Thursday, February 25, 2010

First week of classes down, just call me teacher

Feb 19 Friday
Friday’s class did not go as well as day one. The projector I thought about using didn’t work so we huddled around my computer screen. I gave a long lecture on the history of Emotional and Behavioral Disorders (being the topic of the class). I got many confused looks. The wind was blowing and then the rain began to pound. We quickly shut the huge windows. The noise was only muffled slightly. I was too distracted by the noise to remember that there were puzzled looks staring at me. I went on. After the rain stopped I saw the looks again. I began to ask questions. I wanted to know where I had gone off course. Together we figured it out. The word behavior wasn’t translatable. We then dove into a great conversation about what behavior is and what are the motivators of people’s behavior and what are the outcomes later in life. I wanted them to see the need for behavior education. The discussion went to the costs that poor behaviors have on society. It was a great discussion. Confusion, tamed.
Alligator Alley was the dinner location, not really the name but it’s what I call it. We ate right on the lake. Barb said that before the fence was put up crocodiles would come up on the beach right where our table was. Unfortunately we only saw one hippo way out in the lake. It was so nice to watch the sun set behind the Congo Mountains.
On the way out Javier spotted a hippo, well he thought it was either a hippo or a large rock. Wayne turned around. There were 4 hippos just hanging out on in the grass along the side of the road. We are told that hippos will come up out of the water around 4pm and feed. What a sight! The one closest to us was HUGE! We tried to take pictures but it was too dark.

Saturday Feb 20
I felt trapped. The man from Holland brought us some magazines. We took to those like mosquitoes to my ankles. Burundi is shut down until 10:30am every Saturday. But finally the time came to leave HAU. We hopped on a bus, met Brandon and made our way to the lake. It’s nice to have a lake so close, I feel like I’m home. In Kent I had Meridian, in Renton I had Washington and in Buja I have Tanganyika.
We took a taxi to the lake, worth mentioning only because it was a first.
At the lake I felt like I was walking up to a guard house in California. We entered and I was in America for sure. There were swim benches that had pillows nicely arranged all in blue, gray and white. The pool was in front of us and past that the lake, complete with 2 jet skis and a speed boat. (yes you read that right)
As we were reclining on the couches, surfing the web and eating our pizza Stephanie looked at me. She had a look in her eye. I said, “yes?” She then reminded us that the couch and table in front of us which we were using was larger than our living room at HAU. We all had a good laugh.
Walking along the beach was nice too.
Dinner plans were with a Burundian and his wife that I had met in the states. When he saw me he said, “Seattle! Welcome to Burundi.” They had all of us over, 20-30 of us. It was great. The table was full of Burundian dishes. The women were all bringing a gift for his wife. When we met in Seattle they told me all about their children. In Burundian culture children are very important. I took my game of Uno for their girls. They were very excited. The man told me that I would need to come back and teach the girls how to play. I’m all in!!! His wife also invited me to come to her work, again I’m all in.
Sunday Feb 21
I feel like I was hit by a truck. I knew I needed more sleep. After church an afternoon nap helped that.
We went to an English/French service. It was so nice to be fed in my own language. We sang Lord I life your name on high. It was nice. I was feeling homesick, not sure if it was all the English or if I just was at that point. The message was given by Bishop Elie. He is an excellent preacher! He spoke from Jeremiah. The Israelites were discouraged because of their captivity. God met them where they were. He told them to keep serving him. I was so encouraged.
I’m so surprised at how just seeing Americans and talking to them makes me feel better. We were seated in front of 3 white girls. We exchanged numbers. One asked us if we blogged yesterday. Now I know how Brandon feels when I know about a story he has posted. We had to call Brandon and let him know.
Stephanie and I decided to join the Matthewsons for a second service at another church, where I went for the first Sunday. I sat next to the man who translated for me before. I was getting hot and I almost fainted. To avoid a scene I got up and left. On my way out Randy asked me if I was ok. I managed to say, “no”. It’s amazing what some shade and a cool breeze will do.
After service we had lunch in the Student Center. Pineapple, so good.

It’s amazing the things that we are craving.
Ritz, chocolate covered coffee beans, ice cream, peanut butter, 7-11 slurpees, frapaccinos, deli meat, yogurt that doesn’t taste like rotten milk, cottage cheese, an apple my friends, strawberries, cherries. Other things too, a pair of scissors, markers, red pens, not having to feel guilty about making copies or use paper knowing that at any moment there might be a shortage. We are done thinking about such things. It can’t healthy.

Stephanie noted that we have made it past most American’s mission trips experiences. We gave each other an air high five. Javier isn’t impressed, he wants to note that he is not a missionary and says that his is just on vacation.

Saturday, February 20, 2010


Trip Up country to Kibuya!!! This is the start of the tour. Can you see how green it is? Just like home during the summer. While up there we even saw pine trees!!!

Deaf School!!! I had so much fun chatting with them in American Sign Language.

Alice really enjoyed the 3 blankets Mom and Barb made. She took them to her hospital in the Congo.

Fun hanging out with Alice and Randy

Some great local food. Rice, fries, meat, meat gravy, lots of onions, and tomato.

