The jaunt into Nairobi was far enough that it warranted several days there in order to see to all the necessary business. This meant that we needed a place to stay. The solution to missionaries being in the big city is called a Guest House. It is a cross between a Bed & Breakfast and a hotel. Many of the larger organizations have a guest house to house the missionaries with that same organization. But CMF was a rather small organization, so we stayed at whichever guest house had space available, offered the best rates, and was nearest to the side of town where most of the business was to be conducted.
As a little girl, I loved the Mennonite Guest House (we called it Menno for short) best of all. The rooms were quaint and comfortable, they served my favorite food (hot semolina porridge and papaya with limes), and the staff was friendly and cheerful. There was a playroom full of old books and wooden toys. Our favorite was a wooden marble track that brought us hours of entertainment.
When it was meal time, one of the cheerful gentlemen would wander around the grounds chiming out a song on a small hand-held xylophone. At around 10 in the morning coffee was served on the lawn and at 3 in the afternoon tea was made available in the same place. Sometimes there were powdered sugar doughnuts at tea time, and those days were just heavenly!
The generous, sprawling grounds were the best feature of this guest house, though. There were hollow hedges in which to build forts or play hide-and-seek, and lawns shaded by countless Jacaranda trees. (I love Jacaranda trees and I think I could write an entire post about them. But not today.) There was no official playground there. But there was one giant tire swing, large enough to accommodate 4 or 5 kids at once, hanging from the hefty Jacaranda branches swaying in the gentle breeze. One other swing made of an old 2×6 board hung from another tree. I loved the way purple Jacaranda flowers rained down on me when I would swing high in the air.
Menno had the very best jungle gym in the whole wide world and it was provided by Mother Nature, herself. There were these two trees that were so gentle and welcoming that a child was left no choice but to climb. Their branches were so sturdy and dependable, their bark so smooth and gentle. Those two trees really kind of ruined me for all other trees. I climbed plenty of other trees, but they were just not as friendly.
I am so thankful for the sweet elderly couple, Paul and Erma, for the love and hospitality they provided at Menno. Thanks to them, I have a thousand very fond memories of this beautiful, warm place.