Posts tagged ‘home’

October 20, 2019

Kinshasa Orientation

For the next two weeks it was a mixture of following up with business opportunities (more Othy, but sometimes both of us), and looking for an apartment. Some days I worked from our temporary home or from a cafe in town (a juice bar and crepe place called Surprise Tropicale) while Othy went on apartment searches or to meetings, and other days we both worked from home. After about two weeks we finally found a place that we thought would be a good fit. Although the construction was slightly shoddy, it was close to town, a good price, and a bit quieter since it was off the main road. Our broker helped us arrange a meeting with the landlord and we wrote up an agreement. In Congo it is common to pay three months of deposit, but to get an even better price we agreed to pay six months. We paid half with the agreement we would pay the other half when the place was finished in about a weeks time. We were thankful and relieved that we would soon get to move into our own home!

Two days later we visited the apartment and met up with the building manager so that I could see the place in person and so that we could give instructions to make sure the finishes were done well. In speaking to the building manager we learned that the person our broker set us up with was not the landlord and that we had been scammed! When we shared our situation with a few of our Kinois friends, they said “Bienvenue à Kinshasa”, as if this was our orientation or “baptême”. I was pretty sad about it as it would mean that it would take us even longer to be settled. Othy was determined to try to get some justice and our money back, and so he went to the police and continued communicating with the broker pretending that we were unaware of their scam so that we could arrange another meeting with them and catch them. About a week later we caught a guy who was with the broker when she showed Othy the place, but we lost a chance to catch the landlord and her assistant because the police decided not to go to the meeting Othy had arranged with them. We were able to get $400 back from the parents of the one guy they caught in exchange for letting him go free. Apparently in Congo, you spend 48 hours at the police station, and once you are sent to prison than it is very difficult to get out again. The parents signed an agreement to give us the remaining amount after one month, but they didn’t honour it. And even though the police could probably track the whole network down using their ID-registered phone numbers, they haven’t done anything.

We have learned our lesson that in Kinshasa nobody can be trusted and there are a lot of people who will go to sad lengths to make a buck. We also learned that we are mostly on our own and the police aren’t all that helpful and many people escape justice. Contracts don’t necessarily stand up because there is no way to enforce them. I think that for there to be real positive change in this country, the public institutions need to be overhauled so that they function properly. I find it fascinating that all of the institutions exist and many people are employed, but beyond paper-work, very little gets accomplished. What’s crazy is that I’m sure many people would jump at the chance to actually be productive instead of moving through the bureaucratic motions. So I challenge the current or next president with this task! I think it would be like pulling off a bandaid and would cause some upheaval, but money would be much better spent and the public would recognize the leader that made a change that improved their wellbeing.

So finally after a month and a half of being in Kinshasa, we have found a place! It was definitely a test of patience. We are thankful for the generosity of our friend who hosted us all that time. So there may be broken institutions that cast a negative light, but Congolese hospitality is some of the best! More to come about our new apartment! And hopefully some photos too!

October 8, 2019

Move to Kinshasa

Last month Othy and I finally made the big move to Kinshasa. This had been something that had been in our sights for a while but finally the timing was right once Othy was finished teaching his intensive courses at UCBC and I had returned from the conference in Nairobi and Othy from the forum in Nigeria. The timing still felt bad because moving to another country is an expensive endeavour, and Kinshasa is an expensive city. But despite not feeling financially ready, we had to make the leap because as long as we stayed in Kampala, it would only be me supporting the two of us, whereas in Kinshasa Othy would quickly find opportunities to do business.

Even though our apartment in Kampala was pre-furnished, we had still managed to accumulate a good amount of stuff. We sent some of it to Butembo when we sold our car  to friends of ours who live in Beni. We only had two larger suitcases and so Othy and I went to Game at Lugogo Mall and bought two storage bins. Unfortunately as we were packing we discovered that this still was not enough. We decided to fill the box that I had brought the keyboard in from Canada because Othy was planning to bring the keyboard as a carry-on (I didn’t think he would succeed in this). What was supposed to be an oversized box but still a manageable weight, became a very heavy, oversized box! We were hoping that they would still take it and just charge us an overweight fee.

