floods, floods, floods

did you know about the following floods in the world, right now:

kenya (its still raining and dams are overflowing or about to…)
(two villages slid into the river…)
paupa new guinea (“we need to talk about climate change…”)
sir lanka
(its not even monsoon season yet…)
(worse in a decade)
(citizens trying to do something about it)
[puntland] (“…even camels have been washed out to sea…”)
(the river is rising at the fastest rate in the century)
(the heaviest rains of the decade)

these are only the floods in the world…i didn’t mention the hunger, wars, injustice, earthquakes, vector borne diseases…



culture: two

yesterday afternoon (sunday) i did something terribly touristy.

generally i am someone who, when traveling, tries to stay away from large groups of tourists. or, if i do get close/wrapped up in a tour-group i tend to observe them with as much fascination as i would observe any culture. travel, to me, should be an opportunity to learn new things, form relationships as well as a deeper understanding of a place. (basically, traveling should be pilgrimage. but that is another post for another day.)

back to yesterday afternoon–after much internal debate i decided that i would go to the bomas of kenya for the cultural-dance show. i love cultural dances and music. as a matter of fact, i do not think there is a culture whose dancing and singing i would not enjoy viewing/hearing or taking part in (at least once) so i didn’t have to work very hard to convince myself to go.

my cultural adventure began with modern-traditional kenya: taking a matatu. a matatu is the 15 passenger van that functions as a shared taxi, running specific routes like buses. this, however, makes the system sound far to organized. that is another subject for another post, i digress.

i waited at the ‘stage’ for a matatu going the direction i wanted to go, and boarded a hunters-orange matatu named “nutty professor”, paid the nice conductor my 5 shillings and held on for dear life as we bumped along the road. in typical matatu fashion, about 2km from where we started the engine overheated. a lovely woman named robinnah pointed me in the direction of the bomas and said i would be better off walking. she was right.

i reached the bomas, was proposed to by the 2 gate guards (competing proposals, mind you) and walked to the entrance of the auditorium. i was (of course) a little late and the show was beginning as i stood in line for my ticket. if i hadn’t argued with the fellow selling the tickets i wouldn’t have missed the first dance. (technically, as an east-africa resident i should not have to pay the massively-higher expat fee [read: tourist fee]. but i forgot my passport at corat so couldn’t “prove” it with my work-permit. apparently my uganda driving permit doesn’t count!)

the dances and the music were really interesting and well done.  the percussion ensemble alone was worth the price of my ticket, though! drums and other traditional percussive instruments were played together fusing instruments and beats from all over kenya. (and of course ‘jambo kenya…’)

as i mentioned, i really enjoy cultural dances and music–but the more i attend shows like this one (“professional”)the more i wonder about it. for example: when it was the samburu warrior dance, with the men jumping and the women singing their praises after their “successful cattle raid” i was…underwhelmed. the men were dressed like samburu warriors, but the ochre in their hair was fake. as a matter of fact, they were wearing wigs that were just ochre colored. and while they jumped, and they jumped well–i couldn’t help but thinking about the real-live warriors in karamoja…whose jumping is filled more pride and passion than perhaps any ‘outsider’ can muster. the men of the bomas jumped well, and are quite fit–but they did not express that necessary…something that is there when people are truly doing their dances. truly singing their songs.
i don’t know, maybe i am just ready to be back in karamoja. or maybe i’m just “spoiled” by being allowed a sneak-peek into the ‘real’ lives of people doing their dances… the ngikarimajong in karamoja, the muganda in buganda, the acholi in acholi-land…the ateso in teso. there is just something more… real about seeing the people who own the dances and the songs living them rather than performing them.

at the end of the performance, during a luo dance guess who was pulled down on stage to dance? this kid. i could feel my face turning beat red, but tried to just let go and learn from the gentleman who pulled me from my seat and the women who soon surrounded me, wrapped me in a conga, put a headdress on me and passed me around–hips a shakin. it was a great time! they even danced me off stage with them to the dressing rooms where everyone (including me) was sad i didn’t have a camera!

another part of the ticket price includes a tour of traditional “villages” on the grounds. i had not planned on touring these, but after paying the full tourist-price for the ticket, i figured i’d better at least check it out. the “villages” are collections of traditional houses built and labeled as to which part people group they belong to, and what is what. For example, in the luo community you can see the “husband’s house”, “first wife’s house”, “second wife’s house” and “married son’s house” as well as granaries and cattle “shade”.
i wandered around behind a tour group, only listening in when the guide was explaining something i hadn’t seem before, or listening to a mzunug’s questions.

