Jun 25, 2010

episode 8 - 99 mountains down, 901 to go.

i met my compassion child, leatitia, this morning. pretty overwhelmed. she's such a pretty girl at 14! her mom and dad were amazing. i'm still absorbing the whole experience. it was very humbling to see that my sponsorship provides so much, not only for her but her whole family. she was quite shy to begin with, but warmed up quickly. she told me (thru the translator) that she prays to God for me and was so happy i could visit her. we had a little question and answer session. i found out she likes cats, so i showed her pictures on my phone of violet, roxy, and sawyer. she especially enjoyed the pictures of roxy and violet wrestling. i can't wait to post pictures. j went with me, so i know the pics will be great! leatitea's mother, patricia, prayed this amazing prayer and we asked questions for a while. it was a short visit. their neighborhood is quite energetic. several neighborhood kids crowded into the house to stare at us. big brown african baby eyes are amazing! leatitia kept stroking my arm - such a tender hearted girl. i look forward to knowing her better.

so the past few days we were in musanze, and then trekked up to bukyona to visit land of 1000 hills coffee. oh my stars these people mean business with their beans! i sorted beans by hand with yvonne and was corrected several times before i got it correct. the impact that this company has had on this community is immeasurable. if you don't know where to buy it, i'll help you find it! christmas gifts for everyone! we also trekked up a hill... and when i say hill, i mean REALLY STEEP HIGH UP FOREVER HILL... in flip flops and a skirt no less... and saw the site of where land of 1000 hills is building a house for a genocide orphan. man, these anglican pastors mean business!!! it's unreal to see the church in true form here. serious community involvement and improvement. i'm inspired!

so we're back in kigali. at 3, we begin a rehearsal with the genocide orphan choir - i'm thinking they are all in their 20s by now... not sure. will either sing with them or play with them. depends on the song - i don't want to detract if they are rockin' out. plus they never have music, and i need sheet music!!! oh, to have the gift of playing by ear... maybe next time i'll be so awesome on my ukelele that we can have lots of singalongs.

this week we will be teaching for 2 days at my new friends' simon and kedres' school in kigali. saturday we get to spend more time with the genocide orphans, and hopefully have the opportunity to purchase some of their wares - i love hand made stuff, especially when i have looked into the eyes of the one who made it!!! sunday is church, monday is school, and tuesday is the trek home!!!

ps, j and i got a pedicure and it's the first time my feet have been truly clean in a month. also, it was about 8 bucks and one of the best i have ever had!!!

Jun 19, 2010

episode 7: safari!

well, my hair is actually quite red from the dust fest during the game drive at the national park. ('manda mac, i think it's go time!!!) i think the total count was 19 diff aminals!!! water buffalo, giraffe, ibis, baboons, hippos, a zillion beautiful birds... i left my journal at the guest house so i'll list 'em later. the hippos were SO close and you could hear them snorting and snarfling in the grasses. it was a VERY rich experience. we were up at 3:30 am and saw the african sun rise over this gibungous lake. we have lots of silly pictures and i'm depressed i cannot attach them. blarg.

anyhoo, i dunno why this keeps continually posting in different fonts but that's what i get for being newbie blogger person.

we have today and sunday left in kibungo, then we go to the main city of kigali. we have 2-3 days in musanze. we'll be working with sonrise school - which began as a safe haven and school for orphans of the genocide. i just finished reading The Bishop of Rwanda and my heart and brain are broken. what an amazing fortitude this country has, and i LOVE how proud they are of their country. it really burns my shorts that it is "uncool" to love america. so guess what? I LOVE MY COUNTRY. we have our issues, but that's what commitment is for - to work it out. don't hate on me, haters! i love to travel but i pretty much am ready to kiss the ground when i get back to america. but i think this time i want a warm shower, lots of soap, and a big scrubbie thingie.

and a pedicure.
oh, and a haircut.
and lots of veggies.
and maybe a micah burger with some dojo green beans.
and whatever ice cream amber has made.
ooooohhhh, ice cream.....

