Thursday, July 11, 2013

High Five, Boo! (Day 77)

**This post is taken directly from my journal, which it means it's what was going as I was in country. I am going to do my best to not add or delete, as I want it to be exactly like it was when I was there. For the most part, I wrote at night before bed. Some days there's lots of stuff...some days it's just lists. Either way, it's what I experienced**


This morning I woke up and felt much better than yesterday. We had breakfast and did a little debriefing before we broke out into small groups for church service. Adam, Lauren, ad I went to Pastor Zachariah's church. It was filled with lots of children and very little adults. We were asked to do the children's ministry on the spot, and I quickly volunteered Lauren...and she did GREAT! Adam was up next, but he knew he would be preaching this morning because he was warned before we went. Adam was AWESOME! Thank you God for allowing our paths to cross; he truly is a man of Christ! When church was over, we were all outside talking and standing around. Lauren and I wished we knew game to play with the kids. There was one little girl who was following me and smiling at me; I am pretty sure she was a ninja! I'd turn around and she was there! She was also my in for playing with the other kids. I saw one kid drawing pictures in the dirt, so I went over and started drawing too. This, of course, attracted more kids to come over. I played a high five and chase game with the kids. They are quite intrigued by seeing a white person, and many were scared to even touch me. Nonetheless, it was fun playing with them. I can't wait until we have more translators, so we can talk to more people (and kids).

After church we came back to the hotel for lunch and to talk about the day. Lunch choice... chicken, beef, or fish with either rice or fries (this became a quick staple of the week's food choices).

Later we watched Lauren and Robyn present on medical/hygiene issues. By far the funniest part was Robyn showing them how to floss!

We came back to the hotel for dinner (same choices) and had a debrief about tomorrow would bring.

What I learned about being 28 today: You don't have to speak the same language to act like a kid!

**Pictures and videos to come!**

Are we there yet? (Days 74-76)

**Disclaimer: These days were not written down; however, they were deeply imprinted on my mind**

May 23rd- Departure Day... it's here, it is FINALLY here! The day I had been waiting for... the day I was leaving for AFRICA! Color this girl excited. I made sure my bags were packed and ready to go the night before, and I headed into work for a few hours before my friend Jordan picked me up to take me to the church. I wasn't nervous... I wasn't scared.... I was EXCITED! We talked. We prayed. We loaded the van. We left for the airport. Simple. Upon arrival to the ticket booth a few of us were saying small prayers that are our bags would be underweight. I came in just under 50lbs, which I think is great for this natural over-packer who also had to make sure her bag had some camping necessities! (Don't worry, I will pat myself on the back for that feat!)

Before we loading the plane, we met up with Keith, Byron, Dalton, and Adam who were also going on the trip. It made me feel a little at home, since all these guys were from Alabama. Our first flight was a quick one from Atlanta to Miami, which gave us some time to get to laugh and talk about our travel. We were advised to sleep as much as possible on our next two flights, so we would be game when we got to Tanzania (This is where the foreshadowing part of the story comes into play. You know how the superman says "I never die" and dies a few scenes later? Still confused... keep reading!) Upon arriving in Miami we get our things situated and head to find food and a place to sit, which ended up being by the terminal doors. We talked and laughed, again. Boarded the plane. The big plane at that! It was what I like to call a "2-5-2 seater". Want to guess where we were sitting? When I say "we" I am referring to Elaina and myself, as we were on the same itinerary so we had the pleasure of knowing at least one person we would be sitting next to throughout the flights. We were sitting in seats 3 and 4 of the 5... yep, right smack dab in the middle of people we didn't know. Well, we didn't know right away. Yep, right smack dab in the middle of people we would be sitting with for the next 8 hours!! So we briefly introduced ourselves to the people around us... hippies to the left and young girl to the right, and the plane took off. I watched a movie or two and started to make my way to sleeping land... With Elaina asleep on my tray table, I quickly fell asleep. Peaceful, right? Well, it was until I woke in pure panic mode. The young girl next to me was asleep; however, invading my space and Elaina was on my tray table...and I was feeling as though what little space I had before had gotten even smaller. After that small panic, I was unable to go back to sleep... not to mention I was fearful that I would freeze to death as the plane was the coldest place I have every been in my ENTIRE life! Okay... fast forward 6 hours and we make it to London, YAY! We planned to get our boarding pass for Kenya Airways and jump out of the airport for a few hours, since we had a long layover. Well, you can't always get what you want! Kenya Airways would not give us our boarding passes that far in advance, and to top it off the line to get through customs was RIDICULOUS! So we spent 9 sweet, sweet hours in the London airport. I played on Facebook. I ate some Flakes.... Side story: Flakes are a magical chocolate candy bar that's made in England, and since my family is from England (mom's side), we have grown up on these delicious treats. It is also a joke when my mom would get them growing up that she would give us like 1; however, my brothers and I were always able to find where she hid them and have another (Top dresser drawer). It was nice to be in a different country and eat a flake (or two) without fear of having to share, so I got a few extra. (Side side story: At the hotel we were at the first week, I slowly discovered that my flake candy bar was getting smaller and smaller; however, I was never the one eating it. I am pretty sure the lady spraying down my room with mosquito spray was paying herself in Flakes. It did become quite a fun experiment, because I didn't do anything with the candy bar. I would just see how much was left each day I got back from working with the church. Needless to say, I left the lady the rest of what she had already eaten before I left for the second week.)

