Thursday, November 29, 2007
I fell asleep, grateful, last night for all of your comments, especially for words from and about my own family. I awakened, grateful, this morning for yet another day in Maseno. By 5:30 AM, our industrious rooster was scouting his lunch while unflappable Emmah was preparing our breakfast.
We were joined yesterday by four unexpected guests for three days, officials from the Kenyan AIDS Ministry, who came to visit our Comprehensive Care Clinic. They arrived in a spiffy new white 4WD vehicle and will need to gather their data quickly since our CCC workers will be out in the community on Saturday for World AIDS Day. Last evening's meal included lentils, rice and ugali, a maize staple in Kenya that is something akin to finely-ground grits. Yesterday I was introduced to Emmah's chapati, a lightly-seasoned flatbread, and her sukuma wiki, chard-like greens. She fixes beans, rice, bread and cabbage a thousand different delicious ways, and small, sweet bananas are always on our table for a snack.
Our day began with morning prayer on the hospital grounds, worshiping with staff and patients at their Kiswahili service. The homily was based on John 3:16 -- a particularly moving choice, since that was the confirmation verse given to me 48 years ago by Pastor Braughler. "Yesu Bwana," the 23rd Psalm, the Lord's Prayer and a closing circle are familiar in every language. God so loved the world, indeed.
I then played hooky from medical rounds to attend a weekly ACK Mothers' Union meeting with Nan, Mary and Liz. In nearby Luanda, we met with Carolyn, the current leader of the group, and approximately 40 additional mothers/grandmothers/caregivers from the various local parishes.
Our little gathering was punctuated by prayer and song as the distributions of the day were meted out: small amounts of cash for the respective orphan feeding programs; amaranth flour, a high-protein grain to mix with the orphans' food; and encouragement ("You go, Girls!") for the women to "be tough" even with their own religious leaders, who sometimes schedule church meetings meetings that conflict with Saturday feeding programs and mobile medical clinics -- all of which use the same furniture and space. "Remember, it hurts our daughter orphans." They were also reminded that the next meeting would include a "Clean Water" review; our sponsored students will help.
At the end of the morning, tee shirts were distributed to every woman present. In an effort to promote non-partisanship and peaceful elections, the church ladies were discouraged from wearing shirts or hats or even colors with political messages. Singing "Asante, Mungu" ("Thank You, God"), the mamas happily donned their new shirts which read: "Mother to Mother, Together We Are One." And so we are.