Wednesday, August 31, 2005

iPod Shuffle

Ahhhh...finally a day off! I am now working 2 jobs, not an uncommon thing, but for me, exhausting! I'm still at the coffee shop and now back at the museum. I finally figured out that I need a day off every 6 days at least, after working 9 in a row! So, I slept in until the door bell rang when I had to dress myself half-asleep and run up the stairs to open the door to my new iPod shuffle! I got it free after switching banks, which was a no-brainer for me anyway since my previous bank SUCKED! Well, I can't say any of them are paticularily great, but the free iPod sure helped! I immediately opened it, installed it and was later found dancing around my kitchen with the tiny thing around my neck! I LOVE dancing when no one's around. Very freeing! Then I took my new favorite piece of plastic out for a run! Beautiful! Now, the only thing I need is some really GOOD African/World beat music to download onto my shuffle and I will be instantly transported to that happy place I like to call escape! Beautiful escape!

Back in the world of reality, which is not all bad of course, it's just not all exotic or adventurous or Africa, I am fully enjoying my tiny little apartment, my crazy, understanding roomate/bestest girlfriend Shannon (hey Mike, we had an after 10pm discussion that involved poetry reading-you'd be proud), having my pastor living upstairs with Stacey (his wife) and the twins who call me 'Cole', and the last few weeks of summer spent frequenting festivals like Afrikadey and Expo Latino and Atomic (a bubble tea smoothie cafe).

In the next few weeks I start presenting my Health Education Project for my church and our outreaches which I created for my HIV/Aids school. I'm excited to have something to be focused on and to see what I actually get out of it myself. Should be....revealing.

I can't believe it's freakin' September tomorrow! Have I mentioned I'm more than a little nervous about winter??? Shannon and I have taken to turning the oven on to warm up our place and it's still +20 C out there! Ouch!

Hope all of you are doing well. Keep me updated on your lives!

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

So, it's been about 2 years since I returned from Tanguieta in Benin, West Africa. It was there I lived in a tiny little concrete house with roommate Ann Elyse Merrit, from New York State. She and I lived and worked together for 8 months and had so much fun! And now she is getting married.

AND I GET TO GO!!!!!! Yup! I get to see Ann Elyse for the first time in 2 years AND I get to see my directors from Benin, Matt and Sarah and their 2 boys! I am so excited for so many reasons. To catch up, to celebrate, to go on a mini trip....and yes, in the back of my mind, there is this thought that maybe God will speak to me about my life and my future because I'll be with my Beninoise family again...Oh, Africa...can't seem to let you go.

Friday, August 19, 2005

Friday, August 12, 2005

Bryce Part II

So, the funeral for my cousin's child, Bryce, was harder than I expected. I drove to Camrose with my friend Dana and her two children, a three hour drive wondering and talking. After we dropped off Dana's kids at a friend's, we went over to the church. The first person I recognized was my aunt and upon seeing the look of anguish on her face, I rushed over and just hugged her tight. You must understand, I don't see my extended family much at all. In fact the last time I saw Wes and Colleen, Bryce's parents, was at their wedding a few years ago. We're just not that great at keeping in touch. But a funeral just isn't the place for small talk, and that was ok for me. Looking back, I saw it as an opportunity for me to just be present and to support my suffering family.

I've never been to a funeral where the actual deceased person is there, so I was pretty shocked to see a pale faced, doll-like body in this tiny coffin laden with silk and covered in flowers. I never got to meet Bryce. I was in SA for most of his short life. But my mom remarked solemnly afterwards that the body in the coffin wasn't Bryce. He was obviously gone from that body.

After the funeral we drove in a huge procession to the Bawlf Lutheran Cemetery, 20 minutes away. Bawlf is a tiny town of about 300 people where I spent the first 7 years of my life. They buried Bryce under a grove of small trees, right across from my grandfather who died when I was so young, I didn't understand death. I still don't understand death. I've never been to an internment as they call it either. It's so strange that this person once alive and able to be touched and able to respond, is now locked in a box and hidden beneath the ground. How do the ones most grieved, Wes and Colleen, walk away? How is anyone able to walk away?

We didn't stay at the cemetery long. I stared at the headstone of my grandfather's grave for awhile until my cousin, Aaron, came over and gave me a giant hug. I haven't seen him in a long time either. I guess funerals will encourage this: I felt it necessary to make sure my family knew I loved and appreciated them very much! And I decided I should not be so lazy about correspondence.

Finally, we went to the reception at the Bawlf Lutheran Church, where I spent many Vacation Bible Schools, Christmases and Easters...it still smells the same! How vivid my childhood memories were as we sat around plastic table-cloth covered tables, eating home-baked squares and drinking coffee, my whole extended family there. We watched a presentation of pictures of Bryce's life; my uncle behind me choked up when the photo of him baptizing Bryce came up. I think the hardest part was seeing just how hard Bryce's death has been for the entire family. I'm still struggling to get it to all fit inside my head.

Dana and I picked up her kids; both very glad, her way more than me, to see happy, healthy children alive and growing, greet us at the door. It may be cliche, but it so true...

You don't know what you've got until it's gone.

Thursday, August 11, 2005

Jess! I miss you! Wouldn't Daniel rather quit the "AIR FORCE" and become a Canadian instead??? I almost have my American friends converted!!! Ah! Who am I kidding? I'm off to some tropically warm place as soon as I can! Forget this cold crap!!!

I'm so so cold...

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

Oh how glorious it is to sleep in! I usually can't do this, but I slept in until noon today! I attribute it to the crappy weather out there. Grey skies make staying in my warm bed much more appealing than going on that run I assured myself I would go on today. But mmmm....this coffee is nice, reading e-mails is nice, talking to my big, little brother on the phone. He called me! He just bought a house with a firefighter buddy of his! Congrats little bro!

Gonna go strum....

Saturday, August 06, 2005

Bryce

Yesterday morning I found out my cousin's first child, Bryce, a one year old boy, passed away from cancer. He had been sick since he was born, had treatment, went into remission and then the cancer came back, much too strong for treatment this time. I'm not exactly sure what I can write in light of this, so, please pray for my cousin Wes, his wife Colleen and the rest of the family. Thank you.