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Monday, June 18, 2012

A Day in the Life...

I’ve been meaning to write a post so that you could catch a glimpse of what a normal day here at Mariann looks like. 

After waking up, I went for a morning run down the road and back.  On the way, I can usually catch the Sang’alo Primary students on their way to school.  One little boy started to run with me and ran all the way to his school.  Of course, I get lots of surprised looks, friendly “chamgeis,” and giggles from the little ones.  It’s such a great way to start the day!  While I was doing Pilates in our living room, I looked out the door to see one of our resident cows staring at me.  It was even shocked to see the crazy mzungu!

My first class of the day was Class 3 PE.  What a rambunctious group—I just love them!  The boys have this game that they play with the “plates” (i.e. Frisbees) and the “mpiret” (a squish ball).  They swat it around in the air and have a great time!  Of course, the girls want nothing to do with this, so I try to find something to keep them occupied.  Today, it was playing with my hair and staring in wonder at the whiteness of my skin.  They would say, “OH!  It’s soooo white.”  At one point, even some of the boys were drawn over to look at my white scalp and claw hair clip (circa 1988). 

We took uji (porridge) with the teachers and chatted with them for a bit.  In Class 5 Math, we practiced multiplying kilograms and grams.  I worry about boring them to death, but they never stop smiling sweetly and shouting answers.  J  Back in Class 3 CRE (Christian Religious Education), we talked about praying to God and how Daniel faithfully prayed even though he faced the lions’ den.  And God saved him!  After lunch (ugali, sukuma wiki, and kitheri) with the teachers, we had Creative Arts with the students, who wove bracelets out of craft lace (which seems to be a favorite craft around here).  In Class 4 CRE, we talked about “Sharing Work at School” and “Sharing Work in the Traditional African Community.”  If you’re wondering, yes, I felt very inadequate and awkward teaching the latter.  But it was great, and my heart smiled when they remembered their memory verse a week later: “Carry each other’s burdens and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.”  Galatians 6:2

After classes, we were surprised by our fellow teacher, Susan, who had made us chips (French fries).  What a sweet servant heart!  After a nice talk with her, we settled in for a nice reading session while the rain poured outside.  We made banana pancakes for dinner and headed up to the teachers’ lounge.  We played some nice rounds of “Moonshine” (our usual card game) and went to visit the younger students’ class during evening preps.  Ash and I taught them “Blessed Be Your Name.”  When those sweet little voices sang it back to us, I know that God and Jesus were smiling!  We met with all of the students at 9 PM to close the day with singing and prayer.  Of course, they sang “Our God is a Handsome God”—and how can you top that?  But our day wasn’t over.  We went to the girls’ dorm where we danced traditional Luhya dances (involving a lot of swaying, jumping, and other gyrations that white girls are not quite used to…especially Church of Christ white girls).  We transitioned into “Little Sally Walker,” then crazy chaos.  After getting them sufficiently wound up, we called it a night.

What a beautifully blessed day!  God continues to give us so much, even as our days here wind down.  I cannot believe that we only have 30 days left until we are back in the States, but I trust that God will bless us beyond what we can fathom.  Please pray that I will stay focused, intentional, and energetic in the days to come!  Love you all!

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Music Festival continued...

