Monday, August 22, 2016

...thinks about tea time.

Blessed are they who see beautiful things in humble places where other people see nothing.
-Camille Pissarro

There was a tea party outside the SOS village today. Do you remember tea parties as a young girl? Maybe you collected all of your animals around a table or bench. Maybe you had a tea set. Maybe you had crackers or water for pretending. Maybe you had a father who would take the time out of his today to extend his pinky finger and tell you "I've had the most wonderful time my dear". 

The tea party today lacked the maybes. In the thorny, red dust covered bush 7 young girls sat on a makeshift picnic blanket, made from old plastic bags, bottles, and cardboard. Wearing torn and tattered clothes these girls sat in a circle exchanging pleasantries and pretend life stories, laughing and carrying on for hours. No pretend crackers, no real water, absolutely no tea set or father.

I am a believer in God. I would call myself a Christian each day and a good one every once in a while. I recently listened to an Andy Stanley sermon in which he stated "if you live in America you are blessed. You are ahead already". Most every day here I believe that, but today I struggled with the blessing part. Being blessed, undeserving of such. I've become much more a believer in pure dumb luck since I've been here. My ability to have a voice and power as a woman, access to proper education, free speech, and even access to know "what is a Google". Mimi, Nomdumiso, Nophumelelo, Luyanda, and Samu. All intelligent, beautiful, selfless girls who deserve the same but lack all. They deserve such blessings, why is their luck so bad? 

I was told once by a very wise man that feeling guilty about your blessings will destroy your soul. "Never curse your blessing" I was advised. So today I cry for a tea party that deserves so much more glam and glory. Tomorrow, I guess I will try and do the best with my blessed self that I can. 

There seems to be a great deal of strife and negativity in America, we have tried to keep up. But for today, bask in your blessedness and say a quick thanks for your pure dumb luck. 

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

...has found the doldrums.

"Boredom is the feeling that everything is a waste of time; serenity, that nothing is." - Thomas Szasz

Well it's time to tackle perhaps the foremost aspect of Peace Corps service here in Swaziland. Something that catches up with every PCV sooner or later, and that is…BOREDOM. Grace and I wrapped up the library, chicken farming, and permagardening projects with a fantastic getaway to Italy with friends and family, and returned to a hectic couple of weeks of playground build trainings, but since then we have definitely hit a lull. We have several playground builds coming up in mid-September, but not a whole lot of very meaningful work in between now and then. So…we face a few weeks of unprecedented boredom.

Boredom is defined in one way as being “the state of being weary and restless through lack of interest.” In siSwati the word for boredom is situnge, but the root of that word ore accurately translates to loneliness. Grace and I are blessed that we don't have to deal with situnge like so many of our peers, but I'm quite convinced that boredom strikes everyone at some point. For us it results in endless games of cards, new workout routines and videos, TV shows both educational and fictional, books from all genres (there's a good reason the PC Kindle library boasts some 20,000 titles), and occasionally, when we’re at wits end, a nap. However, true to definition we eventually lose interest in these boredom remedies. Not because they don't do a sound job of killing time with various added benefits, but precisely because we know that's all they're doing…wasting time. We came to Swaziland to work towards the goals of our program and community, not to waste time. But alas, it is inevitable and it is everywhere. We get bored at all times of day while we wait for our planned events to come up, morning, afternoon, and night. We face boredom in the bus ranks when we wait for an hour for the khumbi and another hour to even start moving (we’re quite fortunate here as many volunteers can wait up to 3hrs total). We lose interest in our remedies and resort to delirious banter or contemplative silence. 

Swaziland has affected our personalities in more ways than we can count, and I think we both agree that for the most part it's been for the better. So, here’s to hoping in the next few weeks that we can shift from boredom to serenity.

P.S. - The very not boring photos for this post are from Emlembe, the highest peak in Swaziland and a part of the Drakensberg Mountain Range.