Restless Nights

I discovered another house guest. I was laying in bed reading by the light of a little lantern that I keep next to my bed, just as I was about to turn it out and go to sleep I saw a shadow moving along the wall near the ceiling. I looked up and it was a gecko. I watched it walked around for a while and then it found the bathroom door with my towel hanging on a hook from the back side of it and it promptly climbed down and nestled in the towel. I vowed then and there that I would never put on clothes or a towel or anything without checking it first. I am not afraid of it but it does make me a little uneasy and I decided that I would hang my mesquito net first thing in the morning. I think it will make me feel a bit more comfortable.

Today was my first real day here. After a little breakfast Ellen and I walked to the Musana workshop. As we walked up to the shop the doors were wide open and a group of women all sat together working. They started to sing when they saw us, a little song that they learned as children in school. It was set to the music of she’ll be coming round the mountain, only the words were “we are happy to receive you, welcome”

It’s interesting because people will come up to you and shake your hand and say You’re Welcome, and it throws me off because it sound like I should have said thankyou first. Its kind of silly I guess when you think about it that in America we say you’re welcome to someone who has said thankyou. It actually makes more sense as a greeting.

I sat and helped the women sort beads and tried to get to know them a little. They are very friendly and nice but I think English doesn’t come as easily to most of them as I thought it might so they are not as talkative as I wish. Two of the women brought their babies with them and I was shocked when I held one and realized that he had wet through his diaper and nobody seemed to care. Than I realized that, actually since they don’t have disposable diapers or diaper covers to keep the wet from coming through babies are probably all wet like that. As I have noticed other babies, many of them just go naked on the bottom and I can only assume that their mothers find it easier that way.

Again I blessed the hand sanitizer that mother sent.

After working with the women for a few hours I decided that a quick walk back to the house would be good. I had been wanting to see if I trusted myself to find the way alone and since Ellen was busy working I headed out for a little walk. I thought I had a pretty good idea where I was going but before long things started to look unfamiliar and then I came to the sugar cane fields that mark the edge of town and I knew I had gone too far. I retraced my steps looking for a turn that I might have missed. Suddenly I saw a large black sign that said The church of Jesus Christ of latter-day Saints and I knew right where I was. The church is just around the corner from my house so I was able to find the little alley way between two buildings that I had forgotten and made it home.

To shy to come close

To shy to come close

I gathered a few things and filled my pockets with candy thinking that I might as well start to get to know the kids and what better bribery than pockets full of candy. As I was walking back it wasn’t long before children started waving to me and shouting Mazungu! So I reached in my pocket and pulled out a piece of candy and offered it to them. Soon my pockets where empty and I continued my walk. Several hours later as I sat working in the open doors of the Musana workshop I heard children whispering and I heard Mazungu which has almost started to feel like my name. I looked up and saw a small handful of children lingering by the road next to the workshop, grinning shyly at me. I suspect that word of the Mazungu with pockets full of candy had gone around and they had come looking for me. They sat there giggling shyly at me, for some time but I had nothing to give them so they soon wandered away.

waiting for Mazungu

waiting for Mazungu

I had my first boda boda ride today. Ellen and I had run out of drinkable water so we went to get some. The large jar was heavy so we decided to take a boda on the way home. After dinner I tried to stay awake so that I could sleep through the night but the power had been out all day, the computers where dead and without lights or computers or anything to do and feeling so sleepy I finally gave in and went to bed at about 7.

I was awakened by the sound of drums and shouting, shrill whistles and screams and singing. I lay there wondering what in the world was going on but when the sound continued for about an hour I decided to go check it out. My watch said it was 1:30. I unlocked the pad lock that we use to lock our door and let myself out into the courtyard. I had forgotten about the gate and found it locked with a pad lock as well and since I didn’t have a key to that I stood there trying to decide what to do and how I was going to get out when I heard a sound. One of the men that lives in our little compound was standing at the blanket that serves as a door to his little apartment. He asked if I needed something and I told him that I wanted to go out. He had a key and opened the gate for me. When you come back just knock and I will let you in he told me.

I hadn’t thought to bring a light with me so I took my time walking carefully down the road toward the sound of the music and voices, Soon I came to some kind of a warehouse. People were standing near the doorways watching and I joined them. Inside was a born again Christian revival meeting. I had never seen anything like that before. The preacher was shouting, people where wailing and whistling and the music was blaring. People would get up and walk to the front of the room shaking their hips in ways I didn’t know hips were capable of moving and holding their hands in the air they would dance, their eyes closed and their faces turned toward the sky.

