May 8, 2015

"you are most welcome"

Jambo! (hello in Swahili) oh my goodness, sorry I haven’t posted since I have been here. I have been so busy or too lazy/tired plus I barely have wifi. I don’t even know where to begin. I’ll start with my travels.

I left Monday afternoon. I saw next to a Tanzanian who is going to school at Washington state. It was his first semester. He came knowing NO English. So crazy. He spoke pretty well but couldn’t understand me sometimes. I asked him questions but he didn’t understand much but he was so nice. We are friends on facebook and he wants to hang out but who knows if we will. The first flight to Amsterdam was almost 10 hours. It really wasn’t that bad, I watched so many movies. And got fed way too much. We got off and the Tanzanian had other friends he was traveling home for break with. I followed all of them to the gate so that was nice and comforting. BYU men’s chorus was on my flight as well, well a few of them were. My flight to Kilimanjaro I was sitting next to a Rwandan, he was a little older. He was so nice and he really wanted me to visit Rwanda. He was funny. I slept pretty much the ride. I didn’t eat the whole 8hr plane ride lol. I was so nervous/anxious before I got at that plane. When I got off the plane I could immediately feel the humidity. It was so hot in immigration. It’s weird how I felt it so strong cause ever since it has not really been humid or I have gotten used to it. Agnus from ivhq/TVE picks me up and we get into this van and yona drives us home. The road was so long home. Probably took an hour. We kept having to pass drivers and drive on the other side of the road cause of trucks and such. There is only one lane. I was just looking at everything and couldn’t believe I was in Africa. I couldn’t see much cause it was like 9pm. I saw clubs and shops and such. We get to the house and I was surprise how nice it was. No one was home and all the lights were pretty much off. We wake up the house manager and she shows me my room. It is a room with 3 bunkbeds and shelves with it’s own bathroom. It’s pretty nice and the beds are so comfy! No one else was in there but she said someone was coming tomorrow. I was so glad no one was in the sleeping or something cause I wanted to unpack and I was not wanting to talk to anyone cause I was so tired and gross. I take a shower and to take a shower we have to warm up the heater 20 mins before and then turn the pressure on right before. I pretty much always have warm showers here it’s great. My living situation is so much better than I thought it would be. I wake up the next morning, ate breakdast and went right back to bed. I slept ALL day. Jet lag is the worst. And then someone woke me up for dinner. We had eggs and French fries, I forgot what it is called but it is a dish here. Each week they have a schedule of what they are making for each meal. But all the food is pretty good. Some of the vegetables I don’t like. All of the meat is goat but it is good! For breakfast we either have fried bread, eggs, toast, fruit (we have pineapple and watermelon every meal I have never had so much fruit oh and sometimes bananas), coffee, tea, pancakes (different from usa). I met Meghan, melly&ben, and diego. Like no one was there.

That night Julia came at like 2am when I was sleeping. She is from brazil and became best friends so fast. It was Thursday and Friday was orientation so we had nothing to do. It was so funny cause we had no idea what to do. We just explored the house and talked a ton about our cultures and such. It was funny cause when I first met her I told her I had been looking all night for my phone. I misplaced it and I looked everywhere. It was so weird. And she was sitting on the ground and pointed under my bed and was like is that your phone? It was…so embarrassing. It was like looking for something but being blind. Right then I new she was going to be my best friend. She is so funny. And we constantly can’t understand each other and can’t speak English very well sometimes. We get along so much and just laugh all the time. She asks for my help all the time it’s so funny. That night was social night so more people had come and I got to meet people at the other house. There are two houses, simba (lion) house and twiga (giraffe) house. There house is a little bigger and has a empty swimming pool so we have social night which is every Thursday night at their house. I met so many more people. We had the best food. Then we went home and talked probably.

Friday was orientation. It started at 9:30, well more like 10 which is African time. Everyone is late here which I secretly love cause I am always late. We went over paperwork and everything. It was raining so much. It is the rainy season. It rains quitte a bit and a ton. Mostly at night or in the morning. Some roads are so muddy to walk on. The temp is perfect though. When the sun is blaring it is pretty hot. But at night it is so perfect. It cleared up so we went to town. It was our first time in dalla dallas!! All new 18 volunteers stuffed into one plus some managers. It was so funny hahaha. Dalla Dallas are vans that you take to get around. It’s like 400tsh to go on one which is like 25cents about. There shillings(money) is a little confusing cause it is so high, holding the money I feel rich but it really isn’t worth that much. Town was good. We weren’t there long, just had a tour. We went to mazungo square. Mazungo means white person pretty much everyone calls us that, sometimes I say bungo back which means black which apparently isn’t offensive, it is nice to say lol. So weird. We went to the market which has lots. The cafes and such has free wifi so that’s nice. On the street it’s pretty crazy. It’s hard cause I probably won’t really ever get pictures of it cause I can’t have my phone out really cause it isn’t safe and it is rude to take pictures. People were trying to sell us stuff. We talked to this one kid for a while. He spoke very good English. He was trying to sell us pineapple. All these kids crowded. Just staring at us. SOO funny. They just laugh at us. They also look/act so cool it is so funny. They put there hip to the side and hand on hip. When we left one kid said “give me money”. Since we are white they assume we have lots of money. I get asked this a lot. The first few days I have quite a lot of downtime. I read a book! It’s a different life without service/wifi. It’s nice but you all know how much I love instagram. My roommates are banene, Julia, and Jackie, but Jackie just left. She is from Scotland and is 39. She got her phone stolen from her when she was sitting in the drivers van…they slide the window open and just took it out of her hands!! She was only here for a week. I feel so bad cause she only went one day to placement. She was so funny she was like our mom. She spent like 2 days at the police station trying to figure out the insurance notice for her phone. Banene (bunny) is from south Africa, she is awesome and is nice. She says it is hard cause she is black and everyone thinks she can speak Swahili, pretty funny. Everyone in the house is awesome. We are pretty close.

