Sunday, October 31, 2010

when it rains...

it pours.. or at least it did today! We woke up to fabulously loud rain on our tin covered roof. It was so loud we had to shout just to hear each other at breakfast. I decided that it was just too awesome to NOT "sing in the rain" and after telling an eager Annikah we could romp in the rain we did just that. After about 15 minutes playing outside I was cold! COLD people! Here! That is BIG, like worthy of noting on this blog (although as avid readers know it does not take much to make that list). We took a cold shower (still no hot water because of aforementioned dead something in our tank) and changed clothes.
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The rain eventually died down but not before flooding our driveway. Still our hopes of a quiet morning were dashed when my neighbor came over to greet us ten minutes after the rain stopped :) but other than that we had a mostly quiet and uneventful day. We realized it was Halloween around noon and asked Anni what she wanted to "be" (we added that she could only pick from her dress up clothes basket...but I made it sound much more fun than that). After riffling through every shiny and bling thing she owned she finally decided on Ariel but "only in pink." Swimsuit top, a tail, and some hasty (b/c of Miss Evy trying to eat it) finger paint on her face and arm Anni was ready. We explained that going door to door would really only serve to confuse the heck out of our neighbors since they do not have Halloween and while we enjoy a good excuse to don costumes and get free candy we would definitely not want to try to export such a weird holiday. Nope, we would trick or treat inside. We have better treats anyway :) Anni then grabbed a purse and stood outside every door in our house (except 2 since I ran out of goodies) and knocked and then when greeted by either me or J said a hardy and enthusiastic "Trick or Treat!" Well, full disclosure first she just said "hoodi" and "I'm a mermaid" but after some quick schooling in proper American kid etiquette she was all over the "trick or treat."
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KV foundation and rain and halloween 055.jpgedit Trick or Treat!
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Evy sported the ANYTHING but culturally appropriate pig mask while Anni perferred the tiger one she got in her goodie bag. All in all it was a quiet but good Halloween and it was apparently a big hit as Anni asked at bed time "Mama, please can we trick or treat tomorrow?"

Despite our rain romping and valiant Halloween efforts a power outage made the temp inside our house rise to unbearably hot in a matter of minutes and we were all feeling yuck. Evy was crabby mostly due to a nasty snotty nose and hardly slept at all making our voluntary inprisonment in our house due to the elections unbearable by 3 pm. We seriously decided even if there were angry mobs and riots outside that would still be better than 2 whiny kids trapped in a hot house! Luckily, it was actually very quiet out on the streets and we were able to make an escape to our team leader's house for some adult convo while the kids played. The only "mob" we saw was a bunch of eager and excited young guys playing football but there are still a few days we need to hold up here (I'm praying for creativity:)
Happy Halloween to all you 'Merican types!

Friday, October 29, 2010

this man

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continues to amaze me.

When I married him we were 'in love' but that love was the sort that was innocent, fresh, untested. Still beautiful but different. Let's be honest: we were fetuses really. Too young to know what we were really getting into. Full of hope, ready for the unknown, seeking adventure, and sure we would always feel like this. Thankfully I was wrong...at least about the always feeling the same part. I love him more now than when we started this twisting, turning, bumpy journey full of ups and downs 10 years ago. Because I know him more. And I am more known.

I know his joys, his struggles, his fears, his passions. He fiercely loves his girls and me and although in my former feminist swaying days I would say I would never "want" a strong man in the tradition sense of the word I am so grateful I have one. He always is reaching towards loving me the way Christ loves the Church. He is strong and vulnerable, leading while at the same time always being a fully invested partner to me. His strength and leadership allows me to be more fully me. He reigns in my craziness as only he can. His affinity for reason and level-headedness balances my love for the seemingly impossible and my emotional wreck of a self. He gives power and plans to our dreams. His protection envelopes our family and I feel safe. He has such a soft heart and is growing and being changed and I get to see it. And it makes me love him more.

