By way of autobiographical introduction and conveying my interest in humanitarian service abroad, I am inaugurating my Red Room writings with a series of edited journal entries from my own experiences in Africa last summer. Enjoy my adventures and let me know your experiences and opinions.
Well, here I am then, having spent two nights already here, and I haven't been able to connect to the internet till today. My mission friends warn me about not to much internet usage (of course, I won't use it for anything besides bi-weekly emails and posting and the less occasional facebook status update) because the entire mission compound is only provided a few Gb of usage a month. So, probably little chatting (unless you happen to be on when I am on) or skype (definitely no webcamming) and if you send me attached photos in emails or youtube links, not only will I not get them for a week or two, but I will also not be able to view them until I hit stateside again in August. Also, you may mail me here if you wish to foot the bill, but the mail usually gets here a couple months late (our missionary neighbor Alice grins and says that Zambia is the only country that begins with a Z and ends with an A, as she shows me a magazine from the states that arrived over ten years late. It really gives me an appreciation for the snail mail we have in the states! You can always send me an email or a comment on the blog or a facebook message - I'll still get those around two weeks later, but at least I'll get them sooner.
The houses on the mission compound are suprisingly modern. Alice has a Wii that the missionaries have used before (once or twice) that may have been a gift from her grandchildren, and at her house last night we listened to a sermon together on her Ipod! The mission has electricity for everything from TV's to stoves, but only for a few hours. There is also telephones up for the missionaries to use, and a new cell tower gives them a signal (I'm still off the grid, of course). The house is lovely, as is the rest of the other houses in the mission, and I've met a few Zambians here so far, as well as all the missionaries here. The doctor that the missionaries recommended that I learn from lives about 80 miles away (which is four hours travel over here) and is currently helping medical students for the month of June, so I may have to wait till later to meet him, and I probably won't see him as often as I thought, but that's ok. The Youngs have graciously provided me a room in their basement (which has windows and a bathroom with HOT WATER) and I have my own keys to their home and the bookroom (which I will not loose) and so far I am remembering to take my prophylaxis (my malaria meds) daily.
I hope to kill my first black Momba soon! Alice says she spotted one nearby and lost it (she's killed several in her time, as have some of the other missionaries) but since it's on the compound, we'll all be watching for it. Bob says that if we find it together, he'll let me take it down with his 410 shotgun. Which will be the first thing I've ever hunted... the most poisonous snake in the world! Yay me! There are also scorpions that have made it into the house before (don't worry, not the large painful ones, just the small poisonous ones) so the missionaries recommended that I wear shoes to bed (not something I'm used to, and definitely something I will do! There are also no small spiders around. Usually, if I get bit by a spider in bed, I can easily imagine it being a tiny spider, and so I have no difficulty with fear and all, but the smallest spiders here are about the size of dimes (silver dollars, including the legs), so when I wake up bitten in the night, it's hard to fall asleep again. But I manage! It is pretty stunning to think that I'm in such a different place so far away, but I don't feel completely overwhelmed. Not yet, at least. It is a beautiful country over here!
I'm learning luvale slowly, through a graded lessons book (written about 80 years ago). I haven't learned much anything yet, except tones and accents (tones are like the difference between asking a question and making a statement, when the pitch of your voice goes up or down at the end of the sentence - only here, the pitch goes up on a syllable, and there are sometimes multiple tones, up or down or both, in a word). I will learn more as I study!
I'd better get off the computer, I've been on for about a half an hour now. Sayanara folks, I hope I can post again soon!