Beautiful, wonderful, delicious cheeseburger!!

We went to Les Miserable with the Reeds. It was as good (if not more powerful) the second time around.  The theater was a lot like the ones back home but maybe a little bit smaller.
After the movie we came out and found a bunch of students rioting in the road and lighting rubber on fire. Apparently a student was hit and killed by a car the other day and now the fellow students were rioting to have a speed bump put in. I wanted to go see what was going on but I got yelled at by Sarah.

I made friends with the little kids at the Reeds’ church. Two little girls that I absolutely adored loved to play with my hair. They kept calling me “pussy cat”. They didn’t speak any English and I spoke little Swahili so we were at odds most of the time just motioning to each other.

They’re building several sky rises here by buying up land and tearing down whatever was there so they can build apartments and make more money. Sarah says that sometimes it’s even because the money that countries send in to help the starving in Africa get into the wrong hands and to cover up how they made so much money they put in a sky rise. The environment is very much “survival of the fittest” here.

I practiced with the boys finally. I was so nervous but when I got there they were fine with letting me play, and I was actually kind of better than some of the boys on the team.

I made no bake cookies for my friends and they all really like them. Two of my friends begged me to stay forever and make the cookies for them.

I think I’m starting to get a taste of Culture shock. I’m getting so frustrated with everything. I just want to be home where I can use my own phone, go places that I want to go, eat food that I want, talk to people that understand what I’m saying… I just want to be back where everything is familiar. The African’s have a bad habit of cutting in line. EVERYONE does it so no matter how long you’ve waited in line people that come later than you will cut right up to the front. I just want to go up to people and point at them and say, “I don’t like you. And I don’t like you. And I don’t like you.” I want warm showers and rooms that aren’t swarming with ants and mosquitoes. I haven’t cried yet or holed myself up in my room, but I’m getting very frustrated. I just want to go home.
Or maybe I was just having a bad day.
Elvis took me into Nairobi to help me get some cash. It was just a really hard day for me and I was getting really frustrated. I was supposed to go to class with that professor I don’t like so halfway through class I ditched. I called up Elvis and we headed into town. I couldn’t figure out how to work the ATM and I was getting so upset. A guard had to help me and when it finally worked I danced around and gave Elvis a big hug! Then we went to Galaria and I got myself a Cheeseburger, coke, and a piece of chocolate fudge cake. Pizza Inn was having a special where if you bought one large pizza for 1,000= you could get a second one free. Normally large pizzas are 900= so it was a pretty good deal.  So I got that and took it home to my friends. It ended up being a pretty good night until I got really sick to my stomach. It was probably the huge Chocolate fudge cake and the 4 cokes I had…. But I was happy!

This week is cultural week so we’re supposed to be “getting into the spirit” but it wasn’t highly promoted until the beginning of the week so no one has a clue as what’s going on. It looks like it would be a fun week but no one was prepared for it so it’s kind of a flop. Out at where our “snack shop” is (we call it the Canteen) we have DJ’s come and play music and people go out into the street and dance. It’s quite fun to watch.

For some reason, which I’m very confused about, African’s mix up their ‘R’s and ‘L’s. Several people call me Laye sometimes.

Mirror, Mirror on the wall.

We didn’t have any water one day. None at all. We couldn’t shower, drink, wash our hands, or flush the toilets. No one knew how long it’s going to be until it came back. Eventually it did come back, kind of. I got in the shower when it first came back and I was halfway through my shower when the water shut off again.

I taught Elvis a new word in English. Goof. He really likes that word. He keeps using it for everything.

I’ve decided that Professor Gift reminds me of Dr. Michelson. They’re both awkward, very knowledgeable, and they have HORRIBLE hand writing. Oh my gosh. It hurts your head when you try to read what they’ve written.

I wore a dress one day after my friends straightened my hair. I got a lot of compliments. That night I was walking with Orly, Frankie, and Elvis, and I gave Orly a flower for “Valentine’s day” and he laughed and said, “Ooooh, thanks.” (Orly has a hard time understanding English but he’s a sweety.) Anyway, he then put the flower in my hair and when someone commented on where I got my flower I told them, “It was from my Valentine!” They asked who it was and I pointed at Orly and that’s when I think he realized what just happened because his eyes got wide and he said, “Nonononoonononono!”
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There is so much drama going on here! It’s crazy! It’s coming from any and all directions. I’ve never had to deal with this much drama before. I thought Americans were bad at creating drama but this place is crawling with drama!
Today is Valentine’s Day. I’ve never been a big fan of Valentine’s Day, and this Valentine’s Day ended up being one of the worst because of the drama that’s been going on.

