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Catharsis and what comes after...

USA | Friday, 20 September 2013 | Views [404] | Comments [2]



“Because when we are all dust and teeth and kicked-up bits of skin- when we’re dancing with our own skeletons- our words might be all that’s left of us.” ~ Alexandra Fuller from Scribbling the Cat, travels with an African soldier

I love writing this blog, and I wonder why I don’t have one for my everyday life...not just when I travel. It so cathartic and helps chronical events rather than let things mesh together while time slips away from me. Since my last post, I’ve experienced a whirlwind of emotions. On Thursday I walked into town with Jenny and her son Levin (two of my house mates), charged my phone, then proceeded to try three different cafes for internet service. At all three, the answer was “no” blaming the clouds looming above. I gave in to the fact I would be going one more day without service, stopped at the bank and then to a little supermarket. There, I picked up pasta, coffee and a bottle of wine. A glass of wine when I got home sounded like heaven at this point.  I hadn’t heard from Frank all day which increased my frustration. I don’t understand this culture’s work ethic. I’m not putting it down, because I think Americans work way too many hours...but there has to be some middle ground when we are working together, and I’m struggling to find it.  Frank’s “busy” is definitely not my busy. I do realize that not many people have the same definition so I’m really trying to go with the flow, however, I’m finding the need to stick a paddle in the water to push it along a bit.

By the time I went to bed (at 9pm) my mind was spinning. Is this the right project for me? Is Frank the right partner? Is this the right building and location? Am I doing this for the right reasons? My mind whirled for hours as I lay in bed, crying to God, asking for guidance and wisdom. I just want to be clear and not govern my actions based on emotions or ego. Frustration with Frank and the project, frustration with how even simple things can be challenging here, frustration with the heat and always being dirty, frustration with the itch of my mosquito bites (although thankfully few), frustration with my time here quickly coming to an end...all bound itself tight into the pit of my stomach creating a nice big, solid knot. As tears streamed down the sides of my face onto my pillow, I gave in to my exhaustion and put trust into knowing God will provide the answers at the perfect time. I finally fell into a deep sleep.



I met Frank at the project, knot still in my stomach. I don’t like confrontation but I knew we had a tough conversation coming up and I wasn’t sure how it would all unfold. Upon greeting, he confided that he had a pretty emotional day himself and did nothing. Rather than feeling empathy, however, my first thought was “I still have to work when I have an emotional day! I get them every month!” I didn’t let my anger rise, though, and instead took a deep breath. With the children inside learning to count, Frank and I sat outside on the steps with a new little boy nicknamed Brown sitting between us as he was not yet ready to face his new classmates, or school at all for that matter. At every break between difficult topics being addressed, I would try to get Brown to smile or engage. Sometimes I was successful. He has these glittery shoes much too big for him, but when he would stomp his feet they would light up. Each time he did, I would make a face and he would laugh. I think he was starting to warm to us. An interesting combo of events taking place at the same time, on the same set of steps. Thanking God at every breath, I was grateful that the tension lessoned between Frank and I after each topic and I felt myself wanting to encourage him rather than scold or be angry. I really had no idea which way this conversation would go and I’m happy to say I think we are back on track. It’s clearer to me how our partnership needs to work and I still believe it’s the partnership I’m supposed to be in...for both of us.

At that moment, a teacher ran out to tell us Mary had counted to 10 on her own and we needed to find something to reward her with! This is huge! I haven’t heard a single word from Mary in two weeks and barely a smile. How perfect that I happened to bring the last pair of silver glittery shoes today and that they fit her like they were made for her. She was more shy when we came in to see her do it again, as she took a stick pointing to the numbers on the board, but she did it. We all clapped in delight, which I don’t think she really understood, as much too large shoes were taken off and the new shiny shoes put on her. She just blinked at us with those big, watery eyes but I imagine at least some of that sunk in.  It also showed the other students that they will be rewarded when they do well. The rest of the day continued to get better and better as we played with the kids and wrapped up our conversation after they left. It was also a day of photos as we put the smallest of the t-shirts donated by One World Works (even still much too large) on the kids and and got some fun shots.

After school I took a cab over to Neema to pick her and the kids up to go shopping in town. It was Neema, Irene, Glory and a boy named Peter who was sponsored last year by some friends who gave me money this year for him, wanting to continue the sponsorship. It was so fun! The kids needed shoes, backpacks, underwear...and some lunch. There aren’t really shoe shops. Instead, there is Market Street where the street is lined with items (mostly shoes) laid out on tarps. I’m not sure where these shoes come from as there is no rhyme or reason and there are no two exactly same. But this is how it’s done. We stopped and the kids tried on shoes for school and for church or home. I bought them each two pair. Next were the backpacks. Every one of them they picked up had something written in Chinese haha...I was determined to find ones that didn’t. It took a bit of searching but Irene found a bright red canvas bag, Glory one with many pockets made of denim and Peter’s was a perfect fit for him in gray and black. We loaded the shoes and undies into each bag and headed to a little place where we ate kabobs, along with something resembling a hot pocket and drank orange fanta.  Neema’s stomach was in a bad way and it was good for us to sit awhile. I worry about her. The doctors don’t really know what is wrong but she’s in constant pain. She conceals it well, poor thing.  After that, we went to the bookstore to pick up a syllabus for our school. While Neema was negotiating with the sellers, Peter and Irene and I walked across the parking lot to listen to a live marching band practicing outside the Luthren church. I’m sure it was a funny sight, the three of us marching in place in the middle of a vacant lot. But it was worth it to see them smile.

As the sun started to set I felt the kids needed to have milkshakes before the cab picked them up to take them home. We sat down at the Coffee Lounge and had one of each flavor...chocolate, strawberry, vanilla and coffee (that one was for me). It was hard to tell how much they really liked them (first time!), as they were all pretty exhausted from walking so much, but I think it was a telling sign that there was not a drop left when the driver picked them up. They all got hugs and kisses from me before putting them into the cab to send them home. A successful day of shopping for sure.

Tonight, I was invited out by Katie and her friends, had some interesting chicken and potato thing with some beers then headed to Glacier, a large outdoor bar complete with a live band that was hit or miss on the songs played. It was a great place for people watching as it was a mix of locals, volunteers and backpackers. I, of course, came with some of the blinkie toys to gift to my new friends. They were a hit.

Tomorrow, I get to meet the parents. I'm grateful for the challenges I've faced here, as it makes the successes that much sweeter. I'm excited to meet the parents of the kids we are teaching, as I feel it will solidify everything we've done to this point. Onward and upward!



This blog made me cry!
Thank you for sharing your life with all of us. You write so well. Love you and are so proud of you.

  Mom Sep 23, 2013 1:35 AM


Love your tenacity my teeny! Keep up the good work! love you so much!

  Sarah Sep 24, 2013 12:02 AM

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this is soooo LA :)

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