In the early afternoon of September 4th we headed to the airport with a special hire. A friend of ours stopped by and picked up the last valuables that we could not take with us like clothes hangers, cleaning supplies, and remaining food items. We got to the airport in good time but it was very busy. The Entebbe airport is under construction and so the parking lot was almost a gridlock. Our taxi driver didn’t want to bring us all the way to the drop off, but we refused to get out early because there would be no way to move our luggage without carts. Once at the drop off we had to push our carts up the large ramp to the second level because we had too many to carry up the stairs. Then after putting all of our stuff through the entrance metal detector, we waited in the long check-in line for Ethiopian Airlines.

Eventually we got to skip to the front of the line because there were two flights waiting to check-in and ours was the earlier one. Ethiopian lets each person take a combination of 23kg and 36kg, and we were both over and had to pay $8 for each extra kilogram which came to $150 dollars. As for our big atrocious box, they were not willing to take it at all. I waited near the check-in as Othy sent the big box back to a friend’s place by taxi, and withdraw cash and then exchanged it to pay the overweight fee for the other luggage (we were shocked that they didn’t take cards or Ugandan shillings). By the time our luggage was checked in, the plane was boarding and they were calling our names on the intercom! When we arrived at the plane, Othy had trouble bringing his keyboard on board (as I predicted!). In the end they made him check it but promised they would put it in a safe place.

It was a relief to finally sit down in our seats. I thanked God that somehow my energy had kept up. The day before I had had a mean headache and I was glad it had not returned. I was also happy to discover they were serving dinner even though it was a short flight to Addis Ababa. Both of our flights and our layover went very smoothly, and we arrived in good time in Kinshasa in the early morning. All of our luggage arrived, though one of our storage bins was cracked and broken and it was miraculous that it appeared nothing had fallen out. Othy’s friend Jon and another friend were there to pick us up. It was wonderful to receive such a warm welcome! They brought us to our friend Dadis’ place where we would stay for two weeks while he was away in Goma. This would give us the time we needed to find our own apartment.

The Kinshasa adventure begins!

 

September 21, 2019

Kampala Reunions/Goodbyes

We would soon be moving away from Kampala, but before leaving we had a few reunions with friends. I’m not going to write much, but here are some photos from the various gatherings that we had.

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We had a wonderful reunion with the Vitslawmbe’s! Lauren and Ben were passing through on their way to Goma, and Matt and Jess were staying in Kampala for a short time before moving to Burundi. It is sad that we have all gone our separate ways, but we decided we should try for another reunion in Kinshasa in August 2020!

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To conclude my Swahili class I hosted my teacher and classmates for a pizza night. The idea started when, during class, our teacher asked us what we prepared for dinner on the weekend. I responded with pizza, and teacher said that I should make pizza and bring it to class. I said that instead I should make it at home and invite them over at some point. So for my last class, everyone came to our place for pizza, and Othy got to meet everyone.

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Two days before we flew out, we met up with our friend Patrick. His wife Linette couldn’t make it, but she was with us in spirit! We are thankful that we got to meet this wonderful couple at KIC church.

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The evening before moving we visited our friend Joella and her mother who was visiting.

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Our friend Joel visited the day we flew out to help us gather the few valuables that we could not take with us. He is the first of Othy’s friends that I met in Kampala. He helped drive my family around when they came for our wedding. So it was cool that he was the last friend we got to say farewell to.

Goodbye Kampala! I will miss the ease of getting around by boda (motorcycle taxi), swahili class, the nice apartment that we found with the open concept kitchen, trees and the big balcony, and the abundance of fresh and affordable produce! I’m sure this will be far from the last time we find ourselves passing through this city.

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May 22, 2019

Birds from my Balcony

One of my favourite things about our apartment in Kiwaatule is the generous balcony that is in front of our living area. Although we don’t sit out there often because of the dust that coats every surface in a day, we like to take breaks from our work a few times a day and walk out there and take in the view and the open air. I have also been exercising on the balcony a few mornings each week. I have a routine of waking up and mopping the balcony first before starting so that the tile isn’t slippery with the dust. In the mornings I open the narrow double doors to the balcony and keep them open for the whole day.

