Conference Begins at Mubanga

We are now settled at Mabanga where Jez and I are taking pictures of a praying mantis in his room. Tonight we officially opened the conference after having people arrive all afternoon from Burundi, Rwanda, Uganda, Kenya, and of course the foreign delegation from Britain, America, and the Netherlands. Folks from Tanzania are arriving tomorrow.

The last time I was able to write you was from the Friends International Center in Nairobi. That night we went to the Yaya Mall (sp?) to meet some others for Dinner but beforehand, we heard the Masai Market had been outside for the day. We headed out there to get a dress for Hetty as she needed one and I think nearly all of us ended up buying something or other. Picture it getting dark (which it does very quickly here) and the people closing up shop. Shopping frenzy is the best way to describe it. Besides the general very hurried and fun scene, my favorite part was watching Eden, someone who knows well how to bargain with them, engage the people around us we wished to purchase from.

Eden has been a great through this whole trip. She can explain to us the ins and outs of Kenya history and culture in a way we can appreciate the nuances and enjoy the differences while understanding them. Yesterday as we drove from Nakuru to Mabanga, Eden gave those of us in her vehicle a lesson in the history, polity, and spirituality of Quakers here in Kenya. We all had paper and pens and in our laps and were taking notes. One thing I have not understood to this point is that the 17 yearly meetings of Kenya are not based on theological differences. The splits are based on tribal power: which tribe has the power and who they choose to benefit with that power. If you have studied the Old Testament culture of the Bible, you are already a long ways toward understanding the culture here. Here, donkeys are still pulling carts, people work in the fields, the hospital's milk comes from their cows, the houses are similarly built, and the client/patron relationship is going strong. Here it is more about the community than the individual. Eden shared with me today that if an individual has extra money, they are expected to use that money for the greatest need in their community whether that is school fees or a surgery. Having studied Biblical culture, what I already know has helped a great deal. Yet, there is so much to learn.

As I know friends and family of others I am traveling with are also checking this, we are all doing fine. On Monday, we celebrated Emily's birthday while singing to her on safari in Lake Nakuru National Park and then over dinner at an Ethiopian restaurant. Marielke is also doing well and is enjoying helping out at the conference by organizing the interest groups. They both pass along their hellos. I think Hetty's friends are also checking this. As I write, she is acting as the observer to the Nominating Committee meeting in another building.

Today we visited a local Quaker Hospital and were shown all around. The staff were so gracious and welcoming and each person explained what they did and what we were seeing as we went. A local meeting to where I live, Reedwood Friends Church, has donated a lot of equipment to the hospital including Mubanga trees so that made it particularly meaningful for me. It's neat to see the church raising money for something and then get to go see what it is actually going for. On the way back to the center, we talked about how hearing the statistics on AIDS and poverty is one thing, looking into the eyes of a patient with AIDS, and seeing and smelling poverty is quite another. As someone told me, seeing such things will haunt me forever in pleasant and unpleasant ways. I've never been comfortable with the materialism of America, I outright dislike it, now I'm even more that way. It has actually been very freeing to be surrounded by an agrarian culture.

The weather here is wonderful. I have been comfortable to rather warm in a short sleeve shirt. That's it- a short sleeve shirt. I am thoroughly enjoying that. I am still working on my ugalie eating skills. It's a type of food you roll into a ball with one hand and then make it a bowl shape to scoop food into. My attempts at this provided great mirth and entertainment for the Africans at dinner. Glad to be of service. Speaking of service, during the opening ceremony tonight, Bainito, the clerk, mentioned my name and John Lomuria who was sitting next to me told me to stand up and I looked at him asking what I had volunteered for. Bainito informed me I am helping record what happens for historical record. Good to know. I am speaking at the workshop tomorrow and am serving as the workshop coordinator as well as leading an interest group with John on the Quaker Youth Book Project for which we are both editorial board members. We are very much enjoying spending time with each other again. He arrived this afternoon and we will be together for over a week as he is taking five of us delegates home with him to Turkana to see where he lives and to meet his wife and kids as well as showing us around.

My health is good by the way and I am very thankful for that. We are actually all quite well and are enjoying being together with all the other young adults here.

While I wait for John to come back, he is going to add a message as well, I'll share with you a few phrases I've learned: “Time is not money when time is all you have” and “We treat, God heals.” The first has helped teach me why things can move so slowly here and the second Eden told us at the hospital.

John says: I have just come out of the nominating group this night where Eden and Musonga and Ruth Lowe have just served trying to nominate leaders of the YQCA who will take the group for this other three year term.

P.S. Internet is spotty and hard to get onto at best so I'm posting whenever I can. Thanks for your comments!

365-09 #348

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Walking the Sea: Conference Begins at Mubanga

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Conference Begins at Mubanga

We are now settled at Mabanga where Jez and I are taking pictures of a praying mantis in his room. Tonight we officially opened the conference after having people arrive all afternoon from Burundi, Rwanda, Uganda, Kenya, and of course the foreign delegation from Britain, America, and the Netherlands. Folks from Tanzania are arriving tomorrow.