frankly, i found this whole part of the experience creepy. these empty huts with no signs of life… no fire burning, no children running around… no mamas cooking/peeling/beading/directing children… no chickens, cows or goats… it was, well. dead.

for me it felt less like a cultural experience and more like kenya’s version of disney or something. no flashing lights or rides, but just places to tour. totally out of context and dead. no life was there. it made me uncomfortable and uneasy.
and ready to get back to life.

and then i made a mistake.
the guide was talking about the hut representing turkana’s homes. and i noticed that this one was made from palm fronds. you cannot find palm fronds in turkana, at least not what i’ve seen. from what i have seen and heard about homes in turkana (that is kenya’s north western corner that borders with karamoja, by the way) they are built from sticks. like massive baskets, really. so i wanted to ask about this, and see if some turkana homes are indeed built from palms.

i tried to ask the guide while no one was listening, it was just a quick question but turned into what i was dreading. a tourist overheard my question–listened to the answer and my explaining how in the world i know where turkana/that i live in uganda etc. and then the following came pouring forth: “you must be so brave!” “it must be so hard!” “you must do really good work!” “you must be ready to go home to civilization!”

i still do not know what to do when people respond to me in this way. i do my best to deflect-saying that i’m not really all that brave–that it is delightful and yes, sometimes difficult. i tried not to say “how would you know about my work-what if i’m terrible at it?” (and succeed) and just ignored the civilization comment. (none of us in the group had time for that.)

needless to say, it was not the end to a cultural experience i was hoping to have that day. but, it was a cultural experience nonetheless. when the tour ended and we were, of course, channeled into the craft market i learned how to play a pentatonic scale marimba from the swahili coast, danced with 2 toddlers (all 3 of us playing gourds with shells on them–their father playing the marimba, their uncle on traditional flute and mama clapping the beat) greeted every shop owner and emerged on the other side having not spent a shilling.

i then tried really hard to not feel a little smug when i walked to the matatu stage while the tour group battled traffic in their cushy bus. why would i dare to feel smug? because there is nothing like sitting thisclose with your two newest and literally closest friends while rockin out to the latest swahili rap. something about life comes to mind…

culture: one

i have been in at corat-africa outside nairobi (kenya) for three weeks now. there have been many many “blog worthy” thoughts, conversations and topic that have come up, but i haven’t been very good at writing about them in this space. this is mostly due to the giant nature of the questions i find myself asking as well as being kept busy with things like step aerobics (yes, pictures are forthcoming), teaching yoga, doing homework, exploring nairobi/karen/the matatu system and getting to know my fellow participants.

but tonight you’re lucky! two posts in one evening! and both about culture!

tonight we had our “cultural evening”. each country represented was invited to give a country profile and then perform a traditional song or dance.

being the only american i worked alone, and i was intimidated by what i knew i would be following…the other countries represented were: kenya, tanzania, nigeria, uganda, d.r.c. and zambia. all with rich heritage in song and dance. and here i am, a “mutt” american with nothing nearly as exciting as sister margaret (south eastern uganda), who literally very nearly danced a whole in the floor (!) or kenya who had at least 5 tribes represented in their awesome merged song and dance…

pasted below you will find what i gave as the “country profile” for the united states of america…i hope i didn’t misrepresent my sisters and brothers from u.s.a. too much!


hola. ciao, bonjour, hey, hi, hello, howdy. welcome to the united states of america!

the united states is a unique place often referred to as “the melting pot”. it is referred to as “the melting pot” because almost every culture and country is represented somewhere in the u.s.a. we were founded as a place of freedom–freedom of speech and freedom of religion. but something that is often overlooked in the history of the united states is the fact that people were already living in on the continent before columbus showed up in 1492–and had been there for at least 12,000 years prior.

now these peoples are referred to as the ‘native americans.’ there are many tribes and peoples that fall into the category of ‘native american’–they are a minority in the country.

there are a few who still try to live in a somehow-modernized yet traditional way, living in what are called “resevervations.”
europeans stumbled across the north american continent in 1492. columbus thought he had reached india and mistakenly called the native peoples “indians”. it was in 1776 that america fought for freedom from king george of britian and became the 13 states instead of the 13 colonies, and the deceleration of independence was written.  we celebrate our independence on 4 July every year.

