Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Snapshots of life

They say a picture is worth a thousand words. I suppose that is true in a sense, but a picture can't always make you feel what the thousand words can. Did you ever look back at old photos of parties and realize, "Oh, yeah. There's a picture of all of us sitting in the living room eating pizza. Also, my uncle's elbow." Without words to tell you the funny stories that happened, it might be kind of dull!

Ok, I admit it. I haven't done so great at taking photos. I do have some! I promise to do a blog post with more photos SOON! They just take a while to upload and it's not so easy to shoot off a quick post when you're tired.

Oh, ok. Here. There should be enough Happy cuteness in this picture to tide you over for a bit.

I haven't had much of a chance to slow down lately, but I'm loving it here. A few snippets of what I am blessed to call my life...

We all sit around the hugest dining room table I have ever seen as our two small groups throw a baby shower for an expecting Swiss couple in our church. Four or five different pots of soup sit on the kitchen counter and are the perfect warming dish at the end of a crisp winter day. I have a flashback to the end of my apprentice year, when we pushed all the tables together to make one large one where we could all fit. I remember being sad because my year at the Bible school was almost over and I wouldn't get to enjoy this any more. But as I sat around that huge wooden table I realized that despite being with different people on the other side of the world, the feeling has only intensified and grown...family.

Joy and I have the evening off. "HEY! WE'RE FINALLY OFF TOGETHER! LET'S MAKE THE CURTAINS!" "Yeah!" We spend the night cutting and sewing (and ripping out). Joy plays music a bit too loud on her tablet, but we're enjoying it. We finally crash into bed a bit too late.

Our house mom was expecting a little one of her own. She sits and talks to my auntie for an hour or more about labor. It was a highly informative conversation, including such gems as, "...you HAVE to scream!" They don't do epidurals here in public hospitals. I was trying to explain what one was to my auntie. "It's like pain medicine." "But if it doesn't hurt, how can you give birth???!!" Well. Anyways...

All the caregivers except auntie Patricia and I are from Zimbabwe, which means they speak Shona. Patricia, the house mom (Sihle), and I do not speak Shona, so when it's a mixed conversation, there's usually a fair amount of English thrown around, but far less than last year, when we had more caregivers from DRC/South Africa/Zambia. I'm learning Shona....ohhhhhh so slowly. I mostly just sit around and listen to the Shona conversations and try to pick up words. It's weird because they throw a lot of English in...conversations are peppered with numbers, days of the week, "all right," "serious," "baby home," "home affairs," and dozens of other English words, with no apparent rhyme or reason as to why some English words are used and why some Shona words are used. Sample conversation:

"So the word for 'phone' is runhare?"
"What's the word for 'phones?'"
"So you don't have a plural for 'phones?'"
"Never in my life have I talked about more than one phone in Shona."
"Never? Ever? But you have three phones!"
"Well, then I guess I just say 'phones.'"
*they go on to make up words in Shona that might be the plural of "phone," which presumably sound as silly as "mooses" or "childs."*

Also, from Facebook the other day:

Mama Linda is the best to drive with because nothing scares her about my driving. And I mean nothing. Even the things that should. She has a tremendous amount of misplaced confidence in my driving skills.
I'm still kind of getting used to things driving, and I've done a few ditzy things. (Let's just say I remember to check my blind spots now - hard to think of when everything is opposite.)
I was following cars around a right-hand turn, without noticing that they'd been turning on a green arrow (thought we had a green light and opposing traffic was red) which was now not there anymore. I get halfway across the intersection and notice the line of cars has started to move. They do see me, so I'm not worried about impending doom - they're all blaring their horns at me. At this point, I figure it's better to plow on through than try to back up.
Mama Linda: You have confidence. Is better.
Me: Uh, auntie, I think that's called "stupidity," not confidence...
Mama Linda: You are a good driver.
At least she believes in me. The rest of you can just pray.

I attempted to take advantage of a "buy 3 get the cheapest thing free" deal at the grocery store today. Sure way to mess with a cashier's mind: get three equally priced things. They brought various things up to the cash register that were different prices: "See, you can get two of those and get this one free!" I don't want the thing you picked out! I don't need it! I'm not even going to use it! Aahh. I finally ended up not buying ANY of it!

I think I mentioned at some point that I'm living with all Africans in the baby home. "Living" is kind of a loose term, as only four of us actually stay here, then Britt and the (mostly American) interns (when we have interns) live in the house at the back of the property, and everyone, including people who don't live here, is in and out of the baby home all the time.  But, you could say that we have a strongly African influence in this house, particularly as Britt comes up and does her office jobs and goes home ("downstairs"), and, as I mentioned, we don't even have any interns at the moment. 

I've touched on culture differences in the last blog post, but I think I've neglected to mention the Zimbabwean Sink Steal. Frequency: multiple times per day.
It works like this: You go to the sink to wash three utensils. Three. Count them. You won't even be there long enough to bother running a sink full of water, so you just get the sponge soapy and prepare to wash them off quickly.
A friend runs up next to you. "OH! I need to wash my dish! Let me steal your water!" She grabs the faucet and pulls it over to her side of the sink. While she is soaping up HER sponge, you grab it and pull it off in attempt to rinse off utensil one of three. She pulls it back to rinse hers off. You go back and forth like this all the way through utensil number two.
By the time you get to utensil number three, a second friend is breathing down your other shoulder, teacup in hand...
I have never lived in a culture where people wash dishes quite so...communally. "GUYS!! I HAD THREE DISHES!!" Then everyone cracks up laughing. And tries to grab the faucet again. Because you know. Tea can't wait. Even though we're in possession of about 50 mugs.