I’m allowed to go practice football with the boys’ team but I’m really nervous because they’re super good and I haven’t played in a couple of years. I REALLY want to practice with them but I don’t want to make a fool out of myself in front of them.

Several people have told me that Kenyans are not friendly people so whenever they ask me why I like it here and I tell them that the people are friendly they scoff at me. They tell me that the Tanzanians think that the Kenyans are rude, snotty, and stuck up. A lot of Kenyans agree with that. I really haven’t seen that. Maybe more out the marketplace when I tried to smile at people they just looked at me, but here on campus people are really friendly.

It really hit me that in two months I’m going to be heading back to America. I don’t want to leave but at the same time I’m ready to go back to something that I’m familiar with.

I have really seen myself grow while I’ve been here. Every time I look in the mirror I see someone new. I was so worried that I was going to get here and I just crash and burn. I was expecting to have a melt down and come home defeated, but here I am today. I love where I am, I love the people that I’ve met, and I’m not ready to leave all of them yet.

To walk a mile in someone elses shoes

Me and Elvis went to the market today because I wanted to buy some fruit and a couple other things that I was running low on. I got mangos and sweet bananas at the market and then I went to a marketplace and got cookies. Man, I love cookies so much.
Anyway, we walked the whole way to the market, which was about over an hours walk) and it was exhausting! I got a little sun burnt but not as bad as it could have been though. My cheeks, nose, and one of my arms got a little burnt. I took a thin scarf with me and put it over my head so that it shaded my face most of the time. It was nice to walk because I got to take in my surroundings where if I was in a matatu it would just fly past and I couldn’t drink in the culture.
As we were walking down the street there were these three little kids on the other side of the road playing when they saw me. They started yelling, “Hey! It’s a mzungu! Hi mzungu! Hi!” It was cute. There was another instance where we were walking towards a little girl that was holding her momma’s hand and she gave me this big smile and held out her hand and said, “Mzungu!” I reached down and took her hand and smiled at her. Kids are so adorable. As we were walking down the road a lot of people would stare at me, I would smile at them but they rarely smiled back. I didn’t know if they were just surprised to see a mzungu or if they were confused that a mzungu was WALKING to the market. Mzungu doesn’t necessarily mean the color of our skin but more of a status. Mzungu’s are known for being well off and rich. Mzungu’s have cars, nice houses, fancy clothes, and live easy. Here there was a mzungu walking down the dirt road looking terribly worn out but not stopping to call a matatu. Along with all of that I was walking with a mwausi (spelling?). (Mwausis are people that aren’t mzungus.)
We called a matatu for on the way back because I was just too exhausted and worn out to walk all the way back to campus. By the time we got back to campus I was ready to take a cold shower and sleep the rest of the day away.
It was a good experience and I got a lot out of it. I got to physically interact with the people and their culture, and I got a tiny taste of what it’s like to walk a mile in African’s shoes.

A couple nights ago at 5:00am I was awoken to Elvis calling me in a frenzy telling me that Ucumi market was on fire. We were supposed to go together last night to Ucumi to hang out and he was really glad that I wasn’t able to go. He was really worried and made me promise not to leave campus the next day. I don’t know how serious it is but last night I had a bad dream that me and Elvis were standing on the side of the road watching the market go up in flames when a bunch of people grabbed me by the arms and started dragging me down the street.
The next day I went into town and saw Ucumi and there was only a little corner of the building that was burnt. He over exaggerates things and I had a nightmare for no reason.

We had a softball game at our school and we played against a pretty good team. We lost. Our team is awful. It’s so hot out! Whenever I can I try to find some kind of shade to hide under so I don’t burn to a crisp! I tried to invite as many friends as I could but the only one that came was Frankie. He’s so awesome. I love that kid.

