Masai Market

We are still at language school this week. It has been a good, challenging, difficult and at times frustrating experience. The time though has laid a good foundation for us to continue to learn Kiswahili when we return to Kenya next week. We are far from becoming fluent but I learned an African Proverb this week that says “You don’t become an expert in five days.” When explained to me, the proverb means that there are 3 ingredients needed to become an expert at anything which are practice, patience, and persistence. This includes becoming an expert or fluent in another language which definitely takes longer than 5 days or the 8 weeks we have been here at language school.

One of the great things about being here in Africa over the past 2 years is that we have been in 6 different African nations and have been able to meet people from many different people groups. Each group is different in their language, culture, customs, dress, housing, way of living, etc. We have been with groups of people that are agriculturist, hunter and gatherers, and now pastoralist.

This past Saturday there was a Language School field trip to the Masai Market. The Masai keep herds of cows, goats, and sheep. So we went to the meat market. There were 100’s of Masai men buying and selling their animals.

Our guide for the day told us a little about their culture like there are 3 classes of men: elders, warriors, and children and that their favorite color is red. While at the market, animals are bought and sold along with some of them being slandered and cooked. There were 100’s of people sitting around enjoying a good meal and fellowshipping. The Masai Market happens every Saturday. This was a great cultural experience for us.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It amazes me how diverse the people are on the African continent. We are all created by God in His image. We serve an Awesome God.

Prayer and Fasting

As I laid awake in the early hours this morning, I was thinking about what to write. Then at 5am, the Call to Prayer started at a local mosque. Yesterday and today have been religious holidays here in Tanzania because of the end of Ramadan. Ramadan is observed by Muslims worldwide as a month of fasting to commemorate the first revelation of the Quran to Muhammad according to Islamic belief. During their daily fasting from dawn until sunset, Muslims refrain from consuming food, drinking liquids, smoking, and engaging in sexual relations. They also refrain from sinful behavior such as false speech and fighting. Muslims believe the spiritual rewards for fasting is multiplied within the month of Ramadan.

This is all new for Jeremy and I. We have lots to learn about what our new neighbors believe. To be truthful, it is disturbing to hear the Call to Prayer every day. I try to stop and pray for our neighbors at these times of day.

At 5am this morning, I turned to what the Bible says about prayer and fasting in Matthew 6.

v5. And when you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full.

v7. And when you pray, do not keep on babbling like pagans, for they think they will be heard because of their many words.

v16. When you fast, do not look somber as the hypocrites do, for they disfigure their faces to show others they are fasting. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full.

These were Jesus’s words against those who publicly pray and fast for others to see. At the time these were his Jewish neighbors. They were receiving their reward in full by the religious practices of the day. Sadly, our neighbors here publicly call for prayer five times a day and publicly fast for an entire month. They have received their reward already. Yet, they believe by doing these things they are increasing their spiritual reward.

But what did Jesus actually say about receiving rewards for prayer and fasting?

v6. But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.

v17-18. But when you fast, put oil on your head and wash your face, so that it will not be obvious to others that you are fasting, but only to your Father who is unseen; and your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.

To me, these are clear instructions of what not to do and what to do. Jesus was calling out his Jewish neighbors for their religious acts and setting a new way for his followers. Jesus even taught them how to pray in Matthew 6.

v9-13. This, then, is how you should pray: “Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us today our daily bread. And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one.”

I do pray for our neighbors and that one day we can all pray this prayer with a sincere heart to Our Father in heaven, the unseen One, who will reward each person for what is done in secret.

Lions and tigers and bears, Oh My

“Lions and tigers and bears, Oh my.” Dorothy from the Wizard of Oz

This line reminds me of a place in Locust Grove, GA called Noah’s Ark Animal Sanctuary. There was a special trio called BLT: bear, lion, tiger. They were rescued together as babies and have grown up together at the sanctuary. This is an unnatural trio of predators. In nature, they would never be together because lions are from Africa, tigers are from Asia, and bears are from North America. To Dorothy, the Scarecrow, and the Tinman, these were their greatest fears in the dark woods along the path of the yellow brick road.

Language learning is a great fear for many people. As Americans, we endure the two years of foreign language in high school. We learn to read and write a language but never really know how to speak it or understand someone speaking. A few love learning language, some hate it, and others struggle through the whole process. After our high school exposure to a foreign language, we tend to forget almost everything we learned.

“Classes and tenses and agreements, Oh my,” has become a new saying for us.

