Wednesday, October 22, 2008

P.S. Follow that Bird!!!

Ok... just go with me for a second here... does anyone remember the 1985 Sesame Street movie Follow That Bird?

well, I do. And I loved it! And at work, the stage management team just went around making everyone muppets and I'm Big Bird (apparently it has to do with how I'm so lovable....aw....)
And on your left you'll see a little button that says "Follow this blog" If you click it, you'll let me know just how lovable I am....so..... Follow This Bird!!!!!

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

A Pumpkin Carving Party!!!


Fall in New York City!!!
It's one of the best times to be in one of the best places to be... especially when you have awesome friends like Janet organising all sorts of festive events! Check out her blog, Brooklyn Living (link on the side) for more-- and

undoubtedly better-- pics! A few of us got together last night at their apartment for tacos, pumpkin carving and German apple crumble prepared by an actual German (pictured above tearfully murdering a pumpkin...it was her first time!)




Bini, Sharon, Janet, Me
and pumpkins

And as if that weren't enough, Bini and I walked home together and had a big super-good long chat about all kinds of stuff.... God, friends, prayer, New York, the kind of good conversation that both of us have really been missing lately. It's so cool how God drops people into your life! I don't think I've mentioned how I know her actually. Bini was on my DTS (that school I did in England about 5 years ago) We lived in different rooms and our different responsibilities kept us from really spending much time together but she was one of the people that I really regretted not getting to know so when she emailed a few months ago saying that she and her husband were moving here, I was so excited! They ended up staying with me for a couple of weeks and we spent that time finding that friendship that we missed in England. And last night, we got the idea to get together once a week or so in the morning (ok.... early afternoon...) to pray and be with God together.... something I have been craving like crazy! So we start tomorrow!!!!! I'm so thankful that out of that experience we get this one! God has the best ideas!

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

I know, I know, I said I'd be better...

but I've had a couple crazy weeks to fill you in on! I'll just go with some of the highlights....

A few weeks ago, my friend roger sent me the greatest text message of my life.... it was something along the lines of "we have an extra ticket to the New Kids on the Block concert on tuesday." So... to New Jersey we went!!! We were looking down our noses a little at all the people-sorry all the girls- on the train with us until Roger of all people reminded us that we were in fact just like them...we got there and settled in to wait... after the fabulous Natasha Bedingfield finished her set, the energy in the room was buzzing.... we knew what was coming next! As the lights went down and the screens started flashing, suddently the 10 year old girl in us all came screaming out our mouths... we danced and sang our way through the next couple hours, and after three encores, we all agreed that we would have happily stayed through the whole thing all over again... As shannon said "This is historic. I mean, some people have seen segregated drinking fountains and the possiblity of a black president in their lifetime. We have seen New Kids on the Block. Twice." It was maybe the most fun I have EVER had! And yes, that is Joey McIntyre on a piano...
A few days later I went to one of the last games to ever be played at Shea stadium (and the last game the mets were going to win this season..) and officially overcame my fear that I was in fact bad luck when they won awesomely at the very last second. I was sick and it was freezing but it was still so much fun! I'm not the hugest baseball fan or anything but I guess it's kinda cool that I've been to both a Yankees and Mets game this year when it's the last time they'll be playing in those stadiums.... i guess.... maybe when I'm old I'll think it's cool....

Saturday, September 13, 2008

just a little one...

The BEST thing that happened to me today? I got a ride to the train station at 10:20 and said hopefully, "Well maybe the 10:19 train will be running ten minutes late because of the rain?" Everyone in the car laughed at my optimism but guess what pulled up at exactly 10:29! So I got to celebrate my friend Amanda's birthday AND my 8 year NY anniversary after all...

Friday, September 12, 2008

I'm back...

So, after some gentle prodding from a few people, (apparently someone actually reads this thing) I'm blogging again....
It comes at an interesting time as I'm on the cusp of what has proven to be a very contemplative two days for me. Writing at 1 am on September 12 puts me at this strange moment between September 11--which is a weighty day on its own--and the 12th--which is the anniversary of my move to NY in 2000...a moment fraught with introspection and self-evaluation most of which I'll spare you...

What I can share is this.... As I sat on the sofa the other day while a late summer storm battered my windows listening to some music and knitting, I just had to shout out to my friends Bini and Dominic, who just moved here from Germany, "I love my life!" Early on in Tanzania, God was speaking to me about when Jesus said "I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly." (John 10.10) That this is what I am really living and having... a full and abundant life! I am so thankful for it! I find myself being grateful for the huge things and the simple things and just when I start to get crazy about something that's not going my way, I'm thrown a giant dose of perspective and can find a way to be thankful for and even enjoy, for example, the three hours it is taking me to get home from work these days..... (OK.. sometimes....)
When annoyances like that are tempered with things like the awesome lunch I had with Kelly and Kelly today, our imminent Urban Camping adventure (more on that later), and the flood of great things God is about to unleash on the city, I can truly say that I am so happy to be here, now.....
(but I still might move to Chile.....hahahahahahaaaaaaaaa)

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Wow, It's been quite a month since I last posted. As I sit here backstage at the theatre where I'll be working for the next six weeks or so, It seems like a hundred years ago that I was standing in front of a classroom in Morogoro...and it feels like yesterday.
The last couple of weeks in Tanzania were wonderful. At least in hindsight. I have some vague memories of being really frustrated that the students were getting lazy and unfocused (It happens to everyone at the end right?) but like I learned from Oprah, we don't get much from holding onto the bad memories but we get a lot by keeping the good ones! The English school graduation was great. We had some skips and bumps but everyone took it in stride and the students did such an amazing job! They all gave little speeches and I was so proud of them. One woman in particular, Bilha, said more that day than in the whole time I knew her! She went on and on all in English and I was sooooo proud! Her husband came from Dodoma (about a 5hr bus ride) and it was great to meet him and everyone else's families. Kanuti's speech was so funny! You should have seen me blushing when he told everyone "My teacher is so beautiful. I love her very much and she loves me." I wish everyone could know this guy! He was truly a blessing to me.

