Friday, December 23, 2011

Karma in Cat Form

For those of you who have known me since the days when I would not let you comb my hair, kick and scream, ask “why” a billion times, or wake my parents up informing them that I did not feel like cooperating today at 5am; I have received my karma, in the form of a cat, for all my deranging that I did as a child. I am sure that the “Cat Gods” are finding this quite amusing.

I decided a few weeks ago that I would close the hole in the window so Makala cannot leave the house while I am gone. (Important background information: my cat is black. People here believe in sorcery and use black cats for sorcery purposes. So I closed the window because I would like to have my cat for 2 years and not have him wind up as sorcery meat.) Let’s just say that Makala was less than enthusiastic with this decision. 

Generally, I wake up around 5:52 every morning to Makala crying. Well the other morning I let Makala cry for a about 30 minutes before I decided to leave the comforts of my bed to make sure that he did not set my house on fire. Well this brilliant cat got himself stuck in between the screen door and the door. He crawled through the little opening in the screen but could not manage to get himself out. So naturally he decided to climb his way out. And thus, this is how this photo came about.

The next day I hear Makala crying. Once again I just let him cry because all he ever does is cry.  Well Makala decided to climb to banana tree outside of my house and hop on over to my neighbor’s roof.  Then he could not figure out his way down. So I came to the rescue once again.

And I will end with this gem of a video. This. Is. My. Daily. Life. With. Makala.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Major Typo

I made a major error in my last post...this is the corrected section. I am very sorry.

We will discuss topics like human trafficking in the United States, The Middle East and now extremist cultural is getting confused with Islam when in reality the Qur’an does not support the actions.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Our Game Plan

I am telling you about this plan in the planning stages rather than later. This plan gives me chills because of the impact it could have. Emma, my post mate, and I are starting to plan a women’s club for a month before and after Women’s Day, March 8, 2012.

This is the grand idea: women of all ages will meet once a week for 1-2 hours. Each week we will discuss something that is going on in the world that is happening to women. There are not many maps in Cameroon, so this will allow the women to look on a map and hear other people’s stories. We will start off discussing what is going on in our neighboring country, Congo. People do not know about the method of warfare; rape. Then we would talk about how rape is a violation of your rights, how rape is never ok, and how as a woman you should not feel bad for saying no.

We will discuss topics like human trafficking in the United States, The Middle East and now extremist cultural is getting confused with Islam when in reality the Qur’an does not support the actions. We will inform the group of the rights that are guaranteed to women in Cameroon. We will discuss articles in Cameroon’s national law that violates these rights. We will talk about powerful women in the world and what they are doing to change the system or what they are doing to overcome. But most importantly we will ask the women how they feel. How they feel when their husband take another wife, or when they are the second wife. How do they feel when they are expecting to take care of the house all day, take care of the kids and then have a meal at the end of the day waiting for their husband. How do they feel when they aren’t allowed to go to school, told that they are not intelligent, and beaten. We want them to raise their voices, to discuss, to debate, to learn, to feel empowered, and at the very least to change in some capacity.

Emma introduced me to Eve Ensler’s book I am an Emotional Creature. I am now reading her book A Memory, A Monologue, A Rant, and A Prayer. We want to tie in Ensler’s “V-Day” campaign to our group. (If you haven’t read her books, I would really recommend them or seeing the play Vagina Monologues at the local college campus) Both Emma and I are extremely excited about the potential about this group. We joked that people are already going to think this is a radical idea so we should not sugar coat the topics that we bring to the group. If you have articles, stories, or thoughts please send them our way. 

Saturday, November 12, 2011

$10 USD

Today I visited my friend's son in the hospital. She looked into her wallet and told me that the money has run out. Her son needs to be at the hospital til Monday if not longer, but if she cannot find the necessary funds by tomorrow morning he will have to leave. He is the sickest child I have ever seen. I am almost certain that without treatment he will die. What do you do? All she needs is 5,000 CFA which is about $10 USD. $10 dollars is stopping this child from potentially dying.

Another one of my friends had a splinter that got extremely infected. She was about a day away from going septic. Do you know what was stopping her from going to the hospital? 10,000 CFA about $20 USD. My other Volunteer friend gave her the money. She spend 4 days in the hospital and without the $20 I am absolutely certain she would have died.

What we take for granted back home is amazing. Until being in Cameroon, I would have never thought twice about $10. It is pennys for us. But here, $10 is literally life or death. I am not quite sure about the purpose of this post is other than to inform. I am going back to the hospital in the morning to see how my friend's son is. This has been weighing on my heart all day. I cannot get the child out of my mind. Hopefully tomorrow will be a new day for this little boy.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Fête du Mouton

This past weekend I prepared and celebrated the Fête du Mouton or the Feast of the Ram. This holiday symbolizes Isaac’s sacrifice of the lamb to solidify his covenant with God, which is a story in the Bible as well as in the Qu’ran. I felt like I missed out on the Ramadan festivities, so I more than made up with this fête. The theme of this weekend was “Do as the Cameroonians would do.” And I think I did just that.

Friday: Emma and I went over to our friend Hadjia’s house to get sepia done. A lot of cultures have their form of henna. Hadija then took us over to her friend’s house who then drew on us, for lack of a better term. (Cultural Side note: Hadijia is rarely allowed out of the house. Her husband is who I consider to be a moderate Muslim man who allows her to leave her concession to go to the market and see friends. I have known since I have moved to Meiganga and this is the first time that I have seen her leave her concession.) While Emma and I were getting our sepia done, we were playing with everyone’s kids. One  4 year old yelled at his mom right around bed time, “Mom! I cannot go to bed, I am too excited! There are Nascaras (white people) here!"

Just as the seipa was drying. Walking through the market afterwards, people thought that I got married.

Saturday: It was the calm before the storm of festivities. I waited 45 minutes for a meeting to start before I gave up and went back home. But during that time I was sitting while these little kids were touching my hands and feet because I had sepia.

Sunday: I was told when I first arrived in Cameroon 5 months ago that there are 3 categories of people here: 1. Cameroonian Men, 2. Cameroonian Women, and 3. Foreign Men and Women. I never understood what the person was talking about until Sunday when I attended the Fête du Mouton prayer. I invited my neighbor, Nene, to join me to watch the grand prayer. It would be both of our first times. Thousands of men were in the front praying and in another field the women prayed. This is a part of Muslim culture that the men and women are separated for prayer. I wanted to see the prayer, so I came in a traditional outfit, armed with my camera. I was nervous to take pictures or to even be there for that matter since I am a woman, but someone I knew made me go the front of the prayer to snap a ton of shots. After the prayer, my friend came again and told me that I needed to have a front row view of the sacrificing of the ram. I explained to him that I didn’t feel comfortable because I was the only female and not Muslim. He explained to me that because I am a woman who is a foreigner the rules don’t apply to me. He then took my camera and took a ton of pictures for me.
The Grand Prayer

Nene and me at the Grand Prayer

Emma and my beautiful feet.

