Sunday, October 21, 2012

Close encounters of the first kind

I've officially been in West Africa one week! Well, it's been fun. Today had some landmark events though. If you're squeamish about bathroom topics or scary small animals, don't bother reading any further.

So, I'm doing my business in the bathroom, and I see a flash of a small fury body along the floor. I put my feet up on the wall and finished up. Flushed and washed my hands. Then I sneaked out and trapped him in the bathroom. I didn't scream, though I wanted to a bit. I called a missionary who grew up here and told him what I caught and where.  He grabbed his broom and began the hunt. We heard banging and he came out with it, put it in a bag and saved it in the freezer.

I was a bit in disbelief. There was this sweet dead lil mouse (picture Beatrix Potter type) being saved in the freezer for another missionary's pet snake to eat. Ewww. Ok, we missionaries are a rare breed. But hey, I got kuddos for not screaming and for trapping it in the bathroom! :)

Today also marked the day that I got to see what having intestinal worms looked like (not anyone in our family). Of course, I am slightly medically minded, so I asked (yes, I asked!) to see when someone had the resident doc take a peek. Now I know what they look like. Good info for the future. We'll be taking worm meds as a preventative, I'd say.

So, my friends say, "Welcome to Africa!" I feel like I've officially joined a secret club. Hopefully, these experiences are the only "hazing" that the continent throws my way!  So good to be here - mice & all.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Beginnings in Africa - the big trip here

It's taken me 19 years that I know of to get to the mission field. So the three flights to get here seemed like a drop in a bucket when it comes to waiting. The kids did pretty well. Actually, great, considering Claire caught a cold & was sleepy on all flights and for days following (She's mostly over that now). I've asked for prayer for safety, health, and peace – well we got it. Previously, I had been, well, anxious to fly or even go to airports due to some previous rough trips. Pretty much since my dad's passing, I have dealt with some sort of anxiety - you begin to think about the brevity of life. No anxiety this trip though! Praise God for His peace!!! I have been asking for peace and receiving it in floods. We did wonderfully in all airports and on all flights. I was never scared nor even had an anxious moment. It's a wonderful feeling to be directly in the center of God's will. I am on the field in West Africa – finally. So thank you for your support in prayers and giving!!

I'm sitting in the guesthouse at night listening to African sounds through the screen windows as I am dripping with sweat. I feel gritty and hot, but very earthy, so for now I don't mind. I hear crickets. Women chatting loudly in a local language. I am not sure if they are arguing or very excited about something, but it sounds kinda angry (I've since been informed that they are not really angry). I don't mind the traffic noises. I like to hear my colleagues feet pounding the gravel trail around the compound when I wake up in the morning. I feel safe. It kinda feels like I'm at camp or something. My sentiments may change as we get out into the community tomorrow to go to the market. I'm sure there will be new sights and sounds and smells to get used to. It will be different when we arrive in the village. Right now we are with other missionaries in the capital, later we will be with just our two teammates in a sea of Africa faces. I am interested to see how I feel then, but for now, beginnings in Africa have been happy! I've been told that this country has no “honeymoon” phase as far as cultural adjustment goes. I think that it depends. For me, I have been walking towards this road for all my life & it just feels right. It's very weird, but I feel I'm home.

Below is the story of our recent hop over the pond for those of you who are interested in more details,feel free to read on.
We've arrived near the end of this rainy season. What a view as our plane descended upon the orange clay  contrasting against all the lush greenery! Walking off the plane onto the tarmack, we were hit by a wall of heat and humidity. I had been told about it, but thought it was an exaggeration until we walked smack into it. We were instantly offered help by men who wanted to get our luggage. I picked out one and directed him in French. All our bags and trunks made it. (Now we pray they get successfully toted up country.) The woman customs officer wanted to know if I spoke French or English. I told her English, hoping she would not know as much of my language. I was right. She asked for money outright & I told her I couldn't & that my man (the guy who I was paying to lug my cart of 6 bags) was walking away with our bags! Got out of paying that bribe & nothing was confiscated. Thank the Lord!
Our ride to the guesthouse from the airport here was so surreal! They drove us at night, with no street lights. There are no lanes for the traffic. You just have to carefully & quickly squeeze in. You might need to use your horn so someone sees your vehicle. There were scores of people carrying things in their arms and on there heads in large basins to sell to passers-by. People would come up to the window of the car to try to sell us apples, or bread, or flashlights. It was amazingly bumpy at times and other parts were very smooth (here in the paved capital). It was dirty and all the small buildings had rusty corrugated tin roofs on them. Unfortunately there is trash strewn everywhere across this beautiful city. We turned down one street and our colleague who was driving shouted out in French to let us through to the man (a local guy with no authority) who had blocked the road with a tree branch. The road block was for a marriage party. We finally turned around and found an alternate route. It was interesting to find out that that sort of arguing is expected here as part of the social game that people play. We got in and cried as we were reunited with other missionaries that we had not seen since they were in the States. It sure is good to be here, in the center of God's will for our lives. Thanks for helping us on our way!

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