Saturday, November 28, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving!

Derek and I before the toy (wedding). He cleans up nice, huh?
The fam at the toy. Notice my smile...
Derek got a gerber daisy for me on Thanksgiving day.
This photo is self explanatory.

So sorry for the delay. We’ve had a couple of busy weeks. Also, sorry for the lack of pictures. To be honest, we haven’t had time to completely figure this blog thing out.

Happy Thanksgiving! We celebrated by going to Baku for the day with my LCF and a few of my cluster mates. We went to an Irish pub and it was awesome. I never thought I would be so grateful for a cheeseburger on a holiday, but it was delicious. The Guiness was pretty amazing, as well, so much better from the tap.

We were able to talk to Derek’s parents very briefly on Thanksgiving Day, but my family called later that night. I was able to talk to my sister, Alina, for the first time since being here. I also got to talk to my grandma, parents, a few aunts and uncles and my cousin Miranda. Then, we were able to talk to Mom and Dad Johnson, Dacia, and Kaylee on Friday. It was hard being away during the holiday, but I’m so grateful we can communicate as easily as we do.

I met my counterpart last week. She will help me integrate into the community once we get to our site and I will also be teaching with her. She is so sweet. I thank God that she is so eager for us to come and is so encouraging. The school I will be teaching at is apparently small and very old. She told me the students are eager to meet me. I believe I’m the first volunteer they’ve had. I’m ready to get there. I’m ready to be in a place where I can start building real relationships. Right now, I feel as though I can’t because we’re leaving so soon.

Derek and one of his cluster mates have been doing a basketball club at the school where their language class is. He’s having fun with it, really enjoying the kids. He’s teaching them how to shoot, dribble, and then they play a few games. I’m glad he’s been able to play. At our site, he’ll be working at a youth center that has a large sports facility. I’m hoping to play volleyball with some of the girls. Apparently girls don’t go to the center, but maybe I can help change that. As you all know, I’m a lot of things and athletic ain’t one of them. Oh well, I’m gonna have some fun while we’re here.

Derek’s LCF asked if we would want to play/sing a few songs at this concert next weekend. Derek said yes so apparently we’re going to be part of the show. We’re planning on playing a few Avett Brothers songs and maybe one of our friend Isaiah’s. Should be entertaining.

We have less than two weeks left until we’re sworn in as volunteers. Even though it feels like we’ve been here so much longer, it seems strange that we’re about ready to go off on our own. I’m excited, but nervous. I’m a little sad about not having any site mates (other volunteers from the States) but I’m so glad that I have Derek. I can’t imagine doing this without him. God knew what was best for me when He placed Derek in my life. This has been one of the hardest things I’ve ever done. I’ve wanted to go home on more than one occasion. Derek is wise, though, and has listened with patience. Later, he has told me just what I need to hear. We’re here as long as God wants us here.

We got an envelope from our friends Tera and Ryan two weeks ago. It was so good to read their words and have pictures to remind us of good times. We also got a package from Derek’s mom and dad. We’ve been rationing the peanut butter and granola bars. Ha! We are so blessed. Thank you all for thinking of us and praying. We love you.

Hope everyone had a great Thanksgiving. Hope the Christmas shopping is going well. Think of us while you’re decorating your trees. This is my favorite time of year back home, but it’s good to be able to focus on the reason behind our celebration. I was thinking the other day how sad I’ll be on Christmas without our family to share it with, but the beautiful thing is that God sent His son and it was the most perfect gift. Being halfway across the world doesn’t change this. That’s what I’m going to dwell on, the truth and not what I’m missing. I hope this truth warms your hearts as well.

Love, Alicia

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Site Placement

So on December 10th we'll be moving to Sabirabad. The best thing to do would be to check out the wiki on Sabirabad. Total population is around 30k. Not quite the "progressive city" that we requested, but we've heard it's nice. We'll see.
I'll meet my Director today. I will be working at the Sabirabad Youth Centre. The facilities sound nice, and I'm anxious to meet my counterpart. Which is where I need to be heading now. We're ready to make the move and relocate to a different region. I need to jet for now. We'll update with more news later. Sagol.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Hello hello. What is your name. Hello. American. I am from English! American. Hello. Hello,

So this is basically how we are greeted by children, everywhere we go. What's up everybody. Sorry, it has been a while since we posted. I want to make this thing a little more lively. I know we're awesome and all, and super interesting, but I would get bored just reading about two people who miss peanut butter, indoor heating, and whatever else. So what do you want to read about?
Joyce asked about what "language they speak here, and what is Whiskerino". Azeri's speak Azerbaijani, which is a lot like Turkish. I wasn't sure how mutually intelligible Azeri and Turkish were, but according to the locals, it is much like American/British English. The language itself is kind of difficult, but not terrible. I've studied German, and it's pretty rigid. Azeri is a little more flexible. However it's not like English in the sense that we use so many prepositions. We can have nearly an entire conversation with prepositions.(link for those of us who have been out of English 101 for a while). Azeri doesn't have prepositions. Well, they do, but they say they don't. They're confused. But they definitely don't throw them around like we do.
It all comes down to suffixes. Root words have suffixes added to them to determine action, possession, direction, etc. It can get a little hairy. Gelmek (to come) becomes geliryam (I come) gelacayam (I will come), gelmisyam (I have come), geldim (I came). etc. Probably a poor example, but an example nonetheless.
Whiskerino is an online beard growing adventure headed up by the National Free Beard Agreement. Men grow their beards from Nov. 1 - Feb. 28th. If you are interested to see what it's about just google "Absolutely on Whiskerino". My "moniker", or nickname, is Absolutely.
Well we don't have much news right now. It seems to me that things have leveled off and seem to be holding steady. We have routines, and feel comfortable with our surroundings. We are super ready to get to site (where we'll be for the next 2 years). We find out in two days where that will be! Exciting.
So hit us up with some questions. Anything you want to know. Use your discernment, as our blog is most likely being read by natives. We want to be culturally sensitive. We love you all and like most of you. Just kidding, we like you all too.

-derek and alicia