I DON’T WANNA LEAVE! YOU CAN’T MAKE ME!

I really love Africa. I really didn’t want to leave. I wanted to run away and become an illegal immigrant, but I’ve been told that if you want to have somewhat of a good life in Africa you need papers. So I would be a poor white girl living without a home. So I’m kind of forced to go home.

I was talking with one of my friends, Frankie, and he was telling me that he gets really frustrated when white people come over just to “help” them. He says that they don’t need help, they need people to live here.

I’m going to come back. I swear that I will return to Africa. If not to live, then I will settle with visiting from time to time.
That’s where you’ll find me. In Africa.

What a smelly goat

I only have 9 more days until I head back to the States. I’m excited and dreading it. I really like it here.

I’ve been going through a bit of a rough week because SNU was supposed to pay for my tuition over here. Somehow connections weren’t made and I found out a couple weeks ago that my tuition hasn’t been paid. As a result ANU unactivated my account here so I was no longer able to get on the email, my student portal, the internet, or take my exams. I finally got it worked out for them to let me on the internet and to take my exams, but I don’t believe SNU has paid my finances yet.
So next week I have exams Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday. The past two couple of weeks have been reserved for studying for exams and term papers. There have been no classes and no chapels. It’s been kind of nice. I kinda wish we would have 2 weeks of free time to study for exams at SNU.

I’ve been under a lot of stress. Not only from my finance situation and the exams but just life in general.

Why do they call it a “rain check”?

April Fools

April Fools is pretty big over here. One of the public newspapers over here writes an article each year for April Fools. This year they talked about how the new government was going to switch the driving to American. It went all into detail and was very well written. It was quite convincing.

I’m starting for forget which side of the road I’m supposed to drive on when I get home. I’m getting used to the things here. I’m going to be so confused when I get home.

That’s all I have to say for now. I’m getting really bored of this blogging thing.

T-H-I-E-F

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Even the tea isn’t getting me out of bed anymore. I’d rather just sleep as much as possible.

I’ve been trying to teach my barundian friends how to say “Thief” b/c they keep saying either “teeth” or “Thieth”. It’s really funny.

Ernest is a boy on the boys’ softball team but since the girls and the guys practice together we all get to know each other. I asked him if he would serenade the team one day after practice but he refused b/c he didn’t want to be called gay. I said, “I thought that people already thought that?” so to prove to me that he’s not gay he said that he’s going to come to my window and serenade me. After that I’m to tie blankets together and throw them down to him and he’ll climb up to me. haha I like this kid. He’s a nut.

We’ve entered the rainy season and it’s started getting chilly. My shoes are really worn through in the heel so the water soaks up through the bottom of my shoe and my feet get wet and cold. I need to get new shoes. I did laundry like 3 days ago but my clothes can’t get dry b/c it keeps raining.

Why is it called “goody-two-shoes”?

As children I remember when my friend Morgan and I had a dream to come to Africa and start an orphanage. We drew out the outline of the orphanage that we wanted to build. We started thinking about hiring architectures and teachers. What if our dream really came true? What if we stayed in Africa and found children who were orphaned b/c of HIV/AIDS and started an orphanage? Could it be? Now, you see, back then as children, we were obsessed with the movie Orphan Annie and Madeline. But still, could something be true about our vision? What if?

The things I do to keep myself entertained… *sad shake of the head*

I was chasing a lizard down the hallway in the hostile today. It turned a corner and as I tried to take the turn at full speed, my flip-flops (which are SO slippery) slid out from underneath me and I slammed into the cement. I was more upset that the lizard got away than I was that I scraped up my foot, knee, and elbow.

Several people have told me that I have a lullaby voice. I should just make a living off of singing people to sleep!

I was able to play with this one little boy named Jeffe. He was so cute! I wish you could hear his whole speech that he gives when someone asks him what his name is. It’s so long! He followed me around the rest of the day. As we walked around people would laugh and say, “Raye, I didn’t know you had a kid!” *Actually, there was one person who asked me if this was _a boy I liked/a boy that liked me_ jr.* Jeffe didn’t want to leave my side, where ever I went he went (which was frustrating at times, especially when I had to use the loo) and when his mom came to take him home he screamed and cried.

I went into Rongai and was wandering around the store getting a few things for the weekend when this little boy ran up to me and touched my leg. He scurried a couple of feet away from me and turned back and looked at me. I laughed and waved at him and he just moved off slowly, like I was going to attack him when he turned his back.Image

A Nation in Fear

It’s deserted here. Most of the students that live around this area have gone home for the weekend and the only people that are left are mainly international students.
Voting starts on Monday and it has a lot of people in a panic. Some Kenyans have even gone as far as to move out of the country until elections are over. For the past several weeks the school has been showing video’s from last times election. It was horrific. I don’t understand how someone could hate that much that they would do such horrible things. They would stop Matatu’s and reach through the windows and start hacking away with their Machetes at anyone who was from a different tribe. Last time there was rigging of votes for a certain candidate and the people from the other tribe were furious. People where chased down and beaten with anything they could find: rocks, bricks, brooms, anything. They would cut off peoples heads or just slash their throats. Women and children weren’t spared. Friend turned against friend, brother against brother. No one was safe.
As this election is just around the corner people are on edge, any tiny hint of trouble and hundreds of people will go flocking to the Ugandan or Nigerian border.
As for me, I’m stuck on campus. Warned not to leave the campus grounds. The school does have a plan for the people that are left here, just in case something does break out and we’re not safe on campus anymore. Classes wont start back up until Wednesday, so there is a good long break for me but I have absolutely nothing to do but work on homework. Although I did go to the store the other day and got some ingredients so that I could make cookies over the weekend. That’ll keep me busy for half of a day….

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