Sunday, December 28, 2008

Live the questions now.

Yesterday we snacked on the goat’s head. Today my family and I made lunch for my Deaf Ed group and my “cousin” (my mama’s sister has a PC Trainee too.)

“Live the questions now.” It’s an important phrase in my life right now. As soon as I heard I was leaving for the Peace Corps I had an artist on Etsy engrave it on a necklace for me. I wear it every day. The phrase comes from a longer quote that I’ve enjoyed for years:

Have patience with everything unresolved in your heart and try to love the questions themselves as if they were locked rooms or books written in a very foreign language. Don’t search for the answers, which could not be given to you now, because you would not be able to live them. And the point is to live everything. Live the questions now. Perhaps then, some day far in the future, you will gradually, without even noticing it, live your way into the answer.
~Rainer Maria Rilke

There were so many questions I had about joining the Peace Corps. I still have questions and I’m still not sure. Sometimes I’m scared about living the questions and sometimes they excite me. But I’m going to live them and maybe someday it will make sense in my life.

Now comes the mystery. ~H. Beecher

I love quotes and there will be a lot more to come, I’m sure. Share some of your favorites.

Love! Erin

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Christmas in Kenya

Yesterday my group distributed our Secret Santa gifts. I gave (and also received) a market basket that Kenyan woman wear strapped to their heads. Other notable gifts were a Maasai statue and canteen, a drawing of a volunteer after eating too much Ugali, and a baby poster with inspirational phrase.

Today I woke up at 8:00 and began to help my family prepare food for our Christmas feast. I grated carrots, cut ho-hos (green peppers) and onions. We stopped briefly for breakfast (tea, bananas, and mandazi) and then continued cutting more ho-hos, some tomatoes, more onions. I got a lesson in making chapatti from one of my sisters. Then, I was invited to watch the slaughtering of the goat. Fortunately, by the time I got to the shed, the goat was already dead and they had begun skinning it. I went back to the kitchen and we snacked on goat liver and fried intestine while we continued to prepare food.

We set up our feast under the bougainvillea. The kids put on their new clothes and we enjoyed goat stew, cabbage, green grams(?) and chapatti. After we ate, we played a game; each person picked a few pieces of paper and either won something or had to perform something. My notes were: WON A PIECE OF TOILET TISSUE, DRINK 2 GLASSES OF WATER, I AM A SHEEP I DO THIS TELL MORE, HUG EVERYONE, DRINK MILK, DANCE PLEASE, WON A CHAIN, JUMP 10 TIMES. It was a lot of fun and a lot of laughs. My sisters took me to town to greet friends and we had “sodas.” I came home and had some tea, read my book, then had some leftovers for dinner. Now, it’s bedtime. It’s been a very nice and relaxing day.

Merry Christmas!

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Half of the Moon

Before I left the states I made a mix to say goodbye to everyone. I designed a cd cover and everything but my departure day arrived so quickly I didn’t have time to get it out to friends like I wanted. So, if you’re interested, here’s my Goodbye playlist:

Half of the Moon

all the trees of the field will clap their hands – Sufjan Stevens
wild world – Cat Stevens
plenty of paper – Eisley
many the miles – Sara Bareilles
ailleurs – Keren Ann
the plan – Built to Spill
moment in the sun – Clem Snide
come on, come out – A Fine Frenzy
country mile – Camera Obscura
que n’ai-je? – Keren Ann
pavement tune – The Frames
i can’t stand it – Wilco
homesick – Kings of Convenience
hail to whatever you found in the sunlight that surrounds you – Rilo Kiley
dear balladeer – Band Marino

The title is from the Eisley song "...and I gave the other Half of the Moon to you, so you wouldn't forget me while I'm gone..."


Monday, December 22, 2008


Of course, the day I finally have time to sit and write an entry my internet isn’t working. Today is December 22 but it doesn’t feel anything like Christmas time. We’re even doing Secret Santa in the Deaf Ed group but it still doesn’t feel like the holidays. I’ve decided that’s a good thing though – maybe I’ll be able to spend 3 Christmas here without ever feeling like I’m missing out. Next year Mom, Dad and Mark hope to visit around Christmas, which should be nice – enough time for me to really be settled in and know my way around.

So, training is almost over. Last week we had a mock LPI (Language Proficiency Interview) and I did alright – need to work on fluency and facial expressions, but my KSL is improving and I’m able to carry on a conversation. This week we are peer teaching (in KSL) and that’s an entirely different story. The move to this new training site has been hard on Deaf Ed. There is no Deaf community to interact with and no Deaf school to practice teaching, so we’ve had very little experience working with Deaf students. Next week is our real LPI. This time, instead of being interviewed by our teacher, we will be interviewed by someone we have not met before. But we’re all pretty excited because we know that it’s going to be our interpreter’s brother who is pretty famous in the Deaf community in Kenya. Then we go to Nairobi to swear-in and head to our site. I’m both excited about getting to my school and nervous about leaving all the great people in my training group. I’ll also be sad to leave my family. I have Mama, 4 sisters, 2 brothers, a niece and a nephew. Mount Kilimanjaro will also be missed. Although I can’t always see it through the clouds, it has been an ever-present comfort when I’m frustrated with training or homesick.

If you’re really feeling the Christmas spirit (or just how much you love me) I will always appreciate…
- email
- hand-written letters
- Burt’s Bees (the pomegranate kind)
- Mixed cds (please send me all the great new music)

All for now,

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Write me!

Erin Mercer
Peace Corps Trainee
PO Box 30518
Nairobi, Kenya

Wednesday, December 3, 2008


Yay! I have my fancy new phone finally working and I can get online!

I'm at my home-stay now. No longer in Mombasa. Here we get KSL lessons, culture, medical and technical training. It's absolutely gorgeous! The jakaranda trees are beautiful and leave purple petals lining the paths. And Mount Kilimanjaro greets me on my walk to school every morning.

I promise more updates more often, but right now I have some lesson planning to do.