episode 5: subjuncta-what?

one of our many projects is working with gahima agape secondary school. bless 'em, it's the worst acronym ever. this school is supported by st peter's cathedral here in kibungo, which is supported by redeemer in nasty. i am SO impressed with this school, their programs, and how driven the students are. this is my understanding - if they pass their exam in their S5 - 5th year of secondary - the government will pay for them to go to university. big incentive. so these kids work hard and have big dreams.

there are 3 teachers on our team - N is a lit teacher at franklin road academy, D teaches 3rd grade in the public school system, and J teaches 8th grade english at brentwood academy. all are super smarty pants intelligent, and quite gifted at their craft. it's been fun to watch their skills in action.

today i was given the task of teaching subjunctive clauses. my response: "subjuncta-what?" luckily D, the elementary teacher, was partnered with me. i figured if i listened to the teacher, Eli, watched D's examples, i could hop right in with my exercises. the tricky part was that it was only the "if" clause. may i point out i haven't studied grammar since middle/high school? then suddenly, from the depths of my brain, came all this conjugation information. (thank you to miss catanzaro, teacher of my 4th grade class in port huron, michigan!) when Eli started speaking about past, present, and past perfect, i suddenly remembered that i knew what he was talking about.

D continued the class with exercises on how to know dependent vs independent clauses. several students were much more comfortable with their english, but it was such a struggle for them to translate ideas in their heads into english. i was thanking God in my head over and over for my next trick…. i asked for three volunteers, and when there were none, i recruited. one kid was the the independent clause, one kid was the subordinate clause, and the last kid got to be the comma. they thought this was hilarious. had a few more volunteers to be commas after that. they created their sentence, placed the comma, created the 2nd clause, and viola! a complex sentence!

'twas an ohmystarsiamsogladthatactuallyworked moment.

the fun and the funnies: richard, our guest house host and translator, has had some doozies. we were sitting at dinner, and off in the darkness we could hear these loud BLOOP noises. i figured it was some sort of creature, and i asked what it was. he tilted his head for a listen, and responded, "oh, the frogs are shouting to each other." we all howled laughing, and J explained that in the US, the frogs say "ribbit." he thought that was hilarious. so we all amuse each other.

richard is hungry for information about america, so we have many convos about traditions and culture. we were talking about races in rwanda vs races in america, and richard pointed out that i must be a different race than the rest of my team because i am so much paler than the rest. he was a little confused when we were all laughing, but now i know they can tell the difference world wide. sigh.

we also made him try hot chocolate for the first time. during a rather heated game of spoons - he loves to play cards - we mixed up some hot chocolate and set it in front of him. he took a few sips and remained slightly stoic, so we prodded him for information. not wanting to hurt our feelings + looking for good translation = funny. his assessment was, "it is sweet on the tongue but when it gets here (points to back of throat) it is not delicious." we have really enjoyed his translations and his wise innocence about life.

episode 6: wait, how much longer?

sundays are an event! they have an english service at 8am - very similar to our services at redeemer. we anglicans are a stand up, sit down, recite this, community prayer, sing, kneel, pray kind of bunch. it is so delightful to actually be able to follow along with the service even if it's in another language. this is reason #472 why i like anglicans. the world wide community is alive, and it's very cool.

the kinyarwanda service is LEGIT. 3 hours of legit! they start off with what appears to be spontaneous singing. and by spontaneous, i mean it starts off slow, then quickly catches momentum the more people jump in. then they start dancing up front. it is SO fun to watch! talk about exuberant worship. about an hour into the service, i noted that about 6 choirs had performed and we hadn't even gotten to the sermon. in the US, i would have been so antsy, but here i was fascinated. they way they finished songs cracks me up. there is no final flourish, they repeat choruses about 6 times then suddenly stop and leave. just a quick exit back to their seats.

