Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Kenya Trip

An opportunity to feel western comfort. We are staying at a tourist resort in Kenya. It is so nice to be full on food that tastes great, cooler climate so I can wear my jeans, socks and shoes, walk on carpet, take a hot shower, and talk and laugh with other Americans and some Canadians. For the first time in 2 months I feel normal. I’m not the minority. I understand the language, jokes, cultural norms, and I’m not the center of honor or attention. I have let down my guard. I don’t have to worry about offending anyone.
Talking with missionaries from all over Africa and the Middle East is really nice. I can say something about how I’m feeling or what I’m going through and they understand or they have had a similar experience. I’m one of the newest to this population and so it’s great hearing wisdom and advice from those who have been at this many years.

Pictures to follow at a later date

Lonely bus ride home 3/22/10

Yes the people are wonderful and yes life is life here but the truth is I want to go home. I just got home from town. It was a wonderful trip to town. The internet was working really well and my mom was online. We chatted for probably an hour and a half. It was the first time that we haven’t been pressed for time. We chatted like when I was back at home. Leaving the connection was so hard. The sun began to drop in the sky and because I was alone I knew I needed to get to the bus before dusk. The whole time in town you have to have your game face on. There is a bus face and a market face. Bus face is the stoic silent look that you put on when you are riding the bus. The market face is more serious and your walk is faster. It tells people that I’m on my way somewhere and I don’t want you to try anything. I made it to the bus but the bus I wanted to get on was full. I walked back to the second bus and got on. The men outside began to yell at one another. I hate it when they do that. I have no idea what they are arguing about and don’t know what is going to happen. Some people on the bus began to exit but I wasn’t in a mood to find another bus. A sweet faced girl about my age got on next to me. She seemed so friendly I waned to ask her about her day and where she went to school. I managed what I could. She kept looking at me like she had something to say but it was followed by a sorrowful look, the “oh you can’t understand me” look. I hate that look. The girls behind me, defiantly in high school were chattering away. I laid my head back and one touched my hair. I could tell by their word choice that they were discussing my hair. Then she began to play with it. I completely ignored it. I love it when people play with my hair. I felt like I was back at home. I wanted to sit up straighter so that she would play with it more but I thought she might stop. I closed my eyes and just enjoyed it. When we finally began to drive off there were many remarks and pointing at me. This is normal but I wasn’t in the mood. After a while the high school girl next to the one touching my hair grabbed my head and I’m sure her words were, “don’t you feel her playing with your hair.” The girl sitting next to me looked at me like she felt bad for me. Another comment from outside the window. The girl next to me couldn’t take it; she shook her head and looked away. I wanted to text my mom and tell her about the situation but I couldn’t. I began to cry but I couldn’t let the tears fall. This is Burundi and no one cries. When I got off the bus a lady in a car was looking at me with a gentle face. She asked me in English if I was going to Hope Africa and then told me that she would love to drive me there. I was all in the sooner I got back to campus the better. She explained that she was a 4th year student studying theology. She told me that she saw me at church on Sunday. I hate it that only within this HAU community can I understand people. I knew that was going to be hard coming to Burundi but wow. I entered my empty apartment and let the tears flow. I miss my family so much. It is too hard.
Wow God has perfect timing. There was just a knock on the door. La Charity, who is taking care of all visiting professors, came by. This is the second time she has seen me cry over missing home. She explained to me some things that I was frustrated about culturally. She also told me that I needed to be busier. I totally agree. I told her my idea for going and visiting elementary schools with my students and she said we could talk about it after Kenya. I could see that there was something culturally wrong but that is a discussion for another day. I’m glad that she sees that I need to have more to do. She loves seeing pictures and I just put up lots in my room. I showed them to her and explained them. It was nice to tell her about home. Not so bad. She came by to share with me about my flight to Kenya. (Thank you to all of those who prayed everything is in and I can go!) What a blessing she is. Because she works with so many white people I feel comfortable to ask about culture and to break cultural norms with her. Thank you Lord for La Charity.
My tears are almost dry and I need to pack. As hard as it is to chat with people I miss I wouldn’t trade that precious time for anything.

