Thursday, January 17, 2013

Box of Emotions

Box of Emotions

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I got another care package! I have received some from family and I appreciate all the time, money and thought put into it. THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU!!! I then received TWO from friends on the same day! One from all my yogis back home and the other from... pretty much everyone in Cedar City! Thank you Danny for organizing it all!
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When I got the packages in my room I was jumping out of my skin. SO excited I barely could contain myself. I was shaking with anticipation to see what was inside. I wanted to be selfish and open it alone, I go in my room, close the door and fight that tape to open it up. It had everything I needed. Gifts, letters and tons of love. I was overwhelmed. I was happy to hear from everyone, see all the names on the cards, read letters of updates from people's lives, receiving the love and support from everyone I just could not believe it. So many people back home in my little city are there routing for me and cheering me on. I started to tear up I felt so loved. I teared up then within just a few seconds I started to cry. I cried and cried and the crying then turned into bawling. It made me very very homesick.
I have missed home a few times since I moved, little moments here and there but nothing to make me cry, let alone sob! These packages made me miss my friends, my family, my yogis, my jobS, my coworkers, my classes. Then it turned into missing my house, my car, the food, my gym, my routine. I thought about all the opportunity to go do things like a simple movie or having a drink with friends, seeing live music, going for ice cream, taking a random road trip, just to name a FEW. I cried for everything and anything that popped into my head about home. I missed my old life.
I probably cried for over twenty minutes straight, which is actually a long time to just sit and cry. I was a mess. I did not write in my journal, I did not call anyone, I just sat there. I let the emotion pass through me and afterwards I felt better. It was needed.
Having all those feelings pour out of me was refreshing and it did not changed my mind in the slightest of wanting to be here. It helped me realize I know all the things that really matter will still be there in two years when I return. I was able to see I am only taking a break from my old life and making a new one.
Yes, I am not able to just jump in the car and go to a yoga class or drive to see an old friend but I can walk down the street and sit on a gorgeous beach and meet up with some new friends. I can not go to my old job and see all my regular costumers/co workers but I am able to go to my new job. I get to go to a school and help make a difference. I will find things here that will make it worth putting my life on hold. It is only two years.
This was not to discourage ANYONE from sending me anything. I LOVE LOVE LOVE and need the support! It was good to be reminded of what I love back home, it was good to know what I miss. It was also good to realize this is where I want to be. This is where I need to be and I swear to all of you I will make you proud.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

The Princess and The Prisoner

Princess and the Prisoner

If you are going to read this blog, I strongly encourage to read both parts. Reading both parts is very important to fully understand the meaning of this entry.

The Prisoner:

I am trapped! I am not able to do anything alone or for myself! I can barely breath! I do not get to make any decisions and I am constantly being watched. They warned us about feeling like living in a fishbowl but it has been over a month since I lived with my family, this is getting ridiculous.  My mom is so overprotected I am getting treated like a child. I have to tell her where I am going and what I am doing, have to ask permissions to do things and sometimes she says no! I try to go running and she makes someone go with me. I walked to the store alone and got scolded. When we walk together in the village and a car passes I can just feel her worry rising, she holds my hand and we do not keep walking until the car passes. Really?? I am 23 years old and you are holding my hand while a car passes??
Once at midnight I had to use the restroom and even debated on waiting until morning because I did not want to disturb my mom who sleeps in the main room outside of mine. (She sleeps in the main room because her room is too hot, I also think she does it protecting me and making sure we do not sneak out). I almost peed my pants debating. When I thought how dumb it was to wait I opened my door as quietly as I could and by the time I reached the door to the outside she turned on the light in a panic asking what was going on.
"Nothing, I just have to go to the bathroom."
"Turn on the light turn on the light, get your shoes. Are you okay??"
"Yes I just have to go to the bathroom. I'll use my phone as a light. Sorry I woke you, go back to sleep."
All broken English/Samoan. I go inside the room and as soon as I sat down she turned on the light for me. She was waiting outside for me making sure I was safe. The bathroom is maybe 10 feet from the house. I could hear her waiting for me and it made so annoyed and then I got bladder shy and I could not even go! So then I go back into my room frustrated and in pain and slept angrily that night for her smothering me with worry.
I went to Apia other day and she called me ALL DAY! Made sure I was on the bus, sitting with my sister, not talking to boys, made it to the city, asked what I was doing, if I made it on the boat, if I was getting a ride from the wharf  I fell asleep on the ride home and when I woke up I had 10 missed calls from her. I almost threw my phone out the window! I have not reported to anyone since I was young and even then it was not as constantly as she wants. They will not let me do anything for myself. They tell me when and what to eat and then after they will not even let me wash my own dish. I can not wash my dishes, cook my food or clean my clothes. My independence self is going crazy!

