Friday, April 30, 2010

shule of sorts

I have meant to catch up with some exciting stuff happening around these parts but we have been crazy busy. So I guess living life rather than blogging about it is a good thing, right? But I so crave the reflection and (semi) quiet time this blog allows me. And there is something in me that needs to share here to feel connected. It is how this extrovert copes with living in Africa away from so many amazing friends and dear family.
A few weeks back I had the first of 2 dreams that profoundly impacted me. I know this is not the "norm" of how God speaks (mostly through His word and other people) but for me God has in the past spoken VERY clearly to me thru dreams. I tend to think this is NOT because I am super tuned to the Spirit but because the only time I stop moving long enough to listen is when I am sleep. I am always working on spending time just reading His Word and listening but the fact that I even had dreams was a big thing since my sleep has been so interrupted as of late (as an aside Evy did not get the memo that she is NOT 4 weeks old anymore and does NOT need to nurse every 3 hours at night...Pole sana for me!) I awoke and remembered the dream and right away and felt like it was meant to encourage me in what sometimes feels like an abyss of need here.

In short this dream was of a boy who lives in my neighborhood and years from now, he was about 25 in the dream, he came up to me in Chicago (weird I know). He ran up and said "Mama Annikah do you remember me?" I recognized his face and said "yes!" although I did not know his name. He then told me that years ago our family was loving towards him and he saw Jesus in our lives when he lived next to us on that small island many years ago. It sounds maybe not that big of a deal but it was very encouraging for me since most days I feel a longing to do more, to be "better" at loving people and meeting their needs. I so often feel like there is just so many people that need to be loved, cared for, and listened to. So many days as I go about my day I sense this quiet nudge to be His hands and feet more but most days I tune that or instead do the stuff that seems immediate. I have often thought how many opportunities I miss and am trying more and more to live in the now, in the eternal, in the vital not just the important. Since we moved into this home I have always sensed there is a need among the what sometimes seems like billions of watoto that run around the neighborhood. After some recent conversations with our neighbors Jason and I both felt like we wanted to do something to help them in practical ways especially since so many of them have welcomed us so much and helped us learn the language and adjust to life here. One fisherman we know has two wives and 11 kids between them and no ability to pay the small fees required to attend school. We could pay the fees (for at least some of them) but we felt this would not be a long term solution and it would also bring money into a relationship that at this point is just friendship. Money changes relationships, everywhere but especially here and because we are Wazungu. We started thinking and praying about it but the busyness of life pushed it to the back of my mind again.

About a week later I had a second dream. When I awoke I was deeply impacted. I don't remember much about it but I just know I was sort of thinking about teaching kids here and said out loud in my dream "It is just too much work right now" "I have 2 small kids" "I will soon be teaching at our vocational school", etc. My reasoning sounded great to me and then I heard a voice say "you have a mat and a Kid's Story Bible. That is all you need for now." When I awoke I was afraid to share this right away but after a women's meeting we were asked what was on our hearts and I started sharing about the first dream and started crying. Sometimes you are not sure of how something has impacted you until you speak it out. But starting something right now is just not me. I like to plan, to have everything figured out before I take anything on but I so clearly felt I had to do this. Like if I didn't I would be unable to sleep, function, or have peace. I had no heaviness about it like it was something forced but rather it was actually a sort of freedom from perfectionism. I felt like God said just do it and I will take care of the details for now. Many days I feel like the father in Mark that says "I do believe but help my unbelief." Slowly God is showing me I can pray this and that He will meet me in my weakness, my doubts, my fears, and He will show me the Way.

