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).