Emma and Me on my front steps with Makala about to leave for the festivities.

The Meiganga Crew!! Charla (Youth Development), Me (Small Business Development), Carlos (Health), Emma (Health), Andrew (English Teacher) and Fanta (Charla and my Community Host as well as good friend)

Later on that day, all of the volunteers in the Meiganga area went to Hadijia’s house to feast. I baked an apple pie for the festivities. After Hadijia’s, I went to someone else’s house where I met a baby named Barak Obama. I ended the ended the day with having a girl’s night at my house and had hot chocolate.

Monday: Emma, Charlotte and I were walking around Meiganga. We walked past the Grand Mosque, when someone told us that we should come inside. We got a VIP tour of the under construction Mosque and a soda! Then, we all went to Meidigou to my friend Sal’s first wife’s house. Hadijia is his second wife. There we ate a ridiculous amount of goat again. We had a dance party with all of the concession children.

Tuesday: I went back to Meidigou for a women’s group meeting that I attend every week. I didn’t realize that the Fête was still going on. During the meeting people stopped by to greet us and the President of the group gave them money. It is almost like people go Trick-o-treating, but instead of candy people get money. I was given 600 CFA, which is like $1.10. I was shocked and beyond grateful. These women don’t have much, they save around 200 CFA a week, so the amount I was given is a huge amount! All I could say was “Useko jur” or “Thanks a lot” with tears in my eyes.

This weekend was jammed packed with festivities. From a cultural standpoint, it was an eye opening experience. Back home, I do not think I know any Muslim families. I felt like I experienced all aspects of the holiday. Especially at the grand prayer, I had to take a step back and say a “Thank you” to have been given this opportunity: to being in Meiganga, to be in Cameroon, to work for the Peace Corps, to making new friends.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Everyone wants to say hello.

Everyone wants to greet the white girl. This week while walking past the primary school by my house, the kids are all outside and start yelling Bonjour Dany!!! And they all wave. I walk past the latrine and this little girl as she is squatting going to the bathroom with the door open, starts waving and yelling, "Bonjour Dany!" I couldn't stop laughing. It made my day, so I hope that this story puts a smile on your face.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

New Normal

My life has change drastically, but it is my new normal. I measure each day by the little successes. If I accomplish one thing each day, I consider that to be a good day. I am also realizing that some days, just aren’t my days, so it is better to throw in the towel and go back to my house and watch a movie. I don't think my life is that interesting, but I realize that it is so different than what it was back home, it warranted further explanation.

Chapter 1: The Morning Routine. I generally wake up to the sound of my neighbor sweeping her floors at 6:30 am. Every once in a while I don’t get the memo that there is going to be a concert next door at 5 am. Understandably I am not too happy about that. After I get up, I fill up my bucket that I use to shower. I have running water at my house but 85 or 90 percent of the time it is not working, so when I do have running water I fill 3 large trash cans up so I am rarely ever short on water. When I have electricity, I heat my shower water with this water heater contraption, but when I don’t I boil water on my gas stove (the stoves that you use for camping). While my water is heating up for my shower, I generally get started on my breakfast. I will boil water for my coffee or oatmeal. Generally I eat oatmeal or eggs. But when I feeling liking being fancy I will make a spaghetti omelet, which is just how it sounds: spaghetti mixed in with an omelet. I put all of my dirty dishes in a bucket and I clean them at the end of the week or when I don’t have enough plates.

Chapter 2: The Market. When things go bad here, they liquefy. And they go bad much quicker than they do back in the states. So that means you buy the veggies that you will use that day. But the most disgusting thing about the market is the meat section. The carcass is laid out on a table. You tell the vender how much you want (and it is generally sold in kilo increments) then you point at the section that you want. There are flies everywhere, it smells and you see a ton of carcasses. I have bought meat once and I don’t intend on buying anymore for a while. It was a scaring experience.

Chapter 3: The Restaurant Situation. Grilled meat is amazing. You tell the meat man how much you want and they take the meat right off the grill and serve it up for you. Generally I get the meat to go, but you can sit down and eat. Well the past 2 times I have decided that I wanted to enjoy my meal at the little restaurant which resembles more of a dilapidated shed. The first time, I sit down and look to my right and I see the cow that I am eating staring right back at me. I have seen goat legs or chicken feet near the meat vendor, but never before the head. The 2nd time I decided to eat my meal at the restaurant, I look to my left and see a skinned goat just hanging out waiting to be cooked. It was fully intact with its tail and everything! I haven’t decided yet if I am going to just take my food to go now on.

Chapter 4: Life goes on even when there is no electricity. This is shocking, I know! But there is still life with no power. I stock up on candles, so when this does happen (which is often) I can have light. The only 2 down falls I can see about not having electricity for a while is that when power cuts out so does my water. But like I said before, I have running water, but I really don’t. And the second problem with power out for an extended period of time is that the beers at the bar get cold. When electricity turns back on, you hear an eruption of cheering by all of the neighborhood kids!

When I walk around I am hearing more people yelling my name versus Nascara. This could be partly due to the fact that I will correct people and introduce myself. My French is getting better every day. I have a cat now named Makala, which means doughnut in English. (I was craving one when I got my cat) I am getting more traditional outfits made. I am starting to dive into work and planning out my projects. Life is good. Yes there are days when I wonder, ‘how am I going to handle this for 2 year?’ or ‘what the heck am I even doing here?’ but then generally when you are having those days something happens that you just smile. A group of kids run up to you just wanting to shake your hand, then once they do they check their palm to see if they changed color. Or you set your cat food outside and a little boy decides that it needs to be his lunch and eats the sardines. My life now just seems normal.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Invisible Children.

This is why I wanted to do the Peace Corps. I wanted to be apart of a change, I wanted to help out people who did not have a say in the conditions that they were born into. Although I live in Cameroon now, but my heart will always be in Uganda. President Obama will be deploying 100 troops into Uganda to find Joseph Kony and to fight the Lord's Resistance Army. This is a monumental step forward in this 20+ year war. This is a day to celebrate the hope for Uganda!

