Friday, April 29, 2011

A Meeting in Kenya

"It's a cultural difference: event-based society v. time-based society." -R. Doss

On Tuesday, April 26, I discovered this disparity.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011


3:18p. Sophomore Lab Group A is coming to the 3:20 lab...
Ahh, I think. The cooperative group.
(We all know it's true; some students are easier to deal with)

After attendance is taken, prayer is prayed, the pre-lab is given, and we've headed to the lab room, Charmaine - star student of Filipino fame - still isn't present. Hmm... ill? I hope not.

I give the girls' dorm a call.

Charmaine comes to the phone, as chipper as ever.

Soli Deo Gloria

Soli Deo Gloria.

Three words meaning, "Glory to God alone".

J.S. Bach – a man fully devoted to serve God through music – inscribed the initials SDG at the end of each of his cantata scores, a reminder to himself and to those who perform his pieces to direct glory where it is due.

My Tribute.

Two words that make me grimace.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Update #32: Weekends of World Domination

Oh, blessed long weekend! 20 students, 10 faculty, and 4 days of chill time bliss. Students made a mass exodus for the MAA gate on Friday afternoon, some of them trapped on the MAA bus headed to Nakumatt for a town trip. I was trapped on this bus, front seat.

Across the aisle, in rows 1 and 2, were the Twins. Each had their  respective attachĂ© of one, and both were talking at one hundred miles an hour while their seatmates smiled and nodded. I simply watched in amusement. An hour later, the four of us met up in Nairobi Java House  for a girls' date; I smiled. This weekend is going to be GREAT.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Journal Entry

A shower after 5 days of camping. Cleaning the windows after 2 months of dirt. Polishing an old piece of furniture.

Cleaning something very dirty is a spectacular feeling. The change is drastic! Amazing, really. often do I allow myself to get really dirty before cleaning up, so I can have that feeling? Is it really worth it?

Journal Entry

We often struggle to know who we are. I once knew who I was... an academic at the top of her class, a music-lover and performaer, a hard worker, an Adventist, a basketballer...
then I graduated highschool.

My self-image was totally debunked. I did not know who Jessica Stotz was. When I lost "what" I was, I didn't know how to find "who".

The same thing happens in SMing. You leave behind your friends, classes, home, work, family, become the new SM. NO one knows anything about you. You've left your nich, and - most likely - much of it will be filled by the time you return home.

People here don't know your weaknesses. But they also don't know your strengths. For someone who craves recognition, this was something very difficult to deal with.

I think I've come closer to knowing who I am in the last few years. However, that means I know swhich types of people are my friends. Now, you cannot be my close friend if you don't fit the criteria. No matter how super people here are, I can't help but think how super duper my hoome friends are. I worry, though, that  my fantasizing about home puts them in an even grander light. Am I robbing myself of close friends here, or are we just not compatible? Am I wrong?
Who am I?

Journal Entry

I often forget how beautiful it is here...
I took PJ for a walk at 8:30 this morning. I was wearing jeans and a hoodie with the sleeves up, and was completely comfortable. The clouds just covered the peaks of the Ngongs, and it was clear enough to see them without haze. The sun was just changing the plain from orange to yellow, and the acacias from silhouettes to silent sentries over the grazing Thommies. A light breeze, birds singing; beautiful.

Popular, but without friends.

More than anything else, I just want to hang out with friends - without a computer in between.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

"I should have..."

I hate "I should have..."
I hate regret.
I hate making mistakes.
I hate ignoring that gut feeling, realizing afterward that I shouldn't have.
What I hate most? When others are affected by my mistakes.

I hate "I should have..."

Sunday, April 17, 2011

An Apple a Day...

I've tutored a lot of subjects I'd never expected I'd teach before, but this was a first...