Saturday we went to the arusha waterfall, it was on the base of mt. meru. It was awesome. You can always see mt. Meru in Arusha. We went with Melissa and Bre, luckily they knew what they were doing cause they have been here a little longer. They are Mormon and from st. George! It’s so great having them! We got there and started hiking. It was I want to say a little over a 10 mile hike? Idk but it was pretty long but not too steep. I was fine but my chacos hurt my feet after a while. They bought us bananas, they are so yummy here! It was raining so much, you could here it coming on. I love the rain here though. It’s not cold it’s great. We hiked through a village, it was awesome. I love saying hi to people. I am slowly learning Swahili. The hike was so pretty. We got to the waterfall but it wasn’t really warm enough or deep enough to swim. We hiked back down and we were so hyper. Lol. Godfrey was our tour guide and we love him. We went to his orphanage. It was so cute but so sad. I almost started crying when I was there. The kids seemed so sad. They had a kitchen and they fed us lunch/dinner. It was good. The kids were playing with a soccer ball but it was so torn. Ah everything is crazy here. People have the smallest homes. There are cows, goats, and chickens everywhere. It is normal for them but I am like wow!! Haha. We got home and then went out that night to El patio cause it was Jamal’s birthday. I was a little nervous because everyone was going to be drinking. Luckily Mormons came so I wasn’t the only one with a coke. When we first got there it was like live jazz music and old people I was like why are we here lol. We talked to some people and we finally started dancing. Lol it was so fun. Everyone was drunk, ive never hung out with drunk people before so it was interesting. People kept saying I was more drunk than them cause I was so crazy. It was so fun dancing crazy. I danced with a guy and it was so funny. I only danced with him cause he was the only local that didn’t touch me. After that night I was reminded why I don’t drink, i’m so glad I don’t. Not being able to control yourself and decisions is the worst.

Sunday was my favorite day so far probably. It was so uplifting and great. While everyone was hungover, I went to church with Bre and Melissa. It is on the same road we live on. I am so lucky! It was a 5 minute dalla ride and we walked home after. There is a nice little church building and then they have a outside tent for sacrament. There was around 50 people in the congregation, maybe less. It was the Arusha Branch. We had relief society first. It started late and there was only 1 other person at the start and then more people came later (African time). The relief society president taught and she was so nice. She taught in Swahili and English. There are two missionaries and an older missionary companionship, I think they were from Utah. We then had Sunday school. Sacrament was great. I love that I can still have sacrament while I am here. Sundays are so refreshing. Even though I didn’t know what everyone was saying all the time I could still feel the spirit so strong and their testimonies. Everyone was so nice and wanted pictures with us. They kept asking if we were coming next week. I also want to go to our mamas church as well. I think that would be fun. I then went to a baby orphanage. It’s called neema house. You can just come and show up to volunteer. Playing with cute little black babies?? Yes please. It was so sad though. All these babies without a mother. They were so cute I loved it. I want to go again and again. I got home and Julia and I went to Mama Grace’s little shop just outside our house. She is the BEST. Like seriously the cutest. Her stuff is so cute. I have bought so much oops. I love the neighborhood we live in. Everyone is so nice. Julia made friends with people fast. Naomi is my favorite. She is 15 and lives with a family and takes care of their son to live there. I don’t think she goes to school. She doesn’t speak English barely. She has the cutest smile and just loves me. She gets so happy when she sees me. Mama grace showed us her house and wants to have us for dinner sometime. We also love Brian. He is 3 and when he speaks Swahili it is the cutest. He kisses me on the cheek and when he does everyone just laughs. They hang out in this one spot of the street and cook and just hang out. It’s like everyone is family. I love it.

