Hello there again, here goes another hour or two of writing pain. Im sorry it's been longer than I planned since my last update so theres a ton to report on. In fact it has been almost 3 weeks, anyway here is the run down from the last few weeks, melting pot style just as last time, daily rundowns are just too organised for me.
Week beginning Monday 27th, well as I wrote in the last post, our team made it through to the finals. The final was played on the Saturday with many issues which I will get to in a second. Training coming up to the final had been a bit disrupted with some locals purposely trying to be a nuisance or interrupt it for whatever reason. Friday the 2nd of March was the losers match (3rd and 4th place) the winner of which won a football which they tried to tell me was not ok. I was quite fed up with the ungrateful sods because we had told them we had no funding and could only offer paltry prizes, especially since it was only a pre-season tournament. I also visited the Yei Football Association with Emmanuel who were finally in their office after trying 3 or 4 times previous. Had an interesting discussion about the leagues, etc. Turns out they even have a transfer market for buying and selling players. However the record transfer is 300 SSP (about $110 NZ) which made me laugh. I came back on Saturday and registered as a player with my two passport photos. Turns out I will be one of the youngest playing in the adult league. The registration form asked me to give "four names" I told him I only had three but thought afterwards I should have added a funny one that they wouldnt have understood for a laugh. Just about everything that could possibly go wrong did go wrong for the final. The nets had been stolen in the morning for whatever reason which is only a shot in the foot of the community, there were also two adult teams trying to say they had permission to use the field at the same time, when they clearly didn't much to my frustration and their amusement as I was not only trying to organise my team with 30 mins to go until playing but also find someone in Across who could sort out the mess. Fortunately it got sorted and they moved off to another field. However that wasn't the end of it as the referee called in that he was at a funeral and couldn't referee so I got Emmanuel to referee. This could have caused real problems had we won with claims of bias however ludicrous would inevitably be heard. The final itself wasn't as much of an occassion as I thought it would be, my team went down 3-0 to the only team in the league to win every game. The score didn't really tell the story of the game as it was 0-0 at half time and they got the better of the luck to open the scoring. From there my team was pushing to score an equaliser and as a result conceded at the other end. By then the game should have been over and my team were demoralised finally conceding the third late into stoppage time, which didn't need to be played really. The other benefit of losing is that my team is now more determined to win the normal season after the heartbreak of losing a final.
The departure of the pre-season league saw the arrival of the Pioneers cross-cultural training just nearby in Yei (I'm working with Across, sent by Pioneers). There were many people from all over Africa, all of them Westerners like us. Over the course of the week we got to hear their stories about how they made it to Africa and decided upon what they are now doing just like mum and I (us). The training lasted from 8:30 until 5pm or later everyday from Sunday through until Friday so it was a busy week. We would have several breaks throughout the day the fortunately including the likes of liver for lunch, yuck. Although to make up for it we got the ever-rare chicken another day! It's amazing what becomes a talking point and luxury after a while. Speaking of time, as I am writing this I have realised it is 2 months exactly today since we arrived in Yei. Back to the training, we learned many things which explained some things we had noticed. One poinient example is where one of my players calmly told me he hadn't been at practise since his mother had died. I was quite shocked and didnt expect him to be at training the day after his mother had died even! Turns out kids will often call even the most distantly related aunty their mother. Tuesday the 6th of March I also had my first haircut, this was something that had been worrying me for a while as locals can't cut khawaja hair (khawaja means white person in Arabic and is not offensive) as they don't know how and it is so different in thickness to theirs. Thankfully an American family who are living and running a hospital in Yei (with 8 kids of their own) know how to cut/shave our hair. First I opted for going for just a trim with the scissors, but after turning out looking like a monk I decided to shave it. Not only would it mean less time until I needed to bother to have a haircut again but I gambled it would look better. Thankfully it turned out well, and when I say shaved it was using the longest attachment meaning it wasn't terribly short. Since I got the haircut many people have said they didn't recognise me and many have said I look younger, despite the fact the average age I'm guessed to be is around 25 hahahahaha. The next day after the training we went into town with the other Pioneers cross-cultural trainees. The locals must have thought it was either armageddon or more likely their lucky day with the 14 or so whities looking around. The problem is Yei isn't a very touristy place and its quite diffcult to get anything close to a souvenir, in fact the closest is probably to get some clothing made with some of the awesomely colourful fabric you can get here. Thursday arrived as the second to last day of training with Rhys and Rhonda (workers who have been at Across for 26 years!) sharing about the radio programme at Across and language learning respectively. Rhonda especially is more of a local than the locals themselves. That evening we all went to the Perrys' for dinner, fortunately they have a few large dining tables and a larger house (needed when you regularly have vistors and also have 8 kids of your own). The kids were all very cute and all wanting me to read them bedtime stories on the couch, about 4 or 5 of them crowded around me, I'll try and get a copy of the photos to put on here or FB. Friday was the end of training and the although it had been good I was glad kit was done, we also showed the others around the Across compound.