We also get to see a range of different birds of all shapes and sizes from the balcony. I recently decided to start using my zoom lens to try and capture some of them in photos. I have no idea what kinds of birds they are, only that they are amazing creatures! I hope to grow this collection over time. The idea to do this was inspired by two new troublesome neighbours in red who attempt to peck at their reflection in my window. The first time it happened it was early morning and I nearly jumped out of my skin until I found out what was making all the noise! Now I’ve learned to turn my light on when that happens.

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March 30, 2019

Challenges and Joys This New Year

It is hard to believe that it is already mid March. Life has started to take on a familiar rhythm which I am grateful for. In January we moved to a new apartment in the neighbourhood of Kiwaatule in Kampala and it has become home and is serving us well. Othy and I are both working from home. I am working part-time remotely for the same architecture firm I worked for in Toronto along with some of my own projects. Othy has been developing an application that he has long been wanting to push forward. So although we are very tight financially and living month by month, we are thankful that we always seem to have enough and that this is the ideal time for Othy to pursue this work. We are still experiencing the odd feeling of being displaced but are finding that God has us in this place for a reason.

We are still closely following news from Congo. The elections were very controversial. The month of December gave hope to many Congolese as the presidential candidates ran their campaigns. The opposition leader Martin Fayulu had considerable popularity across the country and particularly in the East while Joseph Kabila’s choice for successor, Emmanuel Ramazani Shadari  was clearly unpopular. But then one week before the elections were meant to take place on December 24th, there was a fire in one of the warehouses in Kinshasa where voting machines were said to be kept. There were many questions and little evidence surrounding the event, but the government used it as a reason to postpone the elections by one week. Then a few days later the government announced that elections would be postponed in the regions experiencing Ebola and insecurity which included Beni, Butembo, and a territory in the west called Yumbi. The result would be over a million votes that would not be included. It was very suspicious that the postponement in those regions happened after the election postponement. It shocked me how the democratic process was blatantly removed from these elections, but somehow kept the international community satisfied enough not to interfere. It seemed like a very strategic move for Kabila.

News from BBC about postponement of elections

December 30th was election day. There were some reports of violence and tampering, but overall the day went fairly smoothly considering the challenges. Although they were inherently told that they could not participate in their rights as citizens of their country, the people of Beni decided to host their own paper-ballot elections to show that there was no reason to postpone in their region. This made me very proud! To prevent the spread of ebola they set up handwash stations and took voters temperatures. I think that the process of making a vote, whether or not it would be heard or counted, gave people a feeling of closure.  People were still hopeful that Fayulu could still manage a victory. The announcement of the election results was supposed to be on January 5th but got pushed back to January 10th which was another suspicious postponement.

It came as a shock when opponent leader Felix Tshisekedi was proclaimed the winner. Most thought that Martin Fayulu would be the clear winner. Fayulu claimed that the elections had been rigged and that he believed that Tshisekedi had made a secret power-sharing deal with Kabila. The Catholic Church had sent 40,000 witnesses to polling stations across the country and said that their data did not align but showed another candidate as the clear winner (not specifying who). Fayulu appealed to the supreme court against the result asking for a manual recount, but the court decided to uphold the results despite the controversy. The Financial Times obtained a percentage of leaked data and ascertained that Fayulu was the clear winner. Most people in the east believe Fayulu was the real winner of the elections and do not recognize Tshisekedi as president. They think that when Kabila realized that his successor was unpopular, he decided to find a plan B to retain power. I don’t think Tshisekedi will ever be able to visit the cities of Beni or Butembo without mass riots breaking out unless he makes some significant moves to improve security in that region.