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Just a little chuckle...

I saw this video and it made me chuckle. I saw it after arriving in Cameroon, which made it even funnier after experiencing a bit of what this video says. Enjoy!

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

World Wise Schools Correspondence

I decided to join the  World Wise Schools Correspondence Match Program. Here is the first letter that I wrote to a high school in Harrisburg, PA. For my 2 years here I am partnered with Ms. Larson who is a French teacher. We will write back and forth, with the purpose of these letters is to better explain a Francophone country and culture to the students. I think this letter will better explain what I am doing, a little bit of the reasoning behind why I wanted to join the Peace Corps, and a few interesting cultural notes. Enjoy :)


My name is Danielle Nicolai. I am living in Meiganga, Cameroon as a Small Enterprise Development Volunteer. But I will explain exactly what that means later on. I am 23 years old from Tustin, California. I went to The University of Arizona and studied Retailing and Consumer Sciences. I graduated in May 2010. After, I moved to Portland, Oregon to work with Dick’s Sporting Goods.

The main reason why I wanted to move to Oregon was to snowboard. I like to think that I am good, but I am really not. I find it extremely relaxing. It is nice to get out of the city and get into nature. In college I played goal keeper for The University of Arizona Women’s Soccer team.

Soccer in Cameroon is extremely popular. Apparently there is a women’s soccer club in my village. I just found out a few days ago, so I have started researching to find out the validity of this rumor. One of the projects that I want to work on here is starting a girls soccer club. There is an existing girls scholarship program here that I would like to incorporate soccer with.

I have been in Cameroon for exactly 3 months now! The first 11 weeks I was in Bafia, Cameroon. I was 43 other people from around the United States doing training. We had lessons on the Cameroonian culture, language classes and technical trainings. During training, all of us lived with a host family. I think for the first 11 weeks, this was the most important part. This allowed us to practice our French, learn about Cameroonian culture, but most importantly help us integrate.

On August 17, with all of my Friends I was sworn in as an official Peace Corps Volunteer (PCV). Why did I want to join the Peace Corps? Why not is always my response. Not only is Peace Corps an amazing program, but it will also get me to where I want to go in the future. I want to get my Master’s and through Fellows Program it is possible. Before I came here, I did not speak any French. I did not even know the greetings. By the end of 2 years I know that I will be fluent. My goal by the end of 2 years is to be able to speak the local dialect, Fulfude, as well. The people are known as Fulbe.

The reason why I wanted to join the Peace Corps was to be able to learn about another culture. It is one thing to study about a country, but it is completely different to live in the country. Cameroon is very diverse. There are over 300 languages spoken. French and English are the official languages. I am finding out that a lot of people do not speak either language. Especially where I am posted, there are a lot of refugees from the surrounding countries. Fufulde, generally in Northern Cameroon, the language spoken at the market; therefore it is extremely necessary to know both languages. People really do appreciate when you can speak a little bit of the local language. People love teaching you and other love when you can throw out the salutations and key phrases.

Right now I am working at a Micro Financial Institution, Credit du Sahel. It is a smaller bank, which focuses on 3 things: Savings & Credit accounts and loans. There are larger banks in the regional capitals or larger villages that offer the same services that we are used to in the States. The difference with MFIs, is that their goal is to reach the people living in the small villages. People call the smaller villages the “Bush.”

I do not anticipate working at Credit du Sahel much after a few months. The nice thing about Peace Corps is that they give you the freedom to choose the work that you want. I have already started working with 2 Women’s Groups, one in Meiganga and the other in a neighboring town, and also a Honey Union. With my counterpart at Credit du Sahel, we are brainstorming an agriculture project that would teach the students how to plant and harvest different crops, the nutritional benefits of their crops as well as the financial benefit of selling a new product.

I have been to a few villages now in Cameroon and I have noticed that at the market people sell the exact same thing as their neighbors. It is difficult to even comprehend this before witnessing it first hand. There are boutiques after boutiques that sell the same pots and pans, the same rugs, the same type of dry goods. And the kicker is that everything is the same price! When you go to the market, people assume if you are a foreigner (they like to call us “La Blanche” or “Nasara” which means the same thing in Fufulde) that you have money. The shop worker will then increase the price and you have to haggle your way down to a decent price. Another thing I have found when shopping here, is if I want to spend any significant amount of money (more than 5,000 cfa which is equivalent to $10 USD) it is best to bring a Cameroonian. You explain to the Cameroonian exactly what you want and how much you are willing to spend. I will then hide and let the person do their thing. Once they have decided on the price, I will swoop in and pay for it! This is a common practice for foreigners.

Something else that I have found to be extremely interesting while working here is the identification cards. A lot of people only know their birth year. So it is written 00/00/1931. There is a high population of illiterate people in Cameroon. For the signature, people will write an “X,” “O” or scribble. A lot of times this is the first time someone has held a pen.

Since I am still new with French, I will start off writing in English. I will be getting a French tutor in the coming weeks, so as my French progresses I would love to write more in French to you!
I wish you all the best during this school year! I look forward to corresponding with you all and sharing my experience. I also am looking forward to hearing about how things are back in your hometown! (Please eat a pizza for me and let me know how it is!)

Du Courage!

Monday, September 19, 2011

African Success!

Uploading pictures is an absolute feat here in Africa. 4 hours and 2 failed attempts later, the photos are now ready for your viewing pleasure. Thank yous can be send in forms of mac & cheese cheese packets. Only slightly kidding, and by slightly I mean not at all.

This is my favorite picture. I took a walk with my post mate, Andrew, and we turned around once we couldn't pass the river in the middle of the path.

This was the last of 7 school that I visited with UNICEF and UNHCR to see the progress of the projects at the schools around Meiganga. Hopefully I will have more information later on about these projects.

Oh rainy season! This was the traffic jam with over a hundred trucks waiting to get through this section of road. The passengers in my bus had to get out and walk this section while the men push our bus.

On a field trip during stage (before I officially became a volunteer). I forget the name of the village, but I just thought that this village was beautiful! The houses all have the pyramid roofs because the people believe that they are descendants from one of the 12 Tribes of Israel that came down through Egypt.  

And I will end with entry with a video that everyone sings here...including myself.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

3 Months of being an Ex-Pat

I have officially been an “Ex-Pat” (people like to refer to us as this) for over 3 months! I have been in Meiganga for a month now and I have been working at Credit du Sahel for 3 weeks now. It is frustrating now because I am still in the beginning stages of speaking French. But this is the best thing for me. I sit in an office with 2 other employees. Clients come in and out all day. I am greeted by each person, which intern means I get to practice my French all day! Come 2 hours into my day, I am exhausted, but like a said before this is the best thing for me! I have been meeting tons of GIC members, which means work opportunities!

