Monday, April 28, 2008

5 minutes to spare

My life has been beautifully hectic lately. It means I'm never bored, but feel that I have accomplished alot.
As I type this blog, I must pause every few minutes and re-zip what the small child with a huge afro has unzipped from my back-pack.
My left thigh is burning from going down a hot slide in shorts- why is it that small children never burn their legs? I wish I was a kid again (I insisted that Mr. Solomon and I go to the park today, because the weather was so nice and there was no reason for him to play video games inside the house.)

Today and yesterday had lovely weather, so I spent as much time outside as I could.
Yesterday was a walk through Chinatown, which made me miss traveling.

(Now the small afro-headed child is feeding herself some apple sauce and saying 'Ummmm...' after each swallow, as she did just now; 'um num num na!', and Mr. Solomon ate all but one bite of his cheeseburger and most of his peas. Strange child -eats most of his vegetables and turned down chocolate cake because he was too full.)

And today as I was running in the neighborhood, with the mountains just past the sky scrapers of downtown, I longed for West Virginia- to go on a hike in the mountains and breathe the wonderful air, walk down the the river...

And I've cooked dinner for several people- Mr. Solomon, leftovers for whoever is in the house and Biruk, who should be here any minute to eat it- just arrived!

And now I have apple sauce all over my shirt.
So goes life.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Lessons from a 7 year old

A while back I had to punish Mr. Solomon. I had been quite lenient, but was at my limit and finally decided to punish him.
With 4 adults in the house, there is very little he can get away with, or even leave the day only being punished by one of those adults. But he tried! Part of his plan invovled not doing his homework, because his dad would want to know why I refused to help him do his homework (part of his punishment was that he would have to ask his father for help- which he despises doing; I'm more fun), but forging his father's signature that it was done- in a blue crayon no less!

This ended him with a double punishment and then being punished again for not completing his homework and for lying.
However, he had to personally apologize to me.
Some cultural differences are stark- like when I put lotion on without having had a bath within the last 5 minutes. It grosses them out, even if it is just on my hands, or that they really enjoy what their first ideas of North American culture were- they drink water out of wine glasses. Another cultural difference invovles apologies.
The dad made Mr. Solomon get down on his knees infront of me, repeat that he was sorry and beg for my forgiveness.
I felt so sorry for him to have to be so humiliated (not to mention a guest was visiting) and that such a big deal was made about it.
However, I learned something as I thought about it later that night. The apology was not to humiliate Mr. Solomon, it was not about him at all: it was about me. I was the one who had been wronged, the metaphor created was that he lowered himself so that I would be higher- his apology had little to do with humiliating or humbling himself and more to do with restoring my dignity and focusing the light on me.
Apologies for the purpose or giving someone back their dignity. It makes much more sense than someone apologizing so that they no longer feel guilty, or as part of his or her punishment because admitting he or she is wrong is difficult to do.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

April Begins

Wednesday was warm and sunny, Biruk and I took Mr. Solomon to play soccer at the nearby school's playground. That was after I politely kicked the neighbor children out of the house. They don't speak any English besides "yes" and "no" and they told me "no" when I said in very bad Swahili "We are going out, so you can't stay here." (It was probably, 'Me and Solomon go, you go home. Me and Solomon not stay here, you go home. See you tomorrow.'). Again their response was "No." Mr. Solomon doesn't speak Swahili, but he managed to ask them to leave. (Then why can't he manage to tell them not to touch my stuff?)
So we played soccer.
The next morning, a record amount of snow was dumped on the city. We beat the 88 year old record amount of snow fall, I'm not sure if it's by date, as April shouldn't be a prime time for snow, or amount. Regardless, we several cars were stuck in the parking lot. One of the guys who comes in to make donuts was late, his excuse was that his bus kept side-swiping parking meters, which was confirmed the next day in the paper- as several buses had colided with cars, parking meters and other items beside the street.
I had to shovel snow continually for about half an hour so that the forklift would not get stuck. The snow was falling so fast that if I stopped, enough would have accumulated so that the forklift would no be able to move. And then a layer of ice formed and we had to push the forklift so that it could get back into the garage. I was useless; I pushed forward and only accomplished sliding backwards on the ice.
We had several cars stuck in our parking lot for 5 hours. And when the snow plows came through, they only managed to block those cars in with more snow. What a day!

