Christmas at Ngoile

Today, Christmas eve celebration at Ngoile, another small community in the Olbalbal area, was special. The gathering place at Ngoile is a thorn bush fenced circular chest high area. The people have constructed their “church” from Acacia tree branches. Within the sanctuary are two circular rows of flat top stones serving as stools for the thirty some Christians that make up the community. Central is the altar that is woven of stout branches and reeds. A black cloth (joyful rain cloud color) sewn with sacred cowry shells covers the altar on which stands a cross. The people sang a lot during the service, frequently singing two or three songs where the “book” only calls for one. They also insert extra ones a seemingly random places during the liturgy, making the service was very lively and happy. Our church songs are a mixture of Maasai traditional sacred songs and others having more recently composed words set to Maasai traditional melodies. An elder, the leader of the community opened and closed the service with long traditional antiphonal prayers. Others, both men and women and sometimes children also get their chance to lead their own petition prayers after the Gospel reading and homily. The traditional antiphonal praying of the Maasai provides the pattern for all the prayers of the mass. After the very enthusiastic liturgy, there was plenty of time to meet and begin to become acquainted with the people. I was welcomed into the main village of Ngoile community with curdled milked that tasted wonderful after being away from Maasai country for half a year. I wrote down a lot of names since my memory went south many years ago. As time goes on, I’ll try to associate names with faces.

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