Gabriel, much like his Biblical namesake, is a guardian, a messenger and a friend. I first met him the night I arrived but I remember him best my first Friday night. I had only been at home for two days and was still very new to life here. Mary was at work and I was left to open the Sabbath alone. I remember opening the door to the porch off of my room and hearing beautiful acapella singing and sitting down on the porch to enjoy it. Then Gabriel came to guard the house, he turned on the porch light and sat down next to me. We discussed the beautiful music, where it was coming from and the local fruit trees. Thus began our friendship.
Gabriel was the first person to sit down with me and teach me Kiswahili, mainly because he doesn’t speak much English, but we get along well with the words I’ve learned in Kiswahili. We patched together sentences in Kiswahili and English, using my dictionary and charades. It is Gabriel’s son, Onesmo who has also joined in the force to help me learn Kiswahili, patiently repeating himself until the connection is made.
Mama Onesmo, Gabriel’s wife is just as kind. She came over within the first week I was here and brought me some eggs as a sign of hospitality. One day as I was walking back from the University, which is further up the mountain, I heard a faint “Sonya, Soooneya”. It was little Onesmo with his mom. He had seen me and called out so we could walk home together, sharing with me his little cookie/buscuits. It was on the way back that they showed me the “short cut” through their yard. Now whenever I am going further up towards the University, church or Havilah (the neighbor orphanage) I just pass through their courtyard and shout out a, “Hodi” smile really big and add, “short cut”. To which every time Mama Onesmo responds with a kind, “Karabu” and Onesmo comes out to give me a high-five and a sweet, “Jambo”.
Gabriel protects our house, relays messages from people who are working with us on the well, and he has chats with me in Kiswahili/English. I’m very glad he is part of our staff, I feel safe with him near and know that he is a valuable addition to our team.
When you come to visit and drive in after the sun has set, be sure to shout out a, “Jambo Gabriel!”, if you do, you will for sure get a warm, “Karabu!”