in photos: may and june 2009

may and june in the village were AMAZING!!!!!! i was back in my own house after having to move because i was sick. PLUS my parents and grandparents came for a visit!

below is a video that my mom took when we were visiting binashy, the best old lady in the entire village! i used to hang out with her and her old lady friends. they had their own group and i would go for their meetings. which was just them gossiping, me trying to understand the fast tonga that they were speaking and me telling them how to bake cupcakes. even from this short video, you’ll discover how amazing binashy is!

when the family arrived, we rented a camping truck so we could drive to my village and we would all have a place to stay! and right after we picked up the truck, we saw elephants! i had never seen elephants in my entire time in zambia – so the trip was out to a good start for sure! they were just on the side of the road! we were just driving into livingstone to go eat dinner! honestly, it was mesmerizing to see elephants like i would see deer in south dakota.
they were just on the side of the road! we were just driving into livingstone to go eat dinner! honestly, it was mesmerizing to see elephants like i would see deer in south dakota.
this is my all time favorite picture of jeannie. my mom took this one.
and then i took this one because it sums up my family’s visit in one great photo. my host family staring at my bio family to see if they might act different or interesting or do something funny.
zambia has a cold season! for a few weeks, tops. but staying warmed up in the house in the evenings was a necessity. maybe not the safest way to keep warm, but i managed to stay alive.
cooking inside! safety first, i moved my brazier off the plastic mat.
i remember one of the older girls coming over for help with math homework. which turned into everyone coming over to do their homework.

a journal entry: 11-13 april 2009

easter is almost here, and you’ll wanna stick around for the hilarious cultural fun we had in the village! a lot of things happen in these journal entries, and a few require a bit of background that i haven’t written about before.

i got ringworm! me, kim and brittany went to the mission in kalomo, stay overnight, drink good coffee and volunteer in the orphanage. and i suspect one of the very cute kids there gave me ringworm. i can’t be 100% certain, but i’m 98% sure that’s where it came from.

during my time as a peace corps volunteer, i became good penpals with josh’s mom, mrs. patty vetter. we all call her mrs. pv. and the amazingness of mrs. pv really shines in these journal entries!

and while i know that it isn’t 11-13 april, i wanted to share these journal entries with you since it is easter this weekend!

11 april 2009

back in the village! regina took me back on thursday morning. my house was finished! well, most of the way. still waiting on one window, but the cement is done and i put up plastic yesterday. been painting a bit. i painted one wall in my bedroom, but i’m gonna run out so i just stuck to the one. maybe i’ll lime the others. i’m not sure if that would work or not. i want it to look nice for the family since they are the ones getting the house, not another volunteer.

my chalkboard project is also coming along. i’m gonna paint the black today i think. i hope i have enough paint. i only bough a liter. it was expensive. and i’m still trying to save money. i really need to try and start a budget. one that doesn’t include 8 million trips to livingstone. anyway, i digress.

my house is looking nice. and as it turns out, they did knock down a whole wall when they were putting in the windows. but they managed to put it all back together. so i was right! i knew that my house would fall apart!!! (i was just expecting to come back to a pile of rubble.)

the kids killed a small snake in my cikuta [kitchen] this morning. it’s getting to be that time of year again. cold season is here and the snakes are trying to warm up. as long as they aren’t in MY house, i’ll be ok.

i gave sitemba ringworm on his head. but luckily, they found the cream and his seems to be going away a lot faster than mine. but then again, i’m not really all that good about putting on the cream ALL the time.

easter

tomorrow i’ve having an easter egg hunt with the kids. i boiled 45 eggs with jacqueline yesterday. today, we are coloring them. tomorrow we will try to have an easter egg hunt. we’ll see how it goes. they all thought it was hilarious when i explained it to them!

saw a kid flying a kite made out of a plastic bag the other day on the way back to the village. just a few days after i talked to mom about it. i had never seen it here before, she was asking if i want her to bring kites, i laughed at her. then 3 days later, i see kids flying kites. crazy!

