Tuesday, January 26, 2010

The Market

I have so many things to write about that are going to take some time. In the meantime, here is a new post to make you smile.

This conversation actually happened today when I was at the market.

Random Woman: "Blah blah blah, french french french, blah blah blah."

Me: "Je ne comprend pas Français, desolée" (I don't understand French, sorry)

Random Woman (we'll call her Marie): "Oh, Anglais?"

Me: "Oui."

Marie: "Is your pagne for you or for me?"

Me: "Well, it's for me."

Marie: "Why isn't it for me?"

Me: "Mainly because I don't know you."

Marie: "I want to be your friend."

Me: "Ok, we can be friends, but I'm still going to keep my pagne."

Marie walks off.

I love going to the market.

Saturday, January 16, 2010


This summer, I started to defend my apparent over-use of the word “love.” I bought a journal for the year with “Love... Of course” written on the cover, bought my first pagne that the lady told me stood for “love” (and April told me that was probably the only word in English she knew, but it felt like a sign!), and started noticing every use of the word “love” in the Biblical passages I read.

There are times when I use “love” where “thoroughly enjoy” or “extremely like” would be more appropriate. But when I use “love” to talk about how I feel about someone, I don’t feel that it is misused. I’ve been told that both the frequency of times I say it and the number of people I say it to “cheapen” the word when it leaves my mouth. Even just now, Sarah came in laughing because she keeps finding “I love you, Miss Sarah” in random places in her classroom. I have to say, though, my use of the word has greatly decreased in the past four months- I think part of my inspiration for usage was environment/company dependent.

As I think about this particular character trait of mine, I keep wondering where it came from. My parents told me they loved me growing up, but it’s not like other people’s parents didn’t- and I don’t think I “loved” everything as a child any more than every other little drama queen in the world. No, there was nothing special about my childhood that made me use the word “love” so much.

So where does it come from? Well, I love when people tell me that I mean something special to them. I think everyone does- there’s something life-changing about knowing you make someone’s day by smiling at them or calling them or even thinking about them (and letting them know, of course, because otherwise this wouldn’t be common knowledge). My heart smiles when I get a text message, when my phone rings, or when I get mail (that is actually from someone, of course). **Side Note: This summer, I got a piece of mail congratulating me on my recent marriage. It was from an insurance company asking “what better way to start a life together than to blah blah blah.” I kept it, brought it to Togo, and still get great joy when I think about it. This particular piece of mail doesn’t prove my “someone special” thing at all. End side note** There’s a psychological principle that says we project our feelings/thoughts/lots of other things onto others. Well, since I like hearing “I love you” from people who do, I figure other people like hearing it, too.

Another reason I can think of is that somewhere in my subconscious (and also often my conscious thought) I’m desperately afraid of something happening to either myself or someone I care about without them knowing how I feel about them. When I was a crazy-emotional teenager, I used to leave the house to walk to the bus-stop after fighting with my mother. I would get to the bus-stop, go to school, and have a horrible day. As I got older, I would start the trek angry, get halfway to the stop and run back home, sobbing, to tell my mother that I loved her and I didn’t mean it. Those mornings, she would either have to drive me to the bus-stop or drive me to school for me to get there. She would hug me and we would make up, then my day wouldn’t be ruined.

In Eighth grade, the boy that sat next to me in English class, BJ, was in a car accident over Christmas break and he and his brother were killed. BJ and I never really got along, but his death made me seriously consider the last words I said to someone. The interesting thing is that the last thing I said to BJ wasn’t something awful, but I know it wasn’t necessarily nice, either. 

This last summer, a good family friend passed away in her sleep after church. It was completely unexpected and very hard to deal with. She was a beautiful, godly woman who had an amazing family, an amazing spirit, and a serving heart. Earlier in the summer, a friend I had visited in hospice before I left for New Zealand told me to live a life for God and to live it well. I found out when I got home that he had passed away a few weeks before. This fall, my friend Scott passed away after a year-long battle with cancer. I loved each of these people very much, and I am pretty sure each of them knew it. That’s important to me.

Now, please don’t be worried that I have a fatalist mind-set and always tell people I love them in case they die. That would be extreme, and I don’t think that’s what I’m doing. But I do think that living my life in such a way that those around me know what they mean to me is important to both me and them.

This entire blog post came from thoughts originating with one of my new friends. Last Sunday at “Dinner with the Emersons” (it’s like one of my favorite shows, so I’m punctuating it as such), four-year-old Caden said, “I love this chicken.” His mother then explained that he had discovered the word “love” and was now using it in many sentences. After, “I love this corn,” I told Brett and April that spending four days with me on safari is what did it. 

I love Caden. And I love you. So there.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

I Smiled

Today, I left my apartment sad to come to the Emerson's house for dinner. I didn't even say good-bye to my roommates, I just called to make sure April and Brett were home and walked over. I don't really like being sad. It's not my favorite emotion, in any way, shape or form.

