I can't get Kenya out of my head, so each day as I sit down to think about my blog post, I just keep thinking of Kenya stories...
I mentioned before that I sang at a prison in Narok, but I did not mention the Kitale prison. This was, by far, the most memorable moment of my trip. Steve had asked me to sing a few songs, which I had done on my last trip...so it was no big deal...or so I thought.
Steve introduced our team and began a short message, then he stopped. He said, "My friend, Allison, is here to sing a few songs for you--one now, and one later--you might remember her from a few years ago, but here she is again."
I stood up and walked to the center of the large dirt courtyard. The hundreds of prison inmates, dressed in blue and white jumpsuits (similar to men's pajama sets), lined three of the four walls. Our team was seated in white plastic chairs on the fourth.
I began to sing, a song I have sung dozens of times (if not one hundred). In between verses, there is a musical interlude, and the men began to cheer. I smiled and continued with the song. They cheered again as I finished and sat down.
Steve returned to the center to teach and offer a chance for the prisoners to accept Christ. As he spoke, it began to rain; a little at first, then pretty hard. A few minutes in to this, he brought me up to sing again. As I sang "Jesus Lead On", the rain came down harder. Many of the men ran to shelter at the far walls of the courtyard. As Steve finished his invitation, a majority of the men headed for cover.
After he prayed with the twenty-or-so men who decided to follow Christ, Steve brought me up to re-sing the first song. The women from our group were escorted to the women's prison, but the men from our group came to stand behind me...in their minds, they were worried about protecting me, but I hadn't even thought about being in danger.
As the music started, the men who had retreated inside, literally ran back out to the courtyard...literally running back out to the center to watch and hear me...
I'm reading what I just wrote and it sounds stuck-up, but I was flattered. Who would want to stand in the rain to hear a stranger sing a song in another language? I can see them running...in my head...and I can't help but get a little misty-eyed...
It is a moment I will always remember. This year, I was nervous to return to the prison: it's always strange to be locked inside the prison gates with a bunch of un-shackled prisoners...but in years to come, it will be a highly anticipated piece of my trip!