It was hard to say goodbye to everyone but at the same time I had such peace about going, like it was really the right thing to be doing. I built such great friendships with so many people and I'm confident that they will continue wherever we are in the world. I had a great send off with Bev and the American team accompanying me to Dar. We visited some kind of touristy places which was actually kind of nice as I could pick up some souveniry type things that you couldn't really find in Morogoro.

After saying goodbye to Tanzania I had another fabulous two weeks in Norway. Ive never been at this time of year before and it was WONDERFUL. I arrived on the longest day of the summer and spent part of the time in Levanger where it never got dark! It is always great to be there and spend time with my friends there. Because the real foundation of our relationships is Jesus, it never seems to matter how long we are apart, we just fall back in like we are together every day. I am so grateful to have people in my life who consistently challenge me in my faith and encourage me to grow closer to God.

It's actually a little bit scary to be home now. I feel like I have changed so much in the past year. God has done a lot in me and it's strange to be coming back here such a diferent person. I don't have a lot of friends here who have the same values that I have and I have to say that I don't want to go back to being the person I was. God has good plans for us, I know that and I don't want to miss out on any of them!

Saturday, June 7, 2008

YWAM Morogoro: Smashing stereotypes with reckless abandon...

Sometimes I am literally awestruck by the utter badness of our singing.  I mean, we’ve been singing in class everyday for the last three months and I’ll just say it hasn’t gotten any better than the first day.  The next time someone tries to tell you that all black people have rhythm, just send em my way....Now, I am fully aware that when you’re stuck with ME as a music teacher, you have some challenges to overcome.  But the chances of me being the best singer in a group of six people are like one in a kadrillion.  We’ve got one or two songs that we’re pretty good at (the one in that video is probably our number one hit) BUT we’ve learned thirty so....anyway,this is all at the front of my mind because the students are leading the praise and worship meeting on monday and well...I’m a little nervous about it!


I guess there’s a lot to say since the last post...there was no connection last weekend so I couldn’t update.  I lost a student!  Anethi had an interview for nursing school a few weeks ago and then didn’t come back one weekend.  Her nursing school began and she left without really saying anything.  It was a bit of a shock for everyone but it is a great opportunity for her so we miss her but we are happy she is doing well.  She came by the school this morning topick up some things she left behind and it seemed like this was a good choice for her so.... 


We are getting all ready for graduation around here... only one week of teaching left and then one week for exams and practicing for graduation.  It’s really exciting and I’m so proud of all the students.  In these past few weeks even those who are a little behind are making great improvment.  It makes me wixh we had another month together to really work on it!  But everyone is hoping to come back for the second level school that will happen in July.  They are still looking for a teacher so there’s something that could use a LOT of prayer.   YWAM Tanzania is really good about equipping Tanzanians to do the work we do here but in this case, Unlike most of the schools we run on the base the English school really is better if it is taught by someone who speaks English as their mother tongue.


My good news last week was that I have a job when I get home!  I will work on a show with the same theatre company I was working with when I left last summer.  They are awesome people and I am so excited to be hanging out there for another

 couple of months.  The bad news?  I arrive in NY on the 9th and the job starts ON THE 9TH!  so I’ll be a bit shattered but hey there’s a Starbucks downstairs right? 


SOME PHOTOS!


Yesterday I took the class out to lunch at my favorite cafe.  The owners speak English so it was a bit of a field trip really and they all got to practice ordering their food in English.  We had a great time!

...Here is  Bilha enjoying her first can of soda ever!  We usually

 get soda in glass bottles here...  And I got a package from my mom  couple of weeks ago and turns out? Bubble wrap is fun in ANY language!


AND the grossest story of my week?????  I walked out of the dining room the other day with my coffee (a rather valuable possession around here) and as I was walking to the "dishwasher" (a table with three basins full of water)  something fell in my cup!  now most of the time I'd just fish it out and go on drinking (like i said... valuable) but this something looked a little strange.... "what is that???" I said and Pauline came over to look...."Oh," she says matter-of-factly, "Looks like an insect gave birth."  And yes, there floating on the top of my beloved morning coffee were 10-15 newborn praying mantis... pretty interesting in any other situation but floating on top of my only caffeine for the day....not so much.  I fished em out but I couldn't bear to take a drink..... there are some things about home I am REALLY looking forward to.....

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Sorry it’s been awhile but last weekend, the grandfather of the guys who run the internet cafe passed away so they were closed all weekend for the funeral.


On a brighter note though, one of the things that I couldn’t share last week was that one of my students, Joyce, became a Christian! 


So a week of funny stories!!!!  Somehow, Timo, the base leader, found out that in English “hot” is the same as beautiful.  People are very free and generous with compliments here so you should hear him running around the base: “Good morning! You are hot, my sister!”  Bev and I have tried to explain that really it’s a little bit shady to say this to all the women you meet but he doesn’t seem to mind!


On Monday we learned about weddings in class and we were talking about dowries.  It is common practice here for a man to give a dowry for his fiancee and when Kanuti heard that we don’t do this in America, “Oh, I think I will go there!” he was practically on the next plane!


To learn about birthdays on tuesday, we had a birthday party complete with Pin the Tail on the GIRAFFE and presents and cake!  Yes that’s right I baked a cake!  I’m sorry, did you hear me? I BAKED a CAKE.... in AFRICA!!!!  If you haven’t fallen down dead from the shock, I’ll also tell you that it was even GOOD!  Most of you will realise that the “in AFRICA” is nowhere near as impressive as the “I BAKED a CAKE”  I explained to a friend this morning that at home, I’m the girl who brings plastic cups to the party.  But our little celebration was loads of fun...