So, Jason and I went to our neighbors and told them about my dream and told them that although I do not have experience teaching watoto here I would like to help them by trying to teach the kids letters, numbers, stories from the Old Testament, songs, and beginning English. We said we would try 2 days a week and so far most of the same kids have shown up each time with new teens and adults each time checking out what is going down at the Wazungus house.
There are some issues emerging (like older kids coming and answering too many questions or laughing at the little ones) so I am in need of wisdom to help deal with that but overall I think it has been going pretty well. It has just been a couple weeks now (with one cancellation due to crazy rain) and school is taking shape. I am learning what they know and do not know (most kids can recite the numbers but have no conception that each number has a value assigned to it). They seem to love the stories and songs the most so I am hunting around for easy songs and stories to share (holla if you have ideas!). And mostly I am fumbling through and trying to find my way. As I was walking to the duka around the corner last week I heard some kids singing to each other "head, shoulders, knees, and toes" which sounded more like "heed, shuulers, knees, and tows." It made my heart smile. I felt like this small thing is something I can do with God's help. The intersection between your gifts and the need in the world can be the sweet spot God can use you, even this crazy Mzungu.
hey who are those wazungus?
teaching watoto 001.jpgedit
So there is now a little shule outside our house amidst our hanging laundry and my prayer is that it blesses the kids and families in our neighborhood. And that I learn more about listening to God before I get everything figured out. For sure I am in over my head but I have a sense that is where God wants me to be right now.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

yes, please!!

Look at this face...this is what happens when we get packages full-o-love & goodies from you!

So shamelessly I am posting some things we LOVE to get in packages only because some dear, fabulous, and kind souls have asked if they happened to have the time (by chance?) &/or some extra fund-age (maybe?) and tons of generosity :) what we would like to arrive from overseas in a well worn but much anticipated box-o-lovliness (yes, please!!)....Well, I have not been known to be shy and we LOVE packages not just for the fun American treats melted to the inside but because it makes us feel so loved, connected, and reminds us of all things home. We are suckers for packages, really.

Vitu ambavyo tunapenda (things that we like:)….
Corn tortillas (non organic ones, we fry 'em up and make tortilla chips...oh how I miss Mexican...sniff...tear)
Bulgar wheat
Almond extract
Blue cheese dressing (Kraft)
Dijon (grey poupon)/spicy mustard
Chocolate Chips
Jello no bake cheesecake
Starbucks mocha powder
Ranch/Italian mix dressing packets
Instant type meals- (ie just add water, oil, milk, etc)
hot sauce (Tabasco- chipotle & regular)
jello instant chocolate or vanilla pudding
kool Aid & Crystal lite packets
Culturelle Probiotic for kids (it is one of the only probiotic they sell at stores like Target that DOES NOT need to be helps Anni's tummy fight the bugs here)
ANYTHING from Trader Joe's (like mixes, sauces, snacks...Oh, how we miss TJ's)
nail polish (the women here LOVE it)
fruit snacks for Miss Anni
dollar spot-type toys and small goodies to give away to kids here (these are also great to put on the top so when the inspectors open the package they do not charge us for importing things we might sell)
small photo albums (we print some pics and show our friends here)any good books (one day I will have time to read again :)

If you do send us a package be sure to let me know so I can send you the address here of our PO Box and so we can be on the lookout and give those chocolate chips a fighting chance :) Plus, there are always a few things at the moment we would love that I can add to a request list.

If you send anything with lots of packaging better to remove it and place contents in a ziplock. Also if you send any sauces or liquids be sure to put in a few ziplocks in case of leak-age. Also, make sure if you send from the States you use the flat rate boxes you can get from your friendly neighborhood post office. The same amount of stuff in your own box can cost double or triple the amount (pole sana!) My mom (who is known to be an avid and much appreciated sender of packages) can fit an incredible amount in those flat rate ones. The weight does not matter I guess so we say stuff 'em full, even if you put bricks (except we actually do not prefer bricks :)

