Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Day in the Life

Sometimes I still find it so surreal that I'm doing life in Africa. I'm not here on a short trip. I'm not flying "home" in a couple of days. I am learning language, building friendships, and sharing experiences with people here on a daily basis. That blows my mind every single time I truly take time to think about it. 

However-I am settling into life here. I'm seeing people I know in the market and having conversations. I'm able to joke and laugh with people...or they're laughing at me. Both happen on a fairly regular basis. Since I've arrived people have asked, "What exactly do you DO over there?" So, I thought I'd share what a normal day looks like for me...

7-8: Wake up with a little jog where I get to see sights like this...

I also see crazy, wild dogs, but since I pick up the pace a little during those times, I wasn't able to get a picture. Sorry.

8-10: Figure out breakfast/spend time with the Father/go to the market if I need anything.

Now, there is nothing that I can think of that compares to a trip to the market. It is one of my favorite things. Here's a glimpse of what going to the market means..

           You hop on              Buy vegetables/visit friends.           Stock up on fresh(?) food.
                          a horse cart.

10-12: First half of language time. (Whenever I finish with language, I will have 5 months of "official" studying.)

12-4: This time varies depending on the day. This is the hottest part of the day, so many people shut down businesses and go home to cook/rest. A little siesta time, if you will. If I'm not going to a friends house I eat lunch at home, spend some more "quality time" with the old language book, catch up on e-mails..that sort of thing. However, if I'm going to someone's house it's an all afternoon event. The culture here doesn't eat lunch until 1 or 2..or 3. Whatever works for them that day. So, I usually go around 1 and stay until I have to leave for the second part of language. I absolutely love spending these lunch hours at friends houses. 

4-6: This is my 2nd part of language time where I go out visiting  people to work on my speaking skills. Usually we enjoy attaya, have dance parties, or just sit around and enjoy each other's company.

 6-...: This is a time where we figure out what we're eating for dinner/(I figure out how to) cook dinner/people stop by for visits. 

This is a relationship oriented culture, so a lot of my time centers on building relationships with people at this point. It's been fun to see how these relationships have evolved into friendships. The people I'm surrounded by are sweet people, and great friends. I'm so glad that I have the chance to just sit and "be" with the people here. My days are full of learning, whether it's language or so much more. I'm continually being taught so many things, and I hope I never lose the wonder I feel whenever I step out of my house. 

Join me in lifting up these days, in lifting up these relationships. The fact that I have you remembering throughout these times means more to me than you'll ever know.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

The New Normal

"I am caught between a moto and a donkey cart."

This is something I found myself saying this week, and as soon as I said it I just had to laugh. A couple of months ago this statement would have been completely ridiculous, but I now find myself in this dilemma a little too often. Those moto's and donkey carts have a tendency of sneaking up on a person, ya know?

Since moving to Africa, I have developed a new "normal." Things that may have sounded a little bit off in the States are now things I embrace. I've learned to never laugh at an idea because you may find yourself living in Africa and partaking in it one day. Here are a few things that might become normal for you if you move to this part of the world..

Staying up until 4 a.m. to finish the Superbowl.
Now, I grew up in a family where football is definitely appreciated. (Don't speak to my 93 year old great grandmother while the Redskins are playing..it doesn't end well for you.) But, I also like my sleep...a lot. If you would have told me a year ago that I would stay up until 4 a.m. to watch the Superbowl..and the Cowboys aren't even playing..I would have laughed at you. However, where was I in the early morning hours on February 4, 2013? That's right..propped up in bed watching Jacoby Jones breaking.it.down in the end zone. 

Seeing pop tarts as a delicacy.
A couple of weeks ago I received a package that had these babies in it...and it was the value pack y'all. Multiple flavors. While living in the States, I ate these as much as the next person. They were good. Moving to Africa moved these to the whole next level. I am rationing these out so I can make them last as long as possible. I never thought I'd be the person that savors every bite of a pop tart, but it's happening. 

Finding myself saying phrases like, "We have to leave now because the horse carts quit running in a little bit."
There aren't many cars in the town that I'm living in, and if you see a car chances are you're better off walking. They are a little a lot sketchy. So, the main mode of transportation are horse carts. These run all over town, but they are a little hard to catch in the afternoon hours. So, if you want to go to the market it is easier to schedule your trip at a time when the carts are running. I've had some crazy experiences on horses, so I'm not a huge fan of them. Here, though, I actually enjoy these rides. They become fun times where I'm able to joke with the women. And if you're lucky, you can catch the horse they call "Toyota." It's the fastest around, y'all.

Not flinching when I see a lizard in my house.
I promise you our house is clean, but this is Africa, and sometimes we find little "friends" here. Now, if you know me, you know I can not stand any kind of reptile. Frogs, lizards, geckos...they're creepy. But sometimes you just have to say "C'est la vie." I haven't reached this point with rats, though. I still scream and run in my room and shut the door if we see one of those little suckers.

Being overjoyed when I walk into a grocery store and see this...
...American cereal. Enough said.

This is life here. This is my normal. This is an adventure, a struggle, a blessing. Life is not predictable here, but that's what makes it great. You need the Father's grace and direction on a daily basis, and you are so aware of it. 
So thankful for this new normal.