Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Links about the Damara people and language

Amy works in an area of Namibia heavily populated by a people group called the Damara. Their background is somewhat mysterious because they are of Bantu origin but share a language with the Khoisan people.

A few definitions will show why things can get confusing:

--Bantu - A major group of related African ethnic cultures and languages who share similar physical features and who inhabit much of Africa south of the Sahara. They probably originated in the area near Nigeria/Ghana.

--Khoisan - Another major group of related African ethnic cultures and languages (different from the Bantu) who share similar physical features. Their languages are characterized by clicking and popping sounds. They are generally found in the southernmost countries of Africa. also see The Khoisan

--Nama - the name given to a subset of the Khoisan people group and also the language they speak (also called KhoeKhoegowab).

--Damara - the name of a tribe of people of Bantu (not Nama) origin who speak a dialect of Nama or KhoeKhoegowab.

About the Damara people:

The Damara People of Namibia

The Damara

Photographs of the Damara People

Links to pages about the language Amy is learning. The broad language group is called "Nama" (also called Khoekhoegowab). Damara is a dialect and is spoken by about 100,000 people:

The Nama language

Nama language of Namibia

Map of language groups in Namibia

KhoeKhoegowab language lessons

Links from teammate blogs recently

"Hello from Namibia"


"Day 21"

"Day 22"

Namibian Vocab Lesson

Monday, November 28, 2005

Amy's Nam 25 teammate's blogs from Namibia

Before - December 2005

After - September 2007

Besides Amy's blog, there are at least 22 other people keeping blogs in Namibia with her. Here are links to each one.

I don't know how often these will be kept up to date.

Link to Jason's page of blogger photos and links (link no longer working)

A long e-mail from Amy

Dear everyone,

Life is good. I got back from my permanent site visit in one piece
last night. It was an amazing experience. The principal of my school has 6 daughters and I felt like I was another, highly honored part of the family. My permanent site is a tiny town called Anker. Anker is about 6 hours north and west of Omaruru, so I had been traveling for most of the day. I was in the middle seat of a pickup, in between the headmaster of my school and the first grade teacher who will be my counterpart.

For the last 45 minutes of the trip to Anker you must go down a thin gravel road through the bush, stopping occasionally to let herds of goats, or donkey carts pass. The houses are spread across the land, most of them are traditional rectangular huts made out of sticks and covered with mud.

As I was examining the town, the principal started leaning on the car horn. It surprised me, but then we rounded the corner and there, in the school yard, all 285 primary school students were standing, waiting for us, dressed in their purple collared shirts and brown skirts and shorts. When they saw the truck they started cheering and jumping up and down. We drove slowly through the school yard and they ran alongside the car, singing and

Later I saw that, in the dust on the side of the pickup,
tiny fingers had written my name. We drove right up to the school
gate and got out of the car. The children lined up in a metal sun
shelter. Some of them were holding a sign carefully lettered "Welcome to Anker, Amy." Then the children sang me 5 or 6 traditional songs in Khoe-Khoegowab into which they inserted my name and a small group of second or third graders did a traditional dance, dressed in costumes they had made out of mealie-meal sacks with bells on the fringe.

One of the teachers gave a speech about how long they had waited and how hard they had worked to get a volunteer and how thankful they were when Courtney, the volunteer who was there before me, came and how thankful they were that I was there.Then they asked if I wanted to say a few words. I managed to stammer a few words about learning from each other and making Anker a better place, but I was so overwhelmed that I don't think it was a very good speech. The entire town made me feel immensely welcome.

I stayed at the headmaster's house and they fed me enormous amounts of food. I am not exaggerating at all when I say that a typical dinner was 3-4 cups of macaroni salad, another cup or two of vegetables or coleslaw, and two large pieces of meat, plus a liter of Coke, or a heavily sweetened orange drink. I really tried to eat all of the food they gave me, but sometimes they would feed me meals like that twice a day, so it was almost impossible for me to eat it all. I gave up on Thanksgiving after nearly making myself sick trying to finish the enormous serving of rice.

Several of the daughters and 4-8 grandchildren were generally around for dinner. They have DSTV at their house, so we generally watched soap operas or action movies while eating dinner. On thanksgiving I had springbok sausage, bread with butter, and really good heavily sweetened black tea while watching "When You Are Mine," a Spanish soap opera really badly dubbed into English.