My coworker has lots of great ideas of what I can do and what would be good for Meiganga. I have been introduced to many people in my first week that are doing great and innovative things! Dairy is a thing of the past for me. Powdered milk is my new staple for my calcium intake. I have learned how to make a basic ricotta and yogurt from powdered milk and a mean Alfredo sauce! (Don’t gawk, it is surprisingly fantastic) But my life is about to change dramatically. I met this GIC who makes cheese from, get this, REAL MILK!!! I am anticipating my taste buds to go bonkers.

When talking with people from back home I have been asked a lot of similar questions. The most popular being are you happy? Yes, I am beyond happy! I know that I have not experience the lows that inevitably all Volunteers will face, but right now I am happy. I have great post mates, an amazing Community Host, and a wonderful Host Organization (Credit du Sahel).

Background information: When getting to post you are partnered with a member of the community whose role it is to introduce you to as many people as possible, help you integrate, and be the family that you need in your new home. You are also partnered with a Host Organization. Some are partnered with the Mayor’s office, others NGOs. I am working for a micro financial institution. It provides 3 services, Checking & Savings accounts and loans.

The other common question I am asked is about my safety. Am I safe? Yes I am safe. This questions ties directly to my community host and host organization. Getting to know people is essential to my safety. They will look out for me. The community wants me to be here and they want me to be safe. I live in a gated concession with 3 other families. Someone is always around. And every time I come home I am greeted by one of the neighborhood kids asking for a gift.

I have been handing out letters to important members of the community. (ie. Mayor, Police Chief, Traditional Authority, ect.) I exchanged numbers with each person and each person told me that if I were to need anything I should call. The Head Gendarme in particular seems like an awesome guy. (He worked in Darfur for 14 months with the UN. He is new to Meiganga and to this position.) When we exchanged numbers he told me that he will be checking up on me often. He also said that next week he is going to see my house to make sure it is safe and meet my neighbors. When this happens, my post mates will come and I think I will bake cookies!

My neighbors in Bafia, Cameroon. The little boy standing next to me is named Ferrel. He was my buddy! He would greet me every morning and night by screaming my name and giving me a big running hug.

Crazy picture of the sky!

While having to walk 5km because the roads were so bad, I was snapping some photos and the Cameroonian I was with wanted to take one of me

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Welcome! Bienvenue! Jabbaama!

Welcome to Meiganga! I am sitting on my hay couch that resembles more of a bed in my living room with socks, sweat pants, jacket and a scarf on. The power is out so I am typing by candle light. It is rainy season in Cameroon, meaning it is cold and wet. Power goes out frequently during this season. When that happens the water is soon to follow.

I arrived in Meiganga Sunday and I was greeted with a beautiful rainbow! I was also warmly welcomed with no electricity and no water. I will have to postpone my deep cleaning of my house until that changes. But until then I have done work in my house: My bags are unpacked. My bookshelf is organized and decorated with a framed family photo. And most importantly my kitchen is organized, my bed is made and the mosquito net is hung!

The night I arrived I was talking with my post mates, Andrew and Carlos, about their projects and brainstorming for mine. I know that I will be working with bee keepers and a micro financial institution. For a Small Enterprise Development Volunteers (which is what I am) there is not a structured work schedule. We were told for the first 3 months my job is to go to as many meetings as possible and get to know your community. The thing that I have found in my short amount of time here is that there is no way that I will be able to have any impact without knowing the community. I need to meet as many people as possible, network as much as possible, and build the trust of the community. The beauty of my job is that I am given almost free range to do whatever I want to do. This is exciting but also daunting for a Type A personality. But I need to remember; when again in my life will I be given this opportunity? I hope again, but I am betting that it might not be the case.

I have ideas of what I might want to do for work. For my main project somehow I want to figure out a way to incorporate teaching classes to girls with soccer. I would want the classes to include girls’ empowerment, HIV/AIDs education, basic personal hygiene, safe food preparation, and VSLA (Village Savings and Loans: Google “VSLA”, it was said that this is one of the top ways to get people out of poverty).

This is just an idea I have. There are many projects that I could do. I do not want to get set on one idea and not see other opportunities that may arise; hence the Peace Corps emphasis on not working for 3 months. This allows you to meet community members who have ideas but may not have the resources to execute their ideas. I do have a few goals, one of the more important goals would be to partner with as many other volunteers as possible, not just Small Enterprise Development volunteers. In Cameroon now, there are 185 volunteers working in 4 categories: Small Enterprise Development, Education, Health and Agro-Forestry. In September there is a new program starting: Youth Development. In Meiganga specifically, there is SED, health and education.

As I start to get settled in my new home for the next 2 years, I have some new contact information. I have a new Post Office Box and number. My email is the same, but I will give that to you as well.

Danielle Nicolai
Corps de la Paix
B.P. 89
Shoot me an email if you want my number!

People have been asking what I need or want and I have compiled a list of ideas. But I love letters just as much :)

• Magazines
• Mild scented candles
• Hand sanitizer
• Pictures or post cards so I can decorate my house
• Mixed CDs (put your favorite music on it…it will remind me of you when I listen to it)
• Nail polish/nail polish remover
• Degree can find most things here, apparently this is not one of them
• Travel games
• Cards/card games

• Seasoning packets
• Crunchy Peanut butter
• Cholula Hot sauce
• Ranch Dressing
• Parmesan cheese
• Brown sugar
• Cake or brownie Mixes
• Crystal Light/Gatorade packets
• Hard candies
• Luna bars or any type of bar for that matter
• Mac & cheese sauce packets
• instant soup mixes
• pesto sauce mixes
• beef jerky/pepperoni
• soup mixes & Lipton's pasta / sauce pkts.
• falafel mix
• pudding mixes
• dried fruits, apricots, apples, etc.
• jell-o mixes
• salad dressing packet
• bullion cubes…chicken & beef

Entertainment for the neighborhood kids
• Crayons/markers/colored pencils
• Coloring books (unisex)
• Art project material
• Colored/construction paper
• Stickers
• Legos or toys that they can continually play with
• Balloon…they love them!
• Memory games
• Honestly they would love anything

Sunday, August 14, 2011


I have been in Cameroon for a little over 11 weeks now. As I get ready to be sworn in as a Volunteer on August 17th, I am reflecting a lot on my journey thus far. If you would have asked me before I left the states what my biggest fear was, I would have said hands down getting Malaria. Well, 11 weeks into my journey, I have Malaria and I am ok. Actually, I am glad that it is Malaria, because I can take 24 pills and in 3 days I will feel better.

