Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Christmas in January, part two

Just a note to let everyone know that I've received a second round of xmas packages. Actually, I put my hands on these before leaving for my training on Jan 22. They patiently awaited my return for opening, so I had quite a treat when I returned.

I received a lovely package from my mom. In it were treats from my Grandma and my mom's friend, Teen. I received more in ways of dental care--yum! I also received a variety of stickers for my sixth-graders, note cards for my "thank you’s," teabags, wet naps, alcohol wipes (for germy hands), nail files, band aids, antibiotic ointment, and dresses!

My wardrobe has expanded significantly. During training there was a "clothing swap," and I inherited three tops and a dress. Also, my mom has sent me a lovely embroidered jumper and a denim skirt. Both the South Africans and the Peace Corps volunteers were very happy to see my wardrobe increase and to have a bit of color added. Everyone, it seems, is sick of me wearing brown. But I still contend, if I can't eat chocolate, I can wear it!!

Anyway, thanks Mom, Grandma, and Teen!

My friend Leila sent me a lovely, lovely picture calendar of my favorite place on earth: Kentucky! I'm sure I'll disassemble it as the months go by and share the lovely images with my "kids." I love it! Thank you Leila!

My dad and his wife, Darlene, sent me a fun package. I had a great shot of the contents that I've somehow lost. Darlene gets the prize for the "most creatively padded package" award! I was going to have you guys guess what the padding was in the now-lost-photo. (Ladies, you'd recognize it in a second; guys, maybe not.) But here too, I got lovely dental goodies, a selection of Burt's Bees, a personalized calendar with family photos, a lovely xmas card and more stickers for the kiddos. What a treat! Thank you!

I also had a stack of letters that had somehow accumulated in my sometimes mail logjam. I haven't yet opened them all, but one dear friend, Pat, sent me a lovely, lovely prayer. It is an examen Prayer of St. Ignatius to be prayed at night before retiring. It is suggested as a way to "put the day to rest" and focuses on gratitude. I tried it last night and it moved me to tears. I love it already.

I strongly believe in the power of prayer because I have seen it evidenced over and over again.

I must admit that returning home to my site after training wasn't as happy as happy as my return from visiting other PC volunteers at Christmas. I've had a rough week with coming home after living a "first world" existence in training (comfortable, well-fed, living with people that spoke my language, riding in safe, reliable transportation, etc.) and trying to readjust again to my "third world" existence. My re-entry is further aggravated with trying to launch my classes. Both the primary school and at the college have quite settled my teaching schedule, so I never really know where, when, and what I’ll be teaching. And when I do know the where, when, and what, either the students don’t show (the college) or the schedule has been changed and I won’t be teaching my classes after all (primary school).

Eish! (A Setswana expression for "Yikes!" which is pronounced A-Esh!)

Anyway, I've been feeling quite blue, torn between pillar and post, and not yet feeling welcomed back into my community.

So, I prayed the St. Ignatius prayer last night. Today, on my way home from the primary school, my fellow gardeners were gathered around our few peach trees harvesting the peaches for market. They called to me and offered me peaches. As these are the gentlemen that I buy from, I expressed the fact that I hadn't any money with me. (Ga ke na madi. {Ha kay nah mah dee} Did I tell you I passed my Setswana test?)

They smiled really big and shrugged me off and began handing me armfuls of fresh peaches. I had bags with me, but they were full of papers needed to be graded. So I opened my umbrella and they filled it up.

And I am happy and grateful today to be living in South Africa. And will keep saying the prayer of St. Ignatius!

Soon, Karen


  1. Ga ke na madi. Being broke never sounded so good. I am walking around the house saying it to Emma and Sparky. It will be all over Louisville by the time you get home, like uber- ....everybody around here will love having a cool way to state the condition their condition is in. Love you!

  2. I don't know why I've started using "uber." Is it retro in my teeny brain?

    Don't forget that you have to make the loogie sound when saying "Ga." So it sounds like you're going to spit on someone. ;-)

    The letter "g" in Setswana is pronounced like you're clearing your throat. It's a lovely, lovely sound. :-)

    The sound has been especially hard for me to master, since as a child, I was taught, "young ladies never make that sound.: :-)