Tag Archives: Hope

My Italian Journey (Day 11)

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My Italian Journey (Day 11)

Ciao everyone (I apologize for popping random Italian words in this post, I am trying to learn!),

So you are probably not aware of this but I am in Italy, teaching English as a foreign language. I have been here for just over a week and I love it! I am living in a beautiful town in the south and I am by the sea. I live with a wonderful host family and I am so lucky. This place feels like home and I am looked after. However culture shock and home-sickness have hit hard, I mean really hard. It is very difficult to be so far away from everything that is “comfortable” and “normal”. A small part of me wants to back to my comfort zone but then I think of how unhappy I was in my previous job. I worked at a call center, which taught me many things , but I found an office job was killing any creativity I had.

I find myself in a strange mixture of feelings, on the one hand I love being in Italy, the food, the people and the weather are all great. Teaching is my dream job and the children are wonderful. On the other hand my brain is working at 100 mph trying to process a new language, a new job and a new culture. It is exhausting and I miss my family. But this is the main downside of taking that great leap of moving abroad. I am trying to give myself more time to get used to everything. There are a few cultural differences that I am mainly struggling with. I will list them below;

  1. Children are not disciplined in the same way as British children are (or I was). The discipline is very relaxed here, which makes the children very confident but for me a little hard to teach. I am trying to view this as a difference, not the “wrong” way to raise children.
  2. The language barrier makes everything complicated, even though I am learning Italian quicker than I thought I still long to be fluent, but I have a long way to go! I am very lucky to have some people who do speak English though, it is nice to be understood.
  3. The days are very long, people will typically have dinner at around 8pm. I am so used to having it at around 6pm so this is hard to get used to.
  4. I am feeling so lost and confused, but thats just a part of culture shock!

This list could be much longer so I am lucky that these are my only frustrations. Part of it is that I am not yet confident with teaching and children generally pick that up. In a month I will probably look back and realize I have learned so much in so little time. In the interest of balance I will list all the things I love about living in Italy;

  1. The food, it is amazing! It’s fresh and delicious, there are no words for how much I love it. Don’t even get me started on the coffee, it is the best coffee I have ever tasted.
  2. The people are so friendly, the British side of me used to approach this with suspicion but now I just accept that in the south of Italy people are naturally extremely welcoming and friendly.
  3. The language is so beautiful, I love listening to it and speaking it (well trying haha).
  4. The views here are stunning, even in the rain. I love how the houses look and the coast is just beautiful! You get it, Italy is a beautiful place.
  5. I love to wander around and get lost, this is something you can only do in a new place and I am making the most of it!
  6. The food
  7. I love to teach, even though I never thought I could and I am still learning. I get nervous and it is sometimes terrifying, being in charge of a group of children, but at the end of the day I feel so happy and fulfilled.
  8. I can feel myself changing every day, which scares me because I feel like I will no longer recognize myself soon. Maybe thats a good thing.
  9. I love that feeling when I have a successful conversation in Italian, I just feel so proud of myself.
  10. In my flat I have the most amazing bath, I know its weird but it makes me really happy!
  11. I am well-fed, I have a beautiful flat to live in and I am happy (most of the time).

I think it is also fair to acknowledge that my host family and anyone I encounter will struggle too. I am not the only one struggling with culture shock, even though it sometimes feels like it. We are never alone.

Ciao and Grazie (thank-you) for reading

Sarah Gale

 

Life after Africa

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Life after Africa

Its been far too long since I last wrote! I would love to say its because I’ve been so busy…but that would be a lie. Unless busy means obsessively playing Dragon Age. Over the past 2 months I have been trying to find a job, although by that I mean only applying for the ones I want, which in my case was just one! It was a library job if you were curious, and I didn’t even get shortlisted, but maybe it wasn’t meant to be. So I decided it was time for some help, and I signed on to job seekers. I am not going to pretend to be proud of myself. I am now a typical graduate, I live with my parents, I rely on the government to give me money and hopefully to help me get a job. I know, aren’t you jealous of how successful I am ;).

