“Mazungu!!!!! Maaaaazuuuuuunnnnnggguuuuuuu!!!!” “MAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAzungu!!!!!” They’re getting tired now…. ” AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAaaaAaaaa ungu.!!”
Hahaha I’m not saying that I miss this, but right now it is making me laugh. I have been called crazy white person who walks in circles for so long that it was getting to me. I started being crazy for real. All of a sudden there was a shift in the kids though. One day I noticed it — I was lost, walking in circles, and I looked up and there was this little girl who says “Njoki!!! Ninataka kugueuza nyuele yako!!” ( Njoki!!! I want to touch your hair!!) I was so stunned that she was sweet enough to name me that I sat right down and let her play with my hair… Later I realized how sticky she was — that was an awesome bucket bath experience.
All Kikuyu names have meanings. Njoki means replacement. Most of the time kids are named after their grandmothers and grandfathers, but if that child dies and the next baby born is a girl then that girl is the replacement and is thus named Njoki. Sad and sweet. I doubt I was a replacement to anybody she knew, in all likelihood her name was Njoki (yes, I was so dumbed that I didn’t even ask her – jerk) and she just wanted a “namesake.” Which is also very popular here, same is true with wearing matching outfits as adults.
I just got excited and really wanted to tell you all the weird things that people do here, us included. But then I became stumped… OH NO I am starting to think we are normal! That’s the strangest of all… I will save that post for Brett’s family to write after they come and visit us. Hahaha I kind of hope we freak them out a little bit.
Instead, let me give you a quick update poem:
This couple – right here, right here
Are constantly scratching their heads
Why do you ask, WHY do you ASK?
Because they have dandruff up there, up there!!
are not an easy task
So we stay dirty
Deal with it.
We have rabbit babies causing a muck
The mama has 4 and the 5th gets stuck
What are we going to do if too many die?
We’ll have to pinch more pennies and cry, cry, CRY!
I’m becoming a gardener
With my green floppy hat
The Kenyans make fun of me
But I am starting not to care about that.
Cantaloupes, Cucumbers, Peppers and Squash
Lettuce, Spinach, Watermelons then…. watch.
Watch for the seedlings
Feel so proud
Then Beatrice’s stupid cow
Tramples them all.
We’re getting bicycles because my step dad rocks!
Sciz-zors, Sciz-zors YEAH
Sciz-zors, Sciz-zors YEAH
Brett and I are better than ever
We laugh so much
We play so much
We never get bored… Never
Kenya is starting to feel like home
Even the rain can’t stop us now
We miss our families, We love our Friends
But Peace Corps Is the JAM
Okay, so maybe I am stranger than I thought… But if it makes me smile – I just do it!
The trek to Nairobi for medical appointments is a headache. We started out at 4:00 AM by the sound of Brett’s obnoxious alarm! Neither of us slept the night because really, how can you sleep when you know you have to get up that early?? We trudged out of bed in the dark of night and gathered all our things. 30 minutes later we were walking out the door, but not before I had made the tinsy mistake of calling my mom to tell HER good night! I thought I was being sweet but me leaving in the middle of the night to make a 4 hour journey into the one of the most dangerous cities in Africa did not guarantee her good dreams. Whoops! So I spent the majority of my short rushed packing time trying to tell her it was going to be ok! Ha. (Love you Mom!)
Finally we make it out the door all bundled up from the African Cold – Really – and kiss our chickens good-bye! The walk to town is about 45 minutes, but doing it in the dark took a little bit longer because I got scared! Needless to say by this point Brett was a little perturbed by my choices! We did make it though and right in time to climb into an already filled matatu. Again, not something you want to do for a 3 hour ride. So we are smushed in between random people also going to Nairobi- its still dark, we are bundled in jackets, and its burning hot in there. No one will let me move enough to take off clothes and they sure as heck weren’t going to open the window. So there I am for 3 miserable hours, not having slept or eaten breakfast and burning on fire. Did I mention that the roads to Nairobi are not optimal? Imagine the mineshaft at 6 flags. You know, the first rollarcoaster ever built that gives you neck injuries just from looking at it. Well take that ride, extend it for 3 hours, add a bunch of unhappy people, and multiply it by a handful of times. Now you get it?
