Thursday, December 21, 2006
Tuesday, December 19, 2006
But I realized before long that it was all about my attitude. I had to choose whether to have a good attitude or a bad one. So I decided to have a good attitude and not let little things like that frustrate me. I decided to laugh instead. So the rest of the day was okay.
I’ve been working on making badges for the vigilantes in the location (the community police who voluntarily patrol the area at night – a dangerous and thankless job). It started out as something small and then kept getting bigger and bigger. If I’d known how much work it would be, I might not have volunteered. But I think with one more hour, they’ll be done, and I know that they will be appreciated.
After dinner tonight, I went on a killing spree. There are cockroaches in every crevice of my room and it is getting to be too much. I think I smushed 7 of them. 2 of them were in notebooks that were sitting on my bed. I saw about 5 more in the bottom of my drawer, but I couldn’t get them. Here, I’m just used to them, so although they are gross, I don’t mind them too much. What I’m afraid of, though, is that I’ll end up with stowaways in my things and then we’ll get them in the house in
The other things I can deal with for 2 more weeks is breakfast. I’m getting very tired of tea, white bread and margarine every morning for breakfast. I like my chai every now and then in
Anyway, enough of that. The reason I was writing today was that I could see myself falling into a negative attitude and decided to stop. I was proud of myself. Sorry to complain again about food. At least I have enough food to fill my belly, which is more than a lot of people can say.
4 more days until Dave gets here. Hurray! It still feels like a long time, but 4 days is really very short.
We got everything worked out for the tickets to Kisumu. The airport is open again, Kenya Airways has started flying again, and after a lot of craziness, we have all the tickets we need and only the tickets we need. I went to the travel agent’s in Kisumu Saturday and went ahead and bought 2 tickets on the other airline because we still didn’t know when Kenya Airways would start again and it was my last chance. I knew that the seats were filling up (for the Saturday morning before Christmas). But the airline office in Kisumu had run out of electronic ticket numbers so they had to wait for more from
Okay, that’s enough for now. Love you all,
Sunday, December 17, 2006
Yesterday on the matatu on then way to Kisumu, a Masai man got on and sat next to me. I greeted him in Masai (the one word I know from having visited Ellen and Elijah in Narok) and he was very pleased and surprised.
I was late leaving Kisumu and then had lots of delays along the way. I didn’t get home until about 8:00, a full half hour after dark. My neighbor Mukabane was waiting for me with his bodaboda, otherwise I wouldn’t have made it home. I’m not sure what I would have done. I gave him a good chunk of extra money when we got home.
Today, I went to the church I like the best and then took Ian back to the clinic to have his bandage changed and cut cleaned. Then I went to a friend’s house to visit and eat. It was really good. It’s a wonderful family and right now several of their kids are home now for Christmas. While I was there, my friend Noel came by. She was on her way home from college in Eldoret. Wycliffe had told her to stop by on her way home, but didn’t tell her that I would be there or tell me that he had told her to stop by. It was a great surprise. It was fun to see them all, plus they had fruit salad after we ate – a wonderful treat
Saturday, December 16, 2006
Friday, December 15, 2006
I’m not exactly sure how it started, but the boys and I have a tradition that they escort me whenever I go to the choo (the outhouse/toilet). I think it started one day when they were in need of something to do so as I was going, I told them, “Let’s run there.” So now every time they see me come out of the house or out of my room with a wad of toilet paper, they should “Kimbieni! Kimbieni!” (Let’s run! Let’s run!) and they run with me to the choo and wait outside until I’m done and then run back. They’re so cute. I kind of wish I could bring them home with me, but the reason I don’t have my own children yet is that I’m not ready to be a parent. If they had no one here to take care of them, I would take them, but they have parents and grandparents.
Thursday, December 14, 2006
Have you not heard?
The LORD is the everlasting God,
The creator of the ends of the earth.
He will not grow tired or weary,
And his understanding no one can fathom.
He gives strength to the weary
And increases the power of the weak.
Even youths grow tired and weary,
And young men stumble and fall;
but those who hope in the LORD
will renew their strength.
They will soar on wings like eagles;
they will run and not grow weary,
they will walk and not faint.
- Isaiah 40:28-31
I feel now like I am soaring like an eagle, with new strength. I know it was God because I reached the end of all the strength I had and cried out to God to carry me through and here I am. I went to bed one day completely finished and woke up the next like a new person. Thank you to everyone who has been praying for me and thinking of me.
Everything is okay. I am not so tired. Yesterday, I had strength and energy the whole day. I didn’t go to bed until after 10:00. I wasn’t quite so springy today, but have been able to work hard all day.
I made French toast for breakfast this morning for all 10 people, plus the 3 boys. I bought cinnamon and syrup in Kisumu last week, so it was very tasty. Made it feel like a weekend morning at home.
