Looking Back and Forward

Hello!

It has been awhile since I have had the chance to sit down, breath, and give an update on what has been taking up all my time this last year. This blog is where I will be posting and reflecting on my trip to Chikuni, Zambia and all the experiences I will be having over the next three months. BUT! First I want to review my past year for those I have not been able to catch up with for quite a while!

The Summer

This summer, I was a summer day camp counselor at Aerospace Camp Experience at the Museum of Flight in Tukwila, Washington, just south of Downtown Seattle. The adventures from that summer were beyond anything I have experience before. I learned so much about planes, rockets, and the amazing people who designed and flew many of the crafts. Some of the highlights of those 12 weeks were:

  • Seeing Fifi, the last flying B-29, though there are a few scattered in museums. Fifi flew into the MoF for a couple of days, and we, as the resident camp, got to come up close!
  • Seeing Air Force 1 land when Pres. Obama came to Seattle.
  • Meeting Dr. Soyeon Yi, the first and only South Korean astronaut. She spent every week with the camp, and because I was in the space-specific group, I got to talk and joke around with her a lot! She’s an amazing woman of faith and I loved getting the chance to meet her.
  • Marine Week was so much fun! We talked with a Blue Angel, saw them take off and perform, and, my most favorite, were able to explore the aircraft from the Marines. We were allowed to go into a V-22 Osprey and a couple of tanks.
  • Going on overnight field trips! For a couple of weeks, I was a counselor for the oldest group of kids (7th-9th grade) and we went on a couple of overnight trips. One was to McMinville, OR to the Evergreen Aviation Museum. This museum is home to the Spruce Goose, the largest wooden aircraft. We spent the night in the museum after being lulled to sleep by ghost stories from the security guard. During a different week, we traveled to Bainbridge Island to an observatory, where we got to see Saturn’s rings and a nebula that looks like a blue Cheerio, according to our guide. The overnights were my favorite, mostly because I got to go camping, something I have not done for many years!
  • Scuba diving and flying Cessna. The older group of kids also get the opportunity to learn to scuba dive, like astronauts do in training, and to fly two to four passenger Cessnas themselves. While I simply watched in these activities, it was fun to talk to the kids while waiting their turn and to take part in their adventure.
  • Simply exploring the MoF for 12 weeks. Every week was a new adventure, and I was always learning. I witnessed hundreds of rocket launches (paper and water), saw at least 10 planetarium shows, toured the planes and the Full Fuselage Trainer (FFT) that are owned by the MoF, and got to build and explore with hundreds of children, many who returned for several weeks.

I would not trade this adventure for anything, and I loved every second of being with the kids and my co-workers. This was my first time working at a summer camp and it was worth it. The experience opened my perspective to a possible future career as an educator at an institution like this, as I found a lot of love for what I did with the kids.

Fall Quarter

This past quarter at Seattle University has been my last Fall quarter of college. Because of some challenges and many blessings, I am able to finish my college education a year early. I will be graduating in June 2015 with a Bachelor of Arts of Humanities for Teaching with an English minor. This fall also marked the first year of commuting every day, as my grandparents in Woodway, Glenn and Peggy, have graciously opened their home to me for the year. It has been busy, but well worth the extra effort.

What’s Next

And now, for my next big adventure. Tomorrow, I will be flying halfway across the world to spend three months in Chikuni, Zambia, Africa, along with my partner in crime, Madeleine. Chikuni is a Jesuit Catholic town, home to Charles Lwanga Teaching College. I will be a “guest professor” there, teaching a writing class in preparation for creating a Writing Center at their college. I will also be assisting my professor, Dr. John Bean, and his wife, Kit, as they come over for a week to run a workshop on how to teach writing. I will be in Chikuni until March 21st, learning about their culture and encouraging critical thinking in the students. While this trip may seem to be furthering my prospects as a teacher, I do not plan on teaching when I leave college. However, this trip allows me to visit Zambia, which I have always wanted to do, and to further explore what I can do after I graduate (i.e. missions work). You can keep up with me here, where I will be posting weekly reflections about my time abroad.

As this year continues, I want to thank you for your prayers and support as I have faced many challenges and as I prepare to leave, which can interpreted in many different ways! These past few years have shown me how inexplicably blessed I am to have so many people caring for me, and it has meant the world. Thank you from the bottom of my heart and I will talk to you next from Zambia!

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The Last Two Weeks

It’s amazing that I only have ten days before I start my journey home. It’s hard to think about leaving this place, but it also getting more and more exciting to be home again and start my new adventures. It’s funny how things become more nostalgic when you’ve been gone for so long. I find myself missing the grocery store, of all places. It will hard to leave, but I am looking forward to it!

I got a Valentine’s Day letter in the mail yesterday from my Great Uncle David and Great Aunt Diane Church! I was with students when one the college’s workers came in and handed me an envelope. I was shocked to see what I thought was my grandma’s writing (they are very similar!), but I was very happy to see it came from Diane and David! I was shocked to receive anything, however, and my students thought it was hilarious! It was nice to receive a short note from so far away.

This week and next will be spent mostly grading papers and rushing to finish projects before we leave the mission on Friday. Madeleine and I wish we had just one more week to relax and see the sights one last time before we leave. Students have been coming in in droves to see us and ask about their final papers. Many are distracted as we celebrate two holidays this week and have a memorial service for the late principal of the college. International Women’s Day was Sunday, but people continued to celebrate and took Monday off as well, confusing some of my students whose papers were due Monday. Today is the memorial service, which will take place this afternoon and go until dinner, so work has also stopped for that.

Thursday is International Youth Day. I have been practicing with the choir, intending to just sing for the school. Yesterday, however, we found out that Charles Lwanga has been invited (though attendance is mandatory) to come to the celebration in Monze with several other schools. The choir is the representative going, and that would include me. Our choir currently is made up of about 30 people, and they only want about 25 to go, so I may step out so another student can go to this opportunity. I will let the students ultimately decide, so I will definitely let you know what happens! Either way, we hope to tag along and/or hitch a ride to the celebration so we can watch!

We have been having more and more conversations with Mrs. Daka as we get closer to leaving. We spend a few hours each day just chatting and solidifying a life-long friendship. She is a wonderful woman and we will miss her! She has created a chitenge two-piece dress for me that I can wear as business casual (yes!), and is making another and a couple other traditional chitenges with ties so they are easier to wear. She is a master seamstress and she takes very good care of us!

I haven’t even really had the chance to stop and reflect about what this experience has been. I don’t know if it will come to me until after I get back. All I know is that a lot has changed, though I don’t think I could tell you what. I feel like I have come to appreciate things more, like time given up for someone, the peace a slow life gives you, the patience it takes to teach all students, and the importance and comfort from family and close friends. I may have grown up a bit more. At the very least, I hope I come home different, closer to God and my family, and ready to take on the challenges ahead with my support right alongside me.

Thank you for the prayers and well-wishes. I’m almost home!

It’s All Normal Now

Hello everyone! Now that life here seems to be falling quickly into a routine, I’ve decided that blow-by-blow account is unnecessary (and excessively long!). So, some highlights and thought from the past couple of weeks:

The Last Night

The night before John and Kit Bean, and Katy left Charles Lwanga, the faculty threw us a party at the Yellow House, the local bar (if it is that!). When we arrived, after walking over there in the dark (great idea with the snakes sliding around) and then getting picked up by Mrs. Nzila, we were greeted by warm faces, lots of meat, and people goofing off by the pool table. We were given tons of food and were able to chat with people there more casually than normal. Once Mrs. Daka arrived, we got out the cameras and soon everyone wanted a photo. Then the faculty presented the Beans and Katy with a thank you gift: wall decorations made out of copper. They were gorgeous and the three were very thankful. Then they got Katy to dance, and soon were dragging Madeleine and I into it. I successfully resisted dancing in front of the entire staff with just Katy and Madeleine, but they had fun doing it! I joined the dance circle once everyone else was dancing. We soon had to go off to bed though, as we were scheduled to get up at 4am to send them off to Livingstone.

Big Cats in Livingstone

On the day our Seattle party was scheduled to leave the country, Madeleine and I woke up early to see them off. While we would meet up with the Beans later on that afternoon, Katy would be at the airport and boarding her flight by the time we arrived. We said our goodbyes at 5:30am and went to bed for another half hour before having to get ready to catch the bus from Monze to Livingstone (we’re becoming public/private bus experts!). Madeleine and I successfully caught the charter bus, and by the end we were very thankful that we were being driven home by Fr. Kabuswe. When we arrived, Father picked us up from the bus depot and took us to where John and Kit were having lunch. While at the café, we decided that the one thing we wanted to do before we headed back was to go to a game park. Madeleine was ready to ride an elephant and I was excited about hanging out with some lions or cheetahs. We drove off to Mukuni Big 5 Safari.

Earlier that week, we had gotten a letter from Mr. Chulu stating that Madeleine and I were working at Charles Lwanga, so we were able to pay the Zambian native price (John and Kit were able to too!). The first thing we did was tour the park and see the several lions they had. We first saw the two-year-olds and then the biggest male, and then his pride of females, one which was white. They were gorgeous, and I hope to soon find a way to post pictures! As we headed back to the lodge, Madeleine and I were taken from the tour to go interact with the cheetahs.