Cassie: I've never really learned how to eat an apple properly before.
Jess: [blank stare]
C: You know; biting it and eating the whole thing...
J: You don't know how to eat an apple???
C: No! I know how, it's just it's always been cut up before I eat it, ever since I was little. Then I had braces, so...
J: You've never eaten an apple whole before.
C: Yes I have! Just, it's, well, I'm not good at it.
J: Whoa. I, well, I never thought I'd see the day.
C: Whatever. I just can't take big bites like you.
J: I still don't understand. [crunch] Wait; I see your problem. You're trying to bite through the whole apple.
C: Well how else am I supposed to get the apple into my mouth?
J: Ok. Here is your apple-munching lesson. I've been in love with apples my whole life; you're lucky I'm here to teach you.
C: Ha! Ok.
J: First of all, don't bite through the apple; you have to twist the apple once you've sunk your teeth into it.
C: Huh?
J: Take a half-bite, then twist and pull! Arm action is very important to eating an apple.
C: [twists apple side to side, without success]
J: No no no! Twist and pull! Pull away! Watch... [exhibits expertise and finesse while chomping off a large bite]
C: Ahhhhh. [crunch]
J: Success! Great job.
C: I know how to eat an apple!! ...Hey kids, guess what I learned in Africa?
J: Haha!

C: how do I know when I've finished eating this? I don't want to eat the core.

(...oh boy.)

Good Days, Bad Days

I have good days.

I have bad days.

I am a phlegmatic sanguine.

My two greatest desires are for world peace (phlegmatic) and world happiness (sanguine). I will do what I can to make sure you are peaceful and happy.

These "things I can do" include my updates. I want to be the bubbly, cheerful, happy person who cheers you up. I don't want to be the debbie downer, the naysayer. So I try to infuse some happy serum into each of my emails.
Sometimes that's a lie.

The Art of Busyness

To survive/thrive in today's world, you must master the art of busyness. You must look busy all the time, every day, or you will be confronted with comments such as,
"I wish it were my weekend off."
"I'm glad you have a night off! That's nice for you... Off to work I go!"

I hate looking busy. I feel like such a fake, a liar.

Update #31: Fruit Flies & Friends

Totally blown away.
We serve an awesome God.

...Hold on. Rewind.

I'm finished.
These guys can't take anything seriously.

Thursday, April 14, 2011


Hello, world.

I've realized that I generally blog when I'm experiencing strong feelings: anger, excitement, frustration, awesomeness.
Time for change.

I'm feeling... uh, well... hmm. Nothing, really. Not super happy, not sad, not upset, not overly exhausted; simply content. I'm eating Ola chips. I have 15 minutes before my next appointment - a music practice with piano, organ, violins, and chimes - and don't know what to do with myself. My iTunes is on shuffle, jumping between Jeremy Camp, Michael Bublé, and Bobby McFerrin. The cat just opened the door to my closet and crawled inside. Musa is mowing the lawn, and it smells good. I pause between each sentence to grab a chip, pop it in my mouth, and wipe my hand on my pants so I don't dirty my white MacBook keyboard (which is virtually impossible to keep clean, btw, especially in dusty Kenya). *crunch crunch crunch mmmmmmm*. It's Thursday.

Don't worry; be happy! When you worry your face will frown, and that will bring everybody down; so don't worry, be happy!
I'm grooving out in my desk chair; I consider my head-bobbing a cross between an ostrich and a peacock.

Cheese Crunch Olas aren't as good as Mexican Crunch Olas.... ooooh! Coldplay. Good song.

I generally try to say something worthwhile or thought-provoking or important in these blogs, but today, I don't feel like being important or worthwhile. I just feel content.

Ahhh! Chip down! it. *crunch*

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Journal Entry

I'm wilting.
I'm crumbling.
I'm falling.
I'm struggling.

...and no one seems to notice.

This afternoon; my time off. By the time we rounded up, got to town, finished shopping, and got back, it was 4p. I was needed/asked to record stats for the game at 5:30p. I tried to nap, but was interrupted by 1) a text with a request, 2) a text with a question, 3) a phone call with a request, 4) a phone call with a new responsibility.
I gave up on napping.
I stressed about my song service responsibility earned at 5p and due at 7. I thought I was scheduled to cover the library.
So much for a day off.

This sucks.

