Maasai Land 2008
Land of the Maasai
On Friday morning, I was up at 5:00 AM, showered
and ready to go. I had understood that we were going to a Maasai church. I always carry a backpack with me, in it you will
normally find few fruit chews, a bottle of water, my laptop, passport, important papers, medical I.D., some O.C. meds,
a small bottle of hand-wash, a small package of tissue (there are no convenience store lady's rooms in the bush-lands--even
I knew that!), and my Ipod, equipped with headphones. (After an hour, people usually revert to conversation in their own language,
and it can be tedious trying to follow--music is my answer to this!)
I knew I had hired a van for transportation to the Maasai
tribe, but was unsure why we needed a van instead of a car. As we made the four hour journey to the Maasai land, it became
more and more clear. Here and there along the way we stopped and picked up passengers--pastors to be exact. Then, as we neared
our destination, we picked up Maasai women in beautiful, brightly colored tribal dress. Soon, we were piled as tightly as
one could imagine into the over-crowded van. Everyone laughed and talked, and we made our way to the place of meeting. But
first, we would stop at one boma (Maasai home) and then another. Every place we were greeted with a "snack" and
a beverage--for others it was chai, but Coke for me. (I'm allergic to tea, and I only drink bottled water or coke when
I'm in the field for health sake.) I was amazed they had Coke--it would have made a great Coca-Cola commercial, I have
|Gathering Passengers along the Way
we arrived at the place of meeting. I could see wooden planks set up with people seated and gathered about. Elders and
warriors, women and men. Would they receive what I had to offer? I didn't come with money or goods, no silver or gold. I
brought only a message, and the friendship and love in my heart. They had waited hours for us to arrive, would they
be disappointed, would they go away wondering why they had wasted their time on this white woman with the long blond hair
who had come from the distant shores of America? I prayed that what I had been told years before by my Life Coach, Kim
Fletcher, as I prepared for my first trip (to India and then on to West Africa) still stood strong today.
Kim had told me that I was not to "take blessings" but I was to "be the blessing". Would I be a blessing
to these people who on the surface were so different than me?
|Gathered to Worship with Maasai
Bishop Tom introduced me to the tribal Chief, and I was honored to meet this warm and
bright young man. He had a very strong charisma about him, graceful and humble, but with a distinct authority that was
given to him by his people--not taken from them. It was easy to see that he was loved and well-respected by the tribe and
by the elders. Chief addressing the crowd.
There was a lot of simple ceremony, introductions and honoring elders, and then an announcement that the elders had given the land we were sitting on to build a church and school building,
and hopefully a well. The women walk 7 kilometers each way to bring water back to their families, and for the past several
years there had been a drought. The church meets under the sky's canopy and the children meet in the bush, under the trees,
for school. The tribe had been praying to God to bring someone who would build a church/school and dig a well. There, they had said it, there hopes and dreams had been exposed to the world
through this white woman from the "North" (North America, North Carolina).
As I stood up to speak, I looked around at the faces before
me. They were young and old alike, waiting to hear what I had to say to them. What would I tell them to make their lives any
different? I began with what might seem obvious at first glance, our differences. I addressed
the elephant in the room, so that we could all admire the elephant and then get on with the business at hand-- The elephant
of course was me! Why had God sent a white woman with long blonde hair (the Maasai women shave their heads when they marry
and keep them shaved) across the great Atlantic Ocean, a very tall woman (Maasai generally are very petite in stature)
Then I answered the question to the elephant in the room. Because, God wanted to send them a message, and I was the unlikely
choice as messenger. What was the message?
I read from Malachi 1:2 God said, "I have loved you from the beginning." (my translation from the Hebrew)
to the tribe that God wanted them to know that He had loved them from the very beginning. Maasai believe in a Monotheistic
god. Having studied some of their traditions and beliefs, I suspect there are ancient Hebrew traditions in their beliefs
and wonder how far back these traditions go into the early history of these tribal people. Yes, God had loved them from
the beginning. He wanted them to know that He had loved them before they had ever heard about Him, or worshipped Him.
He had loved them before the Maasai had ever danced before
him with their beautiful beaded jewelry bouncing up and down. He had loved them before they had ever prayed to Him or called
upon His Name in their prayers. He had loved them before the elders ever decided to give land to build a church in which to
worship Him, and He would love them if they never built the church, if they never prayed to Him again, if they never danced
another dance in worship to Him, if they never sang another Hymn before His throne, If they never wept for joy at the sound
of His Name again, He would still LOVE them. He had loved them from the beginning and He would love them until the end of days.
The Maasai have a tradition. When a new tribe is started, one young warrior becomes the scapegoat of the tribe. The sins and
wrong doings fall on this one individual. It is a difficult life for the scapegoat. He is the one who becomes unclean for
the tribe. I explained to the tribe that God had sent His only born Son to become their scapegoat. The
Son of God, whom we call Yeshua (Jesus), had become the scapegoat for all of mankind, and all we have to do is to say to God
that we desire that our sins fall upon this scapegoat, His Son, and not ourselves. We are not capable of carrying the sins
for our people, and therefore God sent His own Son to do this for us. Because He has loved us,
because He has loved them since the beginning.
After delivering this message I turned the service
back over to Bishop Tom and to Pastor Joshua (Pastor of the Tribe). Shortly, many people, both men and women came forward
in a crowd. Bishop Tom and Pastor Joshua spoke to them for a few minutes and then I was asked to come and pray for each one.
I asked Bishop Tom what I was praying for, and he replied, "these people accepted Christ".