We both jumped into to living here without the slightest idea what it really would mean for us. He was taken away from a life he liked. We liked. No, loved most days. From doing something he was "good at" and felt comfortable in being able to provide for his family and be "certain" in. He traded that to follow what he clearly heard God speak to us. He led the charge on days I was scared or feeling unwilling. He gave up comfort to seek obedience. We both came here and were/are basically idiots; unsure of how to communicate, how to really help, how to live but we trusted. Jason trusted and had faith even when he struggled so to see how things would ever work out. Some days I just love watching who he is becoming and how God is using him. He has come home several times to tell of what God is doing here and had to fight back his tears. Because he is doing what he is supposed to be doing and to see God work is an amazing privilege. He also releases me to follow my passions. Even when that means sacrifice for us and him personally. And it always does. He listens. He provides. He leads. He feels. He laughs. He prays. He loves. Me. His girls. His family. The people here. And His Father. I am so grateful he is my partner in this life.
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my prayer for him today is...
10Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. 11Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil's schemes. 12For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. 13Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. 14Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, 15and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. 16In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. 17Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. 18And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on.... Ephesians 6

Thursday, October 28, 2010

missing you..

not as good......
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.......as the real thing but we love you Bibi & Babu!

Today it is rainy which has served to keep visitors to a minimum except for Hadija who came over at 7am and decided to watch me do Tae-Bo for a while since it was just too bizarre to miss.

It is pretty quiet here so far this morning and I can actually THINK, a rare moment. And I have decided today I miss my family. Like really miss them. Not in a sad weepy sorta way but just really wish we could be with them all even for a day; hear the familiar laughs, listen to the same old stories, eat comfort food, and share.

Happy 60th Birthday to my Dad! I called him and he actually picked up the phone yesterday!! I told him I missed him and loved him and that if he was here he would be like ancient :) I listened to his birthday dinner plans and his football hopes for the Illini and then we said goodbye. Hearing his voice made me remember there is this whole other reality that we are missing out on.
Yep, today I really miss our family.

lala

to sleep (one of my favorite Kiswahili words cuz to me it sounds like what it is).

I am in awe of the local people's ability to sleep anywhere. Seriously, it seems most people can catch a nap outside on the ground with only a rice bag as a pillow, or sleep through blaring loud music, or .......say........sleep outside on hard cement with a chicken on your face (just for the sake of example).
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She was passed out like this for 2 hours with tons of noise, visitors, and chaos going on around her.
lala salama (sleep peacefully) .......

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Uchaguzi

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Election time. It is here. You can tell because of the crazy amounts of huge picture posters there are covering every surface; walls, gates, dukas, trees, even cars! Because of the loud rallies in the streets, hushed conversations about politics, and trucks packed with people sporting their party's colors hollering as they pass you. I went running this weekend, threw on a sweat-wiking shirt, pants, and covered my legs with a kanga and headed out. It only took about 5 minutes until I realized (by way of numerous people calling out to me) that I was wearing one of the colors of a political party. Not the brightest idea. I then had to spend the next hour of my run answering EVERYONE that asked "not my politics, just my shirt." Stupid Mzungu :)

While our stateside family and friends celebrate Halloween this Sunday the people of our island will be voting. Past elections have been mired in violence and chaos and we are praying for a peaceful and uneventful change in leadership this time around. It seems the most critical day might be November 2nd, when presidential results are expected to be announced. Like politics everywhere you get different answers depending on who you ask but many of our friends are convinced the election is rigged. I cannot say I blame for thinking this way as there seems to be much evidence that sways me too (although I must confess I have always loved good conspiracy theories:). It is also a reflection of the fact that many people operate under the theory that; in general, the mainlanders are evil people that want to take over everything here. The people on these islands are for the most part fiercely independent, or at least they want to be. They want to be protect their culture and their rights.