I saw all of the important sites in the town; the school, the hostels (dorms for 1st through 7th graders), the clinic, the shop, and the traditional leaders' office. I actually met with the traditional leaders. They told me that they take their responsibility for my safety very seriously and if I ever have any problems I can tell them and they will take care of them for me.

I am quite isolated at my site. I am pretty convinced that no one has Internet in the town (since my laptop will be the third computer in town, including the one at the school that they use to teach the teachers how to do basic computing - turning a computer on, typing, and mouse skills).

There is no cell phone coverage (cell phones in most of the developing world are the source of communication because it's cheaper to put up cell towers than landlines), the headmaster of my school has a telephone in his house, but I don't. However, I think I feel less isolated in a lot of ways than some of the volunteers in larger towns because my town takes such good care of me.

Courtney told me that she just had to tell the headmaster that she wanted to go to town and he would find and arrange rides for her so she didn't have to hitchhike. Some of the other volunteers were pretty much abandoned in their towns by their supervisors. My house is beautiful.

Courtney left me all her dishes and she left the apartment decorated, with wall hangings and tablecloths and everything. No one in town has hot water, but I do have a tap with clean, running water. It's drinkable but it tastes really salty, so I think I'll buy bottled water to drink, that's what I drank at the headmaster's house. I have an oven and a fridge and electricity and more room than I really know what to do with (2 bedrooms, a living room/dining room, a kitchen, a bathroom and shower/sink room, and a large backyard with flowers).

I am immensely impressed by the work that Courtney did. I have an amazing amount of respect for her and, when I was feeling embarrassed by the attention and care that were heaped upon me, I reminded myself that it was a reflection of the honour and respect the people of Anker had for Courtney and therefore, for me.

She did so much for that town. As far as I can tell, she started a library (with almost a thousand books now), she got a playground built, she got new textbooks for the school, she helped with the HIV/AIDS club, she gave community English and baking classes, and she taught the teachers computer skills.

Still, there is a lot to do in Anker. I toured the hostels (dorms where half of the students live) and they are in pretty bad shape. They were built in 1971 during apartheid and as far as I can tell they haven't been touched (with repairs or renovations) since. Many, if not most, of the windows are broken, the depressing gray-blue paint is chipping and, in the dining room which is supposed to serve about 150 students I saw maybe half a dozen chairs and most of them were broken. I'm not sure where the students eat, maybe they stand at the tables. I was trying to explain the hostels to some of the other volunteers
and I realized that they look a lot like the orphanage in the movie
Annie, except with less stuff.

I saw the room where the students keep their belongings and, for 30 boys, there was less in that room than I brought in my suitcases. So I'm going to try to get a grant to fix up the hostels. I'd like to see the windows fixed, new or fixed furniture, and colourful murals on the walls. Plus the kitchen is in bad shape, so maybe we could get it fixed up.

Anyway, I also want to keep working on the library. If anyone has used books, or wants to start a book drive, we could really use good, quality picture books (especially easy-readers), books with African characters or themes, easy to read books on HIV/AIDS, and reference books for young children, especially on math, science, and African history. Also that website I sent out allows me to buy books for the library that don't get donated. Email me if any of you want to work with me on that.

I think I might also try to get some computers for the children to use. Anyway, those are some of the things echoing in my head right now. I really can't get started too much until I get to my permanent site and live there for a couple of months, but I'm kind of chomping at the bit.

What else? Oh, my site is really close to Etosha, which is the nature park where most of the westerners who go on safari come to, so there's a lot of wildlife near my site. The headmaster took me to the family farm which is out in the bush. I saw a herd of Kudus, a herd of Oryx, a herd of springboks, warthogs, baboons, and (most amazing of all) a herd of giraffes. It rained when we were out there and I have a picture of a giraffe and a rainbow that looks like it's from National Geographic. I'll put it on the blog if I get a chance (the Internet is really slow here). Someone who didn't have as good of a site visit said, "Where were you? Giraffe-Rainbow land?!?"

They also showed me where the elephants have pushed down some of the trees, which sort of scared me since elephants can be dangerous, but it was pretty far from the town, so as long as I don't go wandering off I should be OK.

