So this is what it’s like to live in Africa…

Here are a few things I have learned since I have been in Rwanda:

Kinyarwanda is sups difficult to learn. There are no rules, and the rules they do have contradict each other. Also there are sounds that we don’t even use in English. Pronunciation is rough.

Only here is it acceptable for people to completely stop in their tracks to stare at you and shout the color of your skin, “Mzungu.” And it is a compliment.

You get to sleep in a fort every night. Some people call them mosquito nets, I prefer to think of it as a fort, or a princess bed.

Yes means no. Seriously. The word for ‘no’ is ‘oyeah.’ Confusing.

You can add the President on facebook. Still waiting on him to accept my friend request.

It’s not rude at all to shove your way onto a bus before letting anyone off.

A girl’s knee’s are like boobs. Not okay to show in public.

Boys hold hands as they walk down the street and it doesn’t mean anything. Literally, no homo.

They burn all their trash and it smells like weed. Funny, because they’re going green, by doing the opposite of going green.

You can get roses and lilies and tons of pretty flowers for only like 18 cents.

Crossing the street is like playing Frogger. Civilians do not have the right of way.

I thought the peanut butter was a chocolate/peanut butter/sugar mix, but really it’s just dark brown grainy peanut butter. Still really good though.

Everything is negotiable. No price is firm.

You can buy cell phone minutes anywhere, anytime. In a store. At a market. On the side of the street. On a bike. In a bus. And you have 20 different people selling them in all of those places.

You want to kill the birds for repeating the same obnoxious sound over and over again and waking you up in the morning, yet you also want to just sit there and listen to them for hours because they make such cool sounds. In Hannah’s words, “I kinda want to go shoot that bird, but I also want to listen to it.”

Cell phones have radios. I’m not talking about internet phones or blackberry’s or whatever. Just regular ghetto brick cell phones with an fm radio all the time.

Life is not based around time. Our class that is supposed to be from 1:00-3:00 can start anywhere between 1:00 and 1:45 and can get over anytime between 3:00 and 4:00.

Internet, warm water and toilet seats are luxuries and should not be taken for granted. I have mastered the art of peeing in a hole in the ground.

You can buy a bottled Fanta almost anywhere for under a dollar. The orange ones are so good. (Shelby, you would be in heaven).

Avocados are gigantic and cheap (about 18 cents).

A papaya? Maybe a mango?

Oh, it's just a GIANT avocado!

Intense and In tents

One week. I have been in Rwanda for one week. That is cray cray. I feel like I’ve been here for a month. On Thursday we went to a genocide memorial. It was intense. Friday we went on a safari. It was in tents. Had to get that pun in there, anyways back to the genocide memorial. They had rows and rows of mass graves and they are still adding to them. This memorial went through the entire process and history of the genocide, which I have learned a lot about already and one of our classes is about it. There was also a room with stories about the children that died during it. It was so difficult to read those stories and look at the pictures and understand how it all happened. It is hard to fathom. This was just the start to learning about everything that happened before, during and after 1994.

On Friday we got up at before life should even exist and drove to Akagera National Park for a safari! This was like Wildlife Safari on steroids, red bull and crack all at the same time. It made Zoos look like child’s play. We got to hang out the windows of land cruisers as we drove over miles of rugged terrain and spotted zebras, giraffes, warthogs, baboons, hippos, alligators, water buffalo and other animals I don’t know the names of. We got to camp at the highest point of the entire park right along side the road (and animals). We woke up to Topi (African form of a deer) in our campsite and had a few zebras watch us eat breakfast. It was awesome. Despite killer flies, sore butts, a faulty tent, and being covered in dust, it was one of the best camping experiences I’ve ever had, and that’s saying a lot, being from Oregon. Also, on the way home we drove through a couple rural villages. All the children ran out of their houses, screamed, waved and grinned from ear to ear when we waved back and said hello. So stinking cute. One kid got straight to the point and yelled, “Give me money!” Even our driver started laughing. Kinda sad that our white skin represents wealth and almost a hope to them. I wish I could explain that I could gain way more from them than they could ever gain from me and my supposed ‘wealth.’ These villages were beautiful! I don’t like bananas, but the trees are sweet! (Oh man I’m full of puns today). I wouldn’t mind having a few rows of those in my backyard. Now that we are scrubbed clean (as clean as we’re gonna get) and our bellies are full of Kilimanjaro Curry, it’s time to fall into a short coma. Good night world. People at home, you still have a full day ahead of you. Umunsi Mwiza (Have a good day).