we now have 50 states and 1 federal district. we are situation in middle of the north american continent with canada to the north and mexico to the south.
we have about 3.79 million square miles of land (which is 9.83 million kilometers)

and our population is over 309 million people. (plus an estimated 11.2 million undocumented or “illegal” immigrants.)

english is the de facto national language, and technically there is no official language at the federal level, some laws—such as U.S. naturalization requirements—standardize english.

in 2006, about  80% of the population aged five years and older, spoke only english at home. spanish, spoken by 12% of the population at home, is the second most common language and the most widely taught second language.
* number of languages spoken in the u.s.: 311.
* those languages indigenous to the u.s.: 162
* those that are immigrant languages: 149
* there are at least 14 million households in the united states where english is not the primary language.

the united states is officially a secular nation; the first amendment of the u.s. constitution guarantees the free exercise of religion  and forbids the establishment of any religious governance.

in a 2002, 59% of americans said that religion played a “very important role in their lives.” 78.4% identify as christian, 1.7% as jewish, 0.7% buddhist, 0.6% muslim, 0.4% hindu and 0.3 as unitarian. 16.1% describe themselves as agnostic, atheist or having no religion.
we are one of the world’s most ethnically diverse and multicultural countries in the world, nearly all americans or their ancestors immigrated to the u.s. within the past five centuries.
in the united states you can find: people from this continent, from europe, eastern europe, asia…everywhere!

tonight i represented many cultures and places represented in the u.s. by the jewelry i have worn: my earrings and a sandals are from here in kenya, my necklace is from india, the bracelet from uganda and a ring from brazil.

the u.s. is also referred to in regions. we have the east coast, the south, the midwest, the plains states and the west coast. each region has their own subtle differences from the others. i come from the midwest, from a state called missouri.  my home is right in the middle of the united states which is why it is referred to as the MID west. it is the middle west.
in the midwest we are a combination of unique things and of adopted things from other regions in the u.s. for example, we have our own accent but we have adopted a lot of foods from the south like sweet iced tea and cornbread. we tend to take our shoes off before entering the main part of someone’s house, wave at all other drivers on the road even if we don’t know them and shake hands to greet each other in person.
the culture held in common by most americas is mainstream american culture— which is a western culture largely derived from the traditions of european immigrants with influences from many other sources, such as traditions brought by slaves from africa (african americans) whose spiritual songs, foods and stories have permeated the american culture.  more recent immigration from asia and especially latin america have added even more diversity for our food, our music, holidays celebrated…etc.

so you can see how it is difficult to identify any cross-cutting cultural songs and dances in the united states. there is no “traditional wedding dance” that has been passed down from generation to generation…no songs of celebration that we have sung since 1776. (except perhaps some patriotic songs)

as far as family culture goes i am very typical. my father’s side of the family are scotch-irish who immigrated to the united states in the 1620s. my mothers side is a combination of british and a native tribe called the cherokee.

we do not really talk about the countries we came from (scotland, england, ireland or even america before the white people came) and i was not taught customs, language or songs/dances from any of those places. my upbringing and ‘culture’ has been an education in AMERICA.  in what it means to be an american. which is difficult to define as it is in flux-changing and moving.

some things that have continued to be important to americans are freedom of religion, freedom of speech… we struggle with these things but the american spirit is one of perseverance and it is my hope that we continue to persevere to grant the basic human rights of all.
i have no exciting dances to share, and no ancient songs to share. so i have bring you two “traditional” american songs.
the first is called be Thou My Vision, which is an 8th century irish melody. the english lyrics were added around 1912.
the second is called Red River Valley.

hasta luego, ciao, aloha, tak, avedsein, goodbye, and thank you!

homily: the songs of woman–miriam

A Homily delivered on 20 May, 2010 at CORAT-Africa in Naibori, Kenya for a gathering the Peace-building and Conflict Resolution class, and the Organizational Renewal class. The text is Exodus 15:19-21.

Singing Women: the Song of Miriam

Miriam's dance from the Illuminiated Tomić Psalter

Yesterday the peace-building class watched a documentary. The documentary took us to a community in North Eastern Kenya struggling with violence and cattle-raiding. One of the women spoke of singing songs…how the women of the village would sing songs of peace. And that in the singing of these songs of peace their men would be shamed. Shamed from fighting and raiding cattle and shamed into considering another alternative.

