Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Valentine's Day, Softball, and my Birthday!

I managed to post the last two posts from Les Petites Delices on Wednesday. Last Wednesday I had my whole day planned out. I would work in the morning with no distractions leave around noon go to Petites Delices for lunch and to post my entry then go workout, which is right next door before heading over to bible study at 3:00. Well, I was late getting out around lunch time and then I spent time than anticipated online so I ended up having to postpone the workout. I think that was a good choice anyway because the ham and cheese Panini I got for lunch was really good and probably not fully digested. I made it to bible study just in time. Petites Delices is a good 15 minute ride from Maggie’s place where we have the study and I needed to stop and have copies of a crossword puzzle made. Sheesh! Never a dull moment. At bible study we went over the first half of James 2. The lesson went really well. The girls were participating, and I think they got the idea of not showing favoritism and how important it is to treat your neighbor as yourself. When I got back to work I read the test results from Tuesday. I left work very satisfied with what I had gotten done and went to go work out! It was weird not getting there until 7:00ish and staying at the gym until 8pm, but the running was great. When I got home I spent the rest of my evening planning the lesson I would teach at wired on Thursday. I decided to do a PowerPoint presentation and teach on how God can use you even if you are young. This, however, was no ordinary PowerPoint presentation. I used about 70 slides and made it like my teaching dialog with only a sentence or two on a slide. The idea was I would not talk at all, but just click the slides! Sounds a bit wild, but the kids have been having a tough time listening, they are in junior high remember… So I thought this would be a way for them to be encouraged to pay attention. You’ll have to read on to find out how the experiment went!

Thursday Happy Valentine’s Day. What a day it turned out to be! No I didn’t get any secret admirer cards, which was actually a great relief ;) To start off the day I had a tennis lesson in the morning. So even just with that you know it is going to be a good day. I got back from tennis and was able to complete the microbiology tests before lunch time. I was on a role… Thursday I finally had lunch with my housemates at the rec center. We got there around 1-ish and the girls worked out while I laid down on the sofa in the TV room and watched some cheesy movie, It Could Happen to You with Nicolas Cage. I had already had my tennis lessons so I saw no need to workout twice and besides I was terribly tired. As I watched the movie I did make some really fun Valentines for my friends. I made one for Susan, Leanna, Tyler, Ben, Maggie, and Bianca. When I got back to work in the afternoon I googled Valetine’s Day jokes and put a little joke on each one. They were way better than the kind you buy in the store. Lunch went well. We had a nice conversation. I was rather taken aback when one of the girls asked me how much I am getting paid. I kindly said I was not comfortable with discussing that. I my head I was like, “Really? Why would you ask that? I mean we are getting along, but we aren’t really what I would consider friends and I can’t imagine what motives you have for wanting to know that!” Anyway, later talking to Bianca she pointed out that it could be a French thing, they aren’t quite as private about that sort of thing in France as we are in the States. And it’s not like it is a huge secret, but I just felt like they had ulterior and not such noble motives for wanting to know.

The afternoon at work went by very fast. I left about 5:30 to get to Paradisios for Dinner. Bianca, my friend in the Peace Corps, had just gotten back in town and since I hadn’t had a chance to get her a Christmas present I offered to buy us dinner :) I was great. We split a Hawaiian pizza. Highly recommend it. On the way to WIRED from there we stopped by Maggie’s house and slipped her Valentine under her door since she teaches a class on Thursday night. When I saw her on Friday she was so cute about it. She wasn’t sure it was me or another Sara! SO to end your suspense… the lesson at WIRED went GREAT! Really really well. You should have seen there faces and anticipation when they realized what was going on and that I wasn’t talking, but was able to predict everything they would do or have questions about and put the right slides in the presentation! It was tough because I really wanted to talk. There are so many things you want to add or get them to think about, but I remained silent. They have missed a couple of things in the lesson, but it surely a week they will remember. At the end we also played a bible verse draw game where I put up a verse on the screen and two players race to find the verse in their bibles and read it out loud. It was boys verses girls, the girls won by an impressive margin. At WIRED they had amazing snacks of cookies with Valentine’s Day M&Ms. I had about 6 or more… I stopped counting. Anyway, I was pretty done for and then Tyler suggests we all go out for ice cream. Yeah! So we went to the Creparie and got Belgium waffles with strawberries and ice cream. It was great except I was SO full after having had one too many cookies at WIRED. All in all it was a great day, and my friends got a kick out my jokes ;)