Jeremy and I both have our own learning disabilities, so language learning is a struggle for us in different ways. We have completed 17 of 60 lessons here at language school. It became a little overwhelming by the end of the third week because in Kiswahili there are 15 noun classes, 15 tenses, and everything has to be in agreement within a sentence: subject, object, adjectives and verbs. Just this past Friday we were trying to explain why we were struggling to our language helper after being presented with the word AMEWAITENI. Only it was left of the original verb kuita which means to call. When you break down this word AMEWAITENI:

A – is the subject pronoun for he/she

ME – is the past tense

WA__ENI – is the object pronoun for all of you

IT – is the root of the verb kuita

(You drop beginning and ends of verbs to add the subject, object, and tenses.)

Literally, you can say a whole sentence in one word. Amewaiteni means He called all of you. I can read the word fine but to be listening to someone speak, you have to do so much to the verb to understand. Jeremy is struggling to even break down a word into the parts to understand the whole word.

Please pray for us as we try to learn Kiswahili. Every day we have 20-30 new vocabulary words being added and usually a new form of a tense. After 4 weeks, we probably have over 300 vocabulary words, 5 tenses, and nouns from 11 classes with their positive, negative and possessive pronoun forms. This is a lot to take in, understand and then to speak. It is truly a challenge for us. Please pray for ears to hear, minds to understand, and tongues to reply. We know we can only learn this language and its complexities with God’s help.

 

community

Mtu ni Watu

“A person is people” captures the essence of the human relationships in East Africa. No one lives a solitary life. All are dependent on one another and only in community is a person fully human.

This is the African proverb on the first page of our Kiswahili language book. The school here has the language school, a secondary (high) school and a Lutheran seminary. Our classroom looks out to the Uluguru Mountains. It is an inspiring view. The soccer field of the school is also in our view.

We witnessed a great example of this proverb. The secondary students were taking their end of term exams the first week we were here. Last week, they were waiting to receive their scores, so they didn’t have classes. They were cleaning up the campus because they will leave for a month break this week. We observed that the students were in groups and would do a chore together. Often you would hear the students singing as they worked. At the beginning of the week, the soccer field was over grown from all the rain that has fallen here. The guys had a hard time playing soccer when their chores were done. So a group of guys got together with hand grass cutters to cut the grass. As a group, they were able to get the job done in a short period of time. This was done in community.

I believe the Bible also encourages us to live in community.

And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching. Hebrews 10:24-25

For just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, so in Christ we, though many, form one body, and each member belongs to all the others. Romans 12:4-5

I love being here in Africa where there is a sense of true community. I have much to learn from them.

Home Stay 2.0

What is a home-stay?

You go live with a local family for a time to observe the way they live on a day to day basis. You are their guest but you join in on the things done every day. Usually you have not learned much language in your new culture so communication is limited which allows you to focus on just observing.

Our home-stay this time was in the village we are going to live in and in the house we will be living in once we finish language school. The family will become our landlord but we pray they will become much more. The nuclear family is a single mother with 3 children. The husband had died sometime in the past. The two sons lived at home and went to private school. The daughter was away at boarding school. This family does not stand alone, they are part of the larger family which makes up the whole neighborhood. All the neighbors are relatives in some way: grandparents, uncles, aunts, or cousins. During our time together, we meet and had tea with several of the extended family members. We have even been invited to a family wedding when we return from language school in late July. This is huge to be already invited to such an important event for the family.

J the younger boy
M the older brother

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We both had different experiences because women and men do different things during the day.

Jeremy: I hung out with two teenage sons most of my home-stay.  We went and sat at the main road with the local motor bike taxi drivers. We drank porridge and ate peanuts.  I got myself involved in two soccer games, climbed a mango tree to get some good fresh fruit and visited with a lot of family members.  I spent most of my time outside of the house and in the community.  We ate traditional food. Mama was a very good cook. Overall, it was a great time in the community meeting new people and seeing a little of the “flow of life” in the village.

I got to play a few games of soccer with the local boys

Claudia: I stayed at home most of time with Mama. I watched her clean, wash dishes, wash clothes, and cook meals. She would give me small tasks to do after I watched her do them first. She spoke very little English but we made do. After the work was done, we just sat in her living room. Throughout the day, she had visitors come and go. These were family members and friends. I only went out in the community twice during our time to visit family members and to walk to the stores in the main part of the village.

Claudia visiting the neighbors and sampling fresh mango and also fresh coconut that was harvested just before this picture.

Do pray with us for this family that as we move into the village in mid-July. We will continue to build on that friendship that has started. We were able to pray out loud before each meal in the name of Jesus Christ. We were also able to share the kind of music we listen to which is about God. They understood that we were not Muslims and we were followers of Jesus. We pray over time this family, neighborhood and village will come to follow Jesus.