With one house down, we headed out down the street.
We knew this holiday was a great time to meet people, get in their homes, and begin relationships with them. We wanted to take advantage of it while we could.
House number 2 invited us in as we passed by.
The family that I saw at the gate was familiar, because they live directly across the street from me, so I was a little baffled as to their presence here, down the street.
I just so happened, that the owner of this house was the brother of the man that lives across the street from me, and they live four houses from each other.
We walked into a well-lit courtyard with high walls that had vines growing up everywhere. It was really pretty. They had about 15 plastic chairs set in a semi-circle, so most of the adults sat down, while the kids stood. We were immediately offered individually wrapped chocolates and sodas.
This family, in particular, is on my heart because I see them around a lot, and their facial features show the signs of inter-family marriage over a long period of time. It is such a wide-spread problem here, but I understand their desire to want to continue to marry within their tribe and family.
I declined chocolates and soda, which was a good thing, because within 7-8 minutes of sitting down, we were saying goodbye and kissing the same cheeks we had just greeted minutes ago. Most of the kids took the chocolates, but thankfully, declined sodas as well.
Did I mention that we were two American families traveling together? Eleven of us total!! We really make an entrance and can occupy a space pretty quickly.
Greetings go something like this: the men greet each other with a handshake (or a kiss, if they're lucky :), and the women greet each woman with a series of kisses. I never know whether it's going to be 2, 3, or 4, so it's a constant guessing game in which I'm trying to read signs and signals.
Sometimes I go for more, when they want less, or they go for more than I'm ready for.
The third house we visited had some dear ladies that I had met through Jennifer*. They are married to brothers, each have children, are so beautiful, and they live together, along with some other family members in one house.
We walked in (men, women, and children) into a large sitting area. There was a sectional couch around all the walls, seating for over 30 people.
Chocolates were served. Sodas were served.
Then, at the door leading into a smaller sitting room, a crouched figure appeared.
I think someone was going to offer this woman a seat by the door, but when that didn't happen quickly enough, she shuffled across the room to sit on the other side.
She was bent in half, pretty aged, and it obviously hurt for her to move.
Wouldn't you know it, about 5 minutes after she sat down, a large group of mostly men came into the courtyard.
That means it was time for all the ladies to leave.
All the females (who had been sitting on one wall together, except for the older lady) got up silently, and we moved into another sitting room off the main one.
The crouched lady brought up the rear, and she was offered a small chair in the corner, while the rest of us took our places on rugs around the room.
We continued our visit from the front room.
They older lady was complaining about her foot hurting (as much as I could make out), and she was telling another woman who was not really listening or interested.
When the men decided it was time to go, they sent Jennifer's* 8-year old to tell us. Before we left, the ladies of the house wanted to take a picture with us.
NOTE: I have hidden their beautiful faces because some people do shameful things with a face and a photo shop program. I've heard it can result in the woman (who has done nothing wrong) being kicked out of her family or worse because of the shame a falsified picture can cause.
I was still gathering up Keira's things to leave, when I noticed the older lady's complaints getting louder, with still no one paying attention.
I walked over to her, put my hand on her shoulder, and I prayed for her (in English) in His name.
When I finished, she was silent, smiling, and peaceful.
Isn't it wonderful that He crosses language and cultural barriers?