Monday, January 31, 2011

And So It Begins

Everyone's experienced it.
Admit it; you have too.

The nervous excitement, with just a touch of dread, upon the return of Routine and Responsibility. Things are getting back to normal...including the sound of your alarm clock in the morning.

School starts again.
The grindstone happily greets your schnoz.
The library is dusted, and backpacks are pulled out from under the bunk.
The cafeteria is re-opened (glory, hallelujah!).

I think excitement outweighs dread.

Bring it on, Tuesday.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

No Naked!

I'm no longer naked!!

You know those moments at "casual" events that really end up being formal, and you feel very underdressed?
I was about to have one of those moments.

You see, tonight is the NFC Championship; Packers v. Bears. When I was packing for Kenya, I wasn't thinking about the NFL Playoffs (foolish, I know; gotta plan ahead, right?) and didn't pack any Packers regalia save my favorite, once-green baseball cap.

A baseball cap is NOT enough for an event such as this.

What to do? Wear my teal t-shirt and yellow scarf? Hardly. So, I headed to Ongata Rongai. While my compatriots were purchasing cabbages and carrots, I was perusing the dirt floored, tin-roofed pole sheds for my prize.

There it was: The most beautiful green item of clothing I've ever seen in Kenya. Upon closer inspection, I realized that it was a youth size, but nothing was to come between Jessica and her weapon of Bears demoralization. I'll even buy it if it's a onesie...I can always pin it to my shirt. She began converting typical U.S. prices into Kenyan shillings...I'll settle for no more than 2000Ksh.
"How much?"
"How about 300?"

I tried to hide my glee at buying a green and gold #4 jersey for $5.

Tell me: what team can even think of prevailing over a team that has a backer in Kenya? Non. Not a one.

There are other people who have been Packers fans longer than I have.

...But they were born earlier.

1996: My first Packer-backing memory. Young Brett Favre led the green and gold to the right to call Green Bay "Titletown USA". I had a green toothbrush with yellow bristles with that very title embossed on it in gold; an ugly thing, really, but I love(d) it. I still have collector's cards for each of the 1997 starters, and pennants and posters that once filled my "Packer corner".
So, I like the Packers.
Go Pack Go.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Journal Entry

I read some SM blogs in the Student Movement. The gravity of what I'm called to do, of what people believe I'm doing, hit me.

I am unworthy.
I haven't succeeded.
I'm not the one for the job.

But that's why this job is perfect.
His strength is made perfect in my weakness.
I'm proud to be weak (well, I should be).

When you prepare to be an SM, they tell you not to expect to change the world.
Then why try?
Because even if you're not trying, if you're not aware of your life's impact, you're making a difference. You choose what sort of difference you make by the person you are.
\So who will you model your life after? You  have two choices.

On a Train to Cairo

I sank into my seat with a huff just as the train began to roll away from the station. My ticket read seat 4, but the scarlet-tuqued woman with matching lip paint and nail polish was in no mind to give up her window seat. An empty seat across the aisle sufficed and was gratefully received after the crush getting onto car 5.
And so I was in seat 2, surrounded by plump sextenarians in seats 1, 3, and 4. The head scarves of 1 and 3 denoted their faith, but amber aviators, faux snakeskin shoes, and a studded handbag denoted spunk. 1 - my seatmate - wore a plum-colored scarf that almost matched the swirling patterns of fuchsia on her sweater. Giggles wafted across the aisle as the three conversed in fluid Arabic.

"Aah!" (the apparent equivalent for "hey" in Arabic) Something resembling a cheese sandwich was proffered across the aisle and across my lap. A half-sandwich was held toward me with a smile; I graciously declined. 1 chewed in silence and smiled; I smiled too. No need for small talk when even small words can't be understood. No discussion of God or Allah, why the first page of her book would be the last of mine, her covered hair nor mine pulled into braids. Just a knowing silence.

Michael Bublé serenaded 1 with "Sway" until she answered the call.

An adventure on a train with pals; spirit, vivacity, kindness; smiles. These women found the heart of life.
I aspire to be 1 someday.

Update #24: Pharaonic Adventures!

With Germeen @ Sphinx & Pyramids

New Year's Eve. BAM. At promptly midnight Nairobi time, I was loading up my two carry-on sized luggage items into the school van amidst the fireworks display of our neighbors (apparently New Year's Eve is the only time fireworks are legal). Cassie, Tyson and I were on our way to the airport to catch a plane to Cairo!

