Marian Baker

From board member Marian Baker: Christmas in Kenya

On the 18th I awoke early in Kakamega and Elizabeth took off early for a women’s conference of her church in Rwanda-a 24 hour bus ride away. I washed all my clothes, went to town to do internet, and then made supper for myself at Elizabeth’s.

The next day, Agneta arrived here from her studies at FTC. We had a wonderful time sharing, Including some silent worship together.

On the 20th, we washed and cleaned my room and Elizabeth’s kitchen. Agneta’s son, Haggai, who has a motorcycle, carried our bags directly to her home in Kabras and meanwhile Agneta and I went into Kakamega to buy a few things for Christmas. We met Rose Mutsami, the Kakamegan woman who usually helps train Sunday School teachers with us, and made final plans for which people to invite to the QREC collaborative in Kaimosi in January.

At Agneta’s we found Haggai’s wife, Patience who has been dutifully taking care of Agneta’s home, including it’s four young orphan boys, while Agneta was at school. Patience was leaving the next morning to go to her Ugandan parents for Christmas, so I celebrated an early Christmas with her by making an American breakfast of yogurt and granola with fresh mangoes, oranges, and bananas from their garden. I then spent the morning relaxing after so many travels and hand sewed a skirt for the orphan teenage girl who sometimes helps Agneta. That afternoon, two different children’s choirs came and serenaded me with ”Joy to the World” sung in Kiswahili language. I gave them each a cracker and they were very happy.

On the 22nd, I went to Malava to do internet. On the way back to Agneta’s, I enjoyed a small troop of colobus monkeys (black ones with white faces) that were jumping from treetop to treetop overhead. I was on a pikipiki, so couldn’t take a picture of them. It was a joy to find that even though the Malava rainforest has had a good number of trees cut along the nearby roads, that some of the native monkeys are still there. Meanwhile, Haggai, as the oldest brother of Abner, escorted two cows and a goat that were walked to the parents of Abigael, (to complete their wedding dowry).

On Sunday, Agneta and I visited Shamoni Friends, where Enock Shinachi lives. We all used to work a lot together years ago, when I was a teacher. We were warmly welcomed. Agneta gave a very brief sermon on trying to live in peace with everyone as we are celebrating the birth of the Prince of Peace. I then shared news of recent reconciliations among Friends in Uganda. Then to our surprise, they were so happy with our sharing that we were given transport money for our journey back to Agneta’s. Then around the time of the offering, one old mama whose daughter I had taught at Namirama almost 40 years ago, came up to thank me that her daughter is now a teacher and she had decided to give her offering to me as thanks. She was very elderly and I expected a widow’s mite, but to my surprise I was given 500 shillings!

On the 24th, two of Agneta’s sons came with their wives and the grandchildren. Abner and Abigael and two sons, Knapp and Dufraine, came in their new car. Edigar and Fridah with 1year old Linda took 15 hours to get from Nairobi via matatus, due to large crowds wanting to travel and due to the government recent crackdown on the number of people allowed to travel in any public vehicle. They also now require all passengers to use seat belts and limit their speeds, a welcome improvement to the safety of us all.

Christmas day, we all attended a church in Samitsi where choirs from four different villages gathered and competed in set carols. The small children sang Joy to the World in Swahili. The elderly sang While Shepherds watched” in Luhya, the Mama choruses sang “Silent Night” in Swahili, and the teenage choirs sang “O Come all ye faithful” in English. The children, youth, and mamas all danced their way in with joy. The women in the elderly choirs sang with gusto, but the men, who had not bothered to attend the practice sessions, sang off key or in a monotone. It took until 4PM to finish the joyful singing and we all went to our homes to feast on whatever food we had. What a joy to celebrate Christmas in song rather than the frantic commercial gift buying common in America.

Today, another holiday (Boxing Day), villages offer a fun time of games, races, etc. for all ages in their village. I went to Elizabeth’s home village where she and half of the twelve sisters and families celebrated by feasting on roasted goat under the shade of a bougenvilla tree (with bright magenta flowers).

Tomorrow I expect to travel to Tarime, Tanzania with Eileen Malova and Pamela Ngoya to work with women in Tarime to finally get the roof put on their meetinghouse. Eileen and our hostess, Esinas of Tarime are skilled business women who have gotten a number of buildings built. They will supervise and Pamela, I and other women there will assist in order to get the job done efficiently and quickly. Pray that we will be able to reach safely during this time of holiday traffic, and that we will be able to make good progress on the building.