Realization

It doesn't matter where you are life is still the same. There are joys and sorrows, work and play. I still need to find things to do with my free time. Spending time with friends and family (my makeshift family here) is still most important to me. I'm still the same person with the same faults and same strengths. Life is life no matter where you are at. The great thing about it all is that God is still God anywhere I go. What a blessing to have such a great travel buddy.

Trip Up Country

Everyone likes pictures. This was a great time of relaxation and having restful fun. Here is my time Up Country in Kibuye.

Took the 3 hour trip up with the first graduating class of medical students from HAU. What a blast!!! I was squished in a van with 20 college students who were so very excited. Silliness included, dedicating songs to random people, making phone calls to family members, singing along into the water bottle mic, teasing me for my Mzungu ness, and much dancing.


Here is my seat buddy after the trip was over.


What the students came to do.


Dinner one night, chili and popcorn. Suffering in Africa for Jesus ;)


Had to make a few stops along the way to a clinic for Dr. Ogden and Dr. Trotter to help at. We are dropping off some patients who needed extra care at the Catholic hospital.


Got stuck on the way. Children came out of no where to help out.


While the doctors were busy we women went to the maternity ward to hold some babies!


This mother just had the baby 10 hours before! I was shocked too. She was so happy to let me hold her baby. I was grateful.


Then we went up to the secondary school to check it out. These students are studying for an exam.


This is the kitchen where all the food is prepared for the students. Mom I thought you would enjoy a shot of this.


The man in the red was is the principal of the school and invited me back again. That would be great, please Lord.



This is the kitchen in which they made lunch.
We were then given a feast to thank the doctors for coming. In the 3 hours we were there together they saw over 60 patients. This clinic doesn’t have any doctors so patients that need a doc have to wait or travel to another clinic.


The doctor’s thank you gift for serving at the hospital. It was living when we got it but here Ezekiel is preparing it for us.


A hike up the mountain early one morning. Kibuye means rock…there were lots of rocks at the top.


Giant moth found in Carol’s yard. Any thoughts on what kind it is?



travel buddy looking sharp (Burundians don’t normally smile for pictures, so it’s not because she is upset with me, it’s a sign of respect)





I told them this was a Mzungu shot and they should smile, well some did.
This is part of the student group. These are the ones that played volleyball with me. So much fun!!!
I will miss them back at campus. They are in training for 3-4 weeks.


Don this pic is for you and Stuart. He is carving this log with a machete. Super manly

I was picked up from Kibuye and taken to some friends’ house for the night. The day before I left the wife came over to make sure I was still going. Before she left she leaned over and said, “Are you sure, African style”. I told her I was sure. When we got to their house and she was helping me wash my hands in a bucket she again leaned over and said, “I told you, African style.” We had a great Burundi meal. And then off to bed. In the morning they put me in a taxi and sent me on my way. It was great to be in a house for a night.
The taxi driver was great. He wasn’t crazy at passing other cars! That was nice. He didn’t speak any English but he had a CD with English. That was very nice of him to think of me but the music was terrible. Where do these Burundians get this American music that is junk. I know that it was not his favorite music or the other three Burundians in the car but I have to hand it to them for their hospitality even if all 5 of us hated the songs.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Saturday March 13, 2010

It’s 10:30am and I feel like it’s at least 3pm. There has been so much accomplished on this great Saturday.
Every morning at 4:30 the Muslim call to prayer can be heard over a mega phone. I have gotten used to sleeping through it but this morning I wasn’t so lucky. Thinking that my parents might still be up I got up to skype them. The power was off and the computer wasn’t charged so instead I watched the sunrise.








It was great to look over at the Burundian mountains as the sky behind them turned from orange to pink.

The generator was started and the electric fans that are always on began to blow. I plugged in the computer and got online. It was nice to see my family. It gets easier to see them each time we get on. For the first time I was able to chat with Adam, that was hard. I began to cry. He asked me if I was ok. I told him I was, that I just missed him. It’s a good day when you get to see your brother after 6 weeks of no contact!

After the minutes ran out and our conversation was cut short I decided to go and watch the football game (soccer). The HAU team practices Saturday mornings at 6:30am. The field is a short walk through Garbage Lane (as we have affectionately titled it). Once I saw the field I looked but didn’t see Javier. I thought about asking someone if they had seen a muzungo but on further inspection I spotted him. He blended in so well on the field.