Friday was the first day of the SOFANWET softball tournament. It was held at ISO and there were teams there from Burkina Faso and the neighboring country of Niger. The morning at work is really kind of a blur I was busy trying to get everything ready for next weeks experiments and finishing up proposals to send to Professor Maiga regarding two master’s thesis topics. I was thankfully able to finish those! I had to be at the softball field at 2:00 which was a stretch with trying to finish the proposals. The real problem was there was no deadline for these proposals. No one tells me I have to do anything. I could have just as easily said, eh… these can wait until later. But thankfully I have been getting my motivation from the idea that I work to honor and please God so I need to do my best. Not to impress others, but because if I don’t I am wasting what God has given me and frankly I don’t want to be the servant who buries his coins…

At 2:00 I reported for the game. We were playing the ISO kids and wouldn’t you know we lost pretty badly. Our pitcher was having issues and the kids were walking one by one. It was so frustrating not being able to do anything. My only consolation was that when I was up at bat I got on base each time. I definitely had to work to stay positive. I am just way too competitive a person and this was the social league so… that explains it. I was just happy to be playing at all though. And we got some really neat t-shirts that say the Ouagadougou Geckos, which was the name of our team. Most of the team members were embassy employees. Since we were at first short on players I invited Maggie to join us. She at least had some softball experience… It was hard though for her to adapt to the slow pitch rather than the fast pitch she was used to playing. After the game was over I hung around a little bit and chatted with some people I hadn’t seen in a while and then went back to work. I got Bernard to sterilize some bottles for me and I had a French lesson. The lesson went well and I think it was because I was in such a good mood from playing softball. After work I did 20 minutes of Abs of Steel since I didn’t feel like I got much of a workout playing softball. For dinner I went over to Leanna’s and had soup with Leanna, Tyler, Maggie, and Bianca. Ben, Will and Tyler B came later to play games. Bianca had found a LOST board game at the Peace Corp hostel and we tried to play it but it was way too complicated and required much more strategy effort than any of us were willing to put in. So in stead we played Phase 10. With 8 people it took a while, but we finished the game. We lost people before finishing on account of the time, but at 12ish Will finally got to phase 10. I was only on phase 7 which was a bummer. I left my bike at Leanna’s house and she drove me home because it was too late for me go back alone.

Saturday there was no Toastmasters this week. I did, however, get up around 8:00 and go into the office to rerun the microbiology tests from the last two weeks. There were some interesting results and I just wanted to check again. It was so nice to be there when there was no one else around. I like being around people, but the lab is one place I like to be alone. I finished just in time to walk to ISO, about a 20 minute walk… I left my bike at Leanna’s remember. This game we played against the Peace Corps team and again we lost. But I made 2 outs catching fly balls down the third base line. I was playing third base… and I had a couple of nice hits. After the game Susan and I got Sloppy Joes for lunch. Gotta love them Sloppy Joes… and watched the next game for a while. I also checked out all the wares the different craft vendors were selling. I wanted to know how much I should bring on Sunday ;) I have decided to start buying people souvenirs now so I don’t have to scramble to stuff in June when it is time to go. Around 2:30ish I walked over to Leanna’s to get my bike, she only lives about a half mile from ISO. On my way there I stopped and bought a really cool three tiered basket to hold my fruits and veggies. Once I got my bike I rode back to ISO carrying the basket rather clumsily as I went. I put on my swimsuit and sat by the pool for a bit and then jumped in a swam a few laps as exercise. It was nice and refreshing.

From the pool I headed back home to chill out a bit. I ended up trying to make pita bread again, but to no avail… again. I had found a different recipe so I thought maybe it would work this time. This was attempt number 4. This time the dough looked and smelled more like pita bread, but again it never rose properly. I am going to wait until I get measuring utensils before I try for a fifth time. I can’t be sure what I am doing is precise and I feel like with yeast, sugar, and salt you have to know what you are doing. I left my house about 6:30ish and rode to Leanna’s house. From there we promptly left to go to the Edge Service. It was great worship and having missed it the last time I really appreciated it. Afterwards, Bianca, Tyler and Ben wanted to watch 28 Days. Leanna and I don’t like scary movies so instead didn’t so we cooked some brownies for the softball tournament, baked up some chips for my birthday the next day and that was that.
Then after the movie was over Leanna cut my hair! I know I am so picky about my hair. I usually make a big stink about getting it cut and where I am going to go, but I let her cut it. Thankfully she did an amazing job and I really like my new haircut. I was actually a bit concerned because it was like already after midnight and I knew she was tired but if she didn’t cut it then I would have had to wait for a long time. SO I took the gamble and won :) That night I slept over at Leanna’s house ;) and before I went to bed I got some movies on my hard drive from Bianca… Good movies! Also, I would like mention that when the clock struck 12, Happy Birthday was sung to me…

Sunday, February 17. What a great day. It also happens to be my Birthday… Is that what makes it great? I will let you decide that. All I know is that 2/17/1985 was a big day for me! My first day on this Earth in fact. So Happy Birthday to me, and to my parents :)

