Monday, February 28, 2011

Wedding!


What a crazy weekend in the Congo!

Friday and Saturday were the wedding festivities, and that was a lot to see! Friday, before the actual ceremony, we went to the bride’s reception. It’s probably comparable to a rehearsal dinner, but it was very exclusive (you had to have your invitation in hand to even get in) and it was thrown by the bride’s family. We were in a big room in a catholic church with a ton of people all seated.  There’s an MC screaming into the microphone and music playing loudly, so we can hardly hear each other to talk. That’s a thing here, I’ve noticed. Everything that involves music and microphones is over-the-top loud!

So there we were, seated in the front row next to the groom’s father (which is apparently an honor, I think it’s just because we are whiteys) when the music changed and people started cheering; the Bride was coming. In walk two little twins, about four years old, dressed alike and adorable, in front of the bride, her mom and dad, and a couple of wedding coordinators. They made their way to the front of all three sections of people, put both hands up and waved to everyone. Then finally they got to sit in these big comfy zebra striped chairs in the middle of the room. The strangest thing about all of this—the bride never smiled! Not once! It’s their culture here not to smile! I can’t understand that. That has to be so hard to do.

Then the MC and the bride start wandering around the room and I’m not really sure what’s going on because I don’t know Swahili and Brenda can’t understand the guy because he’s screaming into the microphone. We finally figure out that she’s searching the crowd for her groom. She finally “finds” him, and the whole place goes nuts. But still, no smiles from the bride or the groom. What. On. Earth.

They finally get settled in their big comfy, awesome chairs and we get ready to eat. The MC says something about saying a prayer and then there’s a pause, like they didn’t know who was supposed to pray. He walks over to the FOB and they exchange a few whispers (except they probably were shouting because of the music) and then the MC starts walking toward us and guess who he asks to pray. ME! What?! In Swahili he said, “Will our sister pray for us?” Now? In front of all these people? In a language you can’t understand?! Yep. So I pray! And everyone cheers afterwards. I think they understood “amen” and maybe “Jesus”.  They must have just seen me walking around taking pictures and took me as someone of importance. Or maybe it’s because I’m a whitey.

Then we eat. And I wish I could tell you what we ate. But I’m not really sure what most of it was! French fries (that they dip in mayonnaise!) , a piece of bread that looked like a waffle, some fried dough, some kind of meat, I think it was beef, and peanut butter was all piled on your plates and we ate with our hands. Whew. When we were finished, they never came and took our plates because there was so much food left on it. Everyone else cleaned their plates. There’s no way. So much food.

After dinner the FOB got up and was thanking people. After a while he turned to us and spoke to us. Brenda told me he was thanking us for coming all the way from America just to be a part of the celebration. It was very sweet.

Then music came on and everyone danced for a bit and we ducked out of there. It was hard to leave, people kept coming up to us wanting to shake our hands and kiss our cheeks! We were celebrities of some sort!

The next day was the actual wedding. Ed was doing the ceremony, and told us the wedding was supposed to start at 10. So we get there at 10:05 and wait a while before it starts. This is Africa time.  When it does start, a choir came up to sing. These choirs are SO great! They are dancing and singing and it’s SO loud! But I love it. There were three choirs at this wedding, two youth choirs and one children’s.  All three sang throughout the wedding.

Here I sit, thinking about this wedding, and I’m not even really sure what to tell you! I can’t remember as much detail because it was four hours long and Brenda wasn’t sitting by me to translate! There were a lot of speakers, a lot of choirs, and a lot of noise! But it was so fun! The bride and groom were both dressed in white, the bride all lacy and frilly and poofy. No smiles, of course. Actually, the groom snuck a few in. Naughty. When Ed preached he told them both to smile before the ceremony was over or he wasn’t going to leave. That got people laughing.

At a wedding Ed did a while ago, he did the sand illustration (You know, where the bride pours some sand in and the groom pours other sand in, and it mixes together, like their lives from now on..). They loved it at that first wedding. So now he’s done it at three. He pulled out the jars at this wedding and the place went nuts. They knew what was coming and were so excited for it. I think Ed preached well, but I couldn’t actually tell because I don’t know Swahili. The people seemed to like it.

Four hours later, the wedding was over.  It was lovely and fun and entertaining but SO dang HOT! They seated us up front with all the speakers because they didn’t want us to get too hot sitting with the crowd of people. Or because we were whiteys. Good thing though, we were roasting on stage as it is.

The reception was held a little later in the afternoon at that same Catholic Church we were at for the bride’s reception, just in a bigger room. They wanted to sit us in the front row again, but the front row was right next to the loud speakers, and us whiteys can’t handle the noise. So we begged and they moved us to the second row. Also, they turned down the music.

After a while, the Bride and Groom came in. What a show! Bridesmaids were dancing all around them, they were spraying this white stuff on them, and there were sparklers. It was really cool! The waved to all the sections of people again and got to take a seat.

