trusting . resting . following

Gum, Chickens, and Silence

June 14, 2012
Sunday after church I stayed in the village for lunch.  One of our church families has 4 daughters and 2 sons.  Three of the 4 girls are teens and come to our teen gals group from time to time.  I had been wanting to visit them for awhile.  Then the Sunday before, Susannah the oldest girl invited me to her home as she was leaving church.  (It's a very common thing to do here, in fact they don't typically expect you to accept.  It's almost more of a friendly way to say "good bye.")   But this time I said, "OK, I'll come next Sunday." 

The next Sunday, Susannah and I drove on random back roads and cow paths, between fields and through puddles to the Maturanya home.

Most of the family had already arrived.  Grandma and an aunt with her 1 yr old daughter Mariamu, also live with the family.  They gave me the one stool they own while grandma sat on plastic bags (the size of burlap bags) with 3 little kids.  The rest of the women got busy making lunch.  

I pulled out a pack of gum, and started handing out half sticks of gum to everyone.  Everyone loves "jojo" as it's called here, but I guess they aren't so used to it out in the vilage as I thought.  Not 1/2 hour later, pieces of sticky white mess started showing up.  Mama Susannah stepped on some with her bare feet and was working with a stick to try to peel it off!  Then  5 minutes later, little Mariamu picked up a dirty glob off the ground and was carrying around her "treasure."  Grandma had to distract her to get it away from her and then she threw it far away.  I don't think I'll be bringing gum to the village any more!

After about the first 20 minutes, Mama Susannah said something in Kisukuma, and all of a sudden four kids- 2 boys, 2 girls, jumped up and started running.  Time to catch LUNCH!  Five or six chickens ran scurrying all over the property.  The kids ran back and forth.  Took maybe 5 minutes for the oldest of the 4, Leah, to get a chicken cornered beside the firewood pile.  She handed it to Susannah who then proceeded to slaughter it.  I was very impressed.  I asked if I could watch, but then "chickened" out and returned back to my stool. :-D I don't think I'll ever have the guts to do that, especially with the DULL knives they use! 

The Sukuma people LOVE to have guests, and they love to HONOR their guests.  They cannot rest until their guest is resting in the best chair, in the shade.  Then very often they leave their guest (seems more like ignoring in my western culture) for 1-2 hours to make meal preparations!  This is by far the hardest part for me when I'm visiting a family.  I get antsy very quickly.  "We should be talking, or let me get in there to help!"  Sitting, watching the "bibi" (grandma) play with the kids for several hours is not exactly why I came to the Maturanya household!  Especially since the very old and the very young only speak Kisukuma.  Any conversations with bibi and children can't go past the very basic Swahili that they understand.

And yet in their minds this is EXACTLY why I came to their house.  I constantly have to remind myself, "They love it that you're simply HERE.  Be CONTENT to be silent.  You don't have to have any profound conversations today.  Just being here is purpose enough!" 

Next Sunday, off to another household!

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