Friday, July 25, 2008

Today I really love the reach of the internet

The phone rang and I heard Coty say, "Mary!!!" and then lapse into an East African English accent, acquired while living in Kenya in years past. I knew immediately that it was our dear Mary, the woman with whom we had worked and lived in the early '80's and who continued to be our friend during another Kenyan sojourn in 1991/92.

Coty and Mary talked for a little bit and then he handed the phone to me. My throat choked up and the tears welled up and out as I heard her familiar voice - still familiar after not hearing it for so many years. She said, "Beth, don't cry or I will cry, too." If we'd been together we would have hugged each other til it hurt.

When I traveled in rural Kenya teaching village health workers, Mary was my translator. We started gardens together in an urban slum. Then when Erin was born, Mary came to live with us. She attended tailoring school in the mornings and spent the afternoons helping me with jobs like handwashing cloth diapers and hanging them on the line (yep, that's what we did - no washing machine and no disposables back then in Kenya!). She delighted in helping me care for baby Erin. She was a Godsend - like a sister - and a dear, dear friend.

She came to visit us in the states in the early 90's - a trip of a lifetime and a joyous reunion. And I haven't seen her since. Coty used to travel to Kenya for work almost every year and see Mary and her family, but when he left college teaching, those yearly trips ended. So, we'd lost touch with Mary.

But now she has the internet. Her husband searched for us online and found the church website. He left a comment and an email address and today they skyped us. And now we have the opportunity to pick up the thread of friendship that God started weaving in our lives almost 22 (correction - 27!) years ago. Amazing!

Here are a couple of photos from 1982. Mary, remember?!

Mary (with the dark blue shirt) and my mom who visited us in Kenya in 1982,
in the Kawangware demonstration garden,
the first project Mary and I did together

Mary, my mom, a younger me, and Phyllis
on a visit to Phyllis's farm near Machakos

So, today, I am very thankful for the reach of the internet, for search engines, email, and skype. It has brought me closer again to a faraway friend. And more than ever, I want to go back to Kenya!


Bonnie said...

What a story!
And what a blessing , for sure,
one that dropped from above.


Beth said...

Yes, Bonnie. I'm still amazed and so very thankful.

the Olsons said...

Almost 22 years ago? It had to be longer ago than that, seeing as I'm almost 25... =O

Beth said...

Yep, you're right, sweetie. It was almost 27! What was I thinking??!! I know - it's that Mary told me she's been working at the same job in Nairobi for almost 22 years. That's why 22 stuck in my brain.

tonia said...

i agree! the internet is a blessing and has brought such richness and joy to my life.

your stories about kenya, etc always make me tear up. :)

so glad you reconnected with mary.