Well, since I wrote everyone a book here, I think I'll let this be the end of this email. Tomorrow I'm heading to my host
family's house in a town called Karabib. I'm not sure what the
Internet access will be like, but I'll try to send out at least one
email while I'm there since I'll be gone for about a month. We return to Omaruru just before Christmas.

I look foreword to hearing from you all (by the way, thank you for your letter Rob). Thank you for putting up with my long rant-y email. I hope everything is going well for all of you and you had a happy Thanksgiving. Have a Merry Christmas if I don't talk to you all. Goodbye.


Email to the family from Amy


Hello. Things are going well. I thought I'd write a little note just for the family. I'm going to try not to repeat myself, so if you want info, look at the previous email. I am doing really well here. I feel very good about my permanent site. I will have to be proactive to prevent loneliness since the site is so isolated, but I am really comfortable in the community and I feel very much taken care of. I did feel a little shy and embarrassed by all of the attention, but I tried to accept it graciously. Culturally some of the ways of being polite and showing honor are different from American ways. For example, in America it is generally polite to refuse food, at least the first time it is offered, but in Namibia you show honor by eating the food they give you, which was quite a challenge. I wanted to show honor to the family because they were so kind to me and so hospitable, but I didn't really know how to do it. It is quite hot here. I am being vigilant with sunscreen. Surprisingly, no one has really commented about my hair. Children were fascinated by my freckles, though. They would come up and gently touch my arm. Some of them would rub gently. I think they think that it's dirt or a stain that will come off. I was explaining to one of the teachers how I use sunblock and she said, "Did the sun do that to your skin?" and pointed to the freckles on my arm. It's really interesting. Thank you for all of the prayers. I have been thinking of you all. I missed you a lot on Thanksgiving. I thought of you. I'll try to call on Christmas, it was just too difficult for Thanksgiving. I love you all a lot. Please, if you are sending a package, send paper pictures. I brought a load of digital photos, but next to no paper photos. Also, I would appreciate a surge protector if it doesn't cost too much to send. I love you all again.



Sunday, November 27, 2005

A tidbit about Amy in Jason's blog (excerpts from an e-mail from me)

You're back! We heard via Jason that you had a great welcome in Anker. He said it was the best welcoming story he had heard

From Jason's blog:
By far most of the stories are good. It seems that everyone has had positive experiences and is looking forward to getting to work. I have heard several people who have been intimidated by the accomplishments of previous PCV's, given a high standard to uphold. I've also heard the dirty house story, the "my boss doesn't care much" story, and the "I'm the only white guy/girl" story many times over in different contexts. Amy had the best "welcome to the village" story, she arrived to the whole school holding a sign with her name welcoming here; singing, dancing, the whole works. The funniest story goes to Mike who was solicited for money and food through a broken window while taking a shower. He took second place as well with the account of one student who, upon witnessing him exit the van when he first arrived, remarked "looks like it's going to be a white Christmas after all!"

We read his blog tonight (Sun night ) about 6 pm. That was also our clue that you had made it back safely. We are very thirsty for news about you and your week. We tried calling you unsuccessfully today at about 1:00 pm our time (9 pm yours) using the modified number we had from you before and a cell phone number that was on Brock's blog. The one from Brock's blog went through and we could barely hear someone talking briefly but it soon disconnected. Otherwise we just got busy signals. Talk to Jason about how he gets calls. He has said he has spoken to his family a couple of times.

More Blog entries from Amy's Teammates

"Plague of the moth like bugs with 4 wings"

Day 18

Day 19

Day 20

Friday, November 25, 2005

Finding Amy on Google maps

Click to enlarge. Amy's town of Anker is located 50 miles NW of Khorixas and 30 miles SW of Kamanjab.

I have always felt that finding a place on a map helps you feel a little like you are there. It has been frustrating to find so little about Anker where Amy is right now. However I discovered a way to find it on Google Maps and Google Earth.

I typed " latitude longitude Anker Namibia" in to Google and found a health clinic website that had the coordinates for an Anker Clinic. It seems there are at least two Ankers in Namibia and this one is in the area that Amy described

I then pasted those coordinates into Google Maps and this is the satellite photo of Anker, Nambia. You can zoom in or out to see more detail although there isn't much to the town:
Anker, Namibia

I did the same for Kamanjab and it gave me a location about 30 miles ENE of there:
Kamanjab, Namibia

And Kamanja to Anker:

Also Omaruru:
Omaruru, Namibia

and Windhoek:
Windhoek, Namibia

None of these are in high resolution, but you can see roads, terrain and blurry buildings.