We reserve the right to jump for joy upon receiving any packages from you! Ok, shameless plug for fun stuff ends here.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

language reacquisition

We definitely lost some of our Kiswahili during our time stateside but we have actually been surprised at how quick a lot of it has come back. We are still pretty pathetic but we are trying and learning more everyday. What was surprising to us is how much Annikah lost. Another Mama told me that kids learn language the easiest but they also forget it quickly and that is true for Anni. She was awesome at understanding nearly everything people said to her before we left but when we arrived she would get so frustrated and just answer "I speak English" when people talk to her. I think some of it is normal push back and the identity issues that come with living between two worlds so we are easing her back into Kswahili and praising her tons when she attempts (no one knows better than us how hard it is to feel dumb while learning a language...lest I forget the tree story). And now that she is in school everyday she is getting it back. This week I heard Annikah and her friends out of the swings and suddenly distinctly hear Anni's voice saying "sakuma mi" meaning push me. Annikah prize for her newly acquired language was tons of big pushes on her swing. I guess when something is REALLY important to you you can learn matter how many tries it takes. I love this video because they are so sweet playing today and laughing. This is what happens everyday at our place (sometimes with way more littles) as soon as school is out. Go Anni for learning more Kiswahili!

Monday, April 26, 2010

team retreat

I am a slacker in posting about our team retreat a few weekends back. We went (6 adults and 6 littles) over on the puke boat which I DID NOT YAK ON...close though.... but thank you Lord for drugs especially since the ride took an hour longer than promised since some of the engines on the boat were broken! After arriving at the port we headed to the grocery store to stock up on some favorite treats we cannot here (namely bacon and special cereals) and then headed to the house we were staying at (an empty for the moment house about 45 minutes with traffic from the city center). The rest of our time there we hung out, took the kids to a park at the beach nearby, went to a Western mall, and spent the day at the water park there. The water park was an adventure as always and we almost had the place to ourselves the day we went. The "rules" are a bit loose there and the guys had fun trying to push the limits of the water slides and Anni even went down one of the big slides with us (see video for some of the mayhem). As a team we had time to reflect a bit, talk, share about our lives, pray and worship, and just be together although it may be a while before we want to be stuck in the back of the team van with 6 kids in a traffic jam it was a great chance to be together without the distractions of everything here. Here are some pics of our time in Dar:
too many people in 1 car...Oh Vey!

a rough night and an early morning...poor J :)
It was good to be away from home but we were ready for our beds after a couple nights
Ah, cool water!J & Anni had a blast on the water slides

all day in the sun & water is exhausting...
for both girls

there was some "only in Africa" an open power cable hanging over a kid's slide...choking and electrocution...awesome!!

Anni loved being with her friends 24/7

the place we were staying had a trampoline...holla!!
a nice team dinner bila ya watoto
(some friends of our team leader babysat so we could have a night out)
Anni liked shopping at the mall
repeat after me....."ice cream is goooood. Really good!"
on the trip back to the island we discovered the new ferry company waiting room
maybe we are easy to please but it was a highlight of the trip:
it had air conditioning & free food (we loaded up) before our trip back home

some recent pics

I have a few pics that I wanted to post but with the craziness as of late I has been slacking..... Here are a few I wanted to share....

Check out the new sign on our school! Looks awesome right?
The story of getting it up there involved Jason and Rich outlining the logo and letters at night using a projector (collecting quite a crowd that were wondering what the Wazungus were up to), then not 10 minutes after they left it started down pouring and we were worried all the work would be wasted but the outline survived! Then Rich took one for the team by painting the logo and sign in the blazing sun. He had to come down midway because of heat exhaustion but after laying down and drinking a cold soda he was able to press on! Go J & Rich! We are getting there!

our girls at bedtime....precious!
a little girl in our neighborhood shows off the car the kids made from scraps...pretty creative!

after a package arrived from Bibi 2 little girls played the entire afternoon in various dress up outfits and new play heels

Our new Mlinzi family had their baby sweet and now Evy is not the little one around here!

Our little is now 4 months old! We cannot believe it! More to come but she is rolling over.

I love this picture because it shows off her smiley little self. She has such a sweet personality and is always giggling at people.

Can you see what her shirt says? Jim & Rho brought that when they came and I love it-Made in Africa- hilarious!