The Princess:

I have never been treated so well in my life! Here in Samoa it is culture to take care of guest with their best ability and respect they can give. I have every meal cooked for me and my sisters do all the cleaning afterwards. My clothes are always washed and when I have an important meetings or event to go to my family makes sure my clothes are pressed nice and neat so I can look my best. Yes it can be a bit annoying when I want to make my own food or help around the house but they are treating me like royalty and how can someone really complain about that??
I have a roof over my head and always feel safe. I asked my mom if I could go to the grand opening party for a store up the street and she told me no. I was annoyed at first until I heard about all the drunk guys that were there was even a fight that broke out! I am so glad I avoided that. Sometimes my mom is overprotected like when a car passes I can feel she is worried I will get hit. I joked with her once about how I play at traffic back home and she laughed, now she hesitates to be as paranoid because she knows it is not necessary  We have had a few frustrating moments together with my protection. When I went to Apia she called and called me all day. It was very annoying. After I got home I made fun of the situation saying in a light voice how I almost threw my phone out the window and next time she goes anywhere, "you better not talk to boys and you better call me every hour. If you do not call me I will travel to Apia myself and track you down!." She was laughing and said next time she travels she will leave her mouth at home and not talk to any boys. I think I got my message across without offending her. I know it is her duty to protect me, sometimes it is just hard for me to fully cooperate. I wonder if she ever gets frustrated with me. I woke up the other night to go to the restroom and she got up too making sure I was okay. I would be annoyed if I was her having to get up and me disturbing her sleep.
I have only been living here a month so I am still viewed as a guest. I know overtime it will be easier to do things on my own, after awhile I will be able to make my own meals and have my own routine  I just need to be patient.
I used to have to have someone go with me when I went running. I hated it because running is the time for myself and I would always outrun the people she sent with me. Once I asked if I could go while it was raining and she let me go alone because nobody wants to run in the rain. Another time I asked if I could go running when everyone was busy with chores, she felt obligated to either go with me or let me go alone. Can you guess which one she choose? She is not a big fan of exercise. Ha ha. Finally it is a known thing that I go running alone and she no longer makes people go with me. SUCCESS!
It is all baby steps to find a balance from being treated like a guest and being treated like another member of the family.

The Madisen Rhodes:

How I deal with everything here in Samoa (and in life) is being aware of my attitude and perspective  The number one challenge for me, so far, is my struggle to my independence. I have always been self reliant and getting told what to do/how to do it (especially when it is not fully necessary  or having to report to someone has never been a strong quality of mine.
I have thought about it and if another Volunteer was in the exact same situation as me, it may not even phase them or effect them the same way. Samoa challenges everyone in different ways, how we deal with it I believe will make all the difference in life here. At times I feel like the prisoner but I always manage to take a step back and deal with the situation delicately like the princess. I am taking small steps everyday and being aware of my attitude, trying to see things from their perspective and striving to find a balance between fighting for my "freedom" and being patient. One Baby step towards independence and one giant leap for my sanity.
My running outfit
My Sunday outfit.

View from my palace/prison.