Fortunately, God knows I don't like being sad, and He put me with a beautiful people-group that smiles a lot. Less than five minutes away from my house, I greeted some neighbors sitting outside their house, and they offered me some peanuts. Of course, they offered me peanuts in French, and I didn't know what they were talking about. So, I held out my hand. The man put some peanuts in my hand, and I said, "Oh, peanuts!" Then I looked at him and motioned to the peanuts and said, "En français?" He told me the French word for "peanut" and I thanked him, bade him a good evening, and went on my way.

I kept walking, and was greeted by a man with a friendly smile before I greeted him. Then, I had a nice conversation with two boys who go to University here in Kara.

It's hard to be sad for too long here.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Days Gone By

I am 23 years old today. While reminiscing about days gone by and visiting my old xanga site today, I found these little bits of writing I did when I was a senior in high school in AP English Lit. I hope you enjoy them.

She realizes that she’ll be having to leave soon, that she has to move on with the rest of the world no matter what her heart is telling her; time goes on, the clock keeps ticking, the sand keeps on pouring, and no amount of wishing, hoping, thinking, planning, crying, heartache, promises, or lying to herself will change that, because things are made to change; high school isn’t meant to last forever, all of the fun things, the friends, the homework, the teachers she likes, the teachers she doesn’t, the cliques, the papers, the football players, the pretty girls, the band geeks, the drama kids, the constant struggle to fit in, the stress that is really self inflicted, the band competitions, the trends that seem so silly three years later yet so vital when they’re “in,” the life all kids hold for four years; she knows that in four years, maybe even sooner, all of her life now will seem so trivial, but now, at this exact point in her life, she’s not ready to let go, she doesn’t want to leave; so, she goes to all of the senior activities like Senior Sing and cries when she leaves because she isn’t prepared to leave this life she has known for all of her years, the life that goes like this: home, sleep, school, home, sleep, school, home, sleep, school, over and over and over, with new things thrown in there every once in a while like vacation, summer, dance class, name it, it’s in there, because life is like that for the first eighteen years of life; then, she will be thrown out into the “real world” sent off to college, or the armed forces, and she will no longer be a part of that life she’s led for eighteen years, because there’s a new routine; no parents, new schedule, and new people, not the same ones shes known for years and years, the ones she used to hang out with when she was seven that know her most embarrasing secrets but she doesn’t have to worry about because she hasn’t talked to them in at least five years, and shes not even sure if they know her name anymore; these are the familiar things that she doesn’t want to leave, even though she’s ready to get out of the life she leads and start anew, leaving will be hard; it hasn’t even happened yet, and it’s already hard... her last homecoming, her last competition, her last concert, her last prom, her last... everything; what will come next is a mystery, a book yet to be started, a life that is scary but exhilarating and exciting at the same time, holding the mystery of “life beyond school,” she doesn’t think shes ready; but when it comes right down to it, when she is thrown out by herself, she knows that since she has to be ready, she will be.

Heres the second one:

I watch the bands perform, watch the flags fly in the air together, the rifles spin perfectly together, and the sabres rotate with glinting blades and deadly hilts, while tears form then disappear over and over again; it’s my last weekend ever of band competitions, something that seems to have taken forever to have gotten here, but at the same time seems to have come so fast; it seems like just yesterday I was trying out for the colorguard, with Mrs. Grubbs sighing every time I ran away from my flag when I tossed it into the air, my frustration at how hard guard was compared to what I thought it would be; first band camp came, and I hated every minute of it, going home each night crying myself to sleep because I knew that I was committed to do this terrible activity for the rest of the year, hating myself for even thinking I could do it, wishing I was a quitter; then, the next year, I kept going because Mrs. Grubbs made me love guard, even though it was hard at times, I loved what I did, I loved the feel of a flag in my hand, and once a rifle was put in my hand, I was in love with it; I learned the pain of being hit with a dense wooden block, and the joy of catching it perfectly with a “snap” in unison with the rest of the rifle line; I learned that even when I dropped equipment in the middle of the show, it was ok, and I just had to keep going because most likely, unless I made a big deal of it, no one else noticed and having a judge notice that I dropped the weapon is almost as bad as the feeling that comes with knowing I hadn’t done my best because every other time I’d done that toss, it had landed perfectly in my hands; that was the problem actually, the reason I was so upset about the fact that my prelims performance might have been my last; I over rotated my sabre toss, catching it at half a turn past where I was supposed to, making my heart break thinking about how that could have been my last time ever to have the chance to have a perfect show, and knowing that I lost that chance, all because I was nervous; I was nervous about making finals, I wanted it so bad so that I could honestly make my last show my best, and when we made finals, I got that chance; I nailed every toss, and just performed my show, making my last show one of the most memorable I’ve ever had; no drops, no falls, no missing flags when I got to my spot, no regrets, none at all because I know that I did my best; after four years of failures in guard, after the heartaches that came about after my second year, after the pain all of the seniors experienced this year over seemingly stupid things, it all came to a close at a national competition where the Jefferson City High School Marching Jay Band made history, being one of the two first Missouri bands ever to make Bands Of America finals... now it’s over; I think I might be ok with that; in fact, I know I’m ok with that, because it was a good journey, and I’m a better person for having made it.