We ate the same sort of stuff we had at the other reception, only they added a few things, like chicken, kabobs, and fish. Full fish. With the head and all. Two different kinds. Bah. I skipped out on those. They were looking at me. The guy next to me got some. And he cleaned his plate completely. Bones and all.

The electricity kept going in and out, so I think the reception was cut short. We got to see the people giving the couple presents, which was another cool thing. The bride and groom stand and the front of the room and people carry their gifts up to them. They dance the whole way. So cool. We watched them cut their cake and we each got fed a piece. Yep, fed. The groom picked up a small piece with a toothpick and put it in our mouths. It was good cake though!

The electricity was out at this point, so we got in the car and left.  Another long, exhausting day.

Then came Sunday. I’ll be quick with this one. Church starts at 9. We got there at 9:15. Three different choirs, a couple different speakers, loud music. It only lasted about two and a half hours. Ed preached, I think he did well, but I don’t know Swahili. The Choirs sounded awesome, especially the kids choir, and we sat up front on stage again.

After church we went to lunch and a restaurant because there was no electricity or water at the house. I had really good fish and fries and Taylor got chicken curry. We came home and did a little work around the house, played some cards and then about 9:30 Taylor and I grabbed a movie and went to bed.

A few things to pray about:
  • Taylor is sick. It looks like something similar to the flu, but Ed says this happens sometimes to people just adjusting to the food and everything here. Pray that’s all it is, and he didn’t pick up anything.
  • Brenda is also sick, but it may not be the same as what Taylor has.Pray for quick healing.
  • Water and electricity are very sparse. Ed is really trying to get the electricity fixed, but things haven’t been working out very well.


Sorry this post was so long! I had so much to tell!  Thanks for your prayers. Keep ‘em coming!



Friday, February 25, 2011

Settling in...


This is Susie (Bonnie's mom!), updating the blog for Bonnie...

Some random factoids, not necessarily in order of importance:

  •  Taylor and Bonnie are safe and well.
  • What we think of as “basic conveniences” are pretty non-existent right now, for the Congo Clinch Family.  Electricity is “messed up,” internet access is very rare, and the water is off and on.  They’ve called an electrician, but reliability is also an issue.
  • They’re going to a wedding on Saturday, and reception for the bride and her family on Friday.  They’re both really excited to see how marriage traditions play out in the Congo.
  • They’re finalizing plans for their stay.  Looks like highlights will include staying a week with a Congolese family, a visit to a clinic, preaching (Taylor), and (Bonnie) working at “Tracy’s Heart,” an organization that aids rape victims.
  • They’ve met so many new people, and are beginning to learn some Swahili.  The people there are very helpful with the language, but also laugh at them when they get it wrong!
  • They are staying in a beautiful location that overlooks the city and the lake.  They have done their Bible study outside at sunset, and just love it.  The Buells have a dog named Condi, who is named after Condaleeza Rice, because she is black, beautiful and smart.  J
  • Taylor and Bonnie are being challenged and are excited and motivated to minister to the Congolese people.


More later!


Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Acclimation


We finally made it to Congo!  We stayed in Kigali, Rwanda for a night then got on a bus for six hours.  It was bumpy and twisty and nauseating, but we made it without getting sick! Ed picked us up at the border and after customs, and we drove to the house. We are staying in Ed and Brenda’s house, which is a lot bigger than I expected! It has four bedrooms, two bathrooms, a living room, office, dining room and kitchen. Plus a BEAUTIFUL backyard with a view that looks over the lake. Taylor and I have our own room and our own closet, which is full! We have a sink in our room for washing our hands and brushing our teeth.  Although, it turns out we aren’t supposed to use the water that comes out of the sink to brush our teeth. We only did it once before we were corrected! Whoops!

Taylor and I are suffering some serious jet lag. We get tired about midafternoon, lay down to take a nap then don’t want to wake up again!  I have been having troubles waking up in the wee hours of the morning and not being able to go back to sleep.  This morning, I woke up to the first bird chirping and watched everything get lighter. That was probably about four or five this morning. I was nice and chipper when I finally got up though.

The weather has been beautiful. It’s rainy season right now, and we’ve had rain and thunder everyday so far. When it’s not raining, it’s breezy and beautiful. Not too hot, like I expected.

Tomorrow we are going to look at a house where the Bairds (missionaries who will be joining us later) will be staying, then hopefully our other bag will arrive! One got lost on the way here, and hopefully we get all of our stuff back!

We are taking a lot of pictures and video, and hopefully we can get our internet running fast enough to where we can upload them so you can see all of this for yourselves.

One more thing, in case you were wondering, Taylor still has his big ol’ beardo, but hopefully it will be gone tomorrow (add that to your prayers)!

Bedtime now. Goodbye, Gilbert.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

First post from Africa!


We are currently sitting on the ground in an Ethiopian Airport. After not much sleep in the Washington DC airport (on the floor, freezing), we finally boarded on Ethiopian Airlines . The flight over here was super long, but really nice! We rode in a plane with two aisles! I didn't think those things were real, that they only existed in the movies. Turns out you have to fly across the ocean to experience that greatness. 