A student came up to me and we had a good conversation. His English was excellent. He is a second year student from the Congo. Later he encouraged me to join others who were hitting around a volleyball. I was very excited to play!!! I got very sweaty very fast. It was lots of fun though.
Back at the apartment now, drinking a Fanta. What a hard Saturday. I guess I should grade some papers and plan some lessons now.

Deaf School Anyone?

My students asked me today if I would arrange for them to take a field trip to the deaf school here in Buja. I’m excited about the opportunity to visit the deaf student. But I’m super thrilled to be able to take Burundians with me! It’s great to see how they care about the least of these in their society.

Night and Day

I have been asked enough that I have checked for a sign hanging on my back that says “free English tutor”. But there is not such a sign. A very tall Burundian student here at HAU came running towards me the other day shouting, “excuse me, excuse me.” One thing you must know, Burundians don’t shout at each other. If one wants someone’s attention they hiss. (I hate that) Another thing Burundians don’t run, unless they are playing football (soccer). And now that I think of it most Burundians don’t fit into the tall category. I actually don’t fell short here because of that, it’s nice. Mom you will love it. Well side notes aside he began to ask me if I would tutor him in English. I started in with my well rehearsed, I’m not the English teacher my cousin is, routine. He wasn’t having it. He spoke with urgency and a slight studded. He explained that he knew I was very busy and so the tutoring could be only once a week for a half an hour. This sounded nice. All the others that desired tutoring wanted help every night. I told him that there was an English fluency class that was forming with no charge. He said he was very busy. He began listing his commitments to church, bible study, and choir. His life sounded like mine back home. I’m not sure what made me say yes but there I was signing up for weekly quality time with the tall Burundian teaching a language I have troubles all by myself without trying to explain things.
A few days later a girl came up to me in chapel. She began to explain herself in French. I gave her the, “I care about you but have no idea what you are saying” look. She then said, “Swahili?” I shook my head no. She then began in English. She could introduce herself. She is Congolese, an economics major and this is her first year at HAU. Then it was back to French. I could tell by her intro that it was a well rehearsed piece of literature for her. My eyebrows began to furrow and a worried look began growing on my face. She has a cute smile that sits nicely on her sweet face, which is framed by her tightly curled braids. I could tell she was smart and had lots to say. She wanted something specific from me. Deep down I knew it was an English tutor. The language barrier was large enough that she ended up walking away.
You should be careful when you let down your guard and say yes to a tall Burundian, the same question might be asked of you two days later from a sweet faced Congolese girl. She found me after chapel and called over her friend to translate. I had to give it to her, there was no getting around it this girl was persistent. I gave in, Wednesdays at 6.

It was 4:45 and I heard Stephanie say, “they’re coming”. Men began to parade into our apartment. The first had two foam mattresses. The second and third carried the bed frame, the fourth and fifth carried slats that would work as a box springs without the spring. Then the girls came. Emiline, our house girl, had some sheets. Another girl brought a pillow. Two other girls seemed to be there just to watch. When I saw the first man I quickly shut the door to Stephanie’s bedroom, where I was resting in shorts and a tank top. I threw on a skirt and a button up top to cover my shoulders. I hurried into my room to help move things out of the way. By the time I had moved the things and gotten out of the way the parade of men and girls was going the other direction. Here in Burundi they know that many hands make light work. Stephanie and I were again alone. I heard something in my room though. It was Emiline. In the rush of people in and out I didn’t notice that she had stayed back. She was in my room making up my bed with clean white sheets. As she was leaving I remembered the mosquito net which was currently over the middle of the room. My bed was against the side wall. I took her into my room and pointed to the net, then pointed to the bed. She understood and left.




