Thursday, April 21, 2011

Bonding: Day 3

I get to write first this time (Taylor). We grabbed a taxi because we were on African time feeling the pinch of American time. Got there and waited for Wasso, he arrived and we again packed into one of those sweet buses. Now I gotta describe the bus for those people who won’t get to see the videos we have. The outside of all these busses are decorated for the driver. Many of them remind one of the Scooby-Doo bus. However, the inside is prolly not as shag and comfortable as the cartoon favorite. There are three places in front. Right behind the driver there are four seats. The row behind that has four seats as well, but the one closest to the sliding door folds up to allow easier access to the rear. The seat behind that is the same, then there is the back seat. The back seat is the same style bench seat, but it extends all the way to the wall because there are no seats behind it. I have to let you know that a seat for 4 people, doesn’t in the least mean that only four people can be on it. Usually there were on average of 5 people per bench, not including large baggage or very small children.

The only opening windows are those up in the very front with the driver and those immediately behind him. The distance between the seats is a semi tight fit for most. But for me, it is literally impossible. The distance between the seat at your back and the back of the seat in front of you is shorter than the thigh part of my leg. I could make it work if I just turned my legs a little bit sideways, but then this made an even tighter fit for anyone next to you. I am happy to say all the busses we have taken haven’t been in great shape. Why is that a good thing? Well, the folding seats, allowing passage to the rear, were missing their backs. So I just sat in the very back on this aisle side. It didn’t make for a luxurious space by any means, especially when considering half of my leg space is taken by the wheel well, but I could fit, so it was good.

Well, we met Wasso and got up there. We had tea and milk and sugar and bread for breakfast. I don’t usually like tea, or coffee for that matter, but with enough milk and sugar, any drink can be good I guess. But the tea alone was pretty good, it was a very clear and light tea. Once that was over, I was told to change into shorts so that I could go to work. So I did. Wasso took me to the right side of the house where the bathroom is, and he told me of our task. We were going to be weeding. But really it was just eliminating all plant life, except the few potatoes and lenga lenga plants, and tilling the ground. It wasn’t bad as there were three of us and this whole country seems to be composed of soft rich top soil. There was a lil mupanga (machete) work, which I was happy to do as it is a blast.

We got everything up out of the ground, killed a spider (spelled that spyder the first time), and cleared the area around the fence.  While I was doing the latter bit of work there was lots of foliage around me. This didn’t worry me, but after a few moments I heard “Pay attention!” from Wasso and his cousin Teddy. They then explained there were poisonous snakes around and I needed to be wary. No sooner had they finished telling me this then a snake slithered up my pant leg. Wasso caught a glimpse of it immediately and told me not to move, but it was far too late for that as I had felt it immediately and began to move away. But not quick enough, the snake bit me in the leg. I now have a bit of a wound on my leg and a horrible pain moving up my leg towards my heart. We will see what happens. OK, I hope you know where the story stopped being true. And if you don’t, it’s when he told me about the snakes. After which I soon left that area until we had cleared it out. We talked about a lot of interesting things while we did this job, one being the “bride price” I paid for Bonnie.

Here, when a dude wants to marry a chick, he goes to her father, brings a case of soda or beer, and negotiates a bride price. The price usually starts at five cows and usually drops to about two, and includes anywhere from two to five goats standard. This totals about $1,000, which is what Baba Wasso’s daughters went for.  They don’t see women as property and this practice isn’t derogatory.  After some quick calculating, I figured Bonnie’s ‘bride price’ was around $40,000 because of student loans and interest on those loans. So I told them the price and they were very amazed. Perhaps, they understood a part of the value I place on my wife, but still not close to the real thing.

With that task complete, Wasso had a family meeting he had to go to and it was kid time again.  I have mastered counting and learned a couple of songs in Swahili. But most of all, I have made two good friends. One of which I held hands with the whole way back up to the bus. Their names are Odette and Gilena (I’m not 100% sure of her name because she is always smiling and won’t slow down). They are both eight or nine year old girls who at once glance will take your heart. As stupid as it sounds, as girly as it sounds, I think leaving these two girls is going to be the hardest. They are seriously awesome.

