Hello! Whitney here.
First, thanks for all of your guesses as to what animal was pictured in our last post! It was quite fun seeing some of your answers and I’m afraid the animal is not nearly as exotic as many of you thought! Helen was right, the animal was a cow (or “cattle” as she said). I took a picture of it because it was the skinniest cow I had ever seen–you could count every one of its ribs!
Thursday was our first full day at Tenwek and I had the opportunity to go with a missionary doctor’s wife to a women’s meeting that she was putting on this week for all of the women who do her Bible studies in the surrounding area. She started in 2006 with 5 women who were literate and could speak English, and God just went “Bam!” and now the Bible study has grown to 2000 women! Praise God! It is not at all what she expected to happen, but indeed, she is glad it did. She teaches the original members of her first Bible study the month’s lessons in one day and then they teach Overall Leaders and then the Overall Leaders teach the Leaders who then teach the members once a week. Follow that?
Anyway, God has greatly blessed this ministry and this whole week she’s been traveling to different towns and meeting all of the members of the Bible studies in that town’s vicinity. A guest speaker from the US as been speaking to the women at these meetings. Yesterday, we went to a town called Silibwet and the church we met in was cramped full of people with standing room only in the back, and outside women stood along the windows and poked their heads in so they could hear the speaker. I think there was at least 400 women there.
I absolutely loved this experience. It lasted from 10:30AM until 4:00PM. The first two hours were just introductions of the different Bible study groups there. Each introduction consisted of a few songs led by that group as well as some “testimonies.” I was amazed at the patience the Kenyan women had for this and I think they could have gone on all day! The speaker spoke from noon to 1:00PM about growing up in Christ and not remaining “baby Christians.” At 1:00PM there was an hour lunch break in which everyone was fed rice and beans, and then the program resumed again with more songs, a drama, and concluded with the speaker talking for another hour with practical instruction on how to read the Bible on your own and have a daily quiet time. This is something that very few of the women do now, but is critical for them to grow deeper in their faith and understanding of God and his will. Almost all of the women pledged at the end of the meeting to start having a daily quiet time! Please pray for them and that they can fight the devil’s daily distractions in order to make time to sit in their Father’s presence and soak it up!
It was fun to see so many Kenyan women in community together, learning about God, and worshiping God. One of the things that was the most fun for me was getting pulled up on stage by a Kenyan women and joining them in their group’s song and dance. Below I have a very short clip of the beginning of this song which, as soon as they were all on stage they started doing actions to and then, shortly after that, I was pulled up on stage. I joined them, mimicking their actions and trying to sing this song to the great delight and laughter of all the women in the room!
Besides their patience, I was also very impressed with the number of verses these women could recite by memory! They all had to memorize 16 verses in order to “win” their first ever Bible and have continued memorizing a new verse every two weeks. Honestly, they put me to shame in this department!
The meeting ended with more singing and I was once again called up on stage along with the other Mzungus (white people) and this time I was given my first kanga from an African. I felt very honored!
After the meeting, at least one hundred women eagerly came up to me to shake my hand using their traditional handshake (you alternate gripping their hand like a normal handshake and then like you would grip someone’s hand if you were going to arm-wrestle them). I also greeted about fifty women in which you face each other and each person pats the other with their right hand on the back of their left shoulder and then you lean in to the left (still keeping a distance of maybe 10 inches from their face–this is not French bisous!) and then to the right. This second greeting was one of the actions to the song I had to dance to so I had this one down pat! No matter what physical greeting was used, everyone would say “Chamage!” (cha-ma-gay) which is the Kipsigis greeting of hello. Literally translated, I’ve been told it means something like “How much do you love yourself today?” and if you love yourself, or a feeling happy, then you say “Mising.” back to the first person who said “Chamage?”
Thanks for reading! As I write this I’m currently proctoring a national exam for the Kenyan surgical residents here at the hospital, after this I’ll make supper for Scott and I for the first time since we’ve arrived–wish me luck! Scott should have a post up in the next day or so about some of his experiences so far in the hospital so stay tuned.
Goodbye for now!