Google Earth is even better if you have downloaded it and if you enter the following coordinates into the search space:

Anker -19.78500 14.53000

Kamanjab, Omaruru and Windhoek, Namibia - just type the city and country name in the space

Windhoek is in high resolution so you can actually see individual buildings.

Thursday, November 24, 2005

Blog entries from teammates

Thanksgiving day blogs from Brock:


and Jason:

Day 17

and a couple of new blogs from teammates:


Go.Serve. Namibia

and Andrew:

Green Hills of Africa

Excerpts from a Thanksgiving Day e-mail from Nancy

Dear Amy,
I hope you had a good day on Thanksgiving . I'm sure you didn't celebrate as it isn't a holiday in Africa, but you were a huge part of our Thanksgiving so I'll just tell you how it went. First off, we are dying to hear from you. I know God is working on patience for me through all of this. We didn't really expect to hear from you, but when the phone rang during lunch my heart raced. It was someone else. We got up early to get the turkey ready and read Jason & Brock's blogs. That made us feel closer to you. Jason had a touching description of how discouraged he was his first day at the apartment in Windhoek, so Dad had commented to encourage him and let him know we are praying for him. We feel a kinship to all of your partners and are praying for them too. When the cousins came all three were wearing your scarves that you made them for Christmas last year, that brought tears to my eyes.

Then we all went over all that we had read and thought about from the blogs. Grandpa & Grandma and Di all keep up on them daily & feel like we know especially Jason as he writes most often. Grandpa says I don't need to worry about you at all because Grandma is keeping track of concerns and thinking praying for you all day long. We are all worried that you won't have email or phone service in Anker. And the other big item of prayer is you hitchhiking back to Omaruru on Sunday. I know this is common there, but you are my baby, so I'll keep praying. Brock wrote about making a Risk game out of rice and skittles, and that there was talk of making a Settlers of Catan game. What a hoot! I'm sure this time of checking out your location is really helpful for you.

The girls got sad seeing you in your room through your books and things, and yet not having you here. You are so much a part of our holiday, but we never realized it until you weren't here. Alena cried on your bed before they went home. She's so sensitive... I don't know if it's good or bad to tell you we are sad, but know we are also laughing about how different everything is, and are so happy for you too.

We haven't sent your first package yet, If you think we should send it to Anker let us know if you get to email us this week. Also any needs you have. Alena sent a snail mail letter so you may get that soon.

Love, Love Love and prayers always!


Where is Amy?

On November 7, 2005, Amy and 57 other Peace Corps Volunteers left the United States for the country of Namibia. She will be there until December of 2007.

Link to a newspaper article in Amy's hometown paper

Amy lives in the town of Anker, a dusty little place of several hundred people with a school of about 300 kids in K-7th grades. There was one volunteer here just before her but she is the only white person in town and probably for many miles in any direction. She teaches English and Science, is the school librarian and works on many projects that will improve the town and school.
Here is a link to a post about her home and school.
Anker, Namibia on Google Maps and Google Earth

Her adventures are recorded in the many emails that she sends back.
Use this link to read just her emails

Here are some maps to help you picture where she is:

Satellite map of Southern Africa

Click to enlarge

Outline map of Namibia
Click to enlarge.
Amy's town of Anker is located 50 miles NW of Khorixas and 30 miles SW of Kamanjab.

Satellite map of northwestern Namibian towns near Amy
Click to enlarge.

Satellite map of Amy's region
Click to enlarge.

Birdseye view of Amy's region
Click to enlarge.

Satellite view of Anker
Click to enlarge.

Birdseye view of Anker
Click to enlarge.

Hand drawn outline map of Anker
Click to enlarge (you might need to click on it again to make it large enough to read). She said it is not meant to be to scale. Her house is on the center right.

More maps of cities in Namibia

Google Maps -where you can get satellite and aerial views of just about any place on earth.

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

We wonder (excerpts from an e-mail from me to Amy)

It is the Wednesday before Thanksgiving. You are in Anker on your second day of your site visit. I have tried to find it on the web without any luck. We have found Kamanjab on the map though. What direction and distance are you from there? There is one page on the web describing the playgroud that was built last May at your school. We have learned a lot about the Damara people from the web. They sound like an interesting group.