mrs. pv

i don’t think i talked about this yet, but mrs pv sent me a box! well, for me, kim, kapree and deb! it was packed full with food, candy, lotion, chapstick and the easter egg coloring kit (which gave me the idea to bring an american easter to my village). she is WAY too sweet. and like i told josh, she just wanted a daughter! so all of us girls decided we would gladly be her honorary peace corps daughters.

she also sent funfetti cupcakes with the frosting, sprinkles and even the paper cupcake holders!! i made them right away and we had them when we were all at the house for a meeting. i saved a bunch for josh and chris [josh’s brother] to have when i went down to livingstone the next day. unfortunately, the frosting melted ALL over the place, including my book bag. but they still tasted the same. needless to say, mrs pv is the nicest lady that i have ever become pen pals with!

13 april 2009

the easter egg hunt was really fun! i made the kids all stay in my house while me and jacqueline hid the eggs. i decided it was best to hide only ONE egg per kid, so we hid the eggs that they decorated like people the day before.

the kids were all so excited when they ran out of my house to go and hut. they all started running around like crazy people. sonia found the first one, then they all seemed to get the idea and they all found one at about the same time! except patricia, winnie and jeannie. so i helped them all find one.

i took pictures too. and because this was a typical american easter, joy was screaming and crying in ALL of the pictures!

then we all ate eggs. who knew 39,000 kwacha worth of eggs and a coloring kit from america could give such a good time! and since eric is home from school break, i got a family picture of everyone!

snakes

later that day, winnie came and told me, in tonga, that there was a snake at her house. it was in the roof! creepy! i watched them try and knock it out with rocks. then i got on my bike to go up to the mission and i came across a snake in the path eating a frog. or trying to. it was kinda funny to watch since the frog was trying to jump around to get away.

i drank a coke at ms kamuti’s shop and was bothered by some drunk guy. but ms betty [who works at the shop] told him to leave (which is something you don’t see everyday!).

biking home the long way, i stopped at david’s place and chated with him for a while. they (all the kids adopted by ms peyton [the woman who founded the school]) are having a memorial service for her at the end of the month. apparently, kaonde, the first president of zambia, is coming. and even the us ambassador to zambia. it’s going to be way bigger than i thought, so i should really try and get there!

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it’s september

the days are getting shorter. it’s dark at 8pm. the leaves are starting to change color. everyone is settled back into their school routines. my tomatoes are finally ready. pumpkin spice is everywhere!

and i still have no idea what i’m doing with my life. for some reason i thought that i would have something exciting to look forward to in september. it doesn’t really look like it’s working out that way.

i do know that i’m going to kenya in november to have a reunion with my peace corps friends! i’m really excited about this, and can’t wait to get on that plane!

but until then? just trying to hustle flight money, keeping positive, eating healthy and hanging out with the neighborhood kids. yesterday, they left me a nature art installation on the front step. most wouldn’t appreciate this, but i super loved and appreciated their creativity! they built it themselves and even found a cicada shell to put on top!

i’ll be working on getting my blog consistent, thorough and in depth. i’m going to be posting on my tuesdays and fridays (which might not always be those days for you, depending on where you live in the world!). i hope that you like what i’m learning, reading, reflecting and writing about. feel free to leave comments or even suggestions on what you would like to read about. you can comment here or send me an email! you can even stay up to date by signing up to my email list and getting exclusive content twice a month!

have a great start to september and happy reading!

Bye Mutinta!

One of my favorite things in the world has convinced me to stay in Zambia.

I went home for the first 2 weeks of July. It was a great (and really fast) 2 weeks as I got to see a few friends and family I hadn’t seen in the year and five months that I had been gone. But as my holiday began to wind down, I started to have second thoughts about going back to Zam-land. I mean America is amazing. I forgot that the “real world” still existed out there. Hot water that comes out of a pipe and never runs out. Take out and delivery. Tivo. Coffee makers. Driving a car. Mexican food and margaritas. Washing machines and dish washers. An entire AISLE of cereal choices. (And skim milk to go with it!) No one harassing you while you walk down the street. I could go on for days but I think you get the point. It was going so well and I was enjoying it all so much that I didn’t want to go back. On the morning of my last full day in America-land, my Auntie Roxie called me. She asked if I was ready to go back, I’m sure assuming I would respond with a very enthusiastic “YES!” Instead she received this as an answer, “eeeggh, no.” “Well, you could just stay,” she replied. “Yeah but all my stuff is in Africa and I don’t wanna make anyone else pack it all up and send back to me,” which was the only thing making me think that I should entertain the idea of going back. Needless to say, the pros were really outweighing the cons and I didn’t want to go back.

