Monday, July 28, 2008

Short Rant:comments on America

Just a short comment on America. Today I went to Subway to get my Dad a Turkey sub. The sign outside says "footlong subs for $5." Well, I got the sub and paid and it was $5.95. So, the footlong subs are more like $6, not $5. Everywhere else in the world, when it says $5, its $5. But in America, $5 means $6. Confusing, eh? And Africa supposed to be corrupt?

Email address change

I decided to grow up and get an email address that has my name in it. Its listed on the right for future reference, but here it is: Hopefully the wierdos don't clog it up b/c I posted it. The old account will be closed down soon. So email me using my gmail from now on. However, the other hotmail account that many of you use for me will still be my main account for now. We'll see if I can handle these 2 plus my school account.

Also, I plan to keep my blog through grad school since I plan to go back to Africa. So, hopefully I can keep you all interested even if some of the entries will involve the words, "term paper" and "finals week." WAIT! Don't get bored yet! I still plan to put more never-seen-before pics from Sudan and Kenya, as well as videos, now that my internet is faster. I hope to post a concluding power point video on here too, with pics and lots of thank you's.

Please View Tara Callander's very humorous top 10 list about coming back to America

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Back from the Mothaland: My first few days

I have been back in the U.S. for 3 days now and I am adjusting well. The whole last month in Kenya I have been worried about the transition, but the truth is that everything is more or less the same as it was when I left a year ago. Sure the Freestate Starbucks has changed its looks, but everything else is the same as how I left it. The first thing I did when I got in the house, was grab my bike and take to the streets. I have been waiting for this moment all year. Sure my parents thought I was crazy for riding my bike up and down the street in the dark, but see, my bike is my symbol of freedom and it has been gone all this time. In Ikotos, I rode Jordan's bike to get water from the borehole, but its just not the same as the open (paved)road. The other symbol of my freedom is my Honda. This morning I kidnapped my sister and drove to Starbucks, and then the Bowie Town Center while listening to some tunes on the radio. My parents were worried that I would have trouble driving again, and that I would drive on the wrong side of the road (Kenyans drive on the left), but driving is like riding a bike-- you never forget. ;) Later, Veronica and I went to the pool in Annapolis, which was a lot of fun after a year of no swimming.

The Sunset over Africa from the planeRewind a bit. The plane ride over here was interesting. Carolyn and I were sweating bullets to see if my bags would be overweight, but the guy at the counter in Jomo Kenyatta didn't say a word. So, I looked back at Carolyn, who was waiting and looking through the glass outside and gave her two big thumbs up. After a 4 hour flight, I was in Dubai(The UAE).
It was hot, as in the temperature. I was wearing a jacket and a scarf, which was quickly removed. The first thing I noticed upon walking into the airport was a Dunkin Donuts-- weird, eh?
Later, after I had passed through my first set of x-ray machines and walked through the airport checking out the stores and food court, I realized that I had forgotten my little, fleece, travel pillow back at the x-ray machine! So I quickly made my way back to the escalator I had come down and fortunately there were stairs to go backwards into the exit area of the x-ray zone. I must admit that I felt kind of silly asking a bunch of security guys about my pillow, but I just couldn't see leaving it behind after carrying it all the way from Sudan. Although I went back, I was sure that it had been thrown away; however, they found it within minutes. Embarrassed, I thanked them and moved quickly back down the escalator and over to the Dair Queen (yes, DQ) to get a milkshake. Having a cold with a sore throat, it felt great to suck down something cold and yummy. In the airport, I was pretty proud of myself because I could understand the flight numbers said in Arabic, and could say "thank you" (shukuran)in Arabic. That is the extent of it though, because Juba Arabic is such a shortened "Mexican" version of the language that I was too embarrased to say any more than that, and couldn't understand what they were saying either. Fortunately, everyone spoke English, including the loud speaker. Paris could learn something from them...when I was there in 2003, they didn't even translate to English.
At the airport, I had a 5 hour layover so I checked out all the cool stores. You have to understand that this airport is like being in a shopping mall. There are even cars in the middle of the floor on raffle. (Erica, I know you're laughing at me right now). In the last remaining hour, I walked past a girl checking her facebook on her laptop and asked if there was wi-fi. Apparently the entire airport is wired! Sweet! So, I sat down at a table and emailed and Skype-chatted to my little heart's content...until my battery died, and then I sat on the floor by an outlet until they called for boarding.

