The Sister I Never Had
A True Story
on Jun 9, 2021
Have you ever had someone who draws out the best in you while others are putting you down? Someone who encourages you to pursue your talents? Someone who speaks up for you when you are too shy to say anything? Someone who wants you to grow into a responsible and mature adult? My friend Ruth Wangire was all that to me.
I first met Ruth Wangire in April 2007 at All Saints' Cathedral in Nairobi when I joined the cathedral's 9.30am English service choir of which she was a member as a soprano singer. Back then, I was a shy, naive and self-conscious young man about to matriculate at the university. Shortly after I joined the choir, we were divided us into several fellowship groups. I was put into a group of about ten choir members headed by Ruth Wangire.
As the head of my fellowship group, Ruth Wangire went out of her way to help me overcome my shyness. In an effort to get me talking, she asked me on one Sunday in 2007 to tell other fellowship members which hymn I had liked most during church service. If my memory serves me well, I told them that I had liked the wonderful old hymn "Glorious Things of Thee are Spoken".
During another fellowship group meeting, Ruth Wangire had us read the story of Joseph in the book of Genesis on how he was seduced by the Potiphar's wife into sleeping with her on several occasions but he resisted the temptations. I was smart enough to realize it was me that Ruth Wangire wanted the message of the story to hit home. And the message did hit home in my mind.
Because of my shyness, it took me a long time before I started singing with the choir in the pews. And that bothered Ruth Wangire a lot to a point that she stopped singing with the choir till I was allowed to robe. She was that concerned about me.
When I finally began singing in the pews on Sundays in late December 2007, more than eight months after I joined the choir, Ruth Wangire was happy. She was even happier when I started accompanying the choir on the organ during Sunday services. I fondly remember her referring to me as "the organist" while talking of me to other members of our fellowship group.
Ruth Wangire became such an encouragement to me that she asked other choristers not to be jealous of my music talents. She spoke up for me at a time when I was too shy to speak up for myself; she was the kind of Christian that the Bible exhorts us to be in the book of Proverbs.
Sometime in August 2008 when I went astray at the university, I abruptly stopped attending church at All Saints' Cathedral. I later gathered that some fellow choristers became worried about what may have happened to me since I didn't have a phone they could use to reach me. After I acquired a mobile-phone later on in the year, Ruth Wangire was among the few choristers who phoned me to find out what had transpired to me. I informed her that I had been taken ill, a fact that made her sympathize with me.
About two years later (in September 2010), I tried to resume attending church at All Saints' Cathedral. The first Saturday afternoon in 2010 when I turned up for choir practice in the church, I struck a conversation with Ruth Wangire. I had grown rather plump and had had a badly done haircut. Thinking I wasn't the same attractive young man I had been a few years before, I asked Ruth Wangire how I appeared that Saturday afternoon. To my surprise, she blurted out, "You are looking good!"
A week or two after I resumed attending church at All Saints' Cathedral in September 2010, Ruth Wangire bought me a daily Bible reading guide for the year 2010. And guess what! I only read that book a few weeks ago. Imagine it had been lying idle in my room for more than ten years! Had I read the book back in 2010 and understood it deeply enough, I would have grown into a Christian maturity that would have saved me from the foolish mistakes I have committed in the past one decade, mistakes that have left me reeling with guilt.
Well, I didn't succeed in consistently attending church at All Saints' Cathedral in 2010. Ruth Wangire strived to be the same encouraging person she had always been to me. She phoned me one evening in early 2011 and advised me to attend my local church if I was unable to make it to All Saints' Cathedral. A month or two later, she took me to an upscale restaurant in Nairobi where she listened to my talk about how I admired flawed but great men like Bill Clinton and John F. Kennedy. She then counseled me on the way forward.
I developed such a liking for Ruth Wangire that I would sometimes message her as the years rolled by. Probably after realizing I was more of a nuisance to her, she stopped responding to me with the same enthusiasm that had been characteristic of her. And when she ceased replying to some of my text messages, I at one time in 2013 called her a self-absorbed woman using derogatory language unworthy to be uttered by a person who professes to worship God.
Of late, I have been feeling guilty for having called Ruth Wangire a self-absorbed woman. She is actually one of the kindest and most caring ladies I have ever encountered. Having grown up in a family of only brothers, I feel she is the sister I never had. Now that we no longer meet in church or communicate, I hope she forgave me for anything negative I ever said to her. And if she is reading this story, I want to let her know I treasure the memories of our time at All Saints' Cathedral.
