Thursday, October 25, 2007

Road Trip!!!!!!!!

Ok, so next week Jason, Erica, and I are taking a trip to Sintcham Botchi. It is a village in the interior of Guinea-Bissau. If you are curious you can look at a map of G-B, find the city named Gabu, and it's right next to that, though it probably won't be on the map. We have some friends who are missionaries there from Brazil – Jilson, and Rosania. Jason and I have bumped into them many times in Bissau and we've become pretty good friends, so we decided to go see the work that they are doing there. We are leaving on Saturday morning in a seven-seater taxi to go to Gabu, and Jilson is going to pick us up there. We will be staying with them until Wednesday.

We are really excited about going because we have not seen village life in the interior of G-B before. We wanted to go on Saturday because then we will get to go to church with them. Besides that I don't have any idea what we are going to be doing there. Hopefully we will be able to get some good pictures so that we can share the experience with you.

There are a few things I would like to ask you to pray for. Jilson and Rosania speak mostly Portuguese. Jilson knows a lot of Creole and he is a pretty dramatic guy – he uses tons of gestures and mimes stuff out well when we don't understand, so that helps a lot. Rosania can speak Creole too, but she does use a lot of Portuguese pronouns and stuff like that which confuse me. My Creole is coming in spurts right now. It seems like when I really need it I have it, but other times I get nervous, and it leaves me completely. I think that we will be fine; it will just be a lot of brain activity. (Incidentally Jason thinks that missionaries would kick everyone else's butt in a charades challenge because of all of the times we can't think of the right words but still get the message across.)

Jilson loves to joke all of the time too, so sometimes he is kidding but I am concentrating so hard on understanding the whole thing that I miss the fact that it is ridiculous. Like the other day we were eating with them and discussing the trip and Jason was asking Jilson about food in Gabu. He starting saying that they have McDonalds, and Pizza Hut there and Erica's jaw dropped. She was like, "Really, wow that is so cool." It wasn't until I told her that he was totally kidding that she stopped believing him because he had such a serious face when he was talking.

The other thing is that I think that the area were we will be is primarily Muslim. Right now we live in an Animist area, so I don't exactly know what to expect. I don't want to offend anyone…

Ok, so hopefully soon we will have a Sintcham Botchi blog (and maybe even a vlog) for you'll. Thank you so much for your prayers! I am really looking forward to going. It will be quite different, and I think it will also be really good.

New American / Australian / Canadian Guests

Right now we have a group staying in a house near the Youth Center from Youth with a Mission. Some of them are from the States, a few from Australia, and two from Canada, I think 12 in all. They are going around West Africa doing a lot of different stuff, so they are here for a week. They have been on the road for a while so on Saturday we cooked them some pizza and took over some chex mix to share that we got in the mail from Grandma and Grandpa Atkins.

After that I needed to go to the market to pick up a new dress that I had made (picture at the end of the blog), so we took them with us and that was an adventure. They don't speak any Creole so we had this huge group of white people catching every vendor's eye and then only a few of us doing all of the negotiating. Like I've said before, I'm really good at shopping in Creole now, so it wasn't that much of a problem but it was super tiring. None of the vendors wanted to give us good deals, but I did manage to weasel some deals out of them. Several of them complimented my Creole after we had completed the transaction, which was pretty funny.
Everyone on the team is really cool. It has been neat to hear people's impressions of G-B who are from different places. Everyone has their own take on their experiences, you know? It is really weird to be the head Creole speaker when we go somewhere with a big group. It is also kind of weird that in a lot of ways Jase and I are the head Americans now that our teammates are not here. Tons of stuff gets run by us and sometimes it is difficult to know how much advice to give. We are trying to strike a good balance because we want to be helpful but we also want the Center to be operating with as little influence from us as possible.
Here is something I don't really get. Almost everyone on the YWAM team is sick. I think that 7 out of the 12 have tested positive for malaria and at least one of them has been in the hospital here for a few days. I honestly don't understand why they have the schedule that they do. They are having meetings from the time they get up until 10am, and then they head over to our church and teach a discipleship group for an hour. After that they do door to door evangelism with translators until 2, come home to eat, go back and do more door to door until 7pm when they have a service at the church for all of the people that they talked to that day that lasts until at least 10pm. They come home, do praise and worship together, go to sleep, and get up the next day and do the exact same thing again. I don't know about you but all of that time in the hot sun interacting with people that I don't understand, in situations that are totally unfamiliar, drinking water that is not what my system is used to, and eating fish and rice all day would get to me pretty quickly. No wonder their immune systems are so crazy that they can't stay healthy. I stay out of the sun, take at least two showers a day, and spend most of my day interacting with people in English and I still sleep hard for at least 9 hours a night.
Anyway, not to be down on YWAM, they are doing a great thing here. It is just interesting that they would expect that they could work as much here as they could back home, you know? It's a different world in so many more ways than one.
By the way, here is the picture that I talked about at the end of my last blog. Jase went to SITEC and posted the blog without me and he didn't see my note to include it. Aren't we cute? Again, I would like to point out the hot pinkness of the ice cream.

