Tuesday night, the street kids came to the center and we did another movie and dinner with them. This time we escaped from the PSA style movies of “Drugs are Bad” and “Littering Lowers Community Morale”, and went straight for Hollywood. No more crumbs and leftovers of our art.  I wanted to give these guys our best of cinema. And what better representation of the best Hollywood has produced, than none other than, the Lord of the Rings Trilogy. We set up an outdoor “drive-in” type theatre with a projector against a big screen, stereo sound, in this outdoor stone gazebo by the Hope Center. I may have told a half-truth to the staff, that LOTR was a religious movie.


The guys came late, some were high (the smell of glue was strong on some of their breaths) but they came anyway, and we were glad to have them. I wasn’t sure how they would receive a movie like Lord of the Rings. None of them have even heard of the movie. We had occasional pauses where Elly would explain some of the plot in Swahili, but I noticed that the visuals were so on point, that the various shots told the story itself. Dialogue seemed more like filler.

What was so interesting bout watching the movie with those guys was, how sensitive they were to the violence and images on screen. Their real lives contain images that would make the average Middle-Class American cringe or tremble, yet we rarely take a second look when someone gets their head cut off on screen, yet, whenever a sword was drawn, or a monster’s face was profiled, the reaction from these guys was unreal. They were so sensitive to the pain of the characters on screen. I’m loving these guys more and more…

Elly was re-assuring me that these guys do have hope. That hope is something that we can’t give up on, and any changes we may not even see, and it’s ok. The point is that he believes change will come, whether we know it or not, so to just keep on helping and hanging out with these guys. We both agreed that the more we get to know each other, the more we start receiving from these guys, and I tell you, these guys have a lot to give. Tonite we had a few new faces: Edward, Patrick, and Ashim. Nelson was definitely there, and he told me why they nicknamed him “Jamaica”.  All these dudes have nicknames!

Elly and his wife sat watched the movie with us. Elly is such a lifesaver. I don’t know what I’d do without him. The guys love him! He talks their talk, he vibes with them well. Makes me realize that my language barrier is a bigger barrier than I’d like to be. In Nairobi, English is spoken, but these guys barely speak the language.

I gotta learn Swahili.

We got thru a good part of Fellowship of the Ring, and then chatted about it a little. I shared with them how i related to Bilbo with his inability to part with the ring, as i’ve had an inability for years to part with cigarettes. Kamau kinda had a shocked look on his face when I shared that I was heavily addicted to smokes.

I chatted with Father Moses about an idea that I had about spending the day with them in Kibera, and he kinda was against it. He said, “you don’t wanna make them into hypocrites.” I wasn’t following, but he said “they’ll put on a show for you when you’re around, let them be themselves when they’re at home.” I kinda get it, but I kinda don’t.

I’ll let you know what I find out. He gave me a big hug, and after the hug it kinda hit me that I needed that. I’ve felt kinda alone out here, and something clicked after the hug. It was all good. I was in a bad mood earlier today, just frustrated over my leg injury, and the fact that my desk was missing from my office this morning. I guess I was in a bad mood or something, who knows. Anyway, feeling good tonight, bout to go to bed, and have a new day to start tomorrow.

Chau, locos! Say hi to the States for me.

4 thoughts on “Nairobi Meets The Shire

  1. Hey Paul,

    I’m curious as to how well they grasped the plot by the end of the movie, and is there any clamoring for the rest of the trilogy?

    re: the comment about “you don’t wanna make them into hypocrites”, did you take it as “if they’re putting on an act, and living two separate lives, there’s no way we can help them solve their hidden problems”?

  2. JB,

    Hey man! It was actually interesting how much of the meaning they got from the first part of the movie carried a lot of religious connotations. They called Sauron “Shitani” which means Satan. It was very much a good/bad kinda understanding of the movie. Then I challenged them a bit, and we talked a bit about the other characters who weren’t ‘bad’ but who fell in their weakness to the power of the ring. That’s when a conversation about addiction began… so we’ll see how these conversations go durin the next few weeks.

    Patrick was like “we wanna know what happens next!” and I was like “Well, looks like you’ll have to come next week to find out.” They really liked it, so far. It’s a long trilogy so, looks like a 6 week endeavor. After that – we’ll play some soccer!

    And about your explaination of the “hypocrite” quote… I think you’re right on the money. And it’s definitly a frustration… when it comes to “outsiders”, their mentality is “put on the best show so the outsiders won’t reject us.” Very much a product of Christian guilt haha. they’ll swear up and down they don’t get high… and i smell the glue… and you know what, I don’t care! I get it – i understand their situation… i don’t hold it against them. i mean we all have stuff we turn to, in order to cope with life. i think its more about being real, and helping each other make healthy choices in how we cope.

    i think to earn trust where realism can surface, will take a lot longer than my breif visit here… but if i can plant even a small seed….

    thanks for your thoughts, man

  3. Hey Bro,

    You are greatly missed bro. Although, i do believe you’re there for a purpose. I am amazed, lord of the rings probably wasn’t on your agenda, but whoever imagined you can turn it into a sunday school lesson. I don’t know, but what i do know is that you’re making a difference, and nothing would/can spell that out more than in seeing that they’re coming back for more. And bringing their friends too. “Come and See”

    And i know not only are you making a difference in their lives, but they’re making one in yours. I love seeing that you can see so much of yourself in them. or vice versa. But it goes beyond learning swahili .

    God Bless you! and Pray for me! and ask them to pray for me! and say hello to Nad-YA.

    call me pelease.

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