My First Kenyan Home

12 Sep

Siapei (See-ya-pay) is the name of the town where we lived through the earliest years of my childhood.  Well, I don’t know what qualifies an area as a town.  To the best of my limited recollection, there was a church, a clinic, an orphanage, and our little neighborhood.

Our house seemed enormous to my little toddler self.  When I went back as an adult, I was shocked and a teensy disappointed to find that it was pretty small.  There was a side of me that was pleased to find that it is a quaint old house full of character and quirks. The interior walls were covered in white plaster.  There were strange nooks and curvy walls.  Green and gold curtains covered in diamond patterns. Our house was always full of people. Whether it was Pastor Paul, an ancient Maasai pastor stopping by for chai, or missionaries stopping in on the way to or from the city, the walls of this house surrounded so many people with love.  My mom made certain of that.

The back door opened to uneven concrete steps that led down into the grass.  There was a big yellow picnic table begging to be piled with food, people, and laughter.

Our little neighborhood had some great characters who became like family.

Rosemary was a sweet old woman. I believe she was an adult literacy teacher, but to me she was Kokoo (ko KO) which means ‘Grandma’. She had curly gray hair, twinkling brown eyes that were kind of shaped like little triangles tucked behind her glasses.  She played an accordion and wore polyester.  When she received boxes of Kraft macaroni and cheese from America, she would save them for a special night when she would invite my brother and me over for dinner.  She always sliced up hot dogs to put in and we thought she was brilliant.  Kokoo let us draw on the chalkboard in her classroom, she sang songs to us, she let us pop her bubble wrap.  We went for rides in her little old orange VW bug.  Her sweet laugh shook her shoulders and made her rock a little bit sideways.  She smelled clean like a fresh bar of soap. To this day, when I smell certain brands of soap, I am instantly transported back to her side.  How I loved her.

Anne was a traveling nurse who was legally blind, which made the roads a terrifying place if her driver was not available.  Who lets a little thing like blindness stop them from driving? Not her.

There was a huge German Shepherd named Judy.  I still don’t really know to whom she belonged.

See the curtains?

There was another family that lived there.  Ray was a veterinarian.  His wife, Vicki, was full of fun and life.  They had two little girls who were younger than my brother and me by a year or two.  Ray had built the girls a little play kitchen and I loved to play there.  Vicki introduced me to Hush Puppies (which I called Shush Dogs when I was trying to tell my mom what we ate), and Jolly Ranchers.  Ray and Vicki were full of laughter.  So patient and kind and generous.  The girls were my playmates and friends.  This family was also my first introduction to tragedy and mourning, but that is another post for another day.

Although the details of these memories may be blurry and marred by years, they are fond memories.  Perhaps Siapei is more about the warmth I feel with recollection than actual memories, but it is recalled with fondness either way.


Posted by on September 12, 2011 in Uncategorized


9 responses to “My First Kenyan Home

  1. Melanie

    September 13, 2011 at 4:22 am

    Golly, I’m glad you’re doing this.


  2. Pam (Hersman) Johnson

    September 13, 2011 at 8:06 pm

    Carrie, this is a great blog. I just went back and read all your posts and feel like you could be telling my story, too. So many similarities and feelings and nostalgia.


    • carrielassiter

      September 13, 2011 at 8:09 pm

      Hi, Pam! The stories of MKs are each a little different and yet so very similar! I’m glad you stopped by!


  3. Erin

    September 14, 2011 at 11:34 pm

    You’re the mouse, right? And Wyatt is superman? Wait… I’m confused. Ha!

    Loved your description of Kokoo. I love her. Anyone that lets you pop their bubble wrap is a friend of mine.


  4. Nancy

    September 15, 2011 at 10:52 am

    I LOVE this, Carrie. Thank you sooooo much for doing it!


  5. Linda Brock

    September 15, 2011 at 7:12 pm

    Thank you for sharing


  6. Jenny Lenarz

    September 17, 2011 at 9:15 pm

    As I read this post, I could honestly hear your voice (which I miss by the way, so I am ecstatic that you are blogging so I can hear your sarcasm through the WWW ;)) For exampie: “Who lets a little thing like blindness keep them from driving? Not her.” Hilarious! I can seriously SEE you say this out of the corner of your mouth, with your head tilted a certain way, with a certain nasally voice. You make me laugh, you make me smile, and you make me realize how God has blessed me with a great friend like you! I miss you, friend! Keep up the amazing writing. I LOVE it!


    • carrielassiter

      September 17, 2011 at 10:02 pm

      I love you. I miss you. I’m thankful for the internet that has the ability to shrink miles.



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