LISTENING TO THE LOCALS
While staying with the Muttais in Kitale, we had an awesome cross-cultural experience. It wasn’t an earth shattering experience like participating in some tribal ritual or something. It was just a conversation on the graduate bench at Legacy Service Station with a local man named Joe.
We sat there for a few minutes sipping on our Orange Fantas, when all of the sudden the man next to us started conversing with us. Surprised, we welcomed the conversation. He lived a couple miles down the road and had his own farm. He sold lumber by trade. He was a Christ follower like us.
We talked about everything from Michael Jordan to Michael Jackson, to once German occupied Africa to once British occupied Africa, Southern Drawls to British Proper Speech, and how people like “Bush” got their family names.
He even explained how the African Inland Church began. It was started when American Baptists came over to Africa. They were called African Inland Missionaries and the people of the land decided- why not have a church too? (African Inland Missions- AIM still exists today!).
The thing that stood out the most to us with him was his love for people. We were talking about the differences between Americans and British. Mainly we were in this discussion because he was commenting on how different our accents and pace of speech was from his British-colony inherited way of speaking. Yet, he found Americans to be more friendly and down to earth than British. However, he made it quite clear that he likes all people- it’s just that everyone has different ways of presenting himself or herself.
I thought about Joe, who was far from dull and ignorant, as I read a poster hanging on the back of a door at the Muttai’s home from Old St. Paul’s Cathedral in Boston…
“…Go placidly amid the noise and the haste, and remember what peace there may be in silence. As far as possible, without surrender, be on good terms with all persons. Speak your truth quietly and clearly; and listen to others, even to the dull and the ignorant; they too have their story.”
I learned that if you want to have a better understanding of a place, sit and chat with the locals. We all have a unique story that is part of His story. Here I was sitting with a man I had never met; yet he was sharing his perceptions on the world. I feel like I got the rare opportunity in that moment to be a fly on the wall in someone else’s mind.