Update #3

February 17 Wednesday
So it has been 2 weeks, wow! I think about people that go on two week long mission trips and it changes their lives, well I don’t feel changed. Still super social, will cry at anything resembling pain and sorrow, likes to know what to expect, and desperately needs quiet time alone to recharge. It has been two weeks non stop with Stephanie and Javier. Nothing against them but I needed a break. And I got one today.
Friday Barb came over and said, “You want to go up country, we leave in 2 hours.” She had suspicion and joy in her eyes, like a little girl that is scheming to do something wonderful. We were all in. We called Brandon and he was happy to come along for the adventure.
We went to Kibuye (where Frank and Carol Ogden’s house is). The house is like the ones that my parents rent down at the ocean. First thing I noticed was the lack of mosquito nets over the beds, what a treat. The next was the picture of Mt Rainier over the head board. I was home. Traveling up the mountain was just gorgeous! There is no way to describe how the banana trees, red dirt, rivers, meadows and an assortment of other tree vegetation looked under the blue sky. I took pictures but they don’t do it justice either. The air was different too. I first noticed the cool temperature, and then I realized I wasn’t sticky anymore. When we go there I went and put on pants and my SPU sweatshirt, things I brought for my upcountry trips.
The people walking along the road (there were tons of them) were very friendly as we passed by them in our van. They would wave and say, “Muzungu, muzungu.” The women and some men were carrying things on their head, a bundle of sticks that were six feet long, a pot full of soup or some dish, huge bundles of banana and other assortments of items. The boys with bicycles were hauling things as well. Going up the hills they would be off their bikes pushing them up the hill. Each bike was weighted down by two giant bags on either side of the rear wheel and a third on the rack sitting over the wheel. Some cases the sacks were replaced by bananas that were tied on. Either case they were heavy loads. When the road would turn to down hill the boys would sit side saddle with both feet perched on the middle bar of the bike. I believe this was so at any point in time they would be able to abort the mission if their wheel hit a rock or hole while they were barreling down the hills at 50mph. Remember no helmet and no shoes.
The weekend consisted of playing games, cooking meals, planning my course work and just hanging out. Brandon was happy to have some American food. I got to cook some of my favorite foods. I made macaroni and cheese, pizza, and grilled cheese.
Side note on the pizza. I was mixing up the dough without a recipe and without measuring cups. I poured the water into the bowl and Barb said, you know there are measuring cups here. I looked at the bowl and said well doesn’t this look close enough to a cup? She had to check. She poured the bowl’s contents into the cup measure and it hit one cup on the line directly. It was a perfect guess. Wow that is a once in a lifetime happening. (Mom you taught me well)
While there we went on a tour of the complex, the new dorms, where they make the Busoma (what we eat for breakfast), and the hospital. I always knew I didn’t do blood but hospitals have never been a problem for me. In the US they are very discreet and sanitary. Well as they say, This is Africa. I was overcome by such sorrow and felt so much pain for these people. Their situation of needing assistance is the same as the US but their use of pain killers is totally different. The woman’s ward was fine, most were very discreet about their wounds and their bodies (as is culture). Their pain was set aside while their hospitality shined though. The room was packed with beds and the halls were makeshift overflow. The men’s ward was, well...functional. The men were up walking around carrying their own catheter bags, propping up their wounded limbs with bandages showing the stains of draining wounds. Their eyes intently fixed on us. No words filled their mouths. I just wanted to leave. I kept telling myself that it wasn’t cultural, it was hospital that I didn’t like. We were only in the men’s ward for about 5 min but I was happy when we left. We then made our way to the maternity ward. Barb said something about holding babies and that was going to be the redeeming factor but alas. When we go to the ward the babies were all nursing or the mothers were eating. It was not the time to say, hey I don’t know you and I’m not from here. Can I hold your baby that was born yesterday? They were cute though. Most of them had thick curly hair almost covering their heads. When I left Amy still didn’t have much hair and she was weeks old.
For church on Sunday Barb and Wayne took us to Mt Hope. This is where the Sister Connections new building is. It is almost complete and looks nice. We found a spot in the shade overlooking the valley and next “mountain” really a hill. With grass on top I can’t knowingly call it a mountain. We shared lunch and then Wayne lead us in a devotion. We shared about our experiences. We closed in prayer and I found myself in tears. Stephanie linked her arm in mine and leaned on me. I wasn’t the only one with tears in my eyes. It was a good long prayer and a great time to just be honest with the Lord, which is hard to do with the constant sounds and people that are around at all times. I need to work on being more intentional.
Monday I figured out my classes, Tuesday I figured out that one was a different course than I was told. So I had asked lots of questions to make sure that I was teaching the correct course.
Tuesday I had a bad spell of homesickness. I went into the bedroom and curled up on the quilt my mom made me before I left. Stephanie came in after a while and she asked me if I was ok. My eyes were stinging from the tear, my quilt hadn’t retained the smell of my mom and all I could muster was, “I want to go home.” Stephanie sat down next to me on the bed and prayed for me. After I pulled out my bible and read about the resurrection of Christ. I had pulled myself together and was going to enter the living room when I heard a car drive up. I looked out the window and saw Brandon getting out. Timing was good.
Talking to Brandon is nice because we have the Seattle connection, something simple but really nice.
