July 31, 2018
Yesterday I hopped a ride with Lydia to Nakuru, where I am visiting Fr. Kiriti. I arrived Java House 10:30, and worked a Sudoku until he arrived at noon. I’d asked my friend, Agnes, where I could buy yarn. Evidently no knitters in Naivasha—I searched all the markets.
So, after a so-so salad, we went off to a nearby shop, only I’d mistaken the name. Wrong shop. Who would imagine it would be so hard to find. I’d brought a bag of yarn from home, but have knitted almost all into hats, which I’ve given away. The latest, a pink number, was awarded to Toleo, Fr. Kiriti’s adopted daughter. She’s worn it since. Another girl, Chapusi, from East Pokot, has been here with Toleo today. She will get the yellow creation that’s about ¾ finished now. She leaves for home early in the am, so have to get my fingers busy.
Although this is generally the cold season, but not the rainy season, we had a major rain storm last night and again right now (6 pm). These are big tropical storms, huge drops that make so much noise on the iron sheet roof that I couldn’t hear A Fighting Chance by Elizabeth Warren playing on my itunes. By morning the air was clear, sky was blue and the ground wet but drying fast.
This morning I went with Fr. Kiriti way up, away from town to a small settlement. We turned into what looked like several shops, but an open doorway led to what we would call apartments, but here are known as houses. He was to celebrate mass at one of them. We arrived promptly at 10—on time, but virtually no one was there except the hostess. We entered a small sitting room, crammed, as is generally the case with large, overstuffed couches and chairs. He set up the altar on a coffee table and proceeded to wait. Soon, as he knew would be the case, people began to arrive. Slowly by slowly they came in 2’s and 3’s, several with small children. The sitting room filled and people sat in an outer room, and then outside the door when necessary. He put on his robes and mass began. I couldn’t tell whether it was in Kiswahili or Kikuyu, but later was told it was the former. As usual, I was free to meditate and observe, as I understood not one word. The eyes of the small boy seated on my right began to droop and his mother gently pulled his head over into her lap, where he stayed for the full time. Another small boy sat quietly, not uttering a word nor even swinging his legs. Like many children, he has been taken to mass from early infancy and knows the proper behavior. He couldn’t have been more than 4. The hostess led the singing, all of it unaccompanied and all sung beautifully. How do they do it? Her husband counted how many wanted to receive communion, at which Fr. Kiriti carefully counted out the hosts.
When all was over, I was asked to speak to the group. I said a few sentences, then waited for Fr. Kiriti to translate for me. “No” they said. They understood me. This makes is very much easier.
Afterwards the hostess always serves a meal. She told me that some of the woman came early in the morning to help with the food, then had gone back home to dress. The walk everywhere, so I’m guessing some of them walked a very long way.
In the afternoon Fr. Kiriti wanted to visit a friend, a nun who is director of a retirement center for the Little Sisters of St. Francis. It’s a very new center, beautifully built, with spacious rooms with large windows, so very light and shining with scrubbing. Sr. Scholastica is a warm, caring woman of 50-some years, who led us to one of several tables in the dining room. We were joined by others, who shared their tea, cake and arrow root with us. Some of you may be more familiar with arrow root in the form of poi. I tired some years ago and put it in the same category as ugali—wallpaper paste, but Kenyans love both. Maybe if you have it from infancy you like it. Alas, my mother didn’t serve it to me!
(nextday) This is Fr. Kiriti’s office day and a lazy day for me.
I’d left the yellow hat on the couch so Chapusi would be sure to see it. She came out to breakfast wearing it, as was Toleo wearing her pink one. Simon, the cook indicated he’d like a hat. Favorite color? Black. “How about if I make it with Kenyan flag colors, black with green and red stripes, separated by small strips of white.?” I spent most of the day sitting on the couch, knitting and listening to my resurrected ipod. One may think that a dead machine is dead, but I can testify, this has been a miraculous recovery, for which I am truy thankful. It reads me to sleep every night. The hat turned out so nicely. Simon was visibly pleased, “Oh, very smart” said with a beaming smile.
About noon I decided to take a walk. The road in front of the church compound is dirt, as are all the roads in this community, with the exception of the main road. When the hard rains come, it’s a sea of mud, with deep ruts and very uneven. Fortunately most of the traffic is by foot, so I climbed up the hill to the junction, greeting people if they seemed they’d welcome that. By and large Kenyans are very friendly, and will offer an invite for tea to a perfect stranger. This happened to me today, but I didn’t want to bother her. Walking back down, I encountered a lady and 2 men deep in conversation. As I was passing, they stopped the conversation to greet me. One of the men, after vigorously shaking my hand, asked, “I want to ask you a question. How many years are you?” Since he seemed pretty old himself, I said, “82, and you?” “86” I saluted his greater age and passed on. How often does a perfect stranger stop someone to ask his/her age???? It tickled me greatly.