The ballad of johnny switchblade part three zings, stings, and heartstrings – grouchymuffin

Our peels of chuckles turned into full-on exhausted hysterical laughter. I shared the story/ reenacted the laughable tableau of Diego copying off someone’s sheet only to get to the LOLZTASTIC answer of “Nationality: WHITE.” After our whole group of line-rule followers were brought up to speed on the comedy gold, it was time to finally go through immigration. Line skipper FabBab and her group had finished up almost an hour before we did, so a bonus of following line-rules, was that we didn’t have to wait/ haul any of the 50+ pieces of massive luggage the team brought. “Score one for GOLDBRICKING,” I cheered to L4L.

Because God always does you a solid when you most need it, our team went through customs without a hitch. See, most of the Customs Officers broke for lunch, so we skated through, and (mercifully!) had to pay no “taxes” (AKA bribes.) The sun was shining, and like victorious KINGS, we exited the airport, where the wonderful men of The Mayfield Guest House, our safe haven in Nairobi, awaited to haul our luggage into a rented truck.


What I thought would take hours, was accomplished within 30 minutes. Before this “goldbricker for the Lord,” knew it, several dozen (fifty pound!) bags were loaded and the team spread out over 3 vans. Next stop, the Mayfield House, an old mansion converted in the early 1900’s to a 70 room missionary hostel. But first, we would sit in 2 hours of misery. A trip from the airport to Mayfield that normally would take 20 minutes, was transformed into a soul crushing grind through stand-still traffic. Never to be stymied by traffic woes, the good people of Nairobi quickly turned the 4 lane roads into 8 lanes, while buses and large trucks went on two wheels to drive through ditches off the side of the paved road. The cool air was destroyed in the midst of stagnant vans filled with warm (tired) bodies, and gushes of exhaust pump-jacking through our open windows. Don’t get me wrong, Nairobi is one of the great cities of the world, but its traffic and toxic black clouds of choking fumes, make for one of the world’s worst commutes.

By the time we arrived at Mayfield, we had been treated to over 2 hours of idle staring into the Nairobi street life. As an old pro, I found the hawkers, grazing random livestock, and beggars to be a vital part of Nairobi’s constant hum. Familiar and expected, I took in the sounds and sights of my dear Nairobi. Getting ready for dinner in Mayfield’s dining room, I realized that it wasn’t the same case for Diego.

“No, temporary Mom. I think I just need to go enjoy some WeFee and head to bed.” His eyes were swollen, possibly from hours of Earth-murdering exhaust, but more likely from sheer exhaustion. He offered, “I wasn’t prepared for Nairobi, it’s absolutely heartbreaking.” Ever the mother, I immediately honed in on Diego’s pain. “Oh honey, I’m sorry, I tried to warn you.” His red eyes looked away, “I know, but I guess I was expecting something else. Honestly, Nairobi looks like a failed experiment in capitalism.”

I surveyed my newest ward, he was visibly shaken by his surroundings. Drawn and solemn, I waved him off from dinner. Yes, this “skinny legend,” needed to have some sustenance, and while I had yet to witness him properly eat a full meal, I decided to let it slide. “Goodnight sweetheart, get some rest. I do feel the need to warn you, Nairobi is the wealthiest and most developed portion of our time in Kenya. It gets real in the rural countryside. You need to steady yourself.”

The next morning, I was awakened by the usual sounds of Mayfield Guest House: at 5am the Mosque next door did their elaborate call to prayer, which was quickly followed by the yellow Napoleon Weaver bird, an obnoxious loudmouth that always finds a way to squawk mercilessly outside my window at 5:30am. I sought out Diego and made him sit with us at breakfast, his demeanor seemed better, a good night’s rest coupled with sub-par WeFee did the trick.

“Today, we make our way to Haven on the Hill, TODAY the mission trip REALLY starts,” I yelled with a bit too much volume and enthusiasm. After all this time, the giddiness I feel at the prospect of returning and joining my friends at Haven on the Hill Children’s Home, is positively intoxicating. Pure joy and gratitude constantly flows through you when there, it’s an indescribable delight that I sincerely hope everyone encounters once during their lifetime. Not only are all the distractions of the “real world,” stripped away, an overwhelming knowledge of being in the right place, doing exactly what you should be doing, emboldens you.

After a terrible breakfast of cold omelette (sorry, that’s Mayfield Guest House life,) the group loaded up two buses and headed for Nairobi’s swanky Garden City Mall, where we planned to lunch at our go-to Kenyan hangout, Java House, and shop for supplies. When we exited the bus for sweet goodies at Java House, a wasp decided to randomly sting Johnny Switchblade in his palm.