We decided that we should go to town. This was a great distraction for me, still in my melancholy state. Brandon showed us how to ride the bus. There are mini buses and big buses. Because we are so far away from city center we ride the big buses. It was really easy. There are no set stops, standing on the street and raising your index finger will stop the bus. The driver’s only job is to drive. There is another man who is in charge of directing passengers on and off the bus along with taking money and get this, making change! When you want to get off you just raise your hand for a brief moment and they will stop. The seats are two on the right side and one on the left with a jump seat in the isle that flaps down when needed. Once the bus starts to fill up, people pile in. If you were counting it should be 4 across once the jump seat is used but you would be mistaken, it’s 5 across. Twisting your torso and hips and scooting as close as possible to the sweaty person next to you will allow for that 5th person to join your row. It’s not as bad as you would think, remember everyone is sweaty, even you.
I woke up at about 1 in the morning. I couldn’t fall back asleep. I thought about it being 3pm back home. I couldn’t stop myself. I got out the laptop and internet. I went into the kitchen and closed the door so Stephanie wouldn’t be woken up. I was going to check my email but instead I went right to skype. Mom was right there. What a blessing getting to chat with my parents in real time. It was the first time in 2 weeks, too long. The option of calling home had come my way but I knew I would only waste the time crying. I was surprised at how calming it was to see and talk with them. I was at peace yet again. The time card ran out of minutes and so we were cut short but I could go to sleep. It’s amazing how 30 min with family changes my whole outlook.
Wednesday I was alone. Stephanie and Javier were working on something with Bob and so I had all morning to myself. I finished both of my syllabi today!!! Then we all went to chapel. New profs were introduced. The students clapped for the three of us. I’m going to like all the African music during chapel.
Then we went out with Robyn and Brandon, again downtown. A cheeseburger for dinner. There was a tv playing music videos above us. It was American Gospel. After much time Israel Houghton came on. (Dr. Newby it was great! Can’t escape good gospel.)
Good day!!!
Thought yesterday was good…but it has totally been surpassed! Today was the first day of classes and Alice and Randy were back from Congo!!! Two very good things.
This morning I woke up to make sure I was able to maximize my time with them. After much time waiting for this and that I decided that I should find out where my classes were. Today’s was E31 and tomorrow’s A1. A1 was easy. E31 was impossible to find. After much searching and questioning I found out that E31 is in the new building that is under construction. Classrooms 1-26 are ready but 27 and higher “will be ready someday” to quote a Burundian I asked. Finding a new room was an easy fix once we figured out that the classroom didn’t exist, yet. C1 it is.
After things were settled Stephanie and I went out with Alice and Randy along with a couple from Florida. We downtown and we split. Stephanie, the wife from Florida and I split off and went to the auto store. I wanted to chat with the owner’s wife again. It was great. I love knowing people and having friends!!! I’m starting to belong, no longer a visitor.
We then went to a craft shop in south Buja. It was full of well made purses, bags, clothing, and toys. I spent much time debating which purse to pick. I got a really cute one for 10 bucks. I hope it lasts because it’s really cute. It’s green and brown with a large cream button as the clasp. (Sarah you would be proud of me, no bows )
After a great cheeseburger, lots of garlic, at an Italian restaurant (yes you read right) we hurried back to HAU for my 2:15 class.
I said hi to Brandon and Javier, grabbed my books and left for class. It was amazing!!! I have 10 students. They are used to listening to the professor, taking notes and taking an exam. I blew their minds. I had them first thing sit in groups and introduce themselves. We then made a KWL. Then I had them silent write about what they already knew about language. Then we made a class list. Then I had them silent write about questions they wanted to know about language. It was challenging to restate what I wanted them to do 4 different ways before they understood. I think they understood the first time but they were so shocked at what I was asking that they were sure they didn’t understand. It was great to take their questions. I didn’t answer them right there but told them I would work it into the class. Some questions were as simple as, “how can you teach a blind person how to read.” Others will take some research on my part. It’s all part of the perpetual learning experience that is life.
I then moved from that mind bending activity to having them draw pictures about their lives. And then presenting them to the class. And I thought the first task was hard. I’m glad I didn’t start with the drawing!
After break time I lectured about the process of learning (input, metacognition, and output). I had them tell me ways to teach to each of the 5 senses. This was difficult for them to think outside the box, but we managed. They seemed to really enjoy the lecture part. Not my style but they were really into it and asked really great questions. I would begin to answer and a few times while I was answering I paused my train of thought to listen to my answer. I was impressed. One time I remember thinking, “way to go Rachel you were listening in class, you did learn something.” A good feeling.
The last activity was a huge jump for them. I split them in pairs and gave each group a vocab word. I wanted them to act out the word in front of the class. Oh my! I went to each group and explained the assignment and answered questions. It’s really nice that they aren’t afraid to ask questions for clarification.
I explained the syllabus and class was over.
What a great feeling, I can do what I have been asked to do! I’m teaching a college course! Wow (Dad are you proud of me, I know you are. Thanks for always supporting me) Tomorrow’s class is the same 10 students, I’m excited to have them for 2 days a week and not just one. They’re a great group. I’m excited to see them in 4 months.
Dinner in the student center tonight, real Burundian food.