I stood in the door way and a man offered me his seat. I declined saying I was only going to watch for a minute. Then a women came and took my hand and led to me to front of the room and offered me a chair on the second row. I sat and watched entranced by the strangeness of these people’s worship. At one point the preacher started to speak somewhat in English. I could only make out a few words here and there but he was looking right at me and I gathered that he wanted me to come up on the platform. He came down and offered me his hand and I pretended shyness and refused to get up. Honestly I just had no idea what it was that they wanted me to do. After watching for an hour or so I went back home and knocked quietly on the gate. The man let me in and I went back to bed but the noise continued until the sun came up so I didn’t sleep much.

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Swept off my feet

So my second date was actually in my opinion the most interesting of all the awful dates I’ve been on. Read on and you will see why. When I was in second grade I went to a school for all the children in our group ( we refered to our community as a group instead of a church) I often saw my best friends older brother and I developed a little crush on him. I never really spoke to him just looked from afar. At any rate I moved away after second grade and didn’t see him again.

Then one day shortly after I had joined the LDS Church I got a phone call from a number I didn’t recognise. the voice on the other end informed me that it was this same boy. Lets call him Andy. Since I hadn’t even really known him or talked to him in second grade I was rather surprised to get a phone call from him almost twenty years later. I’m here to tell you it was a little weird. I asked him how he got my number and he said he had simply called my dad and asked him for it. Honestly even though I had left the group I was still rather surprised that my dad would give a guy my phone number. But he had and now I found myself actually on the phone with Andy. I wondered if he still looked as good as he did years ago.

He told me that he was in town and asked if I wanted to spend the day with him. Everything in my head was telling me not to go. The whole situation was weird, and he was a guy! It just felt wrong! I kept thinking I cant do this! Tell him no. But then another part of me would think. You are LDS now you can do this. Its ok…no its something you really need to learn how to do. If nothing else this will be good practice. Or at the very least it will be interesting…

And it was. I said yes and an hour later he showed up at the door to pick me up. He was looking as handsome as I had remembered in a black double-breasted suit and a dark blue shirt that accented the blue of his eyes. He had warned me that he wanted to take me someplace nice so this time wanting to look my best I had picked out my favorite dress and done my hair as best I knew how.

The day was surprisingly comfortable. We hung out, had some fun, talked about mutual friends that we hadn’t seen in some time and just generally had a good time. He took me to dinner at a nice restaurant, insisted on opening my doors for me and held my chair for me as we sat down to dinner. Honestly I was not quite sure how to handle such gentlemanly behavior. But I had a feeling I could get used to this kind of treatment.

After dinner we went dancing. He was a good dancer. I had taken some dance classes and was feeling a bit better about dancing these days. I had at least learned a basic waltz and a few other dances so that I could do a little ballroom couple dancing. I had been wearing heels all day so after several hours of dancing my feet were killing me. As we were leaving the dance we stopped outside the building and sat talking on the edge of a large fountain. I pulled my shoes off and rubbed my aching feet. “I don’t think I can walk another step in these shoes” I said, laughing.

He had been carrying his suit coat over his shoulder as we walked and he laid it over is arm and then in one swift movement swept me into his arms and carried me to the car. WOW! I didn’t know if I should be weirded out by that or swept off my feet. Literally. I decided to reserve the right take make an opinion on that later. In the mean time he still was rather attractive so I was going to just enjoy the rest of the evening.

When he dropped me off at the house I was relieved that he didn’t walk me to the door. He opened the car door for me, gave me a hug and then told me that he would love to see me again soon. I invited him to come to church with me the following day. He agreed and then left.

I went inside and called a friend to tell her how successful my date had been. Maybe this wouldn’t be so hard after all! I told her all about the date and she seemed excited for me. Then she asked a follow-up question. “Let me get this straight,” she said, “you knew him when you were in second grade?”

“Yep”

“And what grade was he in?”

“Oh I don’t know… 10th I think”

“Oh wow so he is a little bit older than you. I’m surprised he isn’t married” she said.

“Oh, he is.” I answered

“What! what are you thinking?” She yelled into my ear. “You cant date a married man!”

Honestly it wasnt until that very moment that the realization dawned on me that yes I was LDS and I should be dating but now there were rules about who was available and who was not. And now an already married man was definitely not on the list that was available.

During dinner we had talked about his wife and kids. He had even shown me pictures and somehow It hadn’t clicked. In that moment on the phone with my friend it clicked and I had to laugh a little at how ironic that in my limited experience dating I had already managed to go on a date with a married man. So much for leaving my background behind!

That was my first date with him and that was my last. My friend sat between us as church and made it more than clear that the best thing for him was to just go on his way and leave me be. I was grateful to not have to do more than just tell him that I didn’t think it was a good idea for us to keep in touch.

I hoped that at the very least I had learned some skills to take me into a more positive dating experience the next time.