Sunday, August 30, 2009

2009 in photos - july

in july i took a road-trip to savannah, GA to see my friends rachel and bobby get married! i rode down with melissa and jason and we had a grand time listening to 80's music and some favorite disney tunes, and talking/crying/hoping about relationships and life as grown-ups. melissa is a marriage and family therapist, jason is a clinical counselor, and i am thinking about being an LCSW someday, so we all thoroughly enjoyed the freedom to be honest and the freedom to analyze each other. :)

but seriously, the ride down to GA was only the beginning of one of the most fun weeks i've had in a long time. we all stayed together in one huge house, and while savannah is a really cool and interesting city, i mostly enjoyed the time spent at the house entertaining each other with corn-hole, flip-cup, and evenings on the dock watching the boys try to catch some sort of seafood. my camera stopped working right before the wedding, so i have no photos of the actual event, but this one is a good summary of the week... beautiful friends, many reasons to celebrate (the wedding being highlight!), freedom to be ourselves, and a bag full of food.

i love my friends. i have the best friends all over the place. if you are my friend and you are reading this, no matter where you are and how i know you: i love you and i thank you. :)

Saturday, August 29, 2009

2009 in photos - june

this unflattering photo (thanks for the warning, mom) was taken in saint pete beach, FL during the weekend of my cousin brad's wedding. 9 of us flew down together which was a bit like a national lampoons short film (thank you tyler and best-supporting actress, grandma dottie), but we did all manage to make it there and back so we can laugh about all of the drama now.

one of the highlights of the summer was getting to spend so much time with my brothers. it is kinda awkward to get to know each other as adults since i've not really lived at home in so long... sometimes frustrating, but mostly fun. tyler and i are suprisingly alike (except i have a better sense of style), and one of the things we enjoy doing is forcing the myers-briggs test onto others - infp's can't help ourselves. actually, i don't really do it so much anymore, but tyler has recently fixated so i join in to support him and help him hone his skills. :) we had a really fun time trying to figure out nate, who refuses to be figured out... he's not a big fan of being boxed-in and labeled (typical isfp). except in his unflinching love of all things larry david - which is especially funny since he's kinda like kramer. i think that i could write a sit-com based on members of my family. i'll save that for another blog. someone remind me if i forget...

2009 in photos - may

did you know i make the rockin' world go round? at least that's what freddie mercury told me...

this picture was taken in montreux, switzerland which is on lake geneva. faye and i visited there one afternoon with some of our new friends from l'abri. i took a lot of amazing pictures that day with gorgeous mountain views behind bright spring flowers... but THIS is what we call random, so it made the blog.
apparently mr. mercury made montreux into his second home, and who can blame him!?! switzerland is easily the most picturesque place i have ever visited. i wouldn't say it is the most beautiful in the greater sense of the word -but it is impossible to take a picture that does not look like it belongs on a postcard. and montreux is like a wonderland - a wonderland that my wallet could only afford to spend one afternoon in. all the same, i would visit switzerland again in a heartbeat. highly recommended.

2009 in photos - april

in april i visited the WMF field in romania. all of the WMF sierra leone staff were supposed to go, but there was a visa issue for our sierra leoneans, and so they couldn't be with us. those of us who were able to go tried to represent the gang as best we could. it was a big dissapointment for everyone that things didn't work out as planned, but we did enjoy our time in romania. i laughed a lot while i was there.

this person helped! this is my new friend john koon. a fellow ohioan (from bexley, as you may have guessed from this classy display), he works with WMF in galati and hopes to move to moldova soon. i'm about to use a lot of names that you don't know, but try to follow me... the story behind this picture is that rachel borrowed this highlighting cap from anna. when rachel returned it, anna ended up carrying it around in her purse for a few days until she discovered it while we were all at dinner. naturally, she put it on her head. and naturally, we all laughed. next, anna's husband paul decided to wear the cap, and we laughed even harder. then, it got passed on to john, who really stole the show. i laughed until i cried. of course, the cap was passed on down the line to me, where the game died. i just couldn't follow that act.

2009 in photos - march (but not really)

apparently i didn't take any pictures in march... so here is a picture of my beautiful friend allison when she visited in december. we went to the beach by boat with some of my friends on christmas day, and we came back to the city as the sun was setting. very nice memory. having one of my best friends here for the holiday was the best gift ever! i will never forget it.

allison got married on august 1, and i couldn't be there, but i thought of her all day. funny enough, i was at dinner with some friends on her wedding day, and they asked about her and how she was doing. i looked at my the time on my phone and said "she's a married woman now. let the dream die." :) congrats allison. love you lots!

2009 in photos - february

quite a while back, chris started inviting the lighthouse peeps to the beach every saturday morning to play ultimate frisbee. it used to be football (soccer to the americans) but i think they were ruining the balls every other week, so that got kinda expensive after a while... anyway, at first the kids weren't so sure about the whole frisbee thing. but once they got the hang of it, they were addicted. so now they go every saturday unless it is pouring rain.

i don't play sports with the boys because they think of me like a sister, but our mom isn't around to tell them not to hurt me... get the point? they are what we might call "competitive" and also what we might call "much stronger than this wimpy white girl." anyway, i never used to go, but in february i started to. i just watch and enjoy being by the water and hanging out with the kids who aren't playing. this picture was taken one saturday, and i will not name the kid, but i will tell you that he is one of my favorite kids on the planet earth. with that said, many of you will know who this is. isn't he a heart-breaker!?!

