Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Sunday, July 16, 2006

Home Sweet Home

That's right. I'm home.

The trip home was much more uneventful than the trip out. Our (Sarah and I) plane left Conakry at 6:30pm. We got to Dakar, Senegal at about 7:30pm. Once we went through customs and picked up our luggage, we had to idea what to do. We had an eight hour layover and didn't know where to go. The airport was a little scary because we are two young white girls who obviously don't have a clue what they're doing. I tried to keep a confident face on, but I'm sure people could see right through it.

We walked into an open area of the airport and tried to figure out what to do. This man in his forties walked up to us and started speaking to us in English. I did my best to ignore him and make it obvious that we had no interest in talking to him. At first, he said welcome. I said thank you and turned around and talked to Sarah. He told us that there was some safe room to put our luggage in and I said no thank you. Then he told us to come up to his shop. I said no thank you. He really didn't get the hint that we didn't want to talk to him and that we weren't going to follow him any where. After standing next to us for about ten minutes, he gave up and tried to talk to another girl.

We found a small cafe and bought a big bottle of water so they wouldn't kick us out. We talked, read, played Uno, made up other card games with the Uno cards, drank water, and watched other people come and go. This lasted for a seemingly unending six hours. At about 12:30am, we went to check in for our flight.

The bathroom was interesting in the airport. To get there, you walk down a hallway and then down a flight of stairs. At the bottom of the stairs, you can go to the right or to the left, but they are not marked for men or women. On the left, there were low sinks that we think were meant for washing. On the right were the toilets for both men and women. The toilet was African toilet paper. That's what your left hand is for. Gross!! So I brought some tissue paper and chose the first stall that I saw. It wasn't really a stall. It was like a small room. The door didn't have a handle or a lock and it didn't shut to well. So I just forced it closed. I didn't think about that action very well. When I went to open it, I couldn't. Since I had pushed it closed to hard and it didn't have a handle, all I had was a small hole to put two of my fingers in to try to pull it open. When I couldn't open it, I panicked a little because I didn't know how I would get out. After about four or five tries, I eventually pulled it open and quickly walked back up to the cafe. Hand sanitizer comes in very handy here!

We went to check in at about 12:30am. That all went well. The plane left at about 4:30am which was an hour and a half late. The trip from Dakar to New York City was seven hours long. I slept a total of maybe an hour. I watched a couple movies and TV shows. We got into JFK at 7:30am (it's four hours earlier in NY than in Dakar).

When we got off the plane, we met two other girls who were also coming back from mission trips in Africa. One was in Swaziland and the other was in South Africa.

We picked up our bags, went through customs and went on our way to check in for our last flights. Her to Pittsburg and me to Las Vegas. I went into deja vu...we got lost!

We asked people where to go and followed the signs to the best of our abilities, but we still got lost. We went to the check-in area that all of the airlines are in, but of course, Delta has its own special area. So we took the Airtrain to Terminal 3 and eventually found the Delta check-in. We stood in line for about 20 to 30 minutes and realized that we were in the line for International flights not Domestic flights. So we walked across the street and finally found where we were supposed to be. I got up to the ticket counter and, finally, something good happened!

The flight I was booked on did not leave until 7:30pm. That meant about an eleven hour layover. No fun! But the ticket lady offered me a seat on the 12:30pm flight! I got so excited! There was one small costs $25. I didn't know if I had that much money. All I had was $23. So I borrowed $2 from Sarah and saved myself seven boring hours!

So now, I'm home!

Being home comes with mixed feelings. It feels so good to see family and friends, but I really miss Guinea. I used to think the scenery here was pretty with the mountains and everything. Boy, was I wrong! It's so ugly! But I will stay here until God tells me to go again...which could be sooner than I think! Septermber maybe??? We'll see!

I'm going to try to get pictures up and stuff. I have about 900 pictures so I have lots of sorting to do. I'll let you all know where I put them.

Even though I'm home, I would still really like it if you prayed for me...I really need to decide if I'm going back to school this semester. There's a possibility with Invisible Children that I could pursue instead of going to school this year. Please pray that God would show me which way to go.

Thursday, July 06, 2006

The end is in sight

I don't remember the last time I wrote. But I will try to recap the past couple weeks.

Last week's English camp went very well. It was a lot of fun to speak to Africans in English. I could actually hold a good conversation with them. Our prayer is that God's Word will stick in their hearts. I think I told you that after the World Cup game, we were planning on giving three of the students English Bibles. Well, the game ended, and six of the students took Bibles!!! Only one of the students that was here did not take a Bible and Dee thinks that he might already believe, but he hasn't confessed his faith yet because of the persecution that is faced after.

On Friday afternoon, we went to the barrage (that's a dam in French) with some of the students. We walked around, took some pictures, and played SkipBo under a tree next to the river. It was very fun. Boss said he saw a big cobra that reared its head when he walked by. I saw my first snake, but it was in the concrete of the dam beyond reach.

On Saturday, we went to a waterfall. It was gorgeous. We hiked around a bit and then swam. I never imagined that Africa could be this green and beautiful. One time, we got the idea to drift down part of the river with the current and I thought I was going to die. I could not stop and I got semi close to a small drop-off. I was VERY scared. But I'm ok!

On Sunday, we drove to Pita (a nearby, large village) and went to their International church. The pastor preached in Pular and it was translated into French. There were about 25 African believers there. Their choir sang a couple songs and we had communion. Communion consisted of a quarter of a loaf of bread and one bottle of Guinee (like grape soda) divided between 15 or 20 people. I got about half of a sip out of an Arabic tea cup. It was fun.

