Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Monday, December 13, 2010

Je Suis Ivoirian.....well not quite

I have just returned from my first weekend away from campus!  On Friday afternoon we were sent off in pairs from our safe haven of the Mission Baptiste campus to stay with families in town.  I was paired with Jamie Youell from Arizona and we went of to Belleville.  This is a kind of suburb (used loosely) of Bouake.  They call them cartiers and it is like a neighborhood.  Around all of the paved roads are huge webs of dirt roads where most of life in Cote d’Ivoire happens.  This weekend I was able to be apart of this life, and what an honor that was.  Mr. Bamba Golohafon was gracious enough to welcome us into his two bedroom home.  I know that I won’t be able to describe this experience to you very accurately, because I am still processing most of it.

When we arrived on Friday both the Americans (us) and the Ivoirians (the Bamba family) were nervous about communication.  Our French is still sub par.  But after Rod left we realized that although it might be more difficult to convey our ideas it would for the most part be possible.  Upon returning to campus and talking with the other Journeyers about their experiences in homes, I realized that we had a dream experience and others were not so lucky.  The food was great and we were not forced to eat more than our fill.  We had many visitors and the whole area seemed to have heard we were coming and were excited.  Jamie and I were able to spend time in the market with Madam Bamba and play with their two daughters.  The youngest is only eight months old and the first day she cried every time she saw us.  But I won her over by Saturday! 

Most of the families I met this weekend, including our host family were Senafo.  Most Senofo are from the North of Cote d’Ivoire.  They are majority animist in belief and have many interesting ceremonies.  Their main instrument is the Balefon.  It is like a wooden xylophone and is used in all of their celebrations.  My favorite part of their culture I observed and participated in this weekend is the dancing!  The women are great dancers and it is quite the workout.  The men also dance but normally the dancers where full outfits including a mask.  It is startling and almost scary at first but they are performers sometimes acting out a normal activity like hunting.  I am excited to learn more about this culture and I hope to work with them more during my time here.

I am still figuring out how to relate to people with animist beliefs and Muslim beliefs.  It is the same kind of difficult balance in the states of standing firm in your beliefs and building friendships.  One visiter this weekend was very excited to come greet English speakers.  He is majoring in English and we were the first native speakers he had ever spoken with.  One of his first announcements was that he heard we are Christian and he is Muslim but that is okay because it is the same and we all worship the same God.  EEK!  What do you say when you are just meeting someone for the first time with such strong a claim that you disagree with.  Luckily you can get away with just an “mm huh” here and move on.  He is interested in meeting with us to speak English so there will hopefully be an opportunity to share Christ with him.

It was great staying with a Christian family.  We would pray before each meal and at night before going to our rooms.  Mr. Bamba also prayed a beautiful prayer before we left today, asking God to bless Jamie and I and our time here in Africa.

Soooo all in all I just loved my time with the family and can not wait to visit them again.  They were so hospitable.  Bucket showers were nice and hot.  Meals were great!  We had our OWN room (a novelty here) and a toilet!  I know it was the life of luxury.  I even watched two soccer matches and had my favorite treat Aloco (fried plantains).  Everyone was so excited that we were there and very welcoming.  They love our attempts at French and Dula (the largest ethnic group in Cote d’Ivoire and the language of the market).  I wore my first African pagne (pron. panya) today to church and people just get so excited.  I am working hard to be able to communicate better in French but their patience is amazing, they even try to speak English.  This weekend I fell in love with Ivoirians.  It’s official.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Hi again!  Sorry it has been so long.  The weeks seem to pass by quickly now.  The pace of life is more steady and normal overall and that makes it hard to realize how long it has been since I last wrote.  So here I will write about some of the “do’s” and “don’ts” here in Cote d’Ivoire. 

DO greet everyone you meet, multiple times a day, and especially if you see them everyday (ex. The workers where we live).  It is highly rude to walk by without stopping to greet.  Do NOT use your left hand.  If you have something in your right hand and something else in your left and you want to hand them to somebody you should hand the thing in the right hand first and then switch the other thing from your left hand to your right.  The reason for this is that the left hand is used in the bathroom; especially good to discriminate since there is rarely toilet paper handy. 

DO bargain for most everything.  Do NOT bargain for those things with a set price.  It beats me how to tell between the two, nothing ever has a price tag.  DO make kissing sounds to hail a taxi, DO NOT kiss or touch someone of the opposite sex in public, even if you are married.  DO eat quickly and much.  Do NOT talk or sing while eating apparently it messes with the pipes the food goes down.  DO ask how a person is and their family.  Do NOT ever answer badly.  Example:  How are you?  Oh not so good today.  This is a bad response.  Always say you are good at first, later in the conversation you can bring up how you are really doing depending how close you are with a person.