Our guide first told us our rules we needed to follow with the cheetahs, such as approaching them from behind while talking to them and not walking in front of them. He then took us into an enclosure where two cheetahs were waiting for us. I was given Lulu (a two-year-old) and Madeleine had Susan (the oldest). We spent about twenty minutes sitting with them and petting them; if they turned their heads towards us, we had to give our hand out to her to lick, like a returned favor since we were essentially grooming them. The cheetahs liked licking the heads of our guides more, because their shorter hair felt more like their own fur than my arms did. There was also a girl from Switzerland there as an intern; she took most of our photos and was very friendly. After just sitting with them and learning about the park (like how they let their animals roam free in the bush so they can practice hunting before being released), they gave us our leashes and let us walk the cheetahs through the bush. The cheetahs need leashes only because they are solitary animals and they will not follow you; if we had lions, they wouldn’t need the leashes. I was glad we choose cheetahs over lions as well, because they are more relaxed around humans, we don’t need sticks to put in their mouths if they become too interested in us, and there are less rules about what you can or cannot touch on their bodies. The cheetahs also are more prone to running than attacking, so the thunder made them anxious to get home.

After the cheetahs, Madeleine and I were taken to the lion cub enclosure. The cubs were freaking out, running around like mad because they were excited about the rain. The cats really don’t like the heat, so when the rain started, they were waking up and less sleepy. They acted a lot like dogs at a dog park, running around, jumping on each other, and just playing. It was impossible for Madeleine and I to get close, and it also was raining harder. The guide decided to take us back to the lodge until the rain stopped and so he could make a toy to draw the cubs closer (and I keep saying cubs, but they are seven months old, so they are around the size of a small Labrador). When the rain stopped and we returned to the enclosure, we were finally able to touch the cubs. They were still running around, but they would stop long enough for us to get some pictures (most which are blurry; I think there are around four really good ones). We were so dirty afterwards, but we loved the chance to just see them run and play. Overall, it was a well-spent $100 and a fantastic and unique Valentine’s Day present! Every person we have told here about it is shocked we played with big cats for fun!

An Exciting Night

While the rest of the week returned to normal, I taught some classes, and graded waaaay too many papers, Madeleine and I were able to settle back into our routine (aka, you are more than welcome to read past blogs to find out about our normal day!). However, last night was quite exciting. The Lenten season has started, and Charles Lwanga has many (mostly mandatory) activities for the students and faculty to celebrate/reflect. Last night, the chapel hosted two guest speakers to help the students start a period of reflection (it lasted until 1pm today). I had to wait for a phone call from the Museum of Flight, but Madeleine headed off to the chapel (and was apparently immediately pulled to sit in the front with two of her students). At 7pm, I was called by my boss from last summer from the Museum and was offered a position as the Office Lead for ACE camp this year. This position is not working directly with the kids, but is more what I like to do: being a well-organized face of the organization while helping things run as smoothly as possible. I was stoked about the position and I cannot wait to start! It was hard to contain my excitement and thankfulness when I walked into the chapel about 20 minutes late. After the talk, Madeleine and I headed back to the office where we had left our stuff, and we faced the fear we had ever since arriving: we were locked out. There is a gate to the entrance of the office building that gets locked every night, and someone had closed it during mass. Thankfully, we were able to find a staff member to help us, but it was quite embarrassing! Hopefully it won’t happen again!

Chitenges

Today, I tried my hardest not to procrastinate, but that is the most difficult thing to not do. As a part of my rebellion against grading 120 summaries, Madeleine and I went to visit Mrs. Daka. We didn’t see her yesterday, so we thought it would be good to see her. We also brought her our chitenge material, so in about a week we will have beautiful chitenge dresses!

Some Thoughts

As we enter Lent, I have thought a lot about what to give up and have come to realize that the things that are normally unnecessary in the States are the things I cling to here as they remind me of home. It’s hard (very, very hard) to give up something tying me to home when I feel homesick (I think I have realized it’s a feeling that doesn’t really go away completely). Instead, this year I have taken on something. After the first three weeks or so, I fell out of a quiet time with God. For Lent, I am taking it back up again, hoping to create a habit that keeps me in constant conversation, something I long for. I hope to see more clearly the blessing it is to be here, and to not be too focused on the four weeks left until we leave.

As always, I miss everyone and cannot wait to be home. I also do not want to see this place go forever. I simply ask for further guidance as I move forward through this journey and as I think about the many things ahead of me.

Best wishes to everyone!

Walking with my Savior,

Theda

Tea and Bananas

This past week has been crazy busy! We had a group from Seattle come to Chikuni for two weeks, and we have been rushing from one place to the next to run a workshop, see the nearby towns, and to grade mountains of papers!

Monday’s Adventures

Monday, I taught my morning class (which is still behind), but the important part of that day was to get to Choma to renew our visas and be official again (the first visa expired on the 3rd). It is a good thing Katy has come alongside the Beans, as she has lived here before and knows the area. She was able to escort the Beans around as Madeleine and I went with Mrs. Daka, Peter, and the college registrar to Choma. (Mrs. Daka insisted that she still had many groceries to buy, even though there was NO ROOM in the fridge! Things were stuffed in there.) We dropped Mrs. Daka off at the store and then went to the government office. The registrar seemed nervous about whether or not we could get our visas renewed, but the guy was very helpful and there was no trouble. Madeleine and I heard again a joke about us marrying someone in Zambia, except this time it was so we could get free visas to stay in Zambia. Everyone thinks we should get married here. Ugh. We then went to the grocery store to catch up with Mrs. Daka, who already had a cart-full when we arrived. We grabbed a couple more things and then checked out. Because we couldn’t find Peter, our driver, we left the groceries at the store to be watched by people at the counter (they seemed very unpleased, so Mrs. Daka told about five people to watch our things). We then wandered the streets, looking for quality shitangas (Shee-tain-gay ; aka, I have no clue about the spelling) for dresses. Shitanga is simply cloth that the women typically wrap around their waists, or use as a baby sling, or really for just about anything, but they can also be made into dresses. Mrs. Daka has offered to make one for me and Madeleine. We didn’t find any good quality ones, so Mrs. Daka said she would take us to Monze where you can find good ones. As we were walking, we ran into about ten separate people that Mrs. Daka knows from the college or her home town. It was crazy to be stopped by so many people, but also not surprising considering Mrs. Daka’s lively and friendly personality.

We finally were able to meet up with everyone again at the car, but then they kept walking off, either to get food or (in Peter’s case) talk to family. We probably sat in the grocery store parking lot for about a half hour before we drove down the street to the Ministry of Education Office where the registrar had to take care of some paperwork. We waited for about an hour as first the registrar took a while, and then second Peter disappeared. We were able to talk to Mrs. Daka and get to know more about her life and siblings and the children she now takes care of after her brother passed away. At one point, I was sitting in the truck with Madeleine with my glasses off (never a good idea) and I looked out the window and shouted “Llama!”. Madeleine was so confused, and once I put my glasses back on, I saw why: I put a black tree trunk and a black trash can together to create what looked like a lying down llama. Never take off your glasses and try to observe something. Lesson learned.

Peter finally came back and we headed back to Charles Lwanga. At dinner with the Beans, we debriefed on how their day went. They were able to meet with the principal and Sr. Charity to talk about the workshop. Our schedule then changed from five days of workshops to seven days, because the University of Zambia was going to command the attention of most of the faculty on Thursday and Friday. Madeleine and I were happy to be back at the house, though we did have to do some grading for our classes. Traveling all weekend took a lot of energy from us.

The Rest of the Week

Tuesday was the first day of the workshop. Besides my normal class period, the day was spent helping John and Kit get ready for the afternoon. I also had to do a lot of reading as I had promised to read through one professor’s master thesis and Father Kelly’s (at the Chikuni parish) annual report for his non-profits. I spent quite a long time in the office that day, but at least it was productive. The workshop that afternoon went well. We had about twenty staff members come, and many were involved and actively participating in the discussion. Though it had taken a lot of planning (and there was still more to do), the five of us thought that it went pretty well for being the first day.

Wednesday came and went. The workshop also went well both days, and the staff were extremely stressed with the coming of the (basically) adjudicators from the University of Zambia.

Thursday, I was able to attend a meeting with the Beans, Katy, and Mr. Moomba, about Mr. Moomba’s work with Problem-Based Learning, which is essentially a class activity that has the students pretend or actually do activities that solve real problems. It was cool to see that he tried to implement those techniques into his classroom, as most of what we have heard about classes here, and out in the primary schools, is that they are lecture-based. I also enjoyed seeing the lessons that were relevant to the students in Zambia, such as what wars they study and how they explore how a skeleton works by trying to build the tallest building ever attempted in Zambia (55-stories). (It’s also called an upstairs building instead of a skyscraper; fun fact!)

At the workshop, Madeleine and I led the majority of the discussion. We presented the purpose of our classes and some of the activities we do to encourage critical and active thinking through writing. We then had the lecturers very quickly put together a course based on our activities that could lead the students to completing our final paper assignment (essentially the same way Madeleine and I designed our course). Though we could have used more time for explanation, I think the faculty got it and were mostly engaged. It was overall successful.

Friday, I taught my class in the morning and observed two of Madeleine’s classes. I was also trying to figure out if I could teach my class that is behind sometime that day because many professors were busy, so I was running around trying to catch my students and ask them if I would have time. I think I confused many of Madeleine’s students, but I am also desperate to make up the class periods I have missed. Otherwise, the evening was uneventful and restful, besides all the grading.