Off to bed! I have to work in the morning. Soon, I will do a blog post with lots of baby pictures. =)

Monday, July 6, 2015

I should be sleeping. =)

So I'm on night shift right now, and I should *probably* be asleep if I know what's good for me. But I haven't updated this in SO long and I don't know when I'll get a chance to sit down and do it, so here goes.

I've had bits and pieces of blog posts in my head for so long, so this might be a compilation of everything...

Life here just never seems to stop going. There is always something to keep me busy. Most days I consider myself to have a head start on the day if I get my bed made before 5 pm. (This probably says more about my bedtime/rising habits than anything else, but still.) Work this shift, go shopping, take this person there, go to that person's goodbye dinner, bake muffins for something else, etc, etc, make more baby food because we're running out, type up development charts, record things, try to set up a budget (eish! the amount of money I've spent on food this month when I haven't been keeping track! I can only hope that those funds have gone into stocking my pantry and I can eat for a while off of that...)

A little about my life here...I live upstairs in a room off of the baby home, and I live with all Africans. Joy is my roommate, and then Sbu and Sihle are the married houseparents who live in front apartment of the home. In the main part of the home, there are a steady stream of caregivers, interns, and visitors. I share a kitchen and a bathroom in the main part. Between 6:30 am until the babies go to sleep at night, this home is rarely quiet. My room is in the corner of the baby home and the front apartment, so I hear EVERYTHING. If the babies aren't crying, someone is playing music or talking on the phone or having visitors over (that last one is usually at a normal hour) or having a party or something. (Africans get up early and go to bed early. I haven't acclimated.) I am up by then 4-5 days a week for a shift. On the days I'm not, I roll over and put in my very effective earplugs. I bought a whole box. They save my sanity and probably my relationships too. =)

I am enjoying living with all Africans. Mostly everyone here is from a different culture than each other, so I'm not completely different. Sihle and Sbu speak a South African language (she's probably going to smack me for not remembering which one) and a lot of caregivers speak Shona, so there is a lot of English spoken. I still want to learn Shona so I can understand the 1/3 or so of conversations in this house that I don't currently understand...

It is different than sharing a kitchen/living space with Americans. Africa is very go-with-the-flow. (Except when it comes to dulling your housemate's kitchen knives.) (We got a knife sharpener.) I'm not very go-with-the-flow. At all. I'm learning. It is nice to be on the receiving end of go-with-the-flow. Whenever I drive Americans, they're all like "BE ON TIME! WHY AREN'T YOU ON TIME?!" Africans are just like "Eh." Except Sihle, who likes to proclaim, "YOU ARE LATE, BEAUTIFUL ONE!" and further scold me as I am rushing out the door for church after a crazy morning on shift.  Most of us also tend to speak our minds more blatantly than most Americans. This is rather startling at first but becomes, if not always less startling, often amusing. Hey. It's life. =) I'm sure I speak my mind about things that are strange to everyone else living with me. We do laugh a lot, so I guess it's not all bad. =)

I have had quite a bit of car trouble lately. =/ I had to have my clutch repaired (thankfully not replaced like I initially thought), something fixed with my suspension, and now my battery needs to be replaced. Life is surprisingly expensive. I'm also surprisingly dependent on my wheels...one would think I would be fine for a week or so without a car, after last year (10 months without one). But a day or two and I'm all AAAAAHHHH! I NEED TO GO PLACES AND DO THINGS!

I have gotten to do quite a few rides for people on property/nearby. It's fun (although inevitably someone needs to go somewhere right when I'm heading to go somewhere else). Sometimes it involves squishing a crazy amount of people into my car. Sometimes it involves picking people up so they don't get taken to prison for not having the right papers after a long day at Home Affairs trying to GET the right papers...otherwise they are trying to make it across the street to catch a taxi, but the police wait right outside for them and if they don't have the right papers, you could get fined or worse. Sometimes it involves trips to thrift stores. =) Sometimes it involves large tubs of fish and wrong turns down dark streets in the dark when your car won't go into reverse. Sometimes it involves waiting awkwardly and yellowly in taxi stands....but all in all, it's been a big help for me to have a car here!! Now if I can just get it up and running again...

*break to feed Grace (twin #1)*

Morning snuggles from last Monday's night shift - aka Auntie Abbie doesn't want to get out of bed yet.

Oh, speaking of twins, I now have proper nicknames for them. They were Grace and Peace, nicknames I gave them before I met them for blog purposes, but now that I know them well, I can give them nicknames based more upon their personalities.

The ditzy looking one staring at her hand... ;) (she does that all day long, with a sort of awestruck wonder: "A HAND. I HAVE A HAND. OH GLORIOUS HAND, HOW I LOVE TO STARE AT THEE.")...anyway, the one staring at her hand - Peace - now has the nickname of Chipmunk (because of her chubby fat cheeks. I also call her Fat-face or Chubbycheeks. Don't worry, being fat is a good thing here... =D)

The other one, Grace, is the more vocal of the two. She's also the more motivated twin when it comes to tummy time, etc. My nickname for her is Chickadee.

It's late. My loving roommate walked by half an hour ago and scolded me for not being in bed. No, she's not bossy (mostly) and she typically is smarter about these things than I am...but I stayed up to finish my blog post!

Sorry for the short posts lately. I promise to attempt a deep and insightful post...soon! =) If I can dig something up...