My life currently hasn't been filled with alot to blog about. My life is by no means 'normal'- I live with another family, I tell bedtime stories to a six year old, who also happens to be my roommate (It was the birth of King Solomon last night, which was very exciting for Mr. Solomon, who asked several questions and the story did not put him to sleep). I work administration at a donut factory (yes, God knows me very, very well. I would never have written it down as a dream job, but I really enjoy it and for 6 months working in another country, its great!).

Yesterday, while packing some thousand dozen donuts for a fundraiser my boss and I had a quick talk about our purpose on earth. It surprised me that my boss would actually bring up the subject for several reasons-
1, he was not in a good mood ( A lady was asking for charitable donations for a banquet to honor working mentally disabled people in the community and he told me to ask her why she thought they deserved to get donations. We did donate to their banquet and the lady knows nothing about how rude my boss was back in the office.)
2, he isn't the type to want to talk about anything deep. Usually our discussions are about what bar he went to over the weekend or how he misses his nephews. He mentioned that he thinks some people are put here for a reason, that God has a purpose for their lives, for them to make a difference in the world. I said that I agreed, but that I thought it included everyone, not just some people. That everyone has a purpose and is supposed to make a difference in the world. We didn't talk much, but it was such a drastic change in my boss that I was shocked.
I also work at a clothing store. It's an easy job, but I enjoy it. I work with mostly highschool girls who are always pushing more drama or asking how to hide their hickeys from their mothers. One of the managers really dislikes me, I started off on the wrong foot with him I guess: I asked about the company's ethics policies, about their values for human rights and what he knew about the working conditions of the factories overseas. He said he didn't know or care. And then he seemed embarrassed when I asked the company's general manager.
And I'm in school part-time via distance learning. I do enjoy going to class when I have a chance, being able to take 1 class while traveling to various countries. I was taking my psychology class while finishing my full-time Spring Arbor course load, going home for Christmas, going to Brazil, going to Winnipeg and am finished it here in Calgary. I like that. However, when I look at how crazy my life currently is, spending some time at school sounds nice. It would be refreshing to wake up and go to class, eat normal lunch that doesn't contain donuts and then work on homework that evening.
However, it is interesting to speak in Swahili one night on the bus, and Spanish the next, as the neighborhood I live in is filled with immigrants from all over the world.
As it warms up, I plan on seeing more of this city. There is a weekend market to go to, a coffee shop I just discovered that I really like, the zoo, the bobsled run at the old Winter Olympic Stadium, the Rocky Mountains to visit and camp in and the down-town to discover.
I would like to volunteer more- but between two jobs, school and helping take care of the kids in the house, and seeing Biruk when I can, I can't seem to find the time. However, the donut shop just agreed to give donations to an inner-city church which by their letter sounds like they do alot for their area and I would like to check them out, perhaps help with their ministries.

Monday, April 07, 2008

Plumbing

I worked 8 hours on Saturday.
And peed 18 or 19 times during my shift.

I am getting over a kidney infection and the medicine I am on makes me urinate about every half an hour. Today, next time you pee, if everything goes smoothly, say a prayer of thanks for that simple thing working as it should.

I finally went to the doctor last week, after feeling sick the whole weekend- including my birthday. When I went to the doctor I was so bent over I looked like a hunch-back and needed help to stand up.
But I was well taken care of. Since I wasn't eating enough Biruk bought me my favorite fruits (which aren't easy to come by in Canada)- mangoes and pineapple. Not to mention that he found cantelope somewhere and brought it to my house when I was feeling better.

Mr. Solomon talked to me on the phone while Biruk was taking care of me and his first words were "You haven't told me a story in a long time!". I had to warn him not to squeeze me when he hugged me when I came home. He was probably the most glad to have me back. Except that one morning the baby heard me talking and sat straight up in bed and said my name, which woke up her parents early on Saturday morning and they weren't too pleased.

I feel much, much better today. I worked my normal shift and I am planning on going out tonight. It's my year and a half anniversary, after all.