Thursday, November 20, 2008

An Impromptu National Holiday

Today we had a good long soaking rain. Rob and I sat out on the front porch and listened for the rain as it made its way over one hill, down into the valley and then up to the hill we live on. We listened for it coming and then stayed out on the porch for lunch. It was very relaxing listening to the rain on the tin roofs (ours and all our neighbors). We were able to enjoy the rain and lunch at home because of a quickly declared national holiday. News spread around the country yesterday afternoon, and this morning EVERYTHING was closed, businesses, schools, and churches. In fact even the doors were closed to St. Etienne’s. We watched some of the festivities from the balcony of Malu’s (and soon to be our new) home. Watching us was a woman who lives on the property; she eyed us as she swept her dirt front porch. Here, everything is cleaned; cleanliness is definitely an instilled virtue. Some examples: Paying to use the restroom –there’s always a cleaning lady in there, driving down the street you’ll see women sweeping the dirt roads, women tirelessly clean their homes; (watching Janet wash the terrace daily reminds me of my mom and her garage), walls along the road are repainted regularly. All the cleaning women in public wear the same blue apron uniform.

Malu said we were free to go into town with the demonstrators; that it would be safe, but we decided like all the other muzungas to stay inside for the morning. Music played loudly, kids ran around, women carried their babies on their backs, and two people held between them a large banner as the processional prepared for the rally in the city center. The gathering was peaceful and life resumed as normal around 2pm. Our house mom, Janet did go into town with the rally, I couldn’t get much out of her due to the language barrier, but I think most enjoyed a morning off from the demands of a regular day. Most of our sessions’ attendants and church staff at St. Etienne’s closed the gates and retreated to the sanctuary to pray. Saying, “it is better to pray than to demonstrate in the streets.” Rob has a posting on his blog discussing the point of the national holiday and the community rallies on his blog, (

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