I’m leaving Tanzania one month from today.  I’m getting a little bit more mentally prepared for it but emotionally I’m still a bit of a yoyo and I go from being tragically homesick and thrilled about getting back to really sad about leaving my new family here... but I guess I should be used to that by now....



Sunday, May 11, 2008

So I’m freaking out a little!!!!

Six weeks from today I am leaving Morogoro!  I’m so excited for what lies ahead but I’m not so ready to leave!  

I had a great day on Friday though!  A few weeks ago I met some other missionary families and when they heard that I work in theatre at home they got very excited.  They are all homeschooling their kids and they get together every Friday and have someone from a different profession come and talk to the kids about what their job is like.  So Friday I went to their meeting and shared about Costume Design and theatre in general.  It was a lot of fun (and I hope a little interesting).  As you can imagine not too many people in my line of work come through Morogoro.  I often have a hard time explaining to people here exactly what it is that I do and how it is possible to make money doing it.  There is no concept of professional theatre here so most people end up thinking I am working in a factory making clothes...It was really good thought to talk about what my job is like and what some of the challenges are of being a christian in my world.  A couple of the older girls especially were really interested and I think I’ll get together with one of them a couple of times before I leave for some drawing lessons.  


I’ve also been sending a fair amount of time playing chaperone for a couple of my friends who are about to announce their engagement.  The rules here are incredibly strict on starting relationships and there is no “dating” like we know it.  It pretty much goes like this.  A guy thinks that he might want to marry a girl so he goes to the base leaders and asks for their permission to talk to her about it.  If they think it is good and what God wants, he is allowed to pursue her.  If she is interested, they both have to get letters of agreement from their parents and their churches.  If everyone agrees, the leaders will then announce that the couple is engaged!  But once he has made spoken about his intentions and especially after the announcement, they are not allowed to be alone together!  So I have been spending a lot of time with the two of them mostly just allowing them to spend time together.  We joke that I’m like a character in a 19th century novel and after we watched Miss Potter a few weeks ago, he’s started calling me Bibi, swahili for grandmother because of the old lady who was the chaperone in that film. I do my part by casting dissaproving glances at them every now and then and joke about bringing along my knitting everytime we make plans to go somewhere.  At first glance the whole thing seems ridiculously strict and awful but the truth is that everyone involved is praying their way through the entire process and I can see that there is some wisdom in it.  There is a lot less unecessary heartbreak.  That being said, if I’m honest, I’m glad it’s not my culture!  video

here's a video of the class during our singing time.

Sunday, May 4, 2008

Fifty fifty

Tanzanians LOVE this phrase.... How are you feeling? fifty fifty.  How was town? fifty fifty.  This week I am "fifty fifty."  Things have picked up a bit from last week.  Yesterday was Bev's birthday so we celebrated by going to a hotel in town!  For 3000 shillings (about$2.50) you can go and swim in the pool!  We took Bebe with us (who doesn't know how to swim) and apart from one tiny near drowning--mine AND Bebe's--we had a GREAT time!  It was a real blessing for me as school this week was a little tough.  I'm getting a LOT of blank stares these days and I'm having to go back and re-teach things from three and four weeks ago.  It's really frustrating at times.  I just want them to understand and I don't know how to make it stick!

As usual, here I am in the internet cafe utterly unable to recall all the funny and interesting things that have happened to me this week so I think I'll wrap this one up... this week I'll have to write something everyday so that I'll have good stuff for next time... 

Sunday, April 27, 2008

just a quick one...

Things are going well ..for the most part.... here in morogoro. The students finished their eight-week exam on friday and most did quite well. We celebrated a few birthdays this week and have had a lot of fun in class.

We had a rough day on thursday when we learned that Anethi one of the English students lost her sister. She had been sick with Malaria for some time and in the village she lives in about 3 hours from here, health care is nearly impossible to get for the few who are able to afford it. There are no hospitals or doctors there and even if there were most couldn't afford to see them. She was a young mother so it's an especially trying situation. Please pray for Anethi and her family.

If you want to help there are several organizations you can find online where you can donate a little money (really, like $10) to get bednets to people who can't afford them. Everyone agrees that this method of prevention is the best treatment for this disease. What most people in the west don't understand is that malaria itself is entirely treatable IF you can afford the treatment. I don't know a single person here who hasn't had it. What kills thousands of people every day is not malaria but poverty.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

It's no vacation!

So in case you’ve been thinking from the last few posts that it’s all fun and games here in Morogoro,..here’s a “real missionary” blog...

It’s been quite a week!  Last sunday during dinner. There was a loud pop and we saw sparks coming off the corner of the dining room as the power went out.  After some investigation, we found that a bat had flown into the transformer knocking out all the electricity for our base.  Monday morning we woke up to find that we had no running water.  The pump that gets the water from the pipes into the tank is electric so no electricity means no running water.....Sometime THURSDAY Tanesco the electric company decided to classify us as an emergency situation. on SATURDAY they finally showed up.  I was so excited to come home last night to power!!! I got back to the base and walked into my room and turned on the light.... nothing.... I tried

 again.... still nothing.  The only building on the base not restored to normal?  the English school....argh.... 


It’s amazing actually the things you learn how to live with.   Thankfully God was really good and it rained almost every

 day....wow you should have seen us all scrambling to get our buckets under a crack in the rain gutters around the school at the least sign of rain.  And this being the rainy season, even when it didn’t rain, there was enough in the well for us to use for toilets and showers and laundry.

Last weekend, Neema and I took my friend Bebe (in the middle) out to lunch for her birthday!  Bebe is from Rwanda and she arrived shortly after I did.  We’ve suffered through some of the same culture shock and difficulties adjusting to life here in Tanzania.  She’s become a good friend. 