Odette with Bonnie

Now I have to tell you a little bit more about Gilena. With so much time because of Wasso’s meeting, I decided to host a little tournament. There’s a game that the students play here, mostly girls, where they jump up in the air, and when they land, they stomp one of their feet forward. At the same, they are keeping a clapping rhythm with the way they jump and stomp. They start off with one foot and alternate feet throughout the game. Two different ways you can play it: Play until someone gets tired, or play until someone messes up. I’ve seen all these kids run around and play all day without a drop of sweat, so I wanted to see if they could. That, and it was a blast. So I started pitting people against each other and starting the matches. None lasted too long because someone would always just give up. I faced a few kids and beat them, but I could see clearly who the main challenger would be. Gilena. She had beaten everyone thus far, and then a little boy came and challenged her. And this turned out to be a three to five minute match. Before you say, “oh that’s not that long,” I want you to do something. Stand up where you’re at, jump up in the air decently high, but not as high as you can. Then as soon as you hit the ground, shoot your right foot forward and stomp. Do this again, but this time stomp your left foot forward. Do this and see how long it takes for you to feel the burn. Guarantee it won’t be more than a minute. Anyway, so she ended up finally beating the boy because he was slacking so bad in his jumping. But still, no one was sweating. A few more matches happened, but it was clear who the championship round would be between. Gilena stood up, and pointed alternatingly between her and me and clapped twice fast (which is the way they signal to start the game). So, we started. But before we started, I noticed something. She was sweating! She had sweat coming back down behind her ears and in front of her ears. But what is any good championship without a prize. I told her “ngoja” (wait), (and everyone thought I was going to rest, so they laughed) I ran inside, grabbed a water bottle full of water, and said it was for the winner. The match began. We went on for probably a minute and a half, two minutes. I could tell that we were both getting tired. So I picked up the pace and started jumping really high. Amazingly enough, this little girl matched with cheers. Long repeating story short: Gilena won with a great uproar from the sea of children. She downed the whole water bottle in about two minutes. Along with her very exaggerated facial expressions, apparently her tear ducts acts as sweat glands as well because she was smiling and laughing and had tears coming from her eyes because she worked so hard. She was happy for the whole of the prize: the water, and especially the water bottle (which apparently they use for games and toys). As I said, it’s going to be rough. Leaving them, and likely not returning until a time they are much different.

It again was going to rain, so we headed home. We got out of there just in time, for on the hot bus ride home, they rolled up the windows because of the rain, while the muzungus in the back cooked. It was great. I wouldn’t trade it for anything. Peace.

Bonnie’s turn.

Oh, hello. My day was a whole lot more uneventful than Taylor’s. In fact, I have very little to talk about. I helped in the kitchen again. I am really becoming a master at cutting those onions without a cutting board. I grated some tomatoes, which was disgusting. Anyone who knows me will know that I did not enjoy that. Then I added it to the goat meat we fried up, along with some onions, water and oil. I helped stir the bugali when it was ready, and helped make the lenge lenge. Every now and then I would stick my head out of the kitchen and get the camera to record whatever chaos Taylor was causing. We ate a delicious lunch, then came back out and rested for a bit. Most of the kids left over the lunch hour, but came back shortly after. I got to play a little with the kids and sit and talk with some of the older kids (such as Wasso and Teddy). Then Wasso’s older sisters took the camera from us and starting taking all sorts of pictures. They wanted picture of themselves, pictures of us with them, pictures of them with each other. It was probably a good two hours of taking pictures. We had a good time. Teddy has given us his flash drive so he can have the pictures that were taken. 

I just have to say, those two little girls we told you about, really are the sweetest little things ever. They have so much personality and are so so sweet. Odette really seems to cling to me when I sit down to hang out. When she gets really excited about something, she just jumps straight up in the air over and over again. Not squealing like a little girl, she just jumps. It’s so cute. Her and Gilena seem to be the “leaders” of the kids around the area. They kick people out of the yard who aren’t supposed to be there, shove people out of the way when it’s their turn to do something; they are ALWAYS the center of attention. Which is probably why Taylor and I like them so much.

It breaks my heart to see how much Taylor adores these two. Especially Gilena. He has formed a bond with them that I haven’t seen him form with anyone else. I keep seeing him become sad at the thought of saying goodbye to these girls tomorrow, which is a whole new thing, because he isn’t really the type of person to miss anyone. I mean, there are a certain few, but I know he’s really going to miss these little girls. There have been many times he tells me how bad he wants to kidnap them. It’s a side of Taylor I have never seen, and I know how sad it will be tomorrow when we have to say goodbye to the family. It’s giving me a glimpse of how good of a Daddy he will be to our kids, someday.

Anyway, enough of that. It was a good day, with a lot of laughs and fun. Today we had a Youth Conference that we were asked to teach for, so we didn’t get to go be with the family. We each taught a short lesson, then talked a little about how things are done for the Youth in the states. I didn’t feel good for the last part of it, so I stepped out to get some fresh air, but Taylor stayed in and answered the challenging questions they were asking. He also taught them a fun game of Gorilla, Hunter, Ninja. Basically like Rock, Paper, Scissors, except your whole body is involved. Gorilla beats Ninja, Ninja beats Hunter, Hunter beats Gorilla. They seemed to enjoy it. I think it is the plan tomorrow to teach the kids that game. Assuming we can communicate it with them. Today was easy because Ed translated for us. Tomorrow will be a bit harder.

That’s all we have for now. We’ll (try to) update again tomorrow on how our final bonding day went.


  1. Thanks for sharing your hearts! I know it will be hard for you to leave... praying for you and those you leave behind! Love, Mom & Dad

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