She-Coats And a Pair of Suits

After church this morning, our pastor (a Kenyan) wanted all the men to meet. There were only about 12 of us, half wazungu (white men) and half Africans (all Kenyans plus a Nigerian). A longtime member of the church announced a couple weeks ago that he was leaving. He was no longer strong enough to make the walk to our church was going to be at a church nearer his home.

Thus, we needed to visit him at his new church and bring him some gifts, so that the people at the new church would know that he was valued by his old church. So, we were meeting to discuss what gift should come from the men. (A separate gift will come from the women and also one from the youth.)

Pastor: I'd like to hear some thoughts on ideas for his gift.

Kenyan next to me: I think we should get him a coat.

Pastor: A coat? Like a blazer?

Kenyan: No, a coat.

Pastor: Ahh. A he-coat or a she-coat? (At this point, I understood they were talking about a goat, and felt fine that I hadn't understood, since our Kenyan pastor initially also thought we were talking about an article of clothing.)

Kenyan: (without hesitation) a she-goat.

Pastor: That is a very good idea. Other ideas?

Missionary: How about a walking stick? Isn't that a sign of respect for older men?

Pastor: Yes, it is.

Missionary: Is he old enough for a walking stick?

Pastor: Yes, he is. Me, I am not old enough. I can still jump the river.

Another Kenyan: How about a pair of suits? (i.e. a dress suit)

Pastor: These are all very good ideas.

Jason: How much would each of these cost?

Various Kenyans: A good she-goat with a small calf is about 3000 shillings ($35). A walking stick is about 200 shillings. A good suit maybe 3000 shillings.

In the end, we decided that the pastor will visit him this week at home to assess what his needs are, but if needed, we will try to get all these gifts for him. I was extremely grateful for our Kenyan friends, as I would have had no idea what an appropriate gift for such an occasion would be.


Alyssa said...