And back to the real story at hand.... 9 hours pass and we board our plane for Nairobi. A big plane; however, it has the name of "3-3-3 seater". We were fortunate this time to know the person who shared the other 3 with us, Byron. I was the lucky one who got the middle seat, Yipee! So we talk. We fall asleep....for 30 minutes. We eat. And everyone around us falls asleep, but we are wide awake. We watch movies. We listen to music. This takes up about 2 1/2 hours of the 8 hour flight. So we watch another movie.... talk... listen to music, and finally just look at each other with pure sadness as we know we can't sleep. We try. We really do, but get nothing. Needless to say this was the part of the travel that started to go downhill. We make it to Nairobi. Wait about 45 minutes and board our next plane to Mwanza, Tanzania. By this point, I am fading... fast. Fortunately, the flight was a quick one (45 minutes) and we had room to wiggle. We make it to the Mwanza airport, which looks a lot like an airport you see in movies where the people land in the middle of nowhere, there's a makeshift building for the "airport", and sketchy feel to the air. The next step is to go through "customs", which was nothing like I expected. At the same time we are getting through the customs paperwork, I am a hawk on my bag. We were told before we left that when we got to Mwanza there would be guys at the airport wanting to carry our bags for us...and would then expect money or would steal it. With those thoughts in my mind, I wasn't going to lose sight of my bag; however, a few guys seemed very persistent on taking our bags. We tried to say no thanks, but it wasn't working. It wasn't until we got through customs that we were informed that the guys were with us (and we would grow to love these guys as great brothers in Christ). So we have made it! We are in Africa! We can now get to business, right? WRONG! We now load a bus to take an 8 hour drive to Mugumu, which is outside of the Serengeti National Park.

Things are cool for the first hour, but then I start to fade even more. My happy go lucky spirit has left me and I am just... MISERABLE. Our driver was perfecting his Nascar skills on unpaved, uneven, holey roads. We stopped for a bathroom break (You are probably wondering why this is even relevant... keep reading). When you are in the middle of Tanzania there aren't those gas stations to pull over and use the restroom; however, they do have an over abundance of squatty potties... you know the ones where you drop your pants, squat, and water the garden. The perfect hidden location was picked out (hidden doesn't mean we had our personal spaces; hidden just means we were apart from the guys and general public). We drop, we squat, and we were discovered by a random man walking the road. We laughed, we finished, and we left. Lunch was our stopping point and halfway point for the ride. This is where we started our first jump into a Tanzanian meal... chicken and lots of starches! Sounds exciting, at first! Fast forward several more hours and we make it to our hotel for the week. Don't get too excited. Yes, I was in a hotel, but get out the American image you have dancing in your head right now. It did have a bed, a toilet, and a shower (per se), so it was a luxury for the week.... and I am thankful.

So we all made it! We left on Thursday in America and it was now Saturday in Africa, but we made it! I showered, had dinner, and quickly tucked myself into bed. I needed sleep for the real adventure to begin!

What I learned about being 28 these days: Traveling sucks when you are in the middle seat!

**I did NOT think this post was going to be this long, especially since I didn't journal about it. It seems as I started to go through the course of the travel days things started flooding back.**

Also, I will come back and add pictures, as it is not cooperating right now.

Have you missed me?