I keep shocking myself. Things that should phase me, don’t. Watching a moto driver pull over and pee on the side of the road is now normal. Driving past a bush taxi with a goat strapped to the roof, not a big deal. While at the hospital seeing a mouse run around, interesting, but not really a huge deal either.

I will be at my new home soon, Meiganga. I am looking forward to doing what I came here to do. Work. I am ready for my new life to start. These past 11 weeks have been challenging, but I have had great friends along the way to keep me sane. (Maybe a beer or two helped a little…and James, beer here are cold!)

I compiled a list of things that I have experienced and things that I have surprised myself with.

• A battle to the death with a cockroach no longer phases me, I will win even if it takes an hour
• A mouse on the other hand, running through my room will never be ok. Duct tape on holes on the walls works wonders!
• Washing clothes by hand; I fully support child labor here! I know that I can wash my own clothes by hand, do I want to? No.
• I realized that I am allergic to Maggie, or known in the states as MSG. Maggie is in everything here, so I cannot wait to cook for myself at post. But slowing I am becoming accustomed to it.
• I couldn’t speak any French before I got here…now I am surprising myself with the conversations I am able to have!
• My new goal is to speak Fulfolde, French, and English without any hesitation
• I never ate fish in the states, now I eat fish 3 times a week!
• I prefer antelope over hedgehog or even a fish head.
• Dany, will be my name in Meiganga. Danielle sounds too much like a guys name, and I am not a fan of the confused looks. So I am Dany. Sorry Mom!
• I could never squat…now I am a pro! Latrines don’t even phase me!
• My passion for soccer has been sparked again.
• I never read in the states, In a month I read 5 books. I had to hide my kindle. (I would love book suggestions)

There are 3 Goals of Peace Corps:
1. To help the people of interested countries meet their needs for trained manpower
2. To promote a better understand of the American people on the part of peoples served.
3. To promote a better understanding of other peoples on the part of the American people.

Since being here, I have changed my goals for my service. I came in with this grandiose idea that I was going to make massive changes. As much as I would love for that to happen, I would rather make an impact on an individual level. I am eager to get to know people; hear their stores; understand their beliefs. Goals 2 and 3 will be the most impactful.

I am looking forward to the African success stories. I am looking forward to the next 2 years. I am looking forward to the person I will be in 2 years and seeing the changes that not only in my life but those around me. My loved ones back in the States, you are all included.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Chinese Special Medicine

Do you know what is scarier than visiting an African Hospital? Riding a bike and having to pass 20 bulls on the road! Or even having to stop your soccer game so that the same herd of bulls can walk across the field.

I weary to tell this story because I do not want to jinx myself. I have been in country over a month now, up until this point I have not experienced being sick. I got a sinus infection while visiting post. I got back to Bafia and I slept for almost 12 hours. I woke up the next morning and I felt awful. My host Dad found out, went into his room and comes out with this odd concoction. He gave me something like Tiger Balm and told me to rub it on my chest, neck, back of neck and forehead. If that was not odd enough he then proceeded to pour this red liquid from a really small glass bottle onto a sugar cube and told me to swallow it. The red sugar cube was like fire going down your esophagus.

I am not sure what I exactly what was poured on that red sugar cube. I was too tired, too sick and somehow I could not get any French out, so I complied. I did manage to ask to see the bottle. Maybe looking at the label might answer the question as to why my chest was now burning. False. The label was all in Chinese! All my Father would say was, “Ca bon?” with a great big smile and two thumbs up. That translates to: Its good, isn’t it?

Well, that didn’t seem to work as well as I would have hoped. So I got the joy of experiencing an African Hospital. On a cultural note, doctors are only at hospitals so its not a huge deal. The doctor has to rule out tropical diseases, so I had blood drawn. The experience wasn’t as bad as I would have thought, but I am praying that I don’t need to go back ever again. I was given antibiotics and I am starting to feel better!

I have been reflecting and observing more and more since I have been in Cameroon. You can tell a lot about a person just by looking into their eyes. I have found through my travels that kids are same around the world. But there is a major difference about the kids here. It is as if you are looking into the eyes of someone much older who has experienced life. It is difficult to put into words exactly what I mean, unless you have witnessed it. For example, Simon is a boy in Bafia who runs the family’s boutique. The boutique sells everything from coffee, rice, sandwiches, beer, to laundry detergent. Simon is always there working, taking orders and cleaning tables. He cannot be much older than 13, but there is something about him that he is much older than he actually is.

The other day, Simon wanted to catch one of his roosters. He started chasing it, and my friends started to help. About 10 volunteers helped 5 Cameroonian kids catch this rooster. The chase lasted almost 30 minutes and took us all through the corn field, around the house, on the roof, and at one point almost to the street. We all cheered when a boy, who had been helping out with the chase for no more than 5 minutes, caught the rooster. This adventure was beyond comical, but what stuck out for me was Simon. The smile on his face during this chase was priceless. We were all reminded that Simon is actually a child.

The time here is pretty slow day to day, but I cannot believe that I have been in Cameroon for 7 weeks now! When I visited my post, Meiganga, I was able to see what I may be doing. I will start off working with Credit du Sahel, which is a small bank. That will be my primary work, but Volunteers can also have secondary projects. I was able to speak with the major about a project of getting Coffee Honey to be produced. (Coffee Honey is made my putting hives near coffee plants. It tastes like you are eating creme brule.)I also visited a Village, Savings and Loans Group in the neighboring town. I presume that I will be facilitating these groups because it is an easier way to make a bigger impact.

On August 17th I get sworn in as a Volunteer. The next day I move to Meiganga. I will have a new address and I will post it as soon as I figure out what it is. But I wanted to leave you with this thought/saying. It is posted everywhere in our training building; yes it is important for volunteers to remember, but it is a life lesson that I think that so often we forget:

"An outsider who comes with a ready made solution and advise is worse than useless. He/she must first understand from us what our questions are, help us to articulate the questions better and then help us find solutions."

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Gadhar...or something that is spelled kinda like that

Gadhar is the Fulfalde word for destiny. When sitting around eating Cameroonian style meatballs at a friends house, she explained gadhar. Her explanation was simply, it is your destiny to be here [Meiganga], on this couch, eating this meal, meeting who you are meeting. This is the path Allah has it planned for you. This is the way that it is supposed to be. She is absolutely correct; this is my Gadhar.