There are three kids here on the base.  Mira is only a couple months old and still kind of boring if you don’t go crazy over babies, but 1 1/2 yr old Abi and her 6 yr old brother Mordecai are absolute stars!  Their parents Isaac and Deborah are some of my favorite people around here and the kids are the sweetest. but the strangest thing??? they took Mordi to the dentist about a week ago and pulled almost ALL his baby teeth... The idea is that they have to get rid of the old ones so that the new ones can come in... I haven't figured out yet whether or not this is normal in TZ or if it was just a crazy dentist but I know one thing.. Mordi has been scarred for life! poor thing.... 

This week marks the halfway point of the English school.. we are struggling a bit. Literally EVERYONE has been sick this week. Malaria, what they call Typhoid here but which is really not, parasites, all sorts of badness.  They are working hard but it's so difficult to pay attention when you are feeling bad.  It's a little overwhelming when I think that I am only two months away from leaving.  Half of me is desperate to get home and the other half is devastated at the thought of leaving.  I know that it will be time for me to be home for awhile and I can't wait to see my family and friends but I really do enjoy life here...It's the problem I face constantly. I sometimes wish I was made to stay put so I wouldn't have to go through leaving people over and over again but I know that the life I would be giving up is too good!  In John 10:10 Jesus says "I came that they may have life and have it abundantly." I know that that is what I am living and experiencing everyday... life abundantly! 

Monday, April 14, 2008

the only lion I saw on safari was this one hanging from the rearview mirror of the minibus we went in.... sorry to disappoint...

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Some SAFARI pics!








this giraffe was just standing by the side of the road posing for us.  

Our guide threw some cookies out the window to get these guys to come close.... Don't tell, we're not allowed to do this, she said... yeah right I'm sure she does it every time....



And last but not least, the elephant that almost sent me to heaven. Let's call him Steve:

Steve was walking down the road that we needed to pass and African elephants can be a bit aggressive!  Our guide told us all to keep our heads and everything inside the vehicle and not to shout andtold the driver to stop and let him pass. Steve moseyed off the road and she told him to go ahead slowly.  This caught Steve's attention and he turned back to us.  At this point just curious and probably a little scared himself.  We stopped.  Steve turned away.  The guide tells the driver "pole pole" (slowly) and our driver probably at once terrified of losing a) his passengers b) his vehicle and thereby his business and c) his life, decides instead to punch it and tears out of there, roaring past Steve who whirls around and trumpets that big elephant noise, sort of bowing like he might just take off after us at a full gallop and skewer us all one after another on his tusks like a shish kebab.  Thankfully he decides that we are no longer a threat to his peaceful afternoon and just watches us go. I could practically hear him saying "yeah.... that's right... and STAY OUT!"

Brrrrr......


would you believe it?  I'm in Africa and I'm cold!  I mean, we're not talking a New York winter or anything but we've come into the long rainy season.  Being so close to the equator, there's not really spring, summer, fall, and winter like I'm used to.... basically it's just always hot.  But during April the temperatures here drop quite a bit in the evening and it's raining--or threatening to--pretty much all the time.  It's actually kind of nice because it means I can have a rainwater shower most days and still have fresh water to wash my clothes with.  

Well, we said goodbye to Regina last week.  She was finally able to go back to the states to be with her family.  She's been

 away from her husband for over 5 months!  I'm sad that she is gone but I am so happy for them that they will get to be together

 again.  I was really proud actually.  At her little goodbye party, Kanuti, one of the english students, spoke on behalf of the class--in english!--to thank her for her time and work here and everything and he was SO GOOD!  Oh finally! Here's a picture of the class!                                                   


And will I ever learn?  I've needed a haircut for about a month now and I just decided to give it a go and cut it myself....not wise. Luckily, hair grows and I'm in Tanzania.

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Zanzibar!!!

...is the most incredible place!  I'll try not to make this the LONGEST post EVER but there's so much to say!!!


School let out on wednesday because of Easter and Muhammad's Birthday so Bev and I took

 off Thursday morning for Zanzibar.  After almost an entire day of traveling we arrived that evening at our "hotel" (and I use the term loosely) It was unbelievably hot, the nightguard/desk guy was undoubtedly intoxicated and we were woken at 5 am by the call to prayer from the mosque next door (In case you've never lived next door to a mosque, it's very, very LOUD).

Needless to say we checked out in the morning and wound up at the amazing Haven Guest House where the owner/manager greeted us like we were old friends and proceeded to arrange the rest of our stay in Zanzibar-a spice tour and a trip up the coast-all at incredibly good prices.

We left straight off for the spice tour.  Zanzibar is called the spice island and there are all kinds of spices, nutmeg, ginger, vanilla, cinnamon, turmeric, lemongrass, and OH the CLOVES! growing wild all over the island.  The air is just rich with them!  The place we visited was more of a farm and our tour guide was pretty funny, well, at least his english was pretty funny...

It was so strange to suddenly be thrust into a group of so many wazungu (white people).  We're a bit of an oddity in Morogoro but Zanzibar is sort of a holiday hotspot for a lot of Europeans and since we were doing kind of touristy stuff we met a lot of them.  It was an interesting time to be traveling though as we met up with a lot of people from different places who are living and working in TZ and on break for the holidays.  I have found that it is absolutely impossible to meet boring people in Africa.  Everyone we met had some incredible story about where they were from and why they were here: The american guys working with street kids in Dar-Es-Salaam, The Austrian girl who is here checking up on a million different projects for a group of philanthropists back home, The young scottish couple who are having a few days rest after climbing Kilimanjaro, The polish guy (in the shortest short shorts ever seen on a man) who is teaching in Mbeya and whose grandmother thinks he's a "bloody idiot and won't he just stop messing around and come home and get married already," and our new friend Shilpi, the Indian-Dutch-German girl who is in Arusha working with some sort of agriculture analysis company.

