Monday, April 8, 2013

Our first day in Rongo

This is a personal letter I wrote to my family when we arrived in Kenya, so it is long and newsy and may not make a lot sense to those who are not acquainted with my family.  But here it is anyway.

Dear family,

I just wanted to let you guys know that we have safely arrived in Rongo.

We left Nairobi at about 10:30 this morning (Saturday).  That was a
couple of hours later thanwe expected because we had a long chat with
Daniel and Bernard before we got on the road.  We were talking through
the original idea of building a chicken house, and we started to think
that it might be a better use of funds to open an internet
cafe/computer training center instead.  We haven't decided for sure
yet, and it's the Kenyan organization that gets to make the final
decision, but it looks like everyone is leaning that direction.

During our long talk this morning we made our formal introductions.
Even though we had already spent much of the previous evening
together, the Kenyans like to be formal, so the five of us all made
speeches to introduce ourselves.  It was the first of the speeches
that Cody Ben has been dreading so much, but he did a great job.

The trip to Rongo was fairly uneventful until about 50 feet before we
got to the entrance of our guest house.  Then all of a sudden the
matatu died and smoke started filling the inside of the vehicle.
Fortunately, our driver found the wire that was shorting out and fixed
the problem pretty quickly.

We arrived about 5:00pm and we had scheduled a diner party for 6:00
with some members of the community, so we spent an hour walking around
Rongo, buying water and cookies to live on, and getting a feel for the
layout of the town. (By the way, the 100 chocolate cookies Mom baked
for us are in one of the bags the airline lost.  Maybe we'll get them
back some day.)

Just as we were heading back to the guest house we ran into all of our
party guests assembled on the street corner, so we hugged them all and
made brief introductions (but no speeches), and then we all walked
back to the guest house together.

Rose had a yummy meal prepared for all of us: ugali, sukuma wiki,
local chicken, rice, and cabbage.  There was a little bit of cultural
awkwardness at first.  I haven't had much experience hosting Kenyans
for dinner and I couldn't figure out the Kenyan cultural equivalent of
saying "Let's eat."  I tried asking Moses to lead us in prayer, and he
did, but apparently those weren't the magic words to start the party
because everyone still just stood there.  Then I walked over and fixed
my plate, hoping that everyone would get the idea and follow me, but
when I got back to the big table, all the Kenyans were just sitting
there silently without any food in front of them.  Finally, I said
something I vaguely remembered Daniel saying before: "The meal is
self-service."   And I guess that was the right thing because everyone
got up to get their food.  But then there was more confusion because
everyone still sat around waiting to start eating.  It seems that the
first prayer was too early, and everyone was expecting us to pray
again before we started eating.

After dinner we started discussing the upcoming events of next week.
Again, I didn't really know how to kick off the meeting correctly, so
I had everyone make formal introductions in the order that we were
sitting at the table and tell me how their families were doing.  But
apparently that wasn't the right protocol, because the chairman,
Moses, did introductions again in the appropriate order this time
(introducing the officers first, in order of importance).  Cody Ben
did an excellent job again at his little speech, even though there
were way more people this time.

After that we had a really good meeting to discuss our plans for next
week, and everyone seemed really excited about the idea of opening a
little computer training center.  We also made plans for worship
tomorrow.  I'll be preaching, and Dad and Cody Ben said they will take
a shot at teaching the little kids while their parents are in worship.
 They seemed a bit apprehensive about it, but I know they'll do fine.
The Kenyans really need some examples of men teaching children.

We have a long day at church tomorrow.  Moses said it will start
promptly at 9:00am.  This is hilarious because everyone knows that the
Kenyans aren't even going to start showing up until after 10:00.  I
laughed about Kenyan time and American time, but Moses didn't budge.
He really seems convinced that church is actually going to start at
9:00 tomorrow.  So, that's when we will be there.  At least it will
give us a chance to go check out their existing chicken house before
everyone starts showing up.

Time to get some sleep, I'll try to write tomorrow and tell you how church went.


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