It’s something you get used to though and eventually people shift enough in the bumpy ride that you kinda have something resembling comfort by the time you are half way there. Plus, you get to see an African Sunrise and plenty of wildlife along the way which is nice! BUT all this for a dentist appointment?!?! Can you imagine traveling all this way and then having to go to the dentist afterwards! Oh, man not the best way to spend a morning. We arrived in the nick of time to chow down on some chapati and eggs and check into our hotel, which is amazing! So the morning took a turn for the better and now a day later with only one day left in this mini vacation I am happy, well rested and well fed. BUT tomorrow I do it all over again! However, we have added in a short stop to the animal orphanage in town and I have been told that the chances of me getting to hold a baby cheetah are high!! It might be all worth it! :)
We have said goodbye to all of our family and friends more than a handful of times over the past couple of years. We are nomadic people and have moved across the country and back now 3 times – so we are no strangers to the sadness and excitement that comes with moving. Moving across the world is very different though. We are not saying goodbye just for a couple of months – until we can come back for a holiday – we are saying goodbye for over 2 years. There should be different feelings now… but I can’t conjure them up. I think that maybe I don’t understand the severity of this move or maybe I don’t want to… and I am not sure I need to either. Right now I want to enjoy the next couple of days with our best friends and perfect families and I want to be excited about making new friends and living with a new family. No tears involved. —-> Well, we will see if that happens.
Saying goodbye to Brett’s family is simple. They are so excited for us… Travelers themselves they understand why we are leaving and why we want go. When we say goodbye to them (as we have his Aunts and Uncles and Grandparents) they pray over us and wish us many adventures – smiling ear to ear. Brett’s friends are the same way… we give one another great big kisses and pray together and scream our “I LOVE YOUS” as we are pulling out of the neighborhood… Smiling and happy.
My family is a little different. I haven’t had to say goodbye yet… but I am expecting lots of tears and worry. I can’t blame them - they just don’t know that Kenya really isn’t that far away, and that there really isn’t anything to worry about. Family being together for every holiday and major event is really important to them. I am so lucky that everything monumental and even trivial in my life has been shared right next to about 20 of my closest relatives. It makes me smile and laugh thinking about it… I am so blessed to have those relationships with my family- but it makes times like this hard. Two Christmas’s and Thanksgivings I will miss, All birthdays, Easters, 4th of July, Memorial Day… Wednesdays, Thursdays, Mondays…. Seriously, even the mundane… :) It is going to be hard for them, and It is going to be really hard for me… I hope they don’t forget that. But- No Tears…. I don’t really cry any more over these moves. I’m just excited. Although they can’t see it through wet eyes, I hope they know that I will miss all of them so much and will be sending them happy thoughts from the bottom of my heart!
We have 4 days left in Georgia. Tonight we say our final goodbyes to Brett’s Dad and Brother. Tomorrow we spend the last night with my Dad, Brother and Grandparents. Saturday our friends are throwing us an amazing Send Off and we will get to party all night and drink our last American beers! Sunday, the final day will be spent with my Mom, Brett’s Mom and Sisters and my Grandma Cecily.
Its so soon now!! It’s Bitter Sweet!! We are hoping for days and nights that last longer then they are supposed to and don’t plan on getting much sleep :) We have 16 hours on a plane for that ;)
We Love You All!!
- The Country Is Twice the Size Of Nevada
- Population: 32 Million
- Located On the Equator
- We’ll Be Speaking Swahili
- The Country Gained Independence in 1963
- Some of the Oldest Palentalogical Records of the History of Mankind Have Been Found Here
- Has the Second Largest Mountain In Africa
- Second To Mnt. Kilimanjaro, WHICH We Will Get To See From Our Backyard (Getting Close??)
- Elephants, Tigers, Zebras, Giraffes, and Monkeys Will Be Our Pets!!
Peace Corps Called Us!! The Have Canceled Service In Mali!
It is a shame really that a country so stable could turn for the bad that quickly. I honestly didn’t think it would come to this. Although we have stayed prepared for the worst I was still quite optimistic. Everything is out of our control though and Peace Corps has decided to get out.
We got the official call yesterday and the woman we talked to said that we should hear something by today… We didn’t even have to wait that long! Our Placement Officer called me last night to ask about our preferences for the next placement. I was really honest with her, I told her that our major concern was the departure date and that we wanted to leave the country by Mid July. I said Brett was determined to leave regardless of if it was with Peace Corps or not. Other than that, I said I wanted to be in East Africa.
Well that was it and she called me today with exact options.
