Sorry it's been a while since I posted- we were busy trying to get ready for school, which started today. The following post is a post I wrote over the span of Thursday and Friday. Sorry there are no pictures- I have a lot of laminated jungle animals, but not many photos to show off yet :-D. Enjoy reading about my latest life adventure.
Well, I’ve successfully survived my first brush with sickness in Africa! No, it wasn’t malaria, nor was it anything else that would be particular to Togo; I had a virus that gave me a splitting headache (constant. For two days. Including nights. Ugh), a cycling fever, and moderate fatigue for two days. Then, when I woke up the third morning with no headache and was celebrating, I had the beginnings of strep throat! Let me tell you, though, after the headache, strep was a welcome guest! I’m on antibiotics now (which, I feel I should mention, are incredibly easy to get here!), in the process of healing completely, just in time for school to start!
I feel like I should tell you about about the sickness saga. My headache started on Monday evening (after my glorious haircut!) and kept me awake for about three hours before I was conscious enough to go take some advil. That same headache continued through the whole of Tuesday with the same intensity, no matter how many pain relievers I took, with the exception of a few hours that evening during Kennell dinner/meet Lisa time. So, by 5am of Wednesday, after not sleeping for two nights and having this super intense headache for a day, I was a puddle of emotion! I got up to check my temperature because of how my body felt (you know, the achy, hot-chills, complete with tossing and turning and moaning?) and had a fever of 102˚. I decided to try to diagnose what I had by looking in Sarah’s intern book, and it said that a cycling fever, headache, and fatigue were all possible symptoms of malaria. The other girls woke up and I proceeded to cry and tell them my prediction. The next day, when Nicole got to the school, I hopped in the car and we went to the clinic where they pricked my finger to check for parasites (because that’s what malaria is caused by). That afternoon, after I had stayed in bed all day (mostly) because I couldn’t do anything with my headache, Nicole came in and told me it was just a virus. I told her that I almost wished I had malaria because then it could be treated and it would make a good story! She said “what difference does it make if you can’t put the label of “malaria” on it if this is how malaria feels?” So, basically, instead of getting malaria, I got something that healed faster than malaria would have- Someone is looking out for me.
We were supposed to start school on Friday, but a bridge went out somewhere between here and Accra, so the travelers are stuck somewhere that isn’t here. We’ve decided to postpone the first day of school until Saturday, when our beautiful kiddos will be ready to start with bright smiles and lots of energy! I have to say that I’m grateful for the delay; not being able to work for the past few days has taken its toll on my classroom that is still kind of threadbare. My curriculum is ready, but my classroom isn’t quite what I envisioned for Miss Jacque, fourth grade teacher extraordinaire. Hopefully this extra day will let me get on top of my very clean, but very boring room.
I like to look like I have it all together. I spend quite a bit of time attempting to actually have it all together, and I can say with confidence that I never do. I like to be independent, but these past few days I’ve realized I just can’t be. I need people- I have cried about not having my mom to nurse me while I was sick more than once in the past 60 hours. I miss the easy access of communication that comes with a simple phone line, because I miss so many people back home!!
Don’t get me wrong, I am so excited to be here, still. It’s just one of those things that comes with living life- missing people and places.
Tonight, Bethany asked Nicole if I could go with her for a little bit to use her internet. Because I lost two days of work in my classroom, I chose to stay here at the schoolhouse for the evening. After I voiced my decision, some concern was expressed about my emotional and psychological well-being, which was probably warranted. It’s common for someone who got sick really soon after arriving to soon-thereafter struggle with depression, as a part of culture shock. I was reminded about my incredibly fever-tinted first impressions (and second and third and fourth... it was a long two weeks!) of my beautiful Italia. When I tried to explain what I thought, I was quickly reminded, “This isn’t Italy!”
Of course, I know that. I mean, it would be difficult for me to not notice the differences. Togo is beautiful, full of adventure, cooking, power outages (which should also fall under the category of adventure!), and my new life of being a fourth grade teacher. Italy will always have a grasp on my heart, but Kara has already gotten a pretty good hold, too.
The point I definitely did not articulate well at all is that I think, for me at least, culture shock is more controlled by attitude than environment. I’m certainly not keeping the attitude I should, but I feel like blaming my bad habits on culture shock is a cop-out! I have failures, and I have so many things I would change about so many aspects of me, but those have been the same in lots of places so far in my life. I would be crying about missing Harding if I was in Missouri, New Zealand, or Kara, Togo, West Africa... and have. I would have moments of harsh comments coming out of my mouth, insecurities about my abilities to perform in my new role (whatever role that might be), and things to adapt to in my living space (although in Missouri, lizards aren’t quite as prominent by the washing machine!).
So, if you’re reading this, know I love and miss you. And please pray for my attitude. God’s love is enough to pull me through any trial I might encounter, but I need to make the decision to let Him lead me. Anyway, please don’t be worried about this post, I just needed to get some of my newly developed thoughts out to those I love who aren’t with me here. Keep me and the girls in your prayers as we start on our new journey.