Saturday, February 13, 2010


John 15:9 “As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you; abide in my love.”
What does that even mean? Reading on… John 15:10 “If you keep my commandments. You will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in his love.” So Jesus is the example here. I can only think of Philippians 2 where Jesus is described as the main example. He keeps the Father’s commandment unto death. I don’t see much love there. Perhaps there isn’t love shown during the obedience. But then again…when I give my students’ challenging work there is still love. I patiently hover, be it near or out of their sight, but I am paying attention to their every move. I am watching for any improvement in these multi step instructions I have given; what part can they now do independently? I take much care to monitor their every step. Perhaps that is how it was with Jesus on the cross. Perhaps God is hovering, may it seem out of sight; he is there. He was monitoring Christ’s every move watching the most impressive commandment follower.

Side note: I wonder how hard it was for Christ to always do the right thing. I struggle with always looking a certain way or doing the right thing. I wonder if he struggled with always obeying his Father.

So Jesus followed the Father’s commandments and now hangs out with God in Heaven, but not just in Heaven but at the right hand of God. That’s pretty cool. Being able to chat with God about anything at anytime and working alongside him. Is that what love is all about? Having a relationship and working alongside? I can take that. That is a prize worth striving for.

But wait there’s more…I read on, John 15:11 “These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you. And that your joy may be complete.” So not only full love but now joy along with it and not just joy but Jesus’ joy planted within us. What does that look like? How is Jesus’ joy look different from my own joy? I think back to one of my first missions trip down to Mexico. I’m not sure who started it but Nate had a yellow blow up flower (I think I remember that right, but not the point) For some reason we named it joy. All through the trip we would say, “Choose Joy”. Is joy a choice? Or is it a gift? Or is it a gift that you have to choose to unwrap. Now I am asking questions in circles.

My thoughts take me to James 1:2 “Consider it pure joy my brother’s when you face trials of many kinds.” But the story doesn’t stop there. It continues (sorry it’s in a different translation then verse 2) James 1:3-4 “For you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect. That you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.” Perhaps that’s what Jesus was talking about in John when he said that following God’s commandments leads to love which leads to joy. I feel I could add “perfect and complete, lacking in nothing” to the list. That’s not too bad, I think I’ll sign up for that. So how do I sign up for that? By keeping Father God’s commands. Jesus said that the command that encapsulates all the commands would be Love. Loving the Father God followed by loving your neighbor. That seems like a long road but I’m ready for it. Jesus continues in John 15:13 “Greater love has no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friend.” Jesus did that to the end. His death on the cross was the ultimate love for us, his friends. But I’m encouraged that the story doesn’t end there. “He got up.” (a quote from one of my favorite Gospel Choir songs) The Christian story doesn’t leave Jesus, the Christ in the grave. He shows his power over death, he got up! Now that’s a God worth following unto death. It makes laying down my life for a friend not seem so bad. If he got up then my friends I will get up too.

Prayer Requests

I’m starting to teach next week. Prayer for knowledge of the subject and wisdom on how to meet my student’s needs so that they walk out of the class knowing as much as they can.

Homesickness only comes in waves, but when it crashes down its hard stand under it. Pray for strength at the right time. Praise I have Stephanie! We take turns being strong.

Notes Home

DJ SPWNEA-Last night I dreamt that I was playing hide and seek. We were at home and I was seeking. Nathan and Wesley were down the street hiding in a building that doesn’t exist in real life. It was under construction. Nathan, I found you first. You were behind a door, not where I would expect you. You normally would find a more clever hiding place. Wesley, you were in a drain pipe. You had wormed yourself into it feet first. Only your messy hair was sticking out. Once I found you it too you forever to get out. Ellen, Stuart and Philip I went on to find you but at that time I woke up. I rested in bed for a while with a big smile on my face. I love playing games with you! I felt like I was really there with you. Now thinking about this I’m starting to cry. I miss you so much! I put your pictures up in my office yesterday. Looking at you is the best we can do for now. Know that I’m praying for you and love you very much!

Sarah- I just got a pretty sweet pink Kikwembe (a wrap)

Ruth Y-I’m sorry I didn’t get to see you my last day! I put your picture up in my office it makes me giggle at times. I feel like I’m in the office cutting felt with you because things are so slow here ?

Curtis and Lydia-I saw Alice and Randy, I felt like I was hanging out with you guys and Paul.

Jennifer-they delivered a new pillow for me and its case is the pink ribbon and flower print that are my favorites. It’s nice to have the same pillow case. I feel like I’m at home.

Wesley- It has been a week and no one has pummeled me! Can you believe it?

A Taste of Africa

The cockroach in the bathroom, which was killed a few days ago, has now been almost completely eaten by the little sugar ants that make a black line across the floor in their march for their next meal.

Hot and wishing that the fan would come back on. The generator has been humming out on the lawn for a good hour now and still our fan is not back on. Sticky, sticky.

The burning of the garbage pile outside our door is starting to get on my nerves. I would like to get them to separate their garbage, perhaps make a compost pile instead of burning it all. Nothing like the smell of burning food and plastic to brighten my day, not.

Surprisingly I’m getting used to the constant sticky feeling. Go me!

They installed a shower heater yesterday. They said it would be a hot shower but it’s not. We are very excited anyways. It takes the chill off which is so nice!!!

If you want a hot shower you have to wait till mid day when the pipes are warmed by the sun.

Update #2

Feb. 7 Sunday

I have not felt like I’m in Africa up to this morning. Church defiantly made me realize I was defiantly in Africa. We walked into a covered area filled with black faces. I understood only about 2 words the whole service. Barb and Wayne Vibbert were so nice to make sure that we each had our own translator. The man translating for me didn’t translate the words but the main concept of the whole phrase. I appreciated that. The pastor would speak for a good 5 min. My translator would then lean over to me. He would say something like, “It’s like Paul and Silas when then were in jail and their chains fell off.” That is it. I understand the whole story; he doesn’t need to go into great detail such as the pastor did. Javier and Stephanie’s translator were student or previous students of HAU and so they accurately translate every word.

I felt like I was in my gospel choir class during the singing. It was a moment that I felt at home?

After lunch we sat in our living room and Stephanie and Javier took turns reading out loud “The Life of Pi”. Javier brought it with him and wanted to read it. Stephanie thought that we should read out loud to each other. She said that her parents do that and it makes her feel at home. After this we will go to an English church service at 4:00pm. We are excited to meet other young people. It’s amazing how much we miss others that are our own age. The missionaries are now calling us “the kids”.

