Saturday, July 13, 2002

Tajikistan - Getting our Bearings

Going through the Logistics

At Dave and Pam's place this morning, we had an ethnic breakfast of nan (a yummy bread they make here). I'm not sure how authentic it was after we added peanut butter and strawberry jam, but it sure tasted great!

We were then briefed on our day and the weeks to come by Ping, the CADA worker in charge of organizing our trip. Click here to see of rough outline of the team assignments. After a few hours of rest and/or cleanup, we all met again at a Turkish restaurant downtown. All items ordered (anything went, as long as we made sure it was ordered MAYO FREE!-- We didn't ask too many questions on that one) soon became community property. There was a consensus for those who tried the rice pudding - thumbs up!!

Many of us decided to walk back instead of driving. It was quite long and hot! Halfway there, though, we stopped at CADA'S future home. It's a huge building that's being remodeled and will include classrooms, offices, conference rooms and much more. The parts that were finished were beautiful - it will be great to see it when it's completed. Lai Keng and Johannes were the tour guides. Lai King is an awesome woman from Malaysia who helps keep CADA running smoothly and also goes into Afghanistan regularly. She will be leading the team of us going to Afghanistan this week. Johannes is a Swedish guy who lived in Nepal as a child and is actually heading up the CADA remodeling project. It sounds like construction in Tajikistan involves factors quite different from those you would find in the U.S. or Sweden. Let's just say it would be a different project if OSHA were involved!!

After arriving hot and thirsty back at the Lovett's, several folks watched the news or fell asleep, while others hung around and tried to cool off! At 4:00 PM we headed to a church service for international workers. Here we met people from many countries, and sang and listened to a teaching on remembering who we serve and not getting sidetracked or falling away.

Tasty Cuisine & a Water fight

On the way home, some team members stopped at the bazaar for melons. Apparently, this is the time of year that melons from Afghanistan, Uzbekistan, and other places are available everywhere.

We wrapped up the day with a chicken dinner at the Lovett's and a quick briefing of tomorrow's orientation activities. For dessert? Warm brownies, watermelon, and a funky Asian melon that tastes like a cross between cantaloupe and honeydew! Several of the team members tried out the new trampoline, and we watched Johannes, Rachel, Justin (and even Dave) conduct a no-holds-barred water fight. Some innocent bystanders were caught in the crossfire, but Pam slowed things down in order to keep the pool intact.

Culture Shock!!

Due to huge differences between the Tajik culture and our own, many of us experienced culture shock sometime this morning. Whether it was the plane ride from Istanbul, the wait for visas in the Dushanbe airport, the driving and road conditions of the city, or the atmosphere in general, we've all discovered that we're not in Kansas any more. However, this transition has not been anywhere near as traumatic as it could have been, due to our incredible reception into the country by CADA and the Lovett family. They've supplied us with clean and fully stocked housing, transportation, a clear itinerary, and an a welcome enthusiasm about our presence here.

We are so excited to see what the next few days unfold as we finish orientation and break into smaller teams. We'll keep you posted!
Breakfast at the Lovett's
Safe and sound - breakfast at the Lovett's! In the picture is Jennifer (far left), an add-on to our group from the US by way of OM in Sweden, and Johannes
Finally in Dushanbe! Now if we could only get through customs!

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