DO live in community and spend time with people.  Do NOT deal directly with conflict, use a mediator.  Do NOT spend too much time alone; people think there is something wrong with you.  Do NOT show your knees in public (girls and guys).  DO dance in church :-)

Well that is all for the cultural lesson today.  If you friend Journey Corps on Facebook you can see when some of my other team mates post blogs.  That way if I forget something they can supplement it.  Honestly, I don’t much enjoy writing, but God has gifted some of my team mates with this art.

Thanksgiving was great here.  We had a big feast with all the missionaries serving with World Venture in Cote d’Ivoire.  It has been such an honor hosting them this week.  There were forty people around the table last night.  It was the biggest Thanksgiving feast I have ever had.  I am thankful I was able to be here and supply the crescent rolls! 

My stomach has begun its revolt.  I am thankful that it is just now starting but it is ironic what it revolts against.  AMERICAN FOOD!!! We had hamburgers on Wednesday for lunch and Pizza for dinner, and I thought I might die.  Tonight, we had spaghetti and I feel like my stomach is going to explode.

Haha.  I guess I am more African than I thought.  French is coming along but keep praying for it to come quickly.  Pray for relationships to deepen among us.  Finally, pray for the country this week as the elections are happening again.  This country is ready for peace.  I think of you often and keep you in my prayers.  Thank you for who you are.
Sending Ivoirian Love,

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Ça va? Oui, ça va

When greeting someone here, and you must always greet one another otherwise you are rude, you say bonjour or bonsoir.  In the morning before lunch you say bonjour and after lunch you say bonsoir.  At first I felt sorry for bonjour because it didn’t get as much use as bonsoir.  But this was before I learned about the African wake up call which happens before 6am every morning.  Thus, the morning is quite a bit longer than my mornings back home! After the initial hello, you say “ça va”.  And you can just say ça va back with different inflection or you can say wee or you can say ça va bien.  I say this probably thirty to fifty times a day here.

Okay, so the last time I wrote I hadn’t even been to town yet!  Wow!  What an experience it is.  We have gone into the market four times now.  The first time, last Tuesday was an odd and rare experience because of the elections.  The streets were empty and most of the stores and stands were closed.  Traffic was a breeze but it was a bit too quiet for the second largest city in the country.  The following visits I learned that was not the norm.  Today was probably the most memorable experience into town for me.  We had assignments this time and we were going off in pairs without a French liaison.  AHHH!  Naomi and I were partners and we were to buy potatoes (pom de terre) and a notebook for our French class (un cahier).  I left the market feeling sooo frustrated and tired today!  For some reason no one could understand what we wanted and the bartering system is strange and exhausting.  I am sure I will look back on this and laugh, but today was a rude awakening for how little French I know.  On the bright side we narrowly escaped death by moto-bike at least thirty times in an hour and didn’t get lost!

At any rate, that brings me to my next point…THE FOOD!  I have enjoyed all the African food I have has thus far and because we have an American cook as well, Katrina, we get yummy American dishes as well.  Such as, spaghetti on Sundays and I think tomorrow we are having hamburgers!  This is nice to kind of ease us into another type of food.  I, so far, have not gotten sick…knock on wood!  So, one of my favorites is what we ate tonight…I ate way too much.  Okay I am going to try to describe it for you because this is a common thing for people to eat here.  It is pronounced achakay (spelled atteke).  It is sort of like cous cous but it is made out of yam.  Oh and you eat it with your hand (right not left, that’s gross here!)  So you and another person have a plate of achakay to share.  You take from another plate some lightly sautéed onions and tomatoes and smash it into the “cous cous” so that it makes the “cous cous” stick together better to get into your mouth.  They also have a red spicy sauce to add and help it stick. And some grilled chicken on the bone.  I am very messy but I am so happy when I eat it.  You guys would be amazed at what we can make from scratch out here with our minimal resources.  There isn’t a lot of dairy out here, and yet we have bread and cake and ice cream.  It is amazing what you can do with milk powder and cocoa.

The next addition will include “a Day in the Life of a Journeyer” and “French/ Ivoirian faux pas”.  Stay tuned.  I love you, friend.  May God Bless you and keep you.
Until then. 

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Je suis en Afrique!