Ninja style

Elvis, Hezi, and Phil are helping me learn Swahili. Elvis will try to have conversations with me in full Swahili, which I appreciate because then I can get a sense in how certain words are used in a sentence. Sometimes I guess at what he’s saying and I can get close. One time I hit it right on the dot and I was so excited! I’ve been learning a good amount and a lot of people are proud of me whenever I can say something to them in Swahili.

I went to football practice and I was SOOO excited! I got to the field (which was actually an empty dirt parking lot) and found the only other person there was the Captain of the team. We don’t have a coach, and we don’t have many games, and we definitely don’t have many girls. A few signed up for football but they rarely show. Oh, and we don’t have a ball to practice with.

I’ve been going to Softball practice since there really haven’t been any football practices. Why are girls so wimpy? They can’t catch and they can’t run. They squeal and cower from the ball whenever it comes to them. The coach gets so angry at the girls sometimes.
It was my first time to practice on the field and when I was running around the bases I couldn’t find the second base. I guess it’s a good thing that the boy didn’t catch the ball right away because I ran around in circles for a couple of minutes yelling, “I don’t know where the second base is at!”

I don’t like the lecturer, Prof Kamau, for Pastoral counseling. I liked his assistant better, Kenneth. Kamau has something against Psychologist. The whole class time he was smashing them, saying that if you’re a psychologist you can’t be a Christian and if you are a Christian you can’t be a psychologist. He said that Psychology was on sinking sands and was only for the previous generation. He read us an article on the internet on how psychology and the church don’t get along because psychologists believe that humans are greater than God because we made up God in our minds. EXCUSE ME? I almost blew up at him in class. “EXCUSE ME? Have you even taken a psychology class or do you base all of your finding on the internet? So you’re saying, because I’m going to become a psychologist, I’m not a Christian?” I wanted to get up and leave the class. I do not like him at all.
I talked to one of the other professors here, Dr. Stanton, about that class but I didn’t tell him who the lecturer was or what class it was. He was quite upset as well. He told me that it was a good thing that I didn’t call the lecturer out because I would have been punished. In this culture it’s not polite to correct a teacher, that and people here just don’t like confrontation. If you have an issue with someone you tell one of your friends who then relays your problems that you have to the person that you have an issue with and they get the issue resolved.

Frankie really wants to move to Texas. I’m not sure why he wants to go to Texas so bad but he does. He knows a lot about American politics and he laughs at me because I don’t have a clue as to what he’s talking about even though I LIVE in America! We decided we should switch places. Now he calls me African Girl (I should figure out what the Swahili word for “Ray of Sunshine” is and go by that) and I call him George Frankie Bush (He wanted that name).
I really blew Frankie’s mind the other day. I snuck onto Frankie’s phone one day and put my number in his phone. I put it under the title “Your favorite person: Raye Bontrager”. So when he asked for my number the other day I told him to go into contacts and find “Your favorite person”. When he did his eyes got huge and he was like, “When did you do this???” I refused to tell him and he said, “This is the most surprised I think I’ll ever get!”
Frankie was also very bewildered at how much I look like my Grandma Fox. We were laughing and joking around and then suddenly he slams his hands down on the table and gets really serious. “Did you know that you are the spitting image of your Grandma???”
Frankie cracks me up. Oh. Sorry. George Frankie Bush cracks me up.

I joined the Choir. It’s pretty fun. We had our first performance the other day. It didn’t go too well. :/ I feel bad for our director. I hope we didn’t embarrass him to bad.Image

Here’s the thing…

My Grandma Fox (my mom’s mom) passed away Monday morning. It really wasn’t a surprise; she was in and out of the hospital for pneumonia several times. My mom was telling me last year that when Grandma did finally pass away it wouldn’t be as hard because my grandma hadn’t been here mentally for years now. You are sad when death takes someone away from you because you won’t get to experience their personality anymore, but because my grandma receded into herself and her dementia we lost her long ago, so death is only taking her physical being. It will still be hard to lose her, every now and then we could see her peek through and she would give us a smile or try to talk. I remember the last time I went to see her I was making faces at her to see if I could get her to smile. She stared at me for a long time and then she made a face back. She had spunk. I bet you more than anything she went out with her boots on and her sarcastic temper flaring.
I’m sad that I won’t be there to support my mom like I was with my dad when he lost his dad.

