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6 July 2009 – How The Light Gets In

Howdy from California,

This just in from Monte, who is still out and about in Croatia or Montenegro or Modesto.



How The Light Gets In


That’s a photo of my last sunset in Kenya, this time around, as it was slipping through my fingers in a bittersweet explosion of deep blues. Beautiful.
Even in the short month I’ve been here, I’ve seen so much happen. To witness first-hand the way things are coming along, falling into place… perhaps slowly and steadily at first, years ago… but now gathering a momentum not unlike a well-conditioned long-distance runner nearing the finish line. And don’t Kenya and marathon go hand in hand, after all.
Wonderful to see how Gilbert has grown into his role and flourished as a leader. Soft-spoken by nature, it took big strides for him to get to where he is. And with his family there now… it’s so nice, as Dave said, to have a real family living on the property, in a real home. And that happy little peanut who stole my heart… I’d steal him and bring him back to meet you all, but I bet they’d notice.
And Gilbert’s heartfelt affection for us is also something I’ll keep close while I’m away. We had a final meeting the day we left, for Gilbert and Dave to discuss matters and tie up loose ends. After the business had all seemingly been conducted, Dave asked Gilbert if they had covered everything, or if he could think of anything else. Gilbert answered, with a slight quaver in his voice, “Just… that I will miss you guys.” And suddenly there were three grown men crowded around under a tent, each with a lump in his throat. And we let him know that we’d really miss him, too. And then of course we punched each other in the shoulder and talked about beer and women and last night’s soccer match, very manly matters. Ahem. But as Dave reminded me later, Gilbert is a sentimental guy, though he almost never lets on. So when he does, you know it means something.
Seeing Dave, too… his singular focus while here is awe-inspiring. He is a man on a mission, and it’s all for the kids. The way he has brought this thing along… and the respect and admiration the workers, business partners, friends, and neighbors have for him… For anyone who worries that he is alone here, don’t. He has created a structure and foundation for himself and the project that goes far beyond the rocks, ring-beams, and mubati. Community.
If you didn’t know him, you would scratch your head and wonder how in the world one man, starting out on his own, could have accomplished this much, in this place, in this amount of time. But if you know him, well then you know. But I can’t let his head get too big, lest it no longer fit under that Giants cap of his. He’ll need that for the ball games this summer.
Brittan had already gone a day earlier, back to regroup at home for a while and figure out her next move. An exciting one, no doubt. I don’t think she knows any other way. Gone, but not without having left her indelible mark on this place, nor without it having done the same for her. She is changed in the way that you are changed after coming here. And she will be back.
And certainly Masa, who of course drove all the way to Lukenya to pick us up at 3am (though he arrived at 2:30, to be sure), to drive us to the airport. He pressed me for a return date, though the only one I could give him was, “Not soon enough, my brother.” And then we were off… Dave headed to the Great Pyramids, and then home to his dearly missed family… me, to another adventure in new places and old, before going home to see my own dearly missed people.
It feels like the final scene of The Empire Strikes Back, for anyone who remembers… after Han has been frozen in carbonite and Boba Fett shuttles him off to Jabba… Lando and Chewie head off in the Falcon to search for him… Luke, with his new robotic hand, Leia, Threepio and R2 stand staring out into the galaxy, knowing full well that there is at least another chapter still to be written, and that nothing will prevent them from finding a satisfactory resolution to all this. The team a bit fragmented now, each off in his own direction… but each with his own particular resolve to see things through. That’s what it feels like, leaving Kenya this time. Only with far fewer blasters, Wookies, and Dark Sith Lords… clearly.
As you may have some indication by now, sunsets here are unlike anywhere I’ve ever been. The colors and cloudscapes are a revelation each night, seemingly topping the night before and creating an amazing and unique experience all over again. To say they’re a dime a dozen is to reduce them in a way that I wouldn’t dare… but you can almost take it to the bank that every night, you’re in for a treat. It’s something to look forward to… all day, every day. Never an ending, but a renewal.
And at the heart of it, I guess that’s all anybody is asking for.
Here’s hoping your 4th left you feeling independently healthy.


  1. Peggy Traverso says

    Monte — That was so well written. It gave such a sense of place and such a sense of David’s place in the place! Made me want to get there sooner/faster.

    David — Thanks for sharing Monte’s words, AND WELCOME HOME!
    Hope to see you very soon.

    Love to all, including Gilbert,

  2. Jon Gustorf says

    Inspiring is an understatement.

  3. judy craig says

    what a beautifully written description!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  4. Ed Richardson says

    What can I say after reading the latest up date on RROP? The 3 of you have accomplished so much, so quickly, (even though you don’t think it was so quick). That we are all in awe of your results.

    Safe journey for all of you and enjoy this respite before returning to RROP.

    Ed Richardson

  5. Chris says

    Yes, what a beautiful farewell-for-now, Monte — heading off into such a sunset. So good to get your report — and words from Gilbert. And the whole idea of his new home. Enjoy what remains of all your wanderings.


  6. Pat says

    Monte has eloquently placed into words the goodness and the glory of those in Kenya and throughout the world who so unselfishly give of their time, talents and treasure!!! I can attest to the fact that time in Kenya is so very special. A gift I treasure each day of my life wherever I am. May we all have a blessed day.


  7. martin says

    Peggy — he’d never tell you himself how well thought of he is down there, so someone had to do it!

    And I’m sure that just as soon as you pack those bags and hop a plane, Dave will be there, eager and ready to help you with them at NBO.

  8. martin says

    Coach — Thanks much.

    And I’m happy to return the favor after all these years.

  9. martin says

    Judy — Thanks you. Easy to do though, when you’ve got this kind of material to work with… great people, a great place, a great cause.

  10. martin says

    Ed — You’re absolutely right. The calendar belies exactly how quickly things have come along. From when I left in ’07, to when I arrived last month, I could honestly barely recognize the place. Real progress, and Dave of course deserves nearly all that credit.

  11. martin says

    Chris — Gilbert and others asked about you guys often, after your departure. You made quite an impression on all.

    Happy and safe globetrotting to you and Debi as well.

  12. martin says

    Pat — Treasure is the perfect word.

    And as many times as you leave, there is always a tug on your sleeve to return. The kids, the people, that place… they get their hooks in you, as you well know!

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