Though we will always be to some extent outsiders, there are little ways in which we have entered into village life by sheer length of presence. Our nearest neighbors called us for dinner last night, the Mukiddi family. We arrive exactly on time, having been chastised for lateness in the past, ironically. The six of us are not so small anymore, so when we squeeze into a 6 x 8 foot room with a couch, five chairs, and two low tables, and then the two wives come in to receive us, there is not a lot of wiggle room. We have done this many times over the years, it is familiar. Greetings are exchanged, murmurs of welcome. John Mukiddi can no longer walk or move on his own, but here the polygamy comes in handy, it takes both women to lift him to his chair. In spite of his lameness and heart failure he is in good spirits. We are served plates heaped with impossible amounts of rice and matoke, and the chicken must have been large since we all get good sized pieces with salty broth. Scott of course is served the most desirable part, the gizzard. Only Jack is able to clean his plate in a way that assures them their food is appreciated, mine is lamentably still full after I have stuffed myself to capacity. Thick sweet passion fruit juice all around, and then glasses refilled as we are pressed to drink it all. Afterwards we wash hands over a plastic basin, and the food is cleared. We chat about how Caleb sits in class with their son John, about how Luke is now taller than me, about the fact that Dan’s daughter has graduated from nursing school and is coming to visit this summer. In short we have more shared history with this family than with many of the people we know in America.
Daylight is dimming outside and now only shadows are visible in this small room. We pray together, then make our slow exit, accompanied by the wives half way back to our house. In Africa mutual dependence means security, and I sense that in their happiness over our continued relationship, and in the peace we feel to have the same neighbors for so many years.