June 6, 2009- Mid-Service Conference: Monday to Friday my group attended two conferences, one with our counterparts as a way to build capacity and plan activities for the upcoming year. The other session with the Medical Officer dealt with grief and loss. During one of the Grief and Loss sessions, an “assignment” was to draw a picture depicting some aspect of grief or loss we’ve experienced since our arrival. I drew a picture of a lotus flower emerging from a lake alongside the
It takes time to let go of the things that weigh us down. It takes time to emerge from darkness or sadness or disappointment to reveal a renewed, happier self; a self who is not afraid to be. This self no longer wants to hide from the light; she wants to live. A lose of the old self, but a gain of a changed self, one of quality and substance.
I experienced a significant transformation shortly before I left for Peace Corps. I’ve experienced several smaller ones since my arrival in
June 7, 2009- Baking Crackers: I made a version of Wheat Thins today. A fellow volunteer told me how good the recipe was so I decided to try them. I made crackers! Who’da though that was possible? Somehow it only seems possible in
June 9-22, 2009- The Gaspers Go to Africa: My mom, dad, and sisters, Sharon and Annette arrived in
They mastered using the pit latrine at night, while holding a flash light and calling off the dogs. My sisters slept in my very springy bed, and my parents slept in a nearby rondovol (round hut) that up until 2 weeks ago held baby chicks. I slept on a sponge on the floor. Everyone eagerly anticipated Friday morning, and our destination,
Tuesday morning we headed back to
My parents celebrate their 50th wedding anniversary next August. They took an adventure to
Side note: Everyone thought my mother was the sweetest and kindest woman they had ever met, that her smile was lovely, and that she looked very young. They thought my sisters were friendly and non-judgmental, that Sharon was the youngest and Annette the oldest b/c of height. They believed my father to be stern and wise, as they thought he was a pastor
June 30, 2009- Frost on the Fields: This morning I woke to find frost on the fields and the grass around my hut. I noticed a light smattering of white all along the ground as I rode the bus to town. The low last night was 2 degrees Celsius; the high yesterday was maybe 12 degrees. That’s pretty cold for
On June 26th, I celebrated my 1 year anniversary. I’ve been here one year, and it seems quite hard to fathom. I helped another volunteer and two PC staff members pick up the new volunteers—Group 7—on the 25th. Meeting them and being at the airport was surreal. I was trying to wrap my head around the fact that I’ve been in country for a year and that it really has gone quickly, as well as wading through the plethora of questions being thrown at me by the excited and nervous newbies. It makes me question, what have I learned in 12 months of PC life and service? Good question. I’ve learned: 1.) Frustrations are the result of expectations; 2.) To have really good friends in my community means I’ve integrated, and if that’s the only thing I accomplish in my time here, then I’ve been successful; 3.) With all honestly, I have 28 PC friends that I truly care about and look forward to spending time with each time I’m in their company; 4.) Swaziland never seizes to amaze me- some people in my community act like they’ve never seen me before, some call me by name; the weather is freezing one day, and balmy the next; my Swazi friends are always happy to see me just because I’m me; the winter landscape is a gorgeous deep burnt red and the summer shows 7 shades of green; 5.) My hut is my home- I hate my pit latrine and I wish I had a real kitchen and bathroom but I feel comfortable in my little hovel; 6.) I know how much I can live without, and I know how to get by with what I have…it’s a nice feeling to not need material things; 7.) I know what I don’t want to live without- the freedom to speak my mind, the freedom to be a woman with equal rights, good healthcare, equal pay…oh and a kitchen and bathroom with running water; 8.) Life is constantly throwing obstacles in my path….do I duck or do I try to catch them? The answer is different each day, and that’s okay; 9.) Love without rules; and 10.) Only by jumping in without restraint can you have the full experience available to you.
It’s taken many long months to learn these valuable lessons, ones I need to learn for my life journey. I came to