I want someone to be proud of me. I'm doing my best. I'm trying so hard. But all I hear is how hard his job is or how busy and stressed she is; am I at fault as well? Yes. Shame one me.
Fix me.
I got to the end of the day exhausted, but I feel I haven't accomplished anything. No piano practice, no idea what lab we'll do tomorrow, didn't finish grading.
I'm accustomed to receiving reward for my efforts; an A, a paycheck, a smile or chuckly... why must I be rewarded to feel as though I've succeeded?

Yes I'm tired.
Yes I'm homesick.
Yes I'm crying.
Yes I want to go home.
Yes I'm tired of pretending, tired of acting.
Yes I'm tired of being the "responsible" one.
Yes I want to stop.
Yes I want a friend.
Yes I want to quit.
NO I won't quit.

Sunday, April 10, 2011


There are a select number of people that give you that ache...the desire to know them, to be their friend, to spend time with them. A twitterpated sort of feeling, except it's not reserved for romance. You know the people. You don't have to think about who they are; they're already in mind. You see them in passing and your heart is lifted and your face follows suit. They brighten your day, every day. You see them succeed, and you're ready to shout it from the rooftops. Time together is never long enough; instead of making goodbye more palatable, time together makes you more unwilling to part. That ache grips your heart and you don't know what to do with it except find some way, any way, across deserts or oceans or pits of flaming lava, simply to be with them. There's no other cure, no other solution.

I can't imagine the ache that grips His heart... I am that ache. I am that important. Neither deserts nor oceans, death nor life, angels nor demons, height nor depth, present nor future, nor pits of flaming lava will be able to separate me from His love.

...Can I have a "Mmhmmmm!"?

Skype Delay

Hello? Helloooooooo... Are you there? Mom?
Mom! Hey!
Jess? Jess, you there?
Mom, I'm here. Hello?
Hello? Jess! What took you so long to answer?

Hello, Skype delay; the all too familiar, all too common, altogether disliked friend of student missionaries everywhere.

Stewey the Spoon

Just another day on supervision:
A note of appreciation from Stewey the saved

B: Ms. Jessica, could you open the cafe for us?
J: Sure! I'll walk with you... Look what I found! A spoon. In that bush. An orphaned spoon.
I: *gasp*
B: Does it have a name?
J: Uh, yes. Stewey. I just made it up.
I: Ah, Stewey. Stewey the spoon.

Saturday, April 09, 2011

Update #30: Wedded Bliss & Obsequious Pupils

I did my laundry on Sunday.
"This is way too much laundry," I thought. "I should do it more often so I don't have as much to do."

My laundry reminded me of email updates. Wonder why?

Friday, April 08, 2011

Double Digits

"The devil is hard in my face again
The world is a hundred to one again..."

-Sufjan Stevens

I played basketball in high school. I was a starter my junior year, and a team co-captain my senior year.

We weren't very good.

Actually, we were pretty bad.
We lost games by 50+ points on numerous occasions.

But that's when it got fun.

How far?

"Home is just a phone call away."


Home is 8000 miles away.

Saturday, April 02, 2011

Just Plain Ugly

“It is hard to be charming when you smell like a wildebeest.” –L. Liwag

African folklore tells that the wildebeest was the last animal to be created, and was made up of the leftover parts of several other animals.

I’d almost believe it.

A long face, humpback, scraggly back hair, and unkempt beard make the gnu a creature “only its mother could love”. A group of the things is even referred to as an implausibility. Implausible, perhaps, that enough of these unsightly beasts could endure to look at one another long enough to graze in the same plain? Wildebeest are not attractive.

How, then, have I fallen in love with the animal?

The gnus’ playful skip as they race my safari vehicle always makes me giggle. They’re unafraid to look you straight in the face. They stick together when the going gets rough; ever heard of the great wildebeest migration? Though far from cuddly, wildebeest are lovable.

Speaking of ugly animales…

Yes, and...

I am an improviser. 

I love improv. I love telling stories on stage - interacting with individuals both on stage and in the audience to weave a story never seen nor heard before. Talk about an adrenaline rush! And laughter is the best medicine...

A foundational principle of improv is one of acceptance and giving: "Yes, and...". Improvisers aim to accept an offer, or an idea, with "Yes". Then, they expand or advance that idea with their own; "and...".