Monday, December 31, 2007

Why DID the chicken cross the road?

I sure couldn't say but all I know is next time he better look both ways because this morning it almost cost him his life when we nearly ran him over! just one more thing that never would have happened in New York!

I've just had the BEST weekend! Regina, the other American woman here, invited me to come and stay the weekend at her place which is unbelievably nice (by that I do mean it has a western toilet.... no no everything there was great!) We went into town on Saturday morning and went to the market which I saw the first time I went into town but couldn't really explore. It was like a movie! everything it should have been. giant stalls of fruit and rice and beans and vegetables... hand carved wood stuff, baskets made from banana leaves... I'm so glad that I got a chance to see it again! And now I know how to go and get some vegetables for myself! I had decided before coming here that I wouldn't be a vegetarian in Tanzania. I firstly don't want to be a burden of any kind to the people I am here to serve, I want to fully experience the culture and also, most of the reasons I don't eat meat at home are not pertinent here because there isn't a big farm system like we have at home. A family keeps a few animals and every once in a while butchers one of them and sells the meat to their neighbors. But most of the food we are eating is starchy, rice, spagetti, something called Ugali which is like if you cooked cream of wheat too long so that it became a solid (it's actually a lot better than that sounds) most of it pretty tasty but more on the cheap side than the healthy side. so now I've found I can go into town and buy some veggies to eat yay!

I will say that it's kind of nice to be in a position where the smallest things can make you so happy. I've realized that the best thing that can happen to me most days is that we will have pineapple with dinner... it is by far the best pineapple ever grown anywhere on the planet and I am always thrilled when we get it. Six months ago it would have taken a lot more than a piece of fruit to make me that happy. I am so grateful for these experiences! WELL.... for the most part...the other night I helped my new friend Anna to feed her pigs.... that one I could have done without.... GROSS! new on the list of people I respect: farmers. (a bit of a contradiction, I know)

We also discovered this great little cafe... WITH CAPPUCCINOS! they have a little storefront and some tables outside covered by a thatch roof. I can tell it will be a great place to go and escape for an hour or two. It's no Tea Lounge (holla!) but it will do!

ok this is long and mostly about nothing so I'll end it. if you've read this far, leave me a comment and thank me for entertaining you, shout at me for boring you, whatever, just be clever about it.


Friday, December 28, 2007


So, I have found a way to connect my laptop at the internet cafe AND there's a chance that I might be able to have internet from home at the end of January! Hallelujah!

There's a photo from the road as I was traveling by bus from Dar Es Salaam to Morogoro. I hope to get more posted for you soon. I am so excited that I will be able to use my computer after all!!!

Christmas was quite an experience here in Tanzania. After working all day to prepare for the evening festivities(cooking--well, in my case, chopping, theyknow better than to let me too close to food--moving furniture, decorating, etc) we sat down around 6 and had a little preaching from someone a few games which I didn't really understand and a skit that was funny even though I had no idea what it was about ;) then around 7 the first drops of rain started to fall so we all scrambled to get everything into the dining hall as the sky opened up over us and poured out everything it had. Just as we were all settled and the first people through the line were sitting down to eat. zzzzzzzap. the power went out. and stayed out. for 26 hours. we ate in darkness and it didn't matter. After about an hour someone showed up with a small camping lantern that served the room nobly from it's perch on top of a box on top of a chair on top of a table. We couldn't well clean up in the dark so we all walked away from our messes and left it til morning without the tiniest bit of guilt!

A great day overall!

Monday, December 24, 2007

Only things of eternal consequence are worth the devil's attention.

Thank you Bill Johnson who wrote the book Dreaming With God and put words on that very important fact. Well into my second week here I am happy to say that God beat the devil. Not that there was ever much question that he would...

I'm still suffering from some technological difficulties but I am able to remind myself that people have been a lot farther away for a lot longer with a lot less than I have now and that the people I love who love me will still be there six months from now.

