Saturday, November 3, 2007

So much for shorter more frequent posts.

This week has been quite amazing indeed. Last Saturday seems like ages ago! I wrote my last post I went to the Edge, the Saturday evening worship service in English. The songs were uplifting and the message was spoof type video Tyler made. It was pretty entertaining. Very well done, with a funny script… it reminded me of something my brothers would have made. After the Edge we went out for Ice Cream at Sweeties. It was Leanna, Tyler, Racheal, Ellie, James and myself. The other three besides Leanna, Tyler and I, are in the high school youth group and were the coordinators of our excursion. The ice cream was good. I got the mint chocolate chip and cookie dough. Next time I am not going to get the cookie dough, it was just so-so. We all sat outside on account of there being a wonderful breeze blowing through! I slept well that night :)

Sunday I went to church with Pascal which was nice. I did have to get up and introduce myself again. However, this time it was in front of about 750-1000 people. No worries. I just spoke in English so most of them couldn’t understand anything I said anyway. After church and lunch at 2iE, I went to the rec center and sat and chatted with the Wolters. I also had planned to workout and then swim, which I did this time without a problem and it was lovely. Even after the bad hair experience two weeks ago I still went swimming. Luckily this time there was no adverse effect on my hair. phew! Later that evening I went with Leanna, Tyler, and Lorinda to watch football at the rec center. It was pretty funny to see a whole room of Americans getting excited about football, thousands of miles away from the states. I guess some things never change! We watched the Pathers versus Colts game which was pretty exciting. There were a ton of interceptions and dramatic plays. The Colts were playing very poorly in the first half and then came out in the second half and played like the team they are supposed to be, which is very good… It was great because as this game was going the updates from all the other games going on were running at the bottom of the screen. I would think about my friends and family in the different cities as their teams score came up. It was a successful day in that respect because the Steelers won, my Mom’s family is from Pittsburgh so I have can appreciate that. And the Eagles won, my friend Caroline is from Philly and I went to watch a game at a sports hang out with her and some of her friends before I left to come here. The bad news was that the Bears lost, sad. But they lost to the Detroit Lions and Annie is from Detroit, so I can’t really be that upset.

Monday started off like any other day and then that changed in a wink of an eye. I was able to talk to Shelly on Skype for like 45 minutes. It was awesome! She and I are really going through many of the same things. Even though she is in Tanzania and I am in Burkina, we are both amazed at what we are learning and experiencing, wishing there was more we could do, and wanting a roommate to share with. It was such an uplifting conversation. Shelly has also not been feeling well, and she recently went to a large hospital in Dar es Salaam to get some help. They were able to help her which is a huge reason to praise the Lord. We also talked about my coming out to visit her. I really hope that this can become a reality. What a blessing it would be for both of us! The only problem is the plane ticket will be about $1200. If I save up enough from my salary, I just might be able to do it. It is pretty much a once in a lifetime opportunity, so I will see what I can do. Nothing’s in stone, but there are plans in the works… My French lesson went very well and that afternoon I heard back from Nicolas. It was a very encouraging email which provided me with the information to take the step in researching and moving ahead with the ceramic water filters. I also sat and talked to Konate about my research and a new experiment I want to try. He really liked my idea so I will start getting that together. Basically, we are going to quantify the effect that the percentage organic and inorganic turbidity has on the ability of gravel to remove turbidity. Past experience indicates that the higher the inorganic content the less effective the treatment, so we are going to prepare batch samples and run them through the filter to and hopefully see a clear trend. I decided I would go to dinner at 6:35, pretty much my normal time. However, when I got there the girl told me there was no more food left. She said there were just more students than usual there and I was out of luck. I was a little bummed, but bounced back and decided to cook some pasta. Much easier the second time around. But, I was out of bottled water and hadn’t had time or the guts to go buy some. Well, I did have the guts but just no way to carry it. Water is heavy! So I decided to boil some water to disinfect it. Great idea, except then you have wait for to cool down to drink it. Needless to say I was not happy about my water situation, but would soon change.
I had a meeting scheduled with Professor Maiga for the next morning so that night I worked to prepare a list of questions, concerns, ect. Also, that night I wrote up an update to send to Professor Soboyejo. I hadn’t been feeling very good about the amount of work I was getting done, feeling like I should be doing more. However, sitting down and writing this update was very encouraging because I realized I have been getting stuff done. It is just a totally different from the school work I am used to doing…

Tuesday morning I corrected an abstract in English for Konate and then had my meeting with Professor Maiga. The meeting went great. Basically, he is very happy with my progress so far and expressed greater interest in the ceramic filters. I also talked to him about the few questions I had about my contract and I am still waiting to have those resolved. Basically, I need to know if I will have any housing expenses and what my pay will be once the Burkina social security is taken out. I also requested that they pay for my French lessons, which they agreed to do. Man was it hard though. I felt that they should pay for them, but actually sitting there and asking for more for yourself; that is tough, but very valuable experience. You will never know what you can get if you don’t ask. Tuesday afternoon I went to bible study for the second time. Again Beth Moore’s lesson was excellent. I rode my bike to Alice’s and got a ride the rest of the way with her. We picked up another lady and her daughter so it was a packed car! I was really running out of water at this point and hoping something would come up that would help me. I was planning on bringing some empty bottles I had been saving to the Wolters to fill them up, but just that day my house cleaning guy took them all! I had like 20 in a box. They were clearly not trash… That made me mad! Anyway, Leanna invited me over for pizza and fun with our friends Bianca and Tyler and another Tyler, the history teacher at ISO. Halfway through the evening Cory another peace corp guy joined us. The pizza was excellent! Bianca and Leanna had made some strawberry cake for two events Leanna needed to bring a desserts to, but made extra so we had some that night. YUM. I rode my bike over to Leanna’s after bible study which saved her a trip to come get me. That night we put my bike on the top rack of the Prado she was driving from the mission and she drove me home because it was pretty late by that point. The awesome and amazing news is that Leanna had an extra water filter at her place she had never really used. She checked with another missionary to make sure it was alright, and then she let me have it. I will give it back when I leave, but how cool is this now I don’t have to buy water I can filter it myself! Now I just need to stock pile some more bottles… But oh you should have seen me that night trying to set this thing up. It is big and awkward and oh my I must have been quite a sight; me lugging this thing around trying to clean it out, fill it, and not spill everywhere. I would also like to note this Tuesday marked my fourth week in Ouaga.