One of the most surprising things was how interested people were in Jesus!  Zanzibar has a long and deeply rooted Islamic tradition and I have been told over and over again how difficult it is to come here and do any sort of missionary work but it seemed like everyone

 we met, taxi drivers, waiters, our boat captain on our snorkel trip,  the moment they found out we were christians, wanted to know how they could become christians as well...time and time again, we heard how people believed that what we were saying was true, that they were not fulfilled with Islam that they knew they were stuck with their sin and had no hope and that they knew and believed that Jesus was the answer, that he had died for them and wanted to forgive them BUT if they would dare to seek out a pastor or walk into a church they were sure to be beaten or even killed.  It was at once encouraging and devastating...so many people eager to believe but trapped by fear.  Pray that doors will open for this island, that God will give people courage to come to him and protection when they do.

We spent three nights in Nungwi, a beautiful beach town on the north coast. We walked out on to the beach the first morning there and laughed at all the crazy tourists roasting themselves in the sun, "a white-people barbecue!" we said... and then proceeded to get burned ourselves... ah enter humility... On our third day there we booked a snorkel trip with the honorable Captain Supa (sounds like super) It was awesome until we actually got in the water where we encountered a gazillion tiny jellyfish!  Their stings aren't dangerous but they aren't pleasant either! I only stayed in the water maybe ten minutes and then decided "I've been snorkeling before and this really isn't fun anymore" and crept up to the roof of the boat for a little nap in the sun with a few of the passengers and most of the crew!

We spent the last day in Stonetown shopping and meeting up with the waiter we had met in Nungwi. He decided to become a christian and we prayed with him ON Easter Sunday.  Pray fro Stefan as he's now hoping to get some support to come to a discipleship school that we have at the base in Morogoro (like the one I did in England).  

All in all it was an incredible time.  YWAM has talked about opening a base on Zanzibar and I would do some serious talking with God about that.  It would be a great way to spend some time!


Monday, March 17, 2008

Just in the nick of time...

SO this week has been D.R.A.M.A filled...
Started off Monday feeling all happy and excited because I was getting my 2-yr work permit that day...then no news on Tuesday.... still no news on Wednesday....Thursday I get the head exploding news that my permit has not been approved. Why? well, it could have something to do with the fact that immigration has NEVER EVEN SEEN MY APPLICATION!!!!!! There was some sort of mix up with the YWAM base in Dar Es Salaam who has been taking care of all the papers there and my papers have been sitting on someones desk for the past four months as they were making weekly(at least) trips to the immigration office to deal with all the applications....except mine. Oh and did I mention that my temporary permit expired on Sunday?!?!?!?!?!

Thankfully the guy who works in administration here has a really good relationship with the local immigration office and he was able to convince them to extend my temporary permit until I leave in June (more than a month longer than they are supposed to) It all ended up working out for the best as I've saved around $40 in not taking the longer permit but there were 24 rather panic-filled hours there.

I won't bother much with the safari news until I can post photos other than to say that it was amazing and that we were nearly killed by an elephant with tusks the size of ....well I don't know, the size of something really big and pointy....you'll just have to live in suspense for that story.

As far as school goes, the students are doing pretty well. We've started to get into some more difficult material but overall they are handling it nicely. What they really love? The hokey-pokey! It's great for teaching body parts and I've found that when we're all getting to the point where we're frustrated and tired...it's hokey-pokey time! No matter how discouraged you are (student and teacher alike) it is physically impossible to hokey-pokey and not smile...it's always a great tension reliever. The day is usually full of little moments though. Tanzanians have a difficult time distinguishing between "R" and "L" sounds so several times a week I have to remind the class of things like the fact that God is Holy....not "hory."

Well, I'm off to Zanzibar on Thursday! I'm SOOOOO excited! I'll try to post from there but if I'm silent for a while that's why. Ok. times up for today...

Monday, March 10, 2008

AT LAST!!!

I'm going on safari!!!! Thursday the team from Norway is going to Mikumi, the park nearby here and I get to tag along. This is great for so many reasons, first of all, I will have something good to say when my mother asks if I've seen any animals yet (for some reason, cows, goats, dogs, and mosqitoes don't peak her interest), second, it will be great to go with the team rather than by myself. You can end up spending large amounts of time just driving around and seeing nothing so to be with a group is a good thing.

I also found out that I am definitely able to go to Zanzibar over Easter holiday so I'm really excited about that. Bev and I are starting to plan things and I think it's going to be amazing.

School is going well. The students are starting to get to more challenging material so it's been a more difficult week this week but I am so impressed with their commitment to learn. Ah when I came to town yesterday I had a good and thoughtful blog planned out but there was no electricity and now I'm afraid it's gone out of my head completely.

It looking like once again, God is tying things up at the very last minute. As of sunday I will be in Tanzania illegally so we have been praying like crazy for my work permit to come through in time and today they are supposed to go to pay for it. You can pray that everything will wrap up nicely and it will arrive in time to get to immigration on friday so that I'm not an outlaw.

Sunday, March 2, 2008

this can't be a coincidence....

A team of ten people arrived at the base today for three weeks of ministry. Where are they from? Germany? no. France? no. Canada? no. Japan?. no......you guessed it. Norway. There's no use fighting it.....

School is going really well. Regina had a problem this week and hasn't been able to come in since Tuesday so I've been teaching on my own since then. It's actually been ok! I know! Amazing! The students are awesome and are picking things up pretty quickly so that helps. The team is going to help out with the musical side of things while they are here which should be a blessing to everyone within earshot of the classroom. One unexpected thing is that I've actually ended up with sort of two classes. After dinner several of the staff who don't speak English have been coming over to the classroom for lessons. This means I end up basically working 14 hour days pretty much every day. I was starting to think that I just couldn't do it when God reminded me of a moment sitting (well, crouching and hammering) on a roof in Mississippi 2 summers ago when I realised I wanted to come here and the phrase that kept repeating in that time was to "spend myself on others." I'll be pretty wasted at the end of it all but I wanted to waste myself on something other than myself so....
I've also got a much better perspective on what it is that I'm actually doing here. I was kind of uneasy about teaching just because I didn't know what the purpose of it was. Trying to get Tanzanians to speak English, it just felt a little imperialistic you know? What difference will it even make? But then I realised that what they are actually getting is the opportunity for education. I have 30 and 40 year old women in my class who have only studied up to 7th grade. Secondary education in Tanzania is all in English but they are not taught english in primary school so many students end up failing "high school" not because they aren't smart but because they can't understand the lessons. Many don't even try because the tuition is so expensive (none of the education is public, parents or sponsors pay for everything from preschool to university) and they are almost guaranteed failure. All six of my students are in this course so that they can continue their education. This means a life of something other than subsistence farming if not for themselves then at least for their children. That is something that I can get excited about

