Monday, April 1, 2013

A Blessed Kenyan Easter

I honestly have been working on a few blog posts, but with recent rains, it has brought us frequent power outages as well as poor internet connection. There are many things I would like to update you on, as we are very busy here in Kenya, volunteering, making new friends, learning a lot about Kenya, and of course having a great time with our new addition.
On that note, you may have noticed that I have hidden Z's face in the photos I post. I'm finding it so difficult to manage any posts, that those I am able to get to, I would like to have her photos archived as well. We were recently asked by our Kenyan agency to be interviewed by a reporter for a Kenyan newspaper about international adoption. They took photos, many of them, all with our agency's approval. What's more public than a national newspaper? Certainly not my blog! Ha.... So, I do not see the harm in posting her photos prior to our adoption order nor have we been instructed to not post them by our lawyer or local agency. I will (eventually!) get around to posting the photos from the past few months as well. We hope you enjoy our little beauty. :)

Easter 2013

Unfortunately, this is the first Easter that we had to spend without Dan, as he is back in Canada dealing with some family and work obligations. In his absence, we managed to have quite a full Easter!

We spent Easter Saturday at Mogra Children's Rescue Centre, sorting and cleaning  their storage room. Bags upon bags were sorted into age and gender as well as stuff useable by the orphanage, Mathare Slum, or simply garbage. All the boys were outfitted in new soccer jerseys and shorts and the girls received new undergarments. It was amazing to see how happy they were to receive a simple item... a great Easter gift for them all!

Sunday, we were invited by our good friend Francis, (who is also our taxi driver) to his son's baptism and family Easter celebration. Francis and family, please forgive me if I get any of the below details wrong.

His home is in a small village called Gachie, outside of Nairobi. The church was the nicest church we have been to here in Kenya. The music was lively with an African beat that had you tapping your toes at the very least. The Pastor was friendly and funny, frequently breaking out in laughter. I would love to find a church like this back home!

We were so delighted to share in celebration of their son's Baptism.

The service was in Kikuyo, but the Pastor greeted us in English, and later on asked us to come to the front of the church to say a few words. Having this experience before in another Kenyan church, I nominated our fellow Canadian friend Dane to have the honour. After Dane gave a beautiful little Easter message, his wife and I and the kids were asked to come to the front, answer a few questions, and then he prayed for us. Having had these experiences a few times now in rural Kenyan areas, I often feel like we are not deserving of the attention. We are really treated like royalty!

Francis and immediate family with the Pastor.

This is only a small part of the extended family.

After church, we drove down the village dirt roads to their property. We were the center of attention as we meandered the roads. Every person we passed, you could hear them say 'Mzungu' in their sentence. Mzungu means white person, but with it carries the assumption of upper class and money, and a certain level of respect is granted. This weighs on my sense of fairness or equality as we often are treated better than the average person here simply because of our skin colour. More to time needed to digest this... and perhaps a more detailed post later.

1.5 acres of land is home to the large family house owned by his parents, and 3 smaller homes bordering the edge of the property where a few of the sons call home. (Women move to their husband's family estates.)

The large family home where Francis and his 5 brothers and 2 sister were raised.
The outside of Francis's home, where one of the women prepare Chapattis for the feast.
Inside Francis's 2 room home. He had posted motivational quotes all over the wall. He's a very hard working, motivated man. ;)
When we arrived, we were introduced the remainder of the family whom had been very busy preparing dinner. Once we met all the women, we were taken to the back of the home, where the men were cooking the goat. Yes, goat! Goat is the meat of choice here and always grilled over open flame. Goats are slaughtered here for all holidays and celebrations. I never thought I would say... but I have come to really enjoy it!

There were a few exceptionally happy, friendly men.

It wasn't until I was offered a glass of their homemade wine or moonshine, that I realized why.

Our fellow Canadian friend Dane gratiously choked down a taste and said it was good... only to later pass it off. Ha. It tasted very similar to apple cider vinegar. We were assured it was 100% natural, no alcohol added. Ha...!
I had a great time with these men, joking and laughing with them. They told me that women were not allowed around the Choma (BBQ), their place was in the kitchen, preparing the rest of the dinner. I found this humorous as I sat, clearly a woman... with them. I raised the issue, but was quickly told that it was okay, as I was a guest. I then asked him what would happen if a woman did come over? He was stumped for a moment and then said, 'It would be very bad!'.... Ha. I love combating the male/female equality issue here with the men.

Fun group of guys joking around with Mister.

The soup broth. They offered me a cup, it tasted like any other meat stock.

And then I saw what was coming out of the meat stock, the feet and the head... brains boiled out.


I drank goat brain.

On the grill, you can see the front legs, ribs, and four stomachs enveloped around blood and pieces of organs, called Kenyan sausage.