The flight was 14 hours long! I watched 3 movies, 6 episodes of "The Office," 6 episodes of "Flight of the Conchords," listened to my i-pod, dozed off to sleep a few times, walked to the bathroom about a 100 times, and ate several meals. At one point I stood in the back by the kitchen and had a conversation with 2 older gentlemen from the Middle East. The cabin crew got to know me and by the middle of the flight I was pouring my own water in the kitchen. The girl sitting next to me never got up the entire time, but I couldn't stand sitting that long! By the end of the flight I was counting down the minutes. In NY, it was raining and we had to wait to pull into our terminal. Once through customs and in baggage claim, I quickly paid for a cart (in Africa the carts are FREE)and waited for my turquoise hibiscus flowered duffel and huge, blue tin trunk from Kenya. That was also kind of embarrassing. People were looking at me funny and one guy commented on the trunk. The trunk has little outlines of Kenya spray-painted all over it with silver paint.

At Pearl River, the debriefing went super and so did seeing my Mom and sister. The debriefing was 3 hours long-- so long that Veronica was convinced that they had sent me back to Africa. However, I didn't think it seemed that long and actually enjoyed it. After the debrief, we spent a few more hours in Pearl River before driving home.Most of the wait was because of me. I just couldn't think of getting back into a vehicle for another long duration of sitting. However, the trip went well and finally I was back in Bowie, which brings us up to the above mentioned first events in Bowie. Today, I also went to the hair dresser and cut "swoop bangs." I added this picture especially to show my friends in Africa. Once I train these bangs to stay, I'm hoping they will look better, and lose the bobby pin. Grad school here I come!

So, those are my first few days back in America. I think I'm blending back in well, although Veronica says that I slip into my African accent now and then. I'll keep you posted with other events to come. Especially my schedule once I find out when I'm speaking at Trinity Lutheran and in Shepherdstown. A few people have written to ask when I'll be through the Eastern Panhandle and finally in Morgantown. I will post that here once I figure it out. For certain though, I am looking forward to seeing all of you state-side folks!

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Wild,Wonderful American Internet Connection

So here are the pictures that I've been wanting to post for the past month at ABO in Machakos, but the internet was too slow. Now that I have made it safe and sound into New York, I am a picture uploading fiend. Although I have a little cold from sharing drinks and breathing spaces one too many times, I am doing well here at HQ while I wait for my Mom and Sis to come fetch me. I will spend the night here tonight, do a debrief with my coordinator, and then head off to Maryland. I plan to make a slow pilgrimage to Morgantown, stopping through the Eastern Panhandle for about a week.
For now enjoy the super fun pictures and keep in mind that vidoes are on there way!

The Elegible Bachelorettes and a Bachelor

Lord of the the kitchen!

Me, playing the role of the "soft target," known as being in the "white zone," and my attacker, during our Super Miss skit (video to be added).

Sarah as "Super Miss" fully ready for a day in the life of an AIMer.

Roll that Beautiful Bean Footage!

Beans in the Machakos vegetable Market. Aren't they beautiful?

The Vegetable Market in Machakos

This, my friends, is a Tuk Tuk-- a three-wheeled taxi.

Donna had me draw this fireplace to help the ABOers stay warm during the sessions in our frigid 67 degree weather. *Pictured are Sarah (my favorite South African)and Juli.
Four of us girls giving ourselves a foot scrub while sharing the same basin at the same time (from the left: Sarah, Erica, me, and Sheri--not pictured)

Erica and I after our first run conquering the big hill (and when I got my stride back). **Thanks Erica for being such a trooper on my strict regimen-- couldn't have done it without ya!

The Great Wall of Converse at the Toi Market in Nairobi

On Our Scavenger Hunt in Machakos: First Stop, the BUTCHER!Yukk!

Erica and I with the Mama from our Kenyan Music video starring Mama, Bebe, Erica, Sarah, and I (video to be added soon!). The baskets in the background are woven from sisel fibre and plastic bags by the Komba people group.

Too Legit 2 Quit: Me, Erica, Lil Dude, and Ryan

The Mzungus on Parade: the day of our hike up the mountain.

Last Sunday at Massii Boys' School, the place where I rapped and preached the previous Sunday. *Shown: Kate, Robert, Chaplin, Me, and Erica

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Promised ABO Pictures

I am flying out today at 5:15pm from Nairobi. Please pray for a safe trip. I will put pictures on my blog in NY. Thanks.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Eminate Culture Shock

FYI: I added info to my last entry and I forget to mention last time that I added Erica's blog link to my list of Friends in the field on the right-hand side of this page.

As of now I'm still at ABO and mentally blocking out the fact that I will be home in 4 days. I know that in saying this some of you might be bummed, but its the truth. Erica has been working with me to name the good things about going back to the U.S.--Starbucks, Sheetz subs,cycling etc.. The truth is that, well part of me is just going through what every person goes through when they get ready to return to their home country, and also, if God wants me to serve in Kenya after grad school, then its a good thing I feel at home here. Fortunately, I know that I have great support at home from my family and friends so that when I go through the stages of culture shock, I won't be alone.

