The first official week has been pretty laid back...
Before anyone gets upset with me for taking the following photo. Please know 2 things. First, I am a photo ninja. Second, I took the picture with the camera behind the part of the window that was mirrored.
Just chillin in the truck with my RPG.
Reflections of my first week:
telling myself that I would take time to capture every moment of my arrival…
there is nothing like experiencing a “first time” and capturing it in your mind
forever. But then I was so fixated on not falling down the little exit stairs
of our small prop plane (in 3" wedges) that I forgot to take in that first moment getting off
the plane. However, after making it to the tarmac safely...the smell of the air, cooking food, burning wood (and the French woman in front of me wearing too much perfume)... it smelled familiar and completely new at the same time.
so many people standing around watching the plane land, and of course all the
official vehicles and flags. Then I overheard that the Governor of North Kivu
was on my plane from Addis Ababa to Goma… so not for my welcome party at all ;)
I was met by Marie Desange (Marie of Angels) who is the director of Un Jour Nouveau, Raj- a leader in the Sons of Congo program, Charlie- an English teacher who like to say "sure" and Vicky- a
volunteer French teacher from Belgium and my new roommate. I am in the
exact situation I expected. I understand a lot of what is being said, but I
can’t form my replies in French. Everything comes out in Kreyol, which is only
half understood. For example, last night, the security guard for the house was trying to help me get my new sim
card working. He speaks no English, mostly Swahili and
also a fair amount of French. My French on the other hand is horrible, and
Kreyol is flowing out more than English, but then I try to say a phrase in Swahili... we managed to conclude together,
in the end that my phone is still not working. Haha. But the language
experience was memorable (and comical). Today was my first day to really get to work with the kids. Generation hope is the part of the program focusing on the kids in the community. They begin the first 30 minutes having the old kids mentor the younger kids and help with home work. We then split into 3 separate groups by age. They then are taught leadership skills, life skills, some English and French pronunciation, and some bible study. The point of Generation Hope is to raise up leaders who speak English and French with a strong sense of self and the good leadership.
some of the kids working on homework before going into the class rooms.
Yes, that is my elbow #wideanglelens
This went really well. I introduced myself in French, were I came from and then it all went down hill from there. I fumbled through telling them about Haiti because I started speaking Kreyol. They laughed a lot and in the end we ended up having a really great question/answer get to know you class before we get started on the official English bible study next week. They asked some intense questions, like:
What is your biggest dream
How do you deal with life when God does not fulfill your dreams after you've prayed a lot for that.
Standing at the front of the class speaking.
This is André, the director of the program.
He was helping me try to speak French and ultimately translating for me :)
work in a new place is taxing… I have a vague idea of what's going on, but get nervous that I'll never "get it" (language, culture, admin, etc). But I have to give props to the staff here. They have been well trained and their organizational skills are so impressive. Every time I think I can't get impressed with UJN they go and do it again. I know that I will "get it" because I have a great crew leading the way and helping me. It will be a while to observe and learn the flow and
learn names, but I’ll get there!
Getting here... uneventful to say the least. I had an overwhelming sense of peaceful anticipation if that makes any sense at all. Plenty of time to read, watch some movies, write, and make friends with people from Denver. Did I mention the sunset was absolutely beautiful?...
Meanwhile, jet lag is kicking my butt. I don't do well going to the east... this trip is just confirmation of that. So after sleeping 15 hours last night, I was able to go out for a walk today. The city is so different and yet feels so familiar. I was gifted, this past Christmas, with a polaroid cube. This means that since no one really knows what it is, I can take pictures like a ninja and no one knows what's happening. Please enjoy some of my favorite shots from the walk today.
teenage boys smoking and posing for pictures on a side road
the military guard protecting the governors house walking home from fishing with his friends
she and her friends were asking me for money and my watch I spent half of Thursday at the academy with the staff and the kids... I love it. The only frustration is the language barrier. But I knew that would be the case. So I just need to be patient, pray and study :)