Friday, December 9, 2011

A Pastor’s Family for the Jew in Jilore

David, Pauline, and Joshua Amukowa

My next featured people are Pastor David, Pauline, and Baby Joshua. They are some of my best friends and I seriously don’t know what I would do without them here in Jilore.

Pauline married the pastor in April 2010. She came to Jilore, where the pastor has been posted for his work, shortly after that in May. I arrived in Jilore in August 2010, so we were both very new to this Giriama village, but the pastor has been here for 3 years at that time. I first met the pastor and his wife when I came to their home one night because my phone was dead and they had lights on which meant they had electricity. They welcomed me with open arms and it was such a relief. They both speak fluent English and are educated and understand my humor (that one is difficult for some Kenyans). We spent the next several hours there talking and introducing ourselves to one another. The Pastor is Luhya and Pauline is Luo. Both these tribes come from Western Kenya and Nyanza Province. They were outsiders like me, which bonded us even more. Pauline is 28 years old and the Pastor is in his early 30’s. They met while they were both working in Mombasa.

From that night I was a regular at their house in the evenings to have dinner, charge my phone, and have great conversations. I heard stories from the pastor about how he found Jilore 3 years ago and how he encouraged the community to rebuild the church as it stands today. I was introduced to many people through the pastor and welcomed into the church. I started going just to see how this church was run, and also to support my new found friends. My appearances at church became a benefit to my work in the village because I was seen and people got to know me. Thank God (literally) that this wasn’t one of the crazy evangelistic churches where people are rolling around on the ground trying to get the devil out of them. Yes, those churches do exist here and have large followings. I enjoy going and listening to the kids sing and dance. I would make a point to go at least once a month and sometimes twice if I was in the village on a Sunday. The church congregation became very helpful in my projects and it brought me closer to some very important people who I work closely with.

The bond that we shared was founded on the fact that we were all outsiders to the Giriama community and tend to find most of their methods of living a bit crazy. I would go to the Pastor for advice when I was struggling to get through to people or how to work through an issue on a project. We had all the same experiences with these people, so we understood the challenges. They ranged from extreme donor syndrome, constantly thinking the white girl has money, lack of motivation and follow through, lack of education, language boundaries, etc. Just talking to him helped me out because at least I knew someone who has gone through the same challenges in just trying to help the people in Jilore. The pastor also gave me the full support of the church and would become a key partner in the construction of the Resource Center. Pauline and I would talk about the odd things we saw people doing and she would fill me in on all the church gossip. We laugh a lot together and I would spend entire days just sitting outside with her chatting. We both have the great talent of eye rolling and that to us said a thousand words to each other. Like when an entire homestead family brought a “mad” woman to the house to be prayed for one night. Most likely she was just drunk but people here think its witchcraft or something else because they don’t understand. Or when a suspected murder came to the house bleeding from his head after a mob justice style encounter at the burial of the woman he supposedly killed. He wanted to be prayed for and still claimed his innocence. Turns out he left the village days later never to been seen since then. After such things like this we just roll our eyes and laugh. She also was a great link to the church mamas and would pass on information to them about my projects or clarify to them that “no, the resource center is not mine and it is not my house in Jilore.” Ugh…..

Pauline is also a very strong and independent woman who has modern ideas. In Jilore, and most rural places in Kenya, the woman’s place is not to speak, listen to their husband, and produce many children. Pauline is different and worked and lived by herself in Mombasa for 5 years before she married. She is educated and voices her own opinions. She is the person I got to and vent about things with and we both have helped each other out in tough times. She is also an excellent wife and mother without giving up who she is as a person. She once saved me from a bat that was inside of my house. I was scared and running around screaming like a little girl, but she came over, took my leso, walked in smacked the bat off the ceiling and then swept it outside, handed me back the leso and said goodnight. She didn’t even flinch. My hero!

Then came the best thing and “my future husband” as I tell the other ladies, Baby Joshua. Joshua was born in March 2011 and I was so happy that I got to spend time with a baby that I could play with! Pauline went to Mombasa to deliver and also to avoid the crowd of mamas that wait during deliverers here. She brought back adorable little Joshua when he was just about a month old. Joshua became my stress reliever. At this time the resource center construction was beginning and my stress of dealing with money in Kenya was enough to ruin a weak person. I would take a time out and go over and see Joshua. I was his first muzungu (white person) he ever saw which was an honor and would help out with his understanding that not everyone in the world was black and will hopefully later prevent awkward staring at people of a different color. I would play with him, hold him, make him laugh and just that would change my whole day around and I would feel better. I still do it, and now Joshua is almost 9 months old and he is super interactive which makes it even more fun for me. He knows me now and gets excited when I come over. Since I like to do some therapy shopping at times, but don’t need anything for myself, I tend to help out Pauline and the Pastor with Joshua. I buy them things that they would struggle on their own to acquire. It makes me happy to be able to help them out and to see Joshua grow up healthy. We now say it’s like Christmas every time I come back from Malindi or Mombasa.

Me, Maggie, Pauline, Pastor, and Baby Joshua

Baby Joshua around 5 months old

Margaret, or Maggie as I like to call her, came to live with the Pastor’s family and got to school in Jilore. She is Pauline’s younger sister. Maggie is the second to last born in a family of 8 children. Pauline is the second born. Maggie is 12 years old and in Class 7 next term. She is bright and funny. She is another one of my little buddies and I enjoy spending time with her. I usually give her breaks from her school work and chores to go and walk around the village and get out of the house.
Without them I really would have struggled here. They are like my family here and people that I can trust completely. And if the Pastor could read this he would kill me for not referring to him as Reverend. LOL But I started with Pastor so it’s a hard habit to break!

Much Love from Kenya


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