Elizabeth is the one on the right holding the cup of chai. It's highly unusual that someone from another tribe would be accepted by the Maasai, but Elizabeth visits them every week to care for them and they have after many years accepted her as one of their own.
At the little Maasai village I was surprised to find that there is no sign of life. I saw one or two children but - where is everybody? Directly to the right you can see empty animal pens. They are out grazing for the day. Ahead on the right you can see some of the little houses. It turns out that the men are all gone with the animals, the children are in school and the women are sitting in their little houses.
When you greet Maasai children, they stop and slightly tilt their head toward you so you can lay your hand on them. It's very sweet! It's disrespectful for them to shake an adult's hand.
Here's McKenna standing outside of one of the houses we visited.
As you can see, the height of the house is very low. We had to stoop down to enter in. DOUBLE-CLICK to see the detail. You can see a lot of stuff on top of the roof that helps hold it down.
The first house that we went inside of was the house of a Maasai sister in Christ named Nancy (her Christian name). Nancy is the second wife of five. Her husband is Jeremiah, and according to Elizabeth he's a good husband by Maasai standards because he occasionally gives Nancy some food as he's able. We are inside her little house. The Maasai women build their own houses and live alone in them with their children.
It's pitch-black when you first enter because there's only one little hole for light - and it's about the size of a grapefruit - which is at the top of the front wall just under the ceiling. My eyes quickly adjusted though, and it wasn't as hot and I'd expected. There weren't any flies inside (though they were in abundance outside since the animal pens are just outside the house.) If you DOUBLE-CLICK you can see the detail of Nancy's walls.
Elizabeth had explained to us ahead of time that if there's a fire going on in the house, it's a sign that there is food. If there's no fire, it's a very bad sign. I was saddened therefore to find that there was no fire in this home. Nancy was very apologetic about having nothing to offer us. When Elizabeth asked her what we could pray for, I expected that Nancy would tell us to ask God for money or food. But the only thing Nancy asked for was that God will bring the rest of her family into His great salvation and that He might heal her knees.
I remember sitting in that tiny dark house in wonder that human beings can live like this. The floor is packed dirt, the walls are cardboard pieces of this-and-that. As I listened to Nancy talking to Elizabeth I have never seen such peace in such dire circumstance. There's no hint of complaining or anger or resentment in Nancy. Elizabeth told us that Nancy, "...truly believes what the Bible says, that we we 'seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, all these things will be added to you.'" In the Bible Paul said that he'd learned to be content whether he "abounded or was abased." I will never forget what I saw through Nancy shining in that dark mud house.
Now we're inside Beatrice's tiny house. (DOUBLE-CLICK to see detail.) To her right is her sleeping area. Elizabeth had gone in before us to help us enter safely. First from outside the house Elizabeth would call out, "Hoodee!" and inside we'd hear a voice answer, "Caribu" (welcome). Elizabeth would then enter and would tell us from inside to hold hands and come in. So we would enter from bright sunshine stooped down train-style into complete darkness.
"Patricia you can sit there," Elizabeth directed. I strained to see but had to feel my way over to the spot and even then couldn't find a chair - well because there wasn't one. I stooped down, down until I felt a wooden plank of some kind and came to rest on it close to the floor.
I was relieved to see that there was a small fire on the floor in the bounds of some bricks. It was hotter in this house though, and smokey. Beatrice was holding her three month old baby and her little 2 yr. old son stayed close to her side. Elizabeth said usually Beatrice's little boy, Samwell, cries in terror at the ghostly faces of Wazungu (white people), but that he was doing really well this morning. (That's him on the right.)
Elizabeth pointed to the little covered pot on the fire and in her heavy soft accent said to us, "Beatrice is preparing some goat entrails for you to eat." Beatrice saw Elizabeth pointing to the pot and graciously lifted the cover for us. As we silently gulped in dreaded anticipation Elizabeth went on to quietly say, "I will make an excuse for you so you won't have to eat any. But in order to not insult her I will eat your portions for you." THANK YOU I shouted inside my head. But at the same time I was amazed that Beatrice was willing to share this little bit of food that her husband had provided for her and her children. It was all that her husband had given her and the children.
Beatrice let me hold her little baby. I told her, "He has a strong back," because he was able to sit up straight already. We prayed for her before we left. Again like Nancy, Beatrice only requested that we pray for the salvation of her family.
Now we're inside Paris' little house. You can DOUBLE-CLICK to see the amazing details. When Elizabeth first asked Paris if we could take a picture, she said, "No, I'm not dressed yet." Then she directed her daughter to get her necklaces. After Paris had put them on then she was ready to be photographed. I thought she looked so beautiful in this dark little home!
Paris (the name she chose when she converted to Christianity) made us some delicious chai tea and again, I was amazed that she who is so poor would give us the milk, tea, precious water and sugar that it took to make enough for us all.
Here is Paris with her children. (DOUBLE-CLICK to see detail.) Paris trusts the Lord Jesus to take care of their lives. She looks so amazingly regal sitting in this poor little house. God has made her one of His royal daughters because of her faith in His Son Jesus Christ. I told her through Elizabeth's interpretation that one day we will together worship Jesus forever in heaven. Paris smiled and nodded.
The Maasai mama's make these beautiful beaded ornaments to sell in order to buy food for their children.
This is Naomi who is considered "poor" by her own people's standards. The day before we came, she and a few other families had been forced off of the land they'd been living on. The owner was coming bulldoze, and so we found her in her new "house."
This isn't a great photo but you can see all the holes in the old aluminium Naomi has up for walls.
Naomi and me. See how she didn't have enough materials to finish her walls? Pray for Naomi.
One of Naomi's children. If you DOUBLE-CLICK you'll be amazed at his shirt. You can see Naomi's little stove there to the right.
This girl who was present never said a word, but her face says it all. My guess is that she's about 14 and by the hauntingly vacant look on her face she's been through some terrible things that I've heard girls go through in their culture.
The younger children are full of play but we noticed that the older ones are facing a hopeless future and you can see it in their faces. DOUBLE-CLICK for details.
Another child in Naomi's house.
The little girl walking is carrying the one you just looked at in the dirty white dress.
DOUBLE-CLICK to see detail. What a smile!
I felt a severe tinge of guilt as we walked away from the Maasai village and then sat at this little cafe to eat lunch. Elizabeth told meduring our lunch that she has struggled with guilt too. "I leave them and go to my house and eat better than they do. But God has taught me that they belong to Him, and that He does care and provide for them." It made me remember how Jesus said, "The poor you will always have but you will not always have Me..." I will never forget the peace I saw on these Christian women's faces. And what an inspiration Elizabeth is to me!