“Lord, If Only…” Reflections On Single Adulthood In Africa And In The West -- By: Diane Stinton

Journal: Priscilla Papers
Volume: PP 11:3 (Summer 1997)
Article: “Lord, If Only…” Reflections On Single Adulthood In Africa And In The West
Author: Diane Stinton

“Lord, If Only…” Reflections On Single Adulthood In Africa And In The West

Diane Stinton

Diane Stinton is a Canadian from Calgary, Alberta, where she completed her undergraduate degrees at the University of Calgary B.A. in Religious Studies and English, 1980; B.Ed, in Secondary English, 1982). Following two years in Kenya with the Africa Inland Mission teaching in a rural secondary school for national girls, she pursued theological studies at Regent College, Vancouver, in New Testament and Spiritual Theology (M.T.S. 1987). Since then, she has worked at Daystar University in Nairobi, Kenya, as a lecturer in biblical studies and Christian ministries and as a chaplain. She has also continued her theological studies at Regent College (ThM. 1994) and at New College, Edinburgh (PhD). candidate at the Centre for the Study of Christianity in the Non-Western World).

January 1984: The plane touched down on shimmering tarmac and my heart trembled with anticipation. At long last I had returned to Africa, the continent of my birth! Leaving behind the -30 C. temperatures of my home city in Canada, I arrived to find +30 C. sunshine in Nairobi, Kenya.

After an hour of moving through immigration and customs, I was met with a firm handshake by Joyce Taylor, senior missionary with the Africa Inland Mission. Her animated eyes searched my face through thick black frames. Shocks of rust-coloured hair rested in no particular direction, and a broad grin lit up her faintly freckled face. As we approached her vehicle, she reached for my two suitcases which the airline had clearly marked “Heavy Baggage.” I leapt in protest, knowing full well the bags weighed a good thirty kilos each. But with casual defiance, she swung the bags into the truck with seeming effortlessness. “Strong as an ox” was one of my first impressions of this senior, single missionary woman.

“Yet this was only the beginning of many impressions that were formulated as I watched Joyce in action at a nearby school over the next two years. Affectionately known as “Wa T” (“Daughter of Taylor”), she had become an almost legendary figure among the Akamba people of Eastern Province. For almost forty years, she had started secondary schools for girls in increasingly remote and desolate areas of Ukambani. Now, almost fifty years since her first arrival, she has taught two and three generations of young Kenyan women, many of whom have gone on for further training and risen to prominent positions in Kenya—including the first female Minister of Parliament, Mrs. Nyiva Mwendwa. After a lifetime of service in the most rugged conditions, and remarkable identification with the people in language and lifestyle, she has rightfully earned the designation of “the white Mukamba.” Such was my introduct...

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