As i was mulling and praying about what message to bring this morning these women kept coming to me–and the Song of Miriam was layered over on top of them. This is where our reading comes from today. Miriam, along with her brothers Moses and Aaron have led the Israelites through the parted waters of the Red Sea and the Pharaoh’s men were smashed beneath the waters.

When the horses of Pharaoh with his chariots and his chariot drivers went into the sea, the Lord brought back the waters of the sea upon them; but the Israelites walked through the sea on dry ground. Then the prophet Miriam, Aaron’s sister, took a tambourine in her hand; and all the women went out after her with tambourines and with dancing. And Miriam sang to them: ‘Sing to the Lord, for he has triumphed gloriously; horse and rider he has thrown into the sea.’
(Exodus 15:19-21)

Something that I appreciated about the documentary yesterday was that these women’s songs––their creative use of their culture and history was taken seriously by not only those creating the documentary, but presumably by the men of the area as well. This moment in the documentary was brief. As is this verse about Miriam––but the roles of all of these women are examples to those of us who dare to call ourselves followers of Christ.

Miriam. She saved her brother’s life. This is, of course, Moses. Her strength and reliability was evident even at that young age when she so boldly spoke to the Pharaoh’s daughter. Her strength and leadership only flourished as she grew. She stood along side her brothers (Moses and Aaron) as Pharaoh was challenged and she is referred to as a prophetess in ancient texts, including this passage from Exodus.

There is a lot we can learn from Miriam.

Her bravery, boldness and trust in God can be a pattern for us all. Try to imagine being a simple person––a nobody, and boldly approaching the Pharaoh’s daughter as she did. That action in and of itself was bold and heroic. Can you imagine what would have happened to her if the Pharaoh’s daughter had not been receptive? It could have ended very badly for Miriam!

I wonder: how can we be more brave…more bold in our trust in God?

Miriam’s bravery, faith and trust led her through the exodus from Egypt…and led her to lead others, too.

And what about this song?

A lot of Miriam’s life leading up to this point in history would have been strained. Difficult. The Hebrew people were under the oppression of the Pharaoh.

They worked for Pharaoh.
Their food went to Pharaoh.
Then he wanted to kill her baby brother.

But through clever actions and great bravery he was saved. And I am willing to bet that even after he was at home being raised by his mother and family that there was fear…in the back of their minds…wondering if someone was going to figure them out and kill not only Moses, but all of them.

What is Miriam’s response when they have finally crossed the Red Sea and escaped the Pharaoh’s oppression?

It is to sing praises to God.

Not to say “IT’S ABOUT TIME, GOD.” Not to complain. But instead she unashamedly takes up the tambourine and lets  praise pour forth.

What songs are we singing, friends?

Are we sining songs of peace to teach and lead our neighbors? Because you do know that they are listening, right? Are we singing songs of malice, bitterness and hatred? Or songs of God’s goodness?

Are we singing songs to remind ourselves and our neighbors of the goodness of God, or are we singing songs about the goodness of ourselves? How wonderful WE are, how amazing OUR accomplishments have been?

What songs are we singing? What stories are we telling?

I challenge all of us to take stock of our accumulated songs. Do we even realize what we are portraying? Do our words say one thing and our actions another?

I pray that as we challenge ourselves and each other as a community, to review our repertoire that our praises may become sweeter. That our songs become more honest.

And that we sing boldly and with abandon: proclaiming the peace of Christ, praising God for all that we have, and reminding ourselves and our communities of how God has called us to live as God’s Children.


dichotomy and shrapnel

as per usual i have more questions than answers…musings below on dichotomy and shrapnel… i am sure there are more to come…

in the past year and a half of my time in east-africa i have quite frequently been the “only” of something in a gathering of people. the only white person/american/expat, the only woman, the only only child, the only one who does not understand the joke…or understand the language.

most of the time i am pretty comfortable being the “only”…comfortable in providing a bit of a disturbance in my difference. but sometimes its really uncomfortable, or lonely. often i can be completely at east and comfortable and lonely/uncomfortable at the same time. i live in dichotomy, what can i say?

being at this training is one of those times where i am living into comfort and discomfort at the same time.

we are just a little over half way through the month long in-residence training on peace-building and reconciliation,  (and i have to confess it is still not clear if it is peacebuilding, peace-buidling or peace building…) and the longer we are together as a group the more i feel this dichotomy. i am more and more comfortable with my participants–in our forming friendships and relationships and at the same time feel pulled in the opposite direction. not in the direction of dis-like, but in the realization of our differences… in feeling my western-ness, i guess.