It was 5:45. Stephanie and I were in the kitchen making macaroni and cheese. Priska was at the door followed by John Baptist holding a tall ladder. “Come in, you are welcome” I said. No explanation needed, Stephanie and I went back to cooking. Because of the excitement of the day the time got away from me and so dinner was started later than it should have. It wasn’t finished until 6. I quickly ate it and made my way down to the library to meet my tutoree after some last minute coaching from Steph. I entered the library and looked all over, no sign of her. I looked at my watch 6:10, did I miss her? I stayed for 15min and looked in the novel section. I found a book I liked and checked it out. Adam, the one checking out books and I had a good conversation. He liked my name and I sure liked his. I told him about my brother. I then made my way towards the door and was stopped by, “teacher, teacher.” It was the man at the coat check. Well it’s not a coat check it’s a bag check. Before entering the library students must drop their bags off to stifle the desire to steal books. He wanted to know the question everyone has, “how do you find Burundi?” They want to know if I like the climate and the people. I’m always happy to respond to that question. I love it here! After that conversation I made my way up to my apartment again. 10 minutes after I was at the apartment I heard a knock on the door; it was the sweet faced Congolese girl. I told her I would be right down. There wasn’t a quiet place to talk anywhere, we settled on pulling two chairs out to the hall of the new building under a florescent light.
Now if I thought that the first and second encounter with her in the chapel was hard then this was like pulling out teeth. This is not my gift. I drew pictures and she said words. She would tell me what she wanted in French. There are some words that are the same in French and English. From those words I gathered that what I was teaching was not what she wanted. She said conversation, but when I began conversation it didn’t seem of interest to her. We talked about music, at first she seemed very interested but then I knew she didn’t want to just talk. After much awkwardness she pulled out a text from her English class. She began to read it. I helped her with her pronunciation of words and she seemed to like that. After she was done I still felt that she wanted something different. I settled on the fact that on Friday at chapel we would get someone to translate for us and she could then tell me what she was wanting. I came home feeling discouraged and stressed out.
Going to tutor today was not a high priority for me. I was not looking forward to awkward silence and confused looks, but I told him I would go. We had the same problem of locating a place to meet. We finally gave up on the new building and went to the cafeteria. The chapel team was practicing and so it was hard to hear him. He talked for 40 minutes in perfect English all about his passion for Christ and the lost. He told me about how he enjoys visiting those who are ill in hospitals, his cousin living in England who has no hope, and a history of Burundi and the wars. It was great to hear someone share all about his faith. It was great to listen to his heart for the lost. It was great to listen to the history of Burundi from the perspective of the inside.
When he was through I asked him if he just wanted to sit and have conversation. He told me that it was up to me. He wanted to show me his skill level. I don’t think he believed me when I told him he only made 5 grammatical errors in the whole 40 minutes. It was awkward sitting in the room just the two of us so when he asked if his friend could join next week I said, “Absolutely!” It will be nice to have a third person in the room. He wants to enhance his vocabulary; I can help with that!
Two tutoring sessions, one leaves me anxious and stressed the other blessed and uplifted. As different as night and day.

7 cups and counting

I saw it in the sky, it was going to rain. The sky gives a ten minute warning before it rains. This is a regular occurrence at least two times per week. I was sitting in my room correcting papers enjoying the cool breezes that the almost wet air was bringing. Stephanie was in the living room also correcting papers. I heard it begin coming down. The way the rain pounds against the medal roof above our heads, who could miss it. The wind was still blowing and it began to rain side wards at the perfect angle that the maximum amount of water that could enter our open window. I shouted at Steph and we franticly began shutting the windows. Water began to pool under the windows in my room and the living room; both facing west. We finally got the drapes out of the way and all the windows closed. We Americans forgot all about the cinder blocks above the windows that are for ventilation. They are screened in but there is no way to cover them. The rain was pounding so hard that rain was hitting the east wall of my bedroom. Stephanie and I were scrambling around searching for towels or anything really to cover the electronics. Once that was accomplished we took a breath and looked around. We could see water gushing under the closed window, running down the wall and on to the floor. I quickly moved the carpet out of the way. The building is cement, no wood so there is not a concern of drywall or sub floor getting wet. So our focus was on the things in the room getting wet. I went to our porch and grabbed a bucket and the floor rag and began moping up the water and wringing it into the bucket. On our way from my bedroom to the living room we noticed that the kitchen window was also open. It is on a hinge and it swings over the table that was full of dirty dishes. I franticly moved the dishes while being pelted by the rain. Once the window was closed I went back to the rag and bucket. Then the rain slowed to a stop. I was still on the floor with the rag. Stephanie was still covering things and moving other things out of the way. The rain storm lasted only 10 min but it seemed much longer. By the time I had finished moping up the water I was curious how much water really came into the apartment. I got out the one cup measure and began to pour the dirty water from the bucket into the cup. Seven cups my friends! There were seven cups of water in the living room and bedroom. I didn’t want to crawl under the table in the kitchen to mop up the water so I let that air dry. So not including the kitchen, which I’m sure was at least 3 cups; there was seven cups of water in our apartment. The next time the sky tells us it is going to rain I will listen.

