Saturday, June 23, 2007

Wise Words from the Elderly

The old man shuffled into the mud living room. I stood up to greet him, respectfully holding my right arm with my left hand as I shook his hand. He wore a suit for the visit. And a felt hat. We quickly made room for him to sit, but not before he shook hands with every person on the team.

I was on a home visit with the visiting team from APU, and we were at the home of two of our staff members, Mark Tarus and Sally. Sally's daughter Damaris introduced us to her grandfather. "He's 104," she told us. (Someone later said he's almost 100, so I'm not entirely sure how old he is. But he's old. Very old.)

The team started asking Agui (grandfather) questions, which Damaris translated back and forth.

"If you could impart any wisdom to us, what would it be?" Adriel wanted to know.

"Serve God. Live a good life."

"What should we eat to become as old as you?"

"Eat whatever you want. Enjoy life."

"Should we eat ugali?" Zach asked.

"You wazungu don't eat ugali."

We laughed at his spunk, and when Gogo (grandma) came in with three thermos flasks full of chai, she joined him on the couch.

"Tell us how you met," I asked.

Sally stepped into the room with trays full of cups. "They are old. In our culture, in their day, their parents decided who they will marry. Both of them have always lived in this area, so their parents knew each other."

"You mean to tell me," I joked, "it's not that you noticed the handsome young man tending cattle in the field?" Gogo croaked with laughter. Agui gave just a chuckle.

They told us about their wedding, about the years when she was brewing alcohol, of how she got to know Jesus and introduced him to Christ, too, how they've been serving God for the last 30 years.

We asked about their ear piercings, and Damaris was sent to fetch an old, wooden container with arrows in it. Gogo demonstrated how they used the arrows to cut their ears, and how they would insert wooden rings in them week after week to stretch the ears. "Some of my friends had ears that hung to their chests," she chuckled.

After we shared some Bible verses with them and prayed for their family, we walked home, blessed by the time in their home.

We were invited in to another house on our way home. "Adele, come on in!" I honestly didn't think I knew the neighbor, but we went in to meet his family. His name was Timothy, ("You can call me Tim-Tim.") and he wants me to come and preach at a youth event tomorrow.

"Maybe another time," I explained. "I have commitments with the team tomorrow."

And that was but a two-hour snippet from our day. It's been a good day. A day full of opportunities to bless and to be blessed.

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