I know, I know... I said I was going to do 365 days of being 28, and I got about day 23 before I fell off the face of the earth. Well, I am coming back... not sure in what form or fashion, but I am coming back. First, through letting you know that I am coming back....and second through talking about my trip to Africa. I have gone back and forth on how I want to share my stories, but really get stuck. Do I want to tell every little detail?  Do I want to brush the surface to tickle the fancy of those who want to know, but really don't want to know? But how would I ever REALLY get all the stories out? So I decided on a better option. An option that would allow me to look back on this from years to come and remember what actually was going on in my mind as I was IN Africa...not reflecting about it afterwards. With that said, I have decided to just tell you about my experiences in Africa through what I was actually experiencing at the moment, so I have decided to share with you my journal entries. This will provide you with what was going on, and those who are interested can ask for more information. Now...sit back and relax as I prepare to AMAZE you by the power of God (I envisioned myself saying this as if I were a magician, so you do the same).

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Wonders of Wednesday (Day 24)

Okay... Today isn't about my wondering, but the wondering of my students. Hinges you should know... I truly believe question asking is key for student success. I'm constantly asking my students questions to get them thinking, which turns to them asking me a lot of wondering questions. Today, was no different. We were discussing current electricity and these are some of the wonderings my kiddos had:
- Why do people not let go of something if they are getting electrocuted?
- What would happen if I through a circuit in water?
- My dad messed with some of the wires in our fuse box. Do you think it's safe?
- What happens if you aren't close to a power station?
- I was watching this YouTube video of this guy wrapped in aluminum foil and holding these metal poles in a pool. He got the lightning to strike the pole. He went to touch a friend and it made him burst. (I quickly jumped in the conversation to end it, but he finished with the following statement.) Not like blown up, but shocked him really bad.
- Why does your phone stop working of you drop it in water?

These are just a few, but like I've said before I wish I had someone there to record my thoughts... And the thoughts of my kiddos. They truly have a wondering mind and I'm glad I foster their thinking by allowing them to ask questions.

What I've learned about being 28? Listening to the minds of kids is quite rejuvenating to this aging mind!

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Tipful Tuesday...and it doesn't have to be for Tanzania! (Day 23)

Okay, I promised I would give you the info on what you should wear on an airplane. When we had our safety meeting at the church, an air marshall came to speak about all the "need to knows" about traveling. This ranged from the flight to hotel safety to getting kidnapped. Yes, I thought I was afraid of African animals until he spoke NOW I am worried about the flight. He spoke on airplane crashes and how many times people survive the crash, BUT die trying to get out... want to know why?!?!?!


Confused!?!? Let me explain. He stated that most people actually survive the initial crash, but are not able to get out of the plane, because as the plane crashes the passengers' arms go flying around and often hit the seat in front of them.... causing the person to break their wrist/hand...causing the person not to be able to undo their seat belt... causing the person to burn... causing the person to die. Pleasant, I know! There's a proper way to sit on the airplane. I tried to Google to see if I could find a picture (if you read my post from Sunday, I didn't use the voice feature) and I couldn't find one, so if you are really interested....let me know.

Are you wondering why this has anything to do with what I have to wear on the trip? Well, if you were fortunate to survive the initial crash of the plane... survive your hands not being crushed in order to open your seat belt....then you are ready to get out of the plane. YAY! However, we were told that if you happened to go comfy on the plane...say wearing something like this

You now have to worry about burning to death... Pleasant, I know. He said that many people wear the running suits, which are made out of nylon...which burns easily (think about what you do to the end of a rope when it's frayed). You're welcome for that visual! Now you shouldn't just stress over just what you are wearing in regards to clothes, you should fret over what you put on your feet. He said that many times people wear flip flops, which are comfortable, but when an accident occurs people who are wearing flip flops have to walk through the fires...causing burns...which often results in... DEATH! 

Well, isn't this just a pleasant post!?!?! And just think, I didn't even tell you ALL the things that were shared with us. Hahaha. Really, it was an interesting meeting. Lots of information came out. Lots to think about as I prepare for this trip.

What I learned about being 28 today? That in order to get to 29 I may not want to wear a jogging suit and flip flops on my 17 hour flight...and 2 days of travel through Africa. Maybe I should invest in a NASCAR driver's suit. I hear they are flame retardant and could save me in a fire!

Monday, April 1, 2013

Why have a name? (Day 22)

With Mondays not having a certain parameter to cover, it really leaves it open to talk about anything as long as I can get it to start with a "M", right? So what shall this Monday be...Marketing Monday? (not sure why this popped in my head) Mommy Monday? (shoot I need a kid) Monster Monday? (they sometimes feel like a monster) More Mondays? (not sure I want more Mondays) I think this week I will settle for Moments Monday. What does that mean? To me, it means those moments that I realize God has placed in a situation purposefully...this might mean I am in a place at just the right MOMENT... this might mean I am reading something at just the right MOMENT... this might mean I am engaged in a conversation at just the right MOMENT... this might mean that I hear PK's (the pastor of my church) message at just the right MOMENT. I didn't truly understand this concept of divine appointments until I gave my life to Christ (and I am still learning) ...until I started growing in my faith... until I started to slow down (which I am still learning to do) and look at all the MOMENTS in my life. Let me share some of my MOMENTS with you:

