Friday, November 02, 2007

8 weeks

today is the 8 week anniversary of my arrival in freetown! faye said we need to celebrate and that she'll buy me a coke. i said that the last thing i need is another coke. i rarely drink regular pop in the states, but i cannot get enough of it here... oh i love coke. bottled. canned. on ice. lukewarm. love love love coke.

soooo, a lot has happened since late september. cami and faye both left for the states at the end of the month. faye's trip was planned, but cami's departure was a bit sudden. they are both back now, and things are getting back to normal, but that week and a half without either of them really wore me out. i said a lot of "i don't know the answer" and "i don't know how to do that" during those 11 days. ah, humility.

also, we moved. it was a very quick and chaotic move, but we actually moved, so no one is complaining. it happened at the end of ramadan, which made it even more interesting. i said to a friend during the process, "moving never goes as planned, and we live in africa, where NOTHING goes as planned to begin with... so i wonder what today is gonna be like..." we had a lot a lot a lot of help from some very generous friends who loaned us trucks and workers and boxes and all sorts of things. oh!! and the funniest part... we had a specific day that we needed to be out of the old house because someone was moving in. but we were still waiting on some little details to be finished at the new place. so on a wednesday, faye and i were talking to some friends about needing to be out by the next tuesday. it seemed like plenty of time... what we were forgetting was that the weekend marked the end of ramadan, which meant a 3-day weekend. however, we didn't know exactly which day was the last day of ramadan because they had to wait to see what the moon would do in saudi arabia. so the holiday would either be friday/saturday/sunday. or saturday/sunday/monday. but we wouldn't know until thursday night, and this was on a wednesday. so at 10 o'clock on wednesday we realized that we absolutely had to move on thursday if we were going to be certain that we were out by tuesday... i'm tired again just recounting this. anyway, it was crazy, but it's over and here is a picture of my new room:

the new place is great, and so convenient. i can walk anywhere work-related that i need to go. and we can catch transport to a lot of places right out of the front door. we have a pretty good breeze most of the time because we're on the third floor and i can see water from my bedroom window! it's really far away, but i'm from the midwest, so i don't care. i live by the sea!!! the biggest negative for me is that the place is so loud. so so so loud. all day it's loud. usually quiet by 11 at night. loud again starting with the call to prayer around 5:30. many of you know how difficult it is to wake me up. i love to sleep and i do it very well. but not here. i wake up early every day, and i run on not enough sleep until i'm so tired that i can't function, and then i get 10 hours of sleep a couple of days in a row and start the whole process over again. so that's kinda hard. but i'm adjusting.

things with the kids are going okay. we're getting used to each other. they push my limits sometimes, and i am insensitive sometimes, and in between those times we laugh and try to get to know each other. again, adjusting.

tutoring the little ones is going well. that's my favorite part of the day. monday i will start working with them at our house instead of at noah's and i think that will be much better. first of all, it's more convenient for me, so i'll have more time with them. secondly, the child who needs the most one-on-one attention goes to school right by our house, so he'll be able to get there before the others and get the attention he needs. also, there won't be other people going in and out of the house so the kids that have trouble focusing might actually be able to focus. i'm excited about the change. and the kids are REALLY excited. they just like to be at our house. it's maybe something like what i felt when i got to go to Grandma's. oh no, did i just equate myself to a grandma? i think you know what i mean...

i've been to the beach twice so far and i'm going again this weekend, so i'll try to take some pictures and post them. and then i can introduce you to some of my new friends. i've made some really fun friends who i enjoy a lot. they keep me sane. most of the time... i'm still me, so i can't be sane aalllll of the time. you know.

okay thanks for being so patient waiting for this boring update. i love you all and will try try try to post more often. happy fall! i can't believe it's november... it's getting hotter here and colder there. i'm all mixed up. anyway, ENJOY!

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

i'm alive i'm alive

wow. i had no idea that i hadn't written in over a month... i really thought it had been a couple of weeks. that should tell you something.

so i'm working on a nice long informative blog, but i just wanted to let you all know that i'm okay. things have been a bit hectic (which i will fill you in on) but they are slowing down and i'm trying to figure out some sort of pace and rhythym and balance. it's a process for sure!!

thanks for continuing to check in on me and getting on my case when you haven't heard anything in a while. let's me know that you notice when i'm gone. :)

much love, and i promise more soon soon soon!

Friday, September 28, 2007

it was a day much like today

This week has flown by! I’m actually on some sort of schedule now, so that makes things a bit more manageable.

