I interrupt my not-so-inspiring mini-series to announce that Christmas has come yet again in Africa….in several different forms actually.
First of all, I can officially drive a stick shift (thought I would never learn) and have been given permission to drive a vehicle here. So, I have a “new” Mitsubishi Pajero on loan to me and my roommates and we couldn’t be happier. It is kind of old and jeep-like and a little ragged out, but I like to think that it just has some character and am pretty excited to be driving it (let’s be honest, I would be happy to drive anything at this point). Funny how in America, I would have been not so thrilled at the idea of sharing a vehicle with two other people, but now I am just happy to have a vehicle. Even all the American families here that I work with only have one vehicle per family, which seems like a lot compared to the local people here, but yet again, would be unheard of back home.
The new ride
I do have slightly mixed emotions about driving. As much as I am THRILLED to be driving, I also realize that it takes me out of the culture quite a bit and that is a little sad. Even though I liked to complain about the commutes to language, I appreciated the fact that riding the minibuses and walking forced me to be face to face with the culture and I learned a ton of language and cultural contexts from it. Happy to be driving and to have some of the pressure of the commute off, but sad that it means there will be an inevitable distance between me and the local people now.
The other Christmas gift(s) came in the form of a couple of packages sent from friends. I swear that they stockpile mail here and it all arrives at the same time! Ugh! Anyways, got some very sweet and thoughtful and much appreciated gifts in the form of material and food items from some friends back home. If the next time you see me, I have gained ten pounds, you only have yourself to blame (you know who you are).
The final Christmas gift was a whole stack load of cards from one of the groups back home that is partnering with me. Literally, about 15 different cards all full of encouraging messages and verses. That, plus additional notes from two different friends, really made my day. I can’t believe that people actually care about what is going on over here and that they take the time to write and encourage me. It means so much to me to realize that I am not over here alone but truly partnered with people back home in more ways than one!