Tuesday, September 28, 2010

The Fun Just Keeps on A Coming

Lots of pics and then the blog!!!

So, Saturday morning we left Lusaka and everyone branched out to their district provincials as the final goodbye of being Trainees came to a close. Everyon's schedule of being posted is different depending on where you were placed, what was open on Sunday around you, and if you were paid by Washington or not. Some people are being placed today and other on Friday. I am going to be placed on Thursday! The 2010 class of volunteers at my provincial house are John Mann, Siobhan Goodwell, Jack Hawley, Hunter Shaffer, Michelle Christensen, John Quiery, Romana Fetherolf, Audra Blanchfield, Kimberly Tomczak, Nicholas Besley and Joseph Harvell.
Upon arrival to the provincial house, we were greeted by fellow volunteers Renee, Sprinks, Tim, Sydney, and our PCVL Liz (she is awesome). Renee, Sprinks and Tim cooked up an amazing Mexican meal for us. We had Shawarmas, rice, beans, veggies, beef on a stick and tortilla's! Not only was it for us newbie's coming in but also for Sprinks because it was her birthday! The night was pretty chill after that. Everyone sat in the living-room and watched a movie together. I have no idea what the movie was about because I missed the beginning (trying to upload pictures) but it was pretty good from what I saw. I went to sleep at around 10pm in a hammock outside on the porch at the provincial house, then I woke up at 1am to listen to the Gators kick butt on the University of Kentucky! GO GATORS!!!
Sunday, we didn't have anything to do because everything is closed on SUndays in Solwezi, Zambia. Once everyone woke up and breakfast was finished, we all kind of hung outside and played a few games while talking and figuring out what was going to be happening Monday-postings. The games we played were a blast and I also got to work on my tan haha! I am turning white again in Africa... I honestly didn't think that would be possible. After dinner all of us went to a bar and had a little fun dancing and playing pool. The DJ's love Peace Corps Volunteers seeing that he mentioned we were in the club about 30 times in the first hour. Around 11pm half of the volunteers went home and the other half went to a bar called Titanic III. Around 1am everyone was back at the house and sleeping before the big day of shopping begins Monday!
(two days later, now it's Tuesday)
Well, I was moved up in my posting from Thursday to Wednesday! So i will be posting in a few hours! I am so excited to begin this adventure. I am also happy about a few people in my province. there are a people that will make this two years go really well!
SHOPPING: So Monday we went to Shop-Rite (grocery store) and I spent 1.7 million Kwacha ($370). After Shop-Rite, we went to a wholesaler and the hardware stor in which I spent another 800,000 Kwacha. So all together in the day I spent $500 US. Then came Tuesday where I spent another 1.5 million Kwacha! haha. Now I am broke. But I will have a very comfortable house and lots of food for the next six weeks! Today I had to buy a bed, some buckets for clothes and food (to keep rats out), and I got a couple awesome bike shirts from DAPP (Goodwill, Salvation Army), they even have the three pockets on the back!
Great American Celebration: As passed down from previous generations, the new trainees are welcomed in an American Independence Day fashion. We cooked burgers, chicken, salad, and a few other great American meals. After all that was done we went to the lower house and played a beer pong tournament! Renee and I won with little competition. (Two previous frat boys who thought they knew what they were doing). But Renee and I had plenty of cushion all night while holding down the tournament. We won both the winners bracket and the final Championship Game by three cups, in a 10 cup double elimination tournament. We then ended the night in Fourth of July fashion with some good 'ole fireworks!!!!!
Well, I just want to give yall a heads up, I will not post on my blog for SIX (6) weeks so it will be a while before I can tell yall how I am doing. In six weeks we have to come back to the provincial house for our quarterly meeting so I will update the blog then! I am going to miss all of you, but at the same time all the letters I have reveived will keep me company!
I love yall and God Bless you all
Love, Kenny Ray

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Shalanuhu Chongwe

ALRIGHTY!!! We (trainees) have all just said goodbye to our host-families in Chongwe and are now getting ready for the big move to all Provence's. It was very sad saying bye to the family though. But, we did leave in the great American fashion. It honestly felt like a Superbowl party. There were four trainees in charge of deciding what food was going to be served and who would be doing all the cooking. Those four were myself, James, Brooks, and John Q.

Our menu:

Main course: Pizza, beer brats, hotdogs, chicken, thin steak, tostatas, and bean burritos!