2009 in photos - january

we had visitors from WMF romania in january, and they helped me celebrate my birthday! this photo was taken in a poda-poda on my last day as a 27-year-old. we were on our way to the best beach in the world (river number 2!!!) where we enjoyed pepper chicken a-la-florence and chocolate cake. :)

pictured left to right: poda-poda apprentice, cami's neck, chris, aunty sally, george, noah, david, faye's forehead, me. unpictured: erin, keyara, florence, lenuta, magda, fanel, and poda-poda driver.

staring blankly again...

i felt the urge to write something today, but now i'm staring at the screen again. hmmmm.

i guess i'll just tell you what has been going on since i returned to freetown. this is what i just wrote in my board report that was due this week (it can only be a maximum of 2 pages, so this is a pretty brief synopsis);

I returned to Freetown in mid-July after 3 months away from the field. We left for camp 4 days later and I spent the week dealing with the most intense culture-shock I’ve ever experienced. The following week we did a work-project with a church in Kroo Bay, and it was so fun that I wish we did it every year. And after that I had exactly 2 weeks to get my ducks in a row for the Servant Team who arrived on August 16. They are a great group and are adjusting very well. They have been very giving and very entertaining already.

so that's what has been going on for the last 6 weeks. busy busy.

i wish i had something interesting to say... this post was boring for even me. sorry. more soon!

Sunday, August 23, 2009

words and words and fish-balls

i promise you i go to this blog at least every 2 weeks, open a window for a new post, stare at it for a few minutes, and tell myself i'll write another time. i don't know what it is, but i just find myself without words. always without words. i still love writing, but there has been some sort of block on my brain for the last year... don't worry, there is still plenty going on up there ;-) i'm just not finding the words to let it all out. and when i do find words, i'm not usually willing to share them. i don't know...

i actually think that this is good in some ways. i kinda feel like i used to write for validation as much as for any other reason. i wanted to be affirmed for what i was doing, wanted people to know i was smart, wanted people to hear all of the important things i had to say. i don't feel that way about my words anymore. i really don't. i think i have lost my pretense in my old age. i don't care so much what people think about what i'm doing. i don't think i'm all that smart. and i don't think i have anything to say that is more important than what anyone else could say about life, love, God... we're all just doing the best we can in the place where we find ourselves. i guess the "place i find myself" might seem a bit more interesting or exotic than the mid-west, but after 2 years in freetown, it mostly just feels like the city where i live. the things that used to seem so foreign that i HAD TO write about them are no longer so shocking... i'm sure if i wrote them down they would get a laugh, but honestly, i don't even notice the chickens in church, or the watchman peeing off of my veranda in the mornings. i guess my indifference is as funny as the thing itself, huh?

i'm quickly approaching my 2nd anniversary with this crazy city. i can't believe it! time seems to have flown by, but i know that i am a much different person than i was when i arrived. this makes me happy and sad in the same moment. while i have grown up and matured in so many ways that i probably can't even name them all, i know that i have sacrificed a great deal of my idealism to this place. freetown isn't kind to dreamers. i do believe that this place could use a few more hopeful people to believe in its potential, but being one of those hopeful ones often feels like a willful plank-walk. you believe because want to, but you know - save a miracle - it isn't going to get you anywhere good.

like i said, a lot has changed in the last 2 years. maybe that is why i have had so much trouble with words. you kinda have to know what you think about something before you can tell anyone what you think. one of my very most favoritest books is "till we have faces" by c.s. lewis. the climax of the book comes to mind now;

When the time comes to you at which you will be forced at last to utter the speech which has lain at the center of your soul for years, which you have, all that time, idiot-like, been saying over and over, you'll not talk about joy of words. I saw well why the gods do not speak to us openly, nor let us answer. Till that word can be dug out of us, why should they hear the babble that we think we mean? How can they meet us face to face till we have faces?

i do hope to find ways to say what is going on. and i hope that writing it all down will help me remember the things that do make this season of my life so interesting and valuable. there is no time like the present, right?! i want to hold it with 2 hands, look it square in the eye, and find the lessons and laughs that wait for me here. thanks for continuing to check in on me. i'll try to come around this page more often ...

one short story, just for a laugh: my third servant team arrived last sunday and we've spent this week roaming the city and having lots and lots of orientation meetings. yesterday we made lunch at my house and one of the guys was asking about something that he ate the night before with his host family. he said that they had a variety of fried things - fish, chicken, plantains, dough balls - with a spicy sauce over it and it was all really good. i told him that meal is aptly named fry-fry and is one of my favorite meals here. (you know what i health nut i am...) he was unsure of something he ate and described that it had a meat-like texture but tasted like seafood. i asked him if it was shaped like a ball. he said yes. i told him it was probably a fish-ball. he looked suprised and said "really?! but those were some pretty big balls for a fish!"

he was serious. i still can't get over it.