I didn’t mention in my last post how fun my trip to the airport was on Friday… It is really difficult to know how long it will take you to get to and from the airport, and like I mentioned, the ferry schedule is completely unpredictable so you really just have to use the hurry-up-and-wait approach. If there is an opportunity to move in the right direction, you take it. You can’t count on having another opportunity. So, we arrived at the airport with 5 hours to spare… but that was nothing… chris and erin arrived without a hitch. With all of their bags, bright-eyed and ready to go. Since they felt good, we decided to take the ferry across the bay instead of paying the big bucks to take the hovercraft.

Let’s just say that the ferry thing didn’t work out. I was promised by the guys selling the bus tickets that the ferry would not leave the dock without our bus. Promised. Not a flippant, ‘yeah sure’ kind of promise, but a long drawn-out nagging-white-woman ‘you better swear to me with every fiber of your being’ kind of promise. Well, I learned my lesson. When a guy has the chance to sell 4 bus tickets at once, he’ll tell you whatever you want to hear. Honestly, I can’t say I blame him either. So, we didn’t make the ferry, and I was not happy about that, but it gets funnier. The ferry that didn’t wait on us got stuck in the mud about 30 yards from the dock. For 5 hours. So… once the tide rose, and the ferry finally moved, it had to cross over to freetown, then load up again and come back. So we boarded the ferry around 2:30 am and were dropped at the house at 5. I took a shower and fell asleep listening to the Islamic call to prayer. Not my favorite Freetown experience to date, but we all survived. And I have made the decision that I will never again attempt to welcome someone to freetown with the ferry. It’s worth the $35 extra per person to not have that happen again. Ugh.

Other than that little hang-up, things are going well. I started Krio lessons this week. And I started tutoring my favorite little people in kroo bay. I love them. They make me completely crazy and I love them. I think they will all grow up into really incredible big people. You know how you just get that sense about some kids? I get that sense with all of them. They have all had it rough in their short number of years. Really rough, in ways that I can’t even imagine. And they sure do have their issues and struggles and brokenness. But they are just so beautiful inside and out. Every one of them. I just love them. Love love love.

Patty griffin continues to provide the soundtrack to my life right now, and the song of this week was ‘goodbye’. Parts of it could not possibly be more fitting. 2 years ago this week, I was living in freetown and called home to hear that my grandpa (who had been dealing with cancer for the previous 9 months) wouldn’t likely make it through the night. Even now, remembering those days is so difficult. I have never felt so far from home. I wrote about it on this blog, so you can check that out in my archive if you feel so inclined. (September 2005) Anyway, I want to leave you with a few lines from the song, and just say that I still miss my grandpa to this day, but it is a blessing to have known someone like him, and even more of a blessing to have his blood in my veins. How could you not miss someone like him?!?! I am so grateful to come from the family I am from – a long line of really amazing people.

Occurred to me the other day that you’ve been gone now a couple years.
Well I guess it takes a while for someone to really disappear.
I remember where it was when the word came about you;
It was a day much like today, the sky was bright and white and blue.

And I wonder where you are, and if the pain ends when you die.
And I wonder if there was some better way to say goodbye.

Today my heart is big and sore. It’s trying to push right through my skin.
I won’t see you anymore. I guess that’s finally sinkin’ in…

Sunday, September 23, 2007

my future home-sweet-home

i may or may not have mentioned this before i left...

right now we live a few miles away from downtown, but we have a contract on an apartment in town that is not yet finished. it was supposed to be finished a couple of months ago, but who knows when we'll actually live there. maybe within a week... likely not.

anyway, faye wrote a funny blog about our recent excursion to check in on the progress of the place. you can read it here and look at the pictures and envy the amazing view we will have from our roof. eventually... maybe. i hope soon.

the quote of that day came from the man faye calls "C." he wasn't even in the same room as a most of the commotion at the time, but he shouted in exasperation, "senegalese!!! you talk too much!" for some reason that made me laugh until i choked. aaaah, west africa, i love you.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

to serve the world proud

earlier this week (maybe it was last week???) cami asked me who was my favorite person in the Bible. obviously, you cannot answer this question, "Jesus!" - that is just lazy. unlike most "favorites" in my life - always changing depending on circumstance and realizations - my favorite person in the Bible has remained the same for a number of years. mary. so cami and i talked for a good long while about the faith of mary, her instinct to ask questions, her willingness to ignore conventions, her joy in the face of impending hard times... then i played the patty griffin song for cami (it is so fun to introduce people to my friend patty) and we both cried and i'm so glad that she asked me that question... it's provided some focus over the last few days.