the bishop (who resides over st peters cathedral and all the parishes in kibungo) is the head honcho of this whole area. he preaches twice a month. he is incredibly intelligent, a wonderful leader, funny, and so enjoyable to be around. he actually picked us up from the airport himself! he sat on this fancy wooden throne-like chair, as if he were residing over the service until it was his time to speak. very regal. he is highly respected in rwanda. what an honor to see him and spend time with him and his wife!

two little shadows watched my every move during the service. one was a little student from the primary school that we taught their names, letters, and how to write. (there was a lot of shouting, singing, and a raucous game of duck, duck, goose) i think he decided that i belonged to him. so, i belong to a 5 yr old little boy named parfit. adorable.

we were able to be part of a baby dedication. at redeemer, it's a very tender moment between the parents, baby, priest, and congregation - all promise to watch over the child. it's so sweet!!! at st peter's, it's a whole big enthusiastic hoopla. i really enjoy both, and it was fun to see how another culture celebrates the birth of a baby. the priest calls up the parents, and they are holding their wee baby in an enormous poof of a baby gown. the priests bless the baby and the parents, and then the parents say a prayer and blessing over the baby. then, another choir! altho THIS choir is made up of only parents of all generations, and they sing, pass the baby from parent to parent in the choir, then the baby moves from priest to priest. during all of this the congregation is singing more and more until the whole place is rockin' and the baby has found its way back to mommy & daddy. such a beautiful celebration!

it was so great to see the bishop speak, and altho i couldn't understand most of it, it was the same scripture as the english service. plus i have begun to catch on to different phrases and words! one sweet lady, foster, came over to sit next to me to translate (their generosity and kindness is astounding here) and listening to her paraphrase what was going on was so sweet. i love listening to how they translate for us! it's never verbatim, and more about whole ideas.

sadly, it's ernest's last sunday before going to the US for his scholarship at trinity in pittsburgh!!!

our friend ernest is one of the priests here, and he has been given a two year scholarship to trinity in pittsburgh, PA. in order for him to accept this scholarship, he has to leave his family and home for TWO years. can you even imagine? he was selected out of a very elite group of scholars, and leaves for the US this week. i gave a quick skype lesson to ernest and his sweet wife. they have both been equipped with proper laptops, cameras, skype accounts, etc. they have three small kids, so i know they will love to see their daddy from afar! we are planning a road trip to pittsburgh to visit him and make sure he has proper winter clothing, and also to invite him to come to nashville for a southern experience. we promised his wife we would look out for him!

ernest has his hands in MANY projects. he is quite brilliant. pastors in rwanda are not paid, so many lose time with their people because they have to work. ernest decided that in order for him to be able to tell people they can start from nothing, he had to do it himself. so from one small loan, ernest now has a small chicken farm, goats, & cows. he is able to sell the eggs & milk at a small store in town. he also has several acres growing corn, cassava, pineapples, mangoes, passion fruit & bananas. so not only can he provide for his family, he can sell his crops! he said it would not be fair to expect others to make the same effort if he had not done so himself. he will be sorely missed in kibungo!

if any of my pittsburgh friends want to lend a helping hand, please ask me for his email address! i want him to know that he will be fully supported in this journey!

episode 4. to build a house made of sticks & mud & ropes made of banana leaves.

on a mission to connect with my compassion kid in rwanda. lucky for moi, one of the pastors here used to be a project manager for compassion. unlucky for moi, he has been out of town, and sick. get better, emmanuel!

totally having selfish moments of just wanting to remain clean for one day… i can only take so much dirt. BUT, i revel in dirt when i get to help build an actual house! we went with the students to help a poor family. they were not far from the school - i love that these students understanding helping their community in practical ways. when we arrived, we saw the…. well… the hovel/shack/hole this family of 5-6 had been living in. since 1995! it was under 6 ft tall, and i don't think it totaled more than 5x5 ft square! earlier, i believe a group of men came in to build the basic structure - a metal roof atop 4 main poles, with several upright poles in between. it appears they cut down all the poles from branches in the grove of surrounding banana trees. the students went to the water station (if you don't have water, you have to buy it from a local water station, or get it from a pond) and schlepped back these large yellow jugs. a hole had already been dug in the ground to the right of the house-to-be, and a tarp lined the hole. they poured some of the water into the tarp to soak banana leaves - these are used to tie sticks together for structure support. in the meantime, several students gathered long thin sticks into small bunches.