Trip to Monze/Mazaboka

Saturday, we were prepared to have a lazy day, as we had not made plans to leave the campus. However, after a couple of our party asked around to see if there was a plan (just so we wouldn’t disappeared if they had planned something for us), Mr. Mabola and James (two lecturers) came to take us to Monze and Mazaboka (I spelt it wrong last blog!). We first stopped by Shoprite to grab some more grocery items and then James wanted to take us to the sugar cane plant. When we went through the gate, we were surrounded on either side by walls of sugar cane. It was gorgeous and the colors were very vibrant (I still can’t wait to share pictures!). Afterwards, James took us to meet his family, and she fed us wonderful samosas. They were delicious, and it was a nice break after having been in the car the majority of the trip at this point. She then accompanied us to a small market where we hoped to find quality shitanga (and shoes for me as my flip-flops broke about a week ago). When we got there, she told us to wait in the car as she asked about the price, because “they will jack it up once they see you”! We ended up getting good material for 25 kwacha (about $5) for 2 meters (about 6 feet). I also got some nicer sandals that I can wear in the classroom. We then headed back to CLCE, right about nightfall. Busy days call for early nights.

Tea and Bananas

Sunday, we woke up to head to Mass. Fr. Kabuswe is in Lusaka, so Mass was led by Fr. Dana. He also did a good, engaging homily, though I felt like he rushed through the service a bit. I also super confused him when I asked for a blessing instead of taking communion (I don’t think he’s ever done it before). We went back to the house and settled in for a long day of grading (I had about 20 summaries to do by 7:30 this morning). Luckily, Sr. Charity texted us and invited us to tea, so our afternoon was broken up a little by the short break. It was nice to visit with her and her housemate, Sr. Charity. It quickly became a joke, as Madeleine and I pointed out that Sr. Charity’s aunt is also Sr. Charity. Then we asked them what order they belonged to (Holy Spirit) and then if the same order of sisters ran the hospital. Sr. Charity said no, that the Sisters of Charity did it. We had a good laugh at that!

Tea was nice (with homemade biscuits and Zambian honey!), and I also got to hold a cat (it really didn’t know how to deal with being held, as it probably never has been before). That evening, we had a large dinner, and then the rest of the crew left the house to go back to their room or to quickly check the Internet. Usually, we are able to get into our office to use the Ethernet cords, but this time it was locked. At first, Katy and I thought Madeleine had gotten locked in, as she had left before us, but we were able to let out our breath when we noticed her sitting outside in front of the library (one of the only other places to get wifi). I went back to the house shortly after and started making chocolate-chip banana bread muffins. They were sooo good! I had a few for breakfast and I am very proud that I did not ruin them!

Walking Around Town

Last night, we had a very large thunder storm. All of our party woke up to a house-shaking rumble, and several of us had trouble falling back asleep after that. It has been raining ever since. It also means the power has become sketchy. This morning, we had an assembly with the entire school. That means that my class once again was basically cancelled, so I scheduled a two hour night class to catch up tonight. After the assembly and telling my class to be ready for tonight, we went back to the house to prepare lunch with Mrs. Daka. Her son, Dwabiso, came by and we gave both of them some of our newly made banana bread muffins. They enjoyed them, and we enjoyed their company! The power went out halfway through, so we built a fire to finish making our lunch. It smelled sooo good (as many of you know, I love campfire smell!). I then ran off to turn in homework for Seattle U and to meet with a student. This afternoon, we had little time to prepare before the workshop, but it came and went without a hitch. I think the teachers appreciated the time today to create their own assignments employing the theory we have been talking about. Afterwards, Madeleine, Katy, and I went for a photo-walk, getting lost of the bright green bank of the dam, being spotted by many. We ran across some cows on our way home and followed them into a field (we got weird looks from the shepherds, but it was cool). We also saw Kit, who takes a daily jog, as she ran past us. We got many beautiful pictures, and we even got to sit with Mrs. Daka for a bit at her house and take some pictures for her! Now, I am off to teach my evening class. I hope it goes well and that we can finish early for their sake and my own!!

In the House

The house has been louder and more adventurous with a third roommate. We laugh a lot more, talk a lot more, and listen to music a lot more. We have tried three nights in a row to bake/watch a movie and we have only half succeeded once. This morning, when we woke up to the downpour, we were wondering if we were going to have the assembly when two male students ran past our window yelling as they tried to get to the dining hall relatively unwet. We have gotten sillier, joking a lot more, and have gotten to know a lot more about each other than I expected. It has been good to have someone else to talk to, and to have a reason to just have more fun.

Some Thoughts

I personally have been doing okay. We have gotten a lot busier, so I am finding it a little hard to juggle make-up classes, grading, and adventuring. However, I could not be more thankful for all that we have been able to do in this short amount of time, as it has got me off of campus and exploring the area around here more. I felt more like a tourist this past week, which I don’t necessarily like, but I now know more about the towns around here and about the culture. I also have been closer to people, such as Mrs. Daka, Fr. Kabuswe, Sr. Charity, and many of my students. Charles Lwanga has begun to feel more like another home to me, something I had hoped for in the beginning.

Your thoughts and prayers are much appreciated and are a big part of how this trip has continued to turn out. I am growing in surprising, yet fruitful ways, and I cannot wait to come home to talk about it for months after I get back, tiring you all out!

Thank you again, lot of love, and, as always, walking with a Guide,

Theda

Where Has Time Gone?!

Hello family and friends!! I am so sorry about the silence. I have been exhausted and spent for the past five days! Even this post does not talk about the last few days. So, though incomplete, here is an update! I apologize in advance for bad grammar and spelling.

The weekend of January 24th to the 25th was the last slow one for a couple of weeks. We did not do much on Saturday, but were able to return to Mass on Sunday. I am still loving Fr. Kabuswe’s messages, though another father has returned from Lusaka, so they will be able to switch. After Mass, Madeleine and I wanted to thank Fr. Kabuswe for driving us when we arrived and to bring him some of our homemade cookies. We went to his home at 3pm and left two hours later. What turned into a quick visit ended up being a fantastic, long discussion about Jesuits, poverty, London, and experiencing new and challenging things. He’s an amazing man of God and I look forward to getting to know him better as we are here. As we left, we ran into Fr. Kelly from the Chikuni compound. He had been trying to contact us all afternoon (we’re still not very good about keeping our phone on us!) to ask if we could review his annual report for the mission. I agreed, and was handed a 70-page report. Though it is long, I find it very interesting to be able to learn about the work they do in Chikuni, and to possibly be able to jump into some of their projects.

Monday morning, I finally taught section P2D. We had missed two classes because of an assembly and because of elections. Many of them I recognized from Mass or around campus, so it was great to finally get some of their names. After class, I had a lot of students come and talk to me (from all my classes) about make-up assignments or the extra credit narrative that I am still allowing some to complete. Later that evening, we were picked up by Casa and John T. (two of my students) to watch the Zambia v. Cote d’Ivoire football match. This was the determining match to see who would go to the Africa Cup (like Superbowl). The match was unfortunately tied (after an almost goal from Zambia!), so Zambia will not be continuing to the Africa Cup. It was raining extraordinarily hard during the game, so the ball pretty much stopped bouncing. It reminded me of that one Seahawks game awhile back where the football stuck in the ground because it was so wet! During halftime, the students switched the channel to Waterworld, a funny 90s movie about the world being covered by water and a merman taking a woman and her daughter to the last land on earth. The students laughed the entire time, and didn’t listen to the dialogue, so that was interesting, but I spent the time explaining to Madeleine, Casa, and Michael (Madeleine’s student) what was going on. It was a fun night J

Tuesday, I had class early in the morning. This class is not as enthusiastic about my class, so it takes some prompting to get them to have conversations. However, once I put them in small groups, they started to become very involved in the discussion. I asked them to doubt the validity of a statement, and when I called on one group to answer, a student said they had no doubts (which I knew to be false because I asked them to brainstorm for five minutes, and my other classes had given plenty of examples). However, a little later, he kept raising his hand to offer more challenges to the statement. The irony! After class, I met with more students (many had missed the very first few classes I had held, two which were unofficial and one which was official). I also met with Mr. Malambo, the vice principal, about shortening his master thesis. He gave me a copy to read and we scheduled an appointment for Thursday. Otherwise, Tuesday was slow in the afternoon and evening, where we baked some more and got some of our own homework done.

On Wednesday, we were invited to observe Mr. Moomba’s science class. It was a wonderful experience as he was very interesting and engages his students well. I also held class with section P2D to help them catch up, as we have missed two days. I had about ten students missing, but the ones that were there held a good discussion about our topic. After class, several of my students invited us to come to sports the next day (and to play!). I had a meeting schedule during that time, so we couldn’t go, but I appreciate the increased desire of the students to talk and spend time with us.

Thursday I began the day by teaching P2A. They have quickly become my favorite class (shhhh!! Don’t tell J) as the majority of the class participates and many of them make a real concerted effort to do well. During tea, the faculty discussed a distance learner (kind of like an online student) that had completely plagiarized one of their final exams. It was interesting to hear the different viewpoints for how to deal with it, when Madeleine and I quickly agreed they should fail it. Afterwards, I observed Madeleine’s class and then taught another make-up class. Later that afternoon, I met with Mr. Malambo about how to shorten his master thesis. I think he was hoping I would do it for him, but as a true Writing Center consultant, I asked him what he thought was important to include and how he could accomplish shortening it accurately.

(I’m going quickly because it’s been so long and because so much happened this weekend!)