on monday i started sitting in on the book discussions and business meetings with the sierra leonean interns. they are a really neat group of people, and by the end of the year at least a few of them will be staff members. sorta. almost. we don't have a sierra leonean board yet, so actual staff positions might be a little way off... the point is, these are very great people and i'm excited about the things we will learn from and with each other. they are doing a lot of stuff, but the main responsibility is that they act as sort of small group leaders / case managers for the lighthouse program. i'm excited to see how my brief (but full) experience as a case manager might help streamline some of their goals, scheduling, policies, paperwork. it isn't really consistent with the sierra leonean way of doing things, and if you know me you know how rediculously culturally sensitive i can be, but i think some consistency of expectations on both sides would be really great for the young adults in the program as well as the staff. we shall see...

we took a break during that meeting and george (intern) was listening to the radio because they were expected to announce the election results. when they announced that the APC won you could hear a roar of excitement coming from all over our part of town. and it went on and on and on... for hours. faye went into town later and said that there were people marching and celebrating all over and then they actually swore in the new president, ernest bai koroma, that very evening. i didn't hear the ceremony myself, but apparently the ex-president and ex-vice-president (who was the opponent in this election) both gave speaches and spoke highly of ernest, saying that this was the president for ALL of sierra leone and that there was no reason to be divided any longer. it was all so HOPEFUL. i heard someone last night say that the sierra leoneans in her office seem gaurded. but almost every sierra leonean i know is PUMPED. freetown can be a really rough place. the poor are desperate. but they are the ones who elected this president. that is exciting if you ask me. there is a headline on the BBC website today that says "violence spreads in sierra leone" but i have seen or heard of nothing in freetown. it sounds like people are acting out against the losing SLPP party in areas of the country which are still controlled by rebels. pray that this will end, and that the peace and hope i see in the capital city will not fade any time soon. (read more on faye's blog about the election)

i was sick again this week, which is why i didn't get to go dance in the rain and celebrate the new government. i self-diagnosed strep throat, started some heavy doses of penicillin, and it cleared up quite quickly and only cost me $0.33 and an afternoon of sleep. i love the lack of pharmaceutical regulations sometimes...

tomorrow i am going on an adventure! i am going to the airport to get erin and chris harrell. erin was on my servant team in 2005, and she and her husband will be in freetown as WMF interns for the next 5 weeks, discerning if they might come back as staff in the near future. exciting times! it will be good to talk with erin about all that has changed in the last 2 years. and it will be so fun to see freetown for the first time through chris' eyes. i can't wait to see them both! so, 'what's the adventure?' you may ask... well, getting to and from the airport, of course! they are only running one ferry right now, so the schedule is unpredictable. if it is late, we may have to take a pom-pom boat which is a long, skinny, dug-out canoe. there are just a lot of ways to get across the bay, so it could go a lot of different ways... none of this is any problem. the thing that could get interesting is that i will have to talk price ALL DAY. all day. which is kind of like a sport because it wears me out, but is really fun when you actually get a fair price. it's a small kind of victory. my competitive spirit loves it. my friend alimamy is going with me because he is fun, speaks krio and english, and he can carry heavy things.

okay, that's enough for today. this was supposed to be my day off, but i did work-related stuff all morning (both of my parents are at fault for modeling this kind of behavior my whole life). so i'm letting myself spend as much time as i want on the internet tonight. because i'm worth it. and now i will go home where we will have power in 20 minutes. i will charge my ipod, eat another peanut butter and banana sandwich, and spend the evening with my dear friend patty griffin.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

the pigeon in the airport

i made it. hopefully you had already guessed that by now... what you may not have guessed is that i made it with all of my luggage and ON TIME. i met cami at the airport in london and she assumed most/all of my books so i could meet the weight limit, and it was smooth sailing from there. we rode the ferry from the airport to freetown, which isn't the most exciting way to go (when helicopters and hovercrafts are the other options) but it was the perfect way to re-enter this crazy city - approaching slowly, moving with the waves of water and people, wondering at the sunset and praying it doesn't rain just yet.

i've had a cold this week which is likely due to a huge deficit in my sleep account before leaving, and also due to the climate change. i spent an entire day in bed this week, but i'm feeling much better.

the reunions have been sweet, and i'm VERY MUCH looking forward to a routine. oh, how i long for a system of doing things. i'm so lost and confused by even the simple things right now... i have to ask questions just to dish a plate of rice properly. and speaking of questions, the krio is coming back very slowly... but it is coming back.

during my layover at JFK airport, i was chillin' out by a starbucks (my last for a while) and a pigeon walked quite-confidently past me toward the boarding line at gate 25. he seemed to know what he was doing, but he certainly looked out of place and must have been a bit intimidated. i laughed, and made eye contact with someone else who thought it was funny. and a lot of people noticed, but no one bothered him. i have thought about him everyday. at first i thought that he must be lost, but maybe not. he walked with such purpose, like he was exactly where he wanted to be. and who am i to say that a bird can't be interested in airports and airplanes? i mean, maybe they swallow up other birds, but this pigeon seemed certain that he was going to be just fine.

i realized today; i am that pigeon in the airport.

