One Year, And Some Tough News

by ryan on November 14, 2010

November 11th marked my one year anniversary with Lesotho!  It’s been a crazy year, full of lots of ups and downs.  These last few months have been some of the toughest in my life, but the lessons I’m learning can never be forgotten.

My dad gave me three phone calls this week, each of them with bad news.  My ring was stolen.  My Uncle died.  My grandma had an emergency pacemaker put in.  My ring is hardly worth fretting over.  I’ll get a new one.  My Uncle’s passing and my Grandma’s health troubles have me tied up in knots, though.  Death has been an unfortunate theme through my first year here.  It sucks, but I’m learning a lot through this…people don’t live forever, and It reminds me I have to get out and live my life to the fullest.   When my time comes, you can bet I’ll go in peace knowing I’ve lived a fulfilling and meaningful life.

Uncle Bubba’s passing was expected to some degree, as his health has been spiraling for the last several years, but to know that I never will have a chance to say goodbye…it sucks.  He still had more to teach me…when my brother and I were younger, he and my aunt would regularly take us to one of either the Natural History Museum, the Art Museum…or Astroworld, a Six-Flags kid’s paradise.  A solid triumvirate of locales, which in some way is a decent reflection of just who exactly he was.  Uncle Bubba was a really smart guy who loved to tell a joke, and he also loved to challenge the logic behind other’s thoughts and ambitions.  He could be a real pain when you didn’t see eye-to-eye.  When I told him I was going to join the Peace Corps, he all but tore me a new one.  I would be wasting my time in another country, he said.  I would be more productive…more safe…serving my own country…why don’t I do Americorps instead?  Well, he eventually warmed up to the idea of me crossing waters, and when I finally got his approval, it really did mean a lot.    Of course, a lot of his points regarding the shortcomings of Peace Corps turned out to be more legit than I gave him credit for.  Like my grandfather, It was always hard to distinguish between his straight BS and his legit intelligence and experience.  At any rate, he’s with my grandfather now, and they’re both probably laughing their heads off at the little misadventures I have every day in Lesotho, no doubt cheering me on.  I guess it’s a nice thing now I’ve got another person looking after me during my service.

Anyways, it sounds like my Grandmother is doing well, now.  We are extremely close, and if she left while I was in Africa, I would feel horrible.  It sounds like the operation went well and she’s recovering great(according to my Dad, the operation is the equivalent of ‘putting on a band-aid’ nowadays.  Call me a skeptic).  She will pull through just fine, I’m sure, and I’ll be seeing her before I know it!  I’ll try not to worry myself into an ulcer.  I hope she knows I’m thinking about her from across the pond.

In spite of all the bad news, it’s still been a decent week.  There are always some ups with all the downs, and I’ve actually got a lot to look forward to.  These are the kind of things that keep me going and smiling through the day:

SCHOOL IS ALMOST DONE!  I’ve almost taught an entire school year!  Crazy!  I can’t wait to be finished up and have some down time.  I’m planning an awesome vacation that I’m really looking forward to.  Also Peace Corps is planning a Reconnect/Training for us in South Africa.  That means free food, great company, and hopefully some good knowledge-dropping on my noggin.

I LOCKED MYSELF OUT OF MY HOUSE!  I feel good about this little mishap.  I went down to Hlotse this weekend to buy some groceries, eat some good food, and hang out with some friends.  Being the genius I am, I left the keys at my friend’s house, and made it all the way back to my village before I realized it.  My host Ntate and I were able to eventually get into my house, and now I have to come in/out through the fire escape.  Khotso will be bringing up my keys tomorrow as he just happens to be coming up from the right direction.  How can you not smile at such an awesome story?

THE LIBRARY IS GOING GREAT!  Thanks so much to everyone that has helped.  Mom and Kim are doing an incredible job raising the books.  Last I heard it sounds like around 1,400 books will be coming this way!  The fundraising I think still needs a little help.  If you are interested in contributing contact Momma-Bear at kathjewell@aol.com and she will tell you what you can do!

Still can’t believe I’ve been here for a whole year, but that’s life for you, it goes by too quick.  Hopefully I’ll be better about getting posts on here, and I can do a better job reporting the positives!  It feels like i’m always filling the interwebs with negative news.  If I’m to do this experience any kind of justice at all, I’ve gotta get more stories of the little joys on this blog.  I’ll try harder!  Until then, have a sock-rockin’ day…

{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

Meredith November 16, 2010 at 9:55 am

Hi Ryan,

First, My most sincere condolences on the loss of your uncle. And I hope that your grandma has a quick & easy recovery!

Second, HAPPY ANNIVERSARY! One year in Lesotho! Pretty incredible!

Third, fourth, & fifth, Enjoy the last few days of school, Happy Thanksgiving, and I hope the Reconnect in South Africa is informative and fun!

Safe travels and all my best,
Meredith

Momma Bear November 16, 2010 at 12:38 pm

Thanks to Meredith for her genrous donation to the African Library Project.

Remember what Grandpa Bob use to say,
“No one has ever gotten off this earth alive yet.”
Death is just the natural order of things…the imprint of that person on your life lives on forever, and therefore, I believe , they live on forever also.

Glad to hear you are not changing. How many sets of keys have you misplaced in you lifetime? 🙂 That is the only thing I do not miss about you, my Son. You have always been the absent minded professor…
Noah misses you so much, and I miss you to the Moon and back and a million times over…Can you beat that one? Love Momma Bear

Joni Cooper November 19, 2010 at 9:55 pm

HOWDY RYAN!!! congrats on your one year!!! i just swore in on the 18th of Nov!!! I’m up in Togo, so if you ever find yourself in West Africa feel free to stop by!!

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