China – June 30th – University English Teachers
Kenya – June 4th – Public Health
Really?? That was a no brainer :)
Filtering, Heaven’s Reward Fallacy (Past Post) … That is what is going on in my head these days. What is happening in Mali has not even trickled down and affected me yet, but I am still worried about it. It has sent me in a dash to find all available back-up options… which is only making me more stressed as I realize I am qualified for almost zero placements. <— That is not distorted thinking, that is the truth. Not to mention, the opportunities I might be qualified for will have several hundred applicants more qualified than me.This explains why it’s so difficult, and its not the first time I have read these words.
I have to face the truth… Although I would be a great addition for any domestic job, I haven’t put in the time at the bottom. In college I worked hard in many avenues related to my degree (Psychology) and did well. However, since college I have roamed, and played, and spent all my time traveling. While I do not regret those experiences, it looks pretty flaky on my CV. Internationally, I know I would be a great asset but I don’t have any international experience and no one will pick me over John Smith with 5+ years doing relief work in third-world insert country here. See my dilemma??
Not to lessen Peace Corps, but this is why the organization is so fantastic! It takes 20-50 somethings and gives them a shot! You need minimal experience, but a whole lot of motivation, heart, and persistence - I surely have this – and they give you your chance! Peace Corps, for me, is a way to expand my skills and knowledge, learn cultures, grow as an independent woman and HELP THE WORLD! While also giving me the experience I need to obtain the before mentioned jobs — nothing is truly altruistic. Oh, and did I mention that I won’t have to pay for it??? It is so frustrating how many volunteer/intern positions there are out there that cost $4,000-$15,000 + for a basic 8 week program!
Now, family and friends don’t start getting concerned at my current psyche. I’m not trying to be dramatic, and I am not hopeless, just concerned. All I can do is put in the time and effort for God to open some doors and guide us through the right one. I just ask for your prayers that He’s with us on this one and we do what is right. Brett and I have decided that whatever happens, we are leaving the country July 1st. Hopefully with Peace Corps, but I am coming around the ideas of different options. Just the other day Brett found this PERFECT opening with Invisible Children… I would love to go to Uganda :)
Who knows what is going to happen over the next 59 days – All I know is that I am going to stay as prepared as possible for any and all outcomes. That is all I can do!
I don’t keep up with the news. I find its depressing and more times than not I shut it off because I don’t want to hear about all the “Explosions” “Terrorism” “Affairs” “Murder” “Kidnapping” “Neglect” … I like Happy News But that doesn’t really get you far. So honestly, I do stay uninformed…
That being said, I can’t stay away from the news right now!! Mali is always in the forefront of my mind and I between good blog updates and Washington Post , Huff Post , and other new media I can say I still have no definitive answers :( It’s a let down. That is how these things go.
A current PC Volunteer Jessica has the best update so far. We were told that PC volunteers would be going back to work today, it didn’t happen. In fact they have evacuated all the volunteers from their villages and have them in holding until the US makes a final decision. From what I have read all financial aid has been withdrawn from Mali across the scope and the US is the only country to still have humanitarian aid (although they aren’t allowed to work).
Its still a waiting game. Volunteers won’t go back to work until there is democratic stability… and with elections coming up at the end of April it could be a long time before that happens. In my opinion its still 50/50 . Luckily, the Coup hasn’t resorted to violence in the capitol, BUT the MNLA Tuaregs are taking this opportunity to advance South, which is not good.
Still, its the children and families that are really affected without foreign aid… and I feel like this whole thing has caused more harm than eventual good.
Of course, when I have answers I will post again… I assume it will be a couple of days/weeks before I hear anything.
The world has PLENTY of color, we just aren’t taking advantage of it. Everyday we wear “drab” we think “drab” we even see “drab.” The most important nouns in our world are covered in head to toe black and white. Why the lack of color? Who ever decided that we needed to take away the beautiful colors God has given us and replace them with Black and White? Take a look at your closet, just a quick look and most of us will see a wide array of black, white and grey options… True for you? Of course we also have dark brown, and dark red and dark green… The professional attire if you will. I don’t know one person with a “Real Job” who would wear rainbows. No shame, I don’t even have rainbows in my tiny wardrobe – they are silly. Right?
Well, yes they kind of are. Brief story : This weekend Brett and I hightailed it far away from Gwinnett County to a little place called Johnson City, TN. We went to see friends from Yellowstone… Hippies and Gypsies - They are my favorite. When I tell you that these people constantly smile and laugh I am not exaggerating, I wonder (and sometimes ask) how they manage to stay so uplifted… It isn’t natural. In my opinion, its laughter a room sized closet filled with a gigantic prism of colors.
