25 January 2009

Easy like Sunday Morning

Sunday began in an odd manner.  Jean mistakenly took our keys last night when she left to make her way home.  She grabbed them off of our table thinking they were hers, pocketed them, and walked home with Sue.  It was not till later that she realized that she had and extra set.  This produced a phone call informing us that we were keyless.  What that meant was we had to lock ourselves in for the night and await Jean's arrival for our keys in order to be able to go to church.  As the music began to commence mass, we heard a distant, "Hoti!" as Jean appeared to liberate us from our own home.

Mass was as beautiful and unintelligible as last week.  I am starting to build my Swahili vocabulary, but I cannot understand a thing when normal conversation is taking place.  Sister Judi gave me a copy of the mass in Swahili with notations to translate certain passages.  I was able to to find some of the parts of the mass, but I was still lost.  Finally, I realized that things were so hard because the mass was completely different.  No, not the language.  Every chance the people could sing, they sang.  The parishioners hardly ever responded as I am used to.  Instead, it became a new song.  The apostle's creed: a song.  I certainly will not complain.  The singing is by far the best part.  The dancing girls are close behind, but the music is king.  It is probably my focus because I am lost the entire time and it becomes the one moment where I do not have to try to get what is going on any longer.  I hope that I can video tape at least a part of one mass to be able to show you what I am talking about.  I will insist that any visitor come to Malava for Sunday mass.  It is that good.

During mass, when it is time for the collection, two people stand at the front of the alter with baskets.  This is not like in American churches where you have a basket to pass or an usher to reach the basket wand.  No, the collection is in one place and you have to walk up there and give in front of everyone.  Once the time to go has come, the outside pews pour out in an orderly line.  People pass quickly and drop a few shillings into the baskets.  You are compelled to donate.  When this moment came, Michael and I looked at each other to ask if either of us had remembered to bring money.  His blank look was all I needed.  Without hesitation, I sprang up (which is not that fast) and ran out of the church.  I stormed through the house to commandeer the change on my desk.  I leapt out the door, locked up, and made it back to glide into the line with a few shillings for each of us.   I imagined myself to be some sort of agile cat as I ran back and forth, but I was more likely a goofy mzungu trucking in and out of church.

Post-mass we all met with Sister Phyllis to do a little check in.  We had the triumphant return of our guest from Thursday only to extend a short meeting into a Kenyan affair.  He launched back into his whole story and spared no word from his sentences.  I feel that sometimes I write too much here, but man oh man could he speak.  I find him to be kind, but just far to longwinded for my liking.  When this finally broke the girls left and we were set about the house doing various chores.  I should mention that our main objective of the week was finally accomplished today.  A young lady bearing a note from Father Jossphat (the spelling is now right but it is pronounced Ja-HO-sa-fat).  In it, he told us that the young woman before us would be of great service to our laundry situation.  Michael and I agreed that it would be best to find some laundry help and our savior had arrived.  We set up a plan for the laundry and reveled in our wondrous accomplishment as she went on her way. 

At 2pm, we made our way over to the girls for Sunday brunch.  Jean, I believe, came up with the idea to have a collective Sunday brunch for the year.  She decided to cook first.  Preparing us spaghetti and a homemade meat sauce.  This was accompanied by garlic bread and watermelon.  To travel over to the SND compound, we thought it best to bike over.  A terrible idea.  The bikes have been a constant source of problems and I was finally able to experience them.  The mountain bike that I tried first made it two rotations before the pedal fell off.  It fell off on Friday when Jean was coming home from work and we thought that we repaired it before we left.  Clearly, we were wrong.  Next candidate was the "Kenyan standard bike."  That means that it is a road bike far too small for someone of my height with the seat at the lowest setting.  Lets just say that riding the bike put me one step closer to joining the Big Apple Circus.  This meant twice the amount of work just to pedal and absolutely no control over the steering.  I attempted to ride it for awhile and gave up, sweaty and frustrated at my fruitless efforts.

Fortunately we had a fine meal and a pleasing conversation.  We returned to the house with the goal of eradicating our ant colony.  Doomless, we set out to experiment with a new method: boiling water.  Michael set up some water to boil and once it was done he strategically poured it down the holes of the colony.  Generally, I have no problem with animals of all kinds, even bugs, but ants are no good.  Particularly when they are African tank ants who cannot be destroyed, and they have decided to start a colony outside your kitchen window.  We knew our efforts to be successful when not more than a minute after dumping the water a full scale exodus began.  Ants rushed out carrying food and whatever they could find.  If George Costanza was in there, he would have knocked over the queen to get out!

Pleased with ourselves, we enjoyed the remainder of the afternoon reading.  I began "Infinite Jest" by David Foster Wallace.  I have only read about 10 pages, but I am already hooked.  His style is what I could only wish to be able to emulate.  I now see why people love his writing and this book.  The night finished with a viewing of "Yankee Doodle Dandy."  Now we have completed two of the AFI top 100 movies and will proceed in ascending order until we reach number one.  It was quite entertaining and a dramatic change from "Ben Hur."

Now to sleep and back to work.  The dogs are barking.  It is time to go to bed.

Ah, I also wanted to mention that we had a thunderstorm.  It was just above us we could enjoy the display of lightening and the symphony of thunder.  The lightening is as spectacular as anywhere I have see, but the thunder.  Oh the thunder.  It does not strike in a piercing blow, but builds from within the deep clouds and builds in a crescendo to finally blow out its last breath.  Each strike of thunder lasts for at least ten seconds.  It makes for an enjoyable storm and causes Michael to yell at the clouds, "I love Kenya!"