Tuesday, October 1, 2013
“Humm, apple or Cherry?” I asked Jonathan trying to seek his input in this important decision. We were meeting some friends that evening and I didn’t know which type of dessert to bring. With the Nakumat bakery full of fresh and wonderful desserts, the decision was hard. The man at the bakery was very nice and friendly as he gave us some free samples to help us in our decision-making. “Cherry, without question,” Jonathan answered. We had spent that morning with our builder looking at supplies and trying to find ways to cut cost on the house. It was September 7, and we decided to spend the rest of our Saturday relaxing and enjoying Nairobi before we headed back to Loki. For lunch, we tried out the new hamburger joint at Westgate. It was a brand new restaurant right at the entrance of the mall. We sat outside on the patio and enjoyed the fresh grilled burger, onion rings and fries. The staff was very friendly and we struck up conversations with them as well as other missionaries that frequent the mall. It was a very pleasant place. Once our stomachs were full, we shopped around the nice air-conditioned mall visiting various shops, enjoy a mocha at the coffee shop, and made sure all of our ‘to do’s’ for Nairobi were finished. Little did we know, that in exactly two weeks, the various employees we came across would live through the terror attack on the mall that left countless dead.
Westgate was not a mall for the rich, but it was a pleasant place for various people on different income levels. It was also clean and orderly, and was our place we came to get refreshed. Before leaving that day, we talked about how we were excited to return during the Christmas season. For Christmas, they decorate so beautifully that we forget where we are. Last year, the sounds, smells and sights made us feel closer to home. Westgate is where we would go to watch movies with our Nairobi family and friends. With the mall only about 2 miles walk from the Baptist guesthouse, many visitors frequented the mall. We took Jonathan’s family there when they came to visit. It is where we could get away from the chaos and get refreshed.
For our Nairobi family that lives right across the street from Westgate, we praise God for their protection, but we also pray for them these next few months as they process all the saw and heard. For our Nairobi friends who did their weekly shopping there and their date nights, we praise God for your protection but continue to pray for you as you too grieve over this tragedy. For the employees that we shared in laughs and conversations together, we pray that you are safe and that you may come closer to Christ through this horrible ordeal. For all those who lost a loved one, friend or acquaintance, we deeply hurt along side of you and pray that God’s peace will be felt through your life. For everyone involved, our prayer is that God will make His name known, and that Christ will be your stronghold.
Westgate may seem like just a headline in the news now as it gets buried under the news of earthquakes and other attacks around the world. To us, this will forever be grained in our minds. Those living in Nairobi and us who visited, knew that mall well. We see the pictures and know exactly where they were taken. We see the Nakumat footage and know it was taken on the shampoo isle. We see the pictures of employees hurt and killed and wonder if we were talking to them just two weeks ago. As a country familiar with the hurt of terror attacks, please continue to pray as Kenya picks up the pieces and tries to move on.