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Arch Bishop's Birthday

Arch Bishop's Birthday

My friend Lutheran PCV friend Brad's host family is Catholic, which means Brad is now Catholic for the next two year. His whole family is very religious and that includes his Uncle who happens to be the Arch Bishop! Not just the Arch Bishop of Samoa but the Arch Bishop of all the islands in the South Pacific! The Arch Bishop turned 60 this year. Samoans do not celebrate most birthdays. 21 is a big age and solid numbers like 30, 40, and up are worth celebrating. With our luck not only was the Arch Bishop turning 60, a number worth celebrating, but he was having a birthday party the same week we were near the capital for New Years!
Ms. Catholic
We were invited to go as special guests and it was an experience I will never forget. I have mixed feelings about this party, it was the biggest celebration I have ever seen. The entertainment was mind blowing! Brad was asked to perform, another reason we were invited and he was amazing! He played the violin while a famous singing nun sang then he played the piano and sang with his brother. His brother can reach chords I did not know existed!
Santa. YUP!
There was a Canadian Brass Band, top performers dancing, singing, a parade with a a marching band  going through the building and a jeep with Ms. Catholic Samoa in it. Oh and Santa made an appearance .. Santa was also in the parade.
Their drink and my drink!

The food was amazing! The best food you can get in Samoa! There was really nice wine and amazing cake! He got cases and cases of beer for a gift that was displayed when you first walked in. Who else knows what was given. I can not even imagine how much was spent on this party. The decorations were over the top with balloons and fancy seating. That is where my missed feelings come in, how can you spend so much of the church's money when your country is in poverty?? (Not positive but pretty sure that's where the funding came from, that or the families from the church, which is the same thing). Yes I understand how massive his title is in Samoa but a parade? Was a marching band really necessary??
Milly, Madi and Brad.

It was extremely entertaining and I have not gone to a concert or performance in over three months so that was a nice break. Plus it was wonderful to watch Brad perform and wow the crowd with his talents. I do not think very many Samoans have ever seen a real violen, let alone hear one being played. It was beautiful and I feel so lucky to have been apart of it. My friend's Uncle is the Arch Bishop, ha ha oooooh the connections being made in Samoa.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Manuia le Tusauga Fou!

Manuia le Tusauga Fou!

First Sunrise in the WORLD 2013
Ahhh New Years! Hello 2013! Instead of celebrating it big and going out partying most of us decided to go to back to our training village and visit out families. Ha ha. Such a WILD group aren't we?? Ha ha. It was a blast! I am so glad I went! Just like Christmas, I have my whole life to do "normal" traditions and only two years to enjoy them in Samoa. It was so good to see the old village again and my host family. Was not as hard to say goodbye this time as last and everyone was so full of energy and excitement.
Church lit up
We went to Church on New Years Eve, YUP I WENT TO CHURCH ON NEW YEARS EVE. NEVER and I mean NEVER in my LIFE did I think I would go to church for New Years and by choice! Okay, kinda by choice, I chose to be with my  family and they choose to go to church with the rest of the village. Did not matter what church you normally go to, everyone went to the same church building to celebrate the New Year. At 10 pm the village went to church. It is not reading scriptures and praying church, it's singing, dancing and more skits performed. Extremely entertaining and fun to watch! Some of the Peace Corps Volunteers' families were performing so they were asked to join. Really funny! The power was still off from the cyclone, they lit the church up with candles and flashlights, it was very beautiful!
Me and Michelle after our countdown
Close to midnight I could tell there was not going to be a countdown since they were in the middle of a dance so, I pulled out my phone and watched a timer for a count down. Michelle and I counted down until my phone beeped midnight, we did a silent hug and giggled, it was a nice moment. I am glad she shared it with me. Once the dance was over everyone hugged and kissed cheeks for the New Year!
After church some of us went and sang, danced and did Yoga on the beach. More singing and dancing, I had some friends teach me Samoan dances and I taught them Yoga. The beach makes everything so much more fun! Listening to the waves crash in the background, the cool air from the water and the moon was super bright it was a perfect way to celebrate New Years in Samoa. I then watched the very first Sunrise of 2013 in the WHOLE world and went to sleep for only a few hours until the next celebration. Everyone got up early for a fia fia. Dancing on lack of sleep, We danced and danced and danced all day. These people really know how to party! The night we left to go back home the power in the village turned back on! It was a perfect way to start the New Year. Bring it on 2013!
A moment to myself watching the first sunrise in 2013.