i am comfortable with disagreement. its healthy and a part of life–we are never going to totally agree on everything, and a lot of the time our differences can be beautiful. many of the cultural differences between myself and my colleagues from around africa are beautiful. traditional dances and music from all parts of africa represented are stunning examples of the creativity of all people–and necessary expressions of culture and individualism and history.

but the part of this dichotomy that makes me uncomfortable in a bad way (because i think discomfort can be really healthy, and good. another post for another time, perhaps) is refusal to listen. if i believed that sins were ranked (as in one sin being any worse than another) i would say that close-mindedness would be one of the worst sins. i listen and observe my colleagues, my brothers and sisters in christ–those who i am working with to create peace–talking about “them” and “those people” (9 times out of 10 referring to islam and muslims) as if “they” were not human beings. as if “they” were not created in the image of god. and living in this gap-in this dichotomy rips at my heart.

to make matters more difficult–in some ways i see myself as a total outsider. i am white. i am from america. i am an intelligent, over-educated white woman who has not grown up in this kind of hardship. therefore a lot of the time i do not feel that i should be voicing  my thoughts or giving suggestions especially unsolicited. what right do i have to speak? i wait to be asked. i have moved to the back of the classroom instead of the front so that when i cry fewer people can see.

the life of a follower of christ is one of discomfort. one of dichotomy. being in but not of the world. living for the ‘already and the not yet’–knowing that the promise of the fulfillment of the kingdom of god is given to us through the covenant, but also knowing that the world painfully and seriously broken. in a recent post from a blog i recently started reading the blogger talked about shrapnel. the shrapnel of honesty. she was remembering a friend of hers talking about this shrapnel saying, “that after a visceral truth telling, everyone involved is walking around with the shrapnel, and it can rear itself as a source of pain, or a numb reminder of the event, at any time.”

when we know the truth–when we are faced with the dichotomy of living as a follower of christ (heck, or even of just caring for humanity and justice just out of our basic connection with humanity–if one calls themselves a christian, a buddhist, a muslim, hindu, a follower of the spaghetti monster, religious, spiritual, agnostic or atheist, it matters not) and when we are faced with and accept the TRUTH of any situation this shrapnel pierces us. it becomes a part of us–and reminds us of the truth we have learned.

i know that i am different than those around me. but i know that we are the same. that is a shrapnel of truth.
i also know that my faith teaches me and compels me in profound ways that i cannot explain, to love deeply. to love all deeply. regardless of what they have or have not done. what they have or have not said. who they are or who they refuse to be. i will love them. and that is a shrapnel of truth.
there is injustice in every corner of the world. people are treated unfairly. people are maimed, tortured and killed. people are oppressed. and knowing this and accepting it as TRUTH…that is a shrapnel of truth.

the question becomes: if i know that i am a walking dichotomy. and if i know that i am pierced by the shrapnel of honesty, the shrapnel of truth–if i am feeling and sharing that pain… now what?

n.b. i encourage you to read all of the “shrapnel” post here.

well, that was epic: why i will not set my net on fire

i was enjoying a lovely rainy evening in a nairobi suburb–talking to a friend and fellow uganda teammate on the phone when the siege began. yes. siege. a siege that has convinced this mzungu that not only are mosquito nets handy to not get malaria, but might be my new security blanket.

there i was, perched on my bed happily chatting away with lindsey when a MASSIVE spider crawled under my door. just zipped right on in as if i had invited its nasty little self into my nice warm room. (i had done no such inviting.)

i may or may not have shrieked (but not too loud) and gushed a little “holy crap” to my friend–and then explained what had happened. being a good person, she responded in a very helpful way, “oh my gosh. thats so gross.” its always nice to know that others feel the same way you do about spiders.

then the hemming and hawing began.

i was standing on my bed–watching said spider hanging out next to my book bag–and trying to decide what in the heck to do. i am the WORST about killing insects/bugs/spiders/anything other than flies and mosquitos. i just. can’t do it. i fear.

as i stood on my bed and talked over my options with lindsey i remembered a story from jen about a massive spider in her place in durham and how she (who also doesn’t kill things–even if for different reasons) took care of it. she very cleverly put a colander over the spider until help could be obtained to move it outside.

