"Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world.
Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has." - Margaret Mead

Building Futures, Inc.

Building Futures, Inc.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Sunday - July 15, 2012

Before I write about today, I realized that I forgot a really touching story from yesterday while we were sitting at Wendy's house.  After Wendy's uncle said that he felt compelled to take care of his orphaned nieces, Samuel reached behind him and grabbed two ears of corn.  "You see these corn.  They are big because you are blessed because of your action.  God gives you big corn so you can feed your family and your sisters girls.  You must make sure that the orphans always get more than your own children, making sure that your own children always get everything."  I looked puzzled as he continued.  "You take these two ears and give one to each of two children.  You give nothing to the orphan.  Then, you tell each child to break their ear in half giving the other half to the orphan.  Each of your children hold one half, while the orphan holds two.  Do you understand me?" Wendy's uncle smiled and nodded.  Then, in a deep voice that almost sounded like thunder he said, "You are blessed.  Share your blessings."  The room fell silent for a while after that.  Although Kevin and I were sitting right next to Wendy, it was as if we weren't even there.  This was an experienced father passing down some wisdom to a younger one.  It was well received by all of us.

Today started earlier than we thought it would.  Job and the car were to pick us at 7:30am, but they arrived at 7.  Being on time is rare enough, but this "being early" thing has me baffled.  Even Job was amazed.  We were having breakfast when he arrived, "Just come out when you are done. I'll be waiting."  He was.  Our drive was Benson Ochien - an employee of Moses.  The car he was driving was a matatu that has a special place in the hearts of Andrea and Katie.  It's the same van they spent 13 hours in... including an unscheduled trip to Tanzania.  Did I say, "unscheduled?"  I meant unauthorized (by either country).  Job informed me that I was sitting exactly where Andrea sat, and Kevin was on the other side from where Katie did.  I'm happy to tell you that there were no detours or delays.  We got to Kibuye Cathedral one hour before church.

There was already a mass going on, so we waited out front for the 9am "Mass in English."  The church has a large courtyard on two sides where men and women sat while their children played.   It's been cool in the morning, so it wasn't an uncomfortable wait.  The church soon emptied, then filled right up again.  We grabbed seats in the back so that we could leave early.  Not "early" by American standards. The masses her can go on for 3 hours, at least.  The last time I came here, the mass was said in English, then Kiswahili, then Calogen, then Luo, then Luya (I think you get the hint).  We sat patiently on the long 1x8 benches as the ushers made sure everyone was touching the person on either side of them.  Kenya is not a place for people who insist on "personal space."

The choir began singing as the procession began from the back of the church.  The church is of average  size and shape.  The vaulted wooden ceiling made it look much larger.  The interior is strikingly beautiful in it's simplicity - unadorned arched stained glass windows and dark wood frames stretching 90' into the air, sitting upon smooth concrete walls.  The only items on those walls were metal castings of the Stations of the Cross.  The cavernous acoustics complimented the traditional hymns sung in Kiswahili accompanied by traditional Kenyan instruments.  Despite the size of the church, the procession took 15 minutes.  When the priest began speaking, it was entirely in Kiswahili.  During mass I doubt that Kevin could make out anything beside the intermittent "Amen."  Job (who is Anglican) stood up a couple of times to leave... I had to keep saying, "Not yet."  After the gospel, I was happy to hear him begin his sermon in English.  After the first 5 sentences, however, he went back to Kiswahili.  Apparently, the English mass is after this one.  Thirty minutes into the sermon, Kevin leaned over and said, "Wow, I thought Fr Ed could talk!"  it was another 15 before he stopped.  Job got up.  "Not yet."  As the gifts were brought up, the collection boxes were sent around pine boxes, 16"x 12"x12" with a lock that looked like it came off the set of a Clint Eastwood western.  The interesting part in that is that everyone put something in the box.  Everyone.  Men in suits, young mothers in tattered clothes, elderly men with clear cases of conjunctivitis, old women barely able to walk... for some it was a couple shillings, others put in up to 50ksh. You could almost tell that for many of them it was all that they had, but they handed it over freely, waiting for the coins to thud at the bottom of the box before passing it on.  It was really quite moving as I watched it travel the length of the benches.

The next cue was for the sign of the peace.  Afterward I said, "Not yet, Job."  We were well into our 2nd hour by now, and even Kevin was having doubts.  "Are you sure they have communion here?"  Yes, I was.  Another 15 minutes later, it was over.  The communion line was not a continuous loop that we are accustomed to, so we actually walked out of a side rear door and entered through the main rear door.  After receiving communion, we had to double back and exit the same main door and wait with 50 other people on the steps of the cathedral while mass ended.  Job didn't wait, he went straight to the car, and we met him soon thereafter.

