I had expected green, which I so appreciate.
I had expected appliances. I am in love with my washing machine, the dryer is somewhat appreciated.
I have discovered that I like hanging clothes on the line. Connection to the elements. I will be re-stringing the clothes line in the back yard. And, though, I love the washing machine and the resulting really clean clothes, I also found that the pace of finding time to wash clothes by hand was very soothing.
But, I have the window open as I write this at 3 AM, and America is quiet. All I hear are crickets.
No dogs roaming and barking. No frogs croaking. No rickshaws riding by the house at all hours of the night. No calls to prayer by the mosques. No conversations by others in houses connected to mine.
America feels isolated. This I did not expect to feel.
I sit in a large house alone and have no contact with anyone else. The cats are running around. There is no feeling of inter-dependence that I found in Sudan. That feeling of relying on others and having others rely on you. The sense of community.
I spoke with a friend today that had recently returned from England and Tuscany. She and I were in agreement on the isolation.
Is it because we are isolated as a land mass, as a country? Is it because in America we value individuality over community?
In Sudan, the community is valued over the individual. Decisions are made within the community. Trouble in the family? The larger family and living community are involved in assisting in the solution. It was very alien to me.
That is not to say that I do not have great communities at work, at church, in my family. How many of us make decisions only after discussing within these greater communities?
Thinking of switching employment or retiring? This is usually not discussed outside of a select few, in case it gets back to your employer.
The decision to have a child or not have a child? Usually discussed with your partner, but certainly not a larger community.
To marry ?
Is it possible to combine the best of both experiences?
I thought I was going to slip away from Sudan without a night of sleeplessness.
So silly. Really.
Here it is 3 AM Khartoum time and I am awake. Not wide awake, but awake.
The sultry Sudan sands are swirling slowly in the courtyard.
First one way, then the other. With each change Rascal's bottle "soccer" balls roll around.
The clothes drying on the line have been dryed by breezes rather than by the hot sun and they are swaying to and fro. Dancing shirts.
The sky is cloudy and the moon is trying to peak through. I was hoping for another spectacular view.
I am jealous of Rascal sleeping soundly right outside the door. The only sound that would awaken her would be the sound of cats walking along the roof.
Contributing to my sleeplessness is knowing the agenda for tomorrow, oops today, and the pain in my shoulder that is getting worse. The stress is working its way along my shoulders and neck.
If there is a long lay over in Heathrow, I will get someone to work on the neck.
Today starts with buying a little more rice to cook and some tuna for the dog. The power has been shutting off for long periods during the day and I think the meat for her meal has gone bad. Tonight she brought it all up as I was having coffee next door.
Then at 9 AM, another henna. During that time, we will be taking group pictures. I will be the "kawanja" with the goop on her head.
It will have to sit on my head for three hours, so I will have lots of time to download all my personal stuff from the computer. It remains here in Khartoum. I believe I am having separation anxiety about leaving the computer behind. It has been my link to all of you these past four months.
Why do I not feel that about the towels that I am leaving behind?
At 1 PM, I have my second meeting with Archbishop Daniel Deng Bul. I had my first tonight.
It was while sipping coffee and watching the Olympics that we heard Rascal barking and loud rapping on the gate. Graziella and I opened her door and parked in front of the house is the AB's car. Rapping on the gate is Rev. James Makuie, accompanied by Mannas and the Bishop's chaplain.
Could I possibly meet with his Grace?
Of course, I replied that it was a little late, I was not dressed, and my coffee was not finished.
So off we went, I without knowing why. And, I wondered, could I actually address him as His Grace without smiling?
This meeting is another reason why I am not sleeping.
At 2 PM today, I am invited to a party. How much partying in Sudan, that is unknown. I have been informed that the Archbishop and Bishop Kondo (Khartoum diocese) are to be present, as well as Bishop Joseph Garang of Renk diocese. Lots of purple shirts.This is to last two hours, but if there is a microphone and any clergy are asked to speak, this could take hours.
I can make it stop, just be weeping.
The day ends with having dinner with my neighbors and saying farewell to Dr. Fares.
I have not learned the arabic word for goodbye, so I am opting for "see you soon" in English.
Think this could be intentional?
Everything would come alive, trees and bushes would look greener and I would hear the frogs that come up out of the ground, croaking away.
This place is muddy.
The desert is sand, but all the construction in the desert is with dirt and clay. Dirt is slippery when wet.
It is now 10:30 AM and Daniel Deng and I are the only two people who have arrived.
I grabbed my black rubber shoes out of the suitcase, slipped on 3/4 dark pants, swung my laptop over my shoulder and off I went at 8 AM.
I should add that I walked very slowly weaving in and out of the sand and no sand walking areas. Rickshaws wer running and I made it to work by 8:30 AM. Daniel greeted me at the door.
When I asked him about who might come into work he stated:
Those that like to work will come in, those that like to sleep will not.