Friday, January 1, 2010

A Bed-time Story

Once upon a time, there was a girl named Jacque whose parents gave her the travel bug. She traveled all over the US in her family’s mini-van on family vacations seeing sights and making memories. She went to Australia and New Zealand with People to People Student Ambassador groups the summer after her freshman year in high school, and studied abroad in Italy her junior year of college. Three days after graduating from college, she hopped on a plane and led a campaign to New Zealand for six weeks, staying for an extra week just to fall in love with the country a little more than she already was.

One day, she and two friends named Bethany and Sarah met at Carino’s in Atlanta, GA. They drove to the airport, where their parents helped them check their bags then hugged them goodbye. The girls went through security, got their first final Starbucks, and boarded a plane that took them to London. At Heathrow, they got their second and final final Starbucks, looked at chocolate shops, and boarded a plane that took them to Accra, Ghana, West Africa. They sped through customs after retrieving their trunks and suitcases, met two new friends named Nicole and April, saw big guns up close, and went to sleep in the Baptist guesthouse. The next morning, they piled into Nicole’s little truck, and drove 11 hours to Kara, Togo, West Africa, where they moved into Nicole’s house and got over their jet lag.

They settled into their routine pretty quickly once the other families got back and school started. Bethany taught sixth grade and Art, Jacque taught fourth grade and Science, and Sarah taught the kindergarten class and French.

Before they knew it, the first half of the school year was over. They had a Christmas party, complete with a snowball fight and snowman building contest, and went on break. Les trois filles (“the three girls,” a nickname given by Brett Emerson), had their first Christmas away from home, first at their adorable apartment, then at the Kennell’s house where they spent Christmas Eve and Christmas day. They caroled at their fellow expatriates’ homes, and had hot chocolate and popcorn.

Then, they went on safari. This is that story.

Les trois filles piled into the Emerson’s car bright and early on Sunday morning. Spirits were as high as they could be at 6:30am, and they were off! They drove all the way to the border of Benin, crossing into their first new country since August. A few hours later, they were at the gate of Pendjari, the safari park that is the site of this particular adventure.

They saw cob (deer-like animals), antelope, hippos, and crocodiles at their very first lake.

Before the day was over, “Elephant, elephant, elephant, elephant,” saw the car backing up for their first elephant sighting- four young males. It was terribly exciting and was a great end to the day. The safari crew got to the hotel where they ended up setting up camp and going to bed, eager for the next day. As they fell asleep, they heard a lion making its presence known to all.

The next morning, the girls bundled up and climbed on top of the truck. They watched the sun rise through the dust as they drove around the park looking for animals. Throughout the day, they saw warthogs, more cob, baboons, a jackal, more antelope, more elephants... and a lion.

Actually, they saw two lions. It was quite a rush, actually- these particular lions were quite close to our three heroines and their fearless leader, Brett. They had been informed of the lions’ location by some of their safari friends. A not-too-distant bush was under close scrutiny for a few minutes, but the lions were not making an appearance, so the troupe drove off. They returned not too much later and were looking intently at the same bush, wondering where the lions could possibly be.

“There’s the lion!” Brett exclaimed and pointed at a tree even closer than the original bush. The lioness had just stood up less than fifty feet from where les trois filles were sitting! As everyone turned their cameras to the new location, Jacque turned on her video camera, which is why she was able to capture one of the best videos ever. The four on top of the truck were excited to see the lioness, but they had been told there was also a lion. As they pondered his whereabouts, they heard a growl and their eyes flicked to see Artie the lion (as he was named by Jacque to protect him from Brett) leaping out of the tall grass right next to the lioness... toward our happy crew who were still perched on top of the truck, with nothing between them and the agitated lion who was less than thirty feet away.

Someday, maybe you’ll get to see the video of this event. Until then, you can just fill in your own conversation following the lion’s emergence from the grass. Needless to say, lots of pictures were taken, and footage that will make anyone laugh (and maybe some cry) was taken and now rests on our narrator’s computer. At one point, a truck came and blocked the road to escape, panicking our brave friends, but they survived the ordeal and lived happily ever after.


Author’s Note: This story is true. No names have been changed to protect identities, because there would be no fun in that.

I enjoyed our safari immensely and will always remember it as one of the super-cool things that teaching missionary children in Africa has allowed me to experience. I loved watching the sun rise and set from the top of the truck, and I loved seeing God’s beautiful creation without the confines of cages. I’ve always loved the zoo, and I always will- safari was no substitute for the joy of going to the zoo. However, it was an amazing opportunity that was thrilling in a completely different way that will always be a part of me. Yay safari!!

I hope your Christmas festivities were full of joy and family and amazingness, and that your new year is blessed.