Sides: Dirty mashed potato's, Salad, coleslaw, Mac-n-cheese, apples and Bananas

Desserts: Fried Oreo's, Honey yogurt, fried bacon pieces, Rice Crispy Treats and Fruit salad

The food turned out AWESOME! It was sooo good. The prize winner was definitely the pizza though. Gotta give props to Jocelyn (a 3rd year ext. Volunteer) for making the doe and sauce! All together though, it was all amazing. We started cooking, cutting, slicing and dicing at 8am and served food for 300 at 2pm. I couldn't believe everything was actually finished by then. While all of the cooking was going on, I made a few corndogs as well but those were only eaten by those laboring over the hot grills. While everyone was doing all of this food prep, I was sneaking away to take pics of all the great moments. I even have some people crying (onion cutters), others were drinking wine (salad handlers), and those drinking beers (the grill kings). I seriously wish the internet was faster so I could post pics. But, it isn't.
After all the food was eaten we were given a dance from this group in the Eastern Region. It was hilarious and fabulous at the same time. We all had so much fun. In the end, the host-families all gave trainees going away gifts in which made some trainees cry. Yup, I have pics of that too haha.
We are now at ISTT (Lusaka training center) where we will do our swearing-in tomorrow morning. After that we leave for our provences. I am so excited to finally become a volunteer!

To Sally's mom, I told Sally I was going to write about her after she told me you were reading my blog! haha. But welcome!!!

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Hair Cuts!

I just want to say I think it is awesome that Salley Cessna shaved her head!

For our swearing in, most of the guys, are going to have nice 'staches!!! it is hilarious. I have pics and will send them home for my mom to upload on Facebook b/c the internet is WAY TOOOO SLOW HERE.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

All Is Well!!!

After that tear jerker of a post (well, for me anyways). Now I will tell you about my second site visit.

I have an awesome house, as described in the second to last post.
Sunday: well, we showed up on sunday to the site (which is becoming my house) a little after 6pm. Upon arrival we were to go to the Chiefs house to give a gift and make him aware of our presence in the community for the next 10 days. His house is literally 20yd's from my house. AWESOME! After going and meeting him we went back to the house to make dinner. First, as a volunteer, you hardly every have more than 2 people at your house, so dishes are scarce. That being said, we had 7 people at Marks (our host volunteer) house. We didn't have enough dishes for everyone to have a plate and food to be served so we had to put all the food in a 2 gallon bucket. We proceeded to shake the bucket to mix all the ingredients and then there it was... We ate the next 6 dinners together out of the bucket, along with breakfast each moning to finish leftovers haha.
Monday: Because I am replacing an existing volunteer (Mark) the community threw him a going away party. Zambians know how to have a going away party. Mark traded his bed for the slaughtering of a goat and 5 chickens for us to eat at dinner before the party started. (super cheap, I know). After feasting on all of that plus Nshima, the party began. After all the singing and dancing and introducing me as their next volunteer, the excitement began. Our language trainer was at this party (you need to know that). So, the Zambians were doing a skit about Mark, but the skit implied that he did nothing his entire two years of service. This was very offensive to our language trainer (being Zambian herself and knowing her culture doesn't do jokes like this), and the "Zolleywood actors" never mentioned anything positive about Mark. After the skit was over Harriet (trainer) spoke about how if Mark was no help, why would they want another volunteer? And if they didn't want another volunteer, then to tell her and she would place me somewhere else. She was pissed. But in the end, everything was settled and they said for "lack of time" is why they didn't show all of his accomplishments and apologized to Mark. It was pretty exciting to say the least.
Tuesday: The most epic battle of Risk (a board game) took place, in which I lost. I was not created to rule the world I guess. lol. But, it was my first time playing and I didn't pick up the strategy until after I was already out. but we had a lot of fun playing and it was a heated battle as teams were formed very quickly. (Not ok, by veteran Risk player standards).
Wednesday: After language class (every day until 1pm) Mark was presenting the Chief with a walking cane and the Chief was, in return, giving Mark his old one. It was awesome to watch and I have many pictures of it. Other than dinner later that day, not much happened and it was pretty chill.
Thursday: Thursday we got out of language early to go to this celebration of these kids "coming out of the bush". In Zambia, boys are showered and bathed by their mothers until they are circumcised, usually between the ages of 4-10. They are taken into the woods with some older guys and have to stay for a month after the circumcision takes place, for healing I am guessing. but the boys were out and a huge dance celebration took place, so we attended. The boys are given money, new clothes, and new shoes for their "becoming of men." It was a pretty cool celebration to watch. After the party we went home to pack and get everything ready for the trip to The Source of the Zambezi River.
Friday: Again, after language we got our bikes and trekked to The Source. Before reaching our destination, we came up to a sign that was literally the D.R. of Congo/D.R. Zambia. Yes, I crossed the line haha. After that, we reached the main building to The Source. Now, think of (or google) the Zambezi River and then think of it ALL starting from a hole in the ground that was literally three feet by three feet. But who am I to judge... After-all, I have only been here for a little more than a month. But we took bottles of water from this source and drank it (without water purification tablets haha). Yea, we are daredevils haha. My second bottle had a water purification tablet though. lol. We ended up camping in the campground and roasted marshmellows... There were no smore's because chocolate is hard to come by and there was no way chocolate was going to last 7 days without being eaten.
Saturday: As we woke to the early morning sunrise peering through our tents, we packed everything and began our trip back to Marks site. Shortly after arriving the truck came to take everyone but me away and drop them all off at their new sites for three days of aloneness (don't think that is a word but... it's a blog so). I spent the few hours of daylight I had left bathing in the river (200m) from my house and then started cleaning my new/future house. I had to get to bed early because I had a soccer match in the next town over that I had to leave early for.
Sunday: When I woke up, I was told that we were going to leave at 9am instead of 8am because my neighbor was very sick and they thought he may pass away at any moment. nine turned to ten, then the coach told me to just go ahead and they would catch up. The field was an hour bike ride from my house. As I was riding I came across Nchilla Game Reserve where there were buffalo, deer, sable, and a few other animals. I decided to turn into the park (knowing the Zambian team would be late). As I was riding around taking pictures I came up to a church where four older white ladies stood talking. I approached them to say hello and they already knew who I was and that I was replacing Mark. (word gets around whereever Kenny Ray goes haha). But after introduction, Ester invited me to lunch with her. After the bike ride, I couldn't refuse. Ester works at the orphanage and has been there for 37 years. She made Frenchtoast and veggies. For dessert we had fresh cut pineapple and a layered dessert with jam, custard, and a whipcream topping. I ended up spending almost 4 hours there. Realizing I had probably already missed the soccer game, I decided to leave. When I arrived to the field, I got news of the elderly man's passing. I rode home and attended the beginning of the funural ceremonies.
The next two days were pretty much the same thing... I sat on my porch cooking, cleaning my house, and keeping the kids busy. The entire community never left my neighbors house for the next two days. For all I know, they are all still over there greiving the death. Literally 24 hours a day, they are outside praying, worishiping and mourning the loss of this man. There were at least 12 huge log fires set up and all going at once. I learned that this is done for each of the man's kids/grandkids.
Wednesday: Now I am back in Solewazi waiting to catch a bus tomorrow at 6am into Lusaka for two more weeks of training and then back out here to Kaseki for two years of service!!!