This year we have hope for little or no violence and most locals feel that things will be more peaceful as well. The major difference is that the government has come up with a power sharing deal, as opposed to the "winner take all" elections of the past. Some Wazungu have decided to leave the island based on the past but we and our team are staying put. Our neighbors have offered lots of advice and most people say they will not go out a lot in the days following the election just in case of any "fujo" (nonsense). We are going to take that advice, stock up on food, and hang out here. We are very hopeful that things will remain peaceful and calm. Should violence break out and we are threatened or in danger, we have an emergency evacuation plan in place. We pray it will not need to be utilized! So far, things have been rowdy but peaceful and people are very optimistic about the election. Us too! Please join us in praying that everything is peaceful for the people here.
And I learned my lesson: no more green shirts for me.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

this morning

Annikah was no where to be found when it was time to head to school. Hmmmm...some giggling gave it away that her and her partner in crime were close by.......
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"we are on our boat to go to Dar Mama!"

huge empty box...the possibilities are endless......

Saturday, October 23, 2010

visiting

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Visiting and receiving guests is what you do here. It is how you show respect, give blessing, share life, and catch up. No quick emails, no blog reading, no meetings, no planned coffee dates, no long phone calls (especially in the land where everyone owns a cell phone but no one ever has credit on their phones). Nope, it is just visiting. Mostly unannounced or unplanned old school visiting. To be honest this is hard for us anal-plan-lovin' Western types and on more than one occasion (ok, like at least a 100) we have been seen trying to hide when a "hoodi" bellows from our gate. Never works though since everyone knows our business and they just get louder until we come:) We are learning to roll with it though and dare I say even really enjoy it most days.

For us it is hard to really understand just how much it means when you visit and receive guests and not on your time table but on theirs. When I asked my English students the question "How do you know someone loves you?" they ALL unequivocally answered "they come to visit me." For us this has meant that we try to set aside more time for visiting or we get to busy and just do not do it. Saturday was a packed day of visiting. Anni was invited to go with some of our team members to a sand bank so it was just J, Evy, and me. We braced ourselves for what could be a long, sweaty, and unpredictable day but it turned out to be one of the best days I've had in a while.

Started rough although as we got lost trying to find our first friend's house. Luckily we found a duka with a colorful sign: "Safi Butchery" (safi=clean) and even though it was anything but it served as a landmark for a relative of our friend to come get our Wazungu butts and direct us to the house. How people can remember these narrow and winding paths is so beyond me? After arriving we met the newest addition to their family. He was a week old and had just been given his name: Abdul. He was precious and tiny and so sweet.
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I could only hold him for a couple minutes before Miss Evy was jealous and insisted (by loud protests) that she sit on my lap, hug my neck, and that I ditch the baby. After hanging out a while, being stared at by lots of interested watoto that showed up, and hearing all the latest news from their family Jason prayed for the baby and their family. Thanking God for the gift of a healthy baby and asking God to be with their family, protect them, guide them. We said goodbyes and made our winding way back to our car.
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Since we were really close by we called our other friend (who had just gotten married) who somehow found us in the maze of winding streets (I use that term lightly) and then escorted us to his house.
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His wife was inside cooking and since the last time we were there she had decorated and added a woman's touch to the home. I loved it! We brought some "house warming" gifts (a bucket for water, a wooden spoon, and some rice) and explained that is our culture when you have your first home it is a big deal and friends and family come over and bring gifts. They brought out a mat for us and we sat around visiting, catching up, and sharing for about 3 hours. It was constant kazi to keep Miss Evy Imani from destroying everything or reaching for the hot coals or other not so kid-friendly stuff everywhere but we made it work.
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Jason also got to see his finished hat (but he could not take it home yet as it has to be washed a special way). He even got lessons about how to wear it the appropriate way. We had a great time exchanging stories; he told us about what life was like on the island a long time ago, we told some of the story of Joseph, and we heard the latest on his business and foundation he is starting to help kids. After a quick trip to get another friend and to buy some sodas from the duka we all sat to eat the spread of food; beans with coconut, rice, fried fish, mchuzi (curry), and papaya. It was fabulous! Since Evy was BEYOND tired and crabby at this point we knew we had to take our leave soon. But the men folk first went out to greet some neighbors while me and our friend's wife washed dishes. I felt good that she let me help after I insisted "wanawake siyo wageni" (women are not guests). The men returned, we waited for some rain to let up, and headed out the long and now muddy walk back to where our car was parked.
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We arrived home and Evy took a marathon nap while I cleaned up a bit and we rested. Our Kiswahili teacher from a long while back had called and said he was coming to visit with his wife but they were over an hour late which we did not mind at all since we got some uninterrupted Skype time with J's folks. J then quickly headed out to pick up Annikah who was back from her boat adventures and as they pulled in our guests showed up. Our teacher had just gotten back from a 6 month guest teaching gig at Howard University in D.C. We had SOOO many questions for him! Jason told him he would have loved to be in his brain when he arrived in the U.S.: his first time outside of East Africa. We talked about his time there and heard his stories. We had so many questions. He said everything was so clean and organized but that people have no time for visiting, for people, or to talk. They are just too busy with work all the time and he felt lonely. He was shocked at how much diversity there is in America, people from everywhere and lots of black people (I added especially at Howard!) He could not believe the duka kubwa (big store) or mall and described it as the place unaweza kununua kila kitu duniani (you can buy everything in the world). He said the food was not so great: a point which we argued strongly against:) He said when he got back he was skinny because his wife was not there to cook and he did not know how to cook there. I sympathized telling the stories of when we first arrived here and people laughed because I could not scrape a coconut or sort beans. I feel ya! We laughed and laughed and listened and compared stories. We all understood what is like to feel so out of place, so far from home, and so vulnerable. It is just amazing to have someone who understands what our "home" is like. My favorite story was that he almost slept outside his hotel room one night because they gave him the "key" but he could not figure out that the card was actually a key or how to open the door. Poor guy (he did eventually get help and figure it out)! We all had a great laugh about that! His wife had just finished a course in management and is now teaching in town. Anni was amazingly charming and colored them both pictures and sang songs and answered all their questions in Kiswahili which clenched her place as cutest Mzungu kid ever in their hearts. We talked until way to late and it was almost 2 hours past the kids bedtimes so we wrapped up some fish and bread for their zawadi and said our goodbyes and made plans to go to their house soon to see her certificates, his pictures from the U.S. (cannot wait for that), and visit their 3 boys. We got the over tired kids to bed and Jason ran out to get some street food as we were way too exhausted to think about cooking. One of the shule kids hoodi'ed and told me his dad was having some stomach pains and asked if we had any medicine. I quickly grabbed some meds and headed next door.

