writing in reverse order…
the ugly: i hesitate in writing about when i’m down for several reasons… i don’t want to whine, i’d rather focus on the positive (after all, this is “lauren LAUGHS”), and i don’t want folks back home to worry. but for the sake of keeping things real, and in hopes that peeps will better know how to pray for me, i’m going to be honest and say that i broke down yesterday. 10:30 AM i was sobbing and, for the first time since i arrived, considered the possibility of coming home. i don’t know what brought this on. i’m certainly surrounded by amazing people here and becoming more and more acclimated with each passing day. but yesterday morning i just felt extremely alone, which was then exacerbated by the fact that it was 5:30 AM back home, so no one was awake to talk to. it’s not that i’m lonely. i have lots of friends, and i’m making more all the time. really, my social calendar is quite full. it’s just that most people come here with their families, or come to an existing network of people to hold their hand and show them the ropes. i, however, have to ask for help. if i need support, i have to call someone up or (more likely, for fear of being an imposition) hope they’ll call me. this makes the smallest thing seem huge. when trying to figure out what exactly was getting me down yesterday, i came up with 3 things. 1) i have no clean clothes (except underwear, so you’re not overly concerned) and i’ve worn each of my shirts probably 4 times already. i’d explain why, but really it’s a boring explanation. bottom line is, it makes me feel bleh and helpless. 2) my room is full of cockroaches. i thought this was normal at first, so i ignored it, but now i’m thinking i’ve got an over-abundance of bugs b/c i’m staying in the spare room that is also used for storage… including food storage. one night i opened my bag of toiletries and a ginormous roach scurried out. how did it get in there? they get in all my bags. i’m afraid to stick my hand into my backpack just to grab a book. 3) i noticed bacteria growing on my toothbrush last week. perhaps this is because of the constant moisture here, perhaps it’s because i use bucket water that’s been sitting for hours, perhaps it’s because roaches can get into my bags. whatever the reason, it really does just make me feel like i can’t do the simplest things correctly. helpless indeed. so i cried a lot. but it’s the first time i’ve cried in a month, so i figure that’s not too bad.
the bad: i went whale watching with friends on saturday, which wasn’t so bad for me, but my friends were pretty much sick the whole time. rob blogged about it… poor guy was throwing up for like 3 hours straight, and he was in the majority. we didn’t see any whales, and it wasn’t till the end of the trip that anyone noticed that the guy who was supposed to be on the lookout for whales was actually sleeping on the deck next to my friend joanna. oh well. i enjoyed being out on this side of the ocean and checking out benin’s coast.
the good: oh, there’s lots of good to report! friday i got a random phone call from my friend sean, who i haven’t seen in over a year since we were in class together at st. john’s. that made me feel pretty special. i didn’t throw up saturday like everyone else, which was good. sunday i caught up with theresa, a former peace corps volunteer, over lunch. we were walking around the market when i got a call from assaba, one of “my freshmen” from wlu (i was her dorm counselor) who was visiting her uncle in cotonou. we only got to see each other for half an hour before she had to go back to togo, but it sure did help to bring me out of the depths of despair. then i went to english fellowship with all the other missionaries and expats, where many friends came to my rescue. rob invited me to drop in for dinner any night, kim said i could use her washing machine this week, joanna and i made tentative plans for a slumber party and pedicures… not to mention familiar songs, supportive prayer, and affirmation that everything i’m feeling is normal. whew. breathe in, breathe out.
the next few days will be busy, as i have visitors from the US. ron and ruth work for YFC, providing pastoral care to all the missionaries. they’re supposed to visit me 6 months and 18 months into my stay, but they’re in africa visiting other missionaries anyway, so my 6 month visit comes 4.5 months early. though it will be kinda difficult to play hostess when i’ve yet to make a home, it will be really nice to pray with familiar faces that know me a bit more deeply than my new friends here.
so that’s the scoop.