Yesterday was an incredible day, probably one of the most emotional since we've been here.  It wasn't orphans, it wasn't my wonderful mamas.  it was a young woman, fresh out of prison, returning to the family and village where she had lived and lost her way.  Where she had been a drug addict, an alcoholic and the gossip of the village.  She had done some things for which she would pay with four years of her life.                                                                                                                           The Women's prison chaplain, Pastor Jane and our missionary friends, Patricia and Bill, made a practice of selecting women ready to be released for a re-entry program for select inmates.  Irene was the perfect candidate.  She had finished her 4 year sentence, had learned cooking, organic gardening, and embroidery.  She had gone from a rebellious young girl to a mature women ready to start over.  But our friends had to make an emergency visit to America and asked if we could follow through with taking Irene to her village.  So yesterday, we picked up Pastor Jane, two female guards and Irene.  It was very obvious at the prison that no one wanted to see Irene leave.  The guards, some of the administration and the inmates were sorry to say goodbye, yet happy for her being released.                                                           We drove to the village of Makuselwa in a little over an hour drive from Kitale.  We chatted during the drive except for Irene who spoke no English and was obviously nervous.  Many times when a women, out of prison, returns to her family, there are problems.  Many of the women in the prison were there for killing someone, usually their husband.  So to return to the village meant possibly seeing the late husband's family or someone related to the victim.   Irene's crimes weren't as harsh, but people are people and sometimes forgiveness is hard to give.  Her reputation had hurt her family. Here's Irene:                                                                                                                                                                                         
Sorry, the program still won't let me rotate.

As we made the last turn before getting to her father's house, we saw her dad walking towards us.  He neared the truck, saw Irene, and started jumping up and down, his arms way up in the air, so very excited and happy to see his daughter.  That was my first cry.                                                                                                                                                            We parked the truck, got out, and Irene's dad is jumping around, hugging people.  Neighbors, relatives, village elders were walking to the house, looking at Irene, wanting to see how she had changed.  We were given chairs to sit and her Dad continued to thank everyone for bringing her home.  He got down on his knees and spoke how happy he was, his child was home.  Second cry.                                                                                                                                                                                                    


Then, her grandmothers, her step-mother, the neighbors and village elders all spoke.  They told of how they had heard she was coming and that she had changed, she was a different person now.  Pastor Jane, who had done this many times before, stood up and spoke about Irene, how she had gone from the old to the new.  She was a blessing to the people and the inmates and that if the village did not want her, the prison wanted her back because she was loved.  The guards also spoke, repeating the same message.  Her father spoke as often as he could.                                                                          Then Irene spoke.  She spoke of being the prodigal child returning.  Her father was so excited, it was amazing how similar was their story.  She sang a song about "the son" returning to his father and the father welcoming him home.  Cry number three.                                                                                                                                                                                          We ended with her parents praying for her and the villagers joining in.                                                                                                      Every celebration here ends with dinner.  Kuku (chicken), rice, ugali and soda pop for the muzungus.  It was perfect!                             
                                                                                                       These people showed incredible support for both Irene and her family.  Everyone was full of forgiveness and love, it was palpable. This is how we should support and love those people returning from prison, the war, loss and hardship.  It was the most loving moment I have ever witnessed.                                                                                                                   We have a man returning to our church this May.  He served over 2 years and was missed terribly by his family and the congregation.  We need to do something like this for him.  He needs to know how much he was missed and how much we love him.                                                                                                                                                                                     The Bible says "love never fails".  This was the perfect example.                    

Kwaheri from Kitale,                                                                                                                                                                   Mama Lani