So after five months of training in two separate countries I was officially installed as a Volunteer with the United States Peace Corps on March 25!!! So a 4x4 drove through waist high prairie to drop me and my 187 bags at my hut's door step in rural Kwa-Zulu Natal...and then it drove away. After the customary Peace Corps Volunteer moment of panic passed I felt a new wave hit as I realized my hut was completely infested with bugs. I'm talking two separate species of mystery bug coming from the cracks in the walls and the potholes in the floors respectively. For whatever reason I tried to will them out for about a week until I called Peace Corps's Safety and Security Advisor, no I'm not kidding. We discussed the issue at length and devised a plan of action, phase 1 and 2 of which are already completed. Okay, so I feel it necessary to delve a little deeper into my bug hell. They were EVERYWHERE, it was definitely one of those 'I can't remember my life before my house was infested with bugs, all of my possessions will be black with bugs forever and ever the end.' But today I'm tentatively optimistic that my bug genocide is complete. I'll keep you posted.
The other day I attempted to wash my comforter in a bucket about 10x too small and put 10x more soap than necessary which made my poor grandmother use up far too much of her stored water to de-suds the thing, after about an hour, with both of us soaked and neither of us left with any water to bathe with we both looked at each other and laughed until we cried.
Last Sunday I came late and left church early and was there for four and a half hours. Since the church service is held in a hut 'across the street' meaning walking aways through the prairie, weaving amongst the cows, I could hear them finishing up around the six and a half hour mark. I don't know how a person can sing and dance for that long. I mean they went right through lunch and were approaching dinner when I left! One of the women beat a drum and everyone sang and danced and one of the two ministers would pray then someone would start another song and the cycle would continue. It was absolutely wonderful. There was a shrine made of ash in the form of a rectangle with two candles in the middle and some braided string which at one point was cut and tied to two women's various body parts. These two women, individually, knelt in the middle of the hut at one point while the two ministers and a few of the women shuffled at what looked like a pace as fast as they could. They also have a very specific dress with the women wearing a jungle green dress with a large white collar and perhaps a white overcoat with a white or jungle green head covering and a royal blue dress for funerals, one of which, as an aside, I went to today which was a six hour ceremony as well. The men wear what in my opinion resembles a dress, complete with cuffs and empire waist with pants underneath some of whom carry a thin walking stick which doesn't seem to correlate with their age so I'm not sure the symbolism behind that just yet. Regardless, it was humbling for me to be welcomed so warmly to such an intimate gathering of people worshipping a God so vulnerably and without reservation.