we basically made "rope" out of tearing the soaked banana leaves into strips and tying them together. i accidentally snapped a rope in two, and one student looked impressed, and said, "not so much….. power?" i love the way they word things with limited vocabulary. so i had to keep my enormous muscles in check after that…. there was a simple twisting and tie method to strengthen the banana leaf. they smelled pretty gross, and i had mud everywhere! i don't recall the last time i was that muddy, but it was great!

basically, we would attach the long thin sticks crosswise to the upright poles and loop under, around, over and tie the rope into itself to hold the sticks against the uprights. i obviously couldn't reach the top, but i did several sections - there were so many students helping, we tried to do a little, and then let someone else jump in. once we had three walls finished with the cross/tie hoopla, then we made mud!

more yellow water jugs, a bunch of hoes, some jumping around in the mud, we had a lovely mud hole. these kids knew how to WORK. they were up to their knees in mud and had this whole mixing system down. very impressed with how hard the students worked. then we passed mud blobs down an assembly line, where inside the house, students and a few teachers slapped the blobs into place into the cross/tie sections. it was amazing how simple it was, and how long it would take a single person to do all that work themselves. with all those students there, we finished half of two walls in less than 3 hours from start to finish.

so impressive, so dirty, and SO fun. the family was so grateful, and the father so proud. he had a huge scar across his chest, their children were so sweet, and i wanted so badly to know their story!

other fun interactions were with the passers-by. many many kids, women passed by to watch the construction of the house, and had additional shock at seeing white people mixed in with the students. rwandans are quite soft spoken and reserved, so it's fun to see little kids freak out. they LOVE to see themselves on your camera, so that is always a fun game. i wish i would have taken bags & bags of candy. i could have been a hero! my favorite moment is when a little ankle biter finally musters up enough courage to touch my hand or my foot. apparently, some of the fear of white people is not helped by the parental reproach of, "if you do this bad thing, a muzungo (white person) will come eat you!" i think my parents threatened me with grounding / hard labor / sending us to boarding school, etc.

the best moments: where curiosity triumphs over fear for a very small one, and they approach me, touch my hand, and just stare. i sat in the middle of the road with a wee one who couldn't stop staring at her little hand touching my white hand. thus far, one of my favorite moments.

Jun 11, 2010

episode 3: everyday stuff

laundry: yeesh. do i ever miss a washer and dryer. my method thus far has been to wear the offending article of clothing into the shower with me and use *product placement!* dr brommers 18-1 peppermint soap. he sounds like a nutter from the packaging, but this is good stuff. so, scrubby scrubby, washy washy, rinsey rinsey, and then it's my turn to rinse.

what i have observed amongst the smarter-than-I-am locals, they use a 2 to 3 tub system. 1st tub for the washy washy, 2nd tub for rinse rinse, optional 3rd tub for more rinsing, or back up fresh water. they squish out all the water, and then lay the clothing out on the bushes to dry. i am loathe to lay my clothing, especially my unmentionables, out in public, so they are draped over our chair. takes a good day or two to dry. i also miss fabric softener….

rooms: we are lucky to have showers in our rooms. most rooms here in kibungo have public showers. our rooms are about 10x10 ft with one bare bulb. the bathroom is about 10x4 ft. "cozy." my roommate is D, and she's an elementary teacher in nashville, and quite hilarious. i have a fold out cot, blankets, and lovely lime green mosquito netting. D's bed is more normal sized with the same set up. we both journal like maniacs at night. my hair is not exactly wash & wear, so i'm up before her to push things into place. we have one outlet in the room, and both our converters are blown. silver lining - keeps you cooler if you go to bed with wet head! i look real special when i get up…. toya, it's similar to your james brown mugshot, only without any color. ;)

showering: dr brommer's 18-1 peppermint soap at night. that way i can sleep clean and pepperminty. they told us not to worry about water, but i try to turn off the water during scrubbing clothing or myself. all that water conservation in nashville was good practice. the shower is basically a 3x3 ft tub, about 4 inches lower than the floor. no shower curtain, so there is strategic rinsing, lest water get all over the floor. i've only wiped out twice so far. ladies, leg shaving appears to be optional. joy!!!! i'm going for once a week. TMI? tough. i'm just saying for someone who does not enjoy camping, this is an adjustment.