Quick Evy day this week I was cooking and Evy was happily playing on her mat. Taking a cue from Anni's old playbook she started crying and fussing for no reason. After checking she was not dying, choking, bleeding, etc I decided I needed to finish what I was doing and she could chill for couple minutes (ah, second borns...) Well, after a couple minutes she stopped crying and I was very pleased thinking "look at her learning to calm down herself." A minute later I came around the corner to find her GONE! I looked everywhere, at first thinking in my sleep deprived state if maybe I had put her elsewhere but then I began to panic for a minute until I realized Mama Mika was going about her chores outside with a smiling Evy in tow. She heard her crying and helped out...raising kids is so communal here! Evy definitely gets passed around and she is lovin' the attention.

Anni ready to head out to school

Lucy & Anni used the rainy season as an excuse to play with Anni's umbrella....beautiful little girls, huh?

Sunday, April 25, 2010

a bridge of sorts

We had a busy weekend and are still getting new intel on the phone (I think Jason will write up the whole fiasco since it is really too ridiculous to ever forget) but for now I had to post the latest irritating issue at our homestead. Last Monday Jason headed out to drive Anni to school to find this dug outside our gate:
It may not look deep but it is a pretty big ditch. Big enough to get your car tires stuck in. Upon asking around our neighbors explained that they dug it to try to to put a bomba (pipe) down to try to get water from a new water source since there has been so many water issues in our neighborhood lately. They also explained that they did not have the pipe yet or the money to buy said needed pipe so we knew this ditch may just impede our driving for days if not weeks. They are very happy to help us out though every time we need to go in or out of our gate. As soon as they hear our car start someone runs out and bring these long boards to build a bridge for the wheels of the car to pass over the trench. The whole process is ridiculous, a bit annoying, but definitely hilarious as we usually have a crowd watching the car and offering direction and guidance. We have left the car outside the gate during the day when we know we have to leave again quickly (ie. when Jason was hunting down the mwizi and responding to phone calls every ten minutes, or when we need to get to the school for a meeting, etc) but when we do this the car alarm usually sounds every 20 minutes from the neighborhood kids climbing on the car (they just cannot resist).

I had to document the process of getting back into our house:

setting up the bridge
trying it out
readjusting....1/2 way there!

Alas, we are not going anywhere quickly these days and it is definitely a community effort to get us in and out of our home at the moment. Hopefully soon pipe will arrive.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

If this iPhone could talk.... guessed it...

He got it back!! If this iPhone could talk, it would share with us all the unbelievable story of 5 days in captivity. Who knows the crazy tales it would tell, from its abduction, a trip being smuggled off the island and over to Dar, being sold, allegedly being involved with some undercover police sting of sorts, having been forcibly and carelessly pried open to try to get the darn thing to work, receiving bruises, scratches, loss of limbs (ok-buttons) and many battle scars, making its way on a ferry back to the island and then a trip to a village where its "interim owner" found out it was worth much more than he ever knew, and finally resulting in a debate between police, our local friends, and the "owner" regarding reward money. The journey came to an end after many confusing phone calls and a trip to the local police station, where Jason was joyfully reunited with it!

Although in the end we had to pay reward money and transit costs, and the iPhone is quite beat up and plundered, it happily chugs along and seems to be working just fine. A miracle? Quite possibly. We are honestly still in shock that we ever saw it again. Though Annikah knew - she told us everyday while praying that we'd get it back! Faith like a child...

Thank you to all who prayed...more to come as details pan out!

Thursday, April 22, 2010


This week has been rough. Not just because of obviously crappy happenings like Jason getting his IPhone stolen but because of the heaviness I feel, the oppression I sense, and the ick that is hovering.