The children were ushered to the Choma for some goat meat. I was told that the children eat first, then the men will eat some, and finally the women will be given the rest to cook with. It was very good, and the plate was continuously passed around to us.
The kids are dipping the meat in a bowl of salt.

 The Kenyan blood/organ sausage being cut up and offered to the children.

 Mister is an adventurous eater, so he tried it. He also tried the Mutombo, which is intestines. I stay away from such fare. Goat brain was enough for one day. ;)

 We have been having some food issues with Z (another day's post), but the only issue
with her and Kenyan fare, is that she cannot get enough. Here she enjoys
eating the Kenyan Sausage.

Helen teaches Muffin how to work the well. All water for cooking, cleaning and bathing is hauled up by hand. (Francis's house in the background.)

She was surprised that Muffin was strong enough to do it.
Once the goat was finished, we were escorted inside the house for dinner.
It was a grand feast of stew, chapatti, Mukimo (mashed potato with spinach and maize), cabbage and rice with goat meat.
Z was in her glory!
The men carve the remainder of the goat.

Goat head anyone?
After dinner, we went for a walk in the village. It was a lovely evening.

It is the rainy season now in Kenya, so the roads were quite muddy.

 Muffin and Mister, were quite adored and had a captivated audience as they told stories about their lives back in Canada.

The adults were laughing, hearing the boys talk in English and watching them feel Mister's hair.

A common sight here in Kenya. Good use out of a Bicycle!

The boys in disbelief that Mister actually not only touched, but held a Chameleon and no harm came to him. (They are very afraid of Chameleons here.)

Back at the house, we sat and visited with Francis's family. They were all very nice and we really enjoyed our time with them.

Such a cutie. Two things worth noting. The baby tied on her back Kenyan style, and the winter jacket she wears. While we were quite comfortable in our short sleeves, they find it cold and bundle their babies up like we would in the middle of winter!
This is Francis's lovely Mother. In Kenya, it is customary to call her Mama Francis. Mama Francis told Francis that she was very happy to have Mzungus in her home. She said the last time they had 'white' visitors was many years ago. He brought out the photo to show us... it appeared to be sometime in the 70's.
I know they were honoured to have us in their church and their home, but the truth is, the honour was all ours. They opened their home and families to us so lovingly, from the best pieces of goat, to their customs, children, stories, etc. We felt very welcomed and look forward to future visits.
As our friend Dane mentioned to the church, we are blessed with friends and communities such as Francis and his family to open their hearts to us, to allow us an inside view of our children's country. (Okay Dane... not quoting your here... I know you said it more eloquently.;) 
And as Dan asked me to relay to Francis in his absence, 'It is because of people like Francis and his family that make us so proud to have a daughter from Kenya.'
Asante Sana!
*                                                    *                                                      *
And the outtakes... 'A taste of Z and her love for Kenyan food'...
"I spy a BIG plate of food over there... Perhaps if I slowly make my way over there, I can nab some..."
(This is Stanley, another good friend and driver.)

'He's falling for it... I'm on his lap, so close to the food now."

And she scores!
"Not only did I get Stanley's food, but I fooled someone else into thinking I was hungry and they got me my own plate!! Score again!"


Jacquie said...

Love this post. I love hearing about your experiences and getting a bit of an inside look at Kenyan culture. What stuck out to me was how the kids were all over mister, and wanting to touch his hair. It reminded me a bit of how you always hear of black (adopted) kids, here in the west, having people touch their hair all the time, and people being curious and asking lots of questions. People really are the same all over the world, and we find (at least I do) people of different races and cultures fascinating.

'Jo' said...

That's a great point Jacquie!! I have often been confused about the offence taken by white adopting parents when others touch their black children's hair. I know I certainly wanted to feel the hair of the first African child I met!
This is something that literally happens to us on a daily basis! Today, the children were swarmed by about 100 Kenyan students out on a field trip to the museum we were at. They are very touchy... swarm in, put their arms around them, while others are reaching in to feel not only their hair, but their skin as well! I have many photos and videos of this happening everywhere we go. I can't tell you how many times my hair clip has been released by a curious hand wanting to feel my 'soft' hair. (They consider their hair to be 'hard'.)
Do we find it offensive? Not at all. We can empathize with their curiosity. Some have never seen a white person before, and most have never felt our hair.. or hair on a mans arms before, etc. We actually find it endearing.
It's good to be here in this experience as a minority, because I can honestly speak from experience when it does happen to my daughter later on. As long as she is comfortable, she should be proud to show others her differences, by letting them feel her hair, just as my 'white' children do here. (In fact, Muffin commonly wears her hair down if she thinks we will be in a more rural area, so the kids have free access to her hair!) I think it's about embracing our differences and allowing others to do the same!

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