As the title suggests, "Wacha" is the way that a person from the "Kamba" tribe in Kenya would greet someone younger than themself. The greeted person would then respond by simply saying "Ahh" (descending tone). This is just one example of the many Kenyan words and phrases that our team ar has picked up since our arrival here. There is so much more that I could say...but I will save my valuable computer time to share with you all a bit about what we did on last Saturday, the 19th. This was our very first Saturday here in Kenya, and with it came many other "firsts" as well.
I am the only member of the team that did not grow up in the Salvation Army...a secret I am sometimes reluctant to disclose. :) I only discovered the Army since coming to Houghton College (Love Wellsville Corps!). That being said, there are many "army" traditions that I have never had the distinguished privledge of experiencing. Some of these include timbrel drills (I thought they were called tambourines
??) youth crusades, brass band performances, and open airs. On Saturday, I had a chance to experience most of those events in the uniquely Kenyan conext. The team visited a Salvation Army corps in the city of Thika, about 45 minutes or so outside of Nairobi. There we were expected to lead a big Salvation Army Youth Rally with hundreds of students of all ages. They represented about 20 corps from around the area. And what a bunch they were!
These kids showed more enthusiasm than I ever remembered seeing in any group back home. Each group was excited to represent their home corps with some sort of presentation. These presentations usually took the form of what Kenyans call "Gospel Dances." And let me say...there are few words to describe them. I would have to admit that they would probably make most Americans uncomfortable if done back home but here...dancing is just as natural as breathing. Unfortunately any pictures we may post of gospel dance will fail to show even the half of it. Although it is the most unusual form of worship I have seen so far, it is one of the most joyful and expressive! I have yet to find a Salvation Army function here in Kenya where it isn't used.
The Kenyans were very eager to learn some of our American worship songs. Most people here speak English to some degree, but we almost always need a translator for those with poor English or for the young children who have not yet begun to learn English in school. Sadly, our Swahili is not nearly as good as their English...so it took us a lot of effort to learn even one song in their language. We feel pretty wimpy with our fluency in only 1 language as we work with Kenyans who generally speak at least 3.
The open air crusade for me was like going back maybe 50 years in America, to a time when the word of God was commonly proclaimed from parks, public squares and soapboxes. Here in Kenya, the Corps is boldly unahamed to march in huge numbers out into the market place where they announce the gospel message to all who can hear it. The energy was so tangeable as I witnessed hunndreds of salvationists marching, singing, dancing and preaching the Word with overwhelming vigor. Hopefully the pictures will show at least an idea of what these open air meetings are like. They have really challenged me to consider how timid, polite and compromising we Americans have become in our resolve to speak the word of God.
Well...that is all I can add for now, as my online time is dwindling. Even after this post, my head is spinning with so much that I could continue to share. Know that we are being challenged and stretched here in so many good ways. More to come (including pictures :)...thank you all for your prayers and support! Please keep it up...the difference is felt!