I am learning to swallow my pride, its a process. One that I am not going through gracefully. I don’t think I’ve ever felt so useless and confused about my life. What do I want to do? I don’t know, actually I do, I want to go back to Africa where, despite the difficulties, I had a purpose. My purpose now is to find my purpose. With Gods help I will get through this season in life without going crazy. I have discovered that to “be still and know I am God” is very difficult. When being prayed for last Sunday a friend said she saw me on Rollerblades, raring to go but I had no padding on, no protection. God wants me to wait so he can get all my protective gear on, elbow pads and the like. He is preparing me for something big, but I can’t see it. So many people are going through this feeling. All I want to do is go, but maybe I need to learn to enjoy just sitting in the presence of God.

When I move out of this place I will probably long to sit still and be back at the waiting season. I will endeavor to enjoy this place, because it is truly pathetic to complain about it. When I compare my situation to others less fortunate, I find I can see I have been so blessed. I have a loving family, a warm bed, a full stomach and endless possibilities, if only I choose to see them. Its all about perception, its a shame I forget about it until its too late. So I will continue to pray and grow, because God’s got my future in his hands, I just need to believe he does.

Lots of love and God bless you!

Sarah

xxx

Approaching the end, or is it the beginning?

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Approaching the end, or is it the beginning?

We are in week six now! Where has all the time gone? It is the sort of time where I am constantly trying to enjoy every moment and desperately holding onto the little time we have left. I can’t say I always enjoy every moment. Take today for example. A migraine came out of nowhere and was my first obstacle in enjoying every moment. Its pretty hard to enjoy the feeling of repeatedly being stabbed in the head with limited vision…I suppose we must be realistic in how we enjoy our experiences. Just because you go somewhere totally different does not mean you will instantly be positive all the time, you don’t just become a different person. It is a process, and there are plenty of challenges along the way.

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David, Helena and Roger teaching basic English conversation.

But I think this experience has been better because of the challenges. It feels like I have had a year of personal growth in the last 6 weeks. I don’t know about you, but I’m feeling 22, and I have seen and done things I never thought I would do. No matter where you are in life, challenges will always be there. I have found that the way you react to those challenges reveals a lot about your character. I tend to hesitate and doubt myself. Sometimes I am terrified to even take a step. But then I pull myself together, give myself a little pep talk and take that step anyway. I might be trembling as I do it but the most important thing is that I challenge myself. I might also complain a lot, but we all need to change.

The truth is life is too short to waste our opportunities, even though I find myself doing this frequently! Its like we can see the sand running low but we just go about our everyday business anyway. Even if its not what we want to do, I find that we tend to get a bit too comfortable if we have a bog standard job that we don’t actually like. Its easier to stay in that place because moving would mean change, pain and difficulties! Most of all it means..God forbid…taking a risk! I’m glad I took this risk. Its been no picnic but I have so many memories I will treasure forever. Perhaps we need to find the gold among the dirt. I suppose that’s what makes the gold so valuable.

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We got to meet Davids sister (one of his many siblings) which was lovely ūüôā

Last week we ran a lot of holiday camps, it was truly wonderful, if a bit challenging. I do not like public speaking in any way but I felt that I needed to face my fear. We all taught different lessons, like sexual health, HIV/AIDS and sanitation and hygiene. I led a session on setting personal and future goals. It was weirdly not as bad as I thought it would be. I did have a bit of a cry/panic afterwards but it was only small. The next time I did it I found it easier. I suppose practice really does help. I am not going to say that I am amazing at public speaking now, but I have something to build on which is a miracle for me. I thank God for giving me the strength, without him I would not have been able to do it.

Today we went to Peters school to teach English. Despite the migraine I thoroughly enjoyed it. There was a fantastic moment where it started to rain heavily and we were unable to teach anymore. So the students got a drum and started to dance. It was amazing, I felt so much joy in that moment. Weirdly it was one of my biggest highlights! I suppose its good appreciate everything, even if it seems small to other people. It reminded me of this quote: “Until God opens the next door praise him in the hallway”. Its easy to get caught up in your issues, but to praise God regardless of your situation, that is conquering life. That is truly embracing life’s ups and downs, I am not there yet but I will get there.

The most wonderful moment!

The most wonderful moment!