I’m a lot like my Grandma Fox. I have her personality and her looks. I was one of her favorites, probably because I got her humor. At first when you meet her you think that she’s grumpy and mean, but as you get to know her you realize that she’s SO sarcastic.

My Grandma Fox tried the best she could to be a loving mother, and considering how her childhood was she did quite a good job. It took my mom a little while to understand how her mom expressed love, but looking back on her childhood she saw that her mom really did love her, Grandma Fox just didn’t know how to express it. She raised four sarcastic and rebellious children and loved them with all her heart. The intentions of her heart were clear: Love God with all your heart, and your (children) as yourself.
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Mzungu Athlete problems

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My friend Elvis took me out to see the area a little bit. We finally got my phone working and then we sat down and had a delicious dinner together and talked for a really long time. I had a malindi chai latte and I had a hard time drinking it because the top of it just looked so pretty! We met up with some friends from school, but they weren’t ready to go back yet so we went on to hitch a ride on a bus back to the school. We also did a little shopping while we were out. Elvis was really sweet to me, even though we had a hard time understanding each other sometimes. Sometimes he didn’t pick up on my sarcasm. He was very happy that I agreed to hang out with him because it showed him that I was willing to try new things and that I didn’t see myself as high above the Africans.
I’m a little worried that he might like me. Last night he called me and asked me what I thought about him. There is another boy that I’m worried my like me too. It’s not that they both aren’t sweet and caring, it’s just I don’t want to get into a relationship right now. I’m really really really hoping that they are just being really hospitable to me. PLEASE let them just be really hospitable to me! I don’t want to go through that drama, and I don’t want to lose them as friends. Becca had this one boy that she was good friends with and he came out and told her that he liked her and when she said that she already had a boyfriend he got really upset and now he won’t talk to her.

A bus load of wzungu came in last night. I think it’s a work and witness team. I was sitting outside with my friends when the bus drove past. Most of the Africans laughed and said, “Oh look, more visitors.” It was strange watching them drive past us, all of them looking out the window at us like we were some kind of display. At that point I almost wanted to jeer like the rest of the Africans at the visitors. Who are you to come invade our land and pretend you know who we are. You don’t KNOW us.
They were in church, a big group of elderly wzungu, peering around at us. They wanted to give the kids candy after church. The children were really happy but the people almost got stampeded. Though, they did enjoy it and took pictures of each other giving the kids candy. I had to just roll my eyes. Americans.
I heard some stories from my friends about the kinds of questions that Americans ask them. How much more ignorant can we get? No, people don’t live in the trees. Yes, people have electronics here. No, they don’t have to fend off lions.
It’s kind of weird how I feel like I’m one of them. I’m sure there are a lot of people that still laugh and scoff at me because I think I can relate to them but I’m still just an American. Which is most likely very true. As much as I want to think that I can fit in with them, I never will.

My roommate wanted me to go watch the softball team play and I agreed to go along thinking that we wouldn’t be out very long. In a twist of events I went from being a spectator to a player. They were running low on people and so they asked me if I would play. I said sure, but that I hadn’t played properly for a few years. It was a little frustrating because they kept treating me like I didn’t know anything about the game even though I told them that I remembered most of the stuff, there were just a few rules that I wasn’t aware of. Some of the people on the sidelines would chuckle at me whenever something went (uh-rye)/wrong and I didn’t understand what people were shouting at me. Actually, I taught them something about the game and they taught me something about the game. I was pretty much the best player on the team. I could hit well, run fast, and catch well. I’m sorry girls but the team really stunk. They want me to play with them but I told them that I wanted to play football and practices were at the same time. So I have to choose between playing on a team where I’m the best player, or playing the sport that I love and possibly being the worst player. Frankie was telling me that I would be the best player on the football team as well because the girls stink in that game as well. Oh dear.

I have bites all over my legs. I don’t know what from or how I got them but they are all up and down my legs and they itch. I can’t tell if they’re spider bites, ant bites, or mosquito bites.

I think my friend Joan is mad at me but I don’t really care. She’s been ignoring me and giving me the cold shoulder. In one way I want to make amends and ask her what’s wrong but in another sense I don’t want to associate with someone that’s going to pretend like I’m not even there when she’s mad at me. I’m not going down that road again.