His name is Joshua Odhiambo Odenga and this past saturday, he turned 28 years old! Joshua is the Ndoto driver, a dear friend, Ndoto volunteer who has a heart of service, grace and love like any other I have ever seen. I have mentioned before that my morning Tuk Tuk rides with Joshua have become a favorite part of my life here in Kenya. We always laugh at some point, lately about how I hate that the Chinese are beating the US in the olympics. He also cracks up every time that I mention that he could win a gold medal for the Tuk Tuk Olympics!
For his birthday, we wanted to celebrate him well and surprise him quite a bit! So, we just played it off like it was no big day….and when we asked Joshua what he would want to do, he said that He just wanted to buy a crate of sodas and have us all sit around the office and drink a soda, and celebrate and thank God for his life. That might be one of the most precious birthday requests I have ever heard!
We said of course, that sounds lovely…but we were planning a much bigger celebration! 🙂 He had no idea, but we were all waiting for him at a restaurant in town called Mon Ami, with a cake from Nakumatt (the local grocery store), happy birthday hats, whistles, pictures of him and his family that I had printed out, and dun dun dun duuuuuun…..a GOLD MEDAL! I actually found a gold medal at the grocery store that said world’s best friend on it. Now, this not only is true of Joshua, but it also stood for his tuk tuk gold medal, and the first gold medal Kenyan had won in the real olympics! Joshua was so shocked and surprised, and overwhelmed that he just laughed for a long time!
Even a mzungu man from Arlington Texas stopped by and said happy birthday Joshua, and gave him an I AM SECOND bracelet! What are the odds?! This past week, I have seen two mission teams in Kisumu from Texas! The first, was from Amarillo and they knew all these people from the BRH choir I was in at Baylor! This woman told me she was so happy I had been in the choir and that she knew some people in it, but she couldn’t carry a tune in a bucket. I just looked at her, laughed, and said “I love and miss Texas so much right now!!” The beautiful thing about the team from Amarillo, besides their fun west texas sayings, was that my dear friend Ashley Marble was leading the trip for her job! We are good friends in Dallas, and I didn’t know she would even be in my city! It was such a blessing to see a friend from home unexpectedly in my new place of residence on the other side of the world, and such a blessing to just be around Texans…That is ALWAYS a good thing!!
The team Saturday at Joshua’s birthday was from Arlington, and were also with the same organization, Buckner International, going to see some orphans in Busia, an area outside of Kisumu. Just always a blessing to see Texan’s in africa! We really are our own breed of people, and it’s hard to explain to those who’ve never lived there.
All that to say, my favorite gold medalist was surprised and I am fairly confident that he felt well celebrated!! He received some extra love from Texas, Kenya’s first gold medal, and a wealth of love and appreciation for his life, with some added blessings of cake, lunch, and a soda! 🙂 Pictures are coming soon, and will be accompanying his sweet birthday celebration, but for now…Here’s to you Joshua!!!! You’re a blessing to all of our lives, and we are all changed for the better because of knowing you!