Monday was my first day of placement! I was so excited. I am volunteering at Tupandane Orphanage. Miguel from Portugal is going with me. And Emma has been there three months and this was her last week so she showed us everything. The travel time to get there is like 1hr and 15 mins. It’s crazy. And I have to do it everyday there and back. AND on dallas. Guys you wouldn’t believe how crazy dallas our. They are pretty cheap, around 25cents per ride. So it takes me $1 to travel to a from placement. I have to take two dalla dallas. They are vans that try to fit as many people as they can. People here have no personal space. Chickens and goats can also be found on dalla dallas. You cannot be on your phone or it might get stolen and you cant have valuables in your pocket. And you basically have to yell when you want to get off. Idk it is crazy. I have to remember where to get off. Anyways my orphanage is pretty small. There was about 40 kids when I got there but half of them that day were going to boarding school because people were sponsoring them. So we got to drop them off at school after placement. It was such a long drive though…we just met the kids and we had to say goodbye to them in the same day. But it is good because that means there are less kids and less work for us. And more food for them. Right when I got to the orphanage all these kids came running into more arms. They are so loving and cute. Emanual (the director) showed us around. It is a small classroom for all the kids. No desks. There is a boys room and a girls room. 2 bunk beds in each. It isn’t too bad but they have dirt as their floor. And they have an outside kitchen it is very small. The mama cooks the food. They also have cement rooms with no roof that they want to turn into more classrooms. He told us how much money it will take to get moer stuff and build. Basically asking us for money. It is so sad, You want to give them money but you just can’t. The directors wife is Margaret and the teacher’s name is Rose. She is nice and speaks English well. She also doesn’t beat the kids like some other teachers so that is good. Basically what we do is help the kids with their workbooks and correct them. We will teach sometimes. We help with dishes as well. The kids are so cute and when they say prayer before lunch it is the cutest thing. They have tea in the morning, and sometimes bread. At lunch they have corn and beans. Sometimes beans and rice when they are lucky. And sometimes fruit. They eat the whole thing. They have the same thing every day. I can’t even imagine. The food isn’t bad but I am just going to wait to have food when I get home at 3ish. The kids are ages 3-9 so it is pretty wide range. I am still learning all their names. They love my hair cause it is so different from theirs. They watch some of a movie everyday cause it is too wet outside to play. The orphanage opened in 2011. I’ll tell you more about my placement later.

After placement we can do whatever. I have gone to town to get a local phone and get food or wifi or whatever. There is a market and it is pretty cool. So much is going on. The guys on the dallas yell to you to get on theres. It’s hard not speaking Swahili sometimes. People laugh at us all the time. ALL THE TIME. I say hi to so many people. People get so excited to see white people, mainly kids and creepy men. After placement I am SO tired, like it is the most tiring work ever. All these kids wanting you at the same time. It is chaos. I get up at 7ish and got to bed at 10ish normally.

On Thursday I went to Julia’s placement, womens Christian orphanage. I loved it. She was the only one there. She really needed help cause they don’t have a teacher and she has no idea what to do. I help her and we taught the kids a little. It is hard though. I love those kids. There was only 8 cause the others go to school during the day but they are the cutest. Johnny is the cutest. The kids looked after eachother and we so nice. Kids in America are brats, hands down.  They eat lunch with their hands. The toilets are just a whole in the ground, they don’t have underwear. It is just crazy. They get so excited to see paper. We gave them biscuits and they were so excited. They didn’t ask for more and ate every last crumb. One girl who has mental problems get a crumb in her pocket for later. It is just so sad. I go to these orphanages wanting to give them everything. Johnny was sleeping when we gave the kids biscuits and they were so concerned that he didn’t get any. When he woke up they were like “TEACHA JOHNNY BISCUIT!” It was so cute and loving.

I love it here. It is so different. I love how the women carry heavy things on their head. It is crazy. The weather has been okay. It is the rainy season so it rains a lot.My feet are ALWAYS muddy and gross. We have to do laundry in buckets of water. And dry hang. What a drag but it’s okay lol. I pretty much look gross everyday. who cares though IT’S AFRICA. The mamas and staff take case of us. And we have yona and timothy our drivers to take us places. We can go to clubs and such at night but we can’t walk anywhere at night. There are motorcycles everywhere. They are called bodas. They tell us to not right them cause they are not safe. But yeah it is crazy. I pretty much offroad everyday. The road to our house has so much ditches. I love everyone here. It is cool everyone is from all over but we are so similar at the same time. But yeah I stand out so much here. People stare and stare and stare like they haven’t seen a white person before. Some boys even came up to take pictures of me and touch my hair. So much attention, I know what it is like to be a celebrity. The food here is pretty good but I have been here over a week and I am already sick of it. I love challupas, they are bread and you can put lentals on them. We also have rice and beans, veggies, pasta, and such. They try to westernize the food which is okay lol. We have filtered water. OH and the power goes out all the time. It’s fun at first but then youre like sick of the headlamp and want a shower. The government decides to turn off some of the power in spots to save and give to others. Idk it’s dumb. We have a generator to charge things though. Today (Friday) I woke up really not feeling well. Bad stomach. And all week I have had a cold, which made me more tired. It hasn’t been to bad until today. So I stayed home. Which I guess made me have time to write this. Anyways sorry this is so long. There is still so much to say. I love exploring around where I lived. Right behind us Benson (mama grace’s son who is 27) showed us around and that’s where they cut stone with a hammer. It is crazy. And then there is a really pretty view. I still can’t believe I am in Africa. It’s made me so grateful for all I have and where I come from. These people are so humble and nice. I am so excited to give back and to love.

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