"And on our right we can see giraffes in their natural habitat"

 

Our campsite!

 

Mwiriwe (Good afternoon)

Laughter: The Universal Language

This is going to be short and sweet. This afternoon after class we went down the road and played soccer with some kids. Some kids turned into quite a few kids which then turned into a lot of kids and an entire roadside of family members watching. There is something truly beautiful about sharing laughter with someone you can’t speak to. It’s like a mutual agreement that even though we can’t communicate with words, we are the same. Someone would fall down, we would all laugh. Someone would completely miss the ball, we would all laugh. Someone would accidentally knock down a smaller kid, we would all laugh (after he got up smiling of course). There in that moment we knew exactly what the other person was thinking and feeling. We weren’t trying to stumble over words that seem unnatural to say. I’ve had this same experience in a couple different countries now and everytime it surprises me once again. I’m pretty sure we all plan on making this a part of our everyday routine. It’s impossible to pass up a chance to hang out with those smiling kids, and hopefully brush up on some long lost soccer skills.

Our little soccer team.

Back to school…

Sunrise over Africa

Not a bad first sight of Africa huh? After all the crazy flying through weird time zone changes and everything we got to Kigali on Saturday afternoon. On Sunday we went to church. The pastor gave a sermon about being a Christian without conforming to the world, but also without completely separating from it. Interesting that the same exact things I struggle with at home, the Rwandans struggle with here. We also explored the city on a little scavenger hunt like thing. We maneuvered our way through the public transit system to the different parts of Kigali. Instead of trendy bicyclists with mustaches like in Portland, there are tons of savvy bota (motorcycle taxi’s) drivers with a horn and they honk that horn like it’s nobody’s business. Basically the rest of the transit system is just a ton of buses that go back and forth between different spots. It’s like Russian roulette whether or not your bus is going to stop where they say it will, so you just gotta hope that someone speaks a little English and that they can tell if the bus is really going to stop at the place they say they will. Funny thing about Rwanda, nothing is set in stone. If you go to a restaurant there’s a pretty good chance they don’t have a lot of the things on the menu. So you kinda just have to keep a second and third option in your mind. Speaking of restaurants we went to a really good pizza place that seriously had like 100 different pizzas to choose from. The menu was ridic.

On the way to the bus stop on the first day of school. So cute.

Today was the first day of classes! Definitely not ready to get back to doing actual schoolwork. We’ve all been sitting around the house trying to force ourselves to read many chapters out of many different textbooks since we finished dinner. I’m pretty sure I read the same line about 17 times before I went back to my old ways of just skimming everything. I mean come on, I’m in Africa! Classes are good though. We have a 3 hour one every morning and then we go home for lunch and have a 2 hour class on our porch. After 3 it’s free time until dinner. Today I spent that time hanging out with the one and only Alex Rettmann! Pretty cool that I got to see a familiar face while I’m halfway across the world from home. This week has been an amazing start to the semester. I’m falling in love with this place already….

Two things I’ve been surprised about here in Rwanda:

1. I’m definitely not going to lose weight like I, and many others, thought I would. The food is so good. Our cook is amazing and makes really great food that is a mix of Rwandan, Ugandan and American dishes. Also, I’m trying to be a little more adventurous with my appetite. However, there’s not a whole lot of sweets here (Chocolate is expensive), which is tragic.

2. The weather is wonderful! It is not nearly as hot or humid as I thought it would be. It’s hot, but there’s usually a nice breeze. It rains every once in a while, but just for a short time, and it’s warm rain. I could definitely get used to this.

Fist Bumpin the Prez.