I'm settling in quite nicely here in Morogoro. It's a different life and full of exciting new challenges. (If I were not so technically challenged as I am at the moment here is where I would insert a photo of the toilet. imagine it and laugh.) I have been doing a lot of work preparing for the English school that will begin in January. It turns out to be a little bit different situation that I thought where they don't just need a teacher but actually need someone to lead the school. It's a four month program and I am still waiting and trying to hear if I should be the person to lead it. Right now I think yes, I just need some confirmation.

I am having a more difficult time learning Swahili than I expected. Languages usually come pretty easily for me and this one is a challenge. Everyone around says I am picking it up quickly but it sure doesn't feel that way for me. 100 points to anyone who has ever moved to a place where they don't speak the language. You have my eternal respect. It can get pretty lonely when you can't be a part of the conversation. I know that they all think I am this strange, shy, quiet girl. and while I may be a little strange.... You may not know this but I am a bit of a social person ;) so it's difficult sometimes.

well that's it for now.... there are so many little things that I try to remember as they happen but for now all I can think to tell you is that I spent the better part of the afternoon sorting rice for tomorrows Christmas celebration. literally going through what must have been 10 pounds (at least) of rice looking for husks and bits of dirt or stones and separating them out. who does this for us in our normal lives? we should find those people and thank them because their jobs suck.
Mungu Aku Barikiwe (God Bless You! see I'm learning a little!)
Merry Christmas!

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Macintosh you've let me down...

Hey all I'm here safe and sound but having much less time to spend on this post than I had hoped. Turns out that the internet in Tanzania doesn't work on macs. what?!?!? I know. So i'm in town now (a 40 minute trip from the base) at an internet cafe... don't think I'll be able to do that too often.

I'm trying to keep this short because someone is waiting for me to go back but I just wanted to check in and let you know I'm here and alive. the first few days have been pretty rough. I've never really had jetlag before but this eleven hour time difference thing is killing me. I've been kinda sick and tired and blech but am starting to feel better today.

I will meet with the woman who is running the english school on monday to talk about what my job will be. It's been kind of rough emotionally I think its just all the new sights and sounds and everything, pretty overwhelming and there is definitely a sense of dependence on other people that I am not at all accustomed to. So, lessons to be learned...I'll be honest there are moments where I wonder what on earth I was thinking and I just want to get back on that bus to get back on that plane to get back on that other plane etc. but then I remember that God opened up this door for me and that in my weakness he is strongest.

I'll try to post maybe once a week we'll see what I can work out. It's not what I had expected but hey it's six months we'll be ok....

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

9 hours to go...

and I'm done packing!!! WELL... almost. These last few days have been amazing and I don't have a lot of time right now (sleeping tonight is still a goal) but I just wanted to pop in and tell about how GREAT God is. Three days ago I was planning to get on a plane with less than half of the money I need for this trip accounted for. I am so lucky to have been through this kind of situation before so I have learned how to trust Him to provide for all that...and down to the wire here! BUT as of last night with all the gifts I have received and commitments for future support, I am actually a little bit OVER my budget (lovingly spreadsheeted by the fabulous KP) which basically means I'll be able to get back to the US eventually! I don't have a return ticket yet and that extra will cover it! He NEVER fails! Ok....gotta wrap this up... miles to go before I sleep... can't wait to get there! I'll get some photos posted as soon as possible and I'll check in once I've arrived...

Saturday, December 8, 2007


I just have to take a moment to say what incredible friends I have...I spent the evening with KP, Josh and Parker, Allison, DLo, Tatiana, Daniella, Stacy, Roo, Michelle and Sam. and Noah! We were missing afew members of our little family but it was a good sized collection. We went to watch Parker show up all the other four year-olds at the preschool Christmas program. So many times during the evening I was struck by how lucky I am to be part of a group that cares about each other the way we do. I am so blessed! I've found my special groups like this in a few different situations. I defintely have a New York family and a Norway family and lots of other people who, for lack of a less-corny phrase, feel like home to me. But tonight, I have to give mad props to the ones that have held it down the longest. My girls (and their assortment of boyfriends, husbands, and fiances) are the best!!!

