Although totally made up, this book is inspired by Moira Smith, a lady I met in Mombasa.
When I lived in Kenya I met an English lady called Moira, who had dedicated her life to helping the Kenyan’s who arrived at the Mombasa Coast Provincial (Free) Hospital. She shared the gospel with them and poured her life into helping them.
I only met her twice but I have never been able to forget her and so I have decided to take artistic license with our meeting and create a whole life story for her, giving her the name of Grace.
There is only one chapter in this book that will be real, and that is the chapter where she meets me.
At the age of 34 and with three sons my life was at a crossroads. My ex-husband was a chef at the Inter-Continental Hotel in Mombasa and we lived there for three and a half years. Then one day out of the blue my ex-husband was fired. The very next day we were listening to the radio to hear the news that the Trade Bank had shut its doors as the director had run away with all the money. All our savings were in that account, so here we were… no money, no job and soon to be homeless. It was at this time when we only had a month left before leaving Kenya, that someone mentioned in a Bible study class that an English lady worked at the hospital. I drove straight to find her.
“What can I do for you?” Moira asked when I found her. I told her I felt compelled to come and see her and ask if there was anything I could do for her. I explained I didn’t have time as we were leaving soon and that I didn’t have money. She looked at me for a moment and then fetched a folder. She opened it and showed me a pile of old letters.
“These are people I have written to in the past to ask for Bibles and trackers, but no one is answering my letters anymore and we haven’t had a Bible or a tracker to hand out to anyone in over five years. Do you think you could write to them for me?”
I said yes, of course. I had to ask a friend if she would buy stamps for me as I didn’t have money for that and she did. I prayed asking what I should write and when I stood by the post box, as I pushed one letter in at a time (I wrote 5) I prayed over it… asking God to take the letters on the wings of his angels and to deliver them safely, quickly and directly to the right people who would make instant decisions.
Three weeks later we were given our flight tickets to leave Kenya and I drove to Mombasa island for the last time to give Moira back her folder. When I got there, she saw me, jumped up and asked, “Who are you?” I explained I was just a housewife and mother, and then she said, “come and see.” In her room were boxes and boxes of Bibles and trackers, in both English and Swahili, exactly what she’d asked for. To better understand the miracle here you need to know that most shipments to Kenya from the UK would take 12 weeks by sea, as her past cartons had done. These cartons were flown in, and they got past customs which was a rare thing in those days without paying chi money.
We sat down and chatted for a while and she told me she had come to Kenya when she was 41, immediately after WWII. Whilst walking the streets she had seen a boy fall from a palm tree and scream, not because he was in agony but because he didn’t want to go to the Mombasa Free Hospital. She asked why and was told people only went there to die. Following him to the hospital changed her life and she simply never left, never went back on the ship and never, even once, returned to the UK. When the hospital staff finally realized they would never get rid of her they gave her a room to work out of and to sleep in, and she’d been there ever since. She was approaching 80 when I met her and she told me she was tired but she would be okay because a convent north of Nairobi had said she could spend her last days with them.
We hugged when we left, I think we were both sorrowful that I hadn’t found out about her much earlier than I did. Still, with no money and no time, God was able to use me to help her. Don’t you just love God?
Grace in Mombasa will be available to buy from the 1st December 2018.
Above left, Tuk Tuk’s in Mombasa Old Town. Right, Fort Jesus.