Monday, May 23, 2016

my first month in Doro

I cannot believe I’ve been here a month. Not only has the last 4 weeks flown by but each day seems to as well. My days look something like this.

Get up around 7am.
Sweep my house.
Do any dishes left over from the night before that didn’t get done before bugs appeared.
Make breakfast.
Water my garden.
Eat breakfast.
Do my devotions.

And by 10am I’m usually tackling the other random things that fill my days.
Clothes washing (at least 2x a week).
Making food for lunch/dinner or baking.
Reviewing/writing down new words I want to learn.
Having made-up conversations in my head in Mabaan, which aids in more words I want to learn.
Going out and visiting! (A multiple hour experience)
1 day a week, Sabbath.

If I’ve gone out (which is usually 5-6 days a week) I try to be home by 6:30. This gives me time to warm up my dinner, eat, water my garden and shower before the bugs come. I’m usually crawling into bed somewhere between 8-9:30pm to spend some time responding to emails, updating Facebook, and catching up with family and friends via texting. Most nights I’m passed out from pure exhaustion by 10:30pm ready to give my mind and body a break before the sun rises and the busyness begins again.

In the midst of the days flying by, when I’m out visiting I catch myself often thinking, “God I can’t believe I get to do this.” As relationships continue to blossom and I connect with more and more Mabaan women in the area, I find myself wanting to be out, pushing my mind and mouth beyond what they think they can handle and stretch myself way out of my comfort zone. When I’m out I very rarely have the time to think through what I want to say before I say it. I think this has helped me so much in growing my vocabulary because I’m not keeping myself in this box of only trying to communicate what I want with the few words I know. I just start talking and then I pause and hope I can do the motion or say a similar word to get the one I’m looking for. So far this method has proved rather successful.

One of my favorite things at this point is the look on people’s faces when I tell them in Mabaan "I don’t hear Arabic but I hear a little Mabaan." I get this look of, “you are learning my language?!” These moments happen often as I run into new people and it has kept me sooooo encouraged!

I’m also finding the best language helpers to be those who speak no English. You would think it would be helpful to have someone who can understand a little but somehow my brain knows that person can understand English and it becomes so lazy! I catch myself saying, an English word followed by, “A gena te tuk Mabaan? - this is called what in Mabaan?” too much versus doing an action or pointing to something or talking about someone doing something all in Mabaan to try to get the word I want. Maybe the words don’t stick as much because my brain isn’t making as many connections but whatever it is, I love language learning with those who know no English. With that said, I love spending time with the young women and often they do speak a few words of English. But it is so limited that it really doesn’t hinder the learning process of Mabaan and they all seem so eager for me to learn.

A few of the women I’ve connected with. I hope to add pictures to all these names soon.

Umjima #2 J

All of these women, with the exception of one, live within a 5 minute walk from my compound. I am so blessed by these young women and their willingness to let me into their lives and culture. Each one contributes something uniquely special that who ever I go and visit with, I leave with a grin that is hard to hide and a heart feeling so loved!

Learning a mother tongue is definitely hard. Mabaan has a lot of sounds that are starting to seem more normal to hear, but I still find some hard to pronounce.
A few of my other struggles have been:
showing up and finding the women not home
the market which is only Arabic and I know none
trying to find a rhythm in a non-consistent place
stopping myself at night from wanting to keep studying
not feeling guilty when I don’t get out of the house until 3pm
the bugs
the lack of fruits and vegetables
the heat.

With all that said, it really has been a great first month here. I’ve gotten to do, be apart of, and learn so much! I take my struggles to the Lord each morning and He always gives me just enough grace to walk through whatever He plans each day. Can’t wait to see what He has in store in the coming days!

Saturday, May 14, 2016

food, field & a full day of language

I left my house around 8:45am this morning(Saturday). When I got to Helima's house she was already busy cooking. The asida (brown ugali) was already cooked and the giil"green soup/slim" was on the fire. I got the joy of cooking the famous fish stew.

They soak the fish for I don't know how long, and then use the broth as the base for the stew. She added dakwad(orange pasty stuff) mixed with what I understood to be oil made from kudra(their green leaves) and ground okra to make the soup. 

the almost finished fish soup (Left). I moved back because the smell was quite strong and was able to take this picture of her and her aunt finishing the cooking (Right)

Me, Helima and two young girls went inside the house and shared this. The brown lumps are the asida, the far bowl is the fish soup and the green stuff is the giil which is actually really good. (see pictures below for the eating process :D)

Once we finished eating, her and I headed out to the field. 

A few women overheard us conversing in Mabaan and I understood enough with the words I heard and their tone of voice to know they were shocked to hear me speaking their language. As we walked she told me what we were going to do, what we were seeing along the way, and I attempted to tell her a few stories myself. She is getting so good at filling in the blanks. When I need a word(usually an action verb) I stop my sentence and say a short scenerio sentence to try to figure it out. The hard part is these words don't stick because I don't get to write them down but we have a conversation and my tongue is getting practice saying funky sounds. One day I'll remember what all those words I learned today actually were! 

We got to the field, dropped that water jarican she has on her head with the older ladies, took a small bucket of water and walked a ways away and found a new shade. Another young girl, Umjima, came and joined us. 

The two of them had fun cracking open what tasted like a coconut inside, tho it looked much different on the outside. The water inside was so sweet and then I ate the white stuff she would peel for me. 

 It really shouldn’t have surprised me but it did when another young girl walked up with food in her hands. I felt like we had just eaten (and I kept going the first time way past the point of being full) and wasn’t quite sure where I was gunna put it. But it was all about the experience of eating out at the field, with the company of these three beautiful women that I just couldn’t say no to. While they chatted I got to take these pictures J

When we finished we went out and helped the boys plant. This seems so backwards to me! In Kenya only the women did the preparing, planting and harvesting. To see the women sitting eating and the men out digging and planting was just so amazing to me! We helped plant a little and then walked back home to make some coffee!

I’ll blog post again in a few days with the coffee making process.

There really are no words to describe the sweet time I had just sitting talking/listening with these beautiful people over several cups of sugar with coffee (I'm not kidding, can you see the sugar still at the base of the cup... and that's just after she stirred it!). I had so many moments throughout our time together where I though “I understood nothing of what they just said”. But it didn't take long for my mind to quickly turn to, “I’m getting to learn this!” to “oh I heard a word I know, there’s hope!”

I get to be here.
I get to learn this language.
I get to spend time with these women.
I am blessed.

Around 5 I told Helima I should head home because I wanted to shower. She told me wait, she will go shower and then we will go together. What I thought was her wanting to walk me home turned into more time together sitting at my house! I walked her back to my gate around 7:30pm. This last hour and a half or so with her was so sweet. I don’t even know all we talked about but we laughed a lot and it was never quiet. As I walked away from the gate telling her, “I’ll see you tomorrow in church” tears welled up in my eyes.

I get to be here.
I get to learn this language.
I get to spend time with these women.
I am blessed.

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