Is it cultural or personality?

I find myself frustrated at times because of this confusion. I constantly have to sort out if this person’s advice is true to the culture I find myself in or if it is their interpretation of the culture because of their own personality and preferences. I’m sure I’m driving the other white people crazy here. Some of the advice that I receive I take it like I would take advice from anyone that I just met, with a grain of salt. I have to weigh everything I hear. This has gotten very old after a month.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

photos



Help Mom, these are my friends.



Bora Bora, a taste of American comfort.



Local wild life, and Wayne's science lab for his biology class, don't worry he let it go after class was over.


Dedication of the new building. The president of Burundi came but more importantly the drummers came.

General Update

March 9, 2010 Tuesday
Wow has it really been a week since my last post. For those of you that don’t know I write my posts on my computer and then when I happen to go to a cafĂ© or the internet works I post all that I have written. But I haven’t written anything in a week. I’m shocked!
Well let me think what happened?
Ah yes. We moved. The night with the scratching was the night before we moved upstairs. Javier moved into our apt after we vacated it. Just so you know he heard the scratching too. He jumped up and turned on the light. He assures us it was a mouse. He held out his hands to show us how big this “mouse” was. It was huge. I asked him if that was with tail. He stretched his hands larger to include tail length. Gross!!! It was at least 7in including tail. He said that he threw his shoe at it and it scampered under the front door. We had cloth there to deter it but I guess his will to enter our room was stronger than the hold that the rag gave. It’s all good though. The new apt I’m told had a rodent problem a few months ago but they welded a stick of rebar along the bottom of the door to close off the opening and now rodents can’t enter. Good deal.
Another thing that I’m not missing is the lack of mosquitoes up here. There were some the first day but we make sure that we close the door when the sun goes down. We still use the mosquito net at night but it’s really not needed, but I’m not a fan of malaria so sleeping under the net is a must.
We yet to have a two beds but sleeping on a queen bed under a larger net is much better than the double we were on before. They told us that they would deliver one last Friday and it’s Tuesday but this is Africa. We are just waiting. It will be nice to have our own rooms and our own desks for our make shift offices.
It’s also nice to have a fully functional kitchen (as good as it can be, still no mixer).
The day we moved up here we had a birthday party for Javier and Brandon. Tortillas were fun to make and gifts were even better to give. Stephanie and I searched high and low for their gifts and we think we did a pretty good job. Javier’s favorite color is red and he talked about wanting an African shirt. We found one. Brandon is learning how to play Burundian instruments and we found him a corn husk mobile of people playing those instruments. He loved it.





Tuesday last week I started to feel a cold coming on. It was at full strength after my class, nothing like a sore throat and feeling sleepy to brighten a day. I spent most of the week lying in bed, drinking tea and reading Charlotte’s Web. I brought it along with me. I would read two chapters and then fall asleep and then wake up get more tea and read and sleep. Not too bad. Yesterday I did plan my lessons for Thursday’s class. I figured I would need to be prepared to teach even if I wasn’t feeling well.
Not all a bucket of roses! Let me tell you about the evil that is in this apt! I was in the shower the other day. It is wonderfully hot! The shower down stairs has a heater on it but it just takes the chill off. The one upstairs is hot. I reached up my hand and my thumb touched the heater, where the water comes out. Stephanie came running because of the scream I let out. The stupid shower heater shocked me. Now I’m not a scientist but if there are streams of water coming out of something and you are under the streams and are not getting shocked you would think that when you touched the thing that you wouldn’t get shocked but the pain in my thumb speaks against that thought. I’m so confused! I now avoid lifting my hands any higher than my head.
I told you before about Bible Group. This week they are leading chapel. It was so funny entering chapel yesterday and getting on a choir robe with the students. I felt like I was one of the team. It’s so nice to hang out with my peers, even though they don’t know I’m their age. I met a girl Daniella. She is so sweet and fun to hang out with. Her English is great. We played a few games of Uno yesterday and she was telling me all about her family. It’s nice to get to know the students, the reason why I came.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Rat, Mouse, or Cockroach...you decide