After church, we went to another dam. It was much bigger than the one near Timbi. We had a picnic with a missionary family and couple that live in Pita. We walked to a waterfall that was about 300 feel tall. We got to stand right at the top of it. Gorgeous once again!

On Monday, we celebrated the Fourth of July. We had a party with our English students. We wanted to have it on Tuesday, but many of the students would not have been able to be there because they had to take the Bach in Pita. The Bach is the test that all of the graduating students have to take in order to graduate. So we celebrated the 4th of July on the 3rd. The party was SO fun. Our memory verse was "Obey the government for God is the one who put it there." Romans something. I don't remember. But we chose that one because it was America's Independance Day. But if we didn't have the party, no one would have celebrated it. Why would they? It's Africa. Anyways, the party was a lot of fun. We had hot dogs, beans, chips, and Coke and played picnic-type games. We played tug-of-war, three legged race, egg toss, a relay race where you had to run with a ball on the end of a spoon in your mouth, and a game where you had to get a piece of gum out of a pie pan filled with flour and you could only use your face to get it out. They really liked it. But some of them didn't like the hot dogs or beans too much. About 30 students were at the party.

Monday also started our second week of English camp. This week was for beginners. They were all on different levels. Some of the students are junior highers (14, 15, 16 years old) and they know quite a bit. And some of the adults barely knew anything. They are not literate either. But they are learning! On Tuesday, I taught basic English greetings and things. On Wednesday, I taught about money and how to buy things. I set up a mini store and I was the seller and they had to come buy things from me in English. Very fun. On Thursday (today), I taught about opposites. Left, right. Weak, strong. Long, short. Cheap, expensive. Today was our last day. Only four days. Today, Dee presented the Gospel to them. Our memory verse was Romans 5:8 "But God showed his great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners." We deliver the message, now it is God that works in their hearts and them that make the choice. We have faith that God's word is powerful and he will get the glory. We had about 25 students this week. It was much bigger!!

It has rained a lot this week!

Tomorrow, we are going to Labe to see a waterfall, go shopping, visit with the missionaries there and go to church. We will be back Sunday afternoon and then we leave on Monday morning to go to Conackry. Then Friday, I leave to come home! It's so soon!

Please continue praying for me and the people of Guinea!! Love you!!

Saturday, July 01, 2006

I love these Africans!

The people here are hilarious! Especially in the English camp that we just finished today (Friday). By the end of the week, we had two girls and two boys in their last year of high school and three men in their 40's.

Every day, we told them a Bible story and we discussed the story and put it into a sequence of events. We've done the Prodigal Son, when Paul saw Jesus on his way to Damascus, Zaccheus, Noah's Ark, and when Joseph interpreted Pharoh's dreams. We also gave them a verse that we memorized at the beginning of class. Today, a couple of them could recite every verse we memorized. All of them remembered at least one. The Bible says that when God's Word goes out, it does not come back void and that is my prayer. That these men and women would continue to think about these stories and verses and that God would use His Word to work in their hearts. I think three of the men want English Bibles. Their names are Umar, Mr. Jalo, and Ibrahima. Please pray for them. Also, pray for the rest of the students: Mr. Lum, Boss (who was our Pular tutor), Jenaboo, and Bella. None of them know Jesus as their Savior.

So I think I already told you that we taught them to play badminton. So funny! We also taught them how to play baseball and volleyball. But most of them already knew how to play volleyball. Playing baseball with them was SOOO funny! They had no idea how to play. We explained the rules and taught them how to hit the ball. The first boy up to bat, hit the ball and ran with the bat...but not to 1st base...he ran to one of the outfielders and stood next to him. By the time he figured out what he was supposed to do, he was still safe because the other team didn't understand the concept of trying to get him out. As time went on, they got better and most of them understood the rules. We acquired a crowd of about 15 little kids. They didn't cheer for us, though. They only booed a couple times. We only played three innings because it was really, really hot. The students loved it! At the beginning of our lesson today, we asked them what their favorite sport is and a couple of the guys said baseball! Volleyball was a lot of fun too. They didn't exactly follow all of the rules. At times, a couple of the guys would pretty much catch the ball and throw it to the other side. Definitely not right, but we let it go.

We sang "Old MacDonald" with them. But we sang it with the English animal sounds and then the Pular animal sounds. Hilarious! When we would sing the Pular sounds, we would say Mamadou Jalo instead of Old MacDonald because Mamadou is a very common name here and there are only about 5 or 6 last names at the most. The Pular sound for a cow is mboo. A cat says mew. Both are pretty close to ours. Their sound for a rooster is coo-koodoo-koodoo. The rest of the sounds are just imprssions of the animal. A frog does not say ribbit. They just make the noise that they hear.

We made pizza for them today. Most of them liked it. Boss hated it. He walked to Mamadou's cafe across the street to get something else to eat. Besides today, we've had rice and sauce everyday for lunch. One of the days, they told us how they make maffe tiga (peanut sauce) so I'll try to make that when I get home. I know that it won't taste anything like it does here. And I'll have to put a little gravel in the rice so you can really get the African experience!

I've laughed a lot this week! It's been a lot of fun!

I'm almost over my cold. Only a runny nose now.

It's been raining a lot more this week. We took a shower in the rain a couple days ago. Of course, we left our clothes on. And we wore shoes so we wouldn't get shocked if lightning struck. It was freezing. When we were done, I realized that a couple little African boys had been watching us. I'm sure it was funny to watch four crazy American girls giggle and scream while getting soaked by the rain. We each took a quick, hot shower when we came in. I realized that that was my first hot shower since I got to Africa!

I can't believe that I'll be home two weeks from tomorrow. I don't feel like I've been here for a month. But I miss you guys a lot and I'll be happy to come home.

Love you!