Previous Challenge Entry (Level 4 – Masters)
Topic: Africa (03/05/09)
TITLE: Not Superwoman
By Melanie Kerr
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I can almost taste the question that is hanging on the end of your tongue. Go on. Say it. Get it off your chest so that we can move on.
You are surprised that I am a woman. Before you ask, yes I have read the part in Paul’s letters about not permitting women to teach in church. I know the bit about women being silent too. Believe me, it is something that I have struggled with. No one was more surprised that I was by my husband’s wishes that I take on the leadership of the church in the event of his death. Surprised too that none of the congregation challenged the decision.
We live in different cultures you and I. In Western societies men have long been dominant. The woman takes, not exactly a back seat, but a less prominent, less authoritative role. It is not so here in this part of Kenya. Women have long been the responsible ones, managing to plant crops, weave fabrics, bake bread and give birth to children - all at the same time!
I try to see myself through your eyes. I admit that I am a large woman, dressed in a rainbow of mismatched colours. I laugh a lot. I have an opinion about everything and I don’t hold back. I seem to be overflowing with confidence, but I am not a hen-picker. I don’t dominate men with my loudness. I am not bossy.
I noticed that you softened a little when you visited my church on Sunday. I love singing and I really think that music and song should be joyful. I don’t apologise for stopping every so often to talk about the words of the songs we sing. I mean, isn’t grace really amazing? That God could take someone like me, and love me and accept me, and change me? I don’t apologise either for the exuberance that I encourage. Yes, we dance, and we clap, we lift up our hands. And yes, we cry too, we weep and we mourn. We share with God and with each other every part of our lives, our triumphs and our defeats. I can’t imagine being a stranger to my church family!
Perhaps you need to see me out of the limelight. You need to see me at five in the morning. I will be in the field behind the house. This year, we should have a good crop of vegetables. The peppers haven’t done so well this time around. Henry will be there. The two of us do a spot of harvesting, making up little hampers. We don’t usually give them to the church family, but people in the village know that they can come and we won’t send them away empty handed. The few things we don’t give away, we sell. That’s what the little shack is for. It’s our shop. It is not a little goldmine by any means, but the money is useful to pay school fees for some of the children in the village.
Or perhaps you should visit later on in the evening. It would be nice to put down the sewing. The back room, I am not sure if I showed it to you when you visited, is my sewing room. Sometimes Christian charities are so kind in sending clothes. I suppose that we could just wear the dresses and skirts, but I like the challenge of unpicking seams, re-cutting fabric, mixing and matching colours and creating something new. Donamina’s two girls are wearing my latest creations. They are so proud of those dresses and it keeps them from playing in the ditch at the back of their house. When it rains, the water in there is not clean. I once got to see what it looked like under a microscope.
Perhaps if you stayed even later, we could pray together. There are so many needs in my church family, I am sure that God’s ears are aching over my persistent demands! Who else is going to help us? I do what I can, but, contrary to what the men mutter in their cafes, I am not superwoman!
I am simply doing what my Father has asked me to do. Isn’t that what we are all doing?
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