I'm working on plans for a trip to Zanzibar over Easter. Easter falls right around a muslim holiday as well so we have a whole week of national holiday and no school! Bev will be working in the preschool and will be free also so we're going to take a little holiday to what may soon be my favorite place on earth! Everything I read about it seems like it is a place I was made for! If you couldn't tell by the excess of exclamation points, I'm a little excited.... Oh did I mention Bev before? She's the other mzungu (white person) living on the base. She actually came from the same base in England that I was at. She left just one month before I arrived there and my whole time there we were praying for this team that had just left for a year in Africa....turns out, that was her! what a small world it is!

Monday, February 25, 2008

Well, I'm a teacher now! School began on wednesday and so far it is going really well! The students are all great and are a little more advanced than they usually are at the beginning of this course which is a HUGE blessing to me because, in case you didn't know.... teaching is HARD! (I'll be honest I didn't know!) I have six students, two guys and 4 ladies all between 25 and 40. They are all very eager to learn and I am really impressed with their willingness to stop speaking Swahili and only use English.

As usual, after a week full of moments in which I thought "ah! I'll have to post THAT on the blog!" I am sitting here in the internet cafe and can't think of a single one! grrr....so I'll give Allison what she asked for (besides the fame of having now been named on my blog which is what most people aspire to) and tell a little about a typical day. I'm usually up by 6:30 (ok 6:45) which may not seem like much to some but to a girl who works in the theatre where you don't have to show up until 5pm this is a BIG deal. After breakfast, Regina, the other teacher, and I get togehter for 1/2 hour to pray for the day and the students and then class starts at 8. A couple of days during the week, we do music. We teach the students English worship songs and let's just say that I am the best musican in the room.... now I think that should be a pretty good indication as to the quality of these times.....its horrifying...but they're learning so.... We're in class until one with a 1/2 hour tea break at eleven where I try to sneak off to a corner with someone who is not my student and practice some Swahili. We have a no Swahili rule in the school and if you are caught speaking it you have to wear a sign that says "Please remind me to speak English"

We have lunch at one. Almost always Ugali (that solid cream of wheat stuff), greens, and these horrible little "small fish" that are dried and then cooked whole in some oil and tomato sauce. I skip the fish.

After lunch we have a couple of hours of work in the afternoon which is a bit nicer now that it isn't cooking or cleaning or slashing ("mowing the lawn" with a sharp stick that you swing back and forth) but now grading papers and preparing for tomorrow's class and then the students come back and I help them with homework or we play games, anything to keep them talking...

Dinner is at 6 and I'm almost always in bed by 10!...pretty strange for someone who is still sitting through the second act then in her normal life. After a saltwater shower (imagine never getting any cleaner than you are after a day at the beach) I tuck the mosquito net in tight trusting it to keep out not just the mosquitoes but also the geckoes, fireflies, ants-- and what I'm pretty sure was a rat the other night-- that also call my room their home.

Now that's all assuming that the power hasn't gone out which it does oh probably 3 times a week, that we haven't run out of water in the tank. We've been having a lot of rain lately so I try to catch and keep at least one 5 gallon bucket of rainwater which is good for showering and washing clothes which is all done by hand. I explained the idea of a laundromat to one of my students the other day and she was amazed!

On weekends I am free and I come into town to that cafe that I wrote of before, to the internet and to the market to buy some vegetables to add to my mostly rice/bread/ugali/beans diet. It's a very different life than I am used to in New York but strangley very easy to adapt to. I'm anxious to get into a theatre and to enjoy a good latte again but for now I am enjoying every moment!

And to all who swore that I would come back with some handsome african husband.....It could happen....but I wouldn't count on it. There is one guy here who is staff at the sister base in Morogoro who every time we meet he always finds a way to bring up the topic of marraige and my future husband and his future wife... it's a little ridiculous actually. And I am SO not interested...

Sunday, February 17, 2008

The Long Defeat

So I'm finding out that I'm something of a hero junky. I can't get enough. If someone is out there sacrificing themselves for the good of others, fighting for those who cannot fight for themselves, I want to know about it. I want to read their book. I want to hear their story. I want to join their cause. I want to be a part of it. All too often i let life get in my way and rationalize my way out of following my heart but every once in a while my heart will win.

I have been listening to a lot of Sara Groves lately. (link on the right) And I feel like she really gets this idea in her songs. She was talking on the Relevant Podcast about this doctor who is working to eradicate TB in Haiti. He is one of the most respceted and sought-after doctors in his field in the world but he will spend days at a time trekking through the jungles and mountains to go check on one patient who hasn't been in to pick up his meds in ahwile. He was asked if this was worth it, for him, being as important as he is, to use his time for this one person. In repsonse he speaks of the Long Defeat, a quote/idea from Lord of the Rings. He says that of course he wants to win but that he will lose if winning means turning his back on the loser. He is a hero! She connects him to Frodo who sets off on a journey to save his world with little hope of success and the near certainty that he will never return but he MUST go! And then there is our Hero, Jesus who surely "entered into the long defeat for me..." abandoning all, to walk a long and lonely road for me.

All this to say that I can feel confident in being a hero junky. It doesn't come from a desire for fame and praise but from a desire to be like my Jesus! He has been my rescuer, I in turn want to rescue. He has loved me, I in turn MUST love!