I was stunned. My eyes
filled with tears and wonder and amazement. Here before me were some 15-20 people. I had wondered if the tribe had received
the message, and here was the response! I was so honored to pray for these who had responded to a simple message about God's
unconditional love. How blessed I was to participate in their acceptance of the Son of God who came into the world to be the
scapegoat for mankind!
After the service concluded, the women left, and then in a short while we saw them coming with baskets and dishes of prepared
food, goat (roasted and boiled) and yams and ugali, and my favorite--Coca-Cola! While we ate I talked with pastors around
me, and with tribal members.
After the meal, I had another opportunity to speak informally to the crowd. It was a joyous occasion and I wanted an opportunity
to address the elders of the tribe. I had studied their customs and one of them had stood out to me. About
every seven years the young boys/men who have come of a certain age, are sent out to start a new tribe. This is a process
that takes years, and it is not until a young man has killed a lion that they are considered to be a man. Due to restrictions
on killing lions today, one man will be chosen to kill the lion for the tribe. The others participate in this riot of passage
which proves that the men are now ready to protect their tribe. I suspected that since there were tribal elders, landowners,
among us, there would certainly be at least one lion killer.
I wanted to call this "lion killer"
forward and honor him. I told the crowd gathered there, each one satisfied from their meal and fellowship, that I had
been to Africa many times. I explained to them that when I return home, people want to know if I saw lions and elephants.
The tribal members started pointing into the bush and exclaiming that there were Zebra's there (I understood them to say
"zephyrs" and I did not know what a zephyr was!). I asked if there were any lions and they said that yes, they were in the bushes around us. I told them I had never seen a
lion except in a zoo. They all laughed. I told them that when I return home, people will ask again if I saw any lions and
once again, I will have to say no.
I told them that I was under the belief that there might be at least one lion killer there with us. They began to point at
one of the elders. Within a matter of minutes the elder was showing me his scars, (very deep scars at that) on his legs where
the lion had attacked him. I asked him if he would care if I had my picture made with him and we were both very honored.
However, there was an unexpected turn of events when the tribe began to point at another elder. It first seemed that there
were two lion killers among us, and he wanted his picture made with me us too. Then a story unfolded.
It seems that when these warriors were young men, and they
were out hunting. The first elder had been trying to kill the lion and it had mauled him. Then the other elder, who was a
young man at the time saved him by killing the lion. They told the story in such a way of humor and jibing at each other that
it was a time of joy and happiness. I was certainly impressed by the story, and hoped that if ever I were attacked by such
a beast, someone would be brave enough to save my skin!
I also wanted to give a token gift to the children of the tribe. I had taken about 20 baseballs to Kenya with me, a sign of
American tradition. The Chief came up before the congregation and I offered him this symbol of American culture. He carries
a small black staff in his hand. I asked him if it was a symbol of him being the Chief and he affirmed that it was. He laughed
good-naturedly when I asked him if he used it to tap people on top of the head if they did not listen to the chief. I tell
these stories because they convey the humor and good nature of these warriors who are known the world over as the most fierce
warriors on earth. Yet, they are gentle and humorous, they value honor and faith and family, and they love God enough to do
the unheard of and give the gift of land to their tribe! What an incredible tribe of people!
While we stood around and fellowshipped, I knew something had stirred in my heart. While
I was here to bring a message, God had sent me there for another purpose. I was the one to help build the church/school and
to hopefully bring fresh water to the tribe. It may take several years, but I would do my best. I told them I could not promise
to do it, because I did not have the funding, but I would do my best to go home and raise the money to build them a church/school
and a well. My heart beat rapidly within my chest because I knew this was going to be quite a task. I wanted
to rise to the occasion, but did I have what it took? See TEAM KENYA 2009!
Hours later, after visiting several more bomas and many good byes and fair-wells, we finally
arrived back in Nairobi. I was exhausted from the adventuresome day. I was thankful for the people who had come forward
and accepted Yeshua/Jesus as their atonement. I was full of joy for the time spent with the Maasai, and I was determined that
if God willed it to be so, I would return soon to build a church for my newfound friends, who had so warmly welcomed me into
There is an aside to
this story that I must tell you! When I speak to churches in the U.S. people always ask if I'm afraid when I go
to Africa, India, and the middle-East. I tell them that honestly, I am not. There is but one thing that really makes me afraid.
They often guess "snakes" and I shake my head no. It is not. But, I am terrified of spiders. When I
visited the bomas of the Maasai, there were spiders hanging from the walls, big clumps of spiders...just a few feet from me.
One boma we entered was pitch black, and before they flashed the camera, I can remember praying quickly and silently, "Dear
God, please don't let there be a spider hanging in my face!" All kidding aside, I have never felt more welcomed into anyone's home than when I was visiting a boma of a Maasai family.
I've been to some very wealthy homes, and not been offered food and drink, not been asked to pray and ask God's blessings
on the home, and in these humble bomas, I was offered the best of hospitality.
Join Team Kenya 2009
Join Team Kenya 2009
as we travel back to Kenya, to the land of the Maasai warriors, and help us to build the church-school that you have read
about here. Embark on a journey of a lifetime with a select group of Team members. Experience for yourself the warmth and
hospitality of the Maasai and meet their Chief, Ole Sadira. Hear the stories of the Elders, the Lion Killers first hand. Work
side by side with Maasai warriors to build the church and school that they have prayed and asked God to send workers to build.
Build something that will last for generations to come!
See Zebras, wild donkeys, ostriches and possibly even a lion in the wild bushland of Kenya. Help us break ground,
celebrate the building of a dream, and then later join with the entire team as we dedicate the church-school building.
Click on the link for TEAM KENYA 2009 for more details!
Karibu To Kenya--Welcome to Kenya!