i knew that whomever i would have come help me would want to kill it, which is totally fine by me, but i did not want to leave it on my floor and leave the room to find someone because i just knew that if i took my eyes off of it – it would surely disappear into my room, and i’d be terrified all night long.

so i looked around my room for something to put over the spider and noticed my trashcan in the corner. i dumped all of the contents into a plastic bag, and inched my way toward the spider (lindsey still on the phone and giving moral support) trying to be very brave.

i am not brave.

i inched away from it and confessed my wuss-ness. but THEN i thought i could mcgiver myself into a solution with one of the wire hangers in the closet. i unwound one of the hangers and hooked it though the holes in the trash can–thinking that i could affix the stretched out hanger through the holes of the can and, from a safe(er) distance place said trash can over the spider.

in theory: its beautiful. in practice: i, yet again, chickened out…
i couldn’t get the hanger to hold the trashcan in such a way that i would not have to maneuver it quickly so the spider couldn’t escape. and frankly-i just didn’t want it at-large in my room all night long.

i had opened my door just after coming to this decision on mode of attack-in hopes that someone would come a long and wonder what i was doing–and be able to help me in my distress. (i.e. take care of it FOR me). it was also open because i felt a little more safe with it open. i mean- the spider could run out the door…or I could if need be.

two people went past while i was looking out my door for someone to come along. i didn’t know the first woman, and she was on the other side of the court yard. the second woman to pass was joan (pronounced: joanne), who was on the phone and who i didn’t really think would be the biggest of helps.

i stood in the door way, still chatting with lindsey when 2 white ants flew into my room. white ants are these massive winged creatures that flock toward light. they are totally harmless–and apparently also quite tasty–but i’ll be darned if i was going to be invaded by any sort of creature!

deciding that i had had enough of nature in my room for the night i resolved to go find some help.  walking toward the dining hall i was simultaneously listening to lindsey and begging jesus (the christmas jesus) to let someone still be in the dining hall who i knew and who i wouldn’t feel to terribly embarrassed to ask to kill a spider.

when i was within about 10 feet of the door father alfonse came out of it–blue and yellow umbrella with a japanese cartoon character umbrella trimmed in blue lace in hand–and whistling a hymn he probably had led that morning in mass. i greeted him and asked him if he could help me take care of a spider in my room. “oh! yes! my friend, of course i will help. you tell me the size of it.” he said.

i showed him the size by making a circle with my fingers (about 3 inches long and an inch and a half wide. it looked like a tarantula, but we don’t have those here) and said “it is covered in hair.”

he made an an assenting noise–the kind that means he understands–but it had a touch of concern in it. “okay. we first find a weapon.” (pronounce weapon: weigh-upon) our weapon of choice turned out to be a 5 inch long bamboo cutting that we stole from a potted plant.

we marched to my room–lacy blue umbrella leading the way and lindsey still observing on the phone–little was said, this is war afterall.

after reaching my room i opened the door and pointed him in the direction of the MASSIVE spider still hanging out next to my bag. (good little spider!)

“i’m just going to go ahead and be a really girly-girl and stand on my bed while you do this.” i said. this elicited laughter from lindsey and an affirming look and nod from father. he even waited for me to get up there.

calm cool and collected he sashayed up to the spider and tapped it with the stick. he used just enough force to kill it–nothing dramatic and nothing wimp-like about it. just a nice “tap tap tap” of the stick and then a request for a plastic bag. i handed him one and he scooted the spider into the bag and disposed of it outside.

father alfonse then returned to my room and said the following, “it was very smart of you to come find me to take care of that ka spider for you. it is very poisionous. i had to throw away the bag, for that i am sorry.” (plastic bags are reused and reused an reused here.) “you use that ka towel and put it under your door when i go so that you do not have to deal with more of these spiders. do not touch the mess it left on your floor–let the woman clean it tomorrow. tell her it is spider. very dangerous. do not touch.”

i thanked him, and we bid each other a good night and he went off to his room with his darling little umbrella. lindsey and i debriefed the event a little before hanging up the phone–i was thankful to have her moral support during this adventure!

i reassembled my hanger and put my shirt back on it and i have searched my room for creepy-crawlies and have found none except the white ants, which have already perished (i didn’t do it.).

so my towel is tightly tucked under my door–and i am wondering if there isn’t something else i can add to make it even more secure. perhaps i’ll stack all my books etc. against it as well… maybe not. but maybe. and i will for SURE be tucking my net in tonight, even though it is plenty long and there is no way anything of that size could get under it–i will at least be able to sleep knowing that i’m tucked in and there is nothing in bed with me. (yuck.)