Friday, the day began with a very frustrating class. Many were late (I made them wait outside while I finished attendance so I could mark those down who were more than ten minutes late) and no one would talk during the discussion. I had to end up calling on people; at least I started to learn their names better. After class, I spent a lot of the morning meeting with students who had missed class or had questions about assignments. I also had to print off more copies for the class, so I headed to that room. When I was there, a man walked in and said “You never call on me in class! I always raise my hand and have the right answers!”. I, of course, apologized, and asked what class he was in. He said P2B, which I had just taught and no one had talked in, so then I immediately knew he was messing with me. Turns out he is the school’s accountant and likes messing with the newbies J. After I got my copies, I made an observation schedule for John and Kit Bean, my professors, so that they would have people to watch next week to understand teaching styles here.

The school part of my day being done, I went back the house to accompany Mrs. Daka shopping. I was excited, because Madeleine and I were finally leaving the compound after four weeks! We were heading to Mozamboka, with Sr. Charity as our driver. Along the way, before we got too far from Chikuni, we picked up some young hitchhikers who hung out in the back of the truck until we got close to their homes. The boys thanked us profusely, while Mrs. Daka told us jokingly that people always ask the nuns for favors because they have to say yes. We were quite a group: a nun, two white girls, and an outspoken short lady. It was so much fun! The first store we went to was the soda/beer/candy shop. There was crate upon crate upon crate upon … you get it … of soda and beer on the walls. It was shocking. Mrs. Daka kept demanding things and Sr. Charity stood quietly in the corner as Mrs. Daka got what we needed. It was hilarious. Afterwards, we went to PEP (a mini store with clothes and shoes and some knick knacks) to get a gift for Mrs. Daka’s grandson (he turned one on Saturday!) and flip flops for me (they broke in the middle of class Thursday). Madeleine and I also sneakily bought a t-shirt for Mrs. Daka’s grandson with a zebra on it; we were glad to just get it past her without her knowing! We then went to Shoprite (the country’s grocery store), and stayed there for HOURS. Literally, we spent about three hours getting everything. Fruit, vegetables, oil, spices, drinks, bowls, napkins, milk, meat, just short of the kitchen sink. We filled the entire truck bed with groceries. We were all sooo glad to be out of there. Afterwards, Sister treated us to pizza (!) from Debonair’s, something we have been craving for a while. We got back to Chikuni at 9pm, and we were beat.

Saturday, Madeleine and I thought we were going to Livingstone that afternoon to spend the night before picking up John, Kit, and Katy. However, Fr. Kabuswe came to tell us that because of financial constraints, we were going to leave tomorrow morning. That meant that Madeleine and I could go to Mrs. Daka’s grandson’s birthday party for the entire time! We headed over to her house about 2pm, and were stared at the whole time we were around her family and friends. What else could we expect for being a different age than most of the attendees and with being white? We still had fun though watching all the kids dance J When we arrived, it was threatening to rain, and when it did, the kids were carted off to the Yellow House, an empty bar that is open for anyone to use during the day. Madeleine and I were chosen to walk supplies over under this giant umbrella that we could barely maneuver. We looked ridiculous, I am sure. Once there, we helped clean the room and then watched the kids as they danced to very very very loud music (you know how I love that). The kids were having a blast; there was one girl who was always dancing, not listening to the adults, and just having a good time. We were also fed amazing food and watched Mrs. Daka’s grandson first try to cut the cake and then hold the flame on his cake. He was so cute and was so confused at what he was supposed to do with this giant cake in front of him. Overall, we had a good time, and we enjoyed experiencing this part of their culture.

Sunday was another crazy adventure. The day started at 5am, when Peter drove up to take us to Livingstone. We stopped first by his house to pick up a fridge he was dropping off at his mother’s in Choma. That affected a good part of our ride, as we had to drive much slower over the bumps. However, we were able to see the gorgeous sunrise as we drove out of Chikuni. In Choma, we tried to get to Peter’s house, but in his words, “these aren’t potholes, they’re ponds!!” We did eventually make it, and there was this adorable puppy that Madeleine is pretty certain Peter’s sister was going to give to me when I expressed interest in it. We left without the puppy, but were soon on our way to Livingstone (Peter drove a little more recklessly without the fridge!). When we arrived, I was surprisingly not surprised with how it looked. I partially expected it to be similar to Lusaka, with many large buildings and less green than the country side, but it was green and less dense; I think though that it made sense for a high tourist town, as people come here to experience the beauty of Zambia. As we were going down the road, Peter asked, “Do you see those low clouds ahead?” I said yes and he said “That is Victoria Falls. Do you see the clouds farther away?” I said yes again and he said “That is Zimbabwe”. It was cool to be a place that you hear about and dream about visiting. We were there several hours before we needed to pick up Katy at the airport, so we first stopped by the bus depot. That’s right, Madeleine and I were taking a public bus home as there was no room in the car (more on that later!). Peter then drove us to a crocodile park, where we saw about thirty crocs and several poisonous snakes. It wasn’t super exciting, but was nice of him to give us some experience. We also learned that if we brought proof of work at Charles Lwanga, we can pay the native price and not the tourist price (it’s about half price difference)!

After that, we met with John and Kit at their hotel. We wanted to take them with us as we headed to the Falls J When we arrived, we again had to pay the tourist price, so we definitely need to remember that proof next time! We parked, got out, and started walking to the roar. I was excited to go, as I knew what the Falls are, but I wasn’t expecting what it was. We started on the trail and reached a viewpoint where we could see this gorgeous section of the Falls. There was a light spray and it was just gorgeous. I think we could have just seen that and been okay with it! But Peter was impatient to move on, so I kept following him. We passed this station that had rain ponchos to rent. The good ol’ Seattlite I am, thought that it was silly to get a poncho for seeing a waterfall. As we headed down some stairs, I could see the spray covering the section of the walkway. Peter said “Prepare to be soaked!” and I thought he was joking, as it was just a small section from what I could see. What I didn’t know was that that spray would not stop for the next hour as we walked along the rest of the pass. It was so crazy, I can’t even describe it. You are constantly getting wet, having to watch your step because it is slippery, but then you look up and there’s this amazing view of this seemingly endless waterfall. We were still under tree cover at this point, so we couldn’t see the beginning or end of the Falls, but we knew it was close, so we kept walking. We got to the bridge that went to an “island,” or tower of rock carved out by the Falls. On the bridge, it was stunning. You are getting soaked, but it’s so pretty you just want to stop and look, and there is no good way to describe it. The trail went on the side of the Falls, right at the edge of the island, so you were getting wet always, but also always seeing the Falls. Every step it gets more beautiful. We eventually reached the end of the trail and end of the island, at Rainbow Falls. As you looked over the rail, there was a beautiful, almost 180⁰ double rainbow. There is no more perfect rainbow. We were all wet, and I was trying my best to not get my camera wet, but you want to take pictures! (Don’t worry, I got many!) I felt like I was swimming in a pool fully clothed, trying not to drown my camera and watch. Perfectly impossible. Across the chasm from the island was Zimbabwe, where people were standing on the edge of a cliff to get a good picture. They had no cover to retreat to, so I was glad for our coverage as we headed back on the other side of the island. It was a crazy experience, and Peter says we’ll go back when the Falls are more full in March! After that adventure, it was time to go to the bus station to head home.

The buses are charter buses that drive through Zambia, so very much like Greyhound. It was safer, more reliable, and more comfortable than the other buses (that are more like vans). Madeleine and I were supposed to get off in Chisekesi, but we didn’t quite know where that was or how to pronounce it. We were trying to get the attendant to understand that we needed help knowing when to get off, and he seemed shocked that we didn’t know where we had bought a ticket for. It took some convincing that we did really want to go there and just needed help getting off at the right stop. He did help us and made sure we got off. A lecturer had also gotten on our bus, so when we got off, we had some company while we waited for Sr. Charity to pick us up, and we saved him a taxi ride. It was an eventful day, and we were exhausted. When we got to the house, Mrs. Daka was a welcome sight, cooking us dinner J We had arrived before John, Kit, and Katy, who came shortly after. We got everyone settled, ate dinner, and then accompanied John and Kit back to their guest room in the Jesuit house.

That was the end of our day Sunday. I will tell you about the last two days and my crazy jumbled thoughts tomorrow when I haven’t been sitting and writing for the past four hours (on different things, I assure you)! However, I am doing fine, though getting extremely busy. I miss you all, can’t wait to get back to the States in two months, but cannot believe and am falling in love with the place I am beginning to call home.

Lots and lots of love

Theda

New Faces and Old Remembrances

Hello everyone! I apologize for the hiatus, but at first nothing was happening and then the past three days everything has been happening! 🙂

The Weekend

We had a very long, slow five-day weekend as the country took a holiday to vote for their future president. There was also a lot of rain that weekend (about two-three hours in the morning and night), so Madeleine and I did not want to venture too far from the campus in case it began to pour. We stayed mostly in the house, reading, doing homework for the States, and cooking. We have now mastered M&M cookies, tortillas (that are a little too thick still), and French fries. We are exceedingly proud of ourselves, and we hope to share them with Mrs. Daka and Fr. Kabuswe as a thank you for all the help they have given us. We have also made actual wonderful meals of pork, chicken, and beef, even though everything is a guessing game at this point (Mrs. Daka always tells us “Just a bit” or “For a long time” when we ask her how much or how long 😉 ).