schedule: every day is a different adventure. and i mean ADVENTURE.
530am-ish - up, arrangement of self.
630am-ish - breakfast
730am-ish - team meeting and prayer time
here's where things always change….
1230pm-ish - lunch
then we do more stuff here….
630pm-ish - dinner
normally we round out the night with some scrabble with each other, card games with our helpers, translators, or anyone who is around, but sometimes after a long day, all you can think of is a shower, a book, or your bed! i tend to be asleep by 10. 530am is painfully early, even in rwanda.

food: i had great plans for this to be a separate blog, but since photos are so difficult to load, i'll 'splain a little differently. we are VERY well fed. they eat enormous portions! i do as much damage as possible to my plate.
a typical breakfast is eggs - either omelette form or hard boiled, fruit - passion fruit, bananas, unidentifiable with no translation something or other that is pretty delicious…. i think what we decided on was tree tomato. quite tart and tasty! we'll have water, tea, or instant coffee for bevs. there is always always bread & jelly. i REALLY miss peanut butter, but it is very expensive.
lunch is normally rice, beans, some form of potato, some kind of cooked banana, and either chicken or beef. not sure what kind of beef, but i keep trying it to see if i can decipher its origin. possibly goat. to drink, there is water, tea, and a variety of fanta.
dinner is the same as lunch, plus a soup, and a cabbage slaw - i think they flavor the slaw with vinegar, so it's too sour for me. whatever sauce they cook with is delectable, so i've taken to eating rice & beans with that sauce. normally there is lots of fresh pineapple. we pretend to fight over it, it's so good! today we had tilapia. it was SO great to have variety!
nutritionally, it's a full on starch fest. amber, it's so not dr. axe approved, but i do the best i can! i do have a killer raw multivitamin, and green food multivitamin, and drink about 5 bottles of water a day.
snacks have been found a local cafes! sambusas, or what we would call a samosa, are sort of like beef donuts. or beef pastry. not a big fan. they have a delicious sweat bread - totally not as good as my grandma's - a muffin like cake, and cookies, etc. most of the time i am starched out and looking for chocolate. it's funny to find yourself pining for an apple or tomato, or dreaming of bacon! for drink, CHAI!!!! they boil milk and add spices with chai masala. quite delectable.

internet! dear wifi, i love you and i miss you so. they keep the internet in a few cafes nearby. the closest one is up the hill and is about 200 RWF for 20 min…. less than a dollar. the problem is that their version of fast is painfully close to dial up speed. so most of our 20 min is sitting and staring at the windows flag while it waves and taunts us. i haven't used windows OS in a long time, and these computers are about 2 versions behind. so it's exactly like the old computer lab days when i was in college, before all you whippersnappers got laptops just for attending class. ha! so, my apologies for not being able to respond to emails…. it takes about 12 minutes just for gmail to load up.

i have 6 min left and it will take that long to post this!

Jun 10, 2010

episode 2!

episode 2!

projects! i'm not quite sure how all of it works, but i'll give the basics. redeemer (my nashville home church) is a sister church of st. peter's here in kibungo. so redeemer helps fund st. peter's projects. it's all a part of the anglican mission - the anglican mission in the americas.

we met with several widows of the church to see the homes that have been built, goats and cows that have been purchased, crops that are grown and harvested…. very practical ways of showing God's love and provision for these kind people. redeemer has also funded the purchase of several cows, so that the pastors can focus on caring for his parish, instead of working 2-3 jobs to provide for his family.