News from AP News about mock vote in Beni

News from The Guardian about the delay in the announcement of election results

News from CNN about surprise win of opposition leader Felix Tshisekedi

Financial Times article

There was another shock this month when Kabila’s party won 2/3rds of the seats in the senate, meaning that Tshisekedi will be unable to act independently and that Kabila will still retain a large amount of power within the government. Several candidates reportedly withdrew from the running because of demands for large bribes. This entire election hints of corruption and sets a bad precedent for how presidents in Africa have succeeded to fake the democratic process. The Congolese and international community wanted Kabila out, but he is still there, a puppeteer manipulating government from behind the scenes. Sadly I wonder if much progress is going to be made in the next five years. I try to remember that with God anything is possible. He has the power to change hearts.

News from Africa News about Senate Elections

Few! Enough about politics! Onto another difficult topic… Ebola! The fight to contain Ebola in eastern Congo continues since the epidemic was first announced last August. The epicenter has now shifted from Beni to Butembo and numbers are still increasing by a small amount every day. The virus was almost contained in Beni and no new cases were reported for 21 days, but numbers have increased in Butembo. There has been significant community resistance to containment efforts because of a mistrust of health officials. Some people who have contracted the virus and start showing symptoms are not bringing themselves in for testing and treatment. Oftentimes cases are being discovered after a death in the community and when many people have already been in contact with that person while they were contagious. I try to remind myself how much progress has been made and how much worse things would be if not for the ongoing response efforts. There are many stories of hope in the midst of the many challenges. More effort needs to be made in how health workers engage with communities so that trust can be established.

News from Reuters about involvement of Ebola survivors in patient care

The New Humanitarian: Story from a doctor on the ground about establishing trust

News from MPR News about infection control in health clinics

Despite all of these heavy thoughts hanging over our heads as we follow the news of what is affecting our communities in Beni and Butembo, life goes on and we find joy in the day to day. I thank God daily for Othy and for our second temporary home. I am thankful for time with friends and for everyone who has set foot in our home. A month or so ago our good friend Élisée was baptised and we took time to celebrate this new direction for his life. We hosted an alumni of UCBC who is starting to help Othy with his development work. We hosted another alumni who was in Kampala to take the TOEFL exam. Three men from Egypt and Saudi Arabia moved into the apartment next door and we quickly became friends. They were very hospitable and hosted us for dinner and introduced us to Arabian coffee and “carcade” which is hybiscus tea. We enjoyed learning about their cultures and now have places to visit if we ever travel to those countries. We have been going to a new church in the area called Mavuno. This past month we heard a good and challenging sermon series on prayer. It challenged me not to give up praying for the insecurity and the ebola even when I feel discouraged. God listens to us and answers prayer, but we need to trust His timing and purposes that are different than our own.

“For I know that my Redeemer lives, and at the last he will stand upon the earth”. – Job 19:25

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Like Christ reunion!

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Élisée’s baptism

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Our neighbours Atallah and Ayman

January 12, 2019

A Temporary Home

Since the first week of November Othy and I have been living in the home of friends of ours in Lubowa, south of Kampala. It has been good for us to have a bit of stability and a place where we don’t have to pay rent for a short time. It is also a well furnished place which has allowed us to be comfortable and able to host now and again. So although these walls are not ours, they have seen various people who are slowly becoming more apart of our lives. It is exciting to be starting to grow some friendships here in Uganda! Here are some photos from some of our gatherings! It’s a good thing that Othy likes to take photos or we wouldn’t have any!

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Jerry, Safi, and their daughter

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Noé, Bethany, and their kids

For the first few weeks that we stayed at this apartment, our friends Noé and Bethany and their kids were staying in the same complex in the apartment of another EMI couple. It was fun having them as neighbours. Their girls would sometimes be outside and see us from our back door and wave and yell hello. Other times we would see them on our way to going for a walk or bump into them at the store. The girls have so much energy and excitement that they treat you like you are the best person in the world. On American Thanksgiving, the day before they moved out of the apartment and left for Kenya, we shared a nice meal together. We were sad to see them leave!

