Thursday, January 26, 2012

Getting used to African nights.

I heard him before I opened my eyes.  Actually, it was he who awakened me from that pleasant state of just having fallen asleep.  He sounded like a helicopter in my room.  I amazed myself with how quickly I reacted.  Without even opening my eyes, I came fully awake and yanked the covers over my head.  DANG IT!  A mosquito.  I was so certain that there weren’t any when I turned out my light.  I laid there for a minute and then sighed and dragged myself out of bed, found a flashlight to guide me across the room, flipped on the light and stood looking around sleepily.  I sighed again and began the laborious process of untying my mosquito net from the ceiling and tucking it securely around my bed.  I then realized I was thirsty, so I unlocked my door and went around to my kitchen (next door) and found some water in the fridge.  By the time I got back to my room, I was already dusty.  Earlier in the evening, my sinuses decided that they just could not handle Harmattan anymore and rebelled against me, leaving me in a pile of tissues.  I turned out the light and used my flashlight to get back to my bed. I ducked under the mosquito net and lay there in the heat thinking.  All of a sudden the humor of it all struck me.  I mean, I don’t even speak French!  Here I am, in the middle of Africa all by myself, I don’t know the language, I couldn’t find my way around my neighborhood if my life depended on it, and I’m laying under a mosquito net because malaria medicine makes me dizzy.  I’m hot and dusty, and…and I don’t even speak French!  What was I thinking? I’m crazy.  I laughed aloud into the darkness.  This is so far from my life in a sea of cubicles, with Starbucks down the road and high heels on my feet.  Sometimes the contrast of it all strikes me as completely surreal – is this really my life?  Am I really this lucky that I get to do this?  To lay here, covered in dust from Sahara’s Harmattan, hiding from malaria, trying to sleep in the heat of a West African evening and knowing that tomorrow I get to wake up to the sound of African laughter and face a day of a dozen hugs and the constant clutching of little black hands?  Did I really just buy a bicycle so that I can bike over to the market and across the neighborhood to Bible College?  How did I get to be so lucky?  Again it makes me laugh, but with a heart bubbling over with thankfulness.  Thank you, God.  When you called me to Africa I never knew…I never knew I would love it as much as all this. 

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Africa, Take Two: West Africa!

Burkina Faso is much different from Uganda, but it is still so much the same.  The people are super sweet and friendly.  Then language barrier is frustrating because I just want to sit and talk to all the sweet people that I’m meeting.  Not one person has been anything close to rude, not one.  Even when they realize that I can’t speak French, they just smile huge white smiles and nod encouragingly at me.  I love them already :).  We went to a wedding on Saturday!  My first African wedding.  It was excruciatingly long; we were only there for about six hours, but apparently it went on from ten in the morning until midnight.  People kept getting up to sing to the new couple and speak to them, and then there was a very long sermon, and that whole part of it was terribly boring because I don’t speak French and because I was sitting in the front, so I had to look like I was paying attention.  But the first part of the wedding – that was amazing!  Hands down the best wedding I’ve ever been to in my life.  There was dancing and singing and laughing and more dancing…not slow sad wedding dancing like in the U.S., but like tribal dancing!  And it was beautiful.  If ever I marry, I want the ceremony to be just like that: drums beating almost loud enough to drown out the chattering African languages, people dancing, dressed festively in bright colors, wearing head wraps that may or may not match their respective outfits.  Enormous white smiles flashing against dark faces.  Dust kicked up and swirling in the air as thick as fog, sweat running off of every brow, and dozens and dozens of tiny brown faces crowding the doorways and windows, their black eyes shiny with jolly laughter.