Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Some lessons learned

Before I left, many people parted some words of wisdom with me that have kept with me very well.  Though I appreciated and accepted each word with eagerness and open ears, none have resonated better or have made more sense to me than those shared by my dad:

“You will feel the loneliest you’ve ever felt and learn more about yourself and the world than you had ever truly anticipated.  But take it with a grain of salt, and live it to its fullest, ‘cuz it’s only going to happen once.  Once it’s over you’ll think, wow that went by fast”

You know, I’ve held a lot of animosity towards my dad for moving away when I was younger, and more recently for opting to move to the Middle East for a second time.  More and more, I’m discovering that in an ironic turn of events he has been one of the individuals in my life that has understood what this process feels like.  As a result, I’m discovering a sense of guilt about making him feel blameworthy for all these years.  It’s pretty funny what time spent alone does to you.  The network has been extremely unreliable lately which not only means I am not able to use my phone but my internet as well.  I find myself longing for things that I never even would have imagined and missing even the silliest moments.  Especially the silliest moments.

That’s not to say that I allow the loneliness interfere with my personal pursuit of happiness.  In fact, some of my most treasured times here in Gobojango have been spent sitting on the dirt around a fire with about 8 kids, learning Setswana, and looking up into the stars.  It’s gotten to the point now that after my aerobics class in the evenings, I don’t even come home right away, I walk straight to my neighbor’s house and plop down beside the fire.  I share supper with them, share laughs with them, and for a brief instant in my day, I don’t feel the need to try and make a good impression on anyone.  I let the three and five year old girls tangle my hair, while the 8-10 year old boys ask me questions about their English homework while the others cook and listen.  Last night’s conversation, for example, went a little something like this:

Me: “No Fred, beach is not spelled with an i, that would make it an entirely different word and change your story altogether.”

Kesa: “What would it mean if he did use an i?”

Me: “Trust me, he does NOT want to go visit the bitch…ouch, play gently Fatima”

Fred: “Fatima, Kitso’s hairs are not weeds, they need to stay in”

Fatima: “Her hair is like donkey hair”

Me: “Did she just say my hair is like donkey hair??”

JohnJohn: “Kitso, help me, I need to use spread in a sentence”

Me: “JohnJohn, I will help you but I’m not doing your homework for you.”

JohnJohn: “No, this is helping me, I’ll give you a word and you use it in a sentence.  Ready? The first word is spread.” 

It’s a good release to be around such kind-hearted, innocent people.  So even though there are intense feelings of loneliness that creep up on me unknowingly sometimes, I hold those moments close in my heart. 
This is a picture of myself that Kesa drew for me

This past week, Gobojango hosted a region-wide arts festival.  Youth groups from surrounding villages all came to our community hall on Thursday afternoon and competed in acting, choir, and dancing categories for the top spot to go to Bobonong and compete against others in the district.  I had so much fun, sitting on the floor and watching all of this occur.  I even got a special recognition in the welcoming speech.  Though it was all in Setswana and Sebirwa, I could pick up here and there what was being said throughout the presentations.  The dances from the Bobirwa tribe are so colorful and fun, I cannot wait to upload the videos that I took! For now, here are a couple pictures to hold you over…

So while the loneliness does show his wretched face here and there in my service so far, I’ve found solace in the time I share with friends and the projects I’ve helped get going. 

(Speaking of, Gobojango would be a geologist’s heaven since the ground is sprinkled with semi-precious stones of all colors.  I have begun collecting them with my friend Lorato and we’ve decided that we are going to start an art project of arranging them with different color soil found throughout our village in glass jars.  I’ll keep you posted how it’s going!)
Different colored rocks found on my walk to work

That’s it for now; hope you all enjoy the rest of your week!

Feel a hug from Africa!

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