I am on my way back to Bafia from my Site Visit to Meiganga. I cannot adequately express how I am feeling right now but I will do my best. Every night this past week I have been falling asleep with a big smile, my first night with a smile was on a 16 hour train ride. That ride I stood on the bunk ladder with my head out the window watching Cameroon pass by. I was there for a couple hours just watching. This is my home for the next 2 years and I cannot imagine anything better. That night I fell asleep with a smile that I hope will never leave.

While visiting my post, I was able to meet some remarkable people. I know that I keep using the word excited, but that I truly how I feel. I am excited to start working and meeting new people. I first met with the Mayor and he informed me that I need to get some color so I won’t stand out too much! I am not offended, it is true. I think I actually may glow in the dark!

I was able to go to a Women’s Group 20 minutes outside of my village. This was a savings group of Refugees from the CAR. They spoke only Fulfade, which I will be learning once I can speak French. Although we do not speak the same language just yet, I already know that they are going to be a joy to work with!

Travel in Cameroon is quite an adventure. First, I took a 2 hour bus ride from Bafia to Yaounde. There were 35 people in a 22 person van. In my row that sat 4 people, there were 7! I sat on across my friends’ laps for 20 minutes then decided that it was not too comfortable. So I switched to 1 butt cheek on one person and the other cheek on another person! Then I took at 16 hour, overnight train from Yaounde to Ngaoundere. From there I took a 3 hour bus ride to Meigana.

Currently I am writing from Ngaoundere. It is rainy season here, which makes travel extremely difficult! I saw a huge truck that got stuck in the mud and flipped on its side. Our bus got stuck so we all had to get out and get on the side of the road and watch as the villagers pushed the van. It is quite an interesting experience to say the least.

It has been over a month now that I have been in Cameroon. I am loving it! I get sworn in August 17th in Bafia, then I will move to Meiganga. I will have internet, so I will be able to talk to people. I miss and love you all. Once I get back to Bafia, on those nights that I have trouble sleeping I will write more about my time here. But for now this little bit must do!

Sunday, June 26, 2011

When it Rains it Pours

This could be an understatement of a lifetime in Cameroon! I have lived in Tucson during monsoon season, and that is just child’s play in comparison. My house has a tin roof and it amplifies the sound of the rain. I know that I have not experienced dry season…but I already think that rainy season is my favorite. The roads turn into mud rivers and all I want to do is jump in the puddles and get as muddy as possible! I decided against that when I saw the neighborhood kids peeing on the side of the road. There will be no playing in ANY mud while I am in Cameroon!

I went shopping for Pangia last week. I got a dress and a skirt made. The next couple things on my list are more skirts, dresses and a bath robe! Be prepared for when I come home…my house is going to look like Africa threw up on the fabric and I cannot wait! If you are ever shopping for fabric here in Cameroon, my tip to you is to taste the fabric. If it tastes salty, then run away! It means that the colors will run and every time you wash your outfit you will need to add salt.

I just completed my first week of immersion for school. I am beyond exhausted! It is draining having to communicate in another language. But I will commend not only myself but the other trainees on their efforts! We are all improving daily. I take my language exam this week and I hope to improve to Intermediate Low. In order to get sworn in I have to reach Intermediate High. I started out at Novice Low…aka the lowest possible ranking!

I am not sure exactly if I have the words to describe how I feel about being in Cameroon. Maybe I did not realize how difficult it would be to move here. Previous volunteers really only mentioned the great parts, but they failed to mention how hard it actually is. The quote for the Peace Corps is: “It’s the hardest job that you will ever love.” And I am starting to see how that is the case.
Let me paint this picture for you. The power is out in your house and you want to go and use the bathroom in the morning. You wake up and search for your headlamp in the dark, put on clothes and flip flops (AC is a thing of the past…you you wear a sports bra and underwear to bed), then you realize that you don’t have water in your bucket to flush the toilet. So you grab your bucket, go outside to the well and spend 10 minutes trying to get water out of it. (it seems like it might be an easy task…but it is not) Now that your bucket is filled you carry it to the bathroom. Also, you must remember that there are 2 types of toilets here in Cameroon, well 2 that I have seen thus far, a latrine aka a hole in the ground, or an actual toilet. But you cannot sit on this porcelain God because there is most likely something growing in it, or a lizard might be in it. So you squat and once you have finished your business you have to take the bucket of water and pour it down the toilet.

Now that you have finally gone to the bathroom you realize that you need to start getting ready for school. So you take you bucket and fill it up at the well. Go to the latrine (also your toilet) and give yourself a bucket bath. You have a cup and you pour the water on yourself. Once you have finished showering you have you use a squeegee on a stick to get all the water to go down the latrine. This, my friends, is my new life! And I have one of the nicer houses! But please don’t forget that the power has been out the whole time!

Cameroon is treating me well. You get used to the bucket baths and you get used to being woken up by the rain on your tin roof. People here treat you like family. I call my host parents, Mon Pere et Ma Mere and the boys are Mes Freres. When walking anywhere near my house the kids will run up and give you a big hug! Everyone will always say hello, offer to a meal and a cold beer. I even get my name being said with a head shake from side to side; “Oh Danielle!” So aside from a few differences, I am feeling right at home. Maybe I have always been a Cameroonian at heart and just never knew it! Or maybe the reality is that no matter where you are in the world people are ultimately the same, just maybe a different way to go about their daily lives.

Sunday, June 19, 2011


For your cell phone, it is pay as you go. Today when putting money on my phone I was given a lovely gift of a caramel ball. It looked amazing and I didn’t want to refuse the caramel, so I took it and held on to it. During my classes with the Peace Corps, we read all of the possible medical problems that could go wrong with us. Now having all of this new information in the back of my head, the caramel is not sounding too appealing. Somehow having a bout of dysentery does not sound like an enjoyable way to start my time in Cameroon! So now I have a delicious caramel in my hand and I do not want to waste it. What do I do? Give it to some kids! Their stomachs are strong and plus they are great French Teachers! SUCCESS!

I have eaten more fish in 12 days than I have eaten in 12 years combined. I am not complaining though. I would rather have fish than bush meat. Poisson I understand; bush meat I do not. The only thing I have to worry about when eating fish is eating the head or tail (which in Cameroon the head is given to the guest of honor). I think in my broken French I have made it clear that my Mama should always have the head! I have been taught that if you don’t want to eat something put a twist on it and give it to the head of the house. Apparently this will get me out of eating a lot of crazy things! Except, I did eat a fish eye; some people in my group said that they would buy me a coke if I ate it. I wanted a story to write home and a coke sounded refreshing, so I ate it!