Aptly put. I might add that this applies to days without rain.
The Beatles and Todd Rundgren both sang a song about Rain and your state of mind. Here are some of the lyrics.
If the rain comes
They run and hide their heads
They might as well be dead
If the rain comes
If the rain comes
Sudan will have trouble competing with the rest of the industrial world. They think appointments are relative to whenever they finally show up. Latemess is blamed on traffic. If they are going to be late, they never call.
And, they do not apologize, for anything. Saying sorry has as much meaning as if they had said, the sky is blue.
They try to fight this inclination, but usually lose the battle.
In addition, they have not had lessons in manners in Sudan. This is one British Institution that did not remain after they retreated. Schools yes, manners no.
In all seriousness, in parts of Khartoum and Omdurman, people who have built houses of mud bricks are losing their homes today. They will be sleeping outside, eating outside, in order not to be trapped if a roof or wall collapses.
Long periods of heavy rain is feared here. It is not welcome. There is no place for the rain to go. The ground is hard from all the heat. The water sits and then starts to smell. The garbage that has been thrown from cars, and houses, and walkers runs down the streets looking for outlets.
Of course, it ends up in the Nile.
The Nile looks beautiful from the air, but I would hate to be at the receiving end in Egypt. Along with the life giving water each year, comes miles and miles of Sudan garbage.
There was an editorial in yesterday's English language newpaper speaking about this garbage all over Khartoum, in rich and poor sections alike. The ending quote was this from an ex-patriot:
"Khartoum is a place that makes you appreciate your city when you return home."
Make no mistake, Khartoum is a beautiful place, but I am a frustrated environmentalist in a city that does not know that word.
Oh, that they would.
Rain Rain Go Away
Come Again Another Day
Tonight, I felt like the stranger, though not at a restaurant or market.
Tonight, I felt like the stranger in the Episcopal Church.
Tonight, during the sermon, I became the alien.
The alien who does not know Jesus and is in need of saving. Someone that needed to know the saving Grace of Jesus.
I became the symbol of what is wrong with the Anglican Communion
The symbol of those that have lost their way and are in need of the correct road map.
The teacher who has forgotten the lesson and so the student steps in.
The Rt. Rev. HIllary Garang from the Diocese of Malakal was the substitute preacher. Fresh from Lambeth.
Prior to his sermon, I prayed to keep an open mind.
During the sermon, I began to question why has God put me in such a theological setting? The common liturgy is strangely not enough comfort.
I was not comforted by the Bishop's words of redemption, salvation and grace. Their meanings sounded "different" to me. He said that the Africans, along with the Indians, were to bring the True Gospel to the world. They would send missionaries into Europe and North America.
He stated that African-Anglicans have been made to feel less than others within the Anglican Communion. I have heard that said.
Tonight, I knew how they felt.
It feels awful, lonely, without community. Without God.
Is this the lesson?
Note: I would really like some feedback on this one. I am hanging out here having discussions with myself and getting no where.
She, who lost her husband Greg last October, assured me that it did.
I was looking for reassurance that day.
I had been looking at Amy's picture.
My throat tightened, my eyes welled with tears that rolled down my cheeks.
The picture that I have is with her standing in front of a hugh garden of pansies planted in front of a beautiful grey stone wall. The garden is on Victoria Island. The picture will be one of the last things I place in my carry on luggage.
As was the fashion then, we all wore scarves drapped around our necks. No thought of terrorism symbols, no spineless Dunkin Donuts advertising executives.
When I get home, I have decided to plant gardens of pansies.
Maybe, Judy and Kathy and Kathryn will help.
Well, maybe not the ice age, but it is cooler.
Yesterday the sky was filled with clouds the entire day. It was warm, but that was because the humidity had climbed.
Well, not climbed, maybe took a babystep upwards.
It reminded me of a summer day in Cape Cod, MA before a storm.
The kind of day, when you wore your sweatshirt with jeans and sandals, bathing suit underneath. The sweatshirt only coming off if the cloud cover dissipated. And, breezes from off the water actually were chilling.
Well, last night it stormed and the winds were from the north.
The wind whipped through the house from the back bedroom window right over my head and out the front door. I discovered that I was actually chilly. The fan had long been turned off so the chill was definitely from the air.
I do not know how long it rained, but Rascal slept at the bottom of my bed the entire night. Very comforting and reminded me of nights when my dog, Heidi, used to do the same thing.
Earlier in the evening, Rascal reminded me of Heidi in another way. She climbed up on the bed and proceeded to nest. Great. Heidi I could remove, Rascal, not a chance. Bribery was the only solution. But, what she left on my clean sheet were muddy foot prints.
About 10 days ago, I removed the sunshield that I had installed. It ran the width of the inner courtyard from the house to the kitchen. I found that I did not need it anymore and that I enjoyed hanging out in the sun.
The large spare water container, that had to be filled all the time in case I had to fill the AC unit when the water was turned off, now is used to clean. I hardly run the unit anymore. I sleep with only a fan.