Color is a gift from God. - Or more technically speaking a gift from the sun, which God made for us. The sun emits a great deal of energy and sustains our lives. Without sunlight our moods drift ever so slowly into the depths of despair and when that bright light shines on us again its as if we are magically catapulted into bliss. The vibrations of color are a source of power and fulfillment. By not taking advantage of them, we are wasting a gift.
All of the colors have different psychological meaning attached to them and from mounds of expert research this is what they have come up with.
Blue – Peace and Understanding Yellow – Clarity and Orderliness
Red- Energy and Enthusiasm Orange – Creativity and Playfulness
Green – Harmony and Sympathy Indigo – Awareness and Wisdom
Get out there and put on some color… I bet you’ll feel better :)
Huff Post has released a story today about the current climate in Bamako, Mali. The training headquarters of PeacCorps in Mali. This is terrible news for all of us anxiously waiting to move there in June. Renegade Soldiers have announced a take over of the Malian government, seized control of the TV stations and Radios and have attacked the presidential palace.
I don’t know what this means for us yet, I have tried calling and sent some emails but chances are we won’t get a response for a couple of days. In the Facebook group for the volunteers waiting to leave, there is a guy who has contact with the director in Mali… he says its not looking good and that chances are we will be pushed back or moved all together. It really could swing either way at this point. Brett wants to figure out a back up plan because frankly he is tired of waiting to leave. I think it might be a good idea, we’ll look into other options just in case but Peace Corps has been my dream. I hope it works out, keep you updated. (Additional Mali News)
Brett’s uncle and aunt live near us now for the first time! Last night they invited us to dinner to meet some close friends of theirs that had lived in Africa. While working with Wycliffe they traveled back and forth from Cote D’lvoire and Mali over a period of four years. It was really exciting to meet them and pick their brains about life in Mali and how the culture is so different from our own.
Interesting Insights From Their Perspective:
They confirmed my feelings that Mali is going to be the hardest place I will ever have to live as a potential missionary. (Although I am not in Peace Corps as a missionary, eventually this is part of our future life goals) I have been trying to come to terms with this for awhile now, “prepare myself for the worst hope for the best.” In terms of living conditions, climate, and overall pace of life it will be very difficult. However, I am lucky to be surrounded by loving people and that is what makes all the difference. Although I will be in a tough environment, life won’t seem as troublesome because the people are abounding in grace and kindness – and when travelers come back from Mali this seems to be all they can talk about.
Malians seem to have a difficult time with goodness… This was a bit confusing for me and I hope to portray it in a correct way. From what I gathered in the conversation, Mali natives don’t understand how everyone can be good. In their community every person knows everyone else on a personal level and this aids in helping them to survive. Essentially, you are accountable for the whole – If a man is sick he has to rely on neighbors to help, and then in turn he will be asked the same courtesy later on. Without having their own savings and checking accounts this is the way of survival. So when Peace Corps volunteers come in and want to help for “free” its confusing. Obviously, we won’t ever have to call in a favor so why do we insist on becoming part of their community and helping? I am going to try and find some clever answers for this… hopefully I can expand on God’s goodness and how He has shown us unconditional love and expects us to do the same. God, help me find a way to do this in a Muslim country :)
Clothing in Mali was not a major concern. I have just assumed I would bring a bunch of skirts and some t shirts - American clothing that would be acceptable in Mali. Now, I have a different outlook. Imagine this, you are walking down the street and you see an Indian woman wearing a saris or you see a nun in the traditional habit. Normally I would notice them and chances are I think that they are proud of who they are, have no need to change, and want to be set apart. Well, now take that to Africa and wearing your own clothes. What have you done? You are saying I am American, I like that, I have no need to conform and no desire to be different. Chances are it is going to take you a lot longer to become part of that community than if you had just dressed the part. Plus, really if I think about it, wearing skirts in African fabric is legit! I should be excited about supporting their economy by buying clothes that they make themselves. It wasn’t that I had a problem with it before, I just didn’t think it was that big of a deal… Now, I know it isn’t really a big deal, but I should try to do everything I can to relate to the community I will be serving.
Just some quick insights! Thanks to Elizabeth and Jeff for a great night and a lot of discovery!