Sunday, September 02, 2007


so, we've come to the point where i can no longer sleep. and i'm still 5 days away from freetown... this could get interesting. i've already developed "finals voice" - the name i have for the raspy tone that i acquire as the result of an extended lack of sleep. as you may have guessed, this began in college as a result of my relentless procrastinating...

the point is that i have been awake since 3 AM, and i've managed to accomplish a few things, but not many because my mind keeps running ahead of me. i think this is working to my advantage in some ways. let me explain. you may or may not know this about me; i am a perfectionist. and a procrastinating one at that, so i'm sure you can imagine how fun that is... anyway, i've been wracking my brain for weeks now about how to pack those stupid bags that i mentioned in my last post, but this morning i was just thinking that it really doesn't matter. i mean, it matters. but i will inevitably make a few packing mistakes - no matter how much i plan and rethink, i will chose to take something i will never use, and i will forget to pack something that i know i will need. that sucks a little. but... on thursday morning, i will be on my way with my imperfectly packed bags, and on friday i'll be in freetown. ON FRIDAY I'LL BE IN FREETOWN!

so that's what i realized this morning. the goodbyes have been tough so far, and the remaining ones will be the toughest yet. but i'm so much more excited than i am sad. in the coming week the following things will happen; i will speak krio (poorly, but out of necessity), i will watch the sunset on the atlantic, i will eat fula bread, i will ride/sweat in a poda-poda (see photo) and i will listen to the apprentice on said poda-poda yell "abadeenabadeenabadeenabadeen" without ever coming up for air, i will be called "wayt gyal" repeatedly (which will cease to be amusing very quickly, but i still look forward to the first one), and i will see saidu, remie, joseph, noah, david, haja, kwame, kadi, and so many other friends who i have missed over the last 2 years. that last one sends me straight out of giddy and into tears. i really am so excited.

i will try not to have a lot of goals or expectations for my first week - that just seems like another set-up for failure, like the 55 pound suitcases. however, i think it would be a really good omen to see the 'neatness' poda-poda in my first week. some of you know what i mean, the others will hopefully see a photo someday soon. so that's my number one goal. number 2 will be to catch up on some sleep.

Friday, August 31, 2007

the final countdown...

oh here we go. now, when i ask myself how much time i have to get all my ducks in a row, the frightening reply is "less than a week." LESS THAN A WEEK. Lord, please help me.

the packing process began nearly 2 weeks ago, which is incredibly out of character for me, but has proven to be a good idea. i can take two 70 pound bags to london, but those same bags can only weigh 55 pounds when they leave london for freetown. why? i'm not really sure, but it would cost about $15 for each addition 2 pounds, so i'm not so worried about the 'why' as i am the actual weight of the bags. oh! and my carry-on can weigh no more than 17 pounds... yes, they will put it on a scale. i have plenty of space for everything, but not enough pounds to spare. turns out that contact solution, shampoo, and books (DUH, STEPH) weigh a lot more than you would guess. or i should say, more than I would guess. so i spend hours each day moving things back and forth from one bag to the next, hoping they will weigh less in my suitcase than they do in my backpack... i know, it doesn't sound like it makes sense, but there is a method to my madness.

so we now have piles all over my room. there are 'necessary' items, 'comfort' items, and items that fall into both categories (this really only means that i find them so comforting that they become necessary, i.e. my press-pot and DVDs). so the lines that form these categories are very blurry. but every single ounce matters in this quest. it's making me crazy. CRAZY.

