December 20, 2012
When I told my students in Malakal that I was coming to the Mennonite Guest House in Nairobi for Christmas they asked if there would be many Americans here. I said I didn’t know. What I am finding is that there are a wide variety of nationalities, it is very international here. I love this as it is what I have been used to in the past years from 2005 and on as my world has enlarged through global travel and living.
I was remembering today that I presided over Communion at the last chapel worship of the semester in November. It was a very powerful act for me, God working through me, and others (especially students) were aware of this as well. I have to admit I was a bit amused when several of the students seemed surprised at the authority with which I read the Communion liturgy. I have, after all, been ordained for ten years. There is a reason I am ordained – yes indeed, God has called me to this and my church community through ordination has recognized this call.
I found out today what Boxing Day is. It is December 26, the day after Christmas, and is celebrated in Canada and the United Kingdom; perhaps all of the countries that are connected with the UK or Great Britain celebrate it. It differs from the Boxer Rebellion that took place in China. The name originates from the boxes that were used to put Christmas presents in.
January 1, 2013
I intended to do a very consistent job of blogging while I was on Christmas Break in Nairobi. Clearly this did not happen.
I often find that so very many things may happen in one day, or even in one moment, that I am temporarily overwhelmed and unable to process what has happened quickly enough to get it set out for public perusal. I will often jot small notes to myself as to what I want to share with you, my readers, and yet sometimes it takes a good bit of time to get to the point of sharing with you even with those memory jolts available.
So many things happen in Africa that we would not consider in the United States. Perhaps that is one of the big lessons for me in all of this life here. At the Kenya Commercial Bank in Malakal, South Sudan, for instance, my new passport was not duly noted nor the new photograph questioned. I was able to make my withdrawal of USD from the bank with no questions. When I went to a KCB in Nairobi however it was a totally other matter. I was very embarrassed when the line behind me had to wait for at least ten minutes while, I gathered, my new photo in my new passport were verified. I was told that upon my return to Malakal I should have the new passport recorded in the bank’s records. I have been to the KCB in Malakal several times since my return in September of 2012 from the states, why had no one said anything to me before I was in Nairobi holding up a long line because of a technicality? That is the kind of thing that happens in Africa.
At the Mennonite Guest House I found a lovely international community. It was wonderful having meals cooked for me, clean up taken care of for me, an indoor bathroom attached to my bedroom and real coffee served to me five times a day – three meals and two tea times except that since I am an American I prefer coffee to teaJ
Coming back to South Sudan has been a jolt and going to Malakal tomorrow will be more of a jolt. I am sitting in my room at the Episcopal Guest House enjoying the luxury of a ceiling fan and being able to charge my cell phone and computer and Kindle. They must be fully charged for the trip back to Malakal as there has been no power there since I left December 16th and there is no prospect for power returning anytime in the near future.
The two Ugandan women who do most of the work here at the Guest House are currently on Christmas break and I suspect have gone to Uganda to regain some sanity and perspective. In their absence very little is being done that they themselves do. This morning I had to find someone to boil water so that I could have instant coffee. When they are here by 7:30 in the morning, the water, the coffee, sugar, milk powder, margarine, rolls and jam have appeared outside under a tent set up with plastic tables and chairs. This morning I found another guest who pointed me across the street to purchase a chapatti made in front of my very eyes with egg and a great deal of oil….it was really good, and I was very hungry!
Yesterday I made my way to the Kush Airlines office and was able to purchase my ticket back to Malakal, thanks be to God who went ahead of me and found someone who I know who will be on the same flight and is willing to share some of her baggage allowance with me. I have 40 kilos and am only allowed 20. Between us I will hopefully only have to pay for 10 extra kilos. Kilos x 2.2 bring up the pounds….in other words, 1 kilo equals 2.2 pounds. So If I have 10 extra kilos it means that I have 22 extra pounds that I am taking back with me. Peanut butter, nutella, a stainless steel skillet to help with cooking on charcoal, and other food essentials make up most of the weight.
I was also able to find some beautiful African fabric to take back to Malakal with me. There is a good tailor in the small town and I will be able to have some traditional African outfits sewn for me. That supports both the store in Nairobi and the tailor in Malakal and of course the factory somewhere in the world….Africa or possibly China. AND I get beautiful clothes that I feel lovely in….I was also able to support women in Nairobi who make jewelry to support themselves and sell it at the Mennonite Guest House. It is hung on two boards in the house and I had great fun selecting pieces that would go with my new fabrics and also gifts for women at home in the states.