Recently, I have received word from my soon-to-be roomate, Lori, that I may have a house by August. She has been looking around Morgantown for a place since the beginning of the year. Today I read that my choices are a house in Star City, close to the Stadium, or an apartment close to the Evansdale campus, the Colleseum, and STARBCUKS. Although the latter has a convenient location, I'm pushing for the 2 bedroom house because it has bigger rooms, bigger closets, a basement, and a yard. I know, I know, you all are thinking "you've been living in a mud hut! What kind of space do you need?!" Ahh, but its because of the mud hut that I would love to have a room with a nice closet, and you know, I could build a mud hut in the yard if I feel so inclined. ;) So, pray for Lori and I as we figure out our new living arrangements and getting to know one another, since we don't actually know each other, but have a great mutual friend,Janine.

As for pictures from ABO, the scavenger hunt in town, a tuk tuk (pronounced took took), and my new BFFs, they will all be added soon. Erica was able to add some earlier today, so you can look on her blog for a few to tide you over.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

ABO, Avacados, and Running Shoes

I am sorry that it has been so long since my last blog. The internet here in Machakos is really slow and as I type, its 10:40pm. That is the best time to do internet because all of the sane people are sleeping. However, I am not here alone, there are a few others that have bit the bullet with me and drudged over here to be faithful in emails and blogs.

This time at ABO, I've been having an awesome time with the kids and with fellow AIMers. I haven't been sick once-- praise God-- and I have been running almost everyday and I finally got my stride back (runners know what I'm taking about). For the past year, I have felt like my stride disappeared and the one of an old man took its place, but here in Machakos (with high elevation), I have regained my running stride! Yay! Also, it helps that my new found friend Erica is running with me faithfuly everyday and hasn't quit on me yet when I sneak in a few extra steps to our routine. ;)

Here, I have made new friends and hate to leave them. I know that my friends and family at home are anxiously awaiting my arrival, but its hard to think that in a week, I will be back in the U.S. and starting my new life in grad school. The thought of starting a new/old life does not sound appealing now that I have just got in my groove here. I can possibly see Nairobi as a valid plan for after grad school, counseling at Tumaini. My thoughts on training nationals with counseling skills to counsel their own people within their cultural context is also a future plan that would coincide with counseling missionaries. I have seen how both are vital.

Also at this ABO, I have been able to participate in some things that I didn't do last time. For example, I was invited to give the sermon at an all boys school last sunday and I rapped at the beginning of the sermon-- completely impromptu-- because all the boys had just finished rapping. So I thought the best way to get them to listen would be to start off rapping (to the tune of "ice,ice, baby" by Vanilla Ice), and then I gave a talk about being salt and light and not losing your saltiness. The boys loved it and all cheered at the end (of the rap). I have it on video and will upload it to this posting in a week or so when the internet is better. I also hope to put some great pics on here too, but the internet will not allow for that right now. Maybe when I get back to Nairobi.

Today, I went on a scavenger hunt with fellow AIMers. We had to get to Machakos town by boda (bicycle taxi), tuk tuk (3-wheeled golf cart-like taxi), or by foot, and then answer questions on a list by building relational skills with the local people. My group members and I, Erica and Sarah (my other new-found friend)went around town and had a lot of fun getting to know people. We even filmed a video of us dancing with an old Bebe(grandma) and a mama whom I bought baskets from. Erica saw this random wasboard-like instrument at their stand and asked how to use it, and the next thing you know 2 of us have tamorines, Sarah has maracas, and Erica is going to town playing the wooden washboard/shaker combo. Hopefully, that video will also be uploaded soon. One of the prizes for the contest was most relational-- I'm pretty sure we will win that one!

Well, that is all for now and I hope to add lots of fun pictures from all the adventures I've had here in Machakos this ABO. I will leave you with one fun story though:

Today Sarah, Erica, and I were laying in the grass outside the kitchen window when suddenly something flew from the sky, denting Erica's head. At first we looked up and saw a German woman peering out the window and blamed her, but then our DIRECTOR, Loren Fast, looking sheepishly out the window,admitted to the attack. Erica looked around for the blunt object. It was an overly ripe AVACADO! Qucikly, Erica picked it up and hurled it towards the kitchen window. Loren grabbed its remains and through it towards the unsuspecting ME still laying on the blanket in the grass. I was GUACAMOLED!! My entire jacket was covered in green avacodo-e slime and so was my kanga (blanket/wrap). Sarah got a bit on her but was no worse for the wear. We laughed like crazy as I layed there trying not to spread the mess any further as my friends came to my side. Loren came out of the bulding laughing and offered to pay for my laundry, but I refused. Anyway, fun was had by all and now I have a great story for my blog and a picture to boot.

This ABO time has been a great ending to my year in Africa.
Take care until next time.