It was great to spend three months in the states with my family and the Spiritans in Pittsburgh. It was especially good to spend time with the missionaries, now retired, that I worked with here in Maasai country. But, it is even better to get back home to Olbalbal.
One of the critters that welcomed me back was a three inch scorpion on the wall by my bed. Fortunately I came back equipped with a fly swatter from Pennsylvania Dutch country, a gift from my sister-in-law Sharon. This fly swatter resembles an ordinary fly swatter like a tank gun resembles a water pistol. I was lucky that my fly swatter on steroids passed through security unnoticed. This “weapon” dispatched my scorpion welcoming committee of one with ease, leaving a big black splotch on the wall. I have decided not to wash it off, but keep it as a proof positive trophy of my swatter like no other.
News came in shortly after my return that the government intends to hire only those Teacher Training School graduates with a 3.5 grade. Fortunately, Lenkangu, our just graduated teacher, has a 3.7 grade so he will, hopefully, be hired as a government teacher. This means that, although he has no choice abut where he will be posted in the country, he will have a good salary and other benefits. Presently, he is donated his services to our local primary school and teaches there with some financial help from our local village council. He will also run our remedial program in Swahili and Math for 60 of the weakest primary school students during the Christmas vacation. He will have three teachers helping him for the three week remedial program. Lenkangu has run this program three times before during his school leave times and it has been very successful. The participating students have shown marked improvement and the parents are enthusiastic about “Lenkang’s School.”
Musa, the four year old boy, abandoned as a six week old baby,that Lenkangu rescued is doing fine and has now begun Kindergarten. He is a little young for it and is one of the youngest in his class, but he enjoys being with the other children and is leaning to count in Swahili and is making progress learning his A,B,C’s.
Niomom, who cares for Musa in addition to her own three year old, gave birth to a still born child just a week after my return. That was a sad event for all of us and we have been working through that with her. We’ve slaughtered three goats, one after another, that she may have good nourishing food to get her strengh back. Her mother has been staying with her her on the mission to help her through this difficult time. She lost the child almost a month ago now so is feeling better, taking to heart the advice the Maasai are constantly giving her saying: “Don’t be sad, you will have more children.”
Today, out teaching in the Maasai villages, I pass a running cohort of at least a hundred Maasai warriors. I was told that they were racing to a spot where the villages are most near the Serengeti plains. The go to present a phalanx to prevent the wildebeest migration coming near the Maasai encampments. The gnus are fouling now and when Maasai cattle eat the tasty after births, they are said to sicken and die. The people put up kind of scarecrows in the form of lines of sticks with rags attached every fifty or so yards. This year, the wildebeest populations seems to be ignoring the lines of “scarecrows” and are passing near the Maasai herds of cattle presenting a serious danger. Anyway, a little later, I was told that this explanation of the warrior phalanx was not true. Rather, the warriors are off to clean out a huge spring on the mountain above blocked massively by debris from the rushing torrents of rain water.