Murakose ( thank you) for reading!

Much Love and Gods blessings

Sarah

xxx

Life in Kigali: Week four!

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Life in Kigali: Week four!

Firstly I wanted to apologize for not updating my blog for so long! It has been quite busy here so I have found it hard to update my personal blog. I have however been updating the team blog ( http://aeekigaliautumn2014.wordpress.com/) so go and check that out if you want a little more detail on the work we are doing in Kigali.

So I am going to be brutally honest. A lot of people will try to sugarcoat volunteering, telling you only the good things that have been happening and conveniently missing out the issues and struggles. I am so guilty of this! The problem is there are issues and you will get frustrated. We are in a new country, a new environment and we have to deal with lots of different problems. Such as culture shock, the heat, the food, being ill and sometimes a feeling of uselessness. For the first week I felt so useless, lazy, unable to do the work and weak. We were doing a lot of field work such as irrigation (a fancy way of saying watering), planting banana trees, visiting beneficiaries of AEE (African Evangelistic Enterprise) and being asked advice when quite frankly I just didn’t know what to say (or that I was qualified to say anything).

Planting banana trees in Gicaca, it was wonderful but hard work!

Planting banana trees in Gicaca, it was wonderful but hard work!

It was really hard to get used to, these were things I had never done and I just felt like such a failure. To top it all off getting work for us to do was very difficult, we couldn’t teach English to the children until November as they had exams, the staff never seemed to have office work for us to do (through no fault of their own) and it was all very slow. That meant I had that much more time to over think everything, I wondered what I was doing here, why did I think I could help anyone, I should just go home.

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All the wonderful people who work at Gicaca banana plantation

Luckily I had a supportive team to help me through it all. In fact we were probably feeling similar so it was almost easier, to know that I wasn’t suffering alone. That sounds awful but there really is nothing worse than feeling like no-one can understand what you are going through. These feelings would be like a fleeting wind, there one minute and gone the next. It was certainly an emotional roller coaster. However as I became busier and more used to the work we were doing I started to feel much better about the experience. I felt like we were really helping, even if it was in a small way. The understanding that we were building on the previous teams work was helpful.

I think that the impact we make cannot always be seen. We may never see that banana tree we planted fully grown, we may not even be able to taste its bananas. But that doesn’t matter, we put into motion something tangible and real. Just because you do not see the effect doesn’t mean its not there. The advice we gave to those beneficiaries could have been invaluable to them. They might put our words into actions and this could benefit their lives abundantly. The point is that we must believe our actions and words are important, they have an effect on the people around us and they shape our world, which in turn will shape the wider world. This is why we need to think carefully about what we say and do, and be thankful for every opportunity we get to change the worlds around us. Not everyone is lucky enough to do this and not everyone has a say in their own world.

So do not worry if you feel discouraged, I believe it is just a part of the process. We might not change the world immediately but we can all put into motion something that will. All you need is a drop to create a ripple.

I feel like this bible verse is appropriate: 1 Corinthians 15:58- Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain.

Murakose (Thank-you) for reading and God bless you

Sarah

xxx

Just one of the many beautiful places in Kigali!

Just one of the many beautiful places in Kigali!

Living in Kigali: The start of our placement

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Muraho (or hello in English). I am currently in Kigali, in the Havugimana Israel guest Centre. This is where my placement officially starts and the adventure really begins. It honestly feels like weeks since I first stepped out of that plane and into Kigali. I remember the rush of heat and the darkness of the night. I especially remember the odd mixture of excitement and fear knotting up in my stomach. I had made it, after being on a plane for the first time. The lack of sleep and comfort outweighed by the excitement of being in a completely new atmosphere. It feels like a month since that night but in reality it has only been five days. I suppose that is what its like, getting used to a new culture and easing yourself in slowly.

