Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Two Weeks Already

Okay - so I have to apologize. I really was hoping to be blogging more, but with no Internet at home yet and not really able to spend oodles of time on the computer at work, I have been remiss in my updates. However, I have been trying to get something quick and dirty up on Facebook so even if you hate Facebook - at least try and read my status :)

Just wanted to give you a heads up on that note. I promise to come back around really soon. Stay faithful dear readers. This road is not forgotten just needing some work - like the roads in Kinshasa :)

Monday, October 12, 2009

One Week in Congo

So I've been in the DRC for one week so far. Well not even quite a week and already I have gotten on a plane and flown to the other side of the country. This week I will be in Goma - right on the border of the DRC and Rwanda. I'm sitting on Lake Kivu at the moment looking across the water to Rwanda. It's a bit surreal. Which is probably the best way to explain my time here so far. I'm still reeling from figuring out the job to the language to the fact that I'm here for two years and need to make friends and everything. So far I've settled in to my apartment which is so spacious. I feel really blessed to be there. And the people I've met so far have been really nice. I'm hoping to make some good friend connections though and find a spiritual community. I think, no I know, that will keep me sane. So here are some observations thus far - in no particular order and no particular importance.

It's going to take work to get out from behind the USG persona, but I think its doable.

I have found spinach in little frozen portions in a giant bag (like frozen chicken breasts) which makes me so happy. Thus far my favorite food item. Not only do I love spinach but the little portions are so much handier than making one large frozen box of the veggies.

The clock light on my stove will blink continuously for the next two years because the power goes out often and the generator kicks in. There's no point in setting the clock because everyday it will end up blinking and wrong. Which of course means I'm incredibly greatful for the fact that I will always have power no matter what.

Is is expensive here but that can also be relative. Store brand grocery items are about the price of good brand items in the States. And name brand are outrageous - a box of corn flakes $20 or thereabouts. But eating out seems to be about what it costs in DC - which is expensive in the U.S. but I'm a bit used to it. However, things like pizza that was delivered is $20 for a medium. It's good pizza though and will be well worth the price when I get a craving.

Haven't really gotten sick so far - had one day that was a bit crazy but thank goodness for meds.

I will love any and all packages sent my way.

I've watched a lot of movies already on my computer.

It's definately hot here so here's hoping the pool at my building will be fixed soon. So far going on six months with no water.

Really praying and hoping to find a christian community if it doesn't happen through the church then the community at large. I can feel how incredibly important that's going to be for me.

I have had so many moments where I feel like I'm living a movie or a book about this kind of life, this part of the world, etc. It really is a surreal experience always.

That's it for now.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Less Than Two Months And Counting

In case anyone is still reading this, I have found out where I will be spending the next two years...The Democratic Republic of Congo. Yep - that would be the Heart of Darkness aka Zaire aka the middle of Africa. And if all goes well next Friday during my French exam I'll be leaving the first week of October - just around the corner. Once I get settled in, I'll be sure to update this blog, until then, thanks for waiting.

Monday, February 02, 2009


The absence on this blog can be explained by several things - the primary being I have started my new job. As a result, I don't have quite the time I used to have to update this thing, so I will probably take a break. Those of you who do know me and are interested in staying updated, I encourage you to email me and I will let you know what's happening. I may reinitiate this blog, but for at least the next couple weeks, I won't be on here.


Friday, December 19, 2008

American By Choice

This week I was privileged to be part of a naturalization ceremony for a friend of mine. Several coworkers and I headed to the Convention Center in downtown DC. It was an awesome experience to see so many people gathered together for the sole purpose of becoming citizens of the United States. According to the judge presiding over the ceremony this was the largest naturalization ceremony in DC history with 701 people from 104 countries pledging allegiance to the United States. I was misty eyed through much of the 2+ hour ceremony.

We had a color guard, the national anthem, the reading of each name and country of those becoming naturalized, the oath of allegiance to the United States, the pledge of allegiance to the flag and then a big congratulations with much waving of small American flags. Some of my favorite moments were the cheers that came after the new citizens were told they could receive their passports in as little as three days! Other favorite moments: a stoic couple from Croatia beaming and kissing after they became citizens and some young adult kids cheering for their 60+ year old parents as their names were called.