I cannot describe to you how great it makes me feel when I wake up to the sound of something scratching through my suitcase one foot from my head. Another amazing sound I love to hear in the night is the high pitched buzz of a mosquito flying around my head. Last night I had the privilege of having both sounds. First was the scratching from the rat, mouse, or whatever it was. Then there was the same sound across the room on the shelves that hold our clothing. I sat up with a start sitting in the middle of the bed, Stephanie behind me, still sleeping. The fight or flight reaction was going crazy in my body. I could hear my heart beating, I was looking around in the darkness franticly and I couldn’t think. I felt trapped under the mosquito net. I wanted to grab my flashlight but it was two inches from where the sound was coming from. All I could do was sit in the safety of my net. I looked at my watch (it lights up, thanks fam) 1:00am. I laid down and heard that faithful sound of the mosquito. It took my mind off of the scratching. I went in and out of sleep for a while, and then the scratching came again 2am. Stephanie needed to be informed this time. She was sure it was a cockroach. I was so encouraged by this. Sorry Wesley and Nathan but the time you spent holding the rats didn’t prepare me for wild rats. I’m sure it is because I’m still not sure what cockroaches really do still. All I know is that they crawl around and accidentally fall on their backs and I find them in the morning in my room. I can deal with a cockroach in my room. I fought with the mosquito for a while then fell asleep. 4am again with the scratching. I jerked away hitting Stephanie in the process. I apologized, rolled over and fell asleep. Tonight we are going to make some changes.

One Month of being here

Tuesday (yesterday) One Month Exactly from the time this trip began.
I got online in the morning and got to talk with my cousin, she just had a new baby and so she was up at the weird hour I was online. It was great to chat with her and check my emails and facebook. As I sat there looking at the screen I had a really good cry going on. Stephanie came in and I said, “This is why I don’t get online very often”. I am much better at compartmentalizing my life. It was the biggest wave of homesickness I have had. Stephanie came and sat with me and I ate some M&Ms that we have been keeping in the fridge. They weren’t as helpful as I thought they would be. 
I went to Bible Group and it was amazing. We sang English songs and the message was translated from English into French. If you have never listened to translated speech you probably don’t know but when you can understand the speaker in your own language and you don’t have the translation it makes a huge difference. For one month now I have been hearing everything second string or not at all. It was refreshing!!! He spoke about Moses and being used as a tool for God. It was meant for the students but totally applied to me.
After a girl in the choir that I just met told me she wanted to introduce me to her friend. I already knew him. We stood and talked for a while and then I suggest we go and play Uno. The guy had played before and was very excited about it. We found a classroom. By the end of the game there were 3 Africans and 3 Americans enjoying a good game of Uno.
The rest of the day was filled with lesson planning and correcting papers, something I do on a regular basis now.

"Dear Mom"

Dear Mom, Please forgive me but my English is lacking since I’ve been here. (“Dear, Mom” our running joke. Anytime we think that people back home would be interested in what is going on someone says “Dear, Mom”. Sometimes it changes to “Dear, Blog” but for the most part it’s mom who gets the words.

Encouragement from the middle of America

Merle just walked into my room to say goodbye. He is flying back to Kansas today. Last night Stephanie teased me saying that Merle was my BFF. I told her it was true. He was here to work on the radio station. He was a missionary here a while ago with his wife, she is now in heaven. A few weeks ago he told me that he was praying for Stephanie and me. Today before he left he asked me if it was alright to consider me one of his grand daughters. I told him that would be wonderful. I will miss him. He made things seem normal here. When everything else was crazy Merle was consistent. He would get up and work his fingers to the bone, take his afternoon nap, work some more and then have dinner with us. It won’t be the same without him.