Waking up at Leanna’s was fun. I was glad to be with friends on my Birthday. Leanna and Bianca had to leave about 9-ish to run errands and get to the tournament. I went home at this point to get my stuff together for the game and to read my test results from the day before. Well I got home and realized I didn’t have much to eat for breakfast. I decided I would make a cheesy egg sandwich, but then realized I only had two eggs. I wanted to also make brownies to donate to the Prom committee to sell at their bake sale and those take two eggs. I thought I was going to have to choose between breakfast or brownies, when I got a text from Susan inviting me to come over and she would make me French Toast for my Birthday breakfast. Talk about awesome! So I whipped up the brownies, stuck them in the oven and headed over to Susan’s house. The french toast was excellent and it was just such a nice gesture on her part. She also gave me a really nice Birthday card and a purple scarf. Breakfast finished up later than I had planned and I barely had enough time to pack up the Brownies and the rest of my gear for the day, walk over to read my tests and walk, yes walk, to ISO again. I wanted to walk so I didn’t have to deal with my bike later in the evening after my birthday dinner and everything.

We played our last and final softball game against the Japanese team. They are really good and so we lost pretty badly again. We went 0-3 in the tournament. Not the shiniest of records… The only reason why they didn’t absolutely annihilate us was because another embassy guy joined our team for this last game and he had some mad skills. After our last and final defeat, they have everyone get together and I am thinking we are going to get the good try team at least we had fun pep talk… BUT then they all start singing Happy Birthday and Susan brought brownies for the team to share! What a awesome surprise :)

I had fun walking around and bought a bunch of stuff from the vendors that I had scoped out the day before. Susan bought me lunch of Sloppy Joes, again. It was either that or pizza and I was more up for another Sloppy Joe… The rest of the afternoon I watched the other games that were going on and went to the pool. I listened to HTB sermon, it was Sunday you know! When I went swimming Bianca came by and watched a little bit to give me some pointers. Next time she said she will bring her suit and we will have a swimming lesson. Fun! I had tried to tlak to my family earlier in the afternoon, but it was church time at home so just before we left I checked one last time and wouldn’t you know I caught them! I didn’t get to talk long, but it was great to hear their voices. My Mom was actually down in Florida since the 14th visiting her parents so it was a bit trickier than normal to connect.

After the tournament stuff was all cleaned Bianca, Leanna and I all went back to Leanna’s house for my Birthday dinner. The menu consisted of Bar-B-Q chicken, mashed potatoes, and green beans. The boys took care of the meat and Leanna and Biance made the veggies. Ben was in charge of the rum punch. It was a great dinner and so nice to have friends to share it with! Dinner was nice and drawn out. I could linger at a table to talk for a long time :) To my surprise after dinner I got open some presents! I was not expecting any presents, but my friends all chipped in and got me some great kitchen stuff like a glass bread pan, non-stick cookie sheet, glass sealed flour canisters, and 4 tall glass glasses. The glasses that came with my house were so small, if you take 3 sips you have to refill… I was also gifted a bottle of red wine. I prefer white, but the red will go with a nice meat meal sometime as well. It was SO thoughtful of my friends to get me these things! All day long I was just surprised time and time again…

Once the excitement of the presents was over we sat down and watched Atonement. It was nominated for Best Picture so I really wanted to see it. It was definitely weird. Good, but at the end you aren’t sure what was real and what was not. The actresses they got to play the main women throughout the different stages of her life were so convincingly the same character. We paused the movie in the middle to have dessert, which at my request was a fruit pizza. Everyone sang happy birthday and I got to blow out my candles! It was a very memorable 23rd birthday. Leanna drove me home when everything was said and done. She had no school on Monday so she was able to stay up ;)

I would like to note that my friend Ben made a comment about how I am only 11 months older than he is but that I act like much more of an adult. This is true.

Monday was tough waking up. I really just wanted to keep sleeping, but I knew that I had things to do at work so I got up and went to work, literally. When I checked my email I had such nice emails and birthday wishes from friends. I wasn’t able to check email later on Sunday so I got to receive a bunch of fun Birthday wishes on Monday… which continued onto to Tuesday :) I think one of my favorite ones was Lillie’s poem she wrote using the letters of my name and the fact that Caroline sang me Happy Birthday on facebook.

Monday morning I washed out filters, because there had been some major algae growing in the bottom of filter 1 and the test results overall were showing a deteriorating quality. This little exercise took longer than planned, but I got it done and was out of the office about 12:30 for lunch.

