Kingdom Camping

Posted Jul 21, 2011 by 6 Comments

From the moment I learned Tanari owned a camp just 85 km north of Nairobi, I waited for the perfect opportunity to finagle my way into going.

Luckily, Timo, who coordinates Camp Malta, and I became quick friends. In addition to both cultivating a love of the outdoors throughout the years, we also developed a special fondness for lunch—over which we daily share stories of our wilderness adventures.

The view from my boda boda

Every couple of weeks, businesses, churches and schools rent Camp Malta for a weekend getaway along the Tana River.

This particular weekend, a group from a local university decided to make the trek.

Adventure Awaits

Once in Town, Timo led us down River Street to where we boarded the matatu taking us to Sagana. After we finally ventured outside the city, the lush, rolling landscape mesmerized me for the next several hours.

Tanari derives its name from the Tana River

Thinking things couldn’t possibly get any better, I literally shrieked with joy when I saw Timo negotiating fare with a boda boda—motorcycle—driver for the last leg of our journey. Since the ride up the hill was a mere 15 minutes, I adamantly refused the head kerchief my driver insisted I wear as I released my auburn tresses to the wind.

We cruised up the rocky dirt terrain to the camp’s locked gate.

“Lemme call Kimoja,” Timo said, reaching for his cell phone from his jeans pocket.

A few minutes later, a young man in a red t-shirt and black windbreaker pants arrived with the key.

Karibu sana,” he said shaking my hand.


Sam’s Story

Kimoja (Swahili for “that one”)—or Sam—first came to Camp Malta in 2009. He worked as a housekeeper for the owner of the nearby energy plant, who recommended him to Timo when the camp needed a last minute caterer for an upcoming event.

After receiving a more than favorable report regarding the cuisine that weekend, Timo inquired about Sam’s other skills. Sam shared that in addition to cooking and cleaning, he also had experience as a gardener and as a construction worker. A seemingly tangible answer to Timo’s prayer for a groundskeeper, Sam was hired immediately. The only unforeseen difficulty was the matter of his salvation.

Sam and his daughter, Wendy

As he prepared a dinner feast of ugali and sukuma wiki, Sam eagerly shared his beliefs with me. Every day he reads his Bible and prays to God. Yet, he doesn’t consider himself a “born again” Christian. He has his reasons.

For 14 years, Sam lived with his mother and his sisters—he never knew his father. When his mother remarried his stepfather, Sam was instantaneously disliked by his new extended family that feared he would inherit their wealth as the only son.

After completing his third year of high school, financial hardship forced Sam to dropout to help provide for the family of “saved” Christians who continued to abhor him. Eventually, the living situation became so unbearable, he moved in with an aunt along the coast in Mombasa—where he learned the art of accommodating international travelers.

Around this time, Sam met his wife and began saving up to marry her when she finished school. During their several year courtship, Sam enjoyed simply being her friend while encouraging her to embrace the opportunity to complete her studies—one that had been taken away from him.

Yet, tragedy struck a few years after their marriage. Sam had been working as a boda boda driver until an accident caused him to lose his job. Injured and unemployed with a wife and a new baby girl, Sam asked God to heal him and also to provide him with a way to take care of his family.

Shortly after, he received the call from Timo regarding the catering gig.

Sam’s temporary home

A Welcome Reflection

As Sam finished slicing the tomatoes for the sukuma, I told him that he is a lucky man to have such a beautiful wife and such a beautiful daughter and to live in such a beautiful place.

He blushingly smiled and told me he knew and he thanked God every day.

I blushingly smiled wishing I could say the same.

Reveling in my unexpected encounter with a man unaware how he reflects God’s own heart, I thanked Sam for the delicious food, for his kind hospitality and for the refreshing conversation.


I couldn’t have thought of a more appropriate Kingdom greeting myself.

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About the Author: Jocelyn is a freelance photojournalist with World Next Door. She studied Creative Writing and Missions at Concordia University Irvine. She enjoys reading, writing and traveling. She also likes butterflies.

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  1. Pam said... 


    July 21st, 2011 at 6:05 am  

    All of these pictures really bring these words to life. The picture of Sam and his daughter is heartwarming. His personal story is even more so. I am thankful to God that he shared it with you and that you, so beautifully, shared it with us. Thank you!

  2. Timo said... 


    July 21st, 2011 at 6:20 am  


  3. Darla said... 


    July 22nd, 2011 at 6:50 am  

    Sorry, if I missed this, but what does Karibu mean? And do you pronounce it like “caribou”? I enjoy these articles so much but my brain can’t help but want to pronounce the words used correctly. I’m thinking it’s like the Hawaiian language with every syllable ending with the vowel. No biggie to reply. God bless you this moment with a smile.

  4. Rosie Walbert said... 


    July 22nd, 2011 at 8:45 am  

    Joci, I have been so blessed by your articles and can’t wait to read more. God has definitely given you a talent for writing and a love for His people. I am thankful that you are able to use these gifts for His glory!

  5. Jocelyn said... 


    July 22nd, 2011 at 4:47 pm  

    Hey Darla! 😀 Great question! “Karibu,” pronounced care-ee-boo, means “welcome.” Sorry for the confusion!

  6. Katie Aschliman said... 


    July 30th, 2011 at 9:42 am  

    Thanks so much for your story and for enjoying Kenya so deeply. I worked with Tanari 5 years ago, and your reflections here are a beautiful reflection of Timo and Kenya itself. It is such a beautiful place with the most incredible people.

    Blessings on the rest of your journey!

    Asante sana.

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