Thursday, April 16, 2015

February 23, 2015

My family,

I thought I'd use my time today to tell you about all of the people
that we live with.

First off, we live in a compound.  We have our own house (but it is probably as big as our living room plus my old bedroom at home.  It's kind of small for y'alls standards, but it is fine for us.  Our landlord and the owner of our home is the district president, Onesmus
Kaunange (Cow-nun-gay...  haha).  His father, Mzee Kaunange, owns the
hill we are on (or at least half of it).  Mzee Kaunange and bibi yake (his wife - "bibi" is a super respectful term for the woman of the house) live here along with one of their sons, Mafuti (mah-foo-tea), and their other son, Onesmus.  It's pretty common for families to be like that, where the mzee owns land and all of his male children just live on that land and build their own houses for their family.

Mzee Kaunange na bibi yake - The mzee is old.  OLD.  And his wife is pretty old, too.  But because they live so close to the church (5 minute walk downhill) they are super active.  They speak ZERO English,
but we can at least greet them in Swahili.  Like most old people, they pretty much only know Kikamba, but they work harder than the youth of America.  Mkamba (the tribe here) work harder than anyone else I've

Onesmus' family - Onesmus is pretty young.  He might be 30 or 35.  He served his mission in Joburg, SA.  Before his mission he dated a
Catholic girl (we call them Wakatholiki) named Angel.  During his mission, or soon after he returned, he baptized her.  They got
married, and now they have two children: Ndeti Hiram (named after Hiram Smith, just like Bogue) and Gloria.  The branches in this zone (5) recently combined into a district, and he was called as the district president (he used to be the Kyambeke branch president).
Their family is super active and strong.  Gloria loves peanut butter and asks me every evening for some because she knows I'm a softie.
She is 6 years old.  She speaks almost no English, but she speaks really nice Swahili.  Hiram was just baptized on Sunday.  He is 8
years old.  He has that boyish pride where he wants to be big and
strong and able to do everything older people can do, but he just can't.  It's hilarious.  This family lives right next to us.  In fact, their house is attached to ours.

Mafuti's family - Mzee Mafuti works with a bus.  He is the driver.  He drives between Kyambeke and Nairobi.  He leaves at 8a and when he is
able to return then he returns at 8p, but sometimes he can't find a bus back (his bus doesn't leave from Kyambeke, so he has to take a bus to get to work) then he sleeps in another town.  He and his wife are so couple-y.  It's nice!  The culture here is that the mzee owns the
wife so she does all the work while he relaxes, but for some reason, even though Mafuti and his wife both speak terrible English, they act
very Western.  They go on walks sometimes in the evening when he gets home.  They're so great!  Their daughter, Samantha, is 6.  She is
Gloria's best friend, but Samantha can't speak any Swahili, except maybe just little greetings and verbs.  Mafuti, the son of Mzee Mafuti, is 11 or 12 or 14...  I'm not really sure which age.  Anyways, he goes to class 6 or 7...  That's the same as our "grades."  He goes
to school at 6a and then comes home at 5p.  But then he has a form of tuturing at 6p.  Don't ever complain about school at home!  7-3 is super easy...  They also have a daughter, Joann.  She was named that
because she was born on the day that Onesmus went to Johannesburg for
his mission, so they named her "Johann" like Johann-esburg.  She might have Autism or something, because she has a really hard time being
social.  She's 12 or so.  But, then again, it's hard to have an
unbiased observation when you're white and everyone treats you

In Mzee Mafuti's home there are two other girls that are related, but distantly.  One is Lucy.  The other is Tina (but we always just call her by her Kamba name - Kaluki).  Lucy just got back from her mission
5 months ago in Sierra Leone.  Her first Sunday back was my first Sunday in this area.  Kaluki isn't a member, but she will be baptized on March 22.  She comes to church every Sunday and participates in the
choir.  She is super knowledgeable about the bible, but she accepts a lot because she lives with a bunch of active members.

Everyone in our compound is super active, except, perhaps, Mzee
Mafuti.  He comes to church when he can, but his bus runs every day. Jobs are so difficult to come by here that if he gave it up he would
basically lose any chance of getting money for his family.  So he keeps working.  Whenever he has a Sunday off he always goes to church.
He also testifies when he finds us in lessons.

I've been reading a chapter of the Book of Mormon in Swahili every day, and it's pretty easy for me now.  The only issue with Swahili is
speaking it, and I'll tell you why.  I don't know if your languages
are like this, but let me go on a rant.  I needed to tell someone, and
y'all are just the people to tell.

English sentence: "The book which I read for him was very long, longer than any other book."

Swahili sentences and words....

I read a book: Nilisoma kitabu.  Ni = I.  Li = past tense.  Soma = to
read.  Kitabu = Book.
The book: Kitabu hiki.
The book which I read: Hiki kitabu nilichosoma.
The book which I read for him: Hiki kitabu nilichomsomea.  (You see how the word just keeps getting longer and longer?  In English it is easy to just add another word to a sentence, but in Swahili you just
add "phrases" inside of your words, so when speaking on the spot it becomes super difficult to conjugate it.) The book which I read for him was very long, longer than any other book: Hiki kitabu nilichomsomea kilikuwa kirefu zaidi, kuliko kitabu
chochote kiingine.  (Lit. This book which I read for him it was long super duper, to conquer [more than] book any other).  I HATE conjugating words in this language.

But let me tell you what is great about this language.  There are close to zero exceptions.  And when there are exceptions, they are easy and they are few.  And they aren't common.  And although conjugating is tough, once you get it then you get the entire language
and you can basically say anything you want.  Then if you learn a new verb you automatically know how to say it in any tense for any
situation.  So the grammar is the only tough part, and when reading it isn't hard at all.  It's actually quite easy.  But when speaking it takes a lot of thinking.

That's it for now.  I'll probably write more later, but I'm off to
make lunch and work out! Maybe...


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