Sunday I offered to help make a meatloaf dinner with Susan for 3 other Peace Corps people. I really needed to go shopping. I hadn’t been to store in two weeks. The pickings were less than slim, at this point they were non-existent. So I had to go shopping didn’t want to go to Marina, but I knew I needed meat which they didn’t have the shopette where I like to go. So I headed to the Palais de Viande or meat palace I had passed on my bike once, but it was closed down… for good. Sad. So I went to the shopette to get my other stuff and had kind of resigned myself to having to make another trip, this time downtown. Not high on my priority list. But I decided to make a last attempt and check at the meat section of the market. Some place I had ventured to before. I must have been feeling especially brave. I had even asked a woman if they sell ground beef there and she said no, but I didn’t believe her so I went anyway and what do you know I see signs for ground meat all over. So I pick the little window that looks the nicest and order my 1 kilo of meat. Thing was there was no ground meat in sight, so I was getting a bit confused. I say ground meat because frankly I don’t know if it was ground “beef” or some other kind of meat. After I tell the guy my order he takes this huge hunk of meat and cuts off a good size slab, weighs it and then cuts it up into little chunks. At this point I think I am semi thinking that may have ordered the wrong thing, maybe I got my verbs wrong… oh no! BUT then he hands the pieces to a young boy who walks over and grinds the meat. SO I got ground meat ground right in front of me. Talk about getting deeper into the culture and, well, more definitely more integrated. I also bought all sorts of veggies and fruits :) I usually only buy as much as I know I can easily carry on my bike, but I didn’t want to go back out so I ended up struggling to carry a very heavy bag and a full backpack on my bike. BUT I made it.

I got home and started making the meatloaf. I had gotten a package of meatloaf seasoning from Leanna so I used that, which was also kind of the inspiration for the meal to begin with. I also soaked my green beans and strawberries in bleach water. I took the tops off and froze the kilo of strawberries and got the beans ready to cook later that evening. As I was about done with the meatloaf I realized I didn’t have any eggs! They were on my list and I thought about stopping to get them, but with my bags so heavy I was like, oh no I’ll just get them later. Wrong. Lucky for me I was able to ride my bike to the nearby university kiosk vendor and buy some eggs there. Not a huge problem, but just another one of those when you go, “Why does life have to be so complicated sometimes?!” I finished up in the kitchen and went back to work, right on time in fact.

In the afternoon I worked on emails and had visit from Nicolas. I then went to the library to meet with lady about the network access. We finally submitted the form, now we just have to wait for an approval response and then register with the publishers. It is not an easy task, but it is worth it and I hope that by mid March the information is made accessible to the 2iE community.

I also talked to Susan who confirmed that the possible Toastmaster’s trip to Accra in May looks like it is a go. How exciting!? The sad thing is Susan is going back to the States for two weeks at the end of March. Good for her, sad for me. I will be so lonely! Another highlight of my afternoon was chatting online with Joanna and making a really inspirational picture. I will post it after this entry. I hope you like it :)

So the dinner was very nice. The meatloaf turned out well and so did the green beans although they could have been cooked longer and I may have gone a bit overboard with the garlic. We didn’t end up eating until 8:00pm so I was hungry… Susan made a fun mango pie for dessert. It was good, the mangos were a old squishy though…so… anyway, I got home around 10:30 and spent a good half an hour trying to get my own personal water filter to work. One of the filter candles is broken and the replacements weren’t fitting right and it was just a huge headache. I finally went to bed at 11:00 just wiped out completely. I had had late nights Thursday, Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. Not good.

Today Tuesday did not start out too well. Actually last night before I went to bed I wasn’t feeling so hot, just upset stomach and ugh… I did go to work and put in a full day. I even ran double the microbiology tests and prepared some filters for suspended solids testing I will do later this week. I have to say though, MAN it does get exhausting walking back and forth, to and from the filter station. Another odd anecdote is that the lab technician was sleeping on the floor in the lab during the repos today which was when I planned to do my tests. So what did I do? I did them anyway. I probably kept him up, but… yeah, it is a lab, not a bedroom, so I win. In the afternoon I went home and wrote this post and then came back to my office for my French lesson. My teacher was really late again which was not okay this time because I had my tennis lesson at 6:15. All the while I am feeling about 60% as well as I normally do. I’m not keeling over, but I am really low on energy, can’t eat anything because it upsets my stomach and just want to go to sleep. So I have French for only 35 minutes and then head to tennis. I should have just cancelled my lesson. That would have been the smart thing to do, but no. I went and struggled through. I felt like a slug I couldn’t get my feet moving! I think in the future I will stick to morning lessons. After work I am too tired to do something like tennis, or at least not when I am feeling lousy. Anyway, from here I am headed to Petites Delices to post this entry. Sorry for any typos, I don’t have time to reread it… I am supposed to be talking to my Mom so… Au Revior!

Sending you a warm hug from a girl who is now all of 23 years old!