had to quit school.  Essentially by cutting off the man they took the one thing away that to her was saving her life.  As this girl is telling this story, you can guess what i am doing.  YUP CRYING!!!!! right in front of her.  So she continues that she ended up not being able to finish grade 12 and gets a job as a waitress in a low quality hotel and worked 12-15 hours a day really hard.  Her plan was to work on getting promoted and making money.  She stressed over and over how hard she worked.  One day Mercy walked in and asked her why a girl like her was working there and not in school.  She said that Mercy coming in there was so random and that the place was not of Mercy’s quality.  The it was to low class.  Mercy had tea and through conversation gave the young girl her card and asked her to call her.  The girl threw the card away.  A few weeks later Mercy shows up again orders tea and said to the girl I asked you to call me why have you not called?  The young girl is telling us she didn’t know Mercy or why Mercy took such an interest in her.  But within a few months Mercy took the girl to Meru never asked one thing of her brought her to her home paid for her education and gave her all the luxuries she could and has never asked for a thing and she now calls Mercy her mother.  Now, with this story we hear of a few more of Mercy’s generosity in the community.  I am blown away…. WE WERE MENT TO BE IN MERU and I can’t wait to see how the next 4 days work out…. but for some reason I believe Mercy was at the hotel that day for a reason, that we were meant to meet. Mercy many years ago left her job with the United nations, her and her husband sold everything they owned to fund kids through school and now 10 years later has 11,ooo kids sponsored and has won numerous awards internationally and in Kenya for her charity work.  This was meant to come into my life. Mercy’s sister had come to eat dinner with us and to guide us on our day for tomorrow and we talked alot about my plans for raising up a village and school kids and kibera and her words were WOW I think my sister Mercy was sent by GOD to you.  the funny thing is that the weight I had about the safari and not being in meru was real, the call from Mercy came at the most opportune time, where we are right now, the stories we have heard about her, I honestly believe this all is a GOD send.  It has to be.  And so here in Africa where not planning is really the guaranteed plan, we will be spending 4 days with someone who has made huge strides here in Kenya and I am sure that it will lead to BIG PLANS for my work in the future here in Africa. Stay tuned…

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