The last few days I was roaming around Washington D.C. with a random group of people I just met for the first time. Sounds fun, right? It was actually awesome. A couple things about the East Coast. First, humidity. Not used to that. Only one other girl is from the West coast, so we are the oddballs of the bunch. I feel like a socal surfer compared to these PA, MA and NY kids. Second thing, diversity. This is awesome. Compared to Grants Pass I thought Portland was like going to an ethnicity potluck. D.C. is like the mother of all ethnicity potlucks compared to that. I love it. Anyways, we went to the Holocaust Museum, the Jefferson Memorial, the Smithsonian African Art Museum and the Lincoln Memorial/Reflecting pool that was not so reflecting (I’ll explain later). While going to all these interesting historic sites we were also getting to know each other along the way. The sites were cool, but the people I was seeing them with were even better. There are 6 girls and 1 guy (poor guy…or lucky guy). The relationships that I am building I can already tell are going to be Christ-centered and joy-filled. Much laughter has already been shared, I see a pretty darn good semester ahead of us, one that will definitely not be short on humor.

We flew out of D.C. at 12:00 pm on Friday. I’m not really sure what day it is right now. It says 3:11 pm (Friday) on my computer right now. My body says it is 6:11 pm. But it is actually 12:11 am on Saturday. If you have never flown on an international flight, do it at some point in your life. We are rollin’ with a high class airline right now. Great food, comfortable seats, and all the movies you could want. Definitely makes this 13 hour flight more enjoyable. Another really cool thing was that we flew into the night. Like, we left during the day, but were going the opposite way of the sun. So it set incredibly fast and at one point we could actually see the sun setting behind us and the darkness of night in front of us. Trippy.

Tip for airplanes: Don’t try and figure out where you are by looking out the window. The orange blobs that are cities are about as recognizable as hipsters riding their bikes to Powell’s…they all look the same.

Apparently they are rebuilding the reflecting pool....not looking it's finest.

Just fist bumpin' Prez L. No big deal.

Blah, blah, blog.

On August 17th at the buttcrack of dawn, actually even earlier (don’t know what you would call that), I will be flying out of Southern Oregon’s greatest metropolitan area, Medford. Quick layover in my stompin’ ground, PDX and then on to our nation’s fine capital, Washington D.C. I will be there for a few days and then depart on a flight, I don’t even know how long, to Kigali, Rwanda. It is here that I will spend the majority of the next 4 months. I will also be spending about a month in Uganda. Going to Africa has been a dream of mine for a while, but I knew a short-term trip just wouldn’t do it justice. So why not live there for 4 months?

During this time I will be taking classes, going on lots of great adventures, rafting the Nile, seeing cool animals, teaching for a month in Ugandan primary schools, meeting new people, experiencing a different culture, trying interesting foods, soaking up the sun and getting a farmers tan, seeking God, and lots of other awesome stuff. Basically, livin’ the good life.

The decision making process to do this was actually not that easy. If you know me, you know that I can barely choose a laundry detergent at the store and don’t even get me started on the sunscreen aisle. So making such a huge decision was difficult. Thanks to the love and support of my fantastic family, friends and of course, the big G-O-D, I decided to go for it. It will be a life-changing experience and definitely something to tell the grandkiddos about.

I am very sad to leave everyone behind, that is by far the hardest part for me. Please stay in touch, It would mean the world to me :) Prayers would also be very much appreciated. Especially for health the entire time, my immune system has a funny way of trying to ruin my life, and I would really rather not have to deal with that when I am halfway across the world. Your support is appreciated, whether it is financial, emotional or through prayer!

Basically this blog is for those of you who care what is going on in my life for the next 4 months. It will let you know what I’m doing, how I’m doing, and, hopefully, the great things God is doing. I’ll try to put pictures on here, but I will, most likely, be putting many more up on fayboo (Facebook, mom).

I’m not really one for blogs and I’ll do my best to keep this from being lame. And I’ll try to refrain from rambling on about every detail in my life. Just because I’m in Africa doesn’t make it any more exciting that I am “taking a nap” or that I “bought a coke zero” (Easy A, anyone?). If I fail to do those things and end up with a boring and self-absorbed blog, well, then don’t read it.
Love you all and can’t wait to tell you about this amazing experience.