Erica and our tailor, Seku. His name is the same as the word for dry.

Me and Seku plotting out the new dress.

Tada! An Emily Atkins original. I drew it out on a piece of paper and he made it. Not bad.

Friday, October 19, 2007

New Hair

I got my hair braided so I thought I would show it off to you with a few pictures. Erica and I went to the market and bought some extra hair. A week or so later our friend Esperan├ža came around noon and got to work (this was last Saturday). It took more than four hours to finish mine and my butt was pretty sore from sitting on the floor for that long. We didn't have time to finish Erica's that night so she had to go to church with a wrap on her head and then we finished it Sunday afternoon.

Here we go

Taking a break for pizza that Jason whipped up. I think this is a nice look for me :)

Jason told Erica she needs to go for the Princess Leah look more often :)

When Esperan├ža finished braiding she sewed some shells into the braids.

The finished product from the back....

And from the front. Looking good!

People's reactions have been really funny. Most people like it a lot, so that is really fun. On Monday when Erica and I walked into staff meeting wearing African dresses with our hair done everyone was clapping. There is a little thing that the children here like to yell (spelled like it sounds), "branku palaylay, pretom bau" which is loosely translated "You're whitey-white skin, I'm all black" After the meeting Maria said, "Emily, today you are not Branku Palaylay you are Pretom Bau." which made me laugh a lot.

Time is really starting to pass quickly but I haven't really got a super good schedule set up yet. I kind of feel like I am doing a lot of things at the last minute even though I have lots of time. Anyway, I just need to get a little more organized. I am missing everyone like crazy so drop me a line and let me know what you think of my new look.

I will leave you with a cute picture of Jason and me loving the cake and ice cream that we got one night at a restaurant downtown. Check out the hot pink color of that stuff :) It doesn't taste like the ice cream that we have, but it is very cold and delicious.

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

New Curtians and Bead

Well this is a blog about my new curtains and the bead store (which I finally have a few pictures of), but before I get into all of that would you like to hear about a funny, inappropriate, and embarrassing thing I have been saying to people by accident for quite some time? Oh, you would? Ok then, here goes...
We have a girl who works for us for a few hours in the morning three days a week. She does laundry, and goes to the small vegetable market for me. Everyday that she comes I tell her what I want her to do that day. Recently Jason heard me talking to her and told me he didn't think that I was saying this one thing correctly. I asked the English teachers and they laughed for a long time. Basically I would tell her that I wanted her to go to the Market and get whatever things were on the list. Then when she got back I would tell her where the clothes were that I wanted her to wash, etc. What I was saying was "N misti u bai pa ferra y kumpra…." (I want you to go to the market and buy…) Now I know that "N misti u" by itself means "I want you" in an inappropriate way, but I didn't know that what I was actually saying translated as "I want you. Go to the market and buy…"
I have said that to a lot of people. Especially to the maintenance guy Paulo. "Paulo, N misti u leba es kusa pa kasa di ospri" – "Paulo, I want you. Carry this thing to the guest house." Needless to say, I learned the correct way right away – "N misti pa bu pa bai pa ferra y kumpra…" which translates as "I want you to go to the market and buy…" much better. Wow!
Ok, so enough of that story… We are living in a brand new building so we have had to add a few things along the way so far and others are still coming. One of my main projects these past two weeks has been making curtains. First I just purchased fabric (an adventure in and of itself), cut it, and hung it between the bars on the windows. That at least shielded me from the neighbors when changing. One by one I have been sewing the fabric into curtains.
We set up my teammate's sewing machine in the kitchen. The work has been slow-going because of lack of power and light. The power is on from 8:30 to 1 but I am in a staff meeting and then teach class from 8:30 to 11. After that I have to make lunch for Jason, Erica, and me, so I can get about an hour of sewing in then, unless anyone needs my help with anything, which happens most days.
In the afternoon the power comes on again from 4pm to 10pm. I teach from 4 to 6, so that gives me four hours. The problem with that is we had a bad switch that was shorting stuff out in the kitchen so the lights didn't work. By the time I got back from class I really only had about 30 minutes of good sewing time. So, slow progress J I took a few pictures along the way and I thought you might like to check them out J

The good news is that the switch is now fixed so our kitchen is fully lit at all times. In fact right now, until we get a new part in a few days, we actually can't turn the lights off without shorting out the electricity in the whole building, so we definitely have all the light we need.
Now on to the bead store. I think I have extolled its wonders before, but I think they deserve mentioning again. It is buried in the middle of the crazy maze they call Bandim market so finding it is an adventure in and of itself, but it is worth it. They have lots of pre-made necklaces hanging up on the walls and then big things full of beads. On this trip alone I spent 18 dollars buying beads, which is an accomplishment J
The lady who always gives me a good deal.
The wall of beads
Erica and I choosing a few from the case
A few of my recent creations. I am especially proud of the wire work on the earrings.
Ok, well that is all for now. I hope you all liked Jason's "vlog" as he calls it. Is that the real name for a video blog? We have another one that I think he is posting today that is sure to wow an excite you many times over :-) hehe