It was so dark and I could barely see let alone recognize people but I quickly found his father and offered up what I brought. They insisted I sit down and relax a bit and cleared a space on the mat they were all sitting on. We sat by kerosene lamp light and talked. Pretty soon a couple other neighbors came over and joined us and space on the mat was becoming scare especially with 2 of the watoto from shule passed out sleeping. They asked me tons of questions about America as they knew our teacher had been over and had traveled to the US. They wanted to know about our hospitals, schools, and about funerals. Everyone was shocked that we sometimes wait a week to bury someone. I tried to explain we have people whose job it is to take bodies and prepare them for burial and the use "fridges as big as a small house." That was the best I think of to describe it since their house in 2 rooms and it would be about that size. A few other neighbors came over and asked more and more questions about where we come from. They were shocked that there are homeless people even Wazungus that live in America. The women laughed hysterically when I told tales of machines that wash and dry clothes and wash dishes! Then one woman asked me if we had machines to sweep the floor. I said no but then remembered we do: a vacuum! I made the sound of a vacuum and showed them how they work. The kids were dying laughing at the tales of the land of a the crazy Wazungus! I think; thanks to me, they probably have the craziest image of America ever: the land of machines and huge fridges for dead people! Many people have no concept of what it is like but it was so much fun to answer their questions and then ask them why they think it is so varied from life here. A lot of people just think life must be so easy in America and I tried my best to tell them it is different. For sure education and healthcare (on the whole are better) but other aspects of life are harder. Staying connected to familyfor one. We agreed raising kids is hard everywhere and that every culture has it's own sins. I tried to explain the pace of life where we are from is just different. That everyone is still busy just not with the same things; not cooking, washing clothes, digging for clams, or fishing all day to provide. That we work hard just in a different way. We agreed that if we Wazungus had to do the manual labor many Africans do "tutakufa mara moja" (we would die at once) and that if Waswahili had to deal with our winters "watakufa kweli" (they would die for sure). We talked about a lot on our mat in the dark: politics, AIDS, stealing, the shame people feel here, raising children, the culture of celebrations, education and what motivates people. I shared the gratitude I feel for being able to have attended school and chosen what I wanted for my life and that deciding to follow Jesus was the most life changing thing I have ever done. Jason called and was back with the food so I tried to wrap up our conversation but it occurred to me I wished I could sit there all night and be with them.