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A view from my first plane ride

My first impression of Kigali was that it was much bigger than I expected it to be. The beauty of it hit me in the morning when I walked out of the Moucecore guest house and was struck by the most amazing view. Many buildings seemed to slant in the most organised way, the colours were all so rich and the sun already hot in the azure sky. I felt so blessed to be in such a beautiful place. From Monday (when our plane arrived) we had in country orientation with all the other teams which would be spread throughout Rwanda. It was wonderful, we were well informed about the culture, met our in country volunteers and even had language lessons from them too. They were so much fun, I thoroughly enjoyed embarrassing myself and over-pronouncing the words! It was so useful to get at least a basic grasp of the language. We also learned about the do’s and don’ts of both Rwandan and our own culture. For example in Rwanda you greet everyone whereas in the UK you barely look people in the eye when passing them in the street!

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Me and my well deserved ice cream!

On Wednesday we went to one of the genocide memorials in Kigali. It was probably one of the most humbling experiences in my life. I think you would need to go there yourself to understand that. All I can say is that I understand why people here don’t like to talk about it. The next day after some more orientation about the signs of culture shock we went out in Kigali with our team to learn more Kinyarwanda (the language here). It was such a blessed time, where we as a team really started to gel. I learned so much about my in country team members and even had an ice cream which cost….get ready for this…70p! I love ice cream here.

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Team Kigali (well minus Priscilla)

All too soon Friday was upon us and all the teams departed to their placements. It was a sad time but I felt I was ready to start our own placement. It took about 20 minutes in the car to get to¬†Havugimana Israel guest Centre. We are staying in such a beautiful place, we have a kitchen area, a living room and the most lovely bedrooms. I even have an en suite bathroom. It probably sounds like I am living the life of luxury and I feel like I am but I know its only a matter of time until the hard work starts and I get to do what I’ve come here for. Saturday was spent with our team, getting to know each other and generally laughing a lot! We played games like Jenga and snap (well I watched) which seemed to be a favorite among In Country Volunteers. We had devotion in the evening which was lovely, I enjoyed reading the bible, praying and praising God with my team.

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The view from our placement guest centre

Today has been a little harder. I woke up feeling ill and emotional. In fact I cried quite a lot. But thankfully I had dioralyte (Sorry too much information), the support of my fellow team members and God. Its much later now and I feel fine, I am looking forward to going out into Kigali later with my team and further enjoying every minute of this placement, even the hard times.

Murakose (thank you) and God bless!

Sarah

God bless

xxx

The reality of going to Rwanda

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So its time to be honest with you all. Mixed in with the excitement of going to Rwanda (in 3 weeks!) there is also fear. I guess its easy to get caught up in the excitement and forget to be realistic about things. I am well aware that this may be extremely difficult and I might not find it easy. But I don’t want that to put me off, sometimes the best things in life are the hardest. I am so grateful for this opportunity, I know God would not let me do this if he didn’t think I was capable of doing it (with his help of course). Sometimes in life we must all take a leap of faith. I feel like this is mine. I am going somewhere in the knowledge that when I come back I will not be the same. I am so excited about growing in Christ and in myself, its going to be life changing.

I only hope I can be of some help. As someone who is well aware of my faults I have some doubt that I will be able to help in the way I really want to. I know I shouldn’t dwell on the negative but it does get hard to completely ignore it. I guess sometimes I forget to look how far I have come. I am no longer the shy, insecure, sad girl I used to be. In fact I think I am quite strong now, as close to God as I have ever been and much more confident. It is a miracle which is all thanks to God. The fact is that within this self doubt I know in my heart that I am truly ready for this. I have to do Gods will, even if it means I might be scared of doing it.¬†

I am sure lots of people face the same situation (probably worse) every day and I want you to know a few things.You are an amazing individual, you are kind, you are smart, you are important (I love “The Help”). Yes you may have many faults but they are not your identity. You are capable of more things than you know and are braver than you think. Step out of the boat, it is scary but it is so worth it.¬†

 

Lots of love and God bless

Sarah Gale

xxx

Isaiah 41: 8-10

8 “But you, Israel, my servant,
    Jacob, whom I have chosen,
    you descendants of Abraham my friend,
9 I took you from the ends of the earth,
    from its farthest corners I called you.
I said, ‚ÄėYou are my servant‚Äô;
    I have chosen you and have not rejected you.
10 So do not fear, for I am with you;
    do not be dismayed, for I am your God.
I will strengthen you and help you;
    I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.