We are still waiting for contact from Brandon and Robyn. It will be so good to learn about Burundi from those who have learned about Burundi through young American eyes.
We went to the 4:00 service with Bob and Laurie. It’s an English service and we were hoping to find other young people. Well we didn’t, we saw Rebecca and Paul instead. They are the missionaries that work with Brandon and Robyn. I have seen them in pictures and read part of their blog before I came. I walked right up to Rebecca and asked if she worked with Brandon and Robyn. She confirmed and I was glad. Paul walked over to us and said, here let me call Brandon right now. Wow not what I was expecting. Brandon and I set up a visit for the next day.

In the evening we went to a devotions time with Bishop Bates leading.

Feb. 8 Monday

The trouble with jet lag is that because time is so different our bodies wake up early 4am or so and are tired at about 3pm. The Muslim call to prayer is at about 4-4:30 every morning. This consists of someone singing or playing music, I’m not sure which yet, over a mega phone. I was laying there in bed trying to process this last week. It was hard I kept thinking, just get up and blog about it. It will make you feel better. But then the call to prayer started. I knew at that moment that I needed to have a serious chat with the Lord. I am impressed by the Muslim devotion to prayer, I lack that discipline. I have always found much comfort from reading my Bible. It’s truths about who God is and who he designed me to be has carried me through many struggles and also pleasant times. I didn’t want to wake Stephanie so I took my Bible and took a walk. I wanted to look over the land so I went up to the 3rd floor apt. I took a chair from the balcony; sat down and cracked open my Bible. I’m not sure why I thought that I would be able to read it in the dark but I was very disappointed that I couldn’t see the words. I sat for a while my prayers were interspersed with song and tears. I was doing just fine until I began to think about the sun. I wanted to sing the song from Gospel Choir about the sun but couldn’t think of the words or the tune. I forced my brain to think, it came out, “The sun cannot compare to the glory of your love. There is no shadow in your presence.” Tears filled my eyes. I miss my friends at Gospel Choir. I miss that spiritual support that Dr. Newby so freely gives. I kept singing. The truth that was leaving my mouth filled my ears and reminded me of my desire, to honor the Lord. That is why I am here. The sun had risen enough so that I was able to read. John 14 was so encouraging. Thank you Lord.

Later I met with the Rector, Bishop Elie. He told me I would be teaching 2 classes. I will learn more info from the Vice Rector when I meet him on Tuesday. The first class is about LD which I’m all good with. I was telling La Charity about the classes and told her I was comfortable teaching that course because I had an LD. She was completely shocked. She kept saying, “You have a BA. How?” I am a testimony that people with LD’s are smart and can succeed. Way to go me, ya right. The other course is something about language development, not confident at all. I will need to study up. Truth is, I only have to be one course ahead of them. Isn’t that right?

We then got the call from Brandon!!! We met him out on the street about a 10 min walk from HAU. It’s nice to know that I can wonder for about 15-20 min away from campus now and still know where I am; at least in the direction of town. It was really awkward meeting him because not only were there many Africans staring (that is the norm for us) but because we were all Americans we didn’t feel this great need to greet each other with a handshake (which is how you greet everyone here). We did the meet and greet thing and then we were off to HAU (mini SPU as I call it). I told Brandon my nickname for HAU and he didn’t seem to believe me until we got to campus. He agreed then.

He was surprised to see all the tall buildings and the large complex. I saw many pictures before I came so I knew what to expect.

We brought him into our apt. and I got out the Trader Joe’s peppermint oreo type cookies. He was very grateful. He lives with Burundians and eats what they eat. It felt like we were in college, just hanging out getting to know each other. We then went to Bob’s to look at the movie selection and Laurie had out cookies. Again Brandon was thrilled. Besides sleeping the three of us have been together non stop since last Tuesday when this journey began. It was nice to have Brandon there to mix it up.

Alice and Randy came from Congo today and took us out for dinner; pizza at the Oasis Restaurant, Brandon joined us. It was so nice to be with Alice and Randy. They have been my superheroes my entire life. I remember back when I was in preschool at Warm Beach Camp when they came to our class to talk about their life in Zaire. Alice would make us all grab our ear and said together, “Zaire”. When I was older I remember going to their house at WBC and eating watermelon. Their house butted up to a canyon. There was a tree in the canyon that they would throw the watermelon skin at. I was too small and could never get mine anywhere close to the tree.

As Stephanie and I put the mosquito net around us before bed we were both encouraged by our great day.

One week gone.

Feb 9 Tuesday

Praise the Lord for Facebook chat. Stephanie was checking her Facebook and told me that Sarah was on. I was so excited. It was nice to just chat with my sister. I didn’t feel like I was far away. We often chatted on Facebook when we were on opposite sides of Washington state going to our respective colleges. It felt very normal. It was great to hear, not the important updates but just the in and out of her life. Time was not wasted when she told me about the clothing she just purchased or the people she was hanging out with. It’s life. One of my biggest fears in coming was missing out on her life. With technology being what it is I don’t have to miss out on life, the life of those I love.

Even though Sarah I miss you.

Today was the day to meet with the Vice Rector about my course. I asked all my questions and got very few answers. He said that he would have the answers later in the week.

Stephanie and I decided that it was a beautiful day and we wanted to go for a walk. We went to visit Alice instead. It was wonderful, just us girls. Alice is great, did I mention that earlier? If so it’s ok that I’m mentioning it again.