Othy imported two cars to sell in Congo and one for us to use in Kampala. It greatly simplified getting around and my weak back was also thankful for it. It is a blue Mazda Verisa. To celebrate our one month being married and having a car we went out to see a movie in theatres. The cinema has particular meaning for us because we went to see the Hobbit in 3D while getting to know each other back in 2014. This time we went to see Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald. The following week we went to the theatres again, this time to treat Salama and Wivine since Wivine would soon be returning to Congo. The traffic was so bad that we couldn’t pick them up and instead told them to get a boda and meet us at the mall. We missed the 7:45 show but decided to go to the 10pm show instead! So although we were out past midnight, it was much nicer to drive home on empty roads!

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Rodrigue, Guylaine and family

Othy’s mother was in town for a few weeks to receive diagnosis and treatment for back pain. It was good timing that Othy and I were here and that Othy could drive her to and from appointments and run errands in town. I joined them on some of the outings. It was nice to spend more time with her and I also practiced more Swahili than I had in a long time. We brought Othy’s mom and Salama to the bus station when it was time for them to head back. Two weeks later we did the same for Obady who was travelling home to Goma for Christmas and New Years.

Christmas was the quietest I have ever experienced. The only decoration that I did was to buy white string lights and wrap them around a coffee table made of tree branches. Othy and I spent Christmas eve on our own, but Christmas day we were invited by Maggie to join a group for lunch. In the afternoon we decided to take advantage of the pool that is on our compound and go swimming for the first time! So although it was quiet, this Christmas will be memorable in it’s own way because it will probably only get busier and louder from here! On Christmas day Othy and I had a nice call with my family while they were gathered eating breakfast. We even took a family photo with those near and far!

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The fam!

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Fiston

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Olivia

The person who visited us the most is our friend Elysée who is from our Like Christ group in Beni and has come to Kampala for post-secondary studies. During our time in Lubowa we often attended Kampala International Church (KIC) Lubowa where he also attends and is on the worship team. He would come home with us after church on several Sundays. Our last Sunday spent together with Elysee was on December 30th which was also election day. When Othy picked up the car he also brought his guitar which meant that we could enjoy playing and singing some songs together. On this particular day Othy and Elysée taught me a song called “Fanda Nayo”, or “Reign Forever” in Lingala. I realized that I had heard the song before at the UCBC graduation. We wanted to give God praise on election day because we know that no matter what happens, he is the ultimate ruler and holds us in his hands. 

To bring on the new year we decided to have one last time hosting people in our temporary home. We invited several of Othy’s friends from his time at Ugandan Christian University (UCU) and Elysée came again. They are such a great group of people and I look forward to spending more time with them. As we waited for the new year we shared about the challenges faced this past year but also how God was working through them and how he has blessed us. For me 2018 was a year full of both. At midnight we counted down and shared a toast and were surprised to find that we could see some fireworks that were being set off in Kajjansi. We kept talking past midnight and so by the time we dropped everyone off at their homes and then came back it was almost 4am!

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What a year it has been indeed! Like the year before it has been another season of waiting. I was in a long-distance relationship with Othy and waiting to be reunited. I was working in architecture waiting to have enough hours to obtain licensure. I thought that once Othy and I were married the waiting would finally be over, but it looks like God has put us into another season of waiting, now as a couple. We are waiting for ebola to be contained, for stability to return to Beni region, and for elections to take place in Congo. But just like my time of waiting in Toronto, this time of waiting is not wasted. We are growing as a couple, finding ways to grow spiritually, and meeting incredible people along the way whose lives we have the opportunity to impact. The Christmas season reminded me that the Israelites were also in a time of waiting for the promised Messiah to come to redeem the world, and that now we are all waiting for Christ’s return.

The first week of January Othy and I spent time searching for an apartment. On January 6th we moved into a new place that we will have for at least three months. We are moving to a completely different neighbourhood that is on the opposite side of town than Lubowa. I will miss the calmness of the area and am sad that we are leaving a place when I felt like we were just beginning to grow some friendships there. I will miss the walks Othy and I would often go on exploring the area but hopefully we will continue the tradition in this new place. The new apartment is a good fit for us and hopefully we will find some community here too. Already after only two months we are ending a season and starting another.