Friday, December 7, 2007

The starfish story

So there's this story that I have heard in a few different versions but most recently from my wonderful new friend Lynda who fed me a delicious breakfast the other day while regaling me with tales of her own adventures in Kenya and Ethiopia. It really kind of sums up my goals and where I'm at in life right now, who I want to be and what I can aim for and acheive.

"One day a man was walking along the seashore. He noticed that during the night many seashells and starfish had washed upon the beach. Thoroughly enjoying the morning sun and cool sea air, the man walked for miles.

As he strolled along, he noticed a small figure dancing in the distance. It made him chuckle to think of someone celebrating life in such an uninhibited way. As he drew closer, however, it became apparent that the figure was not dancing. Instead, she seemed to be repeatedly performing some ritual.

He drew nearer still and noticed that the small figure was a child. She was methodically picking up starfish and tossing them into the surf. He paused for a moment, puzzled, then asked, "Why are you throwing these starfish?"

"It's high tide," she replied, "If I leave them on the beach, the sun will soon dry them and they will die. I am throwing them into the ocean so they can live." The man considered her actions, impressed with the child's thoughtfulness. Then he motioned up and down the miles of the beach. "There must be thousands of starfish along here," he said, "you cannot possibly make a difference."

The young girl stopped. Her face darkened. She chewed thoughtfully on her lower lip, "You're probably right," she said softly. She looked down at the sand. Then she leaned over, carefully picked up another starfish, pulled back and arched it gently into the sea.

With a tone of gentle defiance, she said, "But I made a difference for that one."

I have so often found myself utterly overwhelmed at the badness in the world and felt so completely powerless to do anything about it. I don't understand big business. I don't get government. I rarely have ideas grand enough to effect any sort of large scale change. That used to be so frustrating because I just wanted to be a part of something important and big and meaningful. But then I realised that I can affect one life and while in the giant world picture it may not mean anything that someone played soccer with that kid/helped that lady plant a garden/taught that girl how to read, if you zoom in and look at it on a personal level it might mean life to that one person. This is the kind of changeI want to make, the kind of change I know I can make.

Thursday, December 6, 2007

Five days left...The countdown begins.

So here's the first blog! It's still a little scrappy but a girls gotta start somewhere. I'll try to get photos and interesting things up here as soon as I can.

But why?!?!? The purpose of this blog is twofold-partly selfish and partly not. First, I'm hoping that perhaps this will help me to be better at journaling and keeping a record of what God and I are going to do for the next six months at least. I've never been too good at doing this with any sort of regularity but when Jesus invites you on a journey, you don't want to forget a thing! Second, I am so unbelievably blessed to have the support of SO many people (*dance break* while I mention for the first and certainly not the last time how instrumental you all are who have promised to support me either financially or in prayer. This would be impossible but for you.) and I want to make sure you get your due! Hopefully this blog will be a place where you can check in and see exactly what it is you have committed your heart and checkbook to.

I've been shot up with just about every vaccine you can imagine. This is a pretty big deal for me as I don't really like medicine and the idea of dumping all that extra stuff into my body kinda creeps me out. Regardless, I've done it and am now safe from pretty much everything but Rabies. I could still get rabies. But really $600 for one shot in the arm? I think I'll just stay away from dogs. At least the ones foaming at the mouth...

Right now, I am just about 5 days away from take-off. I get to spend this last Sunday with my amazing friends and family at Vantage Point church and the rest of my days are filled with lunches and dinners and coffee dates and fun with people I love. I'm so lucky! I'm watching the money come together, letting my mom take me shopping, trying to find the right travel insurance, and feeling like there is so much more I ought to be doing all the time, but all this with the overwhelming sense that God had this idea before I did so I just get to trust Him and go along for the ride. More than ever before I know that those aren't just words but that it really is possible to walk in that kind of peace. He is so cool!