We laughed a lot and I watched the faces of my friends and neighbors. The watoto full of questions, the flashes of teeth as the adults laughed, and the common yet so different worlds colliding. All by light of a small kerosene lamp. One of the kids from shule climbed in my lap and played with my earrings as we talked. I told them that I was thankful to God that He brought our family here. That we have learned things we could never have learned had we stayed at "home." I told them the people here have taught us the importance of listening and being with people and not always worrying so much about what has to 'get done.' I told them I have learned to just sit. I said 'I thank you all for this gift.' I told them where ever God tells our family to go or do next I will always take this with me and for that I am profoundly grateful to the Waswahili people. And my friend grabbed my arm and said and 'we thank you for coming here too.' In that moment I was touched, grateful, vulnerable, and I had peace. Peace that I have been seeking. Just enough for today.

it was a day of visiting well spent.

Treasure Hunt

One of my Mama goals this year is to do more fun stuff. Fun for the sake of fun and family and sharing the limited time we get when our kids are little. I am not super crafty, creative, or particularly good at dreaming up fabulous things for Anni and tribe to do. But I want to. Oh, please I really want to be better about planning and doing family fun nights, creating new traditions that our kids will remember and cherish, heck... I'll even take laugh at our cheesiness one day. So I started small: A Treasure Hunt. I really wanted Annikah to have a blast and get to do something special just for her and friends. And it helped the formally mentioned funk for me too! I made a big ol' list (ok, not so big as being creative here takes a bit more energy) of fun stuff we can do. So far: camping in our shamba, a scavenger hunt, relays at the beach, and family game nite have all made the list (ideas?). Well, Friday we had a scavenger hunt of sorts that ended in a hunt for treasure in our shamba. I thought up some clues of things the kids could do around the neighborhood or house: go to the duka and buy one yogurt, pick 7 flowers, sing the ABC's, jump rope 10 times, find a piece of a coconut, search for something yellow, fill the washing basin with water using plastic cups, complete the puzzle together, find 10 pieces of taka-taka (trash) and throw them away (like how I squeezed that one in), etc. The big thing was team work! They had to work together: the lil' watoto and the wakubwa. We talked it up all week and Anni asked everyday "how many more naps until the treasure hunt?" She was pumped! We included Lusi, Mika, another friend of theirs, and our team leader's 4 kids. Watoto from shule heard the commotion and jumped the wall and opened the fence to see if they could join in but after promising that we would play this game for our Christmas party at shule I chased them away. They acquiesced because I explained they could not play later at our party if they discovered the secrets now (note to self: plan Christmas party for shule). Wazungus are always up to weird things and I think they were satisfied :) Before the kids got the last clue to search the basil plants for a water bottle containing the treasure map we read some passages form scripture in English and Kiswahili about real treasure. I guess that came from the teacher within and I do hope my kids enjoy hiding the Word in their hearts even more than they love searching and uncovering a shiny "treasure" box full of pipi (candy), shiny new pencils, and cookies. Oh and at the bottom of said treasure box was 100 shilling coins for all...Anni is still debating of what to do with her riches...
Welcome to our Treasure Hunt (and thanks Doro for taking pictures since I managed to not take even one!)treasure hunt 007.jpgedit
listening to the "rules" of the game
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singing "Head, Shoulders, Knees, and Toes"
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ready for the next clue
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even Evy was in on the teamwork....ok..she mostly tried to eat the puzzle peices
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Anni was very pleased that she found the water bottle with the map inside!
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where, oh where could the treasure be? The best was when I pointed out the "shimo" or water hole as a landmark on the map and asked "what is this?" The answer: "the ocean." (because of my universal wave=water drawing). Nope, not quite but they got that the treasure was under a tree and after only one try they found it:)
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Wherever your treasure is, there the desires of your heart will also be.