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Creative Christmas decor

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Exploring the neighbourhoods around Lubowa

Fanda Nayo (Sung in Lingala)

Kiti ya bokonzi na yo Yesu ee éléki makasi
(The throne of your Glory so Jesus, is Powerful,)
Nani ako longolayo, po tovota yo té
(None can dethrone You, because we did not vote you)
Ba mpaka mikolo, ba mama, bilenge, decidé
(Wise men, children, mothers, young people all decided)
Ya ko tombola kiti oyo ya bokonzi, ya yaya Yesué
(To raise Jesus’ throne) (Repeat)

Refrain:
Yaya fanda nayo (Father Reign Forever)
Fanda nayo (Reign Forever)
Wumela seko na seko (May Your kingdom live forever)  (Repeat)

To vota kutu té (No one voted for You)
To pona kutu té (No one chose You)
Wumela séko na séko (May Your Kingdom live forever) (Repeat)

Ba polos kutu té (You did not need to give out Polos (bribes) )
Ba chapeaux kutu té (No need for hats (politician bribes))
Wumela séko na séko (May Your Kingdom last forever) (Repeat)

(Refrain)

 

August 1, 2018

A Day in My Life in Beni

To give you a better idea of what my life is like here in Beni, I thought I would try to describe for you a typical day.

I wake up at 5:30am every morning. My schedule has totally shifted because the sun starts to rise at that time and in the evenings I usually climb into bed early to get away from the mosquitos. I sometimes do exercise because I find I am missing the regular activity I had from walking and biking all over Toronto! At around 7 I eat breakfast that consists of tea with either buns with avocado or honey, wheatabix with milk, and/or rice pudding (rice from the previous night, milk powder, a bit of hot water, and banana… yum!). Before leaving the house I have to make sure the cats have something to eat. There is Mama Cat, George the papa, and four energetic kittens that are growing fast. Soon we will be giving them away to some of our friends and colleagues. At 7:45 I am out the door to head to the university.

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I usually drive to get the university though it is also possible to take a motorcycle taxi or “moto”. I feel fortunate to be able to use Mary and Jessica’s car while they are away. Driving here is an interesting experience because all of the roads except the main one are bumpy dirt roads, and the car is from Uganda and therefore the drivers seat is on the opposite side. Fortunately it is a Toyota Rav 4 and so it can handle the bumps pretty well. It has taken several weeks to get used to the turning signal and the windshield wipers being in the opposite positions. On the road you always have to be 110% focused because there are motos and pedestrians everywhere and there is always the possibility of vehicles going in the wrong direction, not having working lights, etc.

UCBC is about a 15 minute drive away. I park near the welcome centre and then walk to the office of the Integrated Research Institute. The campus is small but growing. The community centre project is still ongoing (a project that EMI has been assisting with for several years now), this time with four classrooms complete and two more classrooms and a hallway being worked on. IRI is located in two of the newly built rooms; one of them is more of a meeting style room with a large conference table, and the other has individual desks. A few times a week we have meetings, but other than that everyone works fairly independently. On Monday and Fridays there is a chapel time at noon before lunch with some worship and a message. UCBC had a huge tent donated and built that they use for these large gatherings. At lunch most people gather on the balcony of the Academic 1 building. The school has a cook who prepares Kiringiti which is rice and beans. There is usually also a choice of Ndizi (a savoury plantain but ironically I don’t care for it because I find it too sweet) and greens that could be Sombe (made from cassava leaf), Aubergine (eggplant), Chou (cabbage) or others. I often eat with the group from IRI and try my best to follow their fast conversations in French!

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New classroom block where IRI is located

