Testimony and report of short term mission trip by Kurt Joss, Australia

Kenya Visit 3 – 17 April 2017

Kurt & Nadia from Australia
Bernhard from Switzerland

Hi everyone, I am Kurt Joss. I have been in contact with Ron for about 8 years but never met him face to face.
Bernhard and I have travelled overland throughout Africa extensively in 1972, 73 and 74 and have lived in Kenya for at least 6 month in 74 when we visited many places in east africa.
Nadia, my daughter visited Kenya for about 2 weeks approx.. 9 years ago on her trip around the world.
We all, “sort of” knew, what to expect, especially Nadia.

Wow, what a change awaited us, Nairobi, nor Kenya is not what it was 43 years ago…. Guess it’s the same everywhere in the world….progress they call it.
Let me give you a quick glimpse into history; Excellent Roads, Clean everywhere, Nearly all Railways worked and were intact. Nairobi was very safe to go out anytime including late at night. Very friendly, traffic was easy and much, much, more organized then today. We used to drive everywhere in Nairobi without any problems or fear. Even well after the Colonial breakup there were still many Europeans & white folks living in Kenya. Many of the businesses in Kenyatta Avenue in downtown were run by friendly Indians, the city was greener and safe to walk by yourself….etc. It was a joy to visit and explore Nairobi.
 Since then the population more than doubled, infrastructure was left behind and maintenance for important things like roads, rail etc is still very much neglected. Many people from the country came to the city to find a better future, some did ok while most ended up in the ever growing slums of Nairobi.

The traffic from the airport by Taxi ($20 US or 2,000 Shilling) to the city was un-describable, chaotic is a total understatement.
There are no road rules at all, the one with the stronger nerves, or a dead wish, wins that extra meter. There is a huge amount of litter along the roads and highways, mainly plastic of all kinds.
Occasionally it is raked into heaps and then burned on the spot, imagine the smell and stink!

We stayed at the Khweza B&B Hotel in a not very secure nor very clean area of Nairobi but it was very reasonable @ approx. 25-30 bucks p/night incl. Breakfast. The place was clean and it felt secure but would not recommend to leave it at night…! It has a great Rooftop Café / Restaurant which is very good and very cheap. The location of this B&B is good, only about 3 km from the Chaotic central Bus Station or the downtown area of Nairobi.

Ron booked some seats on Easy Coach for us, it leaves the Easy Coach Terminal every morning at 8 to 8.30 am. The taxi to the terminal only cost’s $5 or 500 Shillings. Being only 3 km it still takes about ½ hour with the crazy traffic. 
The cost of the Coach to Kitale cost’s about $13.50 or 1,350 Shillings for the 380km trip. Easy Coach is much more comfortable and a bit dearer then the other available coaches like a 20 seat suicide Matutu or the other cheap large and very cramped old buses that are available.

Kenya is presently in a severe drought and the country side is pretty dry to say the least.

The traffic out of the city is a real adventure, (make sure you take a seat up front for a better view and buckle your seatbelt)! There are a few interesting things to see to Nakuru. If time would permit stop at lake Nakuru, approx. 10km from Nakuru City, go and see the Flamingos. The bus stops approx. ½ hour for a toilet stop and then continues on to Eldoret and on to Kitale. The trip takes about 8 to 10 hours, hope for 9 and take a sandwich &water.

I gave up counting speedbumps at No.150 but I estimate that there are over 200 real nasty speed reducers between Nairobi and Kitale.  There are many trucks on this road as it is the main supply road to Uganda.  The traffic is enormous and the way trucks, cars and bikes, but especially the Matatu’s overtake is absolutely suicidal. My feet are still hurting from pushing the invisible brakes, a wonder that we did not make a hole in the floor of the bus….!

Statistic sais there are over 10,000 road deaths in Kenya every year………..hate to know the real number!

Arriving in Kitale, finally, and seeing this crazy Muzungu (white American) for the first time in real life wanted me to make a big U turn and head back….Just kidding….almost brought tears to my eyes. After a huge Bear-Hug we felt like we knew each other all our life’s, same spirit makes this possible. Seeing Freshier also the first time almost made me jealous….lucky “ugly” bugger, having such beautiful wife…I think the Lord is good to him for some reason!
Likewise they made my daughter Nadia and Bernhard very welcome and we all felt in safe hands in the middle of extremely busy and chaotic Kitale.