i started my malaria medicine yesterday. i forgot how much i hate that stuff. i'm on lariam which is known to give people nightmares, hallucinations, and anxiety. this morning i realized (2 years after the incident) that my only brush with REALLY intense anxiety was the day i took my second dose of larium. which just happened to be the day i left for freetown for 4 months. that was a fun day. i am actually kinda relieved to think that the medication contributed to the chaos of that day because i've kinda beat myself up about that for 2 years now. so, we're just hoping and praying that nothing similar occurs this time. i was fine for the rest of the 4 months that i took the medicine. also i never did experience the joy of real hallucinations last time, but i came close. i regularly saw little flashes of light in my peripheral vision. first time it happened i thought, "ooh fireflies!" and then freaked out when they really weren't there. but then i got used to it. a UN pharmacist told me it was the lariam and it was causing random neurons to fire or something like that. but i will endure this if it lessens the chance of malaria attacking my brain and killing me. dad said something along the lines of 'so you can let malaria mess with your brain, or you can take medicine to do it for you?' yes, dad. that is exactly right. i only have a one month supply of the stuff and will likely switch to another drug once i'm in freetown. it is a drug that a well-educated local doctor recommends for long-term use. i don't think it would be smart to take the nightmare-hallucination-anxiety causing medicine for 3 years...

okay, i must return to the mess that is my room and continue shoving things into a suitcase that already weighs too much. 55 pounds per bag... and my suitcase alone weighs 10. it's a setup for failure.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

seeing yellow

today I’m grateful for a generous neighbor who doesn’t block their wireless connection, for a generous cousin/sister who gifted me her laptop, and for a summer teeming with memories, created and revisited. i’m living the ‘baking chocolate’ kind of life – no sugar or milk to soften the taste – just the potent stuff, and a lot of it.

the goodbyes-at-hand began last weekend in kentucky – the home of my adulthood. my most formative post-High School experiences and friendships are connected to the Bluegrass in varying degrees of separation. i spent the weekend with friends, old and relatively new, who celebrated the upcoming adventure and sent me off with purpose. i am excited to go on their behalf, but as i drove north on 75 and crossed The Bridge, the sadness was very real – bitter in my mouth and hot around my ears. the end of an era, i am certain.

tyler left for college yesterday. we will see him again in only 3 days, but Labor Day weekend will surely hold agendas, and we have much more fun without those. for a couple of weeks in may all 3 McGuire kids were at home and jobless. of course, the parents were proud. while I was repeatedly frustrated by a lack of substitute teaching calls, i was secretly pleased by the opportunity to sit around the house with the boys – rambling on about faith, music, and how 'deep down you know' you really are Larry David. it seems that the little brothers grew up in the years I was away, so recent months gave me the joy of being reintroduced. next week I will begin this cycle again. we will keep up on the Big Things of life, Blood is a thick bond. but I will miss these days filled with the little things – the daily trifles and confessions and questions – that have made us into friends.

now i sit by the window in the yellow kitchen mom always wanted. my morning, in its entirety, has been spent in this chair, in this room. it is home; the color, the light, the table worn-in (perhaps out) by meals, laughter, apologies, family. a few weeks ago i found a letter that i sent from Freetown in 2005. i easily recall what prompted it. i woke up early on a saturday; i think it was october. i had yet to open my eyes and was momentarily convinced that i was at my parents’ house. i wished for mom’s french toast in the yellow kitchen, and College Game Day with dad. then i opened my eyes and began what was to be a melancholic, aching sort of day.

it is a tormenting privilege, knowing places and people to long for.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

too tight!

last night i briefly told some friends about a trip that we took during my servant team. it was near the half-way point of our time in freetown, and we were traveling to tiwai island which is this really incredible locally-run wildlife sanctuary that is near themiddleofnowhere, sierra leone. i mentioned it in a post from june. anyway, tiwai itself was really amazing, but getting there was the real adventure. i know that this is just how they roll in most of the world, but i still laugh out loud that so many people can be crammed into a moving vehicle at one time... i'm guessing that the bus had seating for close to 30... and i'm guessing that there were at least 60 on board. most in our group were sitting on wooden boxes in the isle, sitting upright without anything to lean back on except a stranger's sharp knees, big backpacks on our laps, unpaved roads... best ab work-out ever! it was certainly miserable at times, but i will never ever forget when hillary and i decided to start counting the people in the front seat. i think that the driver had the only actual seat, but there was a fold-down bench too. okay, 9 (NINE!) people were in the front. and they were all having fun! someone was sitting on the dash like it was a bar stool. and of course, there were people standing on the steps, that makes sense. but there was actually a man sitting on the driver's left! i think we first counted 6 people, then we kept seeing more... there may have been some we didn't even see. but the next time i go to tiwai, i'm totally sitting/standing with those guys. it was like i had to sit for 8 hours in the most uncomfortable position imaginable, while i was watching a party in the front of the bus. torture.

so today i was thinking about one of my favorite days with the kids in kroo bay. leslie-the-genius decided that we could spend one of our tutoring days helping the kids make kites. it was really perfect because it obviously required some math and physics skills, but - seeing that leslie and i had no clue how to make a kite - it also gave the kids a chance to teach and learn from each other. it was a beautiful thing to watch, and it was great to see the kids interact with their neighbors and see everyone laugh and play and try to knock the other kites out of the sky. i tried to take pictures, but the kites were seriously so far up that my camera couldn't see them.

in closing, 3 things. first, how white do i look in that picture?!?! second, results of the election are still being calculated - no news. and third, the blog title is dedicated to the landreths who pioneered the WMF effort of piling into freetown public transport. and to brent who retells the story so well.