Love, Kenny Ray

Memories (tears) for/of Friends

Hello everyone! Today was a hard day. When we began our trip from our second site visit back to the provencial house, I began thinking about Brent (RIP). I wanted to really connect with him again but in a car with 12 people it is hard to do. I began reading The Shack by William P. Young (the book I read right after Brent passed). It made me think of how much I really miss him and others that I have lost but also that God wanted them all in heaven with him. Brent will forever be missed down here on this earth but I seriously can't wait to see him again. Tears come to my eyes just thinking about him. When I got to our provencial house I learned that a girl I went to middle school with also passed, She commited suicide. I have been checking up on Rance (may God please let him pull through). Rance went into a coma three months ago and has yet to wake up. I played volleyball with him in St. Augustine and his amazing wife, Barb! My prayers are always with them. I also learned about a 24 y/o from South Florida who passed away on the 5th of Sept from a drive by shooting in a South African town. He was with his fiance and a few other people. God Bless his family as well and keep them in your prayers.
Life is rolling bye so fast in the states so I am a little thankful for time being so slow in Zambia.
It is hard not to cry when you think of people passing, especially when they are close to your hearts. I still have not figured out what I want to do for Brent on Dec 2oth this year... I wish Zambia had an ocean, or even just a lake near my place so I could go in the water to be with him. I will think of something though. I have pictures of him so... Angyalfy family, I love you all and miss you all. Brent was very dear to all of us.
I think it is easier for a girl to show her emotions because a guy or girlfriend will quickly come to their aid.... For a guy it is much harder. I know that when it comes to lost family/friends everyone will understand but it has been a long time since I showed any emotions (crying in particular). The last few times I have, have been when Wally passed and when Brent passed. But the more I think of them the more I want to let it all go. The book I mentioned above, The Shack, seriously had me in tears more than a few times while riding in the truck... No one in there even noticed though (thankfully).
I wish there was some way that I could reconnect with them (Brent, Wally, Michelle, Allen, JR, Ashley) in a physical sense. Or even in the same way Mack does in the book when he meets God. If only the connection to the other side were so simple. They will always be in my prayers though and I know they are always looking down on me. The goosebumps I just got are evidence that they are close at all times, even if we don't see them, or even when we don't know they are on our minds. What I would do to hug any one of them.
I will keep praying for all of them and all of you out there. I love you all and can't wait to see you all when I come home.
Shawn, keep the PaddleOut going until I get back!