This past weekend has been filled with new experiences. Matthew, Sage, and I arrived in Kimana, Kenya last Thursday and have been given time from then to now to become oriented with our new home, work site, and way of living. This time was incredibly useful. Now we are well-rested and ready to work. During the next 10 weeks, we will all be doing various projects at Lenkai Christian School including organizing the library, teaching math (me), computer skills (Sage), and dance (Matt), and helping with some new construction projects. Also, I will be conducting follow-ups on water filters that have been distributed in the region by Just One Africa, analyzing the data, and evaluating their clean water initiative. Though we hope our contributions will be helpful for the community, our orientation over the last few days has proven that we have a lot to learn from the people around us.
Here’s a list of just three of the many things our new friends have taught us:
- How to have a birthday party “Kenyan style”. Last Friday was my 19th birthday. After dinner, Paul, the worship leader at the church in Lenkai Christian School, asked me to come outside with him. We had just purchased phones that day, and he said that he wanted to try something on my phone where there is service. Then, while I was looking over his shoulder wondering what he could be doing, I felt a bucket of chilly water splash on my head and back. And then more water. And more. Laughing, I went back to my room to put on some dry clothes, and when I returned to my host’s home, there was cake, soda, and popcorn waiting for me. My new Kenyan friends sang their version of Happy Birthday and cheered when I blew out the candles.
- How to slaughter, skin, butcher, roast, and eat a goat. On Saturday, our hosts had a party. They invited the teachers at Lenkai, rangers from the animal conservation, and others from the community. Many people here are Maasai, a people group in Kenya and Tanzania who have preserved their amazing culture over the years. We were honored to get to see Maasai men slaughter two goats and cook them. They use all of the meat. In case you were wondering, the ribs were my favorite. The intestines were not.
- How to have fun in church. One of our hosts, John Parit, is a Maasai man who is finishing his master’s degree in Liverpool, overseeing about 40 rangers in an animal conservation, sitting on the board of Lenkai Christian School, and pastoring a local church. He is incredible. We experienced our first service at his church yesterday, and let me tell you, it was unlike any service I’ve ever been to. They have the kids’ service first, at around 9:00. After doing Bible trivia (boys vs. girls, a very intense competition), they sang and danced in both Swahili and English. Each child danced his or her own style with much freedom and joy. Then, even in the adult service people danced as they sang. Matt, Sage, and I participated with varying degrees of awkwardness in our movements, but despite our dancing ineptitude (with the exception of Matt), we all felt how worship can be fun, how to “rejoice in the Lord”, as Paul writes in Philippians.
This short list doesn’t nearly do justice to what our community partners have given us so far. Their hospitality and kindness continue to amaze us, and we are challenged continually by how they value education and each other. I am eager to learn more, as we serve this community together. Though we will be helping to teach children, we will do so as students of our hosts, this place, and this culture.