Friday’s Blog is written by Trinity, Lawrence, KS Youth Minister Tyler Kerr. Tyler is also a Senior Chemistry major at KU where he also serves as a Campus Ministry Peer Minister.
Today, our last day at Agatha’s House in Naivasha, we finished up painting the interior of the house. Saying it is colorful would be an extreme understatement. The main living area is yellow, and the rooms are blue, pink, orange, and purple. Also, we finished up the foundation for the kitchen. To strengthen the foundation, we packed in dirt on either side of the two and a half foot stone wall, then continued to build the floor. We started by throwing medium sized rocks (1-30 lbs.) into the space enclosed by the foundation, which were then brutally beaten by a sledgehammer until all of them were less than one pound. Following that, we put loose dirt over the top of the rocks to make a good base for concrete to go on top. The biggest team achievement of the day was the moving of nine tons of stone for the wall that will surround the compound. Each rock weighed around forty pounds, and we moved four hundred fifty of them. Finally, today we burned the clippings from the pruning of the plants on the edge of the property.
In Kenya, the Dovyalis caffra also known as the Kei Apple is often used for fencing due to its dense foliage and three inch poisonous spines that cover all parts of the plant. I have found this plant to be my greatest nemesis of this entire trip. On our second day of work, I was charged with the task of pruning this God-forsaken flora, which I deemed “The Plant from the Deepest Pits of Hell.” On that day, some of the team and I trimmed the plant back to the property line. We then moved the clippings into piles using gloved hands (though the gloved provided minimal protection). The following day, I removed the last of the stumps that needed to be pruned; only then did the real work start. Fr. Patrick and I moved the trimmings into a large pile for burning. This process took us the greater part of four hours to complete. We moved as much of the trimmed foliage we could to the pile, including aloe vera, another spiked plant. Throughout this entire process, we were constantly stabbed by the plant from Hell. Stabs from the long needles on the plant cause what I can most accurately describe as a minor bee-sting that continues to irritate the skin for days.
Finally today, I was able to have the final word after numerous stabbings and poisonings. We were at last able to set fire to the pile of spiked demons. It did not burn very well as the wood was still green, but seeing the plants finally defeated was a great victory for me personally.
I have done much thinking about how this relates to my spiritual life, and I have noticed that it really reminds me of the story of Job. From scripture, Job was described as “blameless and upright,” and “one who feared God and turned away from evil.” This is rarely said about a very rich man. He had livestock numbering near ten thousand, and many servants. Satan tested Job through loss of property and his children, boils covering his body, depression, and anger. Finally, Satan gave up testing Job because his faith in God would not break. God then restored Job’s health, and rewarded him with twice as much property, new children, and an extremely long life. I think of Job as a far more serious example of myself. Through perseverance, keeping my faith that it would eventually be over, and determination, I was able to conquer the flora from Hell.
Job’s story is very pertinent to everyday life as well. My favorite passage from the bible is Psalm 23. “Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.” Job lived this every day of his affliction. His faith was shaken, but never lost. On this trip I have come more into contact with real hardship and real poverty. Through work and perseverance, we can make the world a safe place for all, continue in God’s good work, and act to spread the love of God.