we met father nathan, his family, his 2 cows and baby calf, and a rooster that stalked me the entire time. it was so cool to see the offerings of people in america literally have life right before us, far from home, in rwanda. we also saw gardens, and how sorghum is harvested, dried, and ground up for flour. this is where i met mima, who held my hand the entire time we were there. she's the one in the pic up top.

we met a family. a woman with five children, babe in arms to 13 yrs old. they lived in a home no larger than 8x6 ft. one room. 6 people. a shack made of mud and aluminum sheets. support funds enabled the church to provide a sturdy mud home, 3 rooms, all of which were a delightful 10 degrees cooler than outside. no furniture, just mats to sleep on. she cooks outside, and one of the older children walks miles to get water for cooking and cleaning. one of her twin sons kept stroking my shin in confusion. i imagine he was trying to figure out why my skin felt like his when it was a different color? he kept putting his tiny, dirty, hobbit foot next to mine for comparison.

i think of my griffineer friends who are most likely sweating it up at bonnaroo. i'm glad i'm sweating in africa, and not at a festival!!! who told me it was not going to be very hot here? only 75 degrees? liar liar pants on fire! so much sweating…. so much sunblock… i can't even pretend to be a dainty flower when my shirt is stuck to my lower back. i shall, however, sing the praises of lorac's publicity stunt mascara. it doesn't move. takes several coats, but it does not stray!

slightly disheartened i have yet to see The Grand Vision For Melanie's Life. i need to learn to slow the heck down. (if you are surprised at my impatience…. hi, i'm melanie, have we met?) when we were climbing up the mountain the other day, i noticed all of us plowing along at warp speed. passing out was becoming a distinct possibility. i noticed the rwandans were taking their time. it's the same way in town. we plow ahead, they take it easy. i move like one of those wind up toys - full speed and crash. full speed and crash. trying to learn to enjoy african time, which contains a lot of "-ish".

random adventures! learning to make change at the bank, and how their queue system works. they don't split cafe bills here, and some places won't make change. the emmy lou harris song, red dirt girl, is always on my mind because my feet are constantly tinged red from dirt. wonder if i'll be permanently stained…. went to market! wednesdays and saturdays, vendors set up and sell on "tables" made of nothing but sticks and twine. the lucky ones have cloth. to our great delight, there were carrots, tomatoes, and lots of other veggies. rows and rows of clothing, cloth, sewing machines (the old singer kind with the foot action) food, shoes, and lots of unidentified objects. several vendors offer cloth - you choose your design, and they sew it up for you right there. i may try it.

really miss having animals around. i am so accustomed to my zoo at home and didn't realize how much they add to my life. pretty sure violet makes me a better person.

fun & funny customs:

think nashville drivers are nuts? here they use blinkers to tell the driver behind them if they can pass or not. and they use their horns to announce their presence to other drivers and to warn pedestrians before zooming past, just inches away.

to show respect, they place their left hand over their upper right arm when they shake your hand in greeting. their handshakes is an enthusiastic slap with a quick, dead fish handshake. that was hard to acclimate. also very humbling to be shown respect by a church elder upon being introduced.

the little kids are excited to try english and are delighted when you respond. younger adults have a cool disdain most of the time. adults and the older generations seem delighted when we speak to them in kinyarwandan, and respond heartily. there are even more delighted when we know proper responses beyond the initial greeting.

this afternoon, we go back to the school to learn traditional dancing. won't be able to post video since the internet is too slow. gee, am i upset about that….. (not so much)

i didn't really edit this too much, so the grammar police better let me go.

