Sunday, October 26, 2008

First Unknown Guide

During my junior and senior years of high school my parent were Friends missionaries with Friends Africa Mission. I attended an American missionary school named Rift Valley Academy. It was several hours away by train from Kisumu the nearest "city" with train service. I was the only Friend attending and began to seriously study early Friends writing, including Barclay's Apology and George Fox's Journal. In addition I read the Bible from Genesis to Revelations at least twice straight through plus other readings for class assignments. Although religious practices were not the main topic of the teenagers there, because of the variety of backgrounds and the nature of the school, we did talk about the various "rituals" and beliefs of various Protestant denominations. Being at some distance with letter writing being the only means of communications with parents, my circle of friends at the school became very close. However, it was always at the breaks for one month every 3 months that I was able to connect with my parents and was guided "gently" in Friends faith and practice while watching their faith and practice at work in interacting with the African Friends and fellow missionaries. Several situations were eye openers as to those who walked the walk but also, to my surprise (although I had witnessed some of this before being a PK, preacher's kid, and observing other minsters) those who seemed to talk the talk but clearly did NOT walk the walk.

During January and February of my Senior year, I came very close to losing my parents. Of course they did not want to bother me at school and so it was almost 2 months later when I came home I learned how close they both had been to dying. My father had a severe case of thrombo-phlebitis and with a history of heart problems could easily have "thrown a clot" and had a fatal heart attack. My mother, who very unexpectedly had become pregnant in Africa after US doctors assured her she was well passed child bearing, had an emergency C-section and it was only through very fast and furious efforts that the Dr was able to close the incision before she would die due to loss of blood. The baby was worked on by the Dr and nurse for at least 20 minutes before she took her first breath. Because of these conditions they were returning to the States while I returned to school to finish my last trimester after which I would return to the States and head for college.

As was the custom the senior class at the school took a trip to a game park in southern Kenya at the base of Mt. Kilimanjaro. It was a beautiful, wonderful, awe inspiring trip with good friends. However, one night we were sitting around a blazing campfire sharing experiences. It was a clear dark night which revealed myriads of stars that cast a soft light to the surrounding austere landscape. The campfire and my friends cast a warm glow of physical and emotional quality and security. However, a sense of being alone and lost in a “darkness” which seemed inescapable overcame me. I began to fully realize how alone I might have been with the loss of my parents and my guides. As I came closer to despair, gradually a sense of hope and light began to reach my consciousness. I heard no “voice” but clearly had a sense that I was NOT alone and that whatever happened I would always have some"one" with me.

Although I have always remembered that moment, I regret that the strength, power, and assurance that came with that experience came at a time when I was going through a series of experiences that took "precedence" and I continued much as before. After graduation just a few weeks later in August, my best friend and I traveled to Athens, Rome, and London and spent a couple of days in each place. Then I went to college after just turning 17 and became immersed in my studies.


  1. Tom, are you looking for interaction with other people on this blog?

  2. I welcome interaction and trust that my expressions led to more and better expressions from others.



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