The paradigm shift for me came when I rode the first safari day with a maasai warrior sitting next to me. He was 20, spoke great english, swahili, and maasai, had graduated from 8th grade, then at the age of 14, been circumcised down at the river with the group of boys his age, and headed out into the wilderness for 5 years. This is their rite of passage. At the end of the 5 years, they must kill a male lion with spears, and return home. As I was asking about his life, he told me all this very matter of factly. I asked if he was allowed to come home early if he killed the lion in the first few years, and he said, "no, it is only done at the end, but we would not want to come home early. We love this time of being men together". I had heard that you had to kill a lion before you could marry, but he assured me this is not true, you actually have to "jump high". The Maasai's are very high jumpers, it is part of their ritual dancing, and the children at the school had demonstrated this for us (I will post their dance to facebook). His parents will choose his wife, which he is fine with, then he will remain at home in his tribe and raise cattle and have a family. It all seems so logical and reasonable to me when I am riding in a jeep with him hearing it explained. I wonder whether our western culture, with anxiety, depression, teen suicide rates, would not be better off with this plan! We were able to visit a school yesterday and again today before leaving. How easy it is for your children to jump in with their whole hearts and give love. This is definitely our most interactive, daily service trip we have done. Every day there are multiple opportunities to connect. We saw amazing animal dramas played out on safari, hyena's eating a buffalo, Lions hunting a baby elephant and the mama elephant running them off, a pride of lions guarding their cubs up to a large rock overhang..... a million zebras and wildebeasts, and a tower of girraffes (did you know that is what a standing group of girraffes is called?)
Tomorrow we are going to Kibera, the largest slum in Africa. We have been told that we will literally be walking through sewage, to wear sturdy/ dirty shoes, and are being taken to visit four families. We will bring them gifts of food and bedding. It will definitely be a day to put our "we can do hard things" motto to the test. Tomorrow night we are hosting a neighborhood dance party to celebrate Alex and Abi's birthdays, as well as Laura, one of the teachers from the refugee camp. We have invited her to come and are going to pay her taxi fare. She is SO excited and asked to bring her mom with her. She says she has never celebrated her birthday before. We are going all out with ipod and speakers, bday cakes from the store, birthday banners and streamers. Not really sure how it will all turn out, but the kids are super excited!