After severe cramps in my legs (due to Ron’s driving and me pushing the non existing breaks and holding the panic rail we arrived at Ron’s Compound, speak Prison. His house like many free standing homes close to bigger cities in Kenya look like mini prisons. 2 to 2.5 m stone walls all around the boundaries, broken glass imbedded on top of the wall and then rolls of razor wire all around the top of the walls. Massive steel gates as entry and security cameras and flood lights facing the road  are normal fixtures. Thieves steal from whites or blacks with no particular preference. We were welcomed by Freshier’s daughter Keysha, a beautiful bubbly 7 year old girl with a smile from ear to ear and also from Rosie, their house maid and the 4 guard dogs, 40 or more chooks and some turkeys.

Ron, fully charged up with Red Bull explained the house and toilet rules
😊) and after refreshing and a great snack we got stuck into catching up on past, present and future, etc. At about 5.30 pm the house gets locked up and secured for the nasty malaria carriers and intruders. Ron hates Mosquitos with a passion and I don’t blame him at all knowing full well what Malaria does to you when you get it every now and then.

Ron and Freshier accommodated us all in their “hacienda” and we were very comfortable and well cared for with food from Rosie and great company from Keysha and of course the two newlyweds!!!!

Driving to Kitale town the next few days for banking and shopping borders on a adventure by itself. Ron and Freshier know everybody and I mean everybody, it is impossible to walk down the crowded streets without a Jambo here and a Jambo there. We went to the bank to change some money which normally should take less than 5 minutes, took well over an hour…complicated to say the least.  The supermarket is well stocked and fairly cheap comparing it to Australian prices. The traffic is unbelievable into the city, in the city and heading out of the city and with Ron driving his newly acquired Toyota Land Cruiser Troop Carrier with a massive Bull bar up front should make you feel safe but us Wazungu who are not used to it is scary. Ron seems to have settled into this turmoil they call traffic quite comfortably.

We bought about 250 pairs of Sandals and some candy, food and other stuff for our coming excursion to the Pokot Territory which took place a few days after our arrival. The Truck got loaded with the sound & movie system, the screen, generator, all the sandals, food and water, tents, etc and the real adventure started at 6AM the following day.

Ron also had 20 Bags @ 90 kg each of Maize and Beans which he previously purchased from donor money in his storage shed. These got loaded on a friends Pick Up Truck and were taken separately out to the Pokot People the same day we went.  Driving early with little traffic out of Kitale, picking up Jose’ the camera man along the way we headed along a reasonable sealed road to Makutano where we had a Kenya Breakfast in a small very basic roadside café / shop. Leaving Makutano the dirt road started and immediately was really, really, really bad. Trucks, Bikes, Donkey pulled wagons and everything else that has wheels uses this road. Slow going is absolutely necessary.
Quickly the landscape changed from rich red soil to dry, rocky ground, vegetation got less and less and the road as we came to “the mountain” got horrendous. There are washouts, holes and huge rocks to be navigated and instantly it became clear why Ron after each trip had to repair his Toyota Surf with broken springs, shock absorbers or broken chassis and more. This road has been bad for years and only gets worse and worse, nothing ever gets repaired and the many broken down cars and trucks, some in the middle of the road, speak a dramatic picture of the state of this road. Makutano is at approx. 2,000 m above sea level and the delta into which we descended is bone dry, harsh and very hot, it is about 1,100 to 1,200 m above sea-level. The heat in the valley was instantly noticeable, at least it is not humid but a dry heat. The Road condition slightly improved along the huge valley we travelled along but was still bad enough not to be able to keep a good average speed. Suddenly a bad washout or big hole in the road makes Ron hit the brakes and crawl around or over it. People and huts became scarce and occasionally we spotted monkeys or camels. Here and there a few African mud huts with the pitched straw roofs were visible. There are some bags full of charcoal beside the road. The locals burn wood to make charcoal, bag it and place it along the road for sale - in Kitale it is in demand and much dearer then here.

After a long time we arrived in the very rough and isolated village of Kacheliba where we crossed the Nile Crocodile invested Suam River. Past a military checkpoint, we headed into very rough hostile country and after about 20km Ron turned right into a unmarked Bush Track. From here on there are no more roads, just tracks, sandy, hot and hardly used by vehicles. We keep coming past groups of African bush huts which are surrounded by very thorny brush fences to keep the goats in by night. Here and there some young girls or women carrying drums of water on their heads. Some walk for miles and miles to get water and if you see a 12 to 14-year-old girl carrying a 20 litre jerrycan of water on her head then I challenge anyone to do the same even just for a 100 meters or so. It is heavy and they just walk and walk through the bush. Every tree and every bush is hostile with huge extremely sharp thorns on them and if you walk into one of those it’s not only very painful but also takes a-while to get free - that is why they call them “wait a while”!!