Friday, August 10, 2007

election day

for better info on this subject, check faye's blog. she's much more informed than i am, but i wanted to at least mention that tomorrow is election day in sierra leone. this will be the second election since the war ended, and the first without a UN peacekeeping force. this is a huge milestone for some of our friends on the other side of the atlantic! pray that it goes smoothly and honestly, and that the new president will respect and honor the people of sierra leone. this doesn't seem like much to ask, but obviously the world would operate differently if things were that simple. just remember west africa if you are the praying type.

i'm gonna steal something else from faye's blog (she's on a roll, folks). click here to see a BBC photo essay about Kroo Bay. these photos are pretty graphic in terms of sanitation issues and living conditions. some even caught me off guard, and i spent a lot of time in this neighborhood. the Bay is really a big 'why' when people ask what is drawing me back to freetown. some really precious and important people in my life live there, and i don't want the world to forget about them. so look at the photos, and be offended that anyone would have to live this way. and maybe, if you can, think of something creative we can do about it.

the lions and palm trees are the sierra leone coat of arms. "unity. freedom. justice" yes, please.

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

booked and confirmed

september 6 is the big day! after stops in new york and london, i will eventually hit the ground in freetown on the evening of september 7. i can't believe it's official... finally.

i spent all day working on the columbus-london part of my itinerary, and i am not exagerating when i say AAALLLLLLLL day. turns out that it is substantially less expensive to buy a round-trip ticket than it is to buy a one-way. now, i can't quite make sense of this in financial terms, but that's the way it is. which is pretty close to the explanation i recieved from a NOT helpful delta employee. "because that's the way the fares are set up." okay. thanks? and then she told me that i would owe them $200 if i bought a round trip and then cancelled the return portion. i found this fascinating because i will make it possible for them to sell the same seat to 2 people... later i called back and was able to talk to a helpful delta employee who explained that they will charge me $200 if i go to a ticketing counter and try to "cancel" the return once i am in london. however, if i just fail to show up for the return flight, which is referred to as "forfeiting", then i'm fine. take note of the language. delta charges $200 if you use the wrong word. but even if i do owe them $200 to NOT use the return flight, it will still be cheaper than buying a one-way ticket to london. aahhh, capitalism. it really does work FOR the people, doesn't it?

but after all that, i have a ticket. and i'm thrilled.

Monday, July 30, 2007

wetin yu de wan fo lan?

for those of you who have recently enjoyed a krio lesson or two from me, click here for some more fun with words.

calling card

the apoto in this photo is hillary, and she is one of the funniest people i know. we were on the same servant team in 2005, and i am honestly having a hard time imagining life in sierra leone without her. we had a good long talk last night in which i laughed hard enough that my brother came from the basement to the front porch to find out what was wrong with me. we were just finalizing some plans for our upcoming entertainment venture, The Bachelorette; West Africa. i'll spare you the details for now.

i got a call from my buddy kwame today. i can't believe that he'll be 12 (or maybe even 13?) when i see him again. so sad. i feel like i've missed so much! anyway, i was quite excited to hear his voice and then the connection cut out. of course. so i spent the following 2 hours buying a calling card online (which is much more complicated than it should be) and then trying to get through to noah's phone. i never did get through but managed to get in touch with faye who said she would tell the boys that i had been trying to call. i'll try again tomorrow.

the last few weeks have been full and fun. i took a road trip with my mom, grandma, aunt, cousin, and cousin's daughter to alabama to visit my grandma's sister and her kids and grandkids. it was a riot. my brother and i have taken to referring to said adventure as "mosley girls gone wild."

a few hours after arriving home from alabama, i hopped a plane to nebraska for the WMF retreat/conference. it was incredible. it felt a bit like going home. i think i always forget how amazing these people are, and i really feel like i'm a fraud or something that i get to be a part of them and call them my friends. like maybe someday they will find out that i've fooled them all and they'll kick me out. but they are such beautiful and gracious and thoughtful people... i have much to learn from every single one of them. it was a really fun and special time. i laughed, cried, prayed, felt, and sat in awe of God more than i have in a long time. i was also violently ill for a couple of days, but my wonderful roomie, jara, took good care of me and i recovered quickly. you don't want the details on those days. trust me.

