November 20, 2006

crawling across the atlantic...

I've been trying to read email for an hour with little luck, so it will be a while before I reply to you all. In the meantime, enjoy this post.

17 Nov

Wa lele po!

Ongaipi! Wa lele po!

You have now been greeted in Oshikwanyama. That’s a dialect of Oshiwambo, which is one of the Bantu languages. The Bantu language family is the largest in Africa. I’m excited about learning this language (to be honest, I just wanted one of the Bantu languages, I didn’t care which one, as Afrikaans [the language, not the people] and I don’t get along well). Bantu languages are non-gender-indicative languages, there is no distinction between he or she, male or female. There are words for man and woman, of course, but it is not like the romantic languages that are based on gender. Very fun. I studied grammar for an hour tonight and now my head is swimming.

Today also marked the longest session on nothing. We spent two hours talking about gender roles and issues, for which they split the group into guys and gals. The guys were done in 30 minutes. Somehow, we took way longer and I’m not sure we really learned much. I caused a great deal of frustration to me, as I hate wasting time. After that session, we hardly had time to jump on the convey (van) to take a drive around Okahandja. I was glad to finally see people in Okahanja today when I went to town at lunch, but so far, we haven’t had time to go out and see anything farther than 20 minutes walking.

We drove through town, it’s bigger than I thought. Then we went to a “location.” Locations are where black-skinned people were forced to live under the apartheid system. It was much as I anticipated. Small homes of tin and blocks or patched-together walls. My experiences in Peru prepared me well for the sight. It wasn’t shocking for me, but then, I’ve worked with developing nations for many years now and I’ve seen a lot (mostly second-hand, but still, I’ve seen it in the flesh as well). The only thing that I noticed that is different between Peru and here is the amount of trash. There is a lot of it out in the landscape, a sad sight to see.

But the people, they were beautiful. Happy, smiling and shy as we passed by. Children waving and calling hello in English to us. Some kids chased us through the location (which was not hard as we were going slowly). Someone comments about how happy the people looked. I think it was contentment. Not in the sense that they want nothing more out of life, but that they have decided to make the most out of their circumstances. They are not angry or resentful, they keep the right attitude in their hearts and it spills out of their eyes and smiles. That is the contentment that I saw tonight. I hope that I have that contentment. If not now, sometime in the next two years.

It was very good to see the people, to see that there is more to Namibia than our training center. It reminded me of the people I came here to serve, to live beside and to share, if they will let me, in their lives.

Nangala po nawa. (Sleep well)

20 Nov

I am so happy to have power again. I wanted to do some writing on my novel (which won’t be done in Nov, but I’m okay with that given everything else going on in my life right now) so I put in the new battery and nothing happened. I’m not sure if it never got charged or what, but I had no juice. And no adaptor! And no good quantity of pen and paper to write long hand.

So, I had to wait until today when an adaptor became available to me thanks to one of my roomies. She is a lifesaver.

It’s funny, I fly half-way around the world and I’m sitting here listening to a Broncos game on TV.. Go figure. How crazy is that?

Our weekend stayed pretty quiet around here. On Saturday, we had a cultural day, full of food. (Insert my dinner break here, I had to go get food just now, darn dinner bell! We are worse than Pavlov’s dogs with that bell.) Where was I, oh yes, culture. We had dancing and some great bread (a Herrero recipe) and some not so great things (cow intestines, caterpillars, gritty watered-down milk, etc). I have to say, I tried many things but not everything (there was way too much to try everything). I also got to take two naps and read a book. Not bad for a Saturday.

Sunday, I got up early and went to church. The service wasn’t what I expected. Granted, we are in a town (as opposed to a village) so I knew it wouldn’t be long, but I didn’t think it would be as short as it was (45 minutes, tops). There wasn’t a real message, either. The Bible wasn’t even opened. They sang 4 hymns, none that I knew and there weren’t enough books to go around, so I just listened. And it was small, only about 20 people (that include the kids, which stayed in the service, which was cute).

After church, I came back and took a nap. Remember, I’m getting woken up every morning at 5 or so by the kitchen staff who are busy preparing breakfast. My room is right next to the dinning area. About 5:30, I struggle out of my bed and netting to close the door (which stays open to allow cool air to come in our room). The breakfast bell rings at 6:30, and I get out of bed about 6:40. I eat breakfast and then head to the showers, or vice versa, depending on what we are having. If it’s the “cream of white corn” stuff, I’m first in line. It’s like Cream of Wheat, and I love it. If there is just cold cereal and bread, I can wait. Anyway, where was I? Oh yes, on Sunday. After my nap I started another book (My Sister’s Keeper, by Jodi Piccoult). Then we had lunch late, and more reading. I took a break in the evening to study language with some other trainees, and then back to the book. I went to sleep with less than 100 pages left. I knew I had to get some sleep. Bedtime around here is 11:30-12:30, depending.

Today we finally had some productive training, topics like classroom management, ministry structure, and workplace culture. I feel like we might be ready to visit sites at the end of this week. I find out Friday where my site will be. I’m a bit bummed that it won’t be in Okanvango (a region in the northeast), at least, it’s unlikely due to my language assignment, but that’s okay. There’s a strong chance I’ll be somewhere very, very north, near Angola. That will be interesting. I’m not supposed to post my site location here, so if you are interested, leave a comment with your email addy (if I don’t have it) and I’ll let you know when I can.
I should end this long post now and write up some emails. I miss you all, it feels like I’ve been gone a year already. Oh yeah, please start writing some letters, I want to get some mail! The only real mail I’ve gotten was a note from Brock (a current PCV here in Namibia, he’s from Colorado Springs as well) along with a phone card. He is the best J.

Enda po nawa (go well).

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