We think about you a lot. We wonder what it is like? Will you be happy there? Is it going to be difficult? Will you have any friends? You don't have to answer any of these questions right now or whenever you get a chance to read you e-mail. Just know that we think about you a lot and pray for you almost every day...

We have had seasonable weather - 30's and 40's. Most of our first snow has melted. Not much in the news. Bush is still frustrating us, but he remains the president.The Vikings beat Grreen Bay (who cares).

We still haven't mailed you anything. Sorry.

We love you!


Sunday, November 20, 2005

Days 13 blog entries from Jason, Brock, Pamela and Silas

Day 13 It was hot this morning

Where I am going to live

Coblenz, land of baskeball and...

Training update

excerpts from a Sunday email from Nancy to Amy

Hi Amy,
It's Sunday night at 4:30 pm...We are reading all Namibian blogs so we get your news as well as Jason's and Silas, Pam and some others. You folks are very busy. It sounds like you are excited about your site. You will have to plan shopping since there aren't many options in Anker. You won't believe it but today in church as Paul & Ben had pizza they sat by a guy who is applying to be an interim youth pastor. He was in Africa with the Jesus movie. Not too far from Anker. How weird is that. We bought an international phone plan so we can call you back cheaply if you are at a location with telephone service...

... Have you had luck washing clothes yet? Do you do it by hand? One guy said he washes his undies in the shower every morning. Who are the people you feel close to? What is the church service like?...

I have so many questions, but I know you'll answer when you can. We'll be praying for you as you travel to your new location and find housing and other details. It sounds like you are doing really well, good luck with that click language. I know it's your kind of challenge.

Saturday, November 19, 2005

News from Africa (group e-mail from Amy)

Hi Everyone,
I got my permanent site on Friday. It's a town called Anker
(pronounced similar to anchor). It's not too far (in Namibian terms, which means maybe an hour or an hour and a half) away from Kamanjab. It's in the north western corner of the country. It's a mainly Damara village (that's an ethnic group in Namibia, they speak Khoe-Khoegowab) I'll be teaching English and possibly science to sixth and seventh graders. There is a library which I will probably be working with. I am replacing a volunteer and she started it. She wrote me a long letter explaining the site and the jobs. She has a website up and running and she paid for it for one year. I haven't checked it out yet, because the Internet is expensive, but the address is
I think at that site you can donate books by giving money through Also I'll probably be organizing a book drive to send
used books from the states here at some point in my service. The reading level is relatively low here. I was looking at 8-10th grade textbooks and they were about what I would expect in a fifth or sixth grade classroom, but many of these kids don't speak English at home and it isn't a culture of reading, so I suppose that makes sense.

Also at my site the previous volunteer ran community English classes. There is an HIV/AIDs club that the previous volunteer helped run with the 4th-5th graders and the 6th-7th graders and there was a workshop for the women's group that they'd like to repeat. Almost all volunteers work with HIV/AIDS because Namibia has one of the highest rates in the world, between 20% and 25% of the country is infected. The previous volunteer also gave some baking classes for the women in the community.

So that should give you all some idea of what I might be doing for the next two years. I am really excited about my site. Everyone said that the last volunteer really loved it there and that the principal of the school treated her just like a daughter and watched out for her. It's a very rural town. They say that it's just the primary school (1st-7th grade) and a couple of houses and a shop (where I can buy sugar, flour and canned goods and not much else). I have to go to Kamanjab for groceries. The last volunteer said that it was easy to get out of the town but difficult to get back. It is out of cell phone reception, but one of the volunteers explained how to construct your own cell phone tower (kind of) on the top of your house so I think I might get one anyway. Building a cell phone tower is not one of the skills I expected to learn in the Peace Corps, but I am going with the flow. The last volunteer also left me a bunch of dishes and other stuff so I can spend most of my "settling-in allowance" on something nice, like a trip to Botswana or something. I am actually, relatively speaking, quite close to Etosha which is the big park where a lot of tourists go on safari. I hope to see some wildlife while I'm here. I've already seen some cool animal (like ostriches and also the giant spiders that live under our beds). I am going to visit my permanent site next week, so I'll email you all with how that goes.