This morning, the cloud cover continues. The fan is running only because there is no breeze. Should one develop, the fan will be turned off.
This non-use of energy is driving my house neighbor crazy. He runs his AC unit all the time and goes through about 15 Kw hours each day just for that. And he has a TV, which I used to envy.
Now, I have stopped paying on electric.
I paid for all of May and June when he was avoiding me and using up the $$. He rants and raves at me through Sami.
Sami is now the go between, ever since this crazy man started yelling at me about America and Israel. As Sami says, they both speak Arabic, but if Sami were talking about the Olympics, this man would be speaking about the weather. No communication at all.
This being said, before I leave I expect to find icicles on my nose one morning.
I love that word.
So it begins, the separating into multiple piles those items that will be returning to the states and those that will not.
Those that will not go are then separated into more piles.
There is the pile of medical supplies that will go the The Mothers Union for their clinic. Thank you Jackie for the masks.
There is the pile of makeup that I will give to Diana who, hopefully, is confirmed by the UN in NY to work here for UNMIS. Thank you Estee Lauder for your samples.
There is my laptop that I purchased before the trip. It will also go to The Mothers Union to be used by Harriet and Mama Daris as they travel around Sudan, empowering women. You cannot purchased used laptops here so, I will replace mine at the store in Lewes, Delaware. They will also receive my Sudani MDSL. Access to their networking friends from around the world is so important. In addition, they may work from home, if needed. Thank you people of the Diocese of Delaware for purchasing the MDSL.
There is the medicine that is left and that will go to my neighbors Graziella and Sami. Should I give credit to Happy Harry's?
I have already donated my spare phone that I purchased on my previous trip in February. It can only be used here and, I certainly do not need two.
Prior to leaving in May, the staff gave me a memory stick that contains past issues of The Communion. I will be leaving it for Tito, who is fascinated with Episcopal Life Online and the Diocese of Delaware website. Thank you friends.I have already divested of some funds towards those that do not get but one meal a day, or those with medical needs, and will, hopefully, divest of some more prior to leaving.
We gave to a young postulant that needed to get home to see his family in Darfur while on break from school in Egypt.
We will give to a provincial employee that needs access to the internet. The Rev. Daniel Deng is the director of the Theological Education Extension program. This program is training and certifying those priests that were ordained during the past civil war. His work, involving six northern dioceses, is invaluable to the Episcopal Church in the Sudan. Daniel has been a spiritual and physical presence to me each morning that I opened up the finance office.
Some planned but yet not carried out:
The capital campaign for St. Phillip's ECS first church building.
Purchase of knitted items to support Gillia's church women. I am bringing these home. Everyone get ready to receive at least one.
To All Saint's Catheral - Khartoum to support their Youth Program. A small token for the unbounded support that Dean Sylvester and Frs. Joseph Taban and Joseph Garang have given me along with the rest of the staff.
Remember the movie Mr. Mom? The replication of Michael Keaton was a novelty in its day.
Well, I wish that there could be a replication of me, so that I could divest of one of "me" and leave "me" here.
I wish that each human being came with at least two hearts, so that the one that is part African could stay and the other return to you my family and friends.
And, oh how I wished I were staying longer and getting more invitations.
My third Best is the children, all ages,sexes and religions. Here is Anoyya who lives next door to me and is 5. Here is her pretty in pink picture. One evening, she painted the fingernails on one hand copper and the other gold. Kathryn get out the picture of you and your Granny.
the second day she saw me. The first day, she would have nothing to do with me. Since then, she and I play whenever she is around, which is often. She is a born leader and smart as a whip.
And or course, Rascal's playmates, the boys on the block. I have suceeded in getting the plastic bottles out of the street and into my house for the trash. The boys discovered that Rascal likes to chase the bottles like soccer balls. So they keep throwing them over the outside fence. Rascal chases, they laugh, I throw away. Win, Win, Win.
This last picture is taken from the steps of the church prior to running back inside.
When I drifted off to sleep around 10:30 PM, there was no wind. And, it was warm. I ran the fan.
I awoke a couple of times, drenched.
I used to think I knew the meaning of that word.
I did not.
Rascal awoke the same time that I did. My daughter and friends know why.
It is so quiet. No movements. Car lights come shining in over the wall for a moment and are then gone. The shower is dripping into the tub waiting below.
The rooster is not crowing. No dogs barking. No planes flying overhead.
So, putting on sandals, Rascal and I move to the outer courtyard. Sami is there.
He is just heading to bed. Worries that something is wrong.
No, just waiting for the wind.
Each night it is the same thing. Between midnight and 2 AM, the wind will pick up and it will blow into the house. The fan gets turned off.
Rascal is so quiet.
There is something reassuring about this desert routine. The repetitions in its life that I have come to know and love.
I will miss this routine. The waiting for the wind.
Here she is.