Everything will change. A Ministry of WorldVenture.
I went to the wedding of one of the workers from campus whom we have befriended. The friendship was enough so, that he asked our group of ten to prepare a dance for his wedding (we were not the only group performing). We performed the electric slide to some random country song, yes there is documentation. Definitely not African, but the novelty of the dance won their applause; of course they could have just been laughing at us. It was funny to then run into people later that week who were also at the wedding and saw the dance. The wedding was not what you would find in the United States but it was heavily influences by western culture: there was a cake, the bride and group, a videographer walked around, the groom wore wore a suite, they exchanged vows, and everyone cheered for the kiss.
I have been spending more time with a young man about my age from the church. His name is Benjamin, at least the part of it I can remember. I usually just stop by his house, unannounced, for a couple hours and maybe lunch. If he is out in the fields I do my best to help. We often just sit around with his brothers, younger and older, and talk. For lunch we sit around a large metal bowl of rice and sauce, and there are always mangos from the trees around his house to eat. Although, I think I ingested some extra-strength stool softener the last time I was there. Also, His little brother showed me the hamster like thing he is raising to eat, and the dead one from the kitchen.
I went to primary school with my host father to sit in on a class. He teaches younger students, so I instead sat in the back of another class of students about ten to twelve years old. I play soccer every week with the teacher of this class, so in many ways it was easier than if it had by my host dad: our relationship is less formal. I am one generation after the one-room school house, but I imagine many similarities between what I saw and what my father experienced. The most prominent was the one room, although there was a room for each age group. The second was the large rubber strip the teacher carried around and used often on the students with purpose: extremities, back, and rear-end were all fair game at a moment’s notice. In addition to fear of punishment, public humiliation was used to negatively reinforce wrong answers. We started by reading aloud in French; in geography we studied the climate of Cote d’Ivoire; in math I sailed through long division; and in grammar I really lost interest and do not remember what we covered.
My head is usually full, but rarely focused such that a random thought would not carry me on a ten minute journey to nowhere. This is not a confession of ADD, but an introduction into that side of this month which conforms itself less to a short story about a single moment in my life. Each day I work on campus, I try to further my solar oven. Often it just consists in pausing as I walk by and thinking through this giant optimization problem of materials, portability, thermal mass, heat transfer, and etc. All in hopes of trying to intuitively find the limiting factor in the maximum temperature and know where to invest the extra effort. This will go on until the stinging realization enters my mind that my legs have become a type O positive buffet. Why did I come to a country with a rainy season instead of a snow season? I think this and at the same time my mind is probably now toying with where this boat-train is going: I never expected to be in Africa, so where next will I not expect myself to be? My reasons for continuing are different from the reasons I came and less easily communicated, but He who guides me remained the same and it is on that which I hang my sanity. If I am learning anything, it is how little I know of what to expect. I never expected to say goodbye to four friends before I have been here six months. I had in the back of my mind people may be leaving at different times, but watching go home some of the few people who feel most like family in Cote d’Ivoire stirs up thoughts for them all more often. They are to me family and my prayers are invested in their needs as much as for my mom, dad, and litter sister. I encourage you as well to remember them for many face situations more challenging than I. This blog is not meant to be a journal, but I hope knowing more than just things I did will give you things to pray for and encourage the idea of partnering together to serve Ivoirians.