Tuesday, July 14, 2015

...requires a lot of walking.

"Of all the paths you take in life,
make sure a few of them are dirt."

Saturday, July 11th: It is important for everyone to know that we now are expected to cook for ourselves starting today per the Peace Corps policy of pre-service training. I think it’s a mix between taking a burden off of your host family to feed you and wondering if we will be capable of feeding our own selves. Or will it be a cornflake and peanut butter 2 year diet? So since we are decently confident in our cooking abilities we made a list and went to town to purchase groceries today. We can get almost anything we need. Some staple purchases were rice, soy sauce, honey, lemon cookies (they are amazing!), and herbs. And of course boxed wine. We intended to live, as best we can, off of our Peace Corps budget. We were very successful today, which pleased us greatly. After returning home and multiple household duties we made dinner. We took our stirfry vegetables and eggs over to the main house to sit and talk with our family while we ate. Sean and I struggled with the notion that without making dinner together we would lose a great amount of time with our family. After a long conversation it was easy to see that our family was worried as well. We will bring our dinner to their dinner every night. It earned many smiles knowing that we would still dine together. Dinning together tonight was fun. A 5 year old granddaughter is here for the night named Blessing. She spent a large amount of her time sitting in my lap while “petting” Sean's arm. What really amazed her was when Sean showed her his leg. We are foreigners for sure, accepted graciously into a very loving and fun family.

Sunday July 12th: Today was a very productive day. We got to sleep in a bit this morning before church, so we woke up at 9am as opposed to the usual 6am. The priority for the pre-church part of our day was laundry. The past week our impompi (water tap) has been on the fritz due to a blown out valve somewhere between us and the reservoir. Babe doesn't seem to concerned so I guess that means that if we have to walk to the reservoir and fill up our 25 liter jugs then it isn't something they haven't done before. Anyways, we could no longer push off laundry so we set out to use some of our own water to get it done. We separated laundry into important and unimportant piles and all we ended up accomplishing was our important pile but hey, all we really needed was the important pile so job well done. We finished laundry around 10:15 and we had burned our trash in that time as well (I know I know sorry ozone layer but I have no other options here!). After a quick peanut butter sandwich we headed off to church at 11am. I really like our church. Sure somethings are very different from how we would worship or pray in the state, but what's really fascinating to me is that we don't have to understand siSwati to know that when the people sing here, or when they pray, they are worshipping and praising God at a level which is rarely seen in the states. It feels like that every Sunday and Grace and I are really starting to feel at home in the church. After church was out we met up with a small group of other trainees and headed off to hike to the summit of a rocky hill that's really close to our homestead. It was great to get out and move a little bit and we’re very fortunate to be near to other trainees who feel the same way we do about getting outside and seeing the world around us. The view from the top was amazing and I'll post some pictures but the sun wasn't really cooperating as it sets behind the large mountain range we were so in awe of across the valley. We returned home after a couple hours and saw our church family and host family out prepping the field across from our house for their new temporary church building where they will hold services until the main church can be built in the same field. The Shabangu family actually donated all the land to build the church to Revival Life Ministries which is a very generous gift. We ran home to grab the delicious no-bake cookies Grace made so that we could return and share them with the people helping to clear the land in preparation. No surprise the cookies were a big hit and we spent sometime getting to know the pastor before returning to our homestead and calling it a night. All in all today was a productive and happy day, but it's hard not to have happy days when you spend your time with Swazi’s.
Monday, July 13th: So I wish I had something important to report to you on this day. However it was a pretty mild day in terms of activities. We had language of course, specifically words you would use to purchase things from a store or market. Next we talked for 5 hours about water. There is lots to talk about regarding access, availability, and sanitation of water. I could go into much detail or describe some of the pictures of water borne/water based diseases. But I won't. We visited a community garden after class and did not find much that we needed. We then trekked to another volunteers house to purchase tomatoes that Sean used tonight to make us a delicious meal of rice and beans. Our conversation at dinner tonight was based around two Swazi words, buka and bhuka. You need to know these words mean two totally different things, but supposedly sound different in the natural tones of the Swazi language. They sound exactly the same to us. Sean repeated pronunciation of the words were meet with abundant laughs. Sometimes all you can do is try. Oh yea, I almost forgot, Nan’s one step pound cake was a definite hit tonight. Thanks for emailing me that recipe!

Tuesday July 14: Namuhla kuyabandza kakhulu! It's the first time I've worn a hoodie for the majority of the day, so yes I think that qualifies the statement above: today it is very cold. It's a good thing though because Swazi's think its hilarious that we know enough siSwati to say today it's very cold. Then again it's not hard to make a Swazi laugh. They're a very laid back, fun-loving people. Anyways despite the cold we walked to a “market” today during our 5 hour language lesson. I put “market” in quotations because in reality what we stumbled upon was a large homestead with a commercial freezer acting as a root cellar for pallet quantities of potatoes, onions, carrots, beets, and butternut squash. Grace and I bought a small bag of onions, 2 butternuts, and around 15 potatoes for 20 emalangeni or 2 dollars. Not a bad trip! We returned with our spoils to our house where we stored them away before walking down to the Nazarene church for our technical training session on HIV/AIDS. It was just an introductory but it is quite clear that it's an issue that all of Swaziland wants to see resolved. After the session we returned home, joined by a group of 5 children who enjoyed playing with us and practicing their English. We cooked spaghetti tonight by making our own marinara sauce with the tomatoes we bought yesterday, and I must say I really enjoy cooking every night because we are forced to be creative and cook organically which has been a great experience. Tomorrow is huevos rancheros night with our leftover sauce and possibly the addition of some of the hottest peppers I've ever had which we acquired from a fellow trainees homestead. Everyday brings something new though, and I already can't wait for tomorrow.

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