Friday, October 22, 2010

island paradise

This place is beautiful. It really is. But living on an island is harder than I ever thought it would be. Some days I just feel like the Indian Ocean is about to swallow me up and I cannot escape. Like everything we do is public knowledge and there is no where to hide. And I don't want to hide for long. Even just an afternoon would be fabulous. It just feels so small here. Like tiny. And the same. Everywhere. Today I am just not feeling it. And it is a lot of stuff adding up.......

Vague sickness has been lurking for about a week and has run it's course though all of us except Miss Anni who has more energy and drama than the rest of our sicky selves can deal with at any one moment.

I thought I might get a few uninterrupted moments to just be quiet this week. Ya know think and read after getting Evy down for a nap. Right about the time I sat down two watoto from shule came over and asked me to come because a cow cart had rolled over the foot of one of my students. I set aside my book and grabbed my first aid kit and after putting J in charge of holding down down the fort for a bit headed out. The boy's foot was beyond swollen and after sending some ice and pain relievers we made plans to take him to the hospital later. Within a span of 3 days I went to visit or took people to the hospital 4 times. Some days it is just constant. Lately I also feel a bit overwhelmed after some misunderstandings on our team. No big deal but I feel like I just want to hide my face in my pillow. Between that and the demands of being part of the community of our neighborhood I am choka (tired). The cost of real community with people different than us is sometimes painful. No, I think always painful. And stretching but the thing is I would never trade it. But still, there it is.

Then some well intentioned but sorta rude comments about adoption popped up and added to the "ick." Because really, let's be honest, all "have you really thought this through?" means is "I do not think you have thought this through cuz if you did you obviously would have come to a different conclusion." But then the real issue was that the vague feelings of my own worries and fears about adding another lil' soul to the mix here have a place to reside and I feel raw.

I guess I just had lots of moments that are stretching into days where I feel indifferent, joyless, and blah. Like no matter what we do here people are too set in their ways and as much as they say they want to learn or experience new things when it comes down to it we are all lazy. Creatures of comfort. People who veer towards the known. And we are afraid. Me too. Me especially.

It just sucks. Not a specific or fixable thing... just a vague suck-ness.

Yesterday after a long day I just wanted to end we got both kids in bed early (WooHoo!) and I (Jason was out) came in our room to try to read but the stinkin' bar next door (yeah, on an island where the religious law outlaws drinking we got the unfortunate luck of living feet away from a bar!) is blasting music so loud I feel like the wall is shaking and it add insult to injury it must be Celine Dion hits from the early 90's-night. Argh! I go to grab my ear plugs but only have one and our back up supply has finally run out. Double Argh! Determined to some how block some of the blaring loud music I plug one ear and thrust the other side of me head into the pillows. Did not help. Not so much. I just wanted to cry. Not because of the bad 90's music you see but because it all adds up to a breaking point that for this emotional wreck of a woman was too much.

I am not making much sense but really that is because my head and heart are heavy. And I process by writing and blabbering on..... I am searching and grasping at some semblance of balance. The issue really is that we live in a place where that seems so out of reach many days. Where personal time and space are just not needed. Where things are urgent and yet at the same time everyone has all day. Our friends have celebrations, joys, tragedies, and issues that keep us busy and constantly seeking after Him because we alone have no answers. No quick fixes. The needs are overwhelming here and they keep coming. There is never a shortage of people who have a shida (problem) or something that requires attention. And then there is the make-us-want-to-bang-our-heads-against-the-wall constant things in need of our attention; small requests from friends, stuff breaking, water flooding your car (to mention one from last week). I just want to hide or at least not have to make tough choices. And it is not that I think I can do everything. I have learned that lesson. I cannot. And I do not want to be self sufficient. I do not want to serve, love, or be out of my own strength because it can never be enough. Really I know this. When I try I always get reminders of my own deseperate need for a Savior. Or even that we understand what to do. We don't. But still to discern, to get over our selfishness, to choose, to listen and hear from the Spirit is difficult especially when the noise crowds me into my own head.