So far I have had 6 shots and I need to get 1 more to finish out my rabies shot series. Other than that, I have been loving being in Cameroon! We have started business training. Never before have I been gitty with excitement in class to learn. Friday we learned how to organize a Village Saving and Loan Group. The coconscious amongst our group is that this upcoming week is going to be the hardest. French emersion starts tomorrow. Never before have I been so unprepared for something I am so passionate about. Thank God the Peace Corps provides language training and my friends who are fluent are helpful.

I miss you will come soon once I get a reliable internet source. I am thinking spending $50 a month might be worth it.

Monday, June 13, 2011

La Blanche

Yeap…that’s me! The white girl! It is not exclusive to me though, everyone in my Staging group of 43 is called the white boy or girl. There are 2 exceptions, there are 2 black people in my group. When we met our home stay families, the families LOVED those 2 volunteers. They wanted to know where in Africa they were from!

There is no such thing as “politically correct” here in Cameroon. They will say it how they see it. So you are either black or white. They will let you know if you are fat or skinny. They will even state the obvious like: “You are here!” when you enter the room! Children will sit across from you and not say a word and just stare at you. If you are walking down the street children will start to follow. A group of us went to the local bar after class to grab a beer and at least 20 children will want to play with you!

When you are a guest in someone’s house it is common for you to eat alone or even eat at a separate table facing the wall. For dinner my Mama will eat with me, then Louise (my sister who is 25 years old). After we have eaten, my brothers: Charles (16) and Paulin (9) will eat. I am not sure when my Dad eats though because I haven’t seen him eat yet! For breakfast, my mom and sister will stare and me and comment on how I do not eat enough.

On Sunday I am making my family Mexican food! We all know that this is my favorite and they are very excited! I brought out the spices and they cannot wait. My homestay family has seen pictures of home, friends and family. I took out my map to explain where I have lived. I think that they were extremely confused. From what I have gathered so far, people stay in 1 place! My mom and sister loved seeing pictures of the different fashions! They want me to wear all of my dresses that they have seen!

My French has improved tremendously! I am able now to explain what I am eating…I even said that I do not want to eat the fish head. (Je ne mange pas la tete de possion) They laughed at me…and explained that the eyes’ of the fish are the best part, but I am not willing to try just yet. I will soon enough though.

On a side note, what shocked me the most was the level of poverty that I have seen in a week. I almost started crying when I saw a man walking down the streets of Yauonde wearing barely a loin cloth. In America if you are homeless, you at least have an opportunity to find a shelter or clothes. In a country where no one has anything, someone who is homeless really has nothing.
I will have pictures soon of Bafia. So far I love it here. Just incase you were wondering…getting water out of the well multiple times a day is hard work! I never thought that I would ever say that! I have almost mastered the bucket shower and using a latrine. It is not as hot here as it is humid, so now I carry around a handkerchief.

And I will end this post with the directions on how I get to school. The other PCTs (Peace Corps Trainee) near my house understand these directions because there are no street signs! Turn left at my house, turn right at the house with the funny, white painting on the outside. Turn right at the fork in the path, then cross a small bridge (which is just a 2x4 piece of wood). Then at the other fork turn left then cross another bridge. Follow that path until you reach the main road and a yellow shack should be on your right. Turn right on the road and follow it until you reach the HUGE PC building! Just be prepared that on this main road, you will be yelled at “La Blanche!” or someone just might try to sell you a monkey for 20,00 CFA!

Monday, May 30, 2011

Mexican Food!!!!

I anticipate that come 12 months into my 24 months I am going to be writing about how much I miss Mexican food. I packed enough taco seasoning to last me maybe 2 months. Call me crazy, but since being home I cannot even count the tacos I have eaten! And I loved each and every one of them!

But lets to the important bags are almost all packed! It sort of looks like a tornado went through the house!

Thank you so much to everyone for this weekend! I had an amazing weekend visiting with all of my loved ones! Saturday my parents threw a party and had the Taco Man at our house. Over 60 people joined us in the celebration. Sunday my Aunt Linda and Uncle Denny had a family feast and it was amazing! Thank you again to my amazing support system. I cannot express how grateful I am for the love that I have felt!

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Mother Teresa

I swung by my Mom's office today just to say hello. Whenever I am in the area I try to always stop by. This time in her office I noticed something new. Amongst her framed pictures of our family and friends I saw this quote in a simple gold plated frame. This should be displayed in everyone's house. This will be in my new house in Cameroon.

People are often
Unreasonable and self-centered.
Forgive them anyway.

If you are kind,
People may accuse you of ulterior motives.
Be kind anyway.

If you are honest,
People may cheat you.
Be honest anyway.

If you find happiness,
People may be jealous.
Be happy anyway.

The good you do today,
May be forgotten tomorrow.
Do good anyway.

Give the world the best you have,
And it may never be enough.
Give your best anyway.

For you see, in the end,
It is between you and God.
It never was between you and them any way.

Mother Teresa

Friday, May 6, 2011

Unemployed...well kinda!

I am back in San Francisco and back on Julie's green couch, which is like a tied died version of a thinking chair. One chapter of my life is now over and a new one is about to begin. I still feel like I am just on vacation, I guess that it is a mini vacation. Last Friday was my last day of work. Bitter sweet ending. That was my first real and I honestly can say that I did learn and grow a lot.

Last Saturday my best friend from high school, Lesley, came out and helped me make my move! We did all of the touristy things in Portland and ate literally ate everything in sight! We had every dessert possible. We have dubbed this trip "The Sugar High of 2011." I am planing on living it up before I head out to Africa for 2 years!

This past week has been extremely busy! Below are pictures of Lesley and my trip!

So far this has been a great trip! I am sad to leave Portland, but it will be there when I get back!

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Blue Skies and All Smiles!

As I write this blog entry, I am looking outside my window in my living room. The sun has broken through the clouds and finally I get to see blue skies. This is fitting for how I am feeling. (On a funny note, April 1st aka. April Fool's Day it was a beautiful day, 60 degrees and sunny. Then the next day it was beyond freezing! That was a mean April Fools joke on us Portland!)

My departure date is quickly approaching. I am experiencing a wide variety of emotions. But mostly excitement. I have started getting little things in order. I bought a few Portland Timbers things. They are the local MLS. I figure that seeing that I am moving to a country that loves soccer, Timbers apparel and random stuff would be appropriate.