after the retreat i spent a couple of days in omaha with the smyths, grays, leslie, and others. love them all. hate that they're so far away. spent a day at home, then drove to eastern ohio to see some old-school friends at hollow rock camp. i hadn't been there in a couple of years, and i kinda had some holiness movement culture shock, but i was surrounded by good people who understand and help me work through the funk when it is too much to laugh about. but mostly we just laugh about it.

now i'm back in circleville. working on the details. rabies vaccines. writing a will (!?!?!?!?!). watching the price of plane tickets rise. hoping to leave the first week in september. i'll let you know when the ticket has been purchased. love to all.

Tuesday, July 03, 2007


2 nights ago i woke up at 3:45 AM after a creepy dream. the house was really quiet, which i hate, and i couldn't seem to stabilize the creepy feeling. i finally got out of bed to turn on the TV just for some white noise so i could fall asleep again. the TV was on PBS (because i am a raging dork and i must watch 'as time goes by' every night before i go to sleep) and they were playing the documentary "Sierra Leone's Refugee All-Stars". it is about a group of sierra leonean refugees (obviously) who meet at a camp in guinea and form a band. it is truly a story of hope and peace, as these people find a way to rise above their context and surroundings to LOVE each other and CREATE something. beautiful!

i missed the first half hour, but stayed awake to watch the part where UNHCR flies the band members back to freetown from guinea to record an album. it was crazy to hear what they each had to say upon re-entry to their hometown. i have only seen the post-conflict version of freetown, so it was enlightening to watch the initial reactions from people who only knew the place before it blew up. grace, the female member of the band, expressed my favorite quote- "o, freetown" -said in the way that only a sierra leonean can say it, but i think anyone who heard her tone would have understood the mixed bag of emotions that those words contained. among many other things i heard a longing to be home, twinged with doubt that such a place any longer exhists. that angst must be one of the most difficult parts of life as a refugee.

i'm so SO excited about the upcoming move, but in all honesty, i'm feeling a little discouraged lately. sometimes in the midst of all the details - large and small - it feels like i may never get there. i'm sure it's good for me. i've never experienced such a lack of control over my own circumstances - or at least i've never been aware or concerned when i have... but i'm wound pretty tightly these days. :) just remember me. i'll try to loosen up in the meanwhile.

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

act justly, love mercy

the trial of Charles Taylor was scheduled to begin on Monday, but the defendant didn't show up! Taylor was the president of Liberia during the war in Sierra Leone, and he was a major source of funding for rebel groups in Sierra Leone. they had some complicated agreement involving diamonds and weapons. i don't fully understand, but Taylor is on trial for crimes against humanity at the U.N.-backed Special Court for Sierra Leone in The Hague. this is a very significant trial for Sierra Leone and for all of post-conflict Africa. Here is a great article from the Washington Post that says it a lot better than i can.

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

bats, bikes, & bo

this is a view from the balcony of the padgetts'/eichorns' old apartment in downtown freetown. the building at the far left is the old US embassy - when i was there they were in the process of building a bigger one outside of town - i don't know why. the big tree beyond the embassy is The Cotton Tree, a historic landmark at the center of town, which is said to have been growing there since the 1700s. it is huge and beautiful, but is home to an offensive number of bats... they are huge and gross. in this picture you can barely see in the sky little black flecks of evil in the form of bats. i hate them. yeah, they eat malaria-carrying mosquitos, but i have 3 words for you; vampires, rabies, guano. ummm, anxiety. i think i need to talk about something fun now. let me find another picture...

i love this picture. our team took a trip to a nature sanctuary called Tiwai Island, and the 12 hour journey required that we travel through Sierra Leone's second city, Bo. there were many things that made Bo a nice break from big crazy freetown, but my 2 favorite things were 24-hour electricity and 'honda taxis.' as i climbed on with my big back-pack and a tote full of food and cooking supplies i said out loud, "my mom would be so ticked about this." but then i forgot all about the dangers involved in this mode of public transportation because it was so fun and FUNNY. i was the last in a line of 6 bikes, each carrying an american girl with too much luggage. you should have seen the looks we got. hilarious. erin is the very excited one looking at the camera. hillary and sarah are in front of her, and i'm sure they were laughing just as hard as we were.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007


so we're having a garage sale this weekend. it should be a pretty big one, but i have a lot more to accomplish before we're even close to making it happen.