On Tuesdays we meet with our team to pray and Jason left a bit early to take Anni to school so he could be back in time. After everyone else arrived I got a call from a number I did not recognize but thought I better pick it up. It was Jason who in a shaky voice that gave away the adrenaline and frustration coursing through his body told me that he would not be coming back and that a mwizi (thief) stole his phone. Now I could care less about phones but for Jason he had saved every little extra money he had for 2 years to buy this phone and I knew it was his favorite "toy" that he ever owned. He had sold a bunch of stuff we had in storage to get the money to get this One Big Thing while we were home. I did not know any details surrounding how it was taken but I just felt completely wrecked for him.

The next few hours we met without him while we tried to call his phone over and over to run down the battery (thus making it impossible for said mwizi to rack up big charges that we would have to pay). Finally many hours later J returned home just to change into running shoes (yeah, they had been chasing this guy and his flip flops broke) and tell me a little about what had happened. On the way to drive Annikah to school a guy of about 20 something was flagging down the car. Now, here we often offer to drive people a short way if we are going that way (it is very common). But Jason thought something was bizarre about his over zealous waving and with Anni in tow bypassed the guy. After taking Anni into her classroom Jason returned to our car and started to text me something about Anni's school when the guy appeared at the passenger's side window. He asked Jason for a ride to the beach but Jason told him he was not going that way since he had to return for our meeting. Then the guy requested money and Jason said he could not give him money but if he wanted to come by and do some work we could pay him. In a split second the guy reached in and grabbed Jason's phone that was sitting inches away from him. Jason saw his intentions and reached for it but his hand missed the guy's hand by a millisecond. That is one of those moments that you relive in your head over and over. Jason slammed the car in park, jumped out, screamed mwizi, and started running after the guy who with a head start quickly disappeared into the thick trees. Some other people saw everything that happened and came to Jason's aid trying to chase the guy. After realizing that he was gone with the phone people explained to Jason that they knew who this guy was and apparently he has stolen many things. Also, it seems like the whole incident was targeted since the thief apparently told people that morning he would return later with a phone. Soon a few people grew into a search party ready to hunt down this guy. They knew where he lived and many places he hangs out and for the next several hours they went on what can only be described as a wild goose chase even going to the port to try to prevent him from leaving the island. Jason called his friends that work in town and might get wind of someone selling a phone and they warned every duka owner they knew to let us know if anyone heard anything. How you get things down here is just so different and if nothing else it was Culture Learning 101. The police were involved as well but if Jason was going to get it back most likely it would be through searching himself. The search party had leads coming in all the time and several times they arrived at a place minutes after the mwizi had left. We have heard stories and friends here have seen vigilante justice carried out (one saw people stoned to death) and Jason actually became afraid of what they would do if they found this guy.

What was amazing is that in the midst of all of this both Jason and I (J while out looking and me while at home praying for him) felt an acute sense that God would redeem it in some way. Jason and his posse were out the rest of the day and most of the night. As the day went on and the search continued from place to place, hearing story after story about this guy (people had even tried to to set him on fire before because of his stealing) it became more about finding him and sharing with him and forgiving him and less about getting the phone back. Of course we wanted the phone but more than that we felt that God softened us to this guy. Now, 2 days later there are still reports coming in and I swear everyone knows about the incident resulting in many poles and tons of advice. As I type there are still some folks on the hunt but for us at this point we just want to move on. We are still hoping for some resolution and that something good will come of it. Lots of praying, reflecting, and thinking. And He is already using it in our lives. We know we have an awesome network of people here,both ex-pat and local friends who care about us and genuinely feel bad and want to help when something happens. More importantly we are learning that stuff is just stuff. We are fine, blessed even. Incidents like this are teaching us to grasp less and release more. It still stings though.

Other things hovering are adding to the stress of the week. Annikah is having nightmares almost every night. When we hear her we rush into find her still asleep and unable to answer us. Evy and I are taking turns feeling sick and there is a busyness and heaviness that we sense in a very real way. The power at our house decides to go out almost every time it rains requiring J to "fix" it many times. And other Stuff. And while I do not feel I have processed some of the things that have happened enough to write about now it is fair to say we know the enemy is real and involved. At the same time this is an exciting time for us right now. Our team is together, working hard and seeing tons of progress on our school (more later), we have had great visits and conversations with friends here, and just this week I started a "school" of sorts outside our house using a mat and some of Anni's books for some of the kids in the neighborhood who really want to go to school but whose parents cannot afford it.