Saturday was a good day, for a couple of reasons. Firstly the ability to have a very lazy morning was welcome, but more importantly a thunderstorm, a great gift of thunder, lightning and much rain. In fact the temperature even dropped to the low 26 degrees celcius which forced me into wearing my polar fleece! I know you probably think I'm mad, but you acclimatise after a while! I also bought what I thought was called jackfruit, some oddly named fruit mum had eaten the day previous. However it turned out to be a custard apple which I managed to leave to ripen for too long and became rather foul. Sunday was a different church again which I wasn't too happy with, some of their foundational principles were beyond bizarre, for example the main one was "make heaven". I left feeling rather dizzy and sick. Fortunately the afternoon perked up and we had lunch with a couple of the remaining Pioneers. A buffet lunch to be more specific which was very satisfying.
This brings us to last week, heck its been a long blog and Im not nearly done, sorry! Monday the 12th of March Emmanuel left with his wife Grace and his daughter Naomi to go to Mundri for "the week", I was originally going to go with him but we will wait to do this later in the year probably around June. So for the week it was just Ruman and I. The first couple of days were filled with meetings and meetings that ended up being postponed. Wedenesday was the beginning of the inter-secondary school football competition wich kicked off at the pitch in town called "Freedom Square". It started about 2 to 2 and a half hours later than supposed, meaning it was played around the heat of the day. This meant I got pretty sun burned as the anti-malaria medication dries out your skin meaning you are more prone to sunburn. It left my forehead, nose and ears pretty burned while also the tops of my hands, with amusing tan-lines up to where my shirt sleevs reached and where my sunglasses had covered. I am only now recovered from the sunburn...and peeling.
Thursday was an unusual day from the outset. My alarm for the morning was not that of my little Torch-thermometer-clock but that of my next door neighbour. As I woke I was feeling quite irritated at my neighbour who was making some awful screechy sound. I thought it was some odd laugh (for whatever reason, I was tired) which I quickly realised was a loud piercing wail like an alarm. My next door neighbours went over to her room (there are four of us in this block of rooms side by side, with super thin walls) to see what the matter was. The poor lady had lost her sister either overnight or early in the morning to some serious heart problem, she was pretty devastated and many went to her house to comfort her. Not only that but my colleague Ruman didn't turn up and upon ringing him I found out his aunty had died. Terrible news for two that day. Death is an all too common criminal in missionary work I am starting to find out. So for Thursday and Friday I was left to my own devices and managed to skype dad finally and also organise the bible study for Saturday just passed.
The bible study went well and although it was only a small group they were thankful for my being there. I also finally saw this mythical jackfruit which turned out to be the biggest fruit I've seen in my life. It is about the size of a small barrel, literally, we didn't even bother asking how much it was it was too big to carry around Yei. Another large bonus arrived this past week in the form of a new community television and also DSTV. This means 11 sports channels (yeah better than NZ) of awesome. This gave me a massive boost after what had been a mediocre week and I joyously watched Liverpool's FA Cup Quarter-final triumph. Now we arrive at yesterday, a busy day with a 3 hour meeting but more importantly a visit to the Iris ministries base, this is where Michelle Perry works. Many of you reading this probably will know nothing about her, but in short she runs a large and loving orphanage in the outskirts of Yei with over 120 kids of mixed ages and gender. She was born with one leg and is from the States having arrived in Yei early 2006. I would encourage you to read her blog and book, both of which have names I have forgotten. So anyway after going up to the Iris-ministries base and playing football in the scorching heat with some of the kids I managed to meet Michelle Perry and we talked for about 40 or so minutes with many young kids clambering around us wanting attention and hugs. So today (20th March) I am going up there along with mum this time so she can meet Michelle and we can talk some more.
Done, finally, Khalas. Thats a long entry sorry, probably the longest yet, I always think detail is nice to read but heck it can be a pain to write out. Hope all is well in the world because at the moment I might as well be living in out of space, I'm so out of touch. Blessings to all who are reading this and to my awesome country of NZ. Next time I update the blog will be either in Nairobi when mum and I go for our first break or shortly after that. Anywho, until next time.
P.S We are supposed to have had the rains come by now, hence the blog entry title.
P.P.S Go the Phoenix and Canes!