1. This is a journal entry I wrote last year while I was still in Colombia, South America on my first mission trip. I tried to journal each day about the things I did, so I could always go back and "relive" those MOMENTS. I don't want to say more, just let my thoughts of the day do the talking. (June 27, 2012)

Not on my watch!
On our last day ciudadela, we didn't have as much time because of the rain. Scarleth, my translator, and Juan Carlos, a member of the church we were working with, headed out for the an hour and half we had left before the I am second groups at the church. Juan Carlos took us to a house of a guy he knew growing up. Scarleth got from him before we sat down that he was already a Christian and active with his church. Honestly, I didn't think it was worth our time to sit down and talk, but we went in an sat down. We told him that we were going to share a tool he could use to continue sharing the Word with people. I started with my testimony and he was very receptive and appreciated me telling my story. I then moved into sharing the story of Christ using the cube. He was really into the illustration of the story, and it was probably the most interactive time I had with someone thus far. It made me rethink my initial thoughts of being at the house. I felt as I talked with him more, we were both benefiting from the talk and strengthening our faith. At the end of our talk, I asked him if there was anything we could pray for and he was quick to respond with his family (side note: I noticed throughout the week when this question was asked to the Colombian they were quick to respond with praying for everyone around them and then themselves quite humbling). When someone said to pray for their family because they weren't a Christian, we always asked if they loved close so we could go visit them. In this case, he made it seem like they were far away. So we prayed and started our way out of the house. As Scarleth and I were standing on the street talking and Juan Carlos was talking to the guy, a lady walked by. Scarleth told me that the guy said it was his daughter. We both looked at each other and knew we needed to share the story again. She told us she had some time to talk, so we started the story on the streets in front of her dad's house. Her husband called after her and she told us that she'd be right back. Standing in the street waiting, a couple with a small baby passed by and went to the guy's house. Guess who that was... The other daughter! Talk about divine appointments!!! We were able to go back on the porch , talk, and lead the two sisters and the husband to Christ. As Scarleth was telling them about Yo Soy Seguendo (I am second), I couldn't help think about the first hour we spent talking to the dad and how at first I thought we were spending too much time there, but had we left earlier we would not have passed the sisters. God knows when and where he wants us to be, and I realize (yet again) that He is in charge of where my time is best spent. I look forward to more of God's timing.

2. As I have mentioned, I am currently in two church small groups this semester. While it can be cumbersome, I LOVE it. I am growing my faith. I am growing my relationships with other Christians. I am growing as an individual. It seems in these MOMENTS with these groups or in the reading, I come across things that seem to answer or provide support for the turbulence I am going through in life at the moment... Here are a few that have been perfect for the MOMENT:

3. Really there are so many MOMENTS I can talk about, but I think I will stop with the ones above for now, in order to... reflect on them... be thankful for them... rejoice in knowing God provides these MOMENTS to EVERYONE (believer or non-believer). He provides the MOMENTS....and we should be thankful.

What I have learned about being 28 today? 28 can and does SUCK sometimes; however, I can choose to be thankful for the good and bad MOMENTS. He provides the MOMENTS...and I should be thankful He continues to give me those MOMENTS.

Sunday, March 31, 2013

I can't make this stuff up! Snapshot Sunday (Day 21)

Okay... this day is supposed to be a day with little words. I am supposed to allow the pictures to do the talking; however, I think it is necessary at times to have captions and some of my Sunday Snapshots NEED a caption:

Yep, let that picture soak in. I know you are probably shocked...Flabbergasted that I would put this up here, but this blog is about me being honest, real, and myself. Are you wondering why I was googling "penis your tips"? Well let me explain... In true Jessica fashion, I decided to wait until the day a paper was due to start writing it. Nope, my paper was NOT about a penis or tips, it was actually about creating a curriculum development schedule. As I was writing my paper, I wanted to look something up on my phone. A friend recently made me download the Google app on my phone and showed me the voice I whip out my phone (no pun intended) to use my cool voice feature. I say "initiatives".... look down and in the search box I see "penis your tips." I truly can't make this stuff up! It made me laugh. It forced me to take a snap shot and send it to friends. It called for me to put it on this blog. You're welcome!

Who's church doesn't have a mariachi band playing on Easter Sunday on the bridge to get to church? If yours didn't, you should check out my church!