A few weeks ago a friend sensed that these verses were for me: Luke 21: 12-19. She specifically shared: "But make up your mind not to worry beforehand how you will defend yourselves ... I will give you words and wisdom that none of your adversaries will be able to resist or contradict." And a second promise: "But not a hair on your head will perish. By standing firm you will gain life". Good Stuff.

So lots of Good Things that overshadow the crap. But all of this is real and we feel it in a profound and achy sorta way. Right now I feel like we are just holding our breath. We are bruised for sure but not beaten. The claims of Jesus are what we are clinging to. We are claiming freedom. And we are feeling more peace. And more purpose.

A couple weeks ago the water supply to our neighborhood was busted. Somehow. We have gotten various accounts and reports from neighbors but the bottom line is it does not work but we still have water (as long as there is power) since we have a pump that pumps it from an underground well and we also have a tank that collects rain water behind our house. We have told our neighbors they are welcome to come and everyday there is a stream of people that come over to chat and to vuta maji (pull water) from our tank behind our house. It is because they need water. Water is life. Jesus knew it. Everyday, every time all I can think is that we live in a world with thirsty people everywhere and yet I have the Water of Life. It is freely given with Grace and Mercy and not requiring Anything but Faith. It is within, it has changed me, it continues to empower and grow me, and I desperately want to share it. With everyone. Freely.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

yet another thing you can kupiga!!

A while back I posted about one of my fav words in Kiswahili: kupiga. Last week Jason learned yet another thing you can kupiga (or literally "hit"). A fart. Awesome. Seriously Awesome.

the back story.....he arrived home after visiting our neighbors and was laughing so hard he could barely talk. I kept asking him what was so funny and all he could get out was "I need a pen." I quickly discovered was that he wanted to quickly write down the words he had just learned lest they slip away from his Mzungu brain (as most of the words we learn do). After writing them down he said a couple of sentences to Marta (our house helper) who started dying laughing. At this point I was beginning to get irritated as I was definitely on the outside of an apparently hilarious joke. J finally explained that while talking to our neighbors the father explained that his kids really wanted to learn some English but they did not have enough money to send any of them to school. Jason started teaching the kids a few words in English and when they pointed to his shoes Jason said "shoes." All the kids started laughing hysterically and their father soon explained why by making a farting noise and waving his hand near his bootay that a "shuzi" was a fart. And you kupiga it as in "nimepiga shuzi". Brilliant. After more laughter they also explained that there are 3 words to describe this universal human bodily function. "jamba" is to fart with noise and......are you ready?....."fusa" is to fart with "hakuna sauti lakini harufu mbaya" literally=no voice but a bad smell. Does it get better than a word for S.B.D.? I know this may be in poor taste to some (but if so you probably already do not frequent this blog) but in a world of sometimes frustrating language learning this was a jewel. Hilarious.

Even more funny if you picture this older respectable man acting out and describing the meaning of these words. He also told Jason that we now know "school Kiswahili" but now it is time for us to learn the real deal Kiswahili and he considers it his personal mission to help us. Bring it on!
Jason and I now frequently dare each other to shout in public places "nani akafusa?" (who hit a S.B.D?) I know, we really are children.

But for the record: farts are funny. Even cross culturally.

Monday, April 19, 2010

go on girl...thwap it real good

Last night Paula (my fab team mate I recruited to join me) and I went to a Bday sherehe (party) for a good friend here. Her party last year was crazy big with a Tarab band, lots of food, and tons of people.We knew it would be a hug affair again this year. I will say it again people here LOVE to celebrate. Last year we were the first to arrive (an hour late) and the first ones to leave at almost 2am. This year I told her I was excited to go but that I would need to leave after only an hour or so because Evy would need me (J is an amazing Papa but alas has no boobs:) and since sleep is a rare phenomenon these days I could not party it up like last year. Yep, I am old.

