It’s been another busy week here in Maasailand, Kenya! It was tough saying goodbye to Molly and Brian as they left for Safari and their Mt. Kenya climb, and also to Kelsey and Abbey. I was so fortunate to be with such amazing friends the last few weeks. They made a huge impact on this community, and I know they in turn will never be the same having lived and loved in true Maasai Fashion!
The day the first team left, I got to also welcome the second team arriving in Kenya………..my family!! So strange standing on the other side when welcoming people to Kenya. I could hardly contain myself when I spotted my daughter Kristi coming down the stairs! Of course I was easy to spot being the only Mzungu (white-faced person)waiting for them! My sister Laura is here now with 2 of her daughters, and my daughters Ali and Kristi are here as well. How lucky am I?!
The first day in Maasailand we were completely emmersed in the Ronesa Academy children. They were very excited to see more Mzungus and left my family speechless…and dirty!:>) We have played with them, taught in the classrooms, and we are currently painting the entrance to this amazing school. We spend our evenings playing with the orphan kids who live with us in the same compound. They are absolutely adorable and are excited to be in their final home in just a few short months. The orphanage on Mama Sheila’s property is nearly complete and just a few hundred feet from Ronesa!
Yesterday we were invited to spend the day with Simon (who helps with our goat/chicken/cow program) and his entire family. While we were approaching their Manyata (circle structure with many homes inside), Simon’s son and niece came darting out of nowhere running to greet us. Simon said Emmanuel had been saying all day, “When is my Mzungu coming?!” It was tough to hold back the tears at our reunion. Our gathering started with a goat feast where they prepared roasted meat (goat) in their bush kitchen with many decorated Maasai in their glory…….bushes and lots of meat! We were eating goat handed to us by a maschete, all while the head of the goat was peering at us from a nearby rock…….really?! We just had to laugh and eat it by faith! We took a hike to their cliffs overlooking their 160 acre piece of land……absolutely stunning! Laura and I questioned our Mothering skills after watching our precious children scoot along the cliffs, even though we completely trust Simon and his family. After the hike we ate AGAIN, this time the goat soup, chipate’, beans and oranges prepared by Simon’s wife Silvia. Of course the real treat was an actual soda………in a glass bottle! An orange Fanta never tasted so good! Our day ended with Simon’s mother giving a beautiful speech and adorning all of us with her beautiful jewelry. His father (a very proud maasai warrior with 12 children and ONLY 1 wife:), also gave a moving speech about how our families are now eternally connected. We left there wanting someone to pinch us so we wouldn’t forget what an amazing experience we had just had. The love, humility, and genuine acceptance is beyond what any of us had ever experienced before and it has forever changed us.
Today was one of those days where you sit and wonder how it is that you got to such a place as this? I tell everyone when they come here that it is such a shock to your system and to not even try to process all that you are hearing, seeing and doing until you go back home. We had the privilege to go to church today and as usual we were blown away by the singing, dancing, and genuine joy the Maasai demonstrate. My niece Taylor said it best, “I was sitting in church watching beautiful Maasai women dancing and celebrating right in front of me and it felt like a dream!” The pastor gave a message that even our kids were moved by. The title was called, “Dropping Good.” He spoke about the importance of leaving something good wherever you go in life, wherever you go in this world. He spoke directly to our group and used us as an example of dropping good. While we feel we are getting more than we are giving, it was very humbling and affirming as we set out each day to serve this community we have come to know and love as our own.
At church we LOVE watching the 28 girls from the SafeHouse dance. They are kind enough to allow us to dance with them and gracious enough to not laugh when we strain to bob our heads the way that they do. It is absolutely beautiful. One of my favorite dancers is Mary. When you see Mary you assume that she is one of the older girls of the group because she leads all the dances and is often seen dancing alone while looking out the window before church begins. Mary’s story is shocking, but not uncommon to the other 27 girls. The SafeHouse is a rescue center in which Maasai girls are brought because they are either running away from an unwanted marriage and/or are refusing the traditional Female circumcision procedure (FGM) that 90% of all girls undergo by the age of 12. They are girls that are brave beyond belief, beautiful in stature and demeanor, and are my true heros in this world. I summoned the courage and asked Mama Sheila to tell me her story. She said that Mary was rescued 2 years ago from a forced marriage by her father. She was to be the 3rd wife of a Maasai warrior and had already endured the FGM procedure still practiced by most Maasai villages today. Mary is only 12 and is in the second grade. This young woman is just a little girl and yet she smiles with sincerity, dances in a way that can only be described as regal, and demonstrates a faith in God that all of us would envy. These girls are the heart of the village and yet so absolutely alone. 3 of them are orphans and all of them have no home. The youngest is 8 and the oldest is 16. Some of their names are Faith, Grace, Rahab, Esther, Martha, Mary, Charity, and Paris…..but all of them have been rejected or denied their childhood. The dichotomies of Africa are very hard to process, let alone understand. But, they certainly stir up emotions that leave us all disturbed and intrigued all at the same time.
So, here we are now experiencing another dichotony of sorts: a few matatu rides this morning and now we are in Karen, home of movie, “Out of Africa,” having coffee, fruit, and sitting among many Mzungus going about their business. In the village we stand out like a sore thumb, and here we are just another white-faced person assumed to be living and working in this wealthy part of Kenya. But, we stay here only long enough to use a standing toilet, grab supplies, use the internet, before longing for our beloved village where Mama Sheila awaits for her “precious sweethearts from America,” to return. Of course we often look for excuses to come to town just because we LOVE taking Picky-pickies (motorbikes) back to Olosho-Oibor village.
We feel very far from home, but hold all of you in our very full hearts!
Until next time……….Niesulla (my Maasai name meaning “The one who serves.”
*My blog is not allowing me to post any pictures for some reason? Please visit my facebook page if you want to see some incredible pictures from our African Adventure!