A Walk Into Town

On Wednesday, Madeleine and I finally broke our cabin fever and walked to Chikuni, even with the skies still threatening to pour. As we headed in sort of the right direction, we stopped at a crossroad and tried to decide if we wanted to take the main road (which is longer) or the trail (which we didn’t really remember). As we started going down the main road, a guy came up to us and offered to walk us to Chikuni. We had a very interesting conversation (and it was reminiscent of another we have had) about tribes in America, different ways to say hello, and politics. It is very hard to try to describe to someone that we don’t have tribes in America (besides the Native Americans) and that not only can everyone respond to “Good morning,” but also that it is the only way people greet each other on the street (aka there is no “local language” indicative of a city, like there is here).

We finally arrived in Chikuni, and the man, Boss, should us where the radio school and Jesuit compound was. We met Mrs. Milimo, the housekeeper for the Jesuits, and Madeleine and I want to go back to ask her if she remembers Kimberley, the girl who came before Katy last year. We then walked into the radio station, and the secretary called Fr. Kelly for us. I met Fr. Kelly at Seattle University last January or February when he visited, and he recognized me when he walked in. We talked about the work that Kimberley did when she was here and that Madeleine and I would like to help as well if we could. It was good to meet people off the college campus that we can go see and talk to. Madeleine and I also began to use Tonga to greet people on the street and say thank you to the people who helped us, so that was a plus!

Classes Resume

On Thursday, the students were supposed to be back and ready to begin classes. Madeleine and I hadn’t seen Mrs. Daka all weekend and we were beginning to miss her. When we were heading to the office before my class to garb some handouts, she called to us and said we failed the test! She was waiting for us to come find her or text her over the weekend, which we will definitely do now! She asked us, like usual, what we had made for dinner and lunch the day before, and we sheepishly told her leftovers and peanut butter sandwiches (neither of us were feeling awesome after our long walk). She scolded us, but then offered to cook our lunch for today. We returned home to fried chicken, stewed greens, shima, and a delicious sauce. We are so thankful for our “dorm mom” 🙂

I taught my second round of official classes at 9:30am. The topic was about the education policy they will write a paper about at the end of the quarter, but I was worried initially that the students would be hesitant to express an opinion doubting the benefits of the policy. I had them do a freewrite called “The Believing/Doubting Game” where I gave them statement that they first spent five minutes supporting and then five minutes disproving on their own. Then I had them share answers within small groups before we turned out for a big group discussion. To make sure they all participated, I told them each group had to share and could not repeat something that had been said before. They freaked out at this (in a typical, good classroom way) and all tried to get my attention so they would be picked first (I went in reverse order when we discussed the doubting side, so it wasn’t too terrible 😉 ). They had wonderful ideas doubting the policy, so I now know that will not be one of the issues I have to address (thankfully!!).

After my class and observing Madeleine’s two classes, I wanted to hang out with the students as they did sports. I quickly found out that they were mowing the grass instead (with very simple sickles, so it takes all of them), so I continued walking around the campus. I had thankfully grabbed my camera before leaving the house, so I was able to take fantastic pictures. After the rainy weekend, the sky again showed its bright blue face, and many colorful bugs and lazy animals were milling about. I got gorgeous pictures which I cannot wait to share!

Later that night, as Madeleine and I prepared to go to the office to check our emails before bed, Donvan came over to the house and invited us with him and the other students to watch the soccer match. It was Zambia vs. Tunisia, and was going to be a tough match. Madeleine and I had been hearing the cheers and vuvuzela for about a half hour when he had stopped by, so we were curious and said yes. It was a little weird walking in, as everyone was staring at us, but it was fun to be immersed in the middle of the crowd. They stuff each other onto the small stage in the assembly hall, so there is barely enough room to move. It was like being in a room stuffed with Seahawk fans during the last three minutes of the Packers game (yes, we saw the highlights and wish we were there in real time 🙂 ). We stayed only until halftime because of wanting to get to bed, but I hope to go again and be with the students.

A Long Day

Friday was long, but in a good way. It started with 7:30am classes for both Madeleine and myself, which is beginning to feel early again! I did the same lesson plan as Thursday, but I had a little more trouble getting students involved in this discussion. However, they got more excited as I gave the rules for sharing their answers, and they started questioning each other over what they meant for certain reasons. I had to do a little more crowd control and will probably need to reiterate my respect expectation on my syllabus. It is interesting having four very different classes with just interesting personalities. Good thing is I am starting to remember names, which is especially easier after taking attendance right at the beginning and remembering where they are sitting.

We tried to have tea after class, but the staff room was being painted, so it was pretty much cancelled (though we all looked pretty silly milling about in front of the principal’s office trying to figure out how to get tea!). I then followed Madeleine to her classes, one she had not met with before who were excited to meet both of us, and another which she taught last week. She had some very lively discussions from the first years about what they thought about the policy too. After class, several students stopped us with questions about assignments and why I hadn’t accepted one as a Facebook friend. It was fun being able to joke with them too, and it was nice to be acknowledged by them outside of the classroom and beyond the usual greeting.

We went to have lunch, and then I headed to the office (I feel like I say that all the time!) to have office hours. On the way there, I ran into Sr. Charity who first asked how they day was going and then asked if Madeleine and I were going to the meeting. Apparently there was a staff meeting scheduled for the afternoon; she gave me the minutes from the last meeting and told me she’d see me at two. Madeleine wasn’t with me, and I had to cut office hours, so it was a surprise for a few of us. The meeting ended up being four hours long, and Madeleine and I understood about half of it. The bright side to the meeting was getting Cokes (we had been wishing for them after lunch, having finished our own crate over the weekend) and delicious coconut cookies (you’d love them Dad 😉 ). I was able to offer my skills as a writing consultant to the faculty when it was mentioned that they needed to shorten their master theses (about 50 pages) to fit into a college magazine (so about 10 pages). Hopefully, this will help the faculty come visit us too and help us get to know them better! I have one person anxious to come Monday.

Life Tidbits

Just to share some other details about our life here:

  • We still have animals killed outside our house. It’s a lot of fun. No really. It is.
  • I have downloaded a lot of free books on my Kindle app to help fill in the freetime. The problem is that all the books that I am loving are the first book of a series. I.e. I cannot finish any plot until I get back to the States. Soon, I will start turning to reading the classics that are also free, but at least have an ending!
  • Madeleine and I have enjoyed living in the past while watching old Disney reruns. Madeleine had purchased some a long time ago on iTunes, and we love making fun of the old actors, but also the things we liked to fangirl about when we were younger (like the Jonas brothers!).
  • Every morning, Madeleine and I are waking up to the same song. It’s either that or a student who cannot sing who belts out his heart in the showers. We hope one day soon sleeping in is possible!
  • Bean, his wife Kit, and Katy are coming in a little over a week. It’s an event that Madeleine and I are excited for as it will add three more people to our house, and we’ll be able to share our experiences with more than just each other. We are looking forward to something that causes a bit of change.
  • One of the dogs is a Great Dane mutt. He’s the only one who will come up to say hi, so he’s become my favorite. I’ve dubbed him Clyde, since he always had another female mutt near him (we call her Bonnie).

 “No matter how heavy the burden, daily strength is given, so I expect we need not give ourselves any concern as to what the outcome will be. We must simply go forward.” – Annie Armstrong

Some thoughts

Life here is easy and hard. Madeleine and I are not overstressed with the work we are doing, and the pace of life is so much slower. Yet, we find ourselves missing home and wanting to be more involved with getting to know the students. Several students have taken the time to greet us more personally and have invited us to events, so that helps; the long weekend just made it seem like Madeleine and I were very much alone (although Mrs. Daka would say [and be right] that it was our own fault).

I personally have enjoyed the time I have been given to simply reflect. I had questioned a lot (and am still questioning) who I am and where I fit. Here, because of the amplified simplicity, I can concentrate on those questions. Reminders from home, such as taxes or scholarships or summer jobs, has me concerned about my future, even more so because I do not know what I want to do or where I want to go. The future is definitely looming, and seems like it is threatening, so I am glad that here I can take a step back and look at it. I don’t feel like it is real, or is happening to me, so it helps me maintain this sense of indifference as I decide what to do. Being able to spend time praying and reading the Bible has also helped me figure out more that the thoughts I am having are normal and that God’s walking with me no matter what I think. There’s a lot I wish was set in stone, or at least easier to know, but being so far away and just having to trust that everything will be/is fine is a good practice for me to let go of the control I love so much 😉

As always, I am so thankful for the many reminders from home of the support being sent my way. I have been given many notes letting me know I am being thought about and prayed for. It’s hard to imagine being far away with no support, so thank you.

I love you all very much! Walking with my God,

Theda

The bluest blue

The greenest green

The redest red

The strongest day

The brightest night

The warmest rain

What am I doing here?

Simply learning

to love what’s around me,

to sing praises loudly,

to teach my ways humbly,

and to forgive.

What am I doing here,

but learning to live

with Your bright heart.

You shaped it as the

heart of Africa.

Now You’re shaping

my heart to match

Zambia.

The Downpour

(yes the title foreshadows the length of my post 😉 )

Madeleine and I are stuck in our office during a torrential downpour, so I thought it was the perfect time to start on my next blog post. It has been threatening to rain for days, and the people here desperately need it for their crops, but I trusted it to hold off until lunch and therefore hung up laundry this morning. Now, I am sure they are more wet than they were when I was rinsing them earlier!

So much has happened in this past week! Classes officially began Monday morning, though Madeleine still has yet to teach. The presidential elections (which are being held Tuesday) are also keeping her from entering a classroom until Wednesday. My classes on Monday and Tuesday are also potentially cancelled, which is a problem considering how much work Madeleine and I want our students to start doing to be prepared for their final paper in March. It adds a little more stress to our planning and work, but at the same time we are greatly enjoying ourselves!