We arrived over an hour late and as is typical we were some of the first people to arrive and the Bday girl was not even there yet. About 20 minutes she arrived and we helped her unload food and cakes and then waited while she changed into her party best. It really is crazy how dressed up some women get here at night for parties, almost like a bipolar sub-culture since during the day they are mostly covered and adhere to the cultural practices of the dominant religion. At night it seems like they break all norms and my friend even wore a strapless dress with enough glitter blue eyeshadow to put any 80's trend to shame!! I almost passed out as I have not seen that much skin here since a friend back home sent me a trash mag :) We had a great time chatting, learning some new Kiswahili words, and watching the hustle happening around us. About an hour after our "scheduled" departure time we finally left even though things were just getting started and many guest were just arriving. Before we left we were told to "subiri" (wait) for our to-go food and I wanted to get at least one dance in with my friend. The dancing to Tarab music here is a culture all it's own. It seems like ALL the women LOVE this music and know all the words the various songs. My favorite part of Tarab is the dancing and thwapping (that seriously is the best word to describe it) of money. You sorta sway back and forth while holding a mia tano bill (500 shillings, about 40 cents) and "when the spirit moves" you thwap it on the forhead of either a friend or most often the singer. I guess it is sorta like tipping them for the fabulous time you are having but it always makes me giggle truth be told. Sometimes I am brave enough to do the actual thwapping but many times I just hand the singer the money. Last night the band leader was wearing what can only be described as a "pimp suit" of all white with a sweet hat. When I went closer while dancing I noticed his tie had aliens all happily sporting Christmas hats!! It was awesome!!
here are a few pics Paula caught of the dancing & thwapping...

Sunday, April 18, 2010


it's what's for dinner (or at least it was last night)....yummy!!
My question: Does this still qualify for organic-ish?

Saturday, April 17, 2010

biker chicks

A few weeks ago Anni joined her friends to try out bike riding at a safe-ish practice driving circle near our school (it was built for driver's ed at the local college). We wanted to see if it was time to begin a hunt for a used bike here. The streets here are far too dangerous between the rocks, mud, massive pot holes, roaming cows, goats, and chickens. Add in the bikes, scooters, motorcycles, dala dalas, people, and cars and it is a med-a vac trip waiting to happen so she had never really tried a bike outside. Sure she has ridden the small tricycle we got her last year around our house but a real bike was very exciting. At least until she got on.

Now, I do remember learning to ride a bike and it was tough. I have always felt so gutted when I was not immediately great at something which for this first born has resulted in lots of disappointments. You would think I would be used to sucking at stuff by now. Learning to ride a bike is a rite of passage in kid world and it comes with a certain status and swagger. I remember that my brother; who has always managed to outshine me in everything physical, was whizzing by me on his "big bike" even though he was 2 years younger than me while I was still wobbling around with training wheels. I know I tried over and over getting up on the seat, afraid to go too fast, falling and feeling like I would never get it right. I did finally succeed but it was not easy. I am pretty sure there were tears involved and for Miss Anni there were a few moments like this.....

but mostly there was this.....
Poor kid. It was a rough first lesson and although she was mostly in tears she desperately wanted to be able to ride like her friends and even tried to convince us through sobs "no mama and papa, I have fun" when we suggested that maybe we should head home and try another day since this was supposed to induce happiness and not be akin to torture. Nope, she was miserable and going to keep trying...and crying. Definitely my child. Kids just do not get "you WILL get it" for them there is only the right now. She'll do it and I just know she will be an awesome biker chick! For now I think we will wait on a "big girl bike" and maybe try to find some training wheels for a small bike first.
When Jason was not running behind a teary Anni or picking her up and kissing knee injuries he and Hans had a little too much fun aiming at the nasty ravens with the sling shot. Before you call PETA consider that these nasty bird's main gigs are stealing food and pooping on freshly washed and hung laundry!
self take in front of our school.....sweaty girls ready to head home

Friday, April 16, 2010

one sure way to know...

you live in Africa is that your 3 year old notices the sticker on her princess wand has rubbed off and her first thought is "Mama, maybe the rats got to it."