We had a meeting with representatives from self-help groups today and we were afraid no one would come. We ended up with 10 people – hurray! Afterwards, I came back with the girls and we were typing notes. But then they started laughing at how I was sitting on the table typing and Emmy decided that she hadn’t had a chance to learn to use my camera and that she needed to learn so that she could take a picture of me that way. Then they both wanted me to take a picture of them typing on the computer. I thought a while back that I would draw a replica of the keyboard so that they could practice at home, but I never got a chance to do that. It would have been a great opportunity for them to learn while I was here.
After the girls left, Shikuku was begging me to take a picture of him outside (he’s also the one who asks me almost every day whether I’ve developed my pictures yet. He doesn’t have a good memory for a lot of things, but he remembers exactly which pictures I’ve taken of him where!) So we went out and I took a picture and discovered that that light outside was perfect for taking pictures (It’s very difficult to get good lighting for taking pictures of dark skinned people.) So I took lots of pictures – of Shikuku, Amwayi and his wife and new baby, the boys playing. I’ll try to post some of them so you can see more of my family.
Wednesday, December 13, 2006
I have 9 more days until Dave comes. Each one seems really long, but there’s so much work to do in the next 9 days that hopefully it will pass quickly. I decided to go and meet him in Nairobi instead of waiting for him in Kisumu. That will give me the chance to do a little shopping there before he comes and it might give me the chance to see a friend of mine who will be nearby. The things I need to get give me a good excuse to go, and I knew that the 13 hours from the time he got to Nairobi to the time he got to Kisumu the next morning would be torturous. It means I’ll buy a plane ticket to fly with him from Nairobi to Kisumu, as long as the airport is open again. They’ve been closed since Thanksgiving fixing the runway. In the beginning of November, Kenya Airways refused to fly in or out of Kisumu until they fixed the runway. The airport maintained that the runway was fine. Then after a month of rain, they said that the runway had been damaged and needed to be fixed. Good way to save face. The last I heard, it was supposed to be done today, so we’ll see what I find when I go back to Kisumu on Saturday. If it’s not done by then, I’ll go ahead and buy us 2 bus tickets to come from Nairobi. We’ll see.
Tuesday, December 12, 2006
I woke up this morning, ready to be well. I’m still tired and still a bit sick, but my mind is ready to be well, and also ready to have a good attitude. Praise the Lord. I had an appetite at breakfast, which was good. I still didn’t want tea or bread, but I had some peanuts and half an orange (way more than my share, but they generously gave it to me. 1 big orange or 2 small ones usually feed the whole family)
I am in Kenya, in Africa, and this morning on the radio I heard Feliz Navidad. Definitely cultural mix-up!
The rain has stopped. Yesterday was the 4th day without rain. It rained some last night, but not like it had been raining since the beginning of November. Here, it is not unusual to have some rain once a week or so, even in the dry season. So, we think that the rain has gone. People are already commenting on how the road is dusty and how hot it is! I think after a few weeks of hot, dry weather, I’ll be okay in Malawi for the rainy season again.
Today is Kenyan independence day. There are actually 2 independence days. One is in June and one is today. I think the one in June is the day that Kenya got independence from Britain (Madaraka Day – according to my dictionary, it means control or power.) I think the one today is the day Kenya became a republic (Jamhuri Day – literally Republic Day).
I was planning to make French Toast this morning for breakfast. I bought cinnamon and syrup at the supermarket in Kisumu, but the eggs took too long to come, so we just had a normal breakfast and I’ll make it tomorrow instead. While we sat, waiting for the eggs, Ian sat on my lp for a long time, which we both enjoyed. All the boys really like that, but they don’t usually have someone who has enough time just to let them sit.
Brian, who is almost 4, tells me every day that he wants to go to school. He’ll be starting nursery school in January and he’s definitely ready. Ian is supposed to go too. He’s not quite as ready as Brian, but he’ll be okay.
Okay, I’d better get to work now. Yesterday, I said I would, but it was too hard with the boys. I went and read and slept a little instead.
Monday, December 11, 2006
By the time I got home, I was absolutely exhausted and ended up not eating much dinner and going to bed early. I felt fluish. Just about everybody in the family already had a bad cold, myself included. So I decided that I would just wake up whenever my body was ready and was still sick the next day, so I didn’t go to church and I didn’t go to the monthly meeting for a group my family’s in. Which means that I missed every meeting since I’ve been here. Every time, I was either sick or out of town. Anyway, it gave me much needed time to rest. I slept most of the morning and didn’t do much else the rest of the day. I read some and listened to 2 of my pastor’s sermons from Detroit. It was rejuvenating spiritually and emotionally. I also talked to my parents on the phone which was really good. I had been feeling a bit lonely and disconnected.
