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denis2A little boy touched my heart so much on Christmas day. The boy joined the car holding an egg. So I enquired from Fr. Lawrence, what the egg was for, he told me that was the offering of the boy for Christmas. What a generous spirit! The boy spared his one egg for God; indeed God loves the cheerful giver.

The Pokot people

This year I joined the SMA community in Chepareria in the diocese of Kitale in Kenya to celebrate the birth of our Lord Jesus Christ. I was welcomed by Frs. Anthony CJ and LawrenceAmalraj. I was with Fr Mohan (superior of the formation in Nairobi) and two seminarians: Jean-Paul Lawson and Lambert Kette.

The town of Chepareria is located in the West Pokot County of the Rift Valley Province of Kenya. It has nice hills overlooking the many valleys that play home to our Christians. The people here are called the Pokot and agriculture is their main occupation. They cultivate maize and millet and rear cattle, goat, sheep, and fowls.

I enjoy the welcoming spirit of the people. Entering into conversation with people on the street was very easy. They told me about their history and cultur

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e. Pokot as a tribe in Kenya extends to neighboring Uganda. Thursday 26th December, the feast of St Stephen was a market day in Chepareria. The crowd was big with people selling livestock and crops harvested from the peasant farms. So, among these people, the SMA has planted its mission. The parish has over 30 outstations spread on the hills. denis

The faith of the people

Christianity is a dominant religion in the catchment of the Chepareria parish. I noticed the strong presence of other Christian denominations besides Catholicism. The parishioners have a strong faith. They walk many kilometers to attend mass and organize other liturgical celebrations to mark various events of life such as successful harvest. On Christmas night, I was heartened to see many Christians climbing the hills in the dark to celebrate the Christmas vigil mass.

I also noticed how ready they are in supporting the priests. They do not have much but are ready to part with the little they have for the sustenance of the priests. They offer bags of maize as thanksgiving for a good harvest and mass they do give from their hearts.

Liturgical celebrations

The strong faith of the people reflects in their liturgical celebrations. Masses I attended were lively filled with beautiful songs and dances. Prayers were freely offered by the laity giving them that active and conscious participation in divine worship.

On Christmas day, when Gloria was intoned, the whole assembly was thrown into loud singing and dancing expressing the mood of the people- joy. The joy of knowing and proclaiming Christ characterizes the behavior of many people I met.

First ordination for Chapareria

On the morning of 27th December, there was a diaconate ordination of six young men in the Cathedral of Kitale. Among them was Emmanuel Batei from the Chapareria parish. Emmanuel is the person to be ordained form the parish. Family, friends, and parishioners from Chapareria thronged to the cathedral for the ordination. I pray more ordinations to follow in the future.

The SMA community

There are two SMA priests serving the parish which is composed of 30 villages and towns. So one can imagine the workload. They live in a simple house without paid workers. Despite their schedule, they find time to cook on their own and do some home chores too. I really admire their simplicity and dedication. I can see the SMA charism being lived: closeness to the people and helping build the local church. With little resources, the team is able to accomplish a lot in and with joy.

As an SMA community, we shared nice meals that we ourselves prepared, with some people around us including sisters from a nearby convent. The fraternity shared in the community made me forget that I was far from home and family. Indeed, I had a nice Christmas.

Dennis SenyoEtti, SMA