The First Weekend!

Saturday, Madeleine and I spent time resting, reading, and preparing for next week. We also faced the challenge of making our first meals alone, as Mrs. Daka always has (and definitely deserves!) the weekends off. Sunday, we went to Mass at 8 hours. It was gorgeous! Mass here is relatively informal, and the choir has so much fun dancing and singing. Fr. Kabuswe (the same man who drove us to Chikuni from the airport) gave the homily about obedience. It resonated with me as, as I have mentioned in my previous posts, I believe this journey to Chikuni was something I was called to do, and had to then accept and follow.

“Jesus taught that the evidence that confirms our leaps of faith comes after we risk believing, not before.” – Gloria Gaither

Madeleine and I enjoyed ourselves immensely, and were surprised when we realized we had spent two hours in the midst of the Catholic community. We were also half-convinced to join choir, or at least another after-school activity with some of the students. Donvan also came and met with us again, and answered many questions about where classrooms are, what people eat for breakfast and lunch, and his opinion about how classes have been going. We have found him to be a great resource for us to find out what the students are thinking and what they are used to.

First Day of “Classes”

Monday morning, the school had its assembly to open the school year. Madeleine and I came to the assembly way too early (of course), and were sitting in the back of the hall when Donvan came up to us and said that they had intended us to sit with the faculty on stage. No one was up there at the time, so we went outside the hall to find Sr. Charity, just so we knew what to do. It’s a good thing we did, because the rest of the faculty was waiting to enter the hall until the President arrived, and then we all walked in together. We narrowly missed looking like sore thumbs J The assembly consisted of a presentation from the second years (a song, scripture reading, and prayer), and then a message from the President, which included all the rules. All of them. Every single one. It was a long assembly. Madeleine and I were both intrigued that the principal took the time to mention all that he did, including many rules that students in the U.S. either learn from orientation leaders, or by word-of-mouth, such as school boundaries. That was the extent of Monday’s excitement, since assembly went through my class time.

The Actual First Day and New Friends

Tuesday, Madeleine and I became more active within the Charles Lwanga Community. I taught my first official class on Tuesday and freaked the students out. Writing for fun is not very common, so to ask my students to do a freewrite, with no form and minimal prompts, was new, foreign, and difficult for my students. When I was able to read some of them, I saw that not many understood my instructions, but instead answered the prompting questions I had put on the board. I was hoping to have them just write freely, so I knew I had to change the way I approached explaining a freewrite to my next class. The discussion we had, though, was productive and the students were engaged. I felt relatively successful at the end of the class. Madeleine and I then went to tea with the rest of the faculty; it is essentially a time for a staff meeting, just with tea. We introduced ourselves to Mr. Mwanamoomba, another literacy teacher, who invited us to come visit and observe his class when we wanted.

Later in the afternoon, Madeleine and I wandered outside during the students’ P.E. time. We went to the soccer field to watch both the boys and the girls teams; we could also partially watch basketball, volleyball, and a new line-game that reminded us of track, but they weren’t running. We sat under a tree and, very quickly, people started to come up to us and talk. There were two first years, one of my second years who I hadn’t met yet, and then many other people just stopping to say hello as they passed. We had a long conversation with one of the first years and the second year about how we liked Zambia and what the States are like. Madeleine and I also got caught in the middle of a discussion about whether a woman would become America’s next president and whether that was a good thing or not. It is so interesting to be here in the middle of election for their new president, because many are willing to talk about the failing infrastructure of Zambia, the corruption of some of their leaders, and who they wish will take the position come January 20th. Overall, Madeleine and I enjoyed watching the sports and meeting several of the students. We also convinced one of the students to bring over a tortoise that he had caught. He told us how to cook it, but when we asked if he ever had, he had (what you would hope to be) a typical reaction of disgust. It was really funny, and the tortoise was not that shy, as it would poke its head our periodically.

Good Food and an Improved Plan           

Wednesday, neither of us have class, so it was again sort of slow. We went to tea, and I had to explain what the workshop in February will be like, when my professor from Seattle U will visit with his wife to give the faculty tools to use writing effectively in their classrooms. It was interesting to see which faculty were excited, and which were having a harder time understanding why they needed to learn how to use writing. However, it was a good chance for me and Madeleine to introduce ourselves officially as people here for not just the students, but also the other faculty. We hope to continue to build those relationships, and to learn from each other.

After tea, we went back to the house to find Mrs. Daka mopping our floor and being ready to help us with lunch and dinner. We made pork and chicken, with a couple of sides: potatoes, tomatoes, onion, and green pepper, and the other was okra, tomato, and onion. They were all very delicious; we love cooking with Mrs. Daka! Soon after eating lunch, Madeleine and I were off to the opening Mass. It was just as beautiful and lively as before, but many students who attended had never been to a mass before, so they were very confused and took cues from the choir, which also proved difficult when they were standing up by themselves. Fr. Kabuswe gave another fantastic homily about brotherhood, and how Christ joined humanity to partner with us, be our brother. (I am loving his homilies and I can hopefully assume that the other fathers give great messages as well).

Later in the evening, Donvan walked us around campus, showing us where the chickens, pigs, and garden for the campus are. Apparently, chickens are only noisy when they are hungry, so they were fairly quiet when we visited. The pigs looked just like Babe, except many were bigger. They were much louder than the chickens, and I got many funny looks from the men watching when I pet one on the nose. Our concept of pets is very foreign, and to love the pigs bred to be eaten is definitely weird; I couldn’t help myself though!

This morning, I attempted to attend a meeting in Seattle via Skype for work, but apparently the wifi doesn’t like 4am either. Hopefully it will work tomorrow morning as I hope to see the lovely faces of my small group in Seattle! When the meeting didn’t work out, I went back to sleep for another few hours before having to wake up to help mop the floor, do laundry, and head to class. Laundry is done by hand, as the washer and dryer are currently out of commission. The dryer is supposed to be working, but the outlet it is closest to is not so later this evening, after I am sure Mrs. Daka will not come and scold me for not just hanging some of my laundry outside (in the midst of the boys’ dormitories no less!), I will move the dryer to the middle of the kitchen to get it to a working outlet.

After spending an hour cleaning, Madeleine and I headed to my second official class. I changed the topic of the freewrite so that I did not give them a question, but instead just the topic of reading and writing. This went much better, I found out later as I read some of their papers. I got many random topics (so I need to clarify that better), but most were written as journal or diary entries, where they simply expressed their thoughts. My favorite live from one of them was “   “. The discussion could have been better, but I am at least beginning to recognize some of my students and understand them when they answer in class.

We went to tea afterwards and listened to the teachers discuss the politics of the election. When we went back to the office, we were there no longer than three minutes when Mr. Mwanamoomba came in and asked if we wanted to sit in on his class for the next two hours. We, of course, said yes, because we are mightily curious how the other lecturers approach their classes. I felt like I was back in Prof. Anderson’s class (for those in the cohort), where Mr. M taught his students how to create an effective lesson plan that kept track of the time needed for each activity and the objectives of the lesson (which are provided by the government). It was interesting to talk about learning activities that taught students how to simply behave in the classroom, such as sitting, opening a book, and holding a pencil. From some of my students’ papers, I know that holding a pencil especially kept them from learning how to write. It is very different from the first day of first grade in America.

After that, as I mentioned above, Madeleine and I got stuck in a monsoon (thankfully we were in our office!). We were meaning to go to lunch with the students today, but I guess it will need to move to tomorrow. My clothes were pretty soaked, but no worse than when I hung them up this morning. I just hope they dry enough before dark. We might spend the rest of the day watching the students play sports again, reading, or doing homework. I have been reading so much, having finished five books for fun on top of reading for school! Unfortunately, several of the books that I have loved reading are the first in a trilogy and I cannot read the rest of the series for free :/ I just have to wait until I get back to the States to visit a library!

We were surprised about 18 hours by a knock on the door as several students delivered on their promise: we were taken to dinner! They were all convinced we would hate it, but it was essentially gravy from our Thanksgiving, with fake meat and shima, the corn paste made into a biscuit of sorts. Madeleine and I thought it was good, but totally understand how students could grow tired of it quickly. We talked with four of my students: Donvan, Casa, John T., and Chilala. They are some of the students that have started to welcome us into their midst.

This weekend the second years are putting on an event to welcome the first years. Madeleine and I hope to join and take part in the festivities. We are graciously beginning to be accepted into both the student and faculty bodies, and we are excited about our new relationships.

Under Umbrellas

“If God sends us on stony [ … or rainy … ] paths, he provides strong shoes [ … or umbrellas]” – Corrie ten Boom

For those of you who spend a lot of time with me, it is probably not hard to guess that I am missing hugs. Comfort is a very interesting and difficult challenge to have, especially when my comfort in the past has been from the physical presence of people near me. Being accepted into the communities is definitely helping me feel more comfortable, as is the constant reassurance I receive from some of these people that I am in the midst of a community of believers. I also continue to take solace in the fact that I have a purpose for being here, beyond even the simple act of teaching a writing class.