Feel free to email me, Namibia is relatively modern for Africa and
even though I'm pretty remote I probably will have access to email at least once a month I'll be able to email, maybe more frequently.
Anyway, I'm missing you all.
Love from Africa,

Thursday, November 17, 2005

A cold morning (excerpts from an e-mail from me to Amy)

Amy, (5:45AM on Thursday Nov 17)

We got your e-mail yesterday and it was great to hear from you. We'll be praying about your placement, which sounds like you will find out about tomorrow. We're excited that you will learn the click language. It will be very challenging to learn though.

That person who went back to her home after staging said on her blog that she will join you Saturday. She also posted some pictures from staging and you were in one of them. That was cool.

Speaking of cool, it is 3 degrees above right now. We had our first snow on Tuesday evening and ended up with about an inch or two and now it's just cold. Mom visited Grandma last night before choir. She is happy but still continues to lose weight.

We're still not absolutely sure about the phone number you gave us or when we could even call you. I am looking into phone cards. ...It sounds though like you are very busy and will be in another location next week. We will continue to e-mail and try to get a letter to you too.

We love you,

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Blog entries from Jason, Coppelia, Brock

Day 10 Not much happenned today



Hello from Omaruru (group e-mail from Amy)

Hello everyone,
I wrote out a long email offline and a special one for my parents (sorry mom and dad), but I can't figure out how to connect to it, so I'll just write a little update. I am safe at the Omaruru rest camp. Everyone here is very nice. I found out today that I'll be learning Khoe-Khoegowab, which is a click language. We all did pretty bad on the clicks, our teacher laughed at us, but they say it can take a full week or more to learn them, so I'm not too concerned. It is quite hot here, but it is also dry, so it feels a little less hot. I'm drinking loads of water, at least two or three liters a day no problem, which is unusual for me, but I suppose I am in a desert now. I haven't been sick at all, except the Larium makes me a bit dizzy, but no funny dreams. The water here is very safe, they recycle it all, so it's super-purified. According to the Peace corps all of the teachers will be living in western style housing which means brick walls and a tin celing and electricty and running water (although possibly not all the time and possibly not hot water). We've been doing a lot every day. They take such good care of our health, I've been stuck with all kinds of needles and they taught us how to put up a mosquito net (mine looks like a 3 year old put it up with duct tape, string and paper clips.) We generally have sessions from 8am until 5 and then another one from 7pm until 9pm with breaks for three meals and two teas. I'm not going to get skinny here. The meals are heavy on the meat (the vegetarian meal one day was chicken, because chicken isn't meat), but they're very good. When we got here a local secondary school sang and danced for us. It was amazing. I'll put up the video when I get somewhere where I can. I am really excited, although I have been a bit tired. I am glad I got the language I did. I really wanted that one, but I didn't think I should be picky. You can buy a lot of things here if you need/want them. I ate cheesecake at a local coffee shop run by americans for N$12 (about $2) and for 10 N dollars she has this amazing bathtub that you can bathe in and for an extra N$10 you can have champagne and strawberries. It doesn't feel like this is what Africa is supposed to be like. I have seen springboks (and I eat them as sausages most mornings), ostriches, guniea hens and a few other animals. OK, my internet time is running out. I didn't have the chance to add new names to this email, so if you know someone wants it, send it to them. Also personal note to mom and dad, I love you. The phone number I told you is right, but the 061 shouldn't be in there and you can leave off the 0 before the 064. Hope that helps a bit. Maybe I'll call later on, but we're going to permanent sites next week, so maybe not.
Goodbye everyone, much love, take care,

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Links to Day 8 and 9 from Jasons blog

Day 8 Getting Real

Day 9 Details

A link to Rebecca's blog (an email from me to Amy)

I realize that it may be hard to surf the internet where you are and I'm not sure when you will be reading these e-mails with links to interesting places or even if you can reply. I'll send them anyway and you can eventually tell me if you want me to continue. I'll still continue to send emails with personal and family news though.


I just read a new entry from Rebecca:

Sunday, November 13, 2005

We tried (excerpts from an email from us to Amy)


(Written at 1:45 pm Sunday just after trying to
call you)

We tried calling the number you gave us
but the recording said I didn't need to dial a 0
after the country code.So I tried that and the
recording said that "your call cannot be
completed in the country you are calling at this time,
please try your call later" . I kept trying and
one time it said " all international circuits
to this country are busy, please call later"

I guess we tried. Maybe next time.
Interesting though, Mom stayed in town after
church to see her Mom and to shop at Walmart.
Ben and I came home in the other car.
All of a sudden she had a feeling she should
come home. When you called back the
second time, she was just walking in the door!

