Thursday, April 30, 2009

My First Kenyan Wedding

The wedding bells were ringing last Saturday, when three couples tied the knot. I knew some of the brides and grooms because they work at the hospital. The wedding was scheduled to start at 10am, however the bridal party didn’t arrive until 11:00. There were about 10 flower girls and 10 bridesmaids shared between the tree couples, and each had their own maid of honor and best man. The brides wore traditional white dresses and two of them had battery operated flashing tiaras. They looked like they came from a little girl’s princess costume. And the grooms wore suits and ties. They had to be burning up considering it was midday and we were in the same sweltering church that we went to for Easter Vigil. The church is named Kiranda, but I like to call it, “the oven.”

The wedding party processed into church. Pachabel’s Cannon was replaced with drumming, clapping and tambourines. The brides sat scattered among the congregation. I thought this was a little odd considering it was their wedding, and they don’t even get to sit in the front of the church. Turns out, after the Liturgy of the Word, the grooms roam around the church “looking” for their future wife. After “searching” for awhile the best man leads them to their bride. It was cute. The vows were said and the rings were exchanged but they never kissed.

After the three hour ceremony concluded everyone moved to Dala Kiye. Yes, that’s right, the reception was held in the dining hall of an orphanage. The guests feasted on ugali (a warm starchy carbohydrate), chapatti (flatbread), sukuma wiki (cooked leafy greens), goat, and fish. After the meal guests present their presents to the brides and grooms. One of the gifts included a live goat! Now that is something you can’t register for at Target of Macys! Then people started giving speeches. The wedding couples’ parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, brothers, and sisters all got the chance to talk. So they talked, talked, and talked some more. It was like a never ending toast, except they were missing the champagne. Around 6:00 the gift giving and speeches came to an end. Their was suppose to be dancing but everyone was tired, including the brides and grooms, so they called it a day and everyone went home. My first Kenyan wedding was an interesting experience.

(Thanks to everyone for the birthday wishes! Especially for the letters and packages- Caitlin, Heidi, Claire, Jocelyn, Aunt Barb, Aunt Mary, Aunt Jonna, Mom, thanks so much!)

Friday, April 17, 2009

Holy Saturday

Easter Vigil in the US is the marathon of all church services. Easter Vigil in Africa is even longer. The mass seemed to go on for eternity as I sat in a hot, overcrowded church with a 3 year old on my lap. People were shoulder to shoulder sitting on the wooden benches. The mass was said in Luo which didn’t help matters. About 100 children received baptism. It was an assembly line of sacrament; the water, the chrism, the candle, done. The most miraculous part of the entire night was that nobody caught on fire. The majority of the congregation was children from the area boarding schools and the orphanage, Dala Kiye. No matter how young the child was everyone got to hold a candle, including little Mercy sitting on my lap. I prayed, “Please God, don’t let her light herself on fire.” Luckily, nobody went up in flames.
After 3 ½ hours, church concluded at 12:30am just as it started to rain. The heavens opened and it poured as people left church. It was a relief after roasting in church for all that time. I hitched a ride home with Fr. Julius. About 20 of the kids from Dala Kiye piled into the van too. Slowly we made our way home through the mud and rain. Driving on a muddy road is a lot like driving on ice and snow; you slide easily and have little control over where you’re going. We dropped the kids off at the orphanage and then Fr. Julius offered a ride home to Evans, who lives about 3km further down the road. He gladly accepted considering it was 1am and raining. We were almost to his house when the road turned into a river. A normally small creek had turned into a raging riving flowing across the road. There was no way we could drive or walk across it. We had to turn around and go home- easier said than done. When Fr. Julius tried to turn around, the car tires sunk into the mud. We were stuck. So Evans and I hopped out to push the van. Its one in the morning, raining, thundering, lightening, and I’m wearing a dress trying to push a car out of the mud.Is this really happening?! Thanks to my beastly muscles we pushed the car out of the rut. (Just kidding!) Thank goodness Evans was there to push or else we would have been there all night. So we were unstuck but still headed in the wrong direction. Turning around was impossible so we drove in reverse for about 2km until we reached a paved driveway where we could turn around in.
Finally, at 2am I arrived home, wet, muddy, and tired. It was an eventful Holy Saturday in Karungu. This place never fails to amaze me.

Friday, April 3, 2009

Indian Ocean, here we come!

Christy and I took our first trip last week. We went on a seven day cross country trip to Mombassa, which is on the Indian Ocean. Getting there was a two day event. We left Karungu at 6:30 in the morning and arrived in Nairobi around 4pm. Its amazing to see the soci-economic difference between the two places. We went from dirt roads and tin-roofed huts to skyscrapers and rush-hour traffic like an American city. It was the first time I had see paved roads and traffic lights in almost two months; a very welcomed sight! The next morning we made the 7 hour journey to Mombassa by bus. The drive was so beautiful. Along the roadside we saw monkeys, zebras, gazelles, and elephants. So beautiful!
We spent three nights at Diani Beach, just south of Mombassa. The Indian Ocean is beautiful, white sand and clear blue water. Our Cottage along the beach was home to many monkeys and baboons. One morning we were eating breakfast on our porch and had to run inside because hungry baboons showed up. They invaded our porch in search of food as we watched from inside. The area has such a high monkey population that the community has built rope ladders in the trees, across the roads, so the monkeys are hit crossing the street.
One of the highlights of the trip was riding camels along the beach. It’s a lot like riding a horse except it’s about 12 feet off the ground. The camel sits down, you get on, and then it stands up. Scary! The name of the camel was Obama, just like everything in this country. ( I’ll explain the “Obama mania” another time.) How many people can say they rode a camel along the Indian Ocean?! In the off chance you get to ride a camel, you should definitely do it!
It was exciting to see another part of the country but it’s also good to be back in Karungu. It’s starting to feel like home. All of our co-workers missed us and were excited to hear about our trip. People thought we had gone back to America when they hadn’t seen us for a few days. Leisure travel is unheard of in Karungu. Some people around here have lived in Kenya there entire life and never been to the coast. Many were just satisfied with looking at our pictures.