Randy came back and we all went to the house the Vibberts are house sitting at. We had pizza, yes again. And it was just as good. Before the pizza came out Barb brought out a plate of hot rolls. They looked like my mom’s rolls. They weren’t but they tasted so good.

The Matthewson’s were going into town to do some shopping and the Vibberts were going to stay and hang out at the house. The plan was for the three of us to stay but I wanted to hang out with Randy and Alice all I could before they went back to Congo. It was wonderful. It was my first time out without the other two. Don’t get me wrong I love hanging out with them but for a week straight I haven’t been separated from them at all.

We went to an auto parts store. Randy’s goal was to get a new part. Alice’s goal was to continue to cultivate a friendship with the owner’s wife. I never thought I would be sitting amongst car parts in the heat drinking hot office with a Greek woman in Burundi, Africa. But that is where I found myself.

After an hour or two Alice and I got up and went down the street. She had another person to visit. I’m so impressed. Burundi is not Alice’s area and Kurundi is not her language yet she has influence in people’s lives. This woman is amazing. I am taking notes.

The bathtub was next on the agenda. Randy wasn’t sure if it would fit in the car so I assured him that I would ride in the bathtub if I needed to. He said that he wanted to put it on top of the car. I reassured him that even on top of the car I would ride in the bathtub. (mom I was only joking) The bathtub did fit inside and I did not get to ride in it. Alice and Randy have been showering with a bucket and so this bathtub is a big deal for them.

Dinner was fried fish out of Lake Tanganyika; a white fish that was very moist. It was served with French fries and green beans. (yes Sarah lots of green beans here I know you are jealous)

We were all very tired and thought that it was a good time to watch a movie. “Never been Kissed” was the selection. Then off to bed.

Feb 10 Wednesday

I just have to say that Frank Ogden is a generous! A thermos full of his hot cereal (busoma, I think that’s how you spell it) was delivered. It is wonderful! He created it for the hospital so that those with malnutrition could have a good, inexpensive meal. I just think it’s pretty tasty and great for breakfast. It tastes sweet like corn and it a little gritty like cream of wheat. But it is liquidier than that. You will just have to come to Burundi and try it for yourself.

More hanging out with the Matthewsons today. Randy couldn’t have come at a better time. He is very good at giving hugs. Most of them are side hugs but his gentle spirit and fatherly looks make me feel at home. (Daddy I miss you) Randy and Alice go back tomorrow so I’m soaking up all the time with them I can get.

We had lunch with one of Alice’s friends. She took us to a cafĂ©. She ordered the same thing for all of us, the house special. It was my first experience eating traditional Burundian food. It was so good. The plate had a mound of rice (better than in the states), two slices of tomato, a mound of sliced onion (I really mean a mound!), and a few pieces of meat in a gravy. The gravy was my favorite part, it was soooooo good.

Other errands needed to be run and Stephanie and I were along for the ride. We finished our time together with a trip to the Catholic market. We have been there once before (mom and dad I’m taking you there first thing when you arrive) I feel like I’m in Hello Dolly at the general store. There is a tall counter and a clerk waiting to take your order. All the merchandise is on shelves behind them. My favorite part about this market is that the prices are posted. I don’t have to worry about them ripping me off because I’m white. If I was being honest my favorite part would be (Philip are you listening?) the ice cream. Yes I said it. It is served in scoops just like Baskin and Robbins. The cones are smaller and the scoops are too but I was surprised at the price. The last time we went the Vibbert’s purchased it but this time I was treating. It was about $2.50 US for all four of us. Randy and Alice had what looked like a vanilla with fruit. They both didn’t know what it was but said it was good. Last time I had the vanilla this time there was cookies and cream. Stephanie and I had a scoop of that. My second scoop (2 scoops is equivalent to 1 scoop back home) I had cinnamon. The cinnamon was my favorite. The ice cream is watery so there are many ice crystals but it’s cold and sweet. For Pete’s sake it’s ice cream in Africa. I’m all in.

Another good day.

Feb 11 Thursday

It’s Thursday morning and I’m thinking over yesterday and the week. I need to explain something. If you have been reading this and wonder why I have been “hanging out” instead of “working” (dad I know you have that thought) I will tell you. Last week we arrived and it was the end of Jan term. This week is orientation for the new students. There are 1,000 new students on campus. Next week classes start. We are using this time to prepare classes and get accustom to life here. Much of my days are spent pondering my course assignments and feeling overwhelmed by the task before me. Yesterday Randy asked me how things were going and I honestly told him I was overwhelmed. He looked at me and told me that I would do a great job. I wanted to cry. To have someone that believes in me even when I don’t is such a blessing.
I’m very excited for this afternoon. We are going with the Vibberts to the deaf school! When we were at Club Du Loc they introduced me to this American couple who run/work at the deaf school. (I’m always amazed at how Americans find Americans here. It’s like in high school when all the ethnic kids sit together for lunch. Now I’m the ethnic kid) I chatted with them about the 2 deaf schools that I heard about. I was told that this one uses American Sign Language and the other one doesn’t use any formal sign. I guess the children make it up as they go. Wow. The woman did say that some students stay on campus and so I will be able to meet them. I’m so excited, you don’t even know.

