Saturday, November 28, 2015

POPE FRANCIS | Visits Nairobi, by Author Olga Marlin

Margaret (L) and Uhuru Kenyatta greet Pope Francis.
Boissevain Books just received an email from Kenya. Olga Marlin, a Boissevain Books author (To Africa with a Dream), writes to us about the excitement of the Papal Visit to Nairobi. Here is her report:

The Holy Father was staying very near Kianda School, in the Papal Nunciature, and he passed by the school every time he went out or returned home. Kangemi, the slum he visited, is just behind the school. Some of our bursary girls come from there.

Pope Francis with President Kenyatta (R) and two former Presidents of
Kenya, Mwai Kibaki and Daniel arap Moi.
I and other people from Kianda attended the reception for around 500 people in State House, where the Pope was welcomed by the President and his wife et al., with a 21-gun salute. The two previous presidents (Mwai Kibaki and Daniel Arap Moi) were also there. The atmosphere was very warm.

Just as the Pope and entourage were getting ready to leave, a huge downpour started and continued throughout the following day. People got up very early to attend the 10:00 Holy Mass on the Nairobi University sports grounds. I left with several others at 7:00 a.m, and we ploughed our way through the mud and rain with another million people, to our reserved seats under a canopy.

Mercedes and I were about 20 seats behind President Kenyatta and his wife Margaret and dignitaries. [Note by Bois Books: An estimated one million people attended the Mass.]

Hilda van Stockum (1908-2006), "The Holy Family," Kimlea,
Kenya.  By permission of the Estate of Hilda van Stockum.
I had a beautiful view of the Altar, with Mother's painting of the Holy Family just in front of me. It was brought down from Kimlea just for this purpose. I hope you get a chance to see it.

The Kianda Girls' Choir prepared for weeks to sing for the Holy Father. They prepared an Argentinian Tango, a Kiswahili song and an English one ("Lean on Me"). They were waiting at the Nunciature when he arrived from State House. After the Argentinian song he went up to congratulate them. They followed him into the Nunciature singing the other songs. The girls of Kibondeni were recruited to help in the kitchen and serve the table for the Holy Father. They were so happy!

An Argentinian lady whose family knows the Pope very well, prepared several items on a silver tray which was left in the Holy Father's room: On it were a drink the Pope likes very much with a glass and... a dedicated copy of To Africa With a Dream in Spanish (Con un sueño en África).

Cristina from my Centre was brought in her wheelchair to the entrance of the Nunciature where they waited with many other people for the return of the Pope. When he arrived he came out of the car to meet the people. There was a lady with a newborn child who is being baptized ("Francis") today, and the Pope kissed him and made the sign of the cross on his forehead. There was another small baby girl called Francisca, whom the Pope also blessed. Then he saw Cristina and immediately went over to her. He asked her name, held her hands, and gave her a rosary. She was overjoyed!

I went out several times to our Kianda corner, where the Kenya flag and the Vatican flag were flying, in order to greet the Pope as he passed. On the way to Kangemi he was in the pope mobile, and he blessed all of us standing there.