#21 – Mji Wa Neema Reunion

Since so many Mji kids came to Naivasha from their various schools for the Saturday ETW reunion (see # 20) we decided we’d have our Mji reunion Sunday.  I’d bought a sheep for the event, although we all prefer goat, we planned the food, John and Mary made sure the girls and boys dorms were ready, we cleaned up the yard—just like anyone would do in expectation of guests.  And they came.  I didn’t count them, but I think there may have been 20 to 25, all eager to see each other, to share what has become an annual event.  Hillary joined us, as did Frs Kiriti and Ngaruiya and Odhembio, the catechist who has been a big brother to them since he came to this parish, maybe 10 years ago. 

For me it is at once, a wonderful gathering of my Kenyan “grandchildren” and a hectic day of trying to handle all the small things we had not anticipated, listen to kids telling me what pitfalls they are currently facing and wanting to just be part of the group around the fire pit where parts of the sheep were roasting away.

The preparation, from slaughtering, which I did not observe, let alone participate in, to making the meat pan-ready, is a much more arduous task than I would ever have thought.  There must have been 3 or 4 around the table, hacking bones apart, cutting off facia, removing excess fat, separating out the innards, some of which they roasted and some of which they tossed (though that was minimal). They’ve all done this often enough to know what to do and they joked and laughed as they worked.

Finally it was ready.  We all gathered in the dining hall, people going in and out to answer a call, get a plate, a serving spoon, some water, whatever.  It was almost never a stable group, but as I sat at the end of the table and looked around it was a repeat performance of so many dinners I’ve shared in that room, only the players keep getting bigger. Lucas and Joseph came to stay, from Catherine’s, Michael returned from his music festival, Cyrus came from a remote area where he’d just finished his 1-year internship (which he LOVED), they gathered from the 4 corners of Kenya to be together.  After the meal we had our traditional ice cream and “biscuits” aka cookies.  This was another Judy idea, which was met with mixed opinions that first year. They all loved the flavors, but I remember Michael in particular, screwing up his face at the cold, but continuing to eat because it tasted so good! 

Generally I have engineered these events (Judy started it, but hasn’t been here for 5 years or so), buying the food, and making sure everyone was on board.  But every year I wonder whether it will be my last.  Before I left home this past June, I was pretty sure this would be my last trip, but…..  Only time will tell.  In fact, I’ll either be here in June 2020 or I won’t. 

Julie and Niki were leaving Sunday night, with Hillary driving them to the airport and Cyrus catching a ride to go back to Nairobi where he lives.  And slowly by slowly the others packed up their things to return to school, job, attachment, home whatever.  As I hugged each one goodbye, I wondered, as I so often do, “will I ever see her/him again?” Need I admit to some tears?  Of course I had tears.

Some stayed over for today and some are still here tonight.  By Wednesday, it will be Mary and her sister Margaret, John and Joyce. 

This morning, it was back to teaching math—-exceptI had forgotten that the 2ndMonday of each month, the Lions eye clinic takes over most of our teaching space AND the end of Eid is a national holiday in Kenya.  ARGH!!! I’m running around trying to find places to teach, classes were small, and I’d had little time for much breakfast. It was crazy, but then by a bit after noon, our area was EMPTY.  The form 4’s who usually stay for chemistry didn’t show at all and I had only 11 for math. 

In addition to everything else I’ve set myself the goal of cleaning out all the junk not just in the dining hall (that’s now done) but also the “suite” of rooms Julia (matron) used when the home still had kids.  Four cupboards in the 2 rooms and a storage were jammed with coverless books, many with missing pages, old clothes, and just junk.  I even found a bone from some previous goat or sheep stuck back on a shelf! There is still a bit more to do but mostly the place looks pretty good.  Since Fr. Ngaruiya lets people stay in the Mji compound, I wanted it to be fairly livable.  Now I think it is.

About 3 I sit down to finish the Sudoku and have some lunch.  It’s so peaceful.  I don’t know where the kids are, but I’m enjoying the quiet.  Not for long!  They’d gone to Fr. Kiriti’s to visit Toleo, who hadn’t come yesterday, and now they trooped back.  Tylon came in to tell me he wasn’t feeling well, headache, join pains and general malaise announce the probable onset of malaria.  Ugh!  What to do. I call Joyce, who is a doctor, for advice and proceed as directed to the Kebeti clinic, but it has closed.  Off to the district hospital we go for testing. Joyce has called ahead (nice to have friends in high places!) so we are seen right away.  Yep!  It’s malaria, but we’ve caught it early.  We pick up the medication and finally I have a few minutes for me.  However, I didn’t finish the Sudoku until about ½ hour ago (10:15). Now off to sleep.  Long day.

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