The school day ends at 4pm. Some days I leave an hour or two earlier to take calls or do work for my job with E4C. I also try to devote some time to learning Swahili. Slowly but surely my knowledge is increasing. Often I’ll make the short walk to a nearby small corner store and market to buy things like toilet paper, canned sardines for the cats, bread, bananas, and avocados. Othy sometimes visits and we sit and talk or watch a TV episode and then he stays for dinner. Dinner is prepared by two mamas who we hire who also help take care of the house. They are the main people who I try to practice my limited Swahili with. “Mama” is the term given to any woman who is married, and similarly “Papa” to any man, and so soon I will be called “Mama”! Dinner usually consists of a meat dish of either goat, beef, or fish, a carb dish of rice, potatoes, sweet potatoes, ndizi, or fufu (a thick puree made from cassava root flour), and a vegetable dish of various kinds of greens (cauliflower, cabbage, spinach, cassava leaf, and even some greens I don’t know the name of). I enjoy dinner time because I always eat together with whoever is staying in the house at the time; it feels so different than my solitary meals during my studies and time working in Toronto. After dinner we usually enjoy tea and some fresh fruit like pineapple, mango, or passion fruit. After dinner I try to do one more hour of work, e-mails, blogging, or Swahili, and then I get ready to turn in between 9 – 10pm already! That about sums up a typical day! In the next post I will share some highlights from the last two months because not every day is like this!

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March 27, 2016

Family Day Weekend

Family day weekend was full of activity. On the Friday I met up with Kurian, a couch surfer from India who would be staying with us for a few days. On the Saturday I ran errands and then worked on my wood divider screen, a project I have been putting off for years that I am finally planning to finish! That evening I went to Indie Ale House with Siubhan and Kurian, and later Susan came and joined us. It was below negative thirty on the Friday and Saturday! Sunday was valentines day and Susan had the great idea to plan a love themed worship night. The event was at Glo’s place and the place was packed tight with people from Grace! Monday morning was family day and Jana, who I met through Adam House, invited us to brunch at her place. Then in the afternoon Susan and I finally got around to painting our living room wall! It was something that we had been talking about for a long time and we were very happy with the result! That evening I met up with Vikkie at Finch station and we went for Korean food. The restaurant was super busy but the food was worth it and it was very nice to catch up! Afterwards we went for bubble tea and Vikkie pulled out these amazing rose apple tarts for me to try. She knows that I never mind being a taste-tester for her baking experiments!IMG_20160215_142631IMG_20160215_221026

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Couch surfer selfie

 

March 3, 2016

Home Projects

Over Christmas I used some of my dad’s maple lumber to make some furnishings for my and Susan’s apartment. We have this cute little sunroom off the back of the house that is perfect for plants in the summer, but the problem was that there was no sill to place plants on. The first project was to make a long sill to go underneath the windows on both walls. The second project was a group of shelves for the living room. Unfortunately they still are not all up because I haven’t found any more brackets that I like! The pair that I have I found at an antique store in the junction.

I cut the pieces with my dad’s help in his workshop and then he drove me home after the holidays to drop off the pieces and help me install a new Ikea lamp over our dining table. Because sanding is such a dirty job, I made the sunroom into a little workshop for a few weeks. I took a lot of care with the sanding and finishing and the results were excellent! I decided to try using shellac as a finish because I wanted to keep the natural colour of the maple and wanted to use a more natural product. I am very happy with how they turned out!

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February 7, 2016

Christmas in my New Home

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The weeks before Christmas were very busy but wonderful. Everyday on my walk from work I would pass this intensely decorated house, complete with a blow-up Rudolph the red-nosed reindeer! The week before Christmas Susan and I hosted our first couch surfer, a girl named Ashley from Taiwan. I think the favourite part of her stay was that she got to sleep in the same room as our beautiful Christmas tree! This year was the first time that I had my own Christmas tree! I had it easy because Susan already had a tree base and a whole collection of decorations. I think the most interesting decorations she had were these miniature people dressed in costume called Mummers. Apparently “Mummering” is a Newfoundland tradition of making door to door visits in disguise! Susan also had these fantastic outdoor colourful LED lights and i decided to surprise her by wrapping them around the stair banister from the entry all the way up to our bedrooms.

IMG_20151206_211803IMG_20151211_004422On December 16th I went and saw Handel’s Messiah with a large group from Grace Toronto at the Roy Thomson Hall. Then the following evening I had my office Christmas party that was hosted by Philip and Anne. Although I was coming and going a lot, I still found a bit of time to hang out with Ashley and talk about things she should see and do in the city. On the final night of her stay I invited her to come with me to Adam House to make gingerbread houses with the residents. In only a few days she had experienced several new Christmas traditions!

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