Dangerous Roads, Quality Assurance, and a Letter from Heaven

Like Kobe (back in Jan 05), I sprained my ankle, leaving me frustrated that I can’t play for the next 5 weeks. Unlike Kobe, I never harassed Katlyn Faber. Kobe Bryant gets fancy doctors, with MRI machines, that gently scan the injured area and show a detailed picture of what exactly is wrong with the 25 million dollar right foot of his. My foot couldn’t buy me a quart of milk if I needed it. It’s flat, it’s wide, and while it is a nice looking foot, it won’t pay my salary. And therefore, I don’t get the fancy MRI treatment. I get a man who recklessly pulls and contorts my ankle and asks “does it hurt when I do this?”

The roads here are deadly. I started training again, having just recovered from my last injury, a few days into this set of training sessions, and I’m injured again. Every 3 steps must be calculated when jogging along a footpath that has death traps every few feet. I should be thankful that it’s only a sprained ankle. All along the road there are deep ditches, stray vehicles, and robbers armed with rusty knives. Why do I keep running? I wanna prove that I’m not too soft for Nairobi, no matter what the T-shirt says.

Commitment to Quality

It’s been a crazy busy time as things have been wrapping up development. I just want one week to go buy that isn’t intense in some way – the kinds of things that happen here, even when i lock myself in a room to write PHP code all day – always tend to make me think, teach me a life lesson. Is this how life is for everyone else? Am I that distracted to notice it back home?

We’re starting the QA phase of things here. I actually have a team now! I have two testers, who have never done this sort of thing before. We spent a good part of the morning yesterday, going over some basics. Why testing is needed, the role of testers, how one should test, etc. Today, the rookie Functional Analyst, and myself will be writing test scripts, so we can test the hell out of this application, and see if it holds the tests of weather and earth.

I feel stressed.

Lord of the Rings: The Final Episode

Yup! you guessed it. It’s Tuesday night, and it was time for our last installment of the three-part epic tale that stole our hearts even tho we had no idea what was going on in 2001, when the first movie came out (and I mean those who hadn’t read Tolkien’s book). Maybe 8 showed up last night, and I asked Patrick, where the rest were.

Patrick has an unusually deep voice. He has a very young face, and his voice resonates extremely low and piercing.

Patrick tells me that the cops showed up in his neighborhood today. Days like this, he and his friends have to hide. Whether or not they are doing something wrong or illegal, they will be harassed and taken to jail unless they can pay the cops a little “Christmas Bonus”, as they like to call it. He says his friends are hiding, and don’t wanna be seen by the police, but he assures me that more will arrive later. At any rate, we started the movie.

For some reason, they find Gollum to be the funniest thing ever. When a man is killed or harmed, the guys are horrified. When Gollum is hit by a rock, or knifed, or strangled, they crack the hell up. I’ll tell you what wasn’t funny:

I guess everyone thought Frodo was really gonna be the hero. We talked a bit at the end, who saved the world and destroyed the ring? It was a good split in opinion: 1/3rd said it was Frodo, 1/3rd said it was Sam, and 1/3rd said it was Gollum. In Tolkien’s book, the author explains that it is actually mercy that destroys the ring. It was Frodo’s mercy on Gollum, that keeps him alive when he could have killed him instead. And had Gollum not attacked Frodo in the end, the ring would have been kept by the young hobbit and that would have been the end of all things.

An Unexpected Letter

Joseph is 14 years old, with a sunshine smile. He’s new to the group. He is short and stands at the height of everyone else’s chest or belly. It’s kinda funny as we all gather arms around each other in a circle to see him having to stretch. He came to me and said “Here’s a note for you. I wrote it myself, Paul. Just for you!” And I was like “oh cool” in the way I usually show that I’m impressed with very little. I already knew what the note said: “Dear Paul, thanks for everything. I need sponsorship for school. Please enclose 500 KSH or something of that order. It was a day where I felt a lot was being demanded of me, so I automatically assumed the trend to continue. He asked me again if I had read his letter, and I told him I’d read it later when I got home that night. Sunshine smile responds “Yes!”

Let me rewind a moment, if I may. I’ve been having many spiritual and life questions and such out here. When one is exposed to a lot, it shakes the very foundation of what they know, and it’s often a good thing, but the unknown is often disconcerting. And the questions have been in the back of my mind for such a long time. Sometimes peace is hard to achieve, but I continue, nonetheless.

Last night, I was suprised to find something very different than I’d expected in this letter from Joseph. Joseph, who does not even know me, who’s spent a total of 3 hours with me, mostly in front of a projector watching a Hollywood epic, had provided an answer to a big part of my inner most questions in this letter. A 14-year-old, wrote me some very simple things, but phrased it in such a way that spoke directly to my situation. It was the phrasing that affected me! There was no time to ponder or think. The words went from that page, straight to my eyes, completely bypassed my brain and shot down into my heart, and within milliseconds, I was weeping. Whether or not what he told me was true or not, is irrelevant. It honestly felt like a letter from God himself. In a moment, I forgot I was in my friends apartment watching “World’s Strongest Man” competition on ESPN, when I heard “uh dude? what’s wrong??”

What a great gift. This piece of paper is being tattooed on my arm.

And what’s cool, last night was the first time the guys didn’t ask for money during the goodbyes. It was just all hugs, and “see you next time”. I think something’s sinking in? Maybe? Who knows. Maybe they’re gettin more at our meeting than a few shillings can give them.. cuz that’s what I’m hoping. Nothing’s ideal, but it was a nice change.

Yea – its almost 9am and I got a meeting in 15 minutes. I gotta shower and I gotta eat.

And coffee.

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