Thursday, May 27, 2010

Email Home- "Somewhere 5 Degrees off the Equator"

Hello everybody!

            Well, I’m not quite sure I remember everything that I wrote last week, so if I repeat anything, just smile and nod.  I think the honeymoon stage of my culture shock is pretty much over, but now the quality of the good days is just that much better.  I have not gotten sick yet, even though we ate rice with rocks in it last week (blessings on the food have a whole new meaning to me now).  I think I’ll just go through some of the details.

            I finally ran out of my 15 lb sashe water pack.  It is a brand called B20, but we all call it “BO” because it has the hose water taste.  I was very excited to purchase a new pack of a different sort.  I decided on a bag called “Emanuel.”  I should have figured with a shady name like that I was doomed to disappointment.  It is the only sashe brand worse than BO.  Oh well.  Another week or so and it will be gone.  It is amazing what your body can do when you have no other choice.  Food wise too.  I think I eat bread and oranges all day.  And even when you don’t like food, you have to finish all of it.  You can’t just not.  Especially with phrases like “eat your dinner, there are starving children in Africa” looming in the back of our minds. 

Lets see.  Oh!  We had our first day of church.  Maybe I am a little biased because I have never been to a branch opposed to a ward, but it was not quite the experience I anticipated.  Outside of the church there are babies with yellowing eyes like iodine and chipping bare feet.  The children inside are not much different.  A hand-me-down dress (of a few generations), a torn pair of jeans, a bleach stained shirt, and a once white dress with a missing sleeve is a typical sampling of their Sunday best.  The mothers too.  A tie-dyed skirt with a mismatched blouse with some English saying that no one pretends to understands.  Half of the men wear child sized Christmas ties, the other half cannot properly tie them, and perhaps that is because they know something that we at home do not.  Something that we may have forgot.  Hard to say.  Relief Society was the lowest part for me though.  We had a lesson from an expired manual on Chastity on modesty.  I shared the only spare book with a pregnant girl who looked about fifteen next to me.  We had to explain what chastity meant.  It does not really translate culturally.  Someone needs to get these guys an updated book, that is for sure.  We read, then reread random segments of the lesson.  No one could really understand.  And I didn’t want them to.  Then a Bible bashing woman came to interrupt the meeting, and it was over.

 Walking down the stairs I muttered a frustrated prayer.  Why do I come from a land where the chapel benches are cushy, and a piano is always there to accompany?  Is the God of love also the same wherever you go?  I got my answer.  The children came pouring out and greeted all of us.  They gave us hugs, kissed our checks, and combed through our hair.  The girls I met were teaching me hand-slapping games.  No translator needed.  We laughed and laughed.  I was smiling so much my cheeks ached that night.  God is the same no matter where you go. 

This is going to be a long email I am realizing.  Maybe it is just stuff that I need to work through.  I also met another little kid who really touched me.  I’m not really the maternal type (or so I thought) but these kids are beautiful!  This little boy is named Akwasi.  If you check out my blog, there are pictures of him in a turquoise torn short.  Getting my camera out again was a great fix.  Akwasi lives right behind me, and I’m sure you will be seeing more of him. 

My project is also going really well.  As of yesterday that is.  I met a little girl named Esther who is very interested in learning how to read and write poetry.  She is a general art student, and since the school does not teach literature, we are all getting together at noon on Saturday where I can teach my very first lesson!  It was so amazing, teaching her about similes and a metaphors, while she read aloud the native language parts of the poem we read together.  Really really touching.  She took me to lunch with her, and I had my first eating with my hands opportunity.  She held my hand (sign of friendship here, even the guys all hold hands) and taught me how to eat out of the same bowl as her, which is the traditional way.  I was pretty shy about it at first.  I scooped up some food, and then turned it over in my left hand.  I forgot that the left hand is not supposed to be used (it is a dirty hand) and I got a fair scolding for it.  We all had a good laugh, I got some good food, and then when it was over, Esther wiped off my face with her hand like I was a child.  And I felt like a child.  Everyday when I get on that yellow bus for school I feel like I am attending Kindergarten for the first time again. 

And for the grand finale…. I got my hair braided last night!  It took three hours of pulling, wincing, and squirming, and then a few surprises tacked on the end.  Apparently after they braid in the hair extensions (which are black and purple… hehe) they torch your hair.  I had no idea what they were doing at first, and all of my friends were off doing their own thing.  I starting doing a little high pitched panic “uh…guys!?” call, and Chase came running out with a camera, while Maggie talked me through it.  So yeah.  They torch the fly away hairs to seal it off.  Good to know…Just when I thought I reached the end, they started boiling water to put on my head.  No burnage here, but I guess that is the step that makes you hair soft.  But alas, it is done!  It feels so nice to get it out of my face, but it is really really heavy.  It took a TON of hair too.  They had never seen so much hair before.  I already have three headfulls of hair, but my ponytail is about a fist and a half thick.  I now look like a video game character.  The best part?  It cost me ten dollars.  When I got my hair black and purple last summer it cost me 80.  Love it.  Well… maybe I’ll save that thought until I see what my hair looks like when the braids come out.  I can’t get them wet either.  No washing.  Mmmmmm….

If you made it to the end, congratulations!  Thanks again for your prayers, love, and support.  Missing you all!


Oh, and for my proposal of the week!  “I marry you… for free.”  How romantic. 
Weekly favorite business name?  "National Health Insurance Scheme"

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