Then fate stepped in.

I went to the hospital to say goodbye to my grandpa. I was wearing shorts, a tank top, and my traditional Tanzanian scarf that I got on my vacation to Zanzibar in February. (And who knew that after all these years of making and wearing scarves that it would suddenly become very fashionable!) I got on the elevator to go up to the oncology floor at the top of the hospital. The elevator stopped. Some boys got off and this tiny little African lady got on. Now, you are probably asking yourself, ‘Christa, how on earth did you know that she was African?’ Easy. 2 ways. One. The facial features. Not all Africans look alike. (Although I usually look the same as any other white person to them.) I can also guess a person’s tribe and tell time by the sun. (I’m accurate within a 10 minute window.) Two. She was dressed very conservatively. Long sleeve button up shirt and a neatly pressed long skirt. But the kicker was the head wrap she was wearing. She immediately looked at me and asked where I got my scarf. I told her and she started speaking Swahili to me! I apologized and explained that I don’t speak Swahili but I live in Zambia. Then she greeted me in Nyanja, one of the 7 major languages in Zambia. I couldn’t believe it! We then continued a brief conversation about why I lived there as she held the elevator since we had reached her floor. The elevator started to beep since apparently we were holding it past the designated limit. She wished me luck, the elevator doors closed and she was gone. I started laughing. (Don’t worry, I was the only one in the elevator at this point!) I couldn’t believe it. And just like that, I knew that I should go back to Zambia.

I got on the plane back to Africa. Even though I got my sign that I should go back, I was still a bit unsure. I mean it is America after all! I got on the plane in Sioux Falls at 10am Wednesday morning and walked into the Choma house in Zambia on Friday at 4pm. Yeah. It’s a helluva journey. But I was back.

I hid at the house in Choma for a week. I just wanted to pretend like I was still in America. Then I finally just forced myself to get on the truck and go back to the village. I still wasn’t sure if I wanted to stay in Zambia but I knew that I should go back to the village first before I made any decision.

I went back in time for the weekend so I just sat around my house and read. Then Monday rolled around and it was WAY too cold to go to school so I sat around my fire all day, drank coffee, and read some more. Tuesday was much better so I decided to head up to school and see what was going on. It was the same old, same old. But it was good to chat with everyone. I had lunch with BaEliza, a teacher at school and a good friend in the village. After that, I headed over to the clinic with Mrs. Banda, one of the nurses. I hung out there for the rest of the afternoon and helped enter patient information into the clinic register. It was the end of the day and I headed back home.

It is at this point in the story that I should stop and fill you in on a bit of information. My favorite thing about being here in Zambia is the kids. All1,100 kids at school know who I am. And it isn’t just because I’m the only white girl living in the village. I’m always greeting the kids no matter where I am or what I’m doing. And don’t even get me started on the kids in my family! They are the reason I’m never lonely or bored. They are all at my house the minute my front door opens (I’ve trained them not to wake me up!) until we go to dinner at night. I like the noise and chaos they bring. Plus they are the reason I know any Chitonga at all!

Back to the story. I was biking home from the clinic and as I came around the bend, there were 2 little girls on the path. I greeted them as I biked past and then I heard the pitter patter of their bare feet as they started running behind me. I slowed down and encouraged them to keep running. Then as we reached the next path, the oldest of the two yelled “Bye Mutinta!” and off they went on their path as I continued home.

I can’t even explain how much those 2 small words made my day, my week, and made up my mind. I knew right then that I couldn’t leave Zambia early. I want and need to spend as much time as I can with the kids at school and the kids in my family. I love them way too much to leave just because I want the convenience of life in America.

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