uncle alfred

Posted: February 16, 2011

this is uncle alfred...

(taken in front of the school w/ steph's spectra polaroid)

who i proudly call my kenyan father. he was our host while steph and i were in kenya and i had to privilege to finally meet him after hearing so much about him from steph’s previous travels to kenya. i feel like anything i write here will fail to really capture who he is. it's taken me weeks of on-and-off writing to make this work. i have nothing but utmost respect for his man and i am challenged by his life and character.

in the tail end of my last post i made mention of the way faith was very apparent in the lives of people in kenya. i saw this most clearly in uncle alfred's life since we were with him for so many hours each day. i think that if i weren't a Christian, i would be challenged to become one after seeing the way uncle alfred lived and what drove him to love people around him.

“I am a Christian because I have seen the love of God lived out in the lives of people who know Him. The Word has become flesh and I have encountered God in the people who have manifested (in many “unreasonable” ways) His presence--a presence that is no more than convincing--it is a presence that is compelling. I am a Christian, not because someone explained the nuts and bolts of Christianity to me, but because there were people who were willing to be nuts and bolts.” -- Rich Mullins

when i first met him at kitale airport, i was greeted with a warm embrace and a really big smile. i felt as if i was family already and that feeling persisted throughout my stay there. in the home he shared everything with us. yet his love and hospitality did not extend to us only because we were visitors. while living in the village, we met various people who were touched by his life. we met single mothers, people in financial difficulty, children who were abandoned by their parents, people who have found themselves in very unfortunate and unexpected circumstances, etc who were touched by the care and great heart of uncle alfred.

he is a man with a deep love for his family and community, powered by an unshakable faith in God. as i write this i feel like i'm describing merely some holy, reserved, disciplined and stoic man... i should also write that he's a man who embraced life, who playfully used his camera to capture silly moments with the children or with us. when we would take walks through the village, there is rarely a silent moment because he was constantly in song. he would be humming a hymn or singing a song that school children learned. when he got a message on his phone, the notification sound he selected would say "excuse me boss, you have a text message!", and it would always catch us by surprise—it was just so random. he was loved and respected wherever we went. when we would meet

he also told us about his early life growing up as an orphan, small snapshots of his adolescence as the secondary school prefect, early adulthood and his attempts to establish himself and start a family.