After a few turns in the bush (it all looks the same, dry, hot and rough) Ron arrived safely at the Reretiang Village.
We were greeted by many village folks. The Truck with the maize and beans also just arrived and some of the load was unloaded there for  food for the kids that go to school, their food for a few weeks, Ugali, crushed maize with water, no salt no nothing -not my favourite. The rest of the maize and beans was distributed among the other two villages. The adults and the kids started to sing a beautiful Christian song and did some dancing, we were then officially invited into the mud wall built church building for the welcome ceremony where we were made more welcome with more singing, dancing and pastor Nicholas interpreting our names and where we came from. A “special meal” was prepared for us as a welcome gift.

Soon we left and Ron our bush guide took us through the bush (by car) to the Village of Adatat where we made camp. Bernhard and I was given a bush-hut with beds made from sticks and a Mosquito Net, Nadia had a Tent for herself and Ron and his Honeymoon sweetheart shared a Tent while Jose’ the camera man placed a Hammock between two trees and that’s where he slept in true African style.

Adatat has a solid Church building which Ron and Nicholas organized to be built a while back. It was the coolest place to be on a hot afternoon. We took walks around the village and to the bore where there is people pumping water almost nonstop all day long. Water truly IS LIFE! Especially in this part of the world. We erected the movie Screen and set up the sound system to get prepared for the evening. After dark Ron turned on the music, loud, very loud so folks in the bush could hear it miles away. He played some Kenyan Christian Choruses with film of people singing and dancing. People came for all over the area and by the time it was pitch dark there would have been a few hundred people, old and young silently sitting in front of the screen watching and listening in total amazement. We did not play the Jesus film that night but told the folks that it would be on the next night.

After a good African meal and meeting many wonderful and very simple people we slept in perfect safety and peace.

Next morning after breakfast we went back to Reretiang Village to see the Medical Centre building, meet the male nurse there, visit the large school building and also the first bore that Ron had organized to be drilled. Hundreds of kids and adults came along for the walk and in the school building Nicholas got the kids to do a song and dance for us. Back at the Reretiang church it was organized for the kids to line up and Nadia handed out candy to each child. Wow, they had a smile when they put that candy in their mouth, so beautiful to see the joy a kid can have over a simple lolly. 

Back to Adatat Village, music on loud, film on after dark and by about 9PM Ron started to play the Jesus Film. Man oh man, there was a crowd, even Ron was amazed how many came to see, we estimated it to be at least 500 maybe 600 people. They were all very quiet watching the Jesus film. After the Film finished Nicholas and Ron spoke to the crowd and invited anyone to come and accept Jesus as their personal saviour, many did, many did, this would never happen in the western world.  People did not have torches or lights, gradually they all disappeared into the night, kids and all, how they find their way in the dark with all these thorns, snakes, scorpions and what have you not around is a total mystery to us “Wazungu” (white people)

For next day it was said to be a baptism at a tributary of the Suam River which was about 15 km away.
Freshier, she is still learning to drive, offered to drive a load of people young and old close to the river. When she drove off with Nadia as the driving instructor, Ron sort of looked on with mixed feelings hoping to see his Land Cruiser return in one piece….so funny! Poor Ron, he got disappointed, Freshier came back without a scratch and a big smile, loaded up the next load and off she went again. Guess how many were able to fit into the Land Cruiser?? 10?? 20?? Ha, so wrong, 33 we counted when Nadia opened the door and one by one came out, don’t ask how they all fitted but they did!!! Not only did they fit but while the drive was on they also sang songs and the atmosphere in that Land Cruiser was nothing less than heavenly, SOOOO GOOD, SOO BEAUTIFUL, praise the Lord, Hallelujah!!

Nicholas and Ron scouted a suitable spot in the River and we all had a good lookout for crocodiles. People got ready and group after group walked out into the middle of the shallow river where Ron and Nicholas dug a deeper hole in the water so it was deep enough to submerge the person getting baptised. Forty-four men, women and children followed the call and got baptized that beautiful morning; it was accompanied by singing and praising the Lord.

Again Freshier took over the transport of back to the village with trip after trip and getting more and more confidant in driving over bush tracks. Some of us walked but after about 5 km it was just too hot so we sought a shady tree and waited for the truck to come for us.

The village people killed a goat for us and made a meal with rice and Ugali as a special offering to us white people. So nice, thank you ever so much.