We have been keeping up on many of the
interesting things you are doing and seeing
through Jason Sears' Blog. He has posted
something every day including a couple today. He has
told us about your camp and the town and even
some about the birds (the wild ones and the annoying ones).

It sounds like you might have had an interview
today to find out more about your placement.
You also sound like you might have a busy week.
We loved hearing your voice even if it was short.
And we liked hearing that you are doing well.
I'm sure it was frustrating to try and connect but then
that is the motto isn't it.

We got your letter from Philly. I sent a note
about your blog to a number of other people and told
them if they wanted to get on your group mailing
list to email you or me. Several people have said
they liked your blog and would keep following it.

I have tried calling several more times now and
the same thing has happened. It is now 2:10 PM
(10:10pm your time). So I think I'd better give up.
You are probably not waiting any more anyway.
We'll get in touch sometime. And we'll keep emailing.
We will also write too.

Love you, Dad and Mom

A very brief call from Amy

At 1:15 or so this afternoon, Amy called. I had been home from church with Ben for a short while and Nancy had stayed in town to visit Mom and to shop for a few things. The phone rang and Amy said, "Hi, Dad, quick write down this number and call me right back. I can't stay on the line any longer because it costs too much". I called the number right back and a recording came on saying I didn't need to dial a 0 after the country code she gave me. So I called again and the recording said "all international circuits to this country are busy please try later". I kept trying and got the same thing.

After about 10-15 minutes, Amy called back. Just then Nancy walked in the door. I quick waved her to the phone. We explained quickly what had happened and she said something about having less than a minute to talk. We quickly asked how she was and how things were going. A brief answer was everything is fine and she was healthy and doing okay. She suddenly said she was going to get cut off and to try back again. A quick goodbye and that was it.

I tried calling back until about 2:30pm (10:30 pm her time) with no luck. All circuits busy. So I quit trying and wrote her an e-mail. She said something about internet connection and maybe she meant she will try to email us.

Nancy had been in Walmart and all of a sudden had a feeling she should get home, thinking that if Amy was going to call, it might be now. I guess she was right. It was frustrating, but good to hear her voice and to know, even though brief, that she was okay.

about Omaruru (Jason's blog entry)

Day 7 Omaruru

Friday, November 11, 2005

Amy arrives in Africa (group e-mail from Amy)

Amy wrote an e-mail today (sent 12:30 AM our time 8:30 AM her time) after arriving in Johannesburg:

Hey everyone,
The hotel had free wireless, so I thought I'd jot off a quick email to tell everyone that I'm safe and I made it to Johannesburg just fine. We're in a very nice hotel. It still hasn't quite hit me that I'm in Africa. Maybe it will when we get to Windhoek. We're leaving on a 2:30 flight. I'm doing OK with the jet-lag. Last night it was a struggle to merely keep my eyes open, but I managed to stay awake until 10 o'clock so hopefully I'll adjust pretty fast. Other than that, everything's going well. I got all vaccinated and I don't think I'm having any adverse effects, except a sore left arm (which I nicknamed polio-arm, like tennis-elbow). No side effects from the Larium either. Anyway, I just wanted to let everyone know that I made it here safe and sound. Thank you for all of your kind thoughts and prayers. I might not be very regular with my emails, since access will be harder, but I'll try.

She also posted to her blog:

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

First handwritten letter from Amy

Leaving the United States

Amy called tonight on her last night in the United States. She said that the staging has been good and she has gotten to know some nice people. Now they have a real marathon the next few days. Tomorrow morning they are to be in the hotel lobby with all their bags packed at 6:30 AM. Then they are bussed to the clinic where she will probably get shots for Yellow Fever and Polio. She thinks that she will not need any other shots. After that they are all bussed to JFK airport in New York. Their flight leaves at 5:55 PM Eastern time.

They leave on Wed night and arrive on Thursday night in Johannesburg. The time zone is 7 hours ahead of their departure time so the flight is about 17 hours long. Their luggage (other than carryons) will continue to Namibia and they will stay overnight in an airport hotel. They will not be allowed to leave the hotel.