The Long Defeat by Sara Groves
I have joined the long defeat
the falling set in motion
and all my strength and energy
raindrops in the ocean
And I pray for an idea
and a way I cannot see
I'ts too heavy to carry
and impossible to leave
I can't just fight when I think I'll win
that's the end of all belief
and nothing has provoked it more
than a possible defeat
chorus
So conditioned for the win
to sharing victors' stories
but in the place of ambitions din
I have heard of other glories
chorus
We walk a while, we sit and rest
we lay it on the altar
I won't pretend to know what's next
But what I have I've offered
chorus

Sorry this is all thoughtful and internal stuff but I'm really feeling it right now. Quickly though, the English school starts on Wednesday. I have six students and I'm super nervous/excited. It turns out my last words on the previous post were a little psychic... I ended up sliding all over the road on the way home last time and falling big time in the mud! haha....I'll try to post again soon! And a new computer is soon on it's way so soon I'll be able to post photos again....

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

thanks...

for all the various forms of virtual hugs I recieved in the last few days. I have been reminded by the super awesome DaveBircher (check out his blog, there's a link on the side) through the words of the super awesome prophet Isaiah that God's ways are not my ways and His thoughts are not my thoughts. I have no idea what He is doing here but I know that He is good and He is not working against me.

I got to go to church on Sunday in the funniest little place! There is an Anglican church just outside of town that is the perfect example of how missionaries used to do things. The church just belongs in a little english village somewhere.... all stone and arched windows and everything. It's not "african" at all! But it was nice and the service was in English so that was good for me.

So in a crazy turn of events here in Tanzania, the Prime Minister RESIGNED! They have a President here and a Prime Minister. From what I can understand the President elects the Prime Minister but the Prime Minister is really the one responsible for doing most of the actual governing. He and two of his cabinet were involved in some sort of corruption and all three resigned! It would be like George Bush quitting, I'm sure many of us have many different opinions on what that would be like but I'm sure we can all agree that it would shake the nation...It is troubling especially as Bush is expected to visit Tanzania this week because the US considers Tanzania a "stable" government in the region. No one really knows what the expected outcome of this visit is but you can pray that this new situation won't jeopardize the relationship between our countries and that the President will have wisdom in how to handle the situation.

Well, I'm off to slip and slide throught the mud and the rain to get back home....

Friday, February 8, 2008

I need a hug!

Another tough week this one....There was a lot of fun with a couple of Norwegian visitors (have I written about them? I'm not sure....)who have been here looking to find out if this is a place they can come for some long term missionary work. It has been great to hang out with them and Elfrid was a huge help in our preparations for the English School.....
ahh... the English School......
On Wednesday I found out that the Korean girl who was planning to come teach with me will not, in fact, be coming. Of course we found this out right after I had just conducted a second round of interviews with students I now have no places for. I'm a bit desperate for some ideas as to what I should do. For the moment we've created a waiting list and are still hoping for another teacher but the school is less than two weeks away...
I'm also really beginning to feel the total lack of physical contact! At home I'm very used to lots of hugs and kisses from my friends and family and here the most I get is an occaisonal handshake or the common greeting of "hugging" where you kind of lean in and touch opposite shoulders. I need a REAL HUG!

WARNING: THIS NEXT BIT IS ABOUT KENYA AND IS NOT FOR THE FAINT OF HEART.

We are not getting too much news about what is going on in neighboring Kenya and it seems like that might be intentional. I have heard today from a friend who had a visitor that grew up in Kenya and had passed through on his way here that things there are actually MUCH worse than anyone knows. It seems that the president is doing his best to keep reporters out and to not let the real story get out especially to the west. This visitor said that as he drove through Kenya they went down one road where there were peoples heads on poles stuck into the ground. I can barely write that it is so awful. This is all too reminiscient of things that have gone on in neighboring Uganda and Rwanda. Please please please pray for this nation. Just trust that you are not recieving the full story and that you NEED to pray.

Saturday, February 2, 2008

quick update

for those who have been praying for the English School... WELL DONE! We found out today that I have a second teacher, the korean girl, and that there are a few more students who are interested, at least one is a guy which will be great for the one guy we have already accepted....keep em coming!

sorry this is short and entirely un-clever and witty.... I'll try to be doubly clever and witty next time.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

So one of the most well-known missionary stories of the 20th Century is that of 5 young men who went to Ecuador to tell the Auca tribe about how Jesus loved them and died for them. The tribe was notoriously dangerous and known for killing anyone from the outside who came near but these men had a calling from God so they went. They camped on a beach near where they thought the Aucas might be and they waited. Eventually 2 women and 1 man came out of the jungle and spent a day or so eating and trying to communicate with these five strangers. They left as quickly as they arrived. A short time later, the tribe returned to the beach and killed the entire team.
The next part of the story is what has gone on to fascinate many. The wife of Jim Elliot one of the men killed, Elisabeth and the sister of Nate Saint, Rachel, decided to go above and beyond forgiveness and go themselves to the Aucas. I have just finished reading Elisabeth Elliot's account of that time and yowza! I am humbled and inspired and challenged and....and.....and....
A lot of people have heard the story of those 5 guys (who were all in their 20's by the way, all married and all but one fathers) but not quite as many know about Elisabeth. This book (among many she has written) is called The Savage My Kinsman and is also full of amazing photographs of her year in the jungle. In her story she includes parts of a poem by William Cullen Bryant called "To a Waterfowl." It is now my favorite...

There is a
Power whose care
Teaches thy way along that pathless coast,--
The desert and illimitable air,--
Lone wandering, but not lost.
***
He, who, from zone to zone,
Guides through the boundless sky thy certain flight,
In the long way that I must tread alone,
Will lead my steps aright.