    This past Thursday we headed to Kapsabet with the children for the second round of the Music Festival.  This particular day we were very lucky because we took a matatu (van) and a small car—meaning no children got sick J.  This was a completely different ride than the previous Music Festival.  Upon arrival to Kapsabet our students started practicing.  There were many schools at this event and many of the students had never seen a mzungu before (and guess what…Mariann School has three J).  The staring was immediate, and it didn’t take long for our personal bubbles to be invaded.  No questions asked they just began to touch our skin and play with our hair J. 
    Eventually we were saved for a bit because our students were called to perform ‘Paponyo’.  They did an excellent job.  It sounded and looked great! We unfortunately missed Beryl recite ‘Cry of an Outcast’ because it was at the same time as ‘Paponyo’.  Susan, however, told us that she did a great job—she recited the poem perfectly. 
    We then had awhile before the students performed again, so we tried to rest.  We sat down on some rocks and were soon surrounded by many pupils from other schools.  We talked to them for a little while, but what they really wanted was our picture haha.  One of the students had a digital camera so we took some photos with them.  Finally another girl asked for a picture, but she didn’t have a camera.  I decided to be nice and take a picture with her…the thing was we had to go to a picture station (like at Sears or Walmart).  They actually had a few men with picture stations set up at the Music Festival (you could get a picture for 40 shillings…not a bad deal).  Anyways that was a mistake because once I stepped onto that set every child wanted a picture with me.  I’m probably in at least 25 random children’s photos.  Honestly we’re thinking of starting a business here.  “Come on Over, Get Your Snap with a Mzungu Today! Only 40 bob!”  Oh well, at least I will always be remembered by people I don’t know in Kenya J.  Finally Katy and Abbie rescued me!  Our excuse for no more photos was we were hungry and needed to eat.  We truly did go get food—samosas, dough balls, mandazi!
     After our snack we went to hang out with our pupils.  Problem is they don’t really want to hang out with us at these events because so many other people crowd us L.  We were able to get some of them to stay with us though—I promise it wasn’t bribery.  Finally our students from class 6 performed ‘Mdudu’.  They are naturally born performers—it was so good!
     Our last performance of the day was ‘Tekis’ a Nandi poem.  Once again the pupils did a great job! (I know in my last post I said only ‘Paponyo’ and ‘Mdudu’ made it to this second round and this is true, but our teachers were some how able to get ‘Cry of an Outcast’ and ‘Tekis’ in as well haha)
     Finally we got our results! Unfortunately none of the performances placed high enough to move on, but the children had a wonderful time which is what really matters.  ‘Cry of an Outcast’ and ‘Mdudu’ both placed 5th in their categories, and ‘Tekis’ placed 6th in its category.  There was a little mix up with ‘Paponyo’—it was disqualified because it was in the wrong category L.  Regardless of the results our children poured their hearts into these performances and enjoyed themselves!  We are so proud of what they accomplished, and we of course thought they should have moved onto Nationals!       

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Music Festival!

