Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Rendille Day 1

Wake up. Eat a fresh mango and mandazi. Get on the bus. Commence adventure.

When we arrived at the small airport, we quickly went through security, and met our pilots (a young Conerstone graduate and another man who are both missionary pilots for AIM- who do not get paid for their flights, but rather raise their own support). Their stories of how they started in aviation ministry were awesome! They were great pilots. Then we boarded our charter planes. A five seater and a thirteen seater. Crazy! I was so nervous. I sweat like a mad woman, which I am basically used to by now because of the heat. Haha.

The 13 seater
Photo cred: Max Anderson
Ready for take off!
Photo cred: Becca Reed
Take off. WOW. Kenya is amazing from the ground, but even more so from the sky where you can see the magnitude of God's creation and His beauty declared from the amazing architecture, magnificent mountain ranges, wonderful water falls, dry desert, and various villages. (Take that for alliteration). Even seeing Kibera (the largest urban slum in Africa) from the air made it that more real to me how many people there are in the world and made me that much more excited and maybe even anxious about having the opportunities to see things in real life that others only are able to see on T.V. or online. With knowledge comes great responsibility.

Photo cred: Tyler Minnesma

Photo cred: Tyler Minnesma
Midway through our flight we heard an announcement that the 5 seater plane was experiencing technical difficulty. I immediately began praying. I knew that it wasn't too big of a deal, but we did have to land to fix the problem. What could have been intended for evil, God intended for good. We were able to land at Lewa airstrip in the middle of what seemed like nowhere. Lewa is a super fancy, expensive, destination game resort. Royalty William and Kate were engaged here. We were able to view this place for free! Plus, they had a western toilet. It was the coolest bathroom I've been in, in Africa...and the last I would see for 2 1/2 days. Haha. The 13 seater landed first and we were able to see the 5 seater land and almost take out about 5 or so zebra. It was insane! They missed the zebra by about 20 or less feet. I am so glad we did not have zebra for lunch that day.

barely missed the zebras!
photo cred: Tyler Minnesma

Recreating the moment

Coolest bathroom ever!!! Even if you can't really tell from the picture haha. 
After we landed in Korr (the village we stayed in for the weekend), we were taken to our huts, and fed an amazing lunch of the best rice I've ever tasted, goat meat, and cabbage. The food here is to die for. Then after getting settled, we met two women who showed us rope throwing which is a tradition among Rendille people. By throwing their ropes they were able to tell us that Kyle would be married this year, Hannah would have a teaching job, and that our program director (Jeff) and his wife (Asaaska, who is from Korr) will have many children. Asaaska explained to us that the rope throwers truly believe that what they predict will happen and that most of the time it does. They believe that if you think hard enough that something will happen, it will. Very fascinating. Then we heard Rendille stories that are passed down through generations orally. Tyler also told a story- the joke about a man with a big orange head. It isn't as funny translated into Rendille as it is in English. Oh well. We tried. Tyler was a good sport.

Welcome to Korr! 
Rendille rope throwers

Rope thrower's shoes that are made of old tires. 

Goat meat lunch! YUMMM!
The inside of our hut for the weekend. Very modernized. 
Side note: Korr is a town in Rendille-land that Asaaska's grandfather began. It has wells for water and it is very modernized compared to the rest of the 9 clans surrounding Korr. Korr has schools, Christian churches, missionaries, electricity, small shops, etc. We stayed at Asaaska's families house in the huts made for when people visit. They were absolutely beautiful. We even had our own bathroom (cement hole in an outhouse) and shower (a small room where you take a shower with a bucket). That may sound strange to most people, but honestly, it was really clean and very nice. Rendille people know how to host. Not to even mention how great the food was and how hospitable everyone we met were. Asaaska even provided all of us with dresses for the women and kikoys (basically skirts/wraps) for the men. They were beautiful! We wore them almost the whole time we were there because they were so cool (temperature & style wise).

After that, we traveled to Wiam village (which was about 2ish miles away by foot). As we walked into the village the first child I saw happened to have Down Syndrome. I was a bit speechless at first. I was so excited to get to experience this village and even more excited to meet this girl (since I am a special education major). I immediately tried to communicate with her and she understood "How are you?" and responded "Fine." She could also speak some Rendille although it was obvious that she repeated herself a lot and talked very shyly. I asked our translator her name, and I forget what it is but I remember it means "one who brings rain." Her smile was contagious. I asked what grade she was in and the translator explained to me "She is not 100% normal and is still in nursery." I tried to explain that she has Down Syndrome, but I don't think that phrase meant anything to him. I asked what will become of her if she does not ever graduate nursery? Will she be married off? Will she be circumcised? (98% of Rendille women are circumcised the night of their wedding). I had so many questions and was given no definite answers.
Walking to Wiam! 

Being shy. 
She was very shy but eventually warmed up to me and held my hand all night. So precious!
My "al" (friend). 
Rendille girl with her sibling. She was stunning.
Children like this girl with Down Syndrome, who I met in the middle of the Kaisut desert, are the reason why I want to teach special needs children in places like this. To not only bring more hope, joy, and love to these children's lives, but to give them dignity and to educate communities about these exceptional people. This girl is lucky. She is taken care of, loved, and at least gets to go to school. I have heard many stories of children who are not so lucky though...beaten because they are thought to be demon possessed, or burdens to their families. If I can make a change in just one of those children's lives, I will be overjoyed.

Amazing Children
Once the sun set over the mountain, it cooled down considerably and the men in our group were able to enter the nabu (basically it looks like a large circle of rocks) for prayer. Women are not allowed to enter. It was explained to me by a translator that Rendille people are a completely male democratic society with no leader, only elders, and the women are not allowed to talk to other men other than their husband. So while us girls waited for prayer to end, we sat outside some huts listening to the hushed sound of chanting, and we watched the stars. I have never seen so many stars in my entire life. One interesting thing in Africa is that the big dipper is upside down here. Fascinating. Then, some of us were able to enter a hut and learn about the home, see cookware handmade out of roots & gourds, and sit on camel skin rugs. Camels are sacred to the Rendille people. Finally, we had the chance to milk a goat. I tried and tried with no success. In fact, the goat milked me...I tried to milk that poor goat so long that when someone finally took over for me, milk squirted all over my hands. Haha. It's the thought that counts right? Or the effort? I'm not sure...either way, it counts. :)

Rendille Woman. 
When we arrived back at Korr we ate dinner and sat out star gazing, singing, and telling stories until very late. That night, it was SO windy and we realized that our hut's door would not shut. It was very loud and Leah and I just decided it would be better to just stay up and chat all night because neither of us were going to sleep anytime soon. Funniest part about that is that Leah had seen a hyena earlier that night by our bathroom and we had been warned about scorpions. So, I can say that I slept in a open hut, in the middle of the desert, with many wild dangers on the loose. Worth it!

To be continued...


  1. Amazing is all I can say. Looking forward to part 2. Mom

  2. i am loving all these blog posts! its great to see God directing your heart for special needs in a place like africa. =) i am so excited to keep reading more! love you!