Backhanding a Baboon and Moffat Graduation

Living in Africa has proven to be an interesting and wonderful experience. We’ve now been in Kijabe, Kenya for about 11 months and are thankful that God has allowed us to serve Him here. As many of you are aware, we’ve committed to another year here and are open to staying long term if that’s God’s will.

There are numerous stories I could convey that would give you a flavor of our life here but on a recent trip to Nakuru something happened that I would never have expected. Friends had loaned us their car while on home assignment, so we took Maureen’s parents and sister on a drive to see the Kenyan countryside and to visit a national park with the hope of seeing a rhino and other animals. The trip went more or less as expected (still getting used to driving on the left side of the road, though) and we arrived at the park safely, picked up a guide, paid our entrance fees and started our drive through the park. We saw a rhino within a few minutes and all was well. Our guide soon directed us to baboon cliff to stop and get a good look at the valley.

The guide did mention that the baboons there were aggressive. I thought to myself, we have baboons in Kijabe and they are aggressive . . . so no problem. Little did I know that these baboons were “aggressive.” We pulled into our parking spot, I opened my door, and looked to the left (remember the driver’s seat is on the front right), and then back to the right. I was stunned to see an 80-90 pound baboon heading in my direction. Before I could react, the baboon had hopped into the car and had his right hand (paw?) on the steering wheel. As we stared as each, I’m told that I let out a shocked “ahhhh” – like a frightened girl. I don’t recall making a sound, though. I do recall contemplating how to respond and wondered if he spoke Swahili or English. I also recall thinking – “I’m trapped behind the steering wheel and can’t really move.” As Maureen’s mom attempted to shoo the baboon away with her scarf, I made an executive decision and backhanded the baboon in the chest.

Now, to be honest, I don’t think the force of my blow caused him to move but perhaps the shock of a human hitting him had some impact. Also, the fact that our guide was then approaching him with a large stick no doubt caused him to jump out of the car. Needless to say, I was very relieved my encounter with the baboon ended well. Our trip from this point forward was relatively uneventful. The car overheated, we were towed/dragged/pulled 20 kilometers (eating dust the entire way), and were met by a friend’s father (pastor in the area) who brought a mechanic to the park gate who change the water pump on the spot for about $75 parts and labor. We were literally stuck in the middle of the national park with sketchy cell phone reception but God answered our prayers and made a way out.

Admittedly, the prior story has nothing to do with Moffat’s Graduation but think of it like a bad joke/story at the beginning of a sermon – one that has nothing to do with the sermon that follows! 🙂

While many things happen here that are very out of the ordinary (like the baboon jumping in our car), some are quite ordinary. Graduation at Moffat was very much like that of any college in the states. Graduates were both excited and nervous and family and friends in attendance were beaming with pride. We also had the expected speeches filled with congratulatory comments, some singing (with a Kenyan flair), and the handing out of diplomas. My advice to the graduates during the last week of class was simple – enjoy the day and don’t trip! I think they followed it pretty well.

I should point out that while our graduation was “ordinary,” our graduates are extraordinary. They come from all walks of life. Some are married and some single. Some have large families and others grew up in an orphanage. Some have a desire to serve in the local church and others to reach unreached people groups in northern Kenya.

Please pray for our graduates as they pursue ministry in the local church and beyond. Over the past term, I was able to hear many of them preach in chapel and was really impressed with their ability to exposit the word of God. I also taught many of them the book of Acts during the prior term. As they come to mind, pray specifically for our fourth year graduates: John, Isaac, Kezziah, Dickson, Festus, Carolyne, Jonathan, Peter, Alex, Jackson, Benson, and David.

One last baboon story . . . so, Kate has this balloon that she likes to play with but has decided to call it a baboon (pronounced like balloon). It’s so funny to hear her walking around asking “where is my baboon?”

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2 thoughts on “Backhanding a Baboon and Moffat Graduation

  1. Your baboon story is awesome! I can just see you screaming back in the face of the critter before backhanding him! I’ve been in the very spot you’re talking about, the view is spectacular but the baboons are sure a nuisance. How did the kids feel about the hitch-hiking primate?!

    • Thanks for the response Colleen. Well, I’m not sure Kate noticed what happened or really cared that much. Luke, however, had a clear opinion on why the baboon decided to take a look around in our car. There was an open pack of peanuts on the dashboard and Luke is convinced (to this day) that he was after the peanuts. I’m not so sure I agree – he had ample opportunity to make a grab for the nuts. The funny thing is that after this incident no one wanted to get out of the car other than me, although I think Maureen’s sister Lorraine did get out to take some pictures. Everyone else stayed in the car with the doors closed. 🙂

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