The titles of soldier, actor, and pastor were given to us on Friday night here in Kenya, just after we celebrated Brian’s birthday in the traditional Kenyan manner: by pouring buckets of water over him. After he changed clothes and returned to the house, the Parit girls were waiting for him with a cake and drinks. We sang songs, laughed as little David fed Brian the first piece of cake, and laughed even harder as Brian attempted to feed all fourteen people in the house. When the festivities were over, the three of us sat down at the kitchen table, where the four Parit daughters were sitting nearby. The kept looking over at Sage, either giggling or smiling sheepishly as he would return the glance.
“Are you a soldier?” they asked him. “You look like a soldier. Your clothes are dark, you have short hair, and you carry yourself very strongly. Surely you must be a soldier.”
Though we all laughed and assured them that Sage was not a soldier, they continued to vehemently affirm that yes, Sage must be a soldier. However, this assessment of Sage was quickly followed by a new observation of Brian.
“Do you act? I am certain that I have seen you in a movie before. Are you sure you don’t act? I must show you that movie you are in so that you will see you are an actor.”
Brian didn’t know what to say at first, and looked across the table for help but Sage and I were laughing too hard to give a response. Instead, he pushed the focus onto me.
“If Sage is a soldier, and I am an actor, what must Matthew be?” he asked.
“A musician!” Olivia yelled. “He sings, he is a musician!”
“No,” I said, “Brian is the musician, he plays the piano!”
“No, you are wrong. Brian is an actor, we already told you that.”
But suddenly the oldest daughter, Soila, interrupted the younger girls.
“You are a pastor.” she said. “No Olivia, not a musician, he is a pastor. I know it because I asked him if he is a Christian. He said that he knows Jesus, and that he loves him very much, and I thought it was a funny way to say that he is a Christian.”
Sage immediately yelled in agreement, and as he pointed his finger at me all four of the girls screamed how he was acting EXACTLY like a soldier. I quickly said that though I love to study the Bible, I certainly was not a pastor, but Soila responded firmly that I was wrong.
“No, you are a pastor because I have said so. And Brian is an actor, and Sage is a soldier, because I have said all of it and now it must come true!”
Laughing, I looked to Sage and told the girls that he also was a Christian. I remember seeing the girls’ eyes grow wide upon hearing this new information, and Sage then told them that Brian too was a Christian. The four girls each broke into beautiful smiles, and they became very excited. Soila began to talk about different Bible verses she had recently read, and from then on the girls were much more relaxed around us. It was a nice way to break the ice between us, and allow us to connect on a deeper level. On Sunday morning they saw my Bible, and they were intrigued by the red lettering of the Words of Jesus. Now, they smile every time they see us, and we always enjoy spending time together, and learning from one another.
Throughout the summer, Sage, Brian, and I will share a simple snapshot of our experiences on this blog, soldieractorpastor. Though it will by no means be a complete picture, we hope that these blog posts will faithfully represent the stories we hear, and the lessons that we learn about community, love, faith, and a wide array of other topics. In these first five days we have grown greatly as friends, and we wish to share this beautiful community with you. As we dive deeper into relationships with the people of Lenkai and Kimana, it is quickly becoming clear that leaving in August will be a difficult ordeal, though we have barely scratched the surface of what we might learn and experience. With this in mind, we desire to live every day fully engaged, present, and open, and reflect upon our experiences on this blog so that you too may learn from them.