Jun 8, 2010

episode 1!

flights were great - slept like a champ with a little help from my friend melatonin. had to run past a caribou coffee to make the flight into brussels. so sad. i fell asleep before the plane took off. jet lag is no joke - two days of flying will kick you in the teeth.

so i met evangeline lily in the kigali airport. she is strikingly beautiful in person and very kind. this is, of course, semi paraphrased…
me: are you seriously evangeline lilly?
she: ha! yes, but let's pretend i am not.
me: of course! there are two eager sets of male eyeballs following your every move over there, shall i play defense?
we: talk about rwanda - what i'm doing, her relief work here, etc. she's cool.
me: can i be a nerd and ask you about lost?
she: (big laugh) sure!
me: are you relieved or sad it's over?
she: relieved. can't wait to start new projects. will be doing some writing.
me: well, my friends and i are exhausted from theorizing about the show, so we're glad it's over, too.

we laugh, i meet her friends, we go separate ways. i enjoy thinking about my friend micah freaking out while reading this. i never liked kate, but i like evangeline lily. except that she was stunningly beautiful after flying in from wherever. i looked like a piece of burnt toast. totally unfair.

what i have learned:
$5 inflatable neck pillow - priceless. need a rolling/backpack/overnight bag that can under the seat or in overhead bin. always buy a bottle of water upon entry into airport, and take your remaining euros from your last trip in case you are stuck with no water and no country appropriate cash. for the love of everything, keep headphones or squishy earplugs stashed at all times, because the screaming children with find me, each other, and all work together to create a cacophony of blood curdling screams while their parents thumb thru skymall. pray for a subdued sense of smell on flights. all airlines should have foot rests for the short people! i still love skymall and wonder if anyone has ever bought a lawn lion. or the lamp lady. the sound of cows mooing in the morning makes me giggle uncontrollably. goats bleating makes me laugh even harder. little kids will laugh when you take a pic of a goat. little kids are fascinated by seeing their own photo on your camera. dogs are to east nashville what kangaroos are to australia what goats are to rwanda. while in rwanda, i will smell like sunblock and bugspray. rwandan mosquitos laugh at bug spray without DEET. i miss electricity and my hair dryer.

i like mosquito netting - makes me feel like an 8 year old princess.

you can't understand how beautiful this country is until you see it!

what i forgot:
a microfiber shammy towel. drip.
to break in my shoes. am a moron.
more than one voltage converter. arg.
disposable ice packs for swollen feet and overheated everything.
long skirts.
to be in shape for hiking up and down mountains. they mean it when they say land of 1000 hills….

so far i have only terrified one child. scratch that.... i terrified two at the orphanage today.
M&J theorize that they think i'm a ghost. kids and adults alike want to touch my skin and my hair. one rather clever teenage fella asked me if he could practice english with me, and i obliged. with a huge brilliantly white grin, he touched my hand, raised both eyebrows, and said:
"ahr yoo ahn ahngel sent flom hee-vahn?"
i laughed and laughed and he looked pleased with himself. he noticed i was blushing and immediately said, "yoo air peenk face." phooey.

the best part is talking to little kids who all stare and giggle until one is voted/pushed to approach the muzungus (white people) - they shyly shuffle forward and then yell,
"gooood haftanoon how-a rah you i yam fine!" and then run away laughing. when we kneel down to talk to them, they kneel down, too. hilarious.
naomi take pic.jpg ¬
"mwitwande?" i say. their eyes are enormous. they whisper their name.
"nitwa melanie," i respond. they try to repeat it, giggle, trying to hide behind each other. we decided, after many failures to explain my name, that they understand mellie better than melanie. mellie it is. they are fascinated with my tattoo, so i said, "ururabyo violetta!" (flower violet) and they giggled and ran away. so basically, i can only communicate with first grade or younger.

internettin' is VERY limited, so hopefully i can get some good stuff in at least once a week. i have 42,897 photos, but the internet is quite slow. i'm so spoiled.

episode 2: i am so going to talk about the food. and our projects. we met the coolest family today! seeing redeemer's support in action is astounding - our support helped this widow get a house for her and five kids. stay tuned. this week we meet with widows, teach conversational english to secondary school (high schoolers), build a house, learn traditional rwandese dancing (mercy) and a few things i forgot because i don't have a calendar. oy.
ps, this RULES. all of it.

Jun 1, 2010

well, here goes.

if only if it could be this easy. i, apparently, need to go to another country.

my best opportunities have always been dropped into my lap, and this is no exception.

so, here goes everything.