Tuesday, January 4, 2011


The long, narrow uphill path is lined with small wooden booth-shacks covered in presidential election bills. The route is filled with a cacophony of the senses. The sight of dirt and dust covers fruit that promises to be sweet and juicy just under the skin. The vendors beat their wears with a rag to lift the dust (before it settles again in much the same place). The smell of burning trash and exhaust fumes mixes with the smell of roasting pork and grilled maize. The vendors call out "mzungu" in an effort to create a sale. The sound of heavy traffic gives way to the sizzle of fresh chapatti.

David and I emerge from the long path to the shouts and waves of Getruide (probably an incorrect spelling of Gertrude, but this is the spelling I was given) who comes running at a full charge to embrace and welcome me. We’re invited to visit her home and so follow her through a maze of mud shacks so narrow that I have to turn sideways to pass through. She proudly sits on her three-legged stool where she cooks for her children to pose for a photo. Notice the condition of the plastic roofing tarp above her head. The small square of space, perhaps six foot square, is surrounded by other homes and as a result is highly vulnerable to the frequent and heavy rains. Remember that Getruide and all the other women who participate in the weekly Bible study together are widows and are doing the best they can with what they have.

An observer questions David as we return to the path. She sees Getruide’s cries of joy and our warm embrace and she wants a little of that for herself. She begs to be invited to the Bible study, but worries about leaving her small plot of dry ground and the earning potential she would lose by departing. Had I been on the ball I would have reminded her that God’s economy would more than make up the difference for her absence while seeking him. Maybe she’ll join us next week.