When “chewing the news” among the Maasai, you first say that everything is wonderful, and then list any evidence in favor of that claim, move on to share any happenings that might prove that things aren’t so well after all, and finally conclude by stating that things are great. Neaku taa lelo. “And that’s the way things are.”
It’s always wonderful when you can report “kinoto enchan” (we got rain) when chewing the news. We are glad to share that we have indeed been getting rain this week. This is the season for the “long rains.” Expected to begin by mid-March, they were a couple of weeks late here in the northern part of Kajiado District. Back in February, there were clouds of white isampurumpur (butterflies) migrating south. The Maasai consider them harbingers of the rains. When the butterflies are all heading southward, can the rains be far behind? Well, the rains were further behind than we expected, but they have arrived.
Those of you who pray for rain for Kenya: Thank you. Please also pray that these will be the long rains. (Drought years often begin by either the short rains failing or the long rains being short rains instead of long.)
At our altitude (around 6500 ft), cloudy or rainy days are cool days. While my office window is opened just now (as it’s overcast, but not raining), I’m wearing a wool cardigan while I work. The children have also acclimated to the equatorial warmth we have during the dry seasons. Yesterday morning Alitzah decided pretty quickly that it was a day for a long sleeved dress and leggings. While rubbing her arms to keep warm and shivering a little, she told me, “I don’t mind the cold so much, Daddy, because the cold brought rain.”
When I was little, I thought that water was free. After all, it just fell from the sky as God’s gift, flowed in the streams near our house, and it was what Dad always had us order at restaurants. So, in a youthful attempt to study the geological processes of erosion, I left the spigot on the side of my parents’ house on for a few hours, watching the water carve a canyon while I built cities beside my river. I was oblivious to the growing delta of mud spreading across the driveway. When Dad came home from work the first time I did that, well, he wasn’t the happiest. But it was probably the third or fourth time that really got his goat.
Since then I’ve learned that while water should be a right it is too often a privilege and I’ve become more of a conservationist. So this morning (like many other mornings), I made several trips carrying the water from the bathtub (inside) in a bucket and dumping it in the washing machine (outside). When the washing machine is finished with it, it drains into a tub. I then use that twice-grey water to water the garden or the flowers. We also often collect the rinse water and use it for the next wash load.
But ultimately, it’s not about my paltry human efforts. “Elijah was a man just like us, and he prayed, and it didn’t rain for three years. Then he prayed again, and it rained.” It is God who can overcome patterns of drought, send rain in its season, and cause springs to well up in the land.
Lord, water the lands you have made,
and give water to thirsty ground and thirsty throats,
living water to thirsty hearts.
Te nkarna e Yesu, atoomono.