Processional for a Princess

24 Dec

Processional for a Princess

Pastor Cleophas Makona, a good friend and partner of the Disabilities Ministry

Processional for a Princess

Carmen’s 1st trip blog from Africa

Dear Friends,

It has been nearly 30 hours since embarking on my journey and I am just now able to catch a few hours rest. My most rewarding experiences, when on the road, are when I experience different cultures, backgrounds, and socio-economic statuses. Whether engaging conversation with a Muslim truck driver from Mombasa, a student from Zanzibar, or an abandoned mother struggling in a small rural village trying to raise half-a-dozen kids on her own, the differences are obvious. Even more striking are the similarities, however—such as the universal hunger for human dignity, and our longing to love and to be loved by someone else.

If you are reading this, you’re likely the type of person who doesn’t push people aside, you won’t abandon the “least of these,” and you grant others the human dignity that is rightfully theirs as children of God. It is through those eyes that I wish to relate my experiences on this trip.

Starting out in the small town of Saboti, situated in the foothills of towering Mt. Elgon in western Kenya, I’m visiting Pastor Cleophas Makona. Cleophas has a true heart to spread the gospel, making disciples of all men. He oversees churches throughout the entire country and pastors his flock as one would their own children. Countless days are spent on the road, often traveling by public means—via boda-boda (motorcycle taxi), tuk-tuk (three-wheeled cart), and matatu (small minivan usually crammed with 15 to 20 riders and sometimes by a partially inebriated driver). The real joy of this man lies in his endless desire to mentor, disciple, and serve the “least of these.” He introduces me to some of the direst disability cases, which he diligently follows from initial evaluation to complete recovery. Cleophas Makona is a gem that outshines anything pulled from an African diamond mine, and I am 100% certain the Disabilities Ministry is placing resources in good hands when Pastor Cleophas is working the case. Cleophas has been a trusted partner working with Heaven’s Family for several years.

The highlight of this visit was me having the honor and privilege of attending the wedding of Daniel, the second-born son of Cleophas and his wife Beatrice! African weddings are events to cherish and include two full days of ceremony and celebration. It was truly an extraordinary experience that I was blessed to have attended. The wedding march began when Sophie arrived at the ceremony, and proceeded until she reached the altar. Incredibly, however, her 150-foot processional walk down the aisle took well over an hour! That’s because tradition dictates that the slower you progress, the more you will be considered as a beloved person. After the first hour, I definitely believed Sophie’s popularity outranks that of even the late Princess Diana herself!

At left, the beautiful bride Sophie; at right, the handsome young groom Daniel (son of Cleophas and Beatrice)

Cleophas (at right), next to his lovely wife Beatrice (the proud parents of the groom!) and Beatrice’s sister (at left)

Thank you so much for reading, and I hope you will join me on my next leg as I head to southern Kenya.

Together in Christ,

Carmen Parise
Director, Disabilities Ministry

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