Today, I still was just exhausted, so we worked in the morning and then the girls went home after lunch and I tried to sleep a bit but my mind was too active. I played with the kids a bit and then went to talk to my sister-in-law. Right now, I just feel like curling up on the couch and watching a movie. Maybe in Malawi when we have electricity. I was looking at bootlegged movies in Kisumu on Saturday to see if there was anything good, but I didn’t see anything worth buying or watching.
So, I guess there’s not much exciting to say, just that I’m doing better than I was on Friday. I’m still ready to go home and I’m still anxiously waiting for Dave to arrive, but I’m doing okay. Dave wrote to me this week that even though he was “home,” it didn’t feel like home since I wasn’t there and that he felt like when he came to Kenya he was actually coming home because he was coming home to me. So that really helped me, one, to know that home is relative, and two, to know that if I were to live here along with my family with my own things in my own house, it could be home. I’m still not anxious to live here any time soon just now, but now is not my time to live here yet. The last time I left here, I wasn’t anxious to come back any time soon either, but here I am again.
It’s interesting to see the things that I miss. It revolves a lot around food. I miss all sorts of restaurants, most of which I haven’t been to in a long time. I also miss lots of feelings of certain things and places. I miss a lot of things in Louisville. I miss things in East Lansing too. I feel like I miss things more than people, except my husband, maybe because I’ve been in better contact with people than I was last time I was here. I will definitely be excited to be home again after being gone for 8 months. At least in 2 more weeks, Dave will be here with me.
Well, I’d better go get to work. We didn’t get so much done today, because I was sick, so since I have a little energy right now and nothing to do, I should probably get some work done. There’s a ton to do – it’s like the end of a semester – and every little bit that I do right now, I will appreciate later. It’s a little though with the kids running around, but we don’t have enough lamps right now for me to go work in my room. Anyway, love you all. Thanks for your prayers!
Saturday, December 09, 2006
Dave also will be crazy busy until the day he leaves for Kenya. Please pray for him too, that he would have perseverance, that he would actually learn a lot on his current rotation (ER) and that given his schedule and mine, we’ll actually be able to talk a couple times in the next 2 weeks.
Pray too that God would prepare us to be back together again and that we would make that adjustment easily and smoothly. Thanks!
Friday, December 08, 2006
I’ve shut myself off and I’m just waiting to leave. I don’t want to be here. I don’t want to be around people. I just want to go home. I don’t want to greet anyone. I don’t want to talk to anyone. I don’t want to eat meat. I don’t want to see anybody. I just want Dave to come and take me home. I’m tired of living here and I have no desire whatsoever to live here ever again.
That’s how I feel right now. It will pass, I know, but that’s how I feel now. It’s such a battle. Why am I here? Why can I only handle a few months? Why did God put me here in this place and with these people? What is teaching me? Why do I get so frustrated with them? What in the world was I thinking to come here by myself?
Today, I’m just frustrated. I was tired already. I woke up at 5:45 and couldn’t go back to sleep because I had to go to the bathroom and my throat hurt. So I went to the bathroom, took some medicine and read for a bit. I did go back to sleep for a bit, but I had to get up and get ready for the day.
We had a meeting today with self-help groups in one location, and even though only 3 people came, it was a good meeting. I was just tired. So the director of the NGO whose building we were using starts telling me about how I shouldn’t be frustrated because this is just how community work is. I wasn’t frustrated. I was just tired. The meeting wasn’t quite like we expected, but it was good. I was only frustrated to get a pep talk that didn’t seem very genuine or needed.
So because not very many people came, we had some food left over – beans, uncooked rice, oil, tomatoes. So I took it home. The time I was riding my bike home was from 5:15ish to 6:00, so there were very many people out and they all wanted to greet me. I just didn’t have the energy for it. I just can’t be “on” all the time, even though people feel bad that the mzungu passed without greeting them. I just can’t be that for everybody all the time. I just wanted to disappear into my room and not come out for a few days.
But, because we had leftover food and because Aggrey and Rachel were in Kisumu today and we didn’t expect them until late, I went and bought potatoes and onions to cook with the beans for dinner. We had peeled and chopped the potatoes and had put water for the rice on the fire when they came home with meat. So I just told the sister-in-law to cook whatever they wanted and left. So they’ll probably cook the meat tonight and the beans tomorrow for lunch, when I won’t be here. We would have been done by now, but now all the boys are asleep already, so they’ll go to bed hungry. I just want to refuse and go to bed without eating, but the bad attitude has to stop somewhere. So I’m just eating chocolate and griping.
Okay, I feel much better. I don’t know if I’ll actually post this or not. If I do, and you’re reading this now, I’m sorry for complaining. I know that so many people are worse off than me and have much bigger problems. I know it’s all about my attitude and at this point it’s all about what I make it, but it’s so hard. Wow, I just ate 9 Hershey kisses in less than the time it took to write this.