Next was a trip to Nakumat for some more supplies.  Uneventful with the exception of my realizing that everyone was being wanded before entering.  One line for women, one line for men, and 2 policemen with a metal detector having everyone empty their pockets if the monitor went off.  They were there on our first night - I guess I didn't give it a second thought, possibly due to fatigue.  This was the first time I'd seen this.  Job informed us that it's a precautionary measure partly due to the upcoming elections and partly due to Al Shabaab and the violence to the east.

Then we went to the Masai Market to pick up presents for friends back home.  Wooden and soapstone carvings, paintings, clothing, jewelry... if you like to dicker and love chachkees, this is the place to be.  We first went to see our friend Beatrice.  She knows me well, and she is the only one I don't really have to go back-and-forth with.  She gives me good prices, and I keep bringing people to her.  Simple arrangement that works well for both of us.  We still managed to wander through the other shops, not that we had a choice.  "My brothah, my brothah, please come see my shop."  I had no idea I had so many brothers.  Still, I managed to find some unique items that I had not seen before.  Kevin began rolling his eyes every time I picked up another nativity scene or carved serving spoons.  I finally relented and we hopped back in the van.

Next we headed to Kiboku Bay for lunch.  We were flagged down by another car who was inquiring if Benson was able to pick up a group of white people to take them to Masai Mara.  Kevin leaned over to me and said, "Do they want to go to Tanzania, too?"  That almost made Job spit out the water that he was drinking.  Me, too.  Kiboku Bay has become an almost mandatory visit on each trip.  It's a beautiful resort on Lake Victoria.  I had pepper steak, Job had Chicken Marsala, Kevin had chicken wings.  Yes, I said chicken wings... 24 hours of flying time, and the kid gets chicken wings.  He's done it every time.

The surprise for him was desert.  Here's his expression after I told him he could order a chocolate milk shake here (although they're best known for their banana splits).

We left Koboku Bay, but not before Kevin snapped a picture of a lizard that had wandered under our table.

Out of curiosity, we then went to the Impala Sanctuary that was nearby.  It turned out to be more of a zoo.  It was incredibly sad.  Although the animals appeared well cared for, it's difficult to see these beautiful creatures behind cages after seeing them in the wild at Masai Mara.  I didn't even wan to take any pictures of them.  The cheetahs and leopards just paced back and forth along their fence line, probably wondering why the guinea hens, despite being so close, were always out of reach.  They paced so much that the path they walked on was devoid of grass, unlike the rest of their "sanctuary."  Lions, water buffalo, dik diks, the story was always the same.  The baboons were the only things that looked content, but they always look that way.  One thing's for sure, we'll never go back.

We got back in and started the 30 minute drive back to Maseno.   With their bellies full, my body guards didn't last long.

It's a good thing I didn't need protecting.

We ended up taking Job home first where we sat with him and his family.  We had learned earlier this morning that his grandmother had passed away, and family and friends were beginning to visit.  There was nothing somber about the gathering, though.  Everyone told stories about growing up the area.  Much to my surprise, Job and his brother (and sisters) have had many animals wander throough their plot... hyena, serval cat, leopard... yeah, I said, "leopard."  That's insane.  He apparently had a really good dog.  A really big, really good dog.  It's no wonder they called him Simba ("lion" in Kiswahili).  Like any good uncle, Job tried giving some soda to his niece Casey... don't worry, his mother stopped him. After our sodas and a lot of laughter, they pushed us off to our place in the guest house.  But not before scaring the daylights out of Casey.  I think she thought Kevin and I were ghosts.  White faces are not that common in this area, and certainly not to infants and toddlers!  The results are obvious.

Kevin commented how nice it was to drive home rather than walking up the steep hills.  We've only got 5 more days of it.  We got back to the room and I immediately began wrapping everything we brought at the market so that it would get damaged on our flights back home.  15 minutes later, Kevin was asleep.  While he was out, I got a visit from Betty Owino (a long time friend of ours who now manages this facility) and talked to Andrea and the girls for 15-20 minutes.  I love hearing them.  I'm looking forward to Skyping/FaceTiming with them after they have brunch.

Critters for the day... including the lizard from Koboku Bay.  The other two were having breakfast with us.

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