Every individual seat had it's own little tv screen. It had movies, games, and music. Hours of fun! I watched two movies, two tv shows, played sudoku until I got the high score, and played a lot of Solitaire without winning once. Taylor watched a couple movies as well , and we both took a few naps. We're about nine hours ahead of Omaha time, so we're a little jet-lagged. Taylor mostly. He can't seem to wake up. 

The people have been so great already. Everyone on the plane was so nice and helpful. It was fun getting to know them. 

In about two hours, we'll be flying from here to Rwanda, then hopefully making it to Congo before it gets too late. I don't think they have any flights out of Rwanda during the afternoon, so we may be staying in a hotel tonight and making it to Congo tomorrow. 

Thanks so much for all your prayers and support! I'll be updating again as soon I get a chance! 

Thursday, February 17, 2011

2 AM

We made this video last night/this morning. It's from 2 AM, so however you want to look at it...


video

Tomorrow we leave. I'm a bit stressed. We still aren't completely done with everything we need to be. And yet, here I sit, blogging. I'm such a procrastinator. Correction... we are such procrastinators. 

Here we go. Next time I blog, I might be in an airport. 

Packing!

Monday, February 14, 2011

And so it begins...

This weekend was a wonderful weekend for both of us.

 I had to say goodbye to my middle school kiddos on Friday, which broke my heart and some of theirs. I'm going to miss them. On the other hand, I think some of them were excited I was leaving for so long. In fact, when I told my classes "Today is my last day," I heard a few "yessssssss...". I love them.

I spent the entire weekend (no exaggeration, every minute) with my friends. I can't remember the last time we laughed so hard and stayed up so late. I had a volleyball tournament yesterday and had to say goodbye to my little girls. They gave me a giant group hug. It was so sweet. After the tournament, I went straight to sushi with more friends. Finally, I got to be home with my husband, but as soon as he got home, I crashed. There was no way I could stay awake laying on our super comfy couch to watch the movie I picked. I'm not sure what I was thinking.

Taylor had Friday off, but went to work Saturday. They threw him a party at work before he left which he said was a lot of fun. Sunday he went to church (I'm assuming.. I had to go to volleyball..) then he went to play paintball. I'm glad he went. I think that's something he'll definitely miss while we're away. He came home and said he had a blast, but that's all I could get out of him before I fell asleep. I'll have to bug him to hear more later.

After a long, crazy weekend for both of us, it's time to get down to business. We have a list of things to buy, which includes our own peanut butter, a new, diamondless ring for me, some serious bug repellent, surge protectors (so I can keep up with this blog!), transformers, water purification packets.... all sorts of stuff! I keep thinking of new things, maybe I should go make another list.

Saturday night got a bit emotional for me. I was hanging out with my neighbor and a friend of ours and texting someone else about sushi on Sunday night. Taylor calls and asks if a friend of his can take us out to dinner on Sunday night. I tell him that I was planning on getting sushi with the girls. He wants to try to figure out a night he can, but I'm acting all hesitant on it because making plans means I can't spur of the moment see my friends if I want to. Cue emotions. I'm running out of days before the trip and starting to feel it. I have all these things I want to do and not enough time to do them. I want to say yes to everything but I can't. I'm going on this awesome trip that I'm SO excited for, but I feel like I'm missing out on a lot of things here. It's hard for me to be there when people are making plans for next week or next month because I won't be around. I wasn't expecting to get upset about that because, hello, I'm going to Africa. I just want everyone else's lives to pause until I'm back. Can you make that happen?

These are probably dumb things to be feeling. It's not like nine weeks is that long. I'll be home before I know it. In fact, I'll probably be feeling the same things again before I leave Congo with the people I meet there. Sometimes, like right now, I realize what I'm saying and I get excited all over again. I'm going to Africa to live life for a while. A whole new continent. I have butterflies because of how excited I am. This is going to be an awesome, impacting trip. I can't wait. This time next week, we'll be in Africa.

 It's bittersweet, but mostly sweet.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Anticipation

Africa. Can you believe it?

Who on earth thought I would be the one to travel the world?

I'm excited though. And Taylor is beyond thrilled to finally go to the place he feels he has been called. He is such a passionate guy; I admire that about him. He has a heart for the people in Africa, even though he's never been there. God's been preparing him for this. He is ready to go. Ready to do the hard work. Ready for whatever God is going to put in our path. I think he's been ready for years.

Like I said, I'm excited, but I'm still nervous. I tell everyone I'm ready to go, but not ready to leave. My family is here, my friends are here, my awesome job is here, with all my awesome students. Nothing familiar and comfortable is there. God didn't call us to be comfortable though; that would just be too easy.

That excitement of something new is still there though. I mean, we're going to Africa! How often does a person get to say something like that? I get to experience a whole new culture for nine weeks. I get to live with the elephants and the zebras and gorillas. Well, sort of.

A lot of emotions, a lot of stress have gone into this process. Not to mention all the planning and organizing, things that neither Taylor nor I are any good at.

In one week, we will be on a plane to the other side of the world.

This will be an adventure. :)