I am beginning to feel like this could be normal, though. Madeleine and I are often stopping our task to see the beauty around us. We love the stars we can see at night. It is so cool to be seeing a different, yet similar sky. It is easier for me to find Orion than it is to see the Big Dipper! We love the beauty of animals and bugs, and also the always pink sunsets. The weather is also very Washington right now, cooler and wet, much like late spring. Madeleine and I are still the only ones not carrying around umbrellas! J

But to carry the image further, I feel like I am being covered graciously by the people back home who care for my well-being while I am here. I have an umbrella of my own made up of love and encouragement and prayers. I am very lucky to not have been drenched, but only sprinkled on as I have continued on my journey here. Any hardship just feels like the flies here; always near your head, but quickly gone with the wave of a hand.

Again, and as always, thank you for your love and support. Thank you also for reading this ridiculously long post! Everything is still so new that I feel like telling you about everything! It is also easier to remember now than it will be later!

Lots of love, and walking with a Friend,

Theda

For those who are curious, mail gets here in about two weeks. My address is below. If you do send something, please don’t in March, as I want to make sure I receive everything before I fly back home!

Theda Hovind

c/o Charles Lwanga College of Education

PO Box 660193

Monze

ZAMBIA

AND a prayer I have come to love …

The Inmost Fear

Why do I fear?

God is here,

deep within—

covering nakedness,

mothering boldness,

sustaining exuberance,

restraining insolence,

siring insight,

firing lovelight,

fulfilling hollowness,

instilling hallowedness

of lung, limb, and life

with tongued fire and crossed strife—

through Christ’s indwelling,

outwelling, sorrow-quelling,

joy-swelling victory—

warm love straining

to be heard, to be loved,

yet quiet as a craning ear in silent expectation,

as simple and lonely as a man’s sigh,

as rich and crowded as God’s sea

in which I swim to eternity

alone in crowded company—

I, a mere glint of God’s light,

a mere hint of His might,

yet having the mint of His Son on my heart:

a cross sweeping to God’s glorying

and a love flaming with God’s worrying—

Christ about me,

in me,

with me,

today the darkening fierce joy of God’s sorrow

and then the tranquil swift dawn of God’s tomorrow.

Why, then, do I fear?

God is here,

deep within,

forever;

Life grandly vibrant,

Love scandalously flagrant,

yet heart quietly homing

and Lord wisely lording.

But, then,–why do I fear?

. . . fear . . . fear . . . fear . . .

— David J. Hassel, SJ

Mwabuka buti!

This is my comfort in my affliction: Your promise has given me life. Psalm 119:50

The days seem so long, but then also so short! They are beginning to blend together so that I am having trouble remembering what I did after my first class! I’ll try anyway!

What I Remember …

After class, I think Madeleine and I started our homework from the States. The important part of that afternoon, though, was meeting with Sr. Charity to ask her some questions about our internship, but also some more life/cultural questions, such as can we receive mail and where is she typically so we can find her without having to text her. After that, we went back to the house to spend our evenings as we normally do (as of now): reading, doing homework, trying to make food in the kitchen, and walking around the campus.

A Story

Thursday morning brought my second class. Because I had not planned on having this extra class, I was able to do a more fun, relaxed activity (at least, that was what I had hoped). I asked the students to write a narrative about an experience they had learning English, reading, or writing. I tried to explain that I wanted it written like a story, with as many details as possible. I had hoped I had explained myself well, but when class was over, many were still feverishly working, like many students do when they have a new teacher and are not sure what he or she expects. I was able to convince most of them to turn in what they had five minutes after class was supposed to be done, but I still had about five students who wanted to finish outside of class. When the second class came in, I tried to explain in a different way so that the students understood I was not asking for an academic paper. I also tried to explain that I was only giving points for if they did the activity or not, not on the quality of their story. At the end of class, the same thing happened where almost no student wanted to turn in their paper. I told them they had until 11am to turn it in to me in my office, so at least they had to learn where that was!

When Madeleine and I returned to the office, I began grading the 65 papers I had asked for; it was an awfully large task and now I fully appreciate all the thorough grading my teachers and professors have done in the past.

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Me and all my papers!

Many of the papers were written as academic papers, but I had one that was a well-written story with the sort of concrete details I had asked for. Many of the stories gave Madeleine and me insight into the culture these students grew up in, whether they intended to tell us that or not. Many of the students were beaten when they could not understand certain concepts, helping many to resolve to be kinder and more patient as teachers; many struggled to enjoy English because the teachers did not take the time to understand the position of their students; many had to have extra lessons on the side to catch up to where they should have been; lastly, everything hinges on their grade seven and grade 12 exams. It was amazing to read their stories, and was a good lesson to me on how whites are perceived, how learning English is perceived, and what my students would like from their teacher. While I had not prepared to have this lesson, I was very glad to have been able to.

In the afternoon/evening, we took our “break” or reading, doing homework, and just watching from inside the house. We were waiting for 17 hours when we were told Mass started. We heard the bell at about 1645 and started heading over there. We were late!! We are never late here because everyone else comes about 10 or 20 minutes after the stated time, except for Mass apparently! Madeleine and I had to laugh at the irony of the situation.

New Faces and Christmas!

Yesterday, I did not teach class, but instead spent a lot of my morning grading the last 35 papers. We were then visited by both the principal and Sr. Charity to tell us that Fr. Bert, a Jesuit in Chikuni, was heading over to meet with us. Fr. Bert taught at Seattle U for 23 years before he retired and came to live in Chikuni permanently. He asked us about our stay, where we are from, why we came to Zambia, and about the Beans coming in the beginning of February. We also learned more about him and his background, as well as the electrical and pastoral role he plays in Chikuni at the boys’ secondary (high) school. He encouraged us to instill a love of writing into our students as much as possible because it will affect the schools and students they will have eventually. He told us that they have the same trouble with math and science, because the students never liked it themselves, so they hesitate to teach it. It sounds very similar to the States and from what I experienced in being able to talk to teachers about what they dislike trying to teach. We now know where to find him and several of the other Jesuits, so we hope to head over there and find out where we can help or volunteer during our freetime.

After meeting with Fr. Bert and finishing grading papers, Madeleine and I got lunch and then walked around. We stopped by the library for new books, and saw all the students getting ready to clean around the hostels 30 minutes after the scheduled time (see what I mean about Mass?). When we arrived back home, Mrs. Daka soon came through the kitchen door bring A TON of groceries. I am telling you, it is ridiculous how much food they bring us! We have 3.5 chickens, 4 packs of steaks, 4 packs of sausages, 2 bags of mackerels, and several cuts of pork in the freezer alone. She also brought us full bags of eggplants, green beans, green peppers, oranges, okra, and greens. Madeleine and I really do not want any of this to go to waste, but it is also a ton of food. Mrs. Daka also needs to come and teach us how to cook a lot of it because, though we’ve eaten most of it, we have never had to prepare it (feel free to give us simple recipes!). She also gave us a crate of sodas, all in the unique glass bottles that are becoming popular again in the U.S.. Another good thing about all the groceries though is that Madeleine and I are now thinking of all the fun desserts and meals we can make. We plan on making banana bread or cookies soon (though we still need to find some bananas!). It’s always a surprise when Mrs. Daka comes because we have no clue what she will bring or do. Like she told us, she is our mother while we are in Zambia, and Madeleine and I are very grateful. (She said she will also give us Zambian names soon!)

The evening was spent working on our independent study, in the midst of a power outage (we were due for one since we have had full power for several days). Today we plan on walking around a bit and getting more acquainted with the students. Mrs. Daka said she would send someone over to take us to her house for a visit. We also hope to determine when Mass really is!

Some Thoughts

“Fear and doubt are conquered by a faith that rejoices. And faith can rejoice because the promises of God are as certain as God Himself.” -Kay Arthur

I would like to begin this section today by encouraging you to enjoy certain elements of your lives while also bragging about some of the things I love here.

Things that I miss (appreciate them today!)

  • Ice cubes
  • Carpet
  • Ice cream/sorbet
  • 2% milk (we have milk like creamer)
  • Fried/breaded food (i.e. fish without fins)
  • Warm blankets/fireplaces and a need for it
  • Not worrying about when I need to reapply sunscreen or take a malaria pill

Things that I love here!

  • Sound of cow bells
  • Coke in glass bottles
  • Adapters (thank you Aunt Katie!)
  • Finding unexpected things (like the Harry Potter series in the library)
  • Comfy chairs in our living room
  • When we receive groceries (it’s like Christmas once or twice a week)
  • Always having fresh food (veggies and fruit come from the market)
  • The sky is always beautiful
  • All the animals are friendly and everywhere
  • It sounds like we are in the tropics
  • Everything is bright, bright green
  • Beautiful worship spaces (both indoor and out)
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The Chapel

Life here has begun to feel normal (at least until I start writing it all down and see the uniqueness of it!). Madeleine and I have pretty much fallen into a routine (including waking up at 6 hours with everyone else). I am still trying to figure out the best way to immerse myself in this culture in a way that is not intrusive and shows genuine curiosity. Madeleine and I are trying to learn, and then remember, greetings in Chitonga (the local language), as many of the workers do not understand English, but still greet us. After reading the narratives, I also am more nervous about entering the classroom because of some of the experiences or baggage that my students are bringing about both English and white people. While they are always respectful, I also want to show that I understand the weirdness of the situation (I feel it too!) and that I want to be there to help. It will be nice and possibly a little awkward to reintroduce myself again for the students who were not here this last week, as I will get another chance to make myself understood as someone who cares and wants to learn from them.

I am still asking for courage and appreciation for where I am right now. I do not want to mess up, though I know I will, but it is keeping me from becoming more involved. However, I also am falling in love with the environment I am in and I cannot wait to live here longer. It is a weird place to be in, but also a good place that I want to stay in.

