Friday, June 17, 2016

May 22, 2016

We called the Soden's tonight to wish Isabelle a Happy Birthday. Her Birthday is on
Thursday this week but we have no idea how that day will run for us. It was wonderful
to talk to all the grandkids.

We had an awesome meeting tonight with the political leaders of Grafton. They had a
well dug by hand and ran out of money before they reached water. This was a couple
of years ago. The hole is still in the ground. They would like us to finish it for them.
Don told them to gather the community together and we would talk. They gathered
the political leaders and a few community members. When we arrived, I was so
surprised! They set up an area under a big shade tree with a table that had an old
ragged white curtain on it for a table cloth and some plastic poinsettias in a nice vase.
They did with what they had. It was refreshing. Then there were 4 chairs behind the
table and about 6 rows of 5 chairs in a semi-circle in front of the table. There were a
few people there and we shook hands with everyone. Then we went up front and I
started to sit on a chair in the front row and whoa that was the wrong thing to do. I
was only part way down when I heard groaning and I stood right up. Don motioned to
me to come sit behind the table with him. I went behind the table and started to sit
next to Don and I heard another groan. I was only part way down so I stood back up.
There was a man sitting at the end of the table and he told me to take the "seat of
honor" which was beside him. So I sat next to him. No groaning when I sat down. The
man at the end of the table was the translator for those who did not understand us
and for us who did not always understand the natives. There were about 35 people
there. All of the political leaders were Muslim. They all wore there Muslim garb. The
Chiefs all had on plain but fancy head dresses. One of the Chiefs sat right in front of
Don. The first 3 rows of seats were occupied by men and the back three rows is where
the women sat. Don explained what the Church expects from those who we provide
wells for and what they can expect from us. At one point he explained that we require
they form a community committee of no less than 5 people on the committee. He held
up three fingers and said "if you have 5 people on the committee, 3 of them must be
women, if you have 7 people on the committee 4 must be women, if you have 9 people
on the committee 5 must be women". At this there was a round of applause from the
back 3 rows of women, all in Muslim garb. I was shocked! I thought the Muslim
women were totally submissive and not allowed to talk. The entire group was so
grateful and kept thanking us and telling us what a wonderful humanitarian thing we
are doing. Near the end Don asked if there were any questions. The Chief sitting in
front of Don spoke for the first time. He spoke in Kreo and the translator translated -
"Why do 3, 4 or 5 of the committee members have to be women?" Don made this part
up. There does not have to be women on the committee but he felt impressed that he
should make that a stipulation. So, when he was asked the question, he replied with
this -"it is the women who fetch water, it is the women who uses the water to cook and
clean, it is the women who will protect and maintain the well because they are the ones
who know how hard it is to fetch clean water." Everyone was thrilled with that
explanation. Then that same chief who asked the question, pointed to me and said in
perfect English, "This is your wife." Don nodded. Then leaning back in his chair, he
pointed to a woman three rows back and said "This is MY baby". Everyone laughed. It
was a wonderful meeting. Every woman there came up to me after the meeting and
shook my hand and thanked me profusely for being a "woman leader" and for helping
them to get clean water. Then they took the flowers and tablecloth off the table and
began moving the chairs and table. I felt like I was in Relief Society. It was such a sweet
feeling. I miss my sisters in Relief Society.

A couple of side notes: Towards the middle of the meeting a chief came around the
back of the tree and immediately a young man sitting on the edge jumped up and gave
his seat to the chief. Towards the end of the meeting the Paramount Chief appeared
and immediately a young man jumped up and gave him his seat. There was no
hesitation on the part of either young man.

After the meeting, the men were all standing around visiting and the Emaun (sp) the
man who calls everyone to prayer over the loud speakers 5 times a day beginning at
5:20am and the last call is at 8:20pm appeared.The call to prayer at noon is between
45 minutes and 2 hours long. I personally find it obnoxious. Anyway, the Emaun
appeared and Don was so excited to shake his hand. Before we left the states, Don
studied the Muslim Faith and read the Koran to prepare for what we might run into
here. He and the Emaun had quite a conversation.

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