This is a video of what previous PCV have done during their service. Hopefully this helps explain what I might be doing!!

Well life in Portland has been exciting! I have been busy enjoying life here. Its weird to say this, but I am going to miss it! I might need to move back at some point! But here are some my most recent pictures.

I went to a Holi party, which in the Indian culture celebrates the start of spring. You celebrate by throwing color on everyone! New item on my bucket in India for Holi!

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

63 Days!!!

In 63 days I will be on a plane to start for 27 month journey with the Peace Corps in Cameroon. I am starting to sell things in Portland and buy things for Cameroon. It just dawned on me that in less than a years time I have moved to 2 states (from Arizona, to California and finally Oregon), have traveled to 8 countries (Canada, England, Belgium, The Netherlands, France, Switzerland, Italy, Croatia) or 10 countries if you count Monaco and Rome. I have also traveled to Washington: 3 times (Seattle, Bellingham and Spokane), Arizona: twice (Phoenix and Tucson), California: twice; home (and I will be going back for Easter) and have been to San Francisco: 3 times, New York (Andy & Carole's Wedding)and Pittsburgh for work.

Now I am off to Cameroon! This year has been a whirlwind. After looking back on my travels this year...I realized that I am just like my Dad in regards to that I have been bitten by the travel bug!

Looking back on those 365 days I am exhausted, looking forward to the 63 days it stresses me out, but looking beyond those 63 days to 820 (about the time I am serving) I am excited. As I think about those 820 days that I will be serving, I am thinking about the quote I used in my high school yearbook: "Only the curious have something to find." I think that couldn't not be more true.

Please save these dates: Going away party at my parent's house in North Tustin, CA May 28th...everyone is welcome to come!

Friday, March 18, 2011

4:52 AM

I cannot sleep. I have been frantically searching the internet about people's experiences in the Peace Corps, Africa and Cameroon. I keep reading blog after blog attempting to figure out what I should expect and how I should prepare. I am tired, but I cannot keep researching. My emotions are going times I am through the roof excited, other times I want to vomit because I am so nervous. My sister said it best today, Don't think...Just do. That will be my mantra.

I have started to get things for my 27 months. So far, I have a backpack, pair of pants, skirt and a couple shirts. I am not quite sure how one prepares for this. If anyone has suggestions...I would love some help!

I leave for Cameroon in 73 days.

Don't think. Just do.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Mt. Hood

I never thought that I would say this...but 25 degrees and sunny is amazing! I would take that any day over 40 and rainy. I went to Mt. Hood yesterday to soak up the sun and get a few runs in. I am determined before I leave to hike as far as I can up Mt. Hood. Anyone care to join me?

Friday, February 18, 2011

Valentines Day Dinner & Grammy's!

I love awards shows. I love looking at the fashion or lack thereof. But my favorite is the Grammy's. So it was necessary to make a night out of it, especially when the next day was Valentine's Day. I went over to Jessica Silverman's new home and we made a night out of it. We made a delicious dinner...I recommend making this recipe. It was beyond easy and delish!

Start with 1 lb. of shrimp. Make sure to have them deveined and shelled. Rinse them then saute them in butter and EVOO. Remove them from the pan before they are fully cooked. Set them aside, because you will put them in the sauce later. In another pot start to boil water...once it is at a roiling boil add salt and put it 1 lb. of pasta of your choice.

Once you have removed the shrimp, chop 1 onion and 2 cloves of garlic. (depending on your love of onion, you might want to use less than we did). Saute until the onion is opaque.

Add about a glass of white wine. I recommend pouring yourself a glass while cooking!

Once the white wine has reduced a bit...add an 8 oz. can of tomato sauce. Then let that simmer. To make the sauce even more decadent, add a bit of heavy whipping cream. Continue to let that simmer. Then add the shrimp into the sauce. We cut the shrimp into bite sized pieces, but you could leave them whole.

Next add the pasta into the pan. Once you have added the pasta, add fresh basil. Roll the basil up then thinly slice it. Add that into the sauce right before you are going to serve it.

Lastly to make it even more of a hearty meal, serve the pasta with a fresh salad. We toasted slices of bread. Once removed from the oven we took a garlic clove cut in half and we rubbed it on the bread while it was still warm.

Finally enjoy your dinner! People will be impressed and you will know how easy it was! My last recommendation is to use salt and pepper along the way and taste as you go along. Enjoy!

Our dinner was a success and the Grammy's was too. Enjoy my favorite performance!

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

"You are Never Strong Enough that you Don't Need Help"

This amazing quote is from Cesar Chavez. My good friend from Arizona, whom also shares a love of quotes, sent this to me. As June 1st quickly approaches, it is starting to sink in that I will be leaving for a long time. So I ask this of you because I know that I am not strong enough that I do not need help. I ask that you pray to help prepare my heart for my upcoming journey. I am coming home this Wednesday and I am starting to move things home; so also ask that you pray for my move back home.

On a side note, for my move back home my good friend from high school, Lesley, is making the journey with me. She decided that because she is not about to visit me in Africa a fun road trip should be in order. So our plan is for me to be back in good old North Tustin by May 8th!!!

Like I said earlier, I will be home Wednesday! I am so excited. I hope to see as many people as possible. If I miss someone, don't worry I will have almost a month of free time in May :)

As I conclude this post (and I apologize for the bouncing a around), I just ask that you pray that God gives me the Strength as well as my family the Strength to prepare us for my journey ahead. But please remember this quote, because more often than not, we think that we are strong enough to handle it on our own. We are not, which is fine. That is why we have a community to lean on and an amazing God on our side.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Little Time Left in Portland

I am writing this blog post sitting on Julie's green couch in San Francisco. I have decided that I am moving here at some point. I just love the city! I wanted to update everyone on what is going on. This is my tentative schedule before I leave for Cameroon. I am planning on stopping work by mid to late April and move home on May 8th! I will be home for a month before I leave for Cameroon!

But seeing as I only a few more months in Portland these are my goal:
- Eat at as many food carts as possible
- Run in the Shamrock 5k & in the Portland Rose's 10k
- Explore beyond my Northwest Neighborhood
- Volunteer more with the Junior League of Portland
- Enjoy all of the wonderful beers Portland is famous for
- Hike Mt. Hood & Mt. St. Helens
- Snowboard more
- Have fun & explore!

My list is long and it feels like it is not obtainable...but I am excited for what the future has in store for me and I need to embrace where I am at now.

This is all for now! I will be home from February 9-13th...I cannot wait to see everyone!