So, anyway, like I was saying, I feel like I’ve just kind of shut down. There are way too many people asking me for help all the time. There are way too many people that want me to visit them or their group. I just can’t decide how to choose, so I’ve just shut down and said no to everybody. I know that’s not a good way to respond and I know it doesn’t really help anyone, but I’m just too mentally and emotionally overwhelmed to do it right now. (Okay, make that 11 Hershey Kisses, but they’re all gone now, so I can’t eat any more. It sure felt good, though!) I’ve gotten tired of working so hard and tired of being so far away from my husband and home that I’ve just kind of let myself turn off and I’m just gliding towards the end. I just need some refreshing. I feel like if I can just make it 2 more weeks, Dave will be here and it will all be okay. But that’s not how I want to live. At church last Sunday, when I was so frustrated about so many things, I just released myself to God, told him that I’ve reached the end of all the strength I have and am depending on him to carry me through. And he has. But I am empty again. I am at the end of my own strength, again. Please keep praying for me, that I would have strength to finish these last 2 weeks and to finish well. I don’t want to go through the next two weeks having just shut down and coasting through. But I don’t really want to face it either.
I really will be okay. I’m sorry to complain so much. Sometimes, those are the times I feel like writing more than when things are just fine. I’m sure I’ve driven some people away from reading. Hopefully others will appreciate the honesty. I know that after leaving here again, I will look back fondly, and want to come back, but right now it’s just tough. I think I’m becoming a stronger person, more able to endure difficulties. Although now, I can’t say that I’ve endured well. Just barely. Hopefully, I can take from this that it’s all about my attitude. I feel like this is a recurring thing, though. I go through things that are mentally and emotionally difficult and I just fall apart. Things that wouldn’t faze other people. They just knock me out. Maybe I need to know myself better. I think the times that are overwhelming like this are the times that there are many stressors, some big, some small, but all together. I know that there are many stressors in my life here right now. Most of them seem small, but all together they are significant. I guess I need to face each of them and not let them have so much power over me.
- It is stressful to live in someone else’s family, eating someone else’s meals and living on someone else’s schedule. If I live here again for any more than a few weeks, I need to find another place to live, by myself or with just my own family.
- I have dealt with a very stressful situation since the day I arrived, but I can’t say anymore than that about it.
- There is stress in living in another culture, always standing out and always using another language.
- There is stress and a lot of hard work involved in doing research, especially knowing that it is a very large part of your studies and that you need to do it well.
- It is stressful to have very many people place high and unreasonable expectations on you for how you will help them.
- It is stressful to be half a world away from my husband and not be able to share day to day things with him.
- It is stressful to be sick and tired when dealing with everything else.
- It is stressful to go, go, go without resting (enough or at all).
- It is stressful to have many cultural expectations on you everywhere you go.
- It is stressful to go many hours at a time without eating anything.
- It is stressful having very little control over what and when you eat.
- It is stressful not having familiar foods from home.
- It is stressful being so far away from home.
- It is stressful to not be able to go to church and worship in my own language.
- It is stressful not to be able to talk to my family when I want to.
- It is stressful not being able to communicate with friends on a regular basis.
- Everyday life has many stresses – finding food, getting around, waiting for everything.
- It is stressful to be in very many unknown situations. I never know when things will start, what will happen next, what the visitors want, whether I’ll even be able to make it home at night because of the weather.
- It is stressful to be in situations where everyone is speaking a language you don’t understand.
- It’s stressful not to be able to go to the bathroom at night.
- It’s stressful having everybody watch you all the time, yell things at you and tell their kids to look at you every time you go by, as if you were a freak.
- It’s stressful to be in another culture where people do a lot of things that don’t make sense but you don’t feel you can say anything because it’s not your culture and you would just be rude.
I guess that’s enough to justify being overwhelmed. I’m still not very proud of how I’ve handled things at times, but at least I can see that it’s reasonably tough.
They cooked the beans and meat together. I was really frustrated by that and I behaved about like a 3 year old. They didn’t cook the potatoes because they thought they were for the kids, so when the kids fell asleep, they didn’t cook them. So the kids went to sleep hungry, again.
I just feel like this is out of control. I just can’t handle it anymore. I just want to get out of here and go home. I’d better go apologize to my family for behaving so badly and go to bed.
Saturday, December 02, 2006
It’s a little strange having another mzungu around and I wonder how I would do if I were working with a team of other Americans. It would probably be different if we saw each other besides just at public events and meetings, but it seems like when we see each other, we tend to get stuck together, and I end up feeling a bit isolated from everybody else. Maybe if we had more opportunity to talk at other times, it wouldn’t be a distraction. After church tomorrow, I’m going to Jessica’s to cook Mexican food. We’ll make beans, maybe tortillas, salsa and guacamole. That’s the plan at least. I’ll spend the night there and then come home Monday morning to get back to work.