The last time I was able to write you was from the Friends International Center in Nairobi. That night we went to the Yaya Mall (sp?) to meet some others for Dinner but beforehand, we heard the Masai Market had been outside for the day. We headed out there to get a dress for Hetty as she needed one and I think nearly all of us ended up buying something or other. Picture it getting dark (which it does very quickly here) and the people closing up shop. Shopping frenzy is the best way to describe it. Besides the general very hurried and fun scene, my favorite part was watching Eden, someone who knows well how to bargain with them, engage the people around us we wished to purchase from.

Eden has been a great through this whole trip. She can explain to us the ins and outs of Kenya history and culture in a way we can appreciate the nuances and enjoy the differences while understanding them. Yesterday as we drove from Nakuru to Mabanga, Eden gave those of us in her vehicle a lesson in the history, polity, and spirituality of Quakers here in Kenya. We all had paper and pens and in our laps and were taking notes. One thing I have not understood to this point is that the 17 yearly meetings of Kenya are not based on theological differences. The splits are based on tribal power: which tribe has the power and who they choose to benefit with that power. If you have studied the Old Testament culture of the Bible, you are already a long ways toward understanding the culture here. Here, donkeys are still pulling carts, people work in the fields, the hospital's milk comes from their cows, the houses are similarly built, and the client/patron relationship is going strong. Here it is more about the community than the individual. Eden shared with me today that if an individual has extra money, they are expected to use that money for the greatest need in their community whether that is school fees or a surgery. Having studied Biblical culture, what I already know has helped a great deal. Yet, there is so much to learn.

As I know friends and family of others I am traveling with are also checking this, we are all doing fine. On Monday, we celebrated Emily's birthday while singing to her on safari in Lake Nakuru National Park and then over dinner at an Ethiopian restaurant. Marielke is also doing well and is enjoying helping out at the conference by organizing the interest groups. They both pass along their hellos. I think Hetty's friends are also checking this. As I write, she is acting as the observer to the Nominating Committee meeting in another building.

Today we visited a local Quaker Hospital and were shown all around. The staff were so gracious and welcoming and each person explained what they did and what we were seeing as we went. A local meeting to where I live, Reedwood Friends Church, has donated a lot of equipment to the hospital including Mubanga trees so that made it particularly meaningful for me. It's neat to see the church raising money for something and then get to go see what it is actually going for. On the way back to the center, we talked about how hearing the statistics on AIDS and poverty is one thing, looking into the eyes of a patient with AIDS, and seeing and smelling poverty is quite another. As someone told me, seeing such things will haunt me forever in pleasant and unpleasant ways. I've never been comfortable with the materialism of America, I outright dislike it, now I'm even more that way. It has actually been very freeing to be surrounded by an agrarian culture.

The weather here is wonderful. I have been comfortable to rather warm in a short sleeve shirt. That's it- a short sleeve shirt. I am thoroughly enjoying that. I am still working on my ugalie eating skills. It's a type of food you roll into a ball with one hand and then make it a bowl shape to scoop food into. My attempts at this provided great mirth and entertainment for the Africans at dinner. Glad to be of service. Speaking of service, during the opening ceremony tonight, Bainito, the clerk, mentioned my name and John Lomuria who was sitting next to me told me to stand up and I looked at him asking what I had volunteered for. Bainito informed me I am helping record what happens for historical record. Good to know. I am speaking at the workshop tomorrow and am serving as the workshop coordinator as well as leading an interest group with John on the Quaker Youth Book Project for which we are both editorial board members. We are very much enjoying spending time with each other again. He arrived this afternoon and we will be together for over a week as he is taking five of us delegates home with him to Turkana to see where he lives and to meet his wife and kids as well as showing us around.

My health is good by the way and I am very thankful for that. We are actually all quite well and are enjoying being together with all the other young adults here.

While I wait for John to come back, he is going to add a message as well, I'll share with you a few phrases I've learned: “Time is not money when time is all you have” and “We treat, God heals.” The first has helped teach me why things can move so slowly here and the second Eden told us at the hospital.

John says: I have just come out of the nominating group this night where Eden and Musonga and Ruth Lowe have just served trying to nominate leaders of the YQCA who will take the group for this other three year term.

P.S. Internet is spotty and hard to get onto at best so I'm posting whenever I can. Thanks for your comments!

365-09 #348

Labels: ,

2 Comments:

At December 9, 2009 at 9:34 PM , Anonymous Deanna said...

Sounds like you're really engaged and enjoying the company and all the experiences so far. You precious woman! I miss you, girlfriend! Have the time of your life. Keep at it with the uglie? food. Haha You'll get the hang of it. :)

 
At December 21, 2009 at 12:41 PM , Blogger Ruth said...

It was Hetty that helped with the nominations, not ME!!!

 

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