WONDERFUL! So there's your culture for the week. I know some of you are suffering without me ;). In other news, we had English School interviews yesterday and so far we have 5 students. I think there are more on the way though, you can pray that we will get 2 or 3 more especially male students as right now there is one guy and 4 ladies. It will be really good for him if he can have at least one other male student. We have 2 possibilities for teachers and it is looking like there is a pretty good chance that I will be teaching English with a girl from Korea and a girl from Rwanda. What an amazing mixed up world this is! I love it!

And just in case there was any question, I think it has been proven that Norway loves me! There is a Norwegian couple who is here at the base for a couple of weeks as they are looking for a place in Tanzania to make a long term commitment as missionaries. AND there is a team of students coming from their base in Norway next month. It is no longer just a coincidence. It has been lots of fun though, hanging out with these guys and practicing my norwegian a little!

And lastly I just have to tell about a conversation I was having the other day about some money. I was telling my dad that I had already taken care of one responsiblity so, now this bit here "is for luxuries, like apples, and toilet paper...you know...." Whoever imagined that I would conseider apples and toilet paper a luxury?!?!?!? hahahahaha.....

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Just checkin in...

lest anyone think that I'm actually in Cabo on the beach with an umbrella drink, here's an update on the work...

On Monday a lady, Merry, came to interview and take the exam for the English teaching position. Unfortunately she did not pass the exam and should probably be a student in the second level school rather than teaching with us. There are two other possibilities that we know of for teachers but we are getting rather desperate as we have student interviews this coming Monday. If I don't have another teacher committed I have been warned against taking more than 4 students. I really think the school is meant to be 8 or 9 so I need at least one more teacher.... so, you're invited! (I'm only half way joking there, I've asked God if there is someone that I know that could come and teach so if you're interested....)

Regina and I are working 8 days a week to get all the material off of her computer and into hard copies so that when it comes time for her to leave I will have everything I need for the school. Right now there are some obstacles to her leaving. While it would be great by me if she stuck around til say, June, she has been apart from her husband and son for months already and they want her back! Please pray that it would all work out.

And in a goat update, last night for dinner we had ugali and soup with "regular"-aka NOT intestine- goat meat in it. Actually, quite tasty! Well gotta run, I'll try to remember an interesting story for friday. One of the downfalls of not having a computer right now is that Before, I would write all week long, and then post it when I got to the internet cafe. Now I have to scramble to remember clever and entertaining tidbits with the pressure of the clock counting down at the top of the screen, I can practically hear the jeopardy theme song in my head.....I know, I'm a trooper....
:)

Thanks for all the comments, you guys are the best!

Friday, January 18, 2008

"dat devil tryin ta bring me down"

WHEW! a difficult week this one... it seems like there was another problem at every turn! Starting on Monday when I came to town to use the internet and there was no electricity and then got trapped walking home in a TORRENTIAL downpour, soaked to the skin!!! Twice this week we were supposed to interview a potential teacher for the English school and twice she did not show up. I washed all my clothes and hung them out to dry and half fell into the dirt and had to be washed again. AND MY COMPUTER IS BROKEN! NOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!! Something is wrong and I'm taking it today to Regina's friend to have it looked at, please pray that there will be a way to fix it!!!! Not only is it important for me for communication but I will actually use it quite a bit in the English school AND Neema was using it to learn how to type. But somehow, in spite of all that (and trust me those were just a few highlights) I have managed to keep a good attitude...and it hasn't even been difficult! I'm reading a book about missionaries Heidi and Rolland Baker who have been in Mozambique for the last decade or so and when I know what God is capable of, it's impossible to be discouraged by any of it! I highly recommend Always Enough their book for anyone wanting to get God out of the box they've put him in.

Anyway, I know some of you are waiting for one more bit of news with anticipation. On Wednesday, the base leader, Timothy, came and asked if I could give him some help with something. Sure, I said willingly......then I had a memory. Timo had just been to visit the Maasai (a nomadic tribal people). The Maasai had given us a gift of a goat. OH NO, please Timo, please don't ask me to help you butcher the goat!!!!! He sort of playfully kept on and tried to get me to help him kill the goat! I actually almost cried just thinking about it. At home, I AM A VEGETARIAN!!! He let me out of that one and I made sure I was far away when the time came so I wouldn't hear anything. Dinner that night consisted of rice, beans.....and goat liver.....oh wait, it gets better.....Lunch the next day? GOAT INTESTINE SOUP! I ate it. I did. I had to pray that God would help me but I managed to swallow it all.

As Siri said, NOW I am a REAL missionary......

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Thank you WGA

Because you won’t back down, I trust that there will be no new developments on Ugly Betty and Grey’s Anatomy for quite sometime meaning, I won’t be missing out. For this (and several other reasons) I am on your side. I know I’m not really a factor in your actions but I’m grateful all the same. ☺

Saturday’s are nice days in Morogoro. I have it pretty free to myself and after this visit to the internet café:
(that car is parked just to the left of the door)
I’ll head over to Ricky’s, that café with the cappuccinos! I also get to talk to my family on Saturdays. With an eleven hour time difference we sort of have to schedule these things.

Here’s a photo of my friend Neema. That baby is Mira-short for Miracle- Her parents are July and Shukuru. They both have been really welcoming, especially Shukuru who spent several days trying to help me to get my phone set up. Mira was born several weeks (more than a month I think) early; hence, her name.
Neema and I are having a bit of a skill exchange. She leads the sewing school and they sew on treadle machines, the ones that don’t use electricity, and she is going to teach me how to use them. In exchange I will teach her how to type. She is going to a computer school later this year and touched a computer for the first time in her life on Tuesday when she started a typing program on mine. She is 34....It was actually pretty cool. On the first day, she was having a lot of trouble and in one lesson made over 30 mistakes. We stopped and prayed and asked God to help her and the next lesson she had only two mistakes! She is very eager to learn and is not easily discouraged.

Please pray for one my new friends. I probably shouldn’t use his name just to be