The road twisting down from campus to the valley floor cracks me up every time. We braved that bumpy guy again last Friday, a small crew of us riding out with Mark to visit a couple schools, and as our teeth rattled in place Mark joked, “You know, lots of people pay money for seats that shake.”
We arrived at the first school as the kids were washing up for lunch, scrubbing small hands under a ribbon of water poured from jerry cans. Kitchens here are wooden structures set apart from the bulk of the school, and this one featured a trio of pots boiling up heaps of githeri.
I am in love with how the smallest folk line up, pressed belly to back in a human chain that keeps inching closer to the food. Nearly every child wielded a bowl, though the few without asked a friend to grab a double portion to share.
It’s a graceful thing, the choreography of lunch: a step forward, two hands extending, a lifted bowl, a happy scuttle off to the shade to eat.
After lunch we rolled on out again into that dry sweep of grassland. It took us a while to find the second school, mostly because we spent a couple hours looping circles in the bush, pretending to not be lost. At one point we four-wheeled-it through a pond, and Mark and Rachel (one of our teachers) disembarked more than once to consult the directional expertise of several Maasai herdsmen.
[Sidenote: The cows here are crazy cute. Forget the pony, I want this guy.]
The third herdsman we happened upon spoke with Rachel awhile, scrawling maps in the dirt with his stick. When that didn’t seem to un-lose us, he jetted off, inexplicably, into the scrub and acacia.
I’d picked out the words peleka and mbuzi and huko, so I asked Rachel: “Did he say something about delivering goats over there? Because this is what I’m getting out of the conversation.” She was kind enough to not answer.
We waited while our new herdsman-friend did some possible goat delivery, and a few minutes later he jogged back and hopped in the car to serve as our personal guide.
This time we found the school.
At Najile, Mark and Rachel checked supplies and handled the logistics of lunches and computer education while the rest of us trailed the students to an exercise field. The girls were up first, racing and skipping laps around the loose soccer pitch, then fanning out to play a match.
They have a distinctive style of play, these girls, jumping as they kick, the crowns of their heads nearly scraping blue from the sky.
It amazes me that these are the same kiddos who used to sit listless and drawn. Don’t ever doubt it, my friends: day after day of food can tip a world right again.
Do you have any idea how much fun it is to be your hands and feet and faces and solid shoulders and grins in this place?
My nine year old, she walks around the house humming Rend Collective, and there’s this bit that makes me think of all of you:
We seek Your kingdom first
we hunger and we thirst
refuse to waste our lives
for You’re our joy and prize
To see the captive hearts released
the hurt, the sick, the poor at peace,
we lay down our lives for Heaven’s cause
We are Your church
We pray revive
Oh, friends. Thanks for loving just like this, and for giving us the best Valentine’s Day yet.