31 August 2010

1st week anniversary

I have made it through the first week of living in Lubumbashi. It has already been quite an experience and I am even more excited about living here for the next year. I will hopefully have a more elaborate update for you on here in the next couple of days of how my first week has been.

Tonight I went out with the roommate to a nice restaurant and had a cheese burger and coke and watched Justin Bieber music videos in the background. It was a pleasant evening and a great way to mark the first week in Lubumbashi

27 August 2010

Travel Summary

A little travel summary of my trip from Boise to Lubumbashi.

They trip went very smoothly. Met a few people on the flights but the most memorable was probably on my first flight from Boise to Denver. I sat next to Mary, who quickly announced she had a great fear of flying. She is a mother of 5 (2 of whom are adopted) and was in Boise because she was adopting a girl from there. She was returning to her home in Springfield, Missouri. She sat in agony with her eyes closed for most of the flight. With every jolt of turbulence she would grip the arm rests and yell, "Oh sweet Jesus"! I felt bad but it was very entertaining. As soon as we landed in Denver she called her husband and told him she would see him the next day because she was not going to take the next flight and would just take the bus the rest of the way.

As Mary arranged for a bus, I took another flight to Washington, DC, where I spent the night at a hotel. I got the the airport 3 hours early the next morning, thinking I would need plenty of time to get through the airport for my international flight. It took me 15 mins to get to my gate. If only LAX could be that easy. So I then had an 8 hour flight to Rome. We arrived at midnight local time and were not allowed off the plane, as we were only there for an hour to refuel. So my first time to Italy was not very exciting. From Rome, we flew to Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. This flight took 5 and a half hours and I was very surprised at how nice the Addis airport was. I spent an hour in the airport before catching my last flight to Lubumbashi. The itinerary that I received said I would be flying through Malawi before arriving at my final destination. Apparently, the airlines route changed and I flew directly to Lubumbashi. This was fine, except that I arrived 2 hours earlier than expected and I wasn't sure if anyone from MAF would be there to pick me up. I made my way through customs and worked my way out of a $10 "fee" charged for entering the country. I used my skills of ignorance and lack of language to get out of paying. I then made my way to the baggage claim, where I was happy to see my new roommate Ian. Thankfully, he had been in the airport to see some other friends off and just happened to see that my flight was coming in earlier so he was there to pick me up. Otherwise, the MAF guys would not have been able to come pick me up at that earlier time. I managed to get one of my bags, but one did not arrive with me so we had to report it. It did come in on the next flight 2 days later however. From the airport we drove to the house and live in Lubumbashi began.

21 August 2010

Boise, Minneapolis, Phoenix

Well the departure date is coming up soon and things have been hectic in the final weeks. I was lucky enough to get a couple trips in before my BIG trip to the Congo. I treated them as a warmup trips before my long flight overseas. I did the math. In the last week I have done 11hours 54mins of flying. My total time flying to the Congo will total 24hours 31mins!

My first trip was sports related. As you may or may not know about me I am actively involved in the sport of Ultimate. I have mostly been a player of the sport and in the last 7 months I have also started coaching youth. I was given the honor of being asked to help coach a youth team (under 19) from Boise, which was traveling to Blaine, MN to compete in the Youth Club Championships. This tournament is the national championships for youth club teams and the first year an Idaho team has been invited to play. Participating at the tournament was the best youth players in the country representing teams from Seattle, Denver, Boston, North Carolina, Nebraska, Minneapolis, Cincinnati, Pittsburg, and Delaware Valley. Our team did very well and finished 3rd overall! The whole team had a ton of fun and really enjoyed the experience of playing on a national level.

My second trip was family related. My brother Mark, his wife Heidi, and son Elijah are currently living in Phoenix, AZ. It had been a year since I had seen them so I made a trip down to see them before I head off for a year myself. I was only able to spend 2 days with them but it was well worth the trip. It was especially fun hanging out with my nephew Eli, who is a bundle of entertainment.
Me and Heidi

Me, Eli, and Mark

Eli enjoying the water slide

Eli quickly learning how to work the water guns

Now I'm back in Idaho frantically trying to figure out what I need to pack for the next year. It is weird to think that in 4 days from now I will be unpacking everything in my new home in the Congo. Amongst all the packing and tearful good byes with friends and family it has been starting to set in that life is about to turn upside down. I hope I'm ready for the ride.

10 August 2010

Pretty Good But Not So Good

In 12 days I embark a new journey to an unfamiliar place. DR Congo. I did spend 4 years of my early childhood in the Congo, but 17 years have elapsed and my memories from then are faded. Unfortunately I did not write a blog back then to try and capture my experiences and emotions I took on as an American child living in Africa. I'm sure it would have been very deep and full of insight. For example, I actually have an excerpt of a letter I wrote my cousins as a child in Africa:

"I am having lots of fun since grandma and grandpa have come here. Well it's getting a little colder. Grandma is teaching us how to knit. I am pretty good but not so good."

Powerful writing to say the least. But now, focusing on current times, I have decided to start this blog to keep all you family, friends, supporters, and curious internet drifters entertained and updated on my new life in the Congo. I'm not sure what all I will include in this blog, but hopefully I can give maybe a glimpse of my experience here for the next year and hopefully I will be faithful enough to update it every so often. I'm really excited for this next year of my life. I'm guessing it is going to be "pretty good but not so good".