New Month New Experiences

“Wow this feels like home. It’s so normal.” I was walking up to the Vibbert’s Student Center the other day and this thought popped into my head. It’s not the first time I have had this thought. Don’t get me wrong this in no way is Seattle. I’m coming to the realization, just as my dad said, that there are certain qualities about life and a place that make it home or make it feel like home. I’m not sure exactly what they are but friendly people, knowing your surroundings, good friends you can confide in, and crazy neighbors might be on that list. Perhaps it’s that I can let my guard down. I don’t have to worry about safety, getting lost, or not being cared for. Yesterday I ventured out from the safety of Stephanie’s arm. Maybe this was because I want to belong here at HAU, not just be a visiting professor. Stephanie and Javier went to town to get on the internet and I went to choir practice. The announcement in Chapel was that those who wanted to be part of the worship team or just want to come together and sing were welcome. I totally fit in the second category. I miss my GC!!! (I find myself drawn to a church service not for the message but the one with lots of singing.)
The meeting started at 1:00pm so I wondered over there at about 1:10pm hoping that I would not be the only one in the room when I arrived, well I was the 4th person. The others were the leaders of the group. The one who greeted me at the door was the man who translated for chapel so I knew that I could converse with him in English. I asked a lot of questions about the choir and made sure I was not just welcome but allowed to join. (Culture says, everyone is welcome but not everyone is desired to be there. I’m figuring this out) To my joy I was not only welcome but they really wanted me there. In the process of waiting for things to start I was asked by 2 men if I was single. Well the first one had more class and asked me how long I was going to be here and then asked where my husband was. Even though the charm I knew what he was fishing for. Yes mom, I was wearing the ring but it didn’t help. Oh well.
I figured out that choir practice is every Monday at 1 and we sing for the Bible study on Tuesday at 1. Sign me up. They were singing all the songs in English. I was sitting next to one of my students (he’s a really good student so “student teacher hang out during choir” shouldn’t be a problem) I asked him if they were only singing songs in English because of me. He said yes. I told him I wanted to learn songs in French, Kirundi, and Kiswahili, he laughed. It helped that I knew all the English songs we sang. The leader was having difficulty with the English pronunciation on one song and he said, “Rachel knows it.” He proceeded to bring me up and have me lead it. Not what I was expecting at all. The hall was great. I could hear my voice echo though the hall with the voices of the choir under me. Wow it was a great sound. I was glad when the song was over and I was allowed to sit back down.
At the end of choir I was told, not asked, that I was going to lead that song on Tuesday. Super scary! I must have looked it because the leader said that I shouldn’t be worried and that he would be there to help. I’m encouraged by that.

Weekends!!!

This weekend was great; wandering around the city with friends on Saturday with no plan in mind and then Sunday truly a day of rest, including but not limited to a nap, lounging around, and a movie. What a good way to close out a great month. (minus the sun burn we all got while wandering the city)

Forced to Pray

Before I left I was in a study with my dear friend Valerie. The topic was prayer. I have always had a hard time praying. I think it might be that God already knows what I’m going to say, or maybe that he knows everything about me and that makes me feel self conscience. Anyway I’ve never been good at it and thought that living in Africa for a year I might want to know how to pray.
Well God had a plan for me. I went through the study and not much changed except my knowledge of what prayer is. Since being here I have had ample chance to be forced to pray. Most of the services I go to are translated for me, but translation stops as soon as someone begins to pray. I am left on my own, with my head bowed thinking about life. Thanking God for who he is and what he has done. Burundians know how to pray. Their prayers can sometimes last forever, this has improved my own stamina. I now find myself chatting with the Lord when I’m walking or sitting alone in my room. The simplest issue or discussion comes up and there I am again in conversation with the Lord. I’m liking it. I don’t feel as lonely. I know at anytime I can just open my mouth or my thoughts to him and he is ready to listen. Sometimes I find myself just talking about how I’m feeling and others I find myself wrestling with him, either way I think he is enjoying this. Perhaps this is why he brought me to Africa.

TP anyone?