So after three plane rides and a 7 hour layover, we arrived in Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire.  Amazingly enough all of our luggage made it too!  As soon as we walked through customs, we were greeted by Angelika and Beckie.  Angelika and her husband Rod are the directors of Journey Corps and Beckie is our French teacher.  It is hot and humid here, even at 9pm when we first stepped out into the African air.  After loading up all our luggage we drove to a Christian school in Abidjan to stay for the night.  The next morning we left bright and early for Boauké where we will live for the next three or so months.  The drive north was beautiful and not too bumpy!  They have a great road that bridges the south to the north.  It is the end of the rainy season so everything is green and jungle like. 

So much has happened and I haven’t been able to completely process everything so this may be a little incoherent, like my thoughts.  I would actually love to hear what you guys would like to hear about and I can write accordingly.  If you want to hear about day to day activities or people or food or culture or language learning just let me know.  The internet is quite spotty so it takes a long time and we only have two hours a week to be on.  Due to this I will try to write my blogs ahead of time so I can just post them when I am actually able to connect to the internet.

As of now, all I will write is that I am loving my experience overall!  The school we are staying at it beautiful and huge!  It used to be a school for missionary kids, but when the war started in 2004 everyone had to be evacuated.  So it can be a bit eerie at times with all the empty dorms and classrooms.  It is crazy how much they had to do to get our dorm clean and ready for us to live in it.  Things fall apart and grow over really quickly here and I think some of our responsibilities will include cleaning up different buildings hopefully for future use.

We are going into the town for the first time today, so next time I can write, I will write about that experience.  For now, au revoir!

<3 love you,
heidi paige.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Tomorrow is the DAYYY!!!

Tomorrow morning bright and early we will be packing up and going to Denver Airport and so our 35 hour travels begin!!!  Mornings are just my least favorite, I feel a little sick during them anyways but be praying for my butterflies as I am feeling a little nervous :)  God is so faithful in giving me peace and rest.  I am so thankful for my team.  God has blessed us with a team of people lovers.  We are a family now.  Only knowing each other 72 hours and already able to joke with each other, laugh with each other and pray with each other. 

God has been teaching me so much already about being flexible and I know this will be a major theme in travel and throughout the next year.  I love you and am unbelievably grateful for your prayers.  I know that they are working in the fact that all my bags are packed and under 50 pounds.  I will try to post a blog when I arrive in Cote d'Ivoire.

Bon Voyage!  :)

Monday, October 25, 2010

First Day of Training!

Okay so I am the beautiful city of Littleton, CO!  The mountains and trees are gorgeous and it really feels like fall.  I met my team yesterday and if any of you are familiar with the Real World, it was kind of a similar experience.  We met each other at the airport and were taken in a van to our new home.  Once we got there we had to find the room with our name on it and find out who our room mate would be.  I was paired with this girl named Holly.  She is 20 years old and from Seattle.  I like her a lot, except she says I snore :)  haha I do!
I love our group!  7 girls and 3 boys.  We took a personality test and talked about our results to today.  It is so funny how obvious everyone's personality is even though we just met.  It was  DISC assessment and the D is a person who is a little more dominant, leading and direct.  The I is for someone who is a people person, loves being in big groups, wants everyone to like them and is relational based.  The S is for someone who loves people but in smaller one on one settings.  They are sensitive and like to listen to what others have to say.  And the C is for people who are exact, enjoy problem solving and deep thinking as well as details. 
Can you guys guess what I was???  I can be more than one and am each at differing levels.
We have training til four and then I think we are going a really scenic hike nearby the campus.
I miss you already and am praying for you!  Thank you for your prayers and thoughts as well!
<3 Heidi

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

sixteen days.

i am having a hard time writing an entry.  i think this is because i am not sure exactly what i am feeling or because my feelings are conflicted.  this next week and half until i leave for training and then africa will be filled with such excitement, and yet a certain amount of sorrow as well.  i may not have access to the internet as much as i thought i would.  maybe even as little as once a month.  i am comforted by the fact that i can come to GOD at any time.  no internet connection necessary.  

in a little over two weeks i will be in my new home for the next year.  i am filled with joy and anticipation for this time (understatement of a lifetime). <3 

Wednesday, September 8, 2010


My plane ticket is bought...the date is set! October 24th we leave for Colorado for training and then October 28th we are bound for Cote D'Ivoire!
God is so great! He is providing in so many different ways. I love how He shows up, we think of it as last minute or late, but really He is right on time. The Journey has just begun, I hope you will stick with me to the end.
If you would like to meet for coffee or talk before I go, please let me know as communication will be much easier while I am still stateside!
a bientôt, les amis!