02 January 2009

Rollercoaster of Emotions

I was in a terrible mood around 2 o'clock yesterday...
It was hot, we were walking, my feet were developing blisters...and then EVERYONE was staring at us...I mean, I could have been a mermaid and fewer people would have been staring.
This is not out of the norm for Kitale, but it was really getting to me yesterday.

I almost started crying in the grocery store...I was just frustrated and couldn't get a handle on it.
Daina told me to go home while she and Andrew went to get vegetables...but walking through town alone while I felt like this was, evidently, more overwhelming than just staying with them for another 10 minutes. (Side note: I hate being this irrational...my frustration level is doubled when I can't get a handle on my emotions).

So, we walk in to the market and Daina knows where she's going (there's a woman she buys from every time). We walk over and she shakes our hands and begins bagging up tomatoes and green peppers, but she doesn't have any cilantro.

I begin to walk around looking for it at other stations. I turn a corner and this woman says, "Well, hello. What's your name?" I said, "Alice."
"Oh, hello Alice. I'm Rosemary. And this is Beatrice."
I greeted Beatrice with a smile and a handshake...and, for some reason, my heart was instantly softened...all of my crazy emotions were gone.
Rosemary continued: "Where are you coming from, Alice?"
Me: "California"
Rosemary: "Oh! California, I know that place!"
Me: "It's a nice place. I like it, but I also like Kitale"
Rosemary: "You like Kitale? I like it, too"

Then, their friend walks up and sits down. She immediately asks my name.
When I answer "Alice", she says, "Alice? Like a Luhya girl?" (Luhya is one of the Kenyan tribes. Most people can differentiate between tribes not only by facial features, but also by name).
I said, "Yes, like a Luhya girl" (as if I had any idea that Alice was a Luhya name...but I liked knowing that now).
She said, "I am Mary. Young Mary."

I said, "Hello, young Mary."

Here's where the story shifts in to a "This would only happen in Kenya" story.
Young Mary grabs my calf (I'm wearing long board shorts, since we had just come from swimming with the kids) and says, "You have very nice legs."

My response: "You are the first person ever in my whole life to say that"
She continued: "Yes. Nice legs. Luhya legs. Big and strong."
(Mind you, she's holding my calf through this entire exchange)
Me: "Oh, I have heard that before...yes, they are big. Most of the kids point and say nyama" (Swahili for meat)
They went crazy with laughter at this...

Rosemary: "You speak Swahili?"
Me: "Kidogo" (a little)
Rosemary: "Oh, kidogo" (more laughter) "What are you looking for today?"
Me: "Cilantro."
Rosemary: "What's that?"
Me: "It's green, with a long stem and then a little leaf at the top."
Rosemary: "Oh, there's none of that in the market today."
Me: "Okay, well I should go find my friends and tell them it's not here."

Young Mary (still holding my calf): "When will you return to the market?"
Me: "I don't know...maybe next week?"
Young Mary: "Okay. See you next Monday."
Me: "Oh, no...I don't know when we will return...just when we need more vegetables."

Rosemary: "Okay, Alice. We will see you when you return. Come and see us, okay?"

I walked out of that market feeling so fresh. I could have stood there for hours with those women...calf-touching and all...

It's funny how God works...in the moments of weakness, He is our strength...and, from what I can tell, those are the most memorable moments...

4 comments:

Josh(ua) Treece said...

I love this story...

Julie Hibbard said...

First I was crying for your sadness and now for your joy. And laughing for your 'meat' comment especially! (Sorry that you didn't get Dad's legs...)
I am so happy that these women saw past your white face to your beautiful heart...I know you love the people of Kitale...
and, now, I know that they so love you too.

Mama Oasis said...

Cilantro is called Dania in Kenya (Don-ee-uh).....

Suefalla said...

I love this story even more than Josh Treece does.

cant wait for you to be home!!!!