(Im sorry in advance for any typos. There is limited time and limited cell phone service. So when I am able to write thes, I don't have much time to proofread. Again, I apologize.)
Here in Kenya they refer to sleep as “lala”. Without having much access to the internet I cannot verify any hunches about where this comes from, but it has a nice sound to it when it is said by a Kenyan. It’s very peaceful, much like a lot of their culture due to the lack of rushing and running around.
When you arise they ask: How was your lala?” It is a sincere question of comfort and honoring for them to know that they were able to make our stay one in which we feel honored and eventually have a desire to return.
It is challenging at times. For instance, when we were at Gloria Academy and you see all the sweet little faces of the children and our hosts ask us to eat first. This is the conundrum. They insist that we eat and take American portions so that they know we are pleased. If you take anything less what they feel we can eat they may ask if everything is “ok.” And yet, there is this sweet sea of little faces pressed against the ornamental window bars. Each smile representing a child that gets only a small amount of food each day. (Which is probably why I have yet to see an overweight Kenyan child.) Since our comfort is their pleasure, we eat first and the children eat next. Lastly, the parents are given about a cup of rice and 1/4 cup of protein (in this case beans). They are vey hungry because the service on day 3 went very long, but still they must wait until the Americans are finished. Not finished getting their food, but finished eating their food.
They eat using plates they they have brought from home and don’t bother with utensils. A normal act that causes several to feel self conscious at the presence of our team and they are hesitant to eat while we are near.
That is the irony of it. Our comfort at the expense of theirs. (To learn more about the food preparation while we are here check out the more info below.)
Even here in Kenya where the atmosphere is pretty relaxed and unhurried it is important to have time off to recover from all the work. Or team was no exception to this. So on Day 5 we rested. We awoke to a later breakfast at 9am (2 am Eastern Time) and got ready to head to Malindi for some shopping. Our first stop was at a textile where the girls purchased wraps (a traditional Kenyan dress that, yep, you guessed it, wraps around you). After being somewhat mobbed by locals we found some other trinkets that we bartered for.
The best space we found was a coop. It is a very large pole barn where woodworkers are making many many figurines and item that they later post for sale in a large common market store. It resembled a 1900s safari brick and stucco building with decades of dust (from all the woodworking in the adjacent building) floating in the few sunbeams Abel to penetrated the outside tree canopy and settling on the few vacant surfaces inside. So many items made from many different woods, stone, and glass beads. All of them handmade by those in the pole barn, some of them disabled. An opportunity to make an honest living and to keep their dignity by providing for themselves and their family. Even at that, the average price of the small items is around $3. An item that would cost 4 times that in the United States despite the hours taken to make it, sand it, and paint or stain it. What a blessing to support them.
After our trip to the woodworking co-op we headed to the Gede Ruins to see monkeys. What a fun adventure this was. They were very friendly and absolutely loved the bananas that were available for purchase by local vendors. And each group of monkeys consist thing of mostly females and one large male monkey. Each grouping was somewhere between 10 and 15 monkeys from what we observed.
The ruins were from an old Muslim community. That was many hundreds of years old. And the highlight was a mosque located just outside of the ruins of a palace. The cost per ticket only amounted to about five dollars per person. There were three or four Bobo trees growing among the ruins that were very large. They are beautiful trees in create a fruit that is a luscious red. I would assume that is very sweet, although we are not able to eat it since consuming fruit outside of our compound is a very risky process that could eventually result in projectile, vomiting, or diarrhea. "No thanks." it is very difficult to watch. People try to earn a living by vending their products outside of these attractions, so you do your best to find something that you might be able to purchase. In one case, one of our team members was not able to eat the fruit being sold by a mother who had a baby strap to her back so he simply gave her 500 shillings. Well above the price of the harvested Boba fruit. It is little moments like these, that you realize the capability of compassion in the human heart focused on Christ.
This puts us at a 4 pm lunch and a trip to the beach at almost 7 pm and dinner at nearly 10 pm. You quietly contemplate where the time has gone, but in the end it does not concern you, you just accept it. After all, this..is Kenya.
Our food is prepared each day by a team of cooks. 2 chefs and 3 assistant cooks. They prepare our food in a 7 X15 kitchen with a gas stove, no fridge, and a 3X4 counter space, (I did not actually measure, these are close to accurate amounts). They arrive very early in the morning to make breakfast to be ready by 8am and sometimes are here until 10pm.
Did you say “chefs”?
What? How can you be on a missions trip if you are talking about having a chef? Interestingly enough, the Kenyan government has discovered if they are going to allow Americans to visit their country that they (the hosts of the Americans/foreigners) have a plan for food etc. There are many rules regarding what is allowed including using only bottled water to wash and prepare fresh foods and cleaning utensils etc. C.B.E.M had to submit a plan for who and how food would be prepared for us so that we dont become very ill.
The chefs and cooks assistants are from a local culinary school and have done a wonderful job with our food preparation. Breakfast consists of pancakes (we call them crepes), lots of fresh fruit including these tiny bananas, pineapple, passion fruit, their type of watermelon (very sweet and small), instant coffee, and chai tea (a gift from India to the Kenyan culture). Kenyans do not at all understand the American Coffee Culture and they are amazed when I told them how much money teenagers spend on coffee per week ( I told them about 2 or 3 times per week at about $5.50 about 2,500 shillings which is a lot of many to them. Did I mention for $33 per month you can make sure that one of the 60 or so un adopted Kenyan children. That’s giving up about 6 coffees per month is all. =)