Wednesday, February 04, 2009

The Most Awesome Non-Birthday EVER!!!!

So this year for my birthday... my most amazing teammate (pictured above with, yes, a boa on her head-- apparently the zoo lives across from the Rachels...) put together a SWEET birthday-non-birthday celebration for me (it wasn't actually my birthday yet). And here's a little of what went on...

First, my supervisor and one of the other girls took me golfing at what might be the best golf course in all of West Africa, located right here in our very own capital city. I got to wear PANTS in PUBLIC!!!! It was great. And I have missed getting to golf.
I have golfed many times in my life, but never, ever have I had a caddie. So, here in Africa, I experienced my first golfing with a caddie. He even knew the game and was giving me tips and correcting my swing in Bambara. We had a great time just getting away from work for a little bit.

THEN... all the girls showed up at the hotel/golf course and through me a surprize birthday party. Ballons. Cake. Possibly the best pizza I've eaten in Africa. and for my presents? a Dr. Pepper (NOT easy to come by over here). a CD of my favorite African rapper. and the Amazing Book of Spam. (me and Reaiah have totally embraced this marvel of modern cuisine as an acceptable addition to our meal options here and it totally grosses our boss out, so she mocks us frequently over it-- however, what she doesn't know is that the makers of Spam are quite witty and leave all sorts of little quips written on thier product. And now I have a whole book full of their incredible humor!)

Some of my friends getting their first glimpse into the awesomeness that is Spam. And loving it.

But that night they beat it all with this! I must explain. First, me and Reaiah have been talking about wanting one of these shirts since we got to Africa and started seeing them around advertising the local cell company. Second, I should tell you that a few months ago, after listening to our supervisor talk about how much she loved these certain signs in the market that advertised for the places selling fresh fish (I won't explain her attraction to it, just know that it was.), a few of us decided we would try to buy it from the shop that owned it. They tell us everything is for sale in Africa, so we thought we would test it. It took some work, but sure enough, the second guy we talked to let us buy the sign for his fish business. Since that day we have debated amongst ourselves if we could convince someone on the street to sell us something off of their person. A t-shirt from our hometown or alma mater. A pair of shades, whatever. Until finally, that theory was also tested. On the day we celebrated my birthday the girls passed a kid selling phone cards on the street wearing none other than the black 'Orange' shirt we had been coveting for two years now. Once he figured out they wanted the shirt and not the cards he was selling, he pulled it off and handed it over. They washed it before presenting it to me that night, but I didn't care anyways, because I think this might be the coolest thing anyone has ever given to me. And I realize that that probably makes no sense to most of you reading this.

Camping retreat with the girls outside of our village. Yeah, I said camping.

Natural bridge. Cool view over the town. Stinkin hard to get up there. But we did it. And it was AWESOME.
Told you we were camping out there. My favorite spot, near the waterfall. It was pretty chilly, but we had enough blankets to keep warm and some sweet hot chocolate off the fire.

You can't see him, but I'm holding our friend Curious George. He has had many adventures with us in the last year and we didn't want him to miss out on the camping trip.

Once again enjoying the sweet waterhole. diving from the rocks in to the FREEZING water.

Some photos of Christmas in our town

Our friends Jenny and Nantene (from Andrew's village) helping cook the Christmas lunch
Pastor Samiel, his little one Asa, boys Solo and Abel, girls Masara and Miriama. In front, his wife Ruti and sister Jane.

Our family of believers: Front left- Andrew, OldWoman, Pastor, his wife Ruti and their girls.
Top left- visitor from another town, Rachel P, 'Mighty Mouse', Jane, another visitor, Reaiah, me, Rachel C
Rachels were staying with us for the week and a few of our normal believers were not there for the photo.
I have my hair braided. With extentions. It does not feel good and I am thankful that this not required of me to inflict on myself on a more regular basis. But I'm not really angry in this picture. or bitter. I promise.

All of us girls, along with Pastor's wife, Ruti, had matching outfits made, had our hair done in the same style, and dyed our feet with henna. This is what happens after the first application. It requires two, which means two nights of sleeping with your feet caked in mud, wrapped in plastic sacks. Then you put on some really strong smelling stuff that turns it black. They love it here. 'It's pretty.' I just think its amusing. And way more trouble than I have ever gone to to get dressed up for any other event in my life. I mean, what else says "Merry Christmas" than big clothes, fancy hair and black feet, right?

Deep in the Jungles of Southern Guinea...

Now THIS is what I thought Africa should look like. Great isn't it! No lions, though. As far as I know.

So on our trip to help the new girls get set up we were also fortunately and blessed to be able to travel WAY out into NOWHERE (even more nowhere than Timbuktu, ok!) and meet some amazing followers of Jesus tucked quietly away in the hills of Guinea. We prayed for one another and shared with each other a song in our languages of praise to God. This is one of the views along the road. Gorgeous mountains they have there... After randomly stopping in the village where we found the believers, they were so excited and honored by our visit that they proceeded to load up our truck with gifts. Because we couldn't stay and eat dinner with them (it was getting dark and had to find our way home), which is the African way, they sent us off with a small thing of rice, some bananas and oranges, plantains, and, oh yes, a live chicken. Your complete meal, on wheels, my friends. We were so humbled by their gifts and unable to politely refuse that I almost cried. Our poor little feathered friend had to ride a REALLY long way on a bad road cramped in the back of the SUV with two of us.

So they have monkeys there in Guinea. We don't have monkeys. So, we, of course, had to go looking for them one day. It was a mean hike, but we found some with the help of the local guide. Wore us out, but it was totally worth it. They really DO do the crazy screaming thing when they get excited. It will scare the mess out of you too.

Here's one of our little guys. He's not really little at all, but way the heck up there. We felt we had a special bond with the poor things as so much of our lives are now spent with a crowd of odd onlookers just watching us sit there, or eat, or swing through the trees... They even showed off for us and peed from way up there, almost hitting us who were watching from below. Could've been their way of saying 'buzz off already...' but who knows. They are monkeys. I can't read their minds.

Our escapade into Guinea (neighboring country)!

Helping the newbies get settled into their new house and showing off some mad water-carrying skills.
In Africa we often feel like we are on display for the locals to stare at 24/7. Sitting inside their house we are mocking ourselves by pretending to be 'American barbies' inside our little doll house as the neighborhood kids stare at us through the open windows.

This, my friends, is a beesh. Have YOU ever heard of a beesh?!?! Ya, I thought not. Well, we had a wild one wander up to us at the place we stayed the night. He was friendly and let us pet him.

Hey look pictures!!! Been a while, eh?

Reaiah and Pastor's youngest daughter Asa. She's a mess. But really cute.
Me and the Guinea girls on a recent trip out to our waterfalls on the other side of our mountains. Water was REAL cold (it's winter here...) but I couldn't resist getting in. Once you numbed to it, it really wasn't that bad.

Reaiah sitting on a cliff overlooking our little waterfall and swimming hole. I love this place. Wish it was closer and easier to get to.

This was our 'day off' when we had the new girls all out for their village orientation. After a few days in the village for the first time, who couldn't use a nice afternoon chilling by the isolated and quiet falls.