October 07, 2015

On Moving, Arachnids, Culture Shock and Accents {part 2}

{this is part 2 of my three-part blog on #takingSAagain - for part 1 click here}

After getting into our rooms at the lodge, I was chatting with my new roommate and Dawn & Brian in my room when Alison came in with a concerned look.  "I don't want anyone to worry but..." she started.  I was intrigued.
She continued to tell us that a very large, very harry spider was just found (and killed) in one of the other rooms.  "It was this big!" she said, holding up her hands about the size of a baseball.
"Oh, that's probably a baboon spider or something similar from the tarantula family.  They're no problem, you might get tingly or have a little pain if they bite you, but you won't die." I say.

They stared at me like I was a fairy in a tutu.
Dawn asks, "Was there a huge blood splatter or anything when Chuck killed it?!"
"Oh no, " I said, before Alison could even respond. "They don't squish, they just kind of crunch."
More crazed eyes in my direction. "Yea, what she said," Alison replied.
"Oops.  Too much?  Sorry."
I guess life in Tanzania has given me more information {and less fear} of arachnids than I thought. 

Saturday morning my alarm was set for 4:30am, to be prepared for a 5:30 breakfast and 6am departure.  I woke promptly, got dressed and ready to go... and realized my phone was still on Tanzanian time.  An hour behind South Africa. facepalm

After spending all morning and most of the afternoon at the Acts of Love Medical Clinic in Diepsloot, I was exhausted.  While at the clinic I struggled to find my place.  My mind was literally unable to brain.  I was having serious processing issues, and my thoughts were all over the place.
This is so weird.  
This is amazing. Look at all these people.  
Wow, there are more than enough volunteers, how awesome.
There are so many people here, what is there for me to do?
This is my life, I don't want to take away from the short-termers, and the ones that have never been on the mission field abroad.
I should be doing something.  I'm the one that's a full time missionary, I should be doing something.
What do I do?
Oh sheesh, I sound like a lunatic!
I ended up going for a muffin and a water, and while I was there I noticed the leader of the food-organizing was a little more than frantic, and asked if I could help.  I ended up organizing and handing out sandwiches and juice to all the medical volunteers and it was perfect.  My sweet spot.  I love to serve and was so happy to find a place that I could actually do something, and to thank the doctors, nurses and pharmacists for their service - it was a great fit.
Afterward, I felt like it was time to take some pictures, so I got my camera out and just walked around snapping away.  Then a few of us noticed the tremendous amount of trash all over the place from everyone's lunches, so we grabbed some trash bags and cleaned up the place.
By the time we were done cleaning up and handing out food, it was about time to go so we headed back to the lodge to freshen up before meeting Pastor Peter and his parents for dinner back at the church.
After freshening up we all met for a quick debrief from the clinic. Everyone was sharing their favorite moments, and mine was handing out food and feeling like I had a purpose. I tried my darndest to describe how I was feeling, but there just weren't words to make it make sense outside of my head.  Brian asked, "Two words that describe how you're feeling right now - just two!" The only thing that came to mind: Culture Shock.
"Don't take it the wrong way," I explained, "but it's been a really long time since I've been around this many Americans.  And you all are very American."  I struggled understanding a couple of the team members because of their southern accents, when all of them struggled understanding the South African accents, which I could clearly understand.  I came out of my room from "freshening up" in a fresh t-shirt and the same pair of jeans (which I intended to wear all 4 days of my trip), when most of them came out business casual, hair freshly curled (or straightened) and a new coat of makeup on their faces, accessories and perfume to boot.  I did not fit in this group.  Yes, I am American. But mostly, I'm not.  I'm more Tanzanian than American these days, and surrounded by these people (whom I love very much), that fact had become abundantly clear.  Add that to the dichotomy that was them realizing, "Were in Africa!" to me thinking, "This is like {pseudo} America!" ... well, let's just say it was throwing me for a loop.
After dinner one of the team members offered to cut my hair - having not had a professional hair cut in over a year, I was thrilled at the chance to have a real haircut from an actual stylist. My over-the-sink-with-kitchen-scissors-cut could only go on for so long. When she was finished, everyone joked, "You're becoming more American!" Ha.  On the outside, maybe.
After that I stayed up until 3am getting to know my roommate.  It's pretty eerie the amount of things we had in common.  When I was a kid, I had a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle bed set.  She had a TMNT sleeping bag.  We both had very similar past home-lives and are similar levels of snarky, smart in math and we are both missionaries that are horrible in geography.  At 1:00am we gave in to our munchies and busted into our gift basket, settling on a Tempo bar split between us.  After we lay back down to chat some more I noticed a little tiny spider on the ceiling, about the size of a nickel.  "Throw your shoe at it!" she says.
"No way, then there'll be a footprint on the ceiling.  The ones on the ceiling, you just leave them be." I reply.
She gives me goofy eyes like everyone did when I spoke so flippantly about the tarantula the previous night.  At 3am we call it quits, hoping for at least 5 hours of sleep before Sunday arrived.

Sunday was my day.  It was The Day God had me there for.  But it'll have to wait for another time...
{to be continued...}