Overall, it was really exciting to see people become Americans by choice and it was a thrilling memory to have with me as I will be on the frontlines of the visa line helping to start others dreams come to reality in a ceremony like this some day.

Monday, December 01, 2008

What's New Pussycat, Woah, Woah, Woah

Being a Monday and all, I thought I might post a few updates for my few faithful readers. If you are one of them, thank you for sticking with me through thin and thick and hardly there posts.

Update #1 - Foreign Service

As you have seen from the previous blog, I have been offered and have accepted a position with the State Department as a Foreign Service Officer. I'm still excited and still in a bit of shock when I start to think about it. Orientation will begin for me on January 5 in DC. I'm glad that I get to stick around the area for a bit longer while in transition and don't have to move to a new city quite yet. On February 13, I will attend what is known as Flag Day. The day I find out which country I will be spending the next few years working and living in for my first post. This will be a day of great anticipation and nervousness and excitement and I'm already planning a big party for that evening. I will also learn at that time what additional training I will need before leaving for post ie. language training and other important things. I'm guessing that I will be leaving for post sometime the end of next summer or early fall. Of course this is all a guess and I won't know for sure until February. I'm already busy starting to think about a myriad of different things like insurance, taxes, moving, buying things I'll need, clothes, etc. It's gonna be fun but also a lot of work. If you think about it and are the praying type, I would really appreciate prayers for wisdom and insight regarding my choices of posts (I get to put in my preferences) and for the assignment of those posts and for an openness and sense of camraderie and friendship among the 70 plus of us that are starting orientation together.

Update #2 - The Grand Canyon

This was an amazing four day backpacking trip that I was able to go on with my dad, his brother and half sister. We hiked to the bottom of the Canyon, spent two nights at the bottom, hiked halfway up, camped again, and hiked the rest of the way. It was spectacular and a vacation of firsts for me:

first time to the Grand Canyon
first time backpacking
first time meeting my Dad's half sister
first time seeing the Hoover Dam
first time in Arizona
first time in Las Vegas
first time swimming in the Colorado River
first time smoking a cigar

Overall, it was a great vacation of firsts and what was even more cool about it was that I found out about the Foreign Service a couple hours before flying on a plane to start the trip. I spent the whole time in the canyon vacillating between "I'm in the Grand Canyon" and "I'm a Foreign Service Officer". It was great and so cool to hang out with my dad and family for a couple days. I'll post pictures soon.

Update #3 - Thanksgiving in Nashville

I just spent four days in Nashville, TN with my friend (and pastor) Heather and her husband Ryan and another friend/colleague Juliet. We spent the holiday with Heather's sister and brother in law and other related family members. I ate so much that it hurt to even look at food again. But it was so much fun. We went to Fido's - this really cool coffeeshop, the Catfish House for some delicious grilled catfish (and fried okra, fried green tomatoes, fried pickles, and friend onion rings - all was delicious but I don't want to eat fried food for a while), Corkys for awesome barbecue ribs and collard greens with pepper vinegar - yummy, and of course the house for turkey and all the trimmings. It was some good eating. We also made it out to the Grand Ole Opry for an evening of good country music. It was so cool to be there even if I didn't know any of the artists or the songs, but just so much fun anyway. On the ride back, we "ran into" my friend Josh on the highway, so I switched cars and rode back back with him which was so much fun. Overall, a great holiday.

Update #4 - The New House

For those of you in the know (and those who now will be), I moved into the city a month ago. I'm now a ten block walk from work and loving being in the city. I still haven't quite gotten everything unpacked and in its place but I'm getting there. So far its been an easy transition and it will make the new commute in January pretty easy as well.

Friday, October 31, 2008

World Here I Come

Just to let you all know that as of 2:30pm today, I am officially a Foreign Service Officer with the Department of State. It has been a long journey but as mentioned in my previous entry - Praise God from whom ALL blessings flow. More details when I return from my backpacking trip to the Grand Canyon and Cirque du Soleil in Las Vegas.

WOW. still in shock.