in the morning i will ask florence, the lady who cleans here, to come and clean up the bit of leg and spider goo on my floor. i will explain what farther alfonse said, and i will apologize for not being able to do it myself. and then maybe i will ask to be moved to an upper floor…

world cup music…

so the FIFA world cup has an official song. i heard it this morning as i was getting ready for class (in kenya) and then wandered to breakfast where the t.v. was on.i just want to share these two versions of the song with the world…quite a change!

something close to the original (my “research” has told me that the original was actually by a band from cameroon-i am unsure if this is them or not…)

and here is the new shakira-ed-up version… how different!

a word cloud!

basically, i just think this thing is cool. supposedly these are the words i use the most here at kissthejoy. i wonder if it only counted the first page, but irregardless–its still neato. (nifty!)



*peacebuilding (peace-building? peace building?) and reconciliation: second edition addressing accommodation.

some photos (from my camera phone, so don’t judge the quality too closely) of my very dorm-room-esque room. and kiwi fruit.

sad shower-head

okay, so there is plenty of hot water, i will say that as a positive for the entire training center. a hot shower (heck a lukewarm shower) is a real treat these days, so i will not snub that fact. however. this is the most pathetic excuse for a shower head i have experienced in quite some time. water sprays every-which way… there are so few holes that the amount of water coming out, regardless of the water pressure, leaves a lot to be desired.

i would be better off holding a watering can above my head…

sleeping space and net

so for my first 2 nights in kenya i stayed at the mennonite guest house and had a KING size bed. all to my lonesome. and it was. amazing. albeit the mattress was a

bit hard. well, i’ve gone totally the other way and am back on a single mattress, but this one is delightfully cushy. can’t win the all, i suppose.

teeny tiny college-esque desk

i brought everything that is on this desk. thats right, i schlepped all those books all the way to kenya. which means i’m totally obligated to read them. before i leave kenya… i’ll do my best…

clothing to jewlery ratio...

yes, this is all the clothing and jewelery i brought to kenya for an entire month. yes, i brought more pairs of earrings than shirts. stop judging me.

extra stuff i brought with me

much like college, i have a stash of stuff that isn’t supplied. this stash of stuff greatly resembles the stash of stuff i kept all through college and while doing my masters. one must be who one is, that’s what i say.

private bathroom and cute storage space

i am always always always thankful to have my own bathroom. and to be wearing long sleeves for the first time in quite some time. also, go duke! 🙂

oh kiwi, how i missed thee!

okay, so the kiwi fruit has really nothing to do with peace building and reconciliation…however i just wanted to boast that i have been enjoying a constant diet of fruit and veg since arriving in uganda. this is rare in kotido. (especially for fruit. and if i EVER see kiwi in the kotido market i will know that the world has officially come to an end.) it was delicious, and its little friends are destined to be devoured soooooon!

kiwi all gone!



*peacebuilding (peace-building? peace building?) and reconciliation training: first entry-side-tracked:

so, i’m in kenya at a peacebuilding (peace-building? peace building?) and reconciliation training for people working with/in religious organizations/ngos. we have had two full days of training and there is a lot to process and a lot to think about regarding my world-view, the world-views of my fellow participants (they are from kenya, rwanda and nigeria), what peace means in different contexts and what it means to be a peace builder. but there is also the following:

something i wasn’t expecting to do at a training on peace building and reconciliation — doing dance and step aerobics with my fellow trainees. but, it happened. and, perhaps even better, is going to happen AGAIN two times a week.

1989 called, they want their exercises and music back!

this expat is having a hard time deciding if this is a negative or positive effect of the expatriate community on the kenyan population. i mean one cannot go turning ones nose up at exercise, especially the hour and a three-quarters of sustained movement we participated in. and most of us are desk-dwellers, camping out behind desks and in vehicles most of the time–so we are people who need movement!

however, there is the question of the late 80s and early 90s dance mix music. i vacillated on how i felt about it–but in the end just let go and embraced it and danced/stepped my little heart out singing along. (i was shocked that NO ONE else seemed to know the words. shame.)

i’ll work on getting pictures of this event–the local photographer for the center was taking pictures, maybe i can finagle a few out of him. regardless, i am going to see if i can pay him to not put my photo in the publication materials for the center! thats a big NO!