Friday morning, they will take a two hour flight to Windhoek and then a bus to the Omaruru Rest Camp a few hours northwest of Windhoek. There they will stay for 6 days. She said they told her not to expect to get a hold of anyone until at least Nov 12 or later.

It was almost as hard to say goodbye to her on the phone tonight as it was in the airport on Monday. I think that the idea of her leaving the country and not being in easy communication seems more real. There may not be many times like tonight to easily converse on the phone and fill each other in on all that has been happening. We'll have to see what happens with phones, calling cards, internet and/or letters. She said she would love to get any kind of mail. I guess we won't know how long before she gets something until we try it out. She had something written to publish to her blog, but wasn't sure if she could find an internet connection tomorrow.

Leaving the United States

Amy called tonight on her last night in the United States. She said that the staging has been good and she has gotten to know some nice people. Now they have a real marathon the next few days. Tomorrow morning they are to be in the hotel lobby with all their bags packed at 6:30 AM. Then they are bussed to the clinic where she will probably get shots for Yellow Fever and Polio. She thinks that she will not need any other shots. After that they are all bussed to JFK airport in New York. Their flight leaves at 5:55 PM Eastern time.

Here is a sheet with the schedule from the last few days and their flights at the bottom. Click on it to make it bigger:

As you can see, they will leave on Wed night and arrive on Thursday night in Johannesburg. The time zone is 7 hours ahead of their departure time so the flight is about 17 hours long. Their luggage (other than carryons) will continue to Namibia and they will stay overnight in an airport hotel. They will not be allowed to leave the hotel.

Friday afternoon (they are 8 hours ahead of us so Friday morning our time), they will take a two hour flight to Windhoek and then a bus to the Omaruru Rest Camp a few hours northwest of Windhoek. There they will stay for 6 days. She said they told her not to expect to get a hold of anyone until at least Nov 12 or later.

It was almost as hard to say goodbye to her on the phone tonight as it was in the airport on Monday. I think that the idea of her leaving the country and not being in easy communication seems more real. There may not be many times like tonight to easily converse on the phone and fill each other in on all that has been happening. We'll have to see what happens with phones, calling cards, internet and/or letters. She said she would love to get any kind of mail. I guess we won't know how long before she gets something until we try it out. She had something written to publish to her blog, but wasn't sure if she could find an internet connection tomorrow.

Monday, November 07, 2005

Goodbye weekend with Amy

At Tea with Dr. R

Coral Nancy and Jewell

Baby George at Mikasa
Baby George in a bowl

Baby George

After the play on Friday night

Paul and George

Amy and Coral

Walking in Wheaton

Baby George again

Mom and Amy

Miah and Amy

Amy and George

Goodbye to Jewell

Goodbye phone call

Goodbye in the Airport

Friday, November 04, 2005

Last day at our house

Well this is the morning of the day we take Amy to Chicago. This will be the last time she will be here until December of 2007. Of course we are spending the next 4 days in Wheaton with her. It is also her final goodbye to Ben. Ben is taking all this with a calm manner. He tells Amy not to leave, but he hasn't been sad, mad or acting out. I have been having many mixed feelings this week and I'm sure I will continue to feel more these next 4 days:

--Happy for her future that she has been planning for a long time.
--Sad that I will miss her being with us.
--Frustrated that she put off so many things to the last minute and didn't finish getting her stuff in the garage organized.
--Worried for her safety, health and the challenges she will face.
--Depressed because of the losses I will feel
--Concerned that she knows what to do in so many new areas.
--Helpless that I cannot protect her or give her advice as things happen.
--Excited that she will be independent
--Distracted by all the things here and at work.

I walked last night and thought of what she'll miss:

--3 Thanksgivings
--2 Christmases, Winters, Springs and Summers
--2 Birthdays
--2 High School Graduations of her cousins
--Plays, church things, a new movie, a friend getting married, maybe a birth
--Perhaps a funeral of Grandma and an aunt or others I don't know yet.

She has been working all week to finish all the things she needs to do:

She put a blog together and has sent E-mails out. She worked until who knows what time last night to finish. She has two suitcases and a backpack full of everything she will need for two years. Did she bring enough? Is she bringing things she will not need? Will she forget something? Will she be able to buy the things she doesn't have there? Her trip will tell and when she gets done she will know answers to all these things.

Well its time to get started with our day now and the beginning of a new phase in ours and her life.