Some days I just feel defeated and icky and blicky (those are words...sure!). And stretched too thin. But it is not easy to decide when and how to be. And how to live in Grace when I fail. When I am not able to be with the girls or at home all the time I feel like I am missing out or failing my family but when I am home all the time I feel a desperate sense that I want to be with people. Be teaching, be learning, be experiencing all that is around me. It is a constant pull. I guess all this rambling to say I am just needing that peace that only He can provide. I really do not think I will feel complete "balance" or if really that is my goal in the Oprah-self-help-granola sense of the word. Because I do not want everything to be figured out or have "it's place" because for me that would mean clenching too tightly to MY ideas or MY goals and leave no room for Him to work. The thing is when I shut up long enough to listen I sense deep in me that I am not supposed to be comfortable. I never see that in His Word. In His life. I don't want to seek after comfort where I never have to live what I say I believe. I want a messy life. I do not want us to hold onto anything tightly but His Word and promises. I know that is what He calls me to. That is why He brought us here to teach us that us having everything figured out is not really living. He has more for us. He has abundance.

Lord help me find your peace in this space and truly learn what you mean...Then he said to them all: "If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will save it."

Thursday, October 21, 2010

no training wheels!

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We finally got around to taking the training wheels off Anni's bike. It was necessitated by the fact they basically were ripped apart AND that we have been talking up being 4 years old sorta like the culmination of all things big girl. We headed to the test track for a local driving school behind our vocational school this past weekend to kill the witching hour (the hours all parents of small children know as 3-7pm...ie.....the hours YOU (along with your children) are prone to want to scream, cry, or otherwise meltdown). Papa took the training wheels off and helped Anni learn how to start up. There was lots of excitement and some moments of tragedy (really it would not involve Annikah without some emotional outbursts:).
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But after some tears, wobbly starts, and some big cheers form her adoring fans AKA me and Evy she did pretty good and even ventured down a hill! That is my fearless girl! Well, fearless after lots of tears :)
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In the end; though, she preferred picking flowers, exploring the bark of trees, and jumping off the track to the actual bike riding. Evy loved watching her sister's antics as usual and we all got some time in the shade and out of the house.
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Lots more bike riding and exploring in our futures....

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

more "henna"

Lusi and Annikah were playing on the front porch when I heard profuse amounts of giggling. After opening the door to investiagate I found this.....
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"Mama, we did henna and wanja (black eyeliner used for dressing up or putting on children's eyes) on our faces"
Yep, and on their legs and hands too. They swiped a blue marker from my shule stash...lil' stinkers! And somehow the blue looks a bit more ridiculous on the Mzungu.
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And she rocked that look all day!

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

wavuvi wa taka-taka

The fisherman of garbage. Yep that is us.
Here is the story. The weekend was pretty nutz. Lots going on, guests, going out once for dinner (Yeah!), and not lots of time in our house or cleaning it. Who am I kidding even if I was home I can guarantee I would not have been cleaning! I digress....On Sunday Jason wanted to make coffee but he could not find a part of the coffee machine. Not a big deal since the place was pretty tore up. Now this is not just any coffee machine it is his baby. Our special, swanky, American Cuisinart coffee machine he received as a Christmas present after reading every review online to find the perfect one. We are coffee snobs and this time we brought back this little machine-o-joy to help make the rough days here not so bad. It is a vice. Judge me. Go ahead but first put down that Starbucks cup:) At least I acknowledge our vice, that is the first step right?

