STORY // Kenya :: Moko

“What is your name?” asked Moko as we were walking from the gate of the school grounds.

“Lane,” I replied “and yours?”
“Moko.”

“Do you know the Apostles Creed?”
“I do” I said, recollecting the Rich Mullens’ musical arrangement of the creed that had long ago been etched into my mind.
“Can you say?” almost as if wanting me to prove it.
“I cannot say it from memory, can you?” I asked expecting him to say no.
“Yes.”  he confidently replied, as if that’s all the proof I needed.
“Well let me hear it then!”

And there he went.  A boy about 11 years old who spoke exceptionally good English for his age, quoting for me the entire Apostles Creed. That was my first encounter with Moko that week not 10 minutes after he arrived for a week of camp just some 40 miles from the base of Kilimanjaro.  That was three years ago.  The first time to Kenya.  The first time to Africa.

That week Moko would wind up being in my “Cabin” and in my bible study group.  Daily I would walk away from our bible study time completely floored at the insight and depth to this kid’s answers to our questions.  This kid had a hunger and passion for the word.  He had an understanding that was unparalleled for a boy his age.  Moko also had such a joy to him.  It was inescapable. Addicting almost.  A smile and laughter that instantly grabbed you. And yet as I got to know this boy more, you could sense this incredibly soft and tender heart.

Somehow that week, this kid grabbed hold of a piece of my heart and I’m not sure he let go.  Kids always seem to have that effect on you.  I often think about him.  Pray for him.  Hope for him.  Hope he is doing well.  Getting plenty to eat.  Staying in school and learning.  I think about him playing football with his friends. Watching and herding goats when he’s not in school.

This year, back in May I made it a point to go and see Moko.  I was short of time trying to catch a bus back to Nairobi.  But was able to see him and talk briefly.  In some ways it was like when you finally meet with a friend you haven’t seen in ages and there is so much to catch up on you don’t know where to start.  Even with his good English there is still a bit of language and cultural barrier. It was great to see him and know he is OK.  Know he’s doing well in school.  Know he’s at least getting decent meals by the looks of it. Still able to see that soft heart and joyous smile. But somehow the brief meeting leaves you lacking.  Hundreds of questions still formulating in the back of your mind as you are leaving.  The kind of questions that come after the silent awkwardness is wearing off with your old friend and the conversation begins to pick up.  But this time there is no hanging around and catching up.  The bus was coming.  I had to leave.  The questions are left on the shelf in your mind.  Another time maybe.  As you leave you wonder how much communication is lost in translation or language, cultural and age barriers.  It’s a pretty unusual thing to have not seen some one in 3 years, out of nowhere pop up at their school, ask a few questions and be on your way.  But when you have no idea when the next time you will be in that region you make want to make the most of it.

Although such a rush encounter can leave one with a whirlwind of stuff to process, there are two things that are certain when walking away from such a meeting like that.  The first is that true friendship and bonds can cross any barrier.  That, even though unspoken, there is an understood respect and brotherly love for one another, wishing each other the best as you part ways.  And the second is the hope Christ followers have in the future both here on this earth as well as the life to come, in heaven.  And there is peace in that hope.  A peace that steadies all the questions buzzing in your mind to process.

show hide 6 comments

Alicia Ressmann - And there are tears in my eyes. Beautiful story. Beautiful boy. Beautiful relationship. Beautiful Jesus.

Beautifully written.

Overall, absolutely excellent. So glad you go to see him!

Robin - Lane I am so glad you posted this and I just happened to see it. Out of that 1 month, Moko was also someone who blew me away. I always saw him as a leader and wise beyond his years. Whatever time you spent with him you both were blessed. Thanks for your beautiful words!

lynds - oh my goodness. he is so BIG now! wow!

lane-o! i’ve been praying for you and your health. your pictures are stunning. hope you’re having a wonderful time in south africa :)

Mika - I loove this story. Anyone who has ever crossed the visa borders, can relate to this encounter. It is a priceless treasure, like a jewel in your heart, to have that Christ-connetion with a fellow believer in Christ that transforms & binds the hearts of two strangers. A blessing that grips your heart & calls on your soul’s deepest emotions. Within that memory, this story, you GET IT! A glimpse of how Grand God is and that there is so much more to this life… and even more to eternity. I love it, Lane & I love your sweet sister. Thanks.

Robert - Moko!!! I love that kid. So glad he’s well. And you’re well. And that you’re in Africa.

lane - @Alicia: Thanks. it was so great to see him.

@Robin: He was truly a leader and still is.

@Lynds: He is getting bigger. Same Moko though. Great to chat with you and mike the other day.

@Mika: Thanks so much for your beautiful words.

@Robert: who doesn’t love Moko?

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