Thursday, April 15, 2010

eden opening

We just returned from a team retreat on the mainland (post to come soon but think 6 kids and 6 adults in one car :) and after recovering from one day with all us girls sick (pole for J) we are feeling better and back up and running! I have so much to catch up on!!!
here goes....
After returning to the island we quickly heard news that Anni's local school had moved. This was a huge bummer as it was right next to the vocational school we are building and only a couple minutes from our home. But the new location is much bigger and gives the school room to grow and include more primary grades which is great as we want to support the school's expansion since it is blessing so many families. The week after we returned to the island Mr. and Mrs. Kim showed us the new building and site but the bathrooms were not complete and the kids had to have class outside since the classrooms were not ready yet. They recommended we wait until after the official opening for Anni to return. When we visited we came bearing lots of goodies (some donated by many fabulous readers of this blog- thank you! ) and the teachers were so grateful to get all the great stuff. They especially LOVED the black baby baby dolls, the parachute, glitter and pom poms, and books. On our visit Anni was excited to see the new building and her friends but also had many reservations about returning to school. The day we finally went back there were many tears about going. It was a rough few days since we were very torn. We want Anni to enjoy living here and love the culture as we do but we also do not want to force her into situations that are too much for her. The tough line is knowing when a little push will stretch her and be good for her versus knowing when to pull back. I think every parent struggles with this; how to encourage your child to take risks that enable them to grow without compromising who they are or what they want. It can sometimes be harder since in our situation everything also has a cross cultural component. We prayed a lot and after talking to a few other moms who had similar situations after coming back after a long time away we decided she needed to go for at least a week and see how she would adjust. Her teacher and classmates were happy to see her return and although she was sobbing the first day and whimpering the second after getting home she proudly announced to me "Mama, I was crying but then I stop because I have fun." She has already showed off her new letter writing abilities to her teacher and has learned a few new songs and apparently a hilarious game involving colors and dancing (from reports after school). She also was won over when she learned the new PE shirts are pink for girls!! (turns out the transition was harder for me as her mama I guess). The school is now about 25 minutes away but the kids can take a bus from our neighborhood. We are driving her until we further investigate the bus situation but we are grateful she seems at peace at her school again.

Last week the school building was finished and they had an official opening ceremony. It really is a great facility and we were impressed they finished it so quickly (it was started and completed while we were gone). The ceremony was typically "African" as it is started almost 1 1/2 hours late, had tons of honored guests that all gave long speeches, lots of impromptu performances of sorts* , and it ended with take away packages of food (Anni's fav).

*one of which I was in charge of and only found this out when they announced my name to come up and lead the kids in a parachute game during the ceremony. I quickly handed Evy to a woman sitting next to me and jumped up. This produced beads of sweat on my face not only because it was sweltering in the sun BUT because the kids had NEVER even seen the parachute before and now I was about to lead them in Kiswahili in front of tons of people in a game they never had played. It actually went pretty well and it turns out that kids playing parachute games is fairly easy, even last minute!

Overall, it was a great ceremony and it was awesome to be a part of the celebration of the good work that has gone into the school. Our prayer is that this new school blesses the children and families here as it already has blessed us and will continue! Here are some pictures of the day....

new fancy sign

Anni being patient (or trying to be) during the LONG ceremony
Evy was happy as long as she was being loved on!
the primary school kids danced
I was "in charge" of leading the kid's in Anni's class in a game...
they did pretty well considering they had never done it before!
All the official leaders & guests

Mr. Kim & J (I love that J looks like a giant compared to him:)
Anni shows off the new bathrooms and sinks to wash hands (the ones on top) and feet (the lower ones)!
Anni with 2 of her teachers outside her new classroom!