Sunday, May 6, 2012

At the heart of it all

I don’t think I’ve really fully explained the internet situation here in Kanye. Basically, I have access to the internet on Saturday afternoons when I am out of class and I can’t get to an internet café any other time of the week. When I get to the café, I upload whatever blog post I threw together on my netbook at home (I save it to my USB) and I try to upload pictures when I can (they take SO LONG!). The internet café I go to is usually very crowded, extremely hot, and I am happy to squeeze in an hour if I’m lucky. I don’t have the time to read and respond to new emails, so I copy and paste them all to my USB to read and respond to during the week on my netbook at home (saves some time and money). I wanted to explain that so you understand why I am usually slow to respond. With that being said, I copied and pasted emails to my USB today (Saturday) to take home and read on later on. It is now 9:15 (past my bed time in Botswana!) and I finished reading through the 20 pages of emails I copied and pasted to my computer. I couldn’t help but stay up tonight to write a little bit more about what has been on my mind…

  • THE GLASS IS HALF FULL- I’m making a conscious effort to make sure to send fun, light-hearted information about my experiences here in Botswana back home to my loved ones. 2/3 of the Peace Corps goals is to educate others about cultural experiences (I’ll write more about that later). I want to be able to share those cultural experiences with you as often as I can, but I realized today that I haven’t made a big enough deal about just how much I MISS EACH OF YOU. I’m looking at life with an optimistic viewpoint, but let me assure you, THIS IS VERY DIFFICULT. I hope that each of you know that I couldn’t do this without your love and support. Every day is a challenge and I am constantly reminded of each of you. I talk about my friends and family all of the time, I have truly been blessed. I am not miserable at all, but I do have my “downer days” as we like to call them here. I can’t believe I am a month into this new adventure! I will continue to hold my head up and love the life I am living here, but don’t forget just how loved each of you are! I am carrying you in my heart every moment of the day.
  • GRANDPARENTS- After reading emails from my parents, friends, and loved ones, I can’t help but miss my grandparents the most (not to hurt anyone’s feelings!) I am so thrilled to be able to correspond through email with mostly everyone, but I am so sad that I cannot have my weekly conversations with my Grandparents. G&G Jones- I miss calling every week to chat about new things coming up in our lives. Even if we just chat about the little things, it is something I have really grown fond of. Grandma Allie- I miss your laughter and happy spirit. I wish I could hear more about all the crazy adventures you have with your sister. Grandparents are an incredibly wonderful gift – and I’d encourage each of you to pick up the phone and call a family member you love that you haven’t spoken to recently. American culture is funny- we don’t necessarily value family the way that other cultures do. In Botswana, it is perfectly normal to live with family for as long as possible. Every family member supports each other, and no qualms will ever pull a family apart. I truly miss my family- and I hope that other family members call/email my grandparents to let them know just how much I miss them. Love your family!! They are the ones who are always there for you (and of course, that applies to ALL members of the family). <3
  • PERSONAL GROWTH- Several of you asked in emails about how I am changing as a person. PHEW. That is hard to explain, but I will try my best. Moving to Botswana was hands down the most difficult thing I have ever had to do. I don’t recommend leaving behind your entire life as you know it, unless you know that your heart is 100% dedicated to what you have been called to do. Leaving everything familiar has put me in a state of extreme vulnerability, which is enough to leave anyone feeling uneasy. I wake up every morning in a country that is unfamiliar. Every day is a new adventure, and I never know what to expect. There is excitement in that, and also fear. I associate fear with the unknown – and a lot of what I’m doing here is still unknown. I am yet to discover exactly where I will live and work. I am yet to feel comfortable with my Setswana language skills. There’s a lot that I don’t feel stable about. I laugh when I talk with my friends here… I’ve described it to them in the following way: Imagine you’re standing on a rug and suddenly, someone pulls the rug out from under you and you fall down unexpectedly. Ok, well, we all know that no one likes to fall in public, so you gracefully try to pull yourself back up without people noticing that you feel like a complete idiot/you want to cry. There you have it folks- in a nutshell, that’s what my personal growth has been like. I’m learning to dust myself off and stand comfortably on my own in Botswana. The challenges keep on coming too… just as I start to become accustomed to life in Kanye, I will fall down again and surrender myself to another learning period, living entirely on my own in my new village. Life is a beautiful challenge I am ready to face! I promise to have more updates about my own growth here, but I often avoid blog posts that are too personal because it is difficult for me to put into words.
  • SITE ASSIGNMENTS- As soon as I return from my travels in Shoshong, we will have another week of classes before we find out where I will be posted for two years. Do you remember how long I have been talking about the Peace Corps? Goodness gracious, it seems like forever. And now, on MAY 18, I will finally discover where I will be serving. It has been a long time coming!!! All of the trainees are becoming very anxious about our site assignments, it’s a very exciting/scary time. I am truly looking forward to learning more about why I have been called here to Botswana!
Despite whatever happens, I go to sleep every night with a smile on my face. Even if I’ve spent the evening crying and feeling bad for myself for being so homesick, I remind myself that I am here living my dream. No one ever said it would be easy to follow your dreams, and I genuinely believe all the tears and hard days are more than worth it to be here.

 I was standing with some friends today in the streets of Kanye, and we all laughed. We’ve all imagined how our lives would be in the Peace Corps, and finally, here we are. Life here is not glamorous, time seems to move slowly, and people have much less than we have in America.  Regardless, everyone is laughing, singing, dancing, and rejoicing in all the blessings they have in life. I’m learning to take certain things in life less seriously. Life is too short to ignore your heart and give up on your dreams.  

Trusting my heart & coming to Botswana has taught me that I am much stronger than I ever believed I could be. 

What is your heart telling you to do?
I love each of you so much.

Love & Light,

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