Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Home Sweet Home

I've been home for exactly one week now, and I. Am. Loving. It. I started having some symptoms of malaria on Sunday night so tested myself and sure enough...I gets it again. However, even though I felt worse this time, it was much better because I had my doting mom to take care of me. :) Thinking about how much better malaria is in the US made me think about some of the other things that are just awesome about being home. So I made a list (not necessarily in list of importance)

1. My niece Anna. I got to meet her for the first time and let me tell you, she's awesome! Not once has she turned away from me in complete and utter terror (like my patients in Sierra Leone do.....every single day). Now that's a good feeling!

2. 24 hour electricity. I haven't reached for a flashlight one time in the middle of the night. Flip the switch and there's light. Awesome!

3. High. Speed. Internet. I think I'd take this one over the electricity actually. I can actually look at people's pictures on Facebook and online shopping is fun!

4. The ability to plug my cell phone or laptop in at any time during the day or night! Sometimes in Salone I feel that my schedule revolves around the 2 hours of electricity that we get each night because if you miss your window.....you could be in big trouble! How am I supposed to function without my cell phone? How am I supposed to call people to ask my million questions????

5. Good roads. This one might not actually be good for me, but I'm loving it anyway. The other day I was driving with someone and they commented that I was a "crazy driver." There's a chance that the driving techniques I've learned in Salone aren't really applicable here.....gotta watch that one.

6. My church. I went to church this Sunday and it was great!! Not only did I get to see people that I love and who have been so supportive in praying for me, but I knew the songs, understood the entire sermon and wasn't afraid I'd be called upon to sing and carry a banner for the winners of the offering. Loved it!

7. The food. So far the question I've been asked the most is "what was the first thing you ate??" Well, it was Subway...of course! But I've also really really really enjoyed Milk (that's not powdered)! And Cheese! And Beef! My mouth is watering just writing this!

8. My family. Of course I saved the best for last. The luxury of being able to talk to them anytime I want either face to face or on the phone is so awesome! No looking at the clock to see how many minutes I've talked or deciding if what I have to say is important enough to cost them the $.40 it will if I text them. I really like that! :)

All this being said, as awesome as it is to be home and around people I love and stuff that makes life easier, I miss Sierra Leone! And I'm so so thankful for that! My God is very very good!

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Driving Miss Daisy....

I’ve been here for about 10 months now, and in that time I’ve realized that in many ways, I’m an anomaly. First of all, I’m almost 30 and am not married and have no kids. That’s by far the biggest thing that sets me apart. There is also the fact that I’ve been told I’m “very loud and frisky.” Different. Another thing that I frequently get comments on is the fact that I whistle. I got comments on my whistling from my patients in America but here it’s an even bigger deal because only men here are supposed to whistle. Last week one of my friends told me he should beat me for my whistling because girls just don’t do that….it’s only for the men. Of course the rebellious part of me snapped my fingers and said (to myself) “Oh no you diiiidn’t just say that to me! I’ll whistle….and you’ll like it!” But after talking to a bunch of people I’ve come to understand that when a girl whistles, it means that she “has no training.” It’s rude. So to my chagrin, I’ve decided to try and cut out my whistling. Eeee noh easi o!

Another thing that makes me a bit of an oddity is the fact that I drive. I drive all over the country and people are always commenting about it. A couple months ago I had one of the nurses at the hospital ask me to teach her to drive. The next week I had another woman ask me. Then another. Ha! Well, I may have to give up my whistling, but teaching these women to drive will be a good substitute for my “girl power” that I’m giving up by my whistle cessation.

So last week we had our driving lesson. It ended up being two girls and the father of one of the girls. (When he found out I was going to teach his daughter to drive he begged me to teach him too.) All the roads in our town are dirt, so I was just going to teach them on one of the roads, but they suggested we go to an empty field. Boy am I glad I took their suggestion!

I underestimated how bad they were going to be. Since the lesson I’ve tried to remember learning to drive myself. Since I grew up on a mini-farm, I learned when I was pretty young. The day I got my learners permit I drove home from the DMV (which included some freeway time). I’m sure there was a learning curve but in my own hindsight, I of course, was perfect.

These new drivers….were not perfect. “Joseph” was first up. He has a motorcycle so he was definitely the best. After he the circles around the field, “Aminata” was up. Joseph got out of the car and refused to stay in while she was driving. He was too scared. Ha! Around and around we went. Although it was a big field, while we were there a soccer game started so we had to keep our circles pretty tight. There was a big cement block of some kind in the middle of our circle. Of course, for some reason there seemed to be a magnet that drew us to the cement block.
Joseph, standing on the infamous cement block, giving lots of advice, but refusing to ride with us :)
While Aminata was driving, we started heading straight towards the cement block. I didn’t really say anything, assuming she’d correct. You know what they say about assuming. As we got closer and closer I said “ok, slow down, turn to the right….” I’m pretty sure she meant to hit the brake but slammed on the gas. And we ran straight into the cement block. She was horrified. I started cracking up. Aminata, concentrating so hard.....right before we ran into the cement
If my car (Boris) was really nice, I probably would have been a little bummed, but one glance at the front of my car and I knew no one would even notice. I’m thanking God that no internal damage was done, but also thanking God for the great memory and the dirt that I can now hold over her head for years to come!! The good news is that by the end of the lesson, they were all doing much better and were becoming more confident. I’m sure (ok…maybe 70% sure) that our next lesson will not include any accidents!

On another note, today is November 1, which means that I’ll be home THIS MONTH!! Woo hoo!!