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The library

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“We have ample evidence that the Lord is able to guide. The promises cover every imaginable situation. All we need to do is to take the hand He stretches out.” –Elisabeth Elliot

This last quarter in the Jesuit spiritual reflection group I was in (SEEL, which I told some of you about), I came to realize my faith in God rests strongly on His promises. This trip was not my doing in any way. I was asked to come to Zambia, the position is everything I wanted to experience (going to Africa, teaching English to college students), and I was able to come for very little cost. God has put me here and, though it is hard and I don’t get it and I often cannot wait to come home, I know that I am here because I am supposed to be. I am not “afflicted,” like the verse in the beginning maybe suggested to you, but His promises are where I am finding my comfort. His words are speaking to me not just through my daily devotions here, but also through the many encouraging and loving words you are sending me. Thank you for your prayers. I am here to bring Him glory, and the adventure has just begun!

Lots of love, and walking with a Friend,

Theda

Some Pictures

Here are some pictures from my ipod; not great quality, but they give a little taste! I will take more later 🙂

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Dinner last night that we made by ourselves! Beef, tomatoes, onions, broccoli, and gravy on top of rice.
Dinner last night that we made by ourselves! Beef, tomatoes, onions, broccoli, and gravy on top of rice.

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Lots of paths look like this.
Lots of paths look like this.
Some of the dozens of dogs on campus.
Some of the dozens of dogs on campus.
The Assembly Hall
The Assembly Hall
Our backyard
Our backyard
The sunset sky 1-7-15
The sunset sky 1-7-15

Walking with a Friend,

Theda

Days of Firsts

Some Answers!

The rest of January 5th, a lot happened while we did relatively little. The meal of pasta and pink meat ended up tasting good, especially with bbq sauce (yes we have that!). While we were resting from the busy morning, Mrs. Daka returned and taught us how to cook shima. Shima is a corn meal paste that acts similar to a biscuit at meal time. It tasted like plumpy nut, which I had at the end of a 30 Hour Famine one year, and is fed to kids who have not had anything to eat in a long time. Mrs. Daka also fed us a full meal only a couple hours after we had lunch. She was very impressed with our meal of pink meat and pasta, though she was first worried that we had not cooked it all the way through. She prepared “five years”, a vegetable that looks and grows like rhubarb and tastes like spinach, with onions, tomatoes, and salt. She served us shima, the vegetables, and some of our meat; it tasted different, but it was good!

The best part of Mrs. Daka’s visit, however, was getting a ton of cultural/life questions answered. Earlier, we had asked the academic and work-related questions, but the ones that were really great to learn were the ones like how to use our adapters in the outlets, what people do during the day, and about her own life as well. She also repeatedly instructed us on how to be a good wife, which involved being a fantastic cook and keeping the house clean! It was great to interact with her and simply learn about the culture here.

The rest of the evening was spent reading, looking at our independent study requirements, and turning in some paperwork to our supervisors. A pig was killed behind our house, which was interesting and weird, and invoked a whole range of emotions. There was a gecko in Madeleine’s room, as well as the cockroach (yes, it’s still alive and under a cup; she named it Tiger Woods). At about 3:30am, all the dogs in the village woke up and gave a concert, and once they were done, a mosquito tried to sneak into my ear for an hour, so I had yet to sleep well.

A Day of Exploring

January 6th was another free day for us as the students cleaned up the classrooms and finished registration. It is completely backwards from the States, where students rush to get into the classes they want and everything is very timely. Registration, scheduled to be done Monday at 4pm, was still happening all day Tuesday. Madeleine and I went to the library to get some work done for our classes at Seattle U, as well as answer the plethora of comments and emails we have been receiving. Afterwards, we came back to the house to eat a snack and prepare for another exploring journey.

We walked to Chikuni, which I now realize is confusing … Charles Lwanga Teaching College is situated in/is home to Lwanga village. Chikuni is another town that is only about a ten minute walk away, so in the States, it would be like being in the same town. However, the two are separated by a dam, so now Madeleine and I better understand the difference between the two towns! Anyway, Chikuni is home to the other schools in the area (secondary, boys and girls), a hospital, the parish, and a cultural institute. It was beautiful there, with giant trees and beautiful buildings. The chapel on the high school’s campus looks just like Berean Bible Church (my grandparents’ church in Shoreline) expect white and a mosaic on the front (I cannot wait to post pictures!). We then walked through the village and got many people looking at us; one girl was crying until she spotted us and then just stared and forgot why she was crying! We then tried to find our way back to CLCE without going on the main road, so we followed quite a few farming paths. However, we did find the path across the dam that the two girls who interned before us talked about. The water was beautiful, with several younger men fishing.

(Speaking of which, Mrs. Daka gave us fish and there are some in the freezer. Madeleine and I have no clue what to do with them because they still are fish-like, everything still in place. Then we read a recipe for fish cakes and you use them whole. We’re not sure we’re going to eat much fish! Mrs. Daka was also shocked to hear about American fish!)

We eventually found our way back to the college and had lunch, the first full, real meal I have had since arriving (because of a confused tummy). Just as we sat down to read and rest (like normal at this point!), we got our first (at Chikuni) monsoon rain. It’s gorgeous. The roads quickly had turned into orange rivers and people were running for cover like Californians visiting Seattle (love you guys 😉 ). The thunder sounded like airplanes passing over. I currently love the rain, a piece of Seattle near the equator!

Then, the call. Sr. Charity called and said the principal wanted us to teach the second years the next day. Since I am the second year teacher, and there were 60 students, I asked to see the students in two different sections, with Madeleine tagging along. We were then set to enter a classroom the next morning.

Mrs. Daka came again a little later and checked in on us. We were able to ask her for a quick tour of the grounds around our house (the hostels, the two kitchens, the cafeteria, and the Tuck Shop). We also met Donavon, the student president; he was very friendly and was preparing to get the second years to come to class. Madeleine and I then spent the rest of the evening finishing some homework, preparing for tomorrow, and trying to cook (we tried to boil eggs but they were still runny, we tried to defrost meat but it took too long, and, the best part, we tried to get a full-fledged chicken out of the freezer, but because the power had gone out and thawed it, they are now frozen to each other and the freezer rack). I finally got a full night’s rest too, which was awesome!

The First Day of School

This morning, I “taught” my first two classes. It was simply an introduction to me and the course I will be teaching. The accents are so difficult to understand, and because I am not catching everything, I do not understand when the students laugh. It is a larger gap than I anticipated. However, the second section got better as I had “rehearsed” and knew what to expect for some of the answers. I also asked that section for patience as I asked for people to repeat themselves, and told them to ask me the same. I have to talk a lot slower than what I am used to (I talk fast even in the States!). However, after the second section, five students stuck around to re-introduce themselves and to ask if Madeleine and I were going to attend Mass with them (daily at 17 hours [5pm]). It was nice to be welcomed by them and to start to see their faces.

Some Thoughts

“It is when we come to the Lord in our nothingness, our powerlessness, and our helplessness that He then enables us to love in a way which, without Him, would be absolutely impossible.” – Elisabeth Elliot

My stay has gotten a lot better since we have had questions answered and it has cooled down and I have rested. Lots of factors have helped me move a little beyond homesickness and into a sense of wonderment. Everything gets more and more beautiful. When Madeleine and I go on walks, we often are not talking because we are too busy looking. The animals bring a lot of enjoyment: we had a dog visit us on the porch (they’re relatively skittish, but this one I was able to convince), a cow came to our kitchen door, and goats easily escaped a fence and walked toward us on the road. Even some of the bugs and geckos are beautiful and are fun to experience for the first time (yes, even the cockroach!).

I asked God for courage, and have received a little. What I have received more of has been open eyes and mind for these experiences. I didn’t want my first 24 hours to dictate whether or not I closed myself off to the people and beauty around me. The people here are glad Madeleine and I have come, even if things are less organized or defined than we expected. They want to help, and it is easier now that we can communicate with them via phone. I still miss home and am still nervous about truly beginning in the classroom. With the experience today in the classroom, I now feel awkward around them because I am messing up and I am not as professional as I would like to be. It just raises the bar of being self-conscious and the expectations I have for myself for doing a good job. The time difference is also hard, though it may not seem so; Madeleine and I are often no longer busy and are relaxing when everyone in the U.S. is sleeping.

I feel like I am on summer vacation and not here for school. This trip seems like it will be done soon. However, then I find myself wanting the experience Katy and Kimberly had, and they were here for three months before they had the relationships they did. It is very interesting to be in a limbo state, where we are not required to do much now, but still have a lot to do eventually. I’m praying now for loneliness to not be much of a factor. We still feel isolated from people as we have had meaningful interactions with really only Mrs. Daka and Fr. Kabuswe. The students seem like they also want to have relationships with us, but it is still hard with having to ask them to repeat themselves as it is embarrassing. Madeleine and I are also in a weird position as we are both faculty and students, guests and a part of the community. I hope that the loneliness and awkwardness changes, but that if it doesn’t soon, that I am okay still.

“Do what you can, with what you have, where you are.” –Theodore Roosevelt

I cannot tell you how much peace I am taking from knowing how much support there is from home. I am enjoying myself, I promise! I am loving it more every day. I see the challenges ahead, but I know they are not impossible. Thank you from the bottom of my heart for your prayers as Madeleine and I continue to transition into this new place. Love to everyone!

Walking with a Friend,

Theda