Getting up on Wednesday was tough after the late night the night before. However, I was inspired by the fact that I didn’t have work on Thursday and Friday. Thursday apparently is All Saints Day and then the institute decided to give everyone Friday off as well. So I was very happy about that, and about the fact that I got the 4th and 5th episodes of Grey’s from Ali that morning. He also gave some of the movies he had downloaded, which at first I was excited about, but then not so much as his taste in movies is not like mine at all. That morning I had forgotten my pen in my room so I had to walk back and get it, super interesting I know, but wait… as I am walking back Namuro stops me and tells me I need to come with Ali later today to see my new house. I was like, ok cool. New house. Happy Halloween to me. So right before lunch we went to see it. It isn’t the house I thought it was originally, but I still really like it. It is big, furnished, has a kitchen I have my own bedroom and bathroom. It has a very nice backyard and screened in patio. The d├ęcor in the living room is very African which is kind of fun… it creeps me out a little if I think about it too long. Anyway, it needs some homey touches, but I think I will like it. I will like it even more when there is hot water, a shower curtain and another person living here. Because it is so big it feels really empty with just me. And there are a ton of doors which lead to the outside so I am constantly checking the doors are locked. That afternoon, after my French lesson I went and packed up my stuff from my other room and moved into my new house. Yeah. As a way to celebrate that night I watched the 4th episode of Grey’s Anatomy. So good. I showed great restraint in only watching one episode. I like to save them for days when I don’t have anything else to look forward to, but I really wanted to see the next one. Well, even though I was excited about my new house the first night anywhere new is always hard. Each house has a distinct set of noises which take getting used to. I did not sleep well at all that first night. Not to mention the creepy noises, it being Halloween, my mosquito net hanging funny and making me feel claustrophobic; there was a roach which somehow managed to crawl onto my feet once I turned out the light. Oh the joys of Africa. I remained surprisingly calm though. One nice thing is that I have a sweet new air conditioner in my room and there is A/C in the living room as well. Frankly, I was just happy to make it through the night.

Thursday was a fantastic day and Friday will get its own post. My day off started with my sleeping in late since I hadn’t sleep well that night when it was dark out. When I did finally get up I went to the office and as I sat down at my desk I found I had good email after good email. It was amazing! I heard back from two professors about my NSF application with some great and very helpful comments from one. Karen called and invited me to lunch at a Chinese restaurant with her family, an invitation I readily accepted. I had mentioned to her that I had the day off to see if there was anything I could help with. The Chinese restaurant we went to was good, but expensive. I could have eaten ten meals at the 2iE restaurant for what I paid for that one. As long as it isn’t an everyday thing, I think I can afford it. Also, Thursday was November 1st which makes my first whole month in Burkina. Happy anniversary to me, I am considering the lunch my celebration. I spent Thursday afternoon preparing a lesson for the middle school kids for youth group that night. I had offered on Tuesday to do it because Leanna was busy with work since the quarter was finishing up for her. The week before Tyler talked about the results of being a Christian and so I decided to talk about one of the realities of being a Christian. The point of the lesson was that “Life is not always easy, but God is always faithful.” I was inspired by what I had been reading in the bible lately which is the story of David in 1 and 2 Samuel. David’s life is like the ultimate example of God’s faithfulness. However, instead getting into David this week I decided to stick with the concepts of faithfulness and have them read some verses which would explain more about God’s faithfulness to them. I think this is a very practical lesson for middle school kids because there are many times when they feel alone, of someone talks bad about them, or they get dumped and they need to know God is always faithful and he is always there. Before Wired, the name of the youth group, I invited Leanna to come over and see my house and go over the lesson with me. It was so nice to have her over! We went through the whole house making plans on what needs to be done. Leanna is excited to help me decorate and make it feel more welcoming. We quickly went over the lesson and Leanna thought the idea was great and the whole lesson was in a style very like her own. I am happy to say the lesson that night went great. I think they really got it and they had fun playing hangman to learn “the point”. At the end, however, I realized I hadn’t planned how to wrap things up and was like uh oh. But then Leanna came up with an awesome game. We went around in a circle each person saying one word of the sentence. We would go as fast as possible and if you messed up you were out. We played once, and then the kids wanted to play again. Talk about inspiring! After Wired Tyler and I went back to Leanna’s for some left over strawberry cake and hung out. Leanna drove me home around 11. Such late nights! I slept a little better the second night but still not great. I pulled one corner of the mosquito net back with a clip which made a difference. I also stayed up later that night making two posters in Photoshop that my Mom could print out and give to Jordan. The Illinois State Cross County meet is today, Saturday, and I really wish I could be there. I wanted Jordan to know how much I care and wish I could be there. The poster was the best thing I could think of. I went to bed at 1:30 and had to get up at 6:00am! I was exhausted, but so excited because I was going to go with Drew to help him do some field work out in the villages. My first adventure to the African Bush… So incredible it needs its own post. Stay tuned. There are pictures, many, many pictures in fact.