After lunch (toasted cheese sandwiches with ham, avocado and tomato) we decided to go on a walk. We (the tree of us) decided that we were spreading cultural awareness (there are white people around). Javier thinks it’s pretty funny that here he is white; he wonders if there has ever been a Mexican in Burundi before. (if you know of someone then let us know). I figured out that the sun, even though it is high in the sky, can burn you. We left for our 45mini walk at 12:30. Not the smartest thing we’ve done so far. Only for me though. Javier being Mexican doesn’t burn and Stephanie being from eastern Washington didn’t either. To my defense I didn’t know what time it was, and it was going to be a short walk (I didn’t take my ankle brace, yes mom it still hurts). Here in Burundi all the children leave school to go home to eat. There were children everywhere! They were so cute. They are learning English in primary school now. Two little ones were sitting on the back of a bike. (There is a rack over the rear tire; some bikes have put padding there. This is where riders sit. Bike Taxi if you will.) These two looked at us and said, “Hello”. It was so cute. Later another group was gathered. One brave one said, “Hello”. I responded back, “hello, how are you”. They, in chorus said, “We are fine, how are you”. We could tell that it was a textbook response, practiced over and over in school. But it was cute.

When we were almost home, after we had made it though the heard of cattle with 2 foot long horns, we passed a school. The children began to run at us. There were at least 30 of them. They all wanted to say hello and practice their textbook English. I wanted to stay forever and chat with them. I miss hanging out with children. Javier and Stephanie kept walking so I had to hurry and meet them. I didn’t want to leave. I loved being with them. Their joy was contagious. I like being joyful.
Sometime was spent with the Vibberts gleaning advice about teaching courses at the university. This was very helpful for my planning. As time marched on I became more and more excited. I couldn’t help myself I didn’t want to be at the house overlooking the lake. I waned to be at the school for the deaf.

We finally went. It’s only 30min walking from HAU. If you can’t find me you know where I will be ?. The whole campus was beautiful. There is a tall wall around it. The campus includes Jesse and Joy’s house (dad it’s an octagon! I’ll take you there when you come), guest houses, a workshop, the school for the deaf, a preschool, a clinic, and a bible school. We started the tour and for me it almost got cut short. We entered the school for the deaf and all the students that board there came out to see the visitors, about 20-30 of them. They began to ask Jesse questions. I caught the attention of a young face down in front, I signed, “How are you”. He smiled but didn’t respond. Flapping hands gathered my attention from the back of the pack. It was an older boy. He began asking me where I was from and where I learned sign. Then an older girl was waving. She wanted to know the names of all the people with us. My finger spelling got some practice as I pointed out every person in our group. I was surprised that there were very few signs I didn’t know. Syntax was the same. I found some friends. My group had left the school and I didn’t want to get lost but I wanted to stay. The students taught me a few signs and as I left I told them I would see them later. As I was walking away more waving hangs. They wanted to know the meaning of “LATER”. I explained that it wasn’t in the past or present but in the future. I was teaching. ? It felt so good to be teaching and encouraging. The textbooks that I have been poring over just don’t do it.

We spent much time in the preschool. It looked like it does in the states, just more primitive. Joy was explaining how this is nothing like it is in the government schools (public schools). She said that all the teacher does is talk and write on the board. The students learn to repeat back the words. There is not much learning just parroting. She said that it took quite a bit of work convincing the Burundian teachers working at the school to break out of that style. Using manipulative, having students use play to learn, sitting in groups, and having a reading corner are unheard of. It’s amazing that the whole school system teaches using only one learning style, listening and reciting. This country doesn’t need special education, they need varied education. Well they need special education too but there will be less in special education if there was a more varied teaching style.

I now know how to teach my college students, using different styles. I need to set an example. Not that I wouldn’t anyway. I get bored with only one style of teaching.
Dinner was good, tacos. The tortillas were more like elephant ears than tortillas. I believe that they were a yeast bread. Then we were served donuts! I know donuts! I love being the visitor. I’m soaking it up while I can.

Jesse and Joy have two American’s living with them, Jonathan and Danielle. Danielle is working at the school and Jonathan is doing something in town, I can’t remember. They are our age. It’s nice to chat with younger people.

Stephanie and I had girl time when we got back, played a little Banana Grams and then off to bed.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

First 4 days

Sorry it has taken so long to post something...this is Africa. I have to keep reminding myself of that, most of the time I don't feel like I'm in Africa at all. But I am. I've been journaling on my computer during the week and now I will post it all for you. :)

Feb 2.
The journey started with a sweet reunion at the airport. We entered and saw Stephanie and her family across the way. It was wonderful. It had been too long since we got to see each other. Phone and email conversations just aren't the same.
We sat that the airport and waited for Javier. It was nice to have family there but it was weird not really interacting but nice just being in one another's presence, I already miss that.
Walking though security was the hardest thing I have ever done. My eyes burned with the salty tears. My mother's face I'm sure was a mirror to my own, wet and sad. Dad, Adam and Sarah stood back out of sight, but I knew they were there. I told the man checking my passport that I was sorry for my tears. He said he was used to it. That reminded me that I was not the first to go far away and certainly the last.
Once through I saw Stephanie and Javier waiting for me. That was comforting, my new support team. We to our gate, I got to ride the train!!! That was wonderful. I love that train.
Starbucks was ok; I used up the last of my Starbucks cards that had been given to me for Christmas and other gifts. (a perk of being a teacher) Once on the plane I fixed my eyes on Mt. Rainier. It was beautiful with the pink and orange sunrise shining on. I began to cry. (I did that a lot)
By the time we arrived in DC we were all hungry. We walked the stretch of the airport and found our last fast food experience, Wendy's. Spicy chicken burger seems to be all our favorites.
DC to Brussels was a long flight. It was the biggest plane I have ever been on! The window seat was mine again. Looking out the window again was my escape from the brave Rachel face I had put on. Tears yet again filled my eyes. (are you seeing a theme to the flights?)
Javier and I watched "Where the Wild Things Are" it was a good movie for the mood I was in. Stephanie across the isle kept looking at us asking if it was really that funny, it was.

