Our day began at 9:45 with the trip to Sokoine for worship. We were warned to eat a hearty breakfast because services could last well into mid-afternoon. As we turned onto the dusty road that led to the church, the Masai turned to look at the wazungu, white folks. Children ran up to us waving and smiling and many Masai interrupted their visiting to personally welcome us, making sure to shake the hand of every one of us.
We were told that there was to be a wedding at the church today, and we were all curious to see this ceremony from a Masai point of view. Barbara told us the bride might choose traditional clothing, which would see her covered in beads, or a western style long white gown.
Tanzanian time is in full force in the Masai villages. The worship scheduled for 10:30 actually began at 11:30, which left time for refreshments. Benches were brought into the shade of a nearby tree and we were proudly offered sodas. Shortly after that, the villagers began making excited noises and we heard the honking of car horns as two vehicles pulled in to the church yard. The wedding party had arrived—and we quickly discovered this was to be a double wedding! Both brides wore long white gowns with veils.
Once it was time to start, we were ushered in and given seats up front with a great view of the services. We all stood for the procession of the wedding parties, which was a very slow affair with much ceremony. Both parties consisted of a bride and groom, the best man and the maid of honor, a flower girl and ring bearer and one attendant.
In celebration of the festivities, there were six choirs to add to the worship today, including a youth choir and several children’s choirs. The music at a Masai service is beyond description and we hope you all will get a chance to hear the recordings that accompany some of the videos shot by the team.
Because both of the grooms are evangelists with the Lutheran church here, the Bishop was on hand to lead the service, along with 2 visiting pastors and the local pastor of the church. We were glad we were warned about breakfast, because the service lasted until 3 pm. On the closing song, everyone moved outside into the church yard and circled around one of the church leaders. Two lengths of fabric that were donated were auctioned off, with the proceeds benefitting the church, and Pati was determined to walk away the owner of one of them. After a little bidding, it looked as if she would be the high bidder at 15,000 shillings, which is almost double the value. But at the last minute, a tall Masai man moved to stand next to her and entered the race. There was rapid bidding back and forth, with Barbara translating for Pati, who finally prevailed for 42,000 shillings.
Afterwards, we were given lunch in the home of the village chairman. Before the meal was brought in, 3 Masai men brought a pitcher of water with a basin to help us wash our hands, and Barbara said it is a very rare honor to be served by men.
We left for home filled with the sights and sounds of a day in a Masai village playing back through our minds, an experience we will never forget.