Yesterday the kids participated in a Music Festival in Mosoriot!  We began our hike to Tachasis around 8am to catch the pick-up truck that was taking 36 students and 6 teachers (including us) to the Music Festival.  Now we were wondering how everyone would fit, but we of course believed that these Africans would make it work.  The girls climbed in the bed of the pick-up first and sat on benches (most of them had smaller girls sitting on their laps).  The boys then climbed in and stood in all the empty spaces (no worries, there were bars for them to hold on to J).  Once the children were packed in they worked on getting the teachers in.  Katy climbed into the front seat first, and then Susan sat on her lap.  Next Abbie crawled in next to Katy and I sat on Abbie’s lap.  Four people in the front seat! The two male teachers stood on the back bumper of the pick-up.  Be impressed including the driver we fit 43 people onto this pick-up!  About 5 to 10 minutes down the road they realized the pick-up could not handle the weight of all these people J.  So we stopped and got a lorry instead.  This time we sat all the kids in the trailer part of the lorry (it’s like a large u-haul truck).  Abbie, Katy, Susan, and I sat back there with the students while the male teachers sat in the front with the driver.  We had plenty of space, but we didn’t anticipate the amount of swaying we would feel on this ride.  These roads aren’t paved so they create quite an amusement park ride sensation.  About half way through the trip you could see some of the kids did not look well.  It was only a matter of time before there were kids throwing up all over the truck L.  We finally made it to Mosoriot…thank goodness, and all the teachers managed to hold onto their breakfast J. 
Although the kids were a little shaken from the ride they were excited to perform, and we were excited to watch!  The first performance they had was called “Paponyo,” which included 35 of the students.  This was a tribal chant Pokot children did while they praised God.  The kids did a great job!  We were very proud of them!  The next performance was supposed to be Berryl (a class 6 girl), so we went to the performances for the individuals.  We were told she would perform in an hour.  We watched pupil after pupil recite “Mama’s Baby” (we saw it over fifty times) and still it didn’t look like Berryl was anywhere close to performing.  We honestly could recite “Mama’s Baby” for all of you, but we wouldn’t do that to you J.  Finally it was nearing 3pm and she hadn’t performed yet so we decided to go get food.  We got samosas, fried dough balls, and mandazi—so good. 
After we had gotten something to eat we went and sat with the children.  Katy and Abbie took power naps, while I sat staring at the children from another school stare at Katy and Abbie take naps J.  Finally we got the word that Berryl was going to perform—Yay!  She recited the poem “Cry of an Outcast” written by Mr. Shamwama one of our fellow teachers.  Berryl did such an excellent job.  She was spot on with her recitation and her costume! 
Next we ran over to see the class 6 boys and girls recite “Mdudu”.  It is about the spread of HIV/AIDS and was also written by our very own Mr. Shamwama.  Again they did such a great job! They were all together and very animated and loud!  The students were so excited after this performance!  And best of all the audience and judges really enjoyed it!
Finally several of the girls performed a “Nandi Poem.”  This was the last performance for the Mariann students for the day! Again they did excellent! They were loud and all together!
Now for the results! “Paponyo” and “Mdudu” placed second in each of there categories.  Drum roll please…the students will be performing these items in Kapsabet at provincials next week!  The other performances that didn’t make it to provincials were still very excellent, and if we had been judges they would also be at provincials (we are completely unbiased J).
We took the same lorry back to Tachasis, and God answered Abbie’s pray by no one getting sick on the ride home!  We made it back to Mariann around 9pm, and everyone headed to bed!  It was a very exciting and tiring day for everyone!

Friday, June 1, 2012

In the jungle, the mighty jungle...

Today, the entire country of Kenya celebrated its 49th Madaraka Day, when it first received the right to internal governance.  Since the kids had a holiday, we decided to go to the nearby forest.  We had a beautiful hike down and up hills, through corn fields, over rivers, and through fields of cow manure until we reached the forest (aka jungle).  Along the way, the children kept asking us if we were tired.  Ha!  I think we wazungu women are considered weak little girls around here (and we are, compared to the Nandi women).  When we arrived in the forest, we caught glimpses of monkeys swinging through the treetops.  I think I enjoyed seeing our students’ reactions more than the actual monkeys.  It really felt like we were in “Tarzan” or “The Lion King” (when Simba meets up with Timon and Pumbaa).  We even started singing “Hakuna Matata,” which the kids know from watching that movie during entertainment.  J
We had such a wonderful morning with the kids and were all so tuckered out when we arrived back at Mariann.  After some rest and a nice little afternoon rain, we walked with one of our students, Faith, to her home.  Her lovely mother, Sally, also happens to be one of the nursery school teachers at Mariann.  We had taken a walk by her house on the previous night and stopped in to say “chamegei.”  She invited us to stay for tea, which turned into a full meal AND an invitation back for supper the next night.  We watched her prepare a mountain of chapatti, which she fully expected us to eat before we left (we actually got pretty close to finishing it).  The whole time we were there, we were entertained by Mercy Chemu, who is the craziest, cutest little girl you will ever meet!  She loves to beat up her older sister, who just calmly and sweetly takes it.  Chemu will chatter in Kinandi the whole time; and when we ask for a translation, it’s usually something like: “I am going to beat the chickens” or “I am going to kick you” (to her sister, never to us).  But you see that big Chemu smile, and your heart just melts.  She loves for us to come to her home and was especially excited last week when she got to come to our house for tortillas and guacamole (or chapatti and avocadoes, as she calls it).  God has blessed us with such a beautiful community!