We’ve spent the last couple days based out of Wasso after moving from the Catholic Guest House in Loliondo. It has more space for everyone, more than 1 sink for the 12 of us, and is more comfortable. Wasso is a very small town and only about a 5-10 minute drive (on bad dirt roads) from Loliondo.
On Saturday, we visited the Esilale church near Loliondo. It was the second Esilale church we’ve visited (the first on our was to Mto wa Mbo). We arrived before most of the Maasai and church leaders were there. Pastor Zakayo Loibooki said that the Maasai don’t wear watches, they just look at the sun’s distance to the horizon to know what time it is. So, they are traditionally late to some events because of this. So, we were able to interact some with the people already there and also walk over to one of the church elders boma which was right next to the church. He didn’t invite us into one of his houses (we hoped he would) but it was still interesting to see how they stored their maize that they had harvested and the size of the house. I’m pretty sure all of our group wouldn’t be able to stand upright in this style of house (made of mud, cow dung and sticks).
We walked back to the church that was being built which now has the walls and roof on it. We asked who helped do the building of the church and Pastor Zakayo Loibooki said that some of the congregation members do the work with the help of a “foreman” from the surrounding area. The church is not ready for their worshipping yet as they still need to finish the floor and put in the altar. So, we walked to the current church (made from the same materials as the house) and were surprised by the ribbons hanging from the rafters and back wall of the altar. It might not seem like much to us, but it really did show that this is a honored and cared for space.
They honored us with tea and rolls as they waited for more of the congregation to arrive. The tea was very good and the rolls were a surprise since it was probably purchased in town (they have no good way to make bread). We then went out of the church as they prepared for the more formal event with the congregation. This gave us another opportunity to interact with the Pastor, some of the Maasai and the children. Anya, Annaliese and Kristine love these moments since they usually get surrounded by a group of Maasai youth. Of course, the adults in our group also get some good opportunities too :-). It was a good time of fellowship with the Maasai.
We were then ushered into the church again with the church choir singing their beautiful Maasai songs. We were formally introduced and Pastor Zakayon Loibooki introduced us to their evangelists and church elders. Their church secretary talked briefly about how the money we had sent was such a blessing to their congregation and how the relationship that we have built over the years means so much to them. He was very articulate with his speech and impressed our entire group. Similar to the former Esilale church, we were given a chance to ask questions of them. We asked how many youth are in their Sunday School program (about 70) and how far their evangelists travel (the farthest is about 13 kilometers – in a single day!). We really enjoy these parts of the church visits. They show that we are not just their as the wazungu (“white people”) giving money but that we are there as friends and partners in Christ. It is a message that Beth gives wonderfully to each church we visit and it’s wonderful when they give that message back to us.
Toward the end of the service, we started to hear a pattering on the roof. At first, we thought it was the metal roof heating up in the sun but then we realized that it was starting to rain! In a land where it really only rains for 2-3 weeks a year (and that’s the wet season in October), this was a wonderful sign from God that the work that both congregations are doing are a blessing. In fact, the Maasai see any rain as a huge blessing and to have it happen while we were all together, was wonderful and gave us goosebumps! We ended the visit with the entire congregation going outside the church, holding hands and praying for each other together. After doing a lot of church visits over the last week, this church visit was very special due to this.
We left the church and headed to the Pastoral Womens Council and the Emanyata school. This is a school that has both boys and girls in primary and secondary school. It is run by the Maasai and had a very different feel to it than MGLSS or Sr. Angelika’s Naserian school. Our initially impression was that this school wasn’t very good, but Nanyokye, a former Maasai student of Beth’s that has been traveling with us, ensured us that this was a very good school. What makes this school special is that they are doing wonderful work to increase the rights of women in the Maasai communities. A great example of this is that they are changing the traditional belief in the Maasai culture that women can’t own land (even though Tanzanian law says that they can). Giving this right to Maasai women enables them in so many ways with business opportunities. Of course, change in these ways are slow but at least change is there.
It was a long day and we were pretty exhausted by the end of it (after moving to the Wasso Guest house).
Matt Pohle, on behalf of the 2016 Cross of Christ Mission Rural Team