Simple pleasures, take them when you can get them. I know that being hospitable to guests is important, but really 3 ply? When we arrived at HAU I couldn’t understand what was so different about the toilet paper. But after a while I figured it out that it was 3 ply. Seriously, who needs that much comfort? The problem isn’t the comfort but the way it tears off. Sorry if this is too much for some of you. The two outside pieces rip of nicely. The middle piece has difficulty and tears into shreds. Which for someone who is a little OCD about her toilet paper, this was a challenge. The beginning of the week we received a new brand. Now I didn’t know that there were so many options for TP but, there are. This brand was just like crate paper, the type you use for streamers at birthday parties, but this roll was just white, not a fun color. Have you ever tried to rip streamers? It’s next to impossible. The perforations, which were almost non existent, didn’t help at all. Today they brought us yet another brand. I was skeptical at first, but at further examination it was one ply. What, one ply! I was thrilled. Not only was it one ply but it was thicker than the American one ply and soft. Finally a good roll. Oh the simple pleasures when living in Africa.

HAU Students

Favorite look in the whole wide world, “Wow, I didn’t know that. I know I will use that. That’s so good to know, I’m glad I learned it”. I just finished teaching my language class. The topic is interesting and that drives good discussion and thought provoking activities. I love it! I told the students that time was up and so I had to cut the activity short. I explained their homework and told them class was over. Three people raised their hands. One had a question about the homework but the others wanted to discuss the activity further. Their questions were full of thoughts. It makes me happy when they want to learn, they want to know what I know. Even when I am not clear or language gets in the way they drag it out of me. They help me along. Day one I told them that I wanted to learn about their culture and how things are done. I told them I would need their help to teach the course. Well they are holding up their end of the deal. It’s such a blessing to teach at Hope Africa University. I’m so glad to be part of a community that desires to learn, desires excellence, desires change in their world.

Burundi Night Life

Last night I awoke to the sound of rain slapping the earth and a chill in the air. With the rain comes two things, cool temperatures and high humidity. I am used to the humidity now so it doesn’t bother me. The cool temperature was very welcome. The temperature rises when the fan turns off. At around midnight the power goes off. (I feel like I’m at Camas Meadows) The rain woke me up but the sound of mosquito buzzing in my ear kept me up. I waved it away hoping that it was on the outside of the net. I was wrong. I found my flashlight and turned it on. I was worried about waking Stephanie but on she slept. I found the little bugger. He was small, and fast. The mosquitoes in Washington are big and slow, easily killed. I chased him around the net for a while to no avail. I got up to go to the bathroom. When I came back I noticed a cockroach crawling on the arm of the chair in our living room. I’m not sure if it was because I don’t understand the function of the cockroach that I didn’t kill it or the fact that it is big and I would have to dispose of its body afterwards. (If someone knows the functions of a cockroach, besides lapping up the water left on the floor after showers are complete, please let me know). The mosquito under my net has one purpose in life, suck blood and I was not going to have it, not tonight. I put my head down on my pillow. I waited. And then I heard it. I grabbed my flashlight and sat up. The light went on. This time Stephanie looked over at me. I looked at her and she jumped. I apologized and told her there was a mosquito under the net. She rolled over. Then she shivered and said, “I just heard it.” I knew it was close. I chased it again thinking that this would be a futile endeavor. It was down by the foot of the bed. I just watched it for a while. Then it was on the move again. I placed my hand on the sheet next to it and quickly moved my hand as if I meant to smooth the sheets. “I got him” I called out. The light went out and I went back to sleep to the sound of bull frogs outside my window. Never a dull night in Bujumbura

Daily Grind

Feb 25 Thursday
Well this week there wasn’t much going but a lot of doing. I felt like I was trapped all week. I spent most of my time sitting in the living room working on my lesson plans and homework assignments that I’m giving my students.
I’m always happy when it’s time for chapel. Monday, Wednesday, and Fridays chapel starts at 10:15. It’s a great time to be with the students. Because we are professors they honor us by making us sit at the front of the room sitting to the side. So we are looking at the side of the stage, not the best view. Stephanie and I didn’t like it very much and tried to sit in the front row of the normal seats. We were chastised by one of the missionaries. She said that the locals don’t like us sitting there. So alas we find ourselves looking to the side.
The message is given by different people each time. Wednesday it was a student. It was very applicable. The songs are in Swahili, French, and English, normally one or two in each language. It’s great to just stand and listen to the music while I have a good chat with the Lord. It’s nice.