Feb. 3
In Brussels Stephanie and I wanted a shower. Javier thought that was very weird. He joked and said that he doesn't hang out with people that showing in airports. We told him to get used to it. We found our gate and washed our hair in the sink. It was very refreshing! Walking to the gate I saw a face I knew. We made eye contact and I didn't think I just said, "Gerald Bates". Stephanie and Javier looked at me weird. Bishop Bates stood and walked over. He said you must be Rachel. Wow not only was I chatting with the Bishop but he knew my name. He and his wife were traveling to HAU also. (why didn't anyone tell us? not sure) He will be at HAU teaching for 3 weeks.
When we entered the plane we found our seats, next to a screaming baby. As boarding time went on we noticed that the plane, same size as the last one(sorry dad not a Boeing plane this time, it was Airbus) had only about 50 people on it. The middle isle, having 4 seats made great beds! We were so tired from the flights.
I tried not to sleep but my body won. (note written while on the plane after the nap).
I just woke from a nap on the plane. I dreamed that I was going somewhere far from home. I woke up refreshed and comfortable. I knew at that moment that I was in my bed and this whole thing (being my journey and preparation to Africa) was just a dream. I was now waking from it. But then I realized that I woke up because of the bouncing, the turbulence of the plane. I heard people speaking in French and realized that my dream of being home was over. I sat up to put on my seatbelt and saw the TV screen. We were flying over the Mediterranean Sea, just about to fly over Africa. Many times on this trip I have told myself that I can't go back, but the truth is I can. At any point in time I can fly to SeaTac. I am choosing despite my tears and fear to stay. To keep pressing on towards what I have been called to do.
Before arriving at Buja (aka Bujumbura) Stephanie gave us some pointers on how to get a visa and go through customs. This was helpful. Getting off the plane first thing I noticed was the puddles on the tarmac (yes Sarah we walked on the tarmac). The next thing I noticed was the humidity. It was very hot!
Exiting there were all of the American missionaries were there to greet us, it was very awkward. We waited for the Bishop to arrive; it took a long time because our flight was early.

Feb. 4
We woke at 4:30am; lots of jetlag. Breakfast in the Kirkpatrick wasn't until 7:30 so walking around the campus filled our time. In the afternoon we went to town and bought food for the week. The cold shower was nice then to bed.

Feb. 5
Craisins, a gift from the Lord. They were very good with breakfast. Stephanie, Javier and I played cards and then we went out with the Vibberts. They took us to the house they are house sitting. It is right next to the US marines house. Then we went to Lake Tanganyika. It was a fancy club, lots of Americans and Europeans, a weird experience. There are hippos and crocodiles in the lake and so we only put our toes in, the locals were swimming though. Every Friday night the missionaries go out to dinner. We went to a Chinese restaurant. Yes you read right, Chinese. The day was concluded with a cold shower, great conversation with Stephanie and putting on the mosquito net (this has become a habit, I like it very much).

Feb 6.
Today we made breakfast. Stephanie made Starbucks coffee and scrambled eggs, Javier and I peeled the potatoes. I made them into hash browns. We then had a meeting with LaCharity about culture and dos and don'ts. It was very helpful.
Lunch... ham sandwiches and carrots.
Then more games.
We are feeling trapped here because we don't know how to access the mini bus system or get around town. This will come with time. When classes start and we have things to do we will feel better too.
More later.
We left Javier behind and went for a walk in the neighborhood outside the walls. It was nice to get out, but scary at first that we didn't have Javier with us. My fear subsided after a few steps. There was nothing to worry about. The streets were filled with curious people. Children and teenagers would shout out, "muzoongoo, muzoongoo" (how it's pronounced in English). Stephanie and I were happy that they let us know that we were white people, just kidding. We aren't sure how to respond when they say that. Stephanie will point at them and playfully say, "Burundian, Burundian". We did have a national geographic moment towards the end of our trip. A group of women and their children were sitting against the wall just down from the gate. They were asking us for food. A few women lifted up their shirts to show their
sunken bellies. They slapped them and then motioned putting food into their mouth. We had nothing with us to give them so we moved on. Leftover Chinese was for dinner and then off to Bob and Laurie's house for a movie night. All the missionaries were there. It was about Livingston and Stanley meeting in Burundi. It was projected against a sheet hanging from the bookshelf. Laurie, who makes at least one batch of cookies everyday if not more, offered cookies and kettle corn. Stephanie and I were very tired and almost fell asleep during the film.

Monday, February 1, 2010

Flight Plan

I thought you might care where I am when I'm there. So here it is.

Tuesday Feb 2 the journey begins

Flight 1
7:30 am Leave Seatac
12:20 pm arrive Washington DC (3:20pm DC time)

Wait 2 1/2 hours

Flight 2
2:57pm leave Washington DC (5:57pm DC time)
10:15 pm arrive Brussels, Belgium (7:15am Feb 3rd Brussels time)

Wait 3 1/2 hours

Flight 3
1:40am leave Brussels (10:40am Brussels time)
9:55 am arrive Bujumbura, Burundi (7:55pm Bujumbura time)