RECOMMENDATION: If you've enjoyed this story on the sister I never had, you might also enjoy another one I wrote last year on "My Caring Friend Mike". Just click on that link in blue to dive straight into the story.
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Relating to Other People's Pain
A True Story
on Jun 4, 2021
I love wearing shorts when I am here at home because they are easier to wash than trousers. They are also cheaper; I buy one pair at only Ksh. 150 at a certain stall in the main market of my hometown of Kiserian. Some folks in Kiserian have noted my love for wearing shorts that they have mentioned it to me during my walking exercises in Kiserian.
Last Wednesday, I noted one of my shorts was wearing out. Since I don't like putting on torn clothes as that would make me look like a poor man, I decided to buy a new pair of shorts during my walking exercises later in the evening. When evening came, I asked God through prayers that He would help me buy a nice pair of shorts that would fit me. Then I left home feeling energetic and hopeful.
On reaching Kiserian, I headed straight to the stall where I buy shorts. Well, the fellow I found at the stall was a stranger. From the look of his face, I could tell he was an alcoholic. His eyes were bloodshot and some of his teeth were missing. But at least he was sober when he was dealing with me. He measured the size of my waist to assess which pair of shorts would fit me.
After he selected the pair of shorts which he thought would fit me, I negotiated with him to sell it to me at Ksh. 150. At first, he demanded Ksh. 250, then Ksh. 200 before finally agreeing to sell it to me at Ksh. 150 - the price I had budgeted for the shorts. As I left the stall, I had a feeling the pair of shorts I had bought was too big for me. But I silently turned the matter over to God, asking Him to let the shorts fit me.
When I reached home, I put on the new pair of shorts, hoping against hope that it was the right size for me. But alas! It turned out to be oversized - just as I had thought. My heart sank after I found out the new pair of shorts was oversized. I felt pain sear through my soul; pain for having been cheated into buying the shorts by the alcoholic.
I wish I had remembered a favorite quote of mine that says, "Don't confuse mere inconveniences with real problems." Maybe the quote would have cheered me up. But the quote didn't pop up in my mind, so I continued wallowing in pain. As I settled on my desk to check my email and social media updates, I complained to God why He had permitted me to buy an oversized pair of shorts yet I had put the issue into His able hands before and after the purchase.
While in that pain-stricken mood, I thought of other people who were going through more pain than me. I remembered reading in the newspaper earlier that day of parents whose nine-year old daughter had been kidnapped and eventually murdered by unknown assailants. And I imagined the pain those parents were going through. Compared to what had been done to their daughter, buying an oversized pair of shorts that cost only Ksh. 150 felt like a very minor issue.
I believe that train of thought that had taken me from my own pain to that of the parents of the murdered daughter was God speaking to me. He was helping me put things in perspective after I complained to Him for not answering my prayers. Sooner rather than later, I felt a sense of peace return in my soul. And when I became my usual happy self, I vowed to always identify with other people's pain - the way Bill Clinton did when he was serving as the 42nd U.S. President (see photo above.)
Let's face it: we live in a fallen world that is full of suffering. People out there are in so much pain. Some are sick, some are stuck in abusive relationships, some are going through marital strife, some are overburdened with guilt, some are bitter about injustices done to them, some have lost their loved ones, some have had their houses gutted by fire - you get the picture?
Most of us get so caught up in working for our daily bread, in fulfilling our dreams, in keeping up with the Joneses and in showing off our success on social media that we turn a deaf ear and a blind eye to the pain other people are going through in their lives. And that's unwise. Which is why I have resolved to always identify with other people's pain. I urge you, my dear reader, to do likewise.
By the way, I went back yesterday evening to the stall where I had bought the oversized shorts. I didn't find the alcoholic who had sold it to me the previous day. Instead, I found another guy who was kind enough to have me exchange the oversized pair of shorts for another one. After he measured my waist to assess which short would fit me, he found two shorts that were nearly my size; one was a bit bigger for me and the other a bit smaller judging by the waist measurements he had taken. He suggested I pick the bigger one. But I had a feeling the smaller one would fit me, so I chose it.
Sure enough, the "smaller" pair of shorts turned out to be the right size for me when I wore it after reaching home. I felt elated to have trusted my instincts and I remembered to thank God for helping me through the buying process. Truly, buying an oversized pair of shorts had just been a mere inconvenience; it wasn't worth all the pain it had inflicted me on Wednesday evening. Don't you agree?
RECOMMENDATION: If you've enjoyed this story on relating to other people's pain, you might also enjoy another one I wrote a few years ago on "Bill Clinton: A True Leader". Just click on that link in blue to dive straight into the story.