Embarrassing Myself – Kenya, 1978

From my journal:  18 September 1978, Kunjeru, Kenya

In my journal, I called it “A day to remember.”   The Kunjeru villagers had built for us a stone house to live in – a magnanimous gesture on their part, done with not a little personal sacrifice.  The two photos in this blog show the house being built at the edge of the village, next to the church.   The village had one connection to modern technology – a plastic pipe brought running water to the village.  The water only ran intermittently, but it was a great thing when it ran as it meant villagers didn’t have to carry water over a long distance to the village but had water brought directly to them – at least on occasion.  Jack, my Canadian missionary co-worker and I had moved into our new house and as good “Europeans” (which is what the locals called any who were white skinned) decided to plant some flowers around our new house.  This was not common from what I saw in Kenya.  Though beautiful flowers abounded wildly in the moderate near Equator climate, few  cultivated flowers around their dwellings and instead kept all gardening to raising crops for food – vitally necessary in a subsistence culture.     So we dug  a little around the house and planted various plants and flowers.  Then – I’ll let the journal speak:

“Jack noticed that water was bubbling out of the ground around our 1st plant.  He wondered if maybe our diggings had loosed a well.  The water began pouring fourth.  We began digging to investigate the problem.   We apparently had struck the plastic water pipe, buried less than 12 inches below ground and cracked the pipe.  When we uncovered the pipe, water gushed forth.  We called the villagers for help.  They knew we were digging for plants and immediately realized what we had done.  Children gathered round to watch what we were doing.  The water began to spray 15-20 feet into the air.   The villagers sent someone by foot to the main tap some distance from the village to turn the water off.  The water geysered forth for about 40 minutes attracting all kinds of attention.  The 2 great N. American missionaries had destroyed the only piece of technology in the area.  The water had to be turned off for the whole valley until the pipe cold be repaired.    We just stood there soaked from trying to stop the water.  The villagers were greatly amused, despite what we had done.  It has to be the most embarrassing thing that has ever happened to me.  There I stood, guilty as anything, with hoe in hand and the water spurting forth like Old faithful.”

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