Anyway, we skipped the coffee and due to chaos with the children never really remembered to search for said missing piece. Fast forward to Monday morning. Still no piece to the coffee machine and we are in need. I mean the situation is getting desperate here. Lots of work ahead, a guest before 7am, Evy waking up twice...it was all adding up to the need for COFFEE! Jason searched and searched the kitchen and nothing. I searched the rest of the house to see if Miss Evy the Mtundu has taken it somewhere (she is known for this) and no luck. We waited until our house helper arrived hoping maybe she stuck it somewhere...nope. We were super bummed. After talking through where it could be I realized maybe it had gotten thrown in our taka taka bucket (our garbage). Problem was the bucket has already been emptied in the taka taka shimo (the scary deep garbage pit outside the house). It was worth a try: Jason took a flashlight and headed out but was back in a couple minutes due to massive amounts of fire ants attacking his legs. He accepted defeat and we discussed maybe trying to order a replacement part and having someone ship it out. But we resigned that we were not going to enjoy good coffee for a while. At this point our house helper said she would try to look. We warned her about the fire ants but she was determined to check it out. About 5 minutes later she returned and said she could see it but could not reach it. We jumped up to investigate and sure enough there it was: our precious little black plastic thingy that makes yummy coffee possible, at the bottom of the garbage pit. It was about 12 feet deep and out of our reach. Then began the epic quest to recover it.
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Let me just say you will really go to lengths to recover something in a land where you cannot replace things. First we needed partners in crime. Some kids were quick to volunteer and scour the area for banana leaf rope, old wire cords, and old broom handles. We settled on some old rubber from a bicycle tire and Jason and Mika tied two long poles together. We still needed something to scoop it up with.
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I found a broken small piece of a tricycle of Anni's and after administering copious amounts of duct tape we were on! (I have never been so glad for the trash laying around everywhere and the ingenious way Africans can re purpose anything). We tried and tried but it was so hard to get it in the bucket.
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At this point we were invested. Sweaty, determined, and now with an audience (your problem really is everyone's problem here) we knew we could not accept failure. Mika disappeared and emerged with a long piece of wood and with 3 people helping Jason was able to scoop it into the bucket of sorts and slowly...slowly...we pulled it out!!! We fished for garbage and we got it!!! It made for a great story at shule yesterday too as we add to the list of crazy antics of the Wazungus: wavuvi wa taka taka (fisherman of trash). And this morning we had coffee. And it tasted better somehow. Sorta like victory.
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Monday, October 18, 2010

container craziness!

Shipping containers arrive all the time on our little island. Some hold clothes and shoes from Dubai that are sold in the markets, some hold items for hotels or people relocating, and other machine parts or even cars! Our team leader and his family packed a shipping container while in Germany and sent it on it's way across the ocean. It was full of office equipment, tools for the auto workshop, car lifts, some personal stuff, and even a VW van!! It arrived safely last Friday and it was quite chaotic unpacking everything. I walked down to the vocational school with the girls to bring some cold juice for all the workers and take some pictures since with 2 watoto in tow I was not of much help in actually unpacking, lifting, or sorting. There was also no shortage of onlookers and helpers after it arrived on site. I was so overwhelmed with how much work it was and am glad although some days we wish we had a comfy mattress or a cushy couch we did not bring a container..too much work if you ask me! Not to mention the cost, hassle, and stress of dealing with the government and making sure it arrives safely. My head hurts just thinking about it! But we are thankful it made it and for sure many of its contents will help our school here and will remain to hopefully help the school and the local people long after we are gone. Here is a bit of the container craziness....
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How many Wazungu & Waswahili does it take to unload a container?....LOTS!!!
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some car repair thingy (note: I will not be teaching auto repair in case anyone was wondering....)
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Evy was quite happy on my back taking it all in
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Anni & friends clean up and cool off
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Anni chills amidst the maddness
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one little girl was seen trying to steal stuff.... fortunately she had no pockets and was not stealthy enough to get away with anything good
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the full size of the container....this was right before they used a crane to get the car out!

Sunday, October 17, 2010

beans, a busati, & a bath

An announcement that may or may not be of general public interest (most likely the latter):
We had maharagwe wa nazi (beans with coconut) for lunch today. Evy LOVES them! Can you tell?
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Good thing we had a huge pot to share with friends outside on the busati (mat)
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after lunch a bath was in order for Miss Evy! We love a place where bathing outdoors in buckets is socially acceptable:)
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