The following day was planned to go to the new village of Chematichor where the new church building just got finished and we were there to officially open it. The drive to this village is approx. 30 km and took well over 45 minutes. It is only about 10 km from the village of Adatat but no tracks suitable for a car - either walk or by bike is possible or go around the long way like we did. Many people from the other two villages walked over the hot and rough tracks through the hostile bush to the new village and newly built church opening.

Upon us arriving we were greeted by many, many people singing, dancing and welcoming us with great joy.
We prayed for the church, Ron put oil on the doors and asked for protection and to keep all evil out. Gradually we opened the door and the people sang and danced in joy and happiness. Again we were introduced with translation by Nicholas and a church with hundreds of people cramped together sang and welcomed us. Nicholas, Ron and Samuel the appointed leader for that village church did the sermon translating Swahili into Pokot dialect. Everyone sat on the concrete floor (no chairs yet) nobody complained, they listened with great attention what was said. At the end a family from a distant village came forward, gave their testimony how they got saved and said they were walking many hours to come to this opening knowing we were here, especially Ron. They asked him to come to their village and build a church there, drill a borehole and do what he did in the 3 other villages. The village name, I think, is Kalas or similar. Ron does not know where it is but with the Lords directions he will find it.

After church, Nadia climbed the Land Cruiser roof and started to open the bags with the Sandals to be given to the kids and adults of this village. Again we were given a special traditional meal cooked by the women of the village. We walked to the new borehole which at the time was only operating about 5 weeks. It is unbelievable the change clean water can have for these people.

Many came forward telling us what terrible people they were before being saved, how Jesus changed their lives and the incredible transformation Jesus did in their villages. Testimonies like these speak for themselves and the result is visible all over the villages. God is good!  Nadia again handed out candy to hundreds of kids and adults in this village.

Driving back to our base camp at the village of Adatat by late afternoon and spending the last few hours of daylight packing up and getting ready for leaving the area next morning.

The drive back from the Pokot Territory is only 100 km to Kitale where Ron lives but not matter what, it takes the best part of 5 hours or more. The first 50 km along the horrible dirt road and back up the mountain takes about 4 hours. Back in the town of Makutano the sealed road to Kitale takes about one hour.

After 4 days in the Bush we all looked forward to a good shower and a few cold drinks. Unloading and settling back into a sort of civilized life was kind of strange. Crazy thing is we felt much, much safer in the bush with the Pokot people than back in “civilization”!!

We stayed a few more days with our host’s and enjoyed their hospitality, visited Freshier’s Mum which was in trouble with the only cow she had being sick and the vet cost’s to fix it.  We also visited a camp where Ron used to live before he had his own place plus a few other places around Kitale.

Before long it was time to say goodbye and take the bus back to Nairobi over all those endless but needed speedbumps.

In Nairobi we had a few more days to kill so took a private taxi through a tour company that took us out to Nyeri area which is about 160 km north east of Nairobi to the Aberdare National park. We took a Safari tour in the park, spotted a few elephants and warthogs and other game like monkeys, etc. Stayed the night at Treetop Lodge where Queen Elizabeth became queen while staying there in 1956. On the way back we visited a huge open market in the town of Karatina, then back to Thika and back to Nairobi. The following day was spent shopping for souvenirs and visiting the Elephant Orphanage and the Giraffe Park on the outskirts of Nairobi.  One more night and we all were off back to Europe.

Before leaving for Kenya I thought that Switzerland had a huge traffic problem as we also have in the big cities of Melbourne, Sydney etc. Coming back to Europe I totally disagree, we have wonderful flowing traffic that stick to rules and regulations and it is easy to drive and pretty safe. Driving around in Nairobi in Taxi’s and Buses is something that needs to be experienced and seen, same on the highways, just unbelievable, words cannot describe the chaos. I will never again complain about bad traffic in Australia or Europe!!

Special Note: A special thank you to my Friend and Brother in the Lord, Ron Pinkerton who is doing an exceptional job as missionary in Africa, to Freshier, his wife and helper in all things, thank you, I don’t know how you can put up with this Red Bull charged man who thinks nothing is impossible for him as with the Lord, to Nicholas who is pasturing the Pokot people, to Jose’ the camera man who almost married my daughter and was willing to give me a few cows and a few camels for her, pity that he already was married….and to the new leaders of the churches in the villages that preach the word of God to the newly saved.

May the Lord who is above all, be kind to you, keep you all safe and well and lead you in the mission HE has called you to do. I personally and on behalf of my daughter Nadia and my friend Bernhard greet and thank you all from the bottom of our hearts for all that you have done for us,

Blessings in His mighty name,

Kurt