After a pushy flight attendant and a sleepless, dreamlike flight, we were riding in a tiny van with Germeen and her brother. No problem at all with the visas, praise God. The only problem: US$66 missing from my checked bag. Sigh. Oh well. I guess the daughter of a security personnel man is getting a nice Christmas gift.

...I'm struggling to squeeze two weeks of touring Egypt into one email. Oofta.

Egypt: Land of the Pharaohs. And lots of people. And Arabic. And men. And dust. And smoking.

Ooo, and the food; yum. Koshary, ful, aish, fateer, falafel...who knows if those are spelled correctly; they tasted amazing. Truth be told, if I had encountered koshary at a potluck or in a cafeteria line, I'd have steered clear. A conglomerate of spaghetti, macaroni, garbanzo beans, fried onions, tomato paste, and lentils (with a squirt or two of garlic lemon sauce), koshary is a frighteningly delicious
dish that I never turned down. Cassie, Tyson, and I also splurged a few times. Egypt boasts American restaurants not found in Kenya...a pizza from Pizza Hut, milkshakes &
fries from McDonalds, and minibons from CinnaBon made Egypt even more tasteful.

The people! I must tell about the people. Most men like to flirt with the foreigners, and even more of them are incessantly smoking, whether it be from a cigarette or a water pipe (strangest thing I'd ever seen). Many of them have a darkened callous of sorts in the middle of their foreheads from devoted prayers with forehead to the floor. Nearly all of the women wore a head scarf, but their clothing styles were very much the same as those in the U.S.

The only guy that received mutual flirtation
Back to the flirtatious men...I have never before felt so reduced to blonde hair and genitalia.
"Welcom to Ezhypt!"
"Hola Senoritas!"
"(something in Arabic with a wink)"
"(something in Arabic with raised eyebrows)"
"Come, come take a seat and have a drink! No drugs! No drugs."
"Smile, Baby Spice." (my personal favorite)

If my call were at Nile Union Academy instead of MAA, I believe I'd find a burka, gloves, and sunglasses to disguise my blonde-haired, blue-eyed, fair-skinned self.

My foot! In the Mediterranean!
In a nutshell: I loved my time in Egypt. A visit to the pyramids & sphinx, a belly-dancing light fest riverboat trip down the Nile, the temples of Luxor and Aswan, sunsets on the Nile, learning to dance the merengue from a Colombian, bowling in a non-smoking alley, the library in Alexandria, a castle, dipping my toes in the Mediterranean Sea, Roman amphitheaters and catacombs, train trips, rides on a sardine-packed metro, and microbuses. While I had a wonderful time, I'm glad to be back in Kenya, with my own dresser, English-speakers, (slightly) fewer people, and familiar surroundings. Funny how leaving home away from home makes it seem sweeter.

MAA/NUA SMerfs gearing up
for some ice skating
One of my favorite moments of the past two weeks: Chilling with the NUA crew on our last night in Cairo. The Kenyan SMs and Egyptian SMs took to the malls - ice skating, McDonalds-ing, and mechanical bull riding. It was a step back to see the big picture: volunteers from everywhere, to everywhere, with the same good-news goal in mind. At church I was greeted with "Happy Sabbath" as well as "Sab Said" (sp?).
Sunset on the Nile
I was reminded that we really are a very small piece of the puzzle, a part of a worldwide family...

Well, I digress. There were so many more adventures and experiences, but they'll have to wait until we can sit down to a cup of tea. Speaking of tea, that reminds me of another story...but that will wait, too.

Don't think I've forgotten about my request for your holiday stories! Assignment due within two days.

Lots of love! (the sisterly kind. Don't get any marriage proposals in mind...)

Monday, January 10, 2011

Journal Entry

I'm really sick of being white. I'm sick of being a girl, too. And an American, and a foreigner, and... agh. Maybe I'm just sick of being away from home. And I'm not ready for another semester at MAA.
I'm reassuring myself with the idea that second semester has to be better than first, and first wasn't terrible.
I just want to be comfortable.
I think I'm beginning to realize that "Christian" and "comfortable" are not synonyms.
That makes me uncomfortable.

In order to be a Christian, must I be comfortable with being uncomfortable?
In this world, yes.