The last of our siku kuu celebrations took us to a small village right on the ocean for some more “kutembea” (literally to walk or visit and means both…sorta just hanging out without much agenda). For us list making, anal -Western types takes some getting used to 🙂 I was invited by a neighbor who stayed there the entire Ramadan and then wanted us to come for siku kuu to meet her family out there. We drove out 1 hour trip with another girlfriend of mine as she knew the way and her son had stayed out their too with his grandmother so she was eager to pick him up. Jason did not know them well but said he would join us to meet the men of the village and to help in driving since it is hard for me to drive and handle both kids all day myself in a local house. I have done it but not so easy and depending on the day can be too much. As soon as we stepped out of the car we realized just how close to the beach we were as the ocean breeze was amazing! No sweating all day for us Wazungus!! Now that is sikuu kuu njema sana!
Evy and her new friend (she got glammed up again but I received some “talking to” about my lack of black eyeliner…will I ever learn?)
After settling in and meeting everyone I asked if we could head to the beach to walk and see how beautiful it was. We saw lots of locals fishing, digging for clams, and many women and children farming seaweed. They set up sticks and rope to allow the seaweed to grow and then based on the tide times go out to collect it and carry it in well worn rice bags to market on their heads. An entire rice bag full of it goes for about 300 shillings (less than 20 cents). They explained that the seaweed is used for making toothpaste and other products. As we talked with the children and women I just could not imagine how hard they work for so little money. How much time and energy is spent earning just enough money to trade or buy veggies to cook for today. Always humbling to realize just how wealthy I am and how often I take it for granted. That I do not have to do manual labor all day to feed my family. I said quiet prayers that I would always live in the light of the gratefulness I felt at that moment and that He would provide for these families and their needs. Makes a lot of what I complain about seem trivial.
no swimsuit did not stop Anni from getting in the ocean…our hosts just gave her a kanga and off she went!
On our beach walk Anni played in the sand and searched for shells while I walked and talked with my friends until Evy fell asleep on my back. Later we returned to the house and we served food yet again. It was rice, a really yummy mchuzi (curry), and fresh juice. The older woman of the house told me to “ongeza chakula” (increase your food) because she said I was getting too thin. Now,I know this is definitely NOT true and my baby chunk I am trying to work off is a constant reminder (as well as a pair of pre-baby pants I tried on last week that still do not button) that I could lose a few but I gotta say again I love a culture where there is genuine worry when you seem to be losing any weight. For a girl who has struggled with body image issues her whole life; good. Really good. And since the food was yummy I did ongeza my food until we were properly stuffed:) Kangas are pretty forgiving anyhow…..
We sat and talked while Anni and some of the other children ran inside and outside building a sand house and eating Siku kuu treats and candy. As we were relaxing on the floor my girlfriend shared that she wanted to tell me about this numbness she has been experiencing in her feet and legs. I listened and asked questions when new words prevented me from grasping everything. She shared about this problem that has been plaguing her; that she has lost feeling, had several treatments and tried medicine but that she is unsure what will happen next. She told me she is afraid she will lose use of her legs completely and become paralyzed. She is only in her mid 20’s with a 2 year old child and I just thought about how scary this must be for her. We discussed what the doctors recommended and what she can do from here and after discussing her options and offering to help in any way I could. She then said ‘but what if nothing helps?’ I felt immediately that I should pray for her healing and ask that God would help her, hear her prayer, and touch her body. I asked her if that was ok and she said that she wanted me to. In that moment I touched her feet and in my best stumbling Kiswahili prayed that the God who created and loves her would be with her and heal her. It was an amazing experience to be a part of that moment. And humbling. No matter who were are, no matter where we live, what culture we come from there is something that calls us all to know that our Creator is powerful. That to fear and love Him is where we need to be. That we can call on Him in our abundance, our weakness, and even our doubt. That when we feel that maybe nothing else “will work” that is when He can show us more. I was profoundly thankful she allowed me to share in her trouble, her worries, her vulnerability, and to pray for her. And I sense God will work. Not on my terms but on His. And I know it is all about Him. Not Me. And that brings me Peace and Freedom.
octopus..it is what is for dinner….
After some more relaxing, visiting, and seeing the octopus catch they were preparing for dinner (thank goodness we left before dinner as octopus is NOT a favorite of mine although Anni likes it) we packed up and drove the 2 women back to town with us. After arriving home safely we were all pretty exhausted but very thankful we had gone. I had a real sense He spoke in that still soft voice in the ocean breeze today.