i've been digging through boxes for the last couple of days. i have managed to refrain from accumulating much in the 4 years since college, but this process is still trying. i am literally evaluating the necessity of every single thing that i own. is it going to africa? is it worth storing for X number years? if it doesn't meet one of these 2 criteria, i will no longer own it within a week.

it has been an emotional process as i come across mementos and memories, but it really is so freeing. i don't even like 'stuff'. it ties you down, and i certainly am not one to be tied down. at this point in my life i absolutely dread the thought of owning my own home, and i'm thrilled, thrilled, by the idea of not owning a car. (mine is for sale. anyone want it?)

i've come to believe that the purpose of things should be to simply enable us to carry out the indispensible movements and relationships of life. in an attempt to conserve our own time and individuality, we work so hard and acquire so much that we eventually lose the whole point... and we end up wasting some important things as a result; natural resources are one thing, but community and simplicity are even more detrimental sacrifices that we make.

so, we're having a garage sale, and i'll be glad to be rid of this stuff. but i remember that 'law of conservation of mass/matter' thing i learned in high school. matter can change form, but cannot be created or destroyed. and i'm strangely sad about that little bear figurine with the graduation cap and gown. it used to be something else, maybe even something useful, but someone decided to make it into 'stuff'. and while it won't be my stuff anymore, it will be someone else's. what a waste.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007


please excuse the constant changes to the face of this blog. i keep revisioning and revising, but the nagging perfectionist that lives in my head won't let me leave things alone. i promise i will stop soon. maybe not.


this is a typical saturday afternoon. 300 kids packed into the little church in kroo bay. the 'good news club' is always stressful and entirely exhausting, but SO MUCH FUN! my friend noah runs the club and my friends from the lighthouse program help lead singing and do a lot of the teaching. after the lesson they pass out boiled eggs and biscuits and then take care of minor first aid needs - or try and find help for people with more serious health issues. there are a lot of things i appreciate about freetown, but this little church is where it's at. when you come visit me you'll understand.

choitram market

this photo was taken at an indian-owned grocery near the 'kroo bay' part of town. you will hear me talk a lot about kroo bay because it is where some of my favorite people live, including these 3 rascals. they make up half of the 6 kids who i tutored in the afternoons. this grocery is one of only a few places where you can find soft-serve ice cream, and it is a bit of a luxury, so we only splurged on the very roughest of days.

aberdeen sunset

this is the view from the front veranda of the home i lived in. it is in an area of freetown called 'aberdeen.' the sunsets during the rain-season are incredible! the water you see is a warf that fills up during high tide. at low tide you can walk across it on dry sand, and it becomes a soccer field for the village on its bank. beyond the tree-line is the atlantic. you may notice that there are no lights on despite it being dusk. freetown operates power on a grid system, and our part of town didn't make it into the rotation very often. but who can complain with a view like this?

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

a de go bak!

just wanted to post a quick update. two weeks ago I was in omaha for an interview with word made flesh, and it is now official; I’M GOING BACK TO SIERRA LEONE! i signed a 3-year contract as servant team coordinator, which means that a big part of my job will be to lead teams like the one i participated on in 2005. the goal is to leave for freetown in august, but this will largely depend on how quickly i can raise financial support. i do know that it will cost at least $2000 just to get there, and i will have to raise that money plus 3 months salary before i can purchase my tickets, so that will all need to happen pretty quickly. feel free to ask about details in that area. i’ll post more when i know more.

now that blogger is more user-friendly and i’m all excited about returning to freetown, i figured it was about time to post some old pictures and attempt to give everyone some idea of what i’m getting into. i've been trying all evening to post some photos, but i'm having issues. maybe blogger isn't so user-friendly... i'll try to be more creative with my posts as i have time. thanks for checking in!

Saturday, March 24, 2007

spring again

well, it's been quite a while since i wrote anything on here. a lot has changed. i'm still in lexington, but i moved in with my friends rachel and melissa, and i work as a case manager at a foster care agency. things are pretty good. it's spring, and i don't think i have to tell you again how much i love spring.

a very big life-change is on the horizon, but it is not official. i'm hoping to move back to sierra leone in the near future. i will interview with WMF in a few weeks, and then we'll know more about the when and how. i'm EXTREMELY excited about this possibility, but just this week i started to feel sad too. i know, it's a little premature, but i do like to be emotionally prepared. :) i'm not really into the other kinds of preparation, so i figure it's a good thing to just go with it when it comes naturally.

if anyone still checks this thing, i will keep you posted on the aforementioned happenings. much love.