I'm having my first lazy day since we arrived. I was tempted to go with Terry today for a fish farm harvest, but I had promised myself a much needed day off, so here I am. Sundays are filled with the sounds of birds singing (every day is filled with song birds), cows, drumming and music from the hillside... oh, and really angry sounding preaching. I've got to hand it to the Christian Missionaries. Kenyans around here are crazy about God!
Fredrick and Josephine are coming over today (they are an hour late so far). I have hired Josephine to clean our house. Terry is a little reluctant, assuming that she has never cleaned a house like this and won't know what to do. I'm not worried. I trust her, their family needs the money, and this will be an easy way for her to earn a few extra shillings. And I get my floors washed and some time with Brenda and Emmanuel! Fredrick sent me a text message last night when I asked if Josephine wanted a job once a week cleaning house --
"Yes she can, even if 2 times, although me am not happy. I have worked for somebody from Thursday up to now (Saturday) he has paid me 300 and on the way to home the byscle break one of it's spair so hes money i can not buy food and make biyscle that's why I don't like working for people."
On Friday I went with Sanford and June (our neighbours) to speak at a high school that Sanford had started. Sanford wanted to motivate the students and tell them that we love them. The students didn't quite fit in the assembly hall, so a few put their chairs close to the windows outside the hall so they could see. As the kids (Forms 2 to 4, Grades 10-12) were settling in, there was lots of laughter and chatter. This is the first time I have seen kids relaxed in a school setting, it was really nice. Sanford and June told their stories of growing up in Kakamega, going to school with no shoes, and eventually achieving a scholarship to Alliance (the Harvard of Kenya). Even with the scholarship, Sanford could not afford the living expenses of Nairobi, so he did his post secondary education at Moi University. The take home message was that you can do anything, regardless of your home situation. Most of these kids, probably all of them at this little rural school, come from very poor homes. Fifteen graduates from this little school have gone on to achieve university degrees and a number of them have made it in the U.S.
I told them about my first trip to Kenya in 2009, when on our first day in Kakamega we were swarmed by the street boys -- I didn't expect such a big laugh at this story! I told them I saw so much struggle here that I thought it was hopeless. And then I asked to see Kakamega through God's eyes (the G word is a good hook); and on day two I fell in love with the strength, courage, and generosity of the people here. I read them the story of The Little Hummingbird (one drop of hope, I'm doing what I can...).
They asked lots of questions, in a voice louder than a whisper (also very rare in Kenya). June and I were talking after about how soft spoken Kenyans are. It is a sign of respect. When June went to the U.S. she had to learn to yell at people. Some of their questions were:
What are the salaries in America compared to Kenya? How do I go to a university in America? How does land inheritance work in America? If you love Kenya, why did you leave?
Our 30 minute scheduled talk stretched into 2 hours. Sanford had arranged to bring sodas in for all the kids. As we were leaving, one of the boys had quietly asked Wen (Sanford's friend who was with us) if he could pay his registration fee. Wen didn't know how to answer so he told the boy to speak to the principal. June and Sanford both went on about how courageous it was for the boy to ask, and they will find out his name to be sure his fees are paid. Huh. I guess you've got to take every opportunity that comes along, but it seems a little opposite to "You can do anything with God in your heart." Anything, including asking a mzungu to sponsor you. Sigh.
Terry and I have this conversation almost daily. Are we doing more harm than good by helping. A wise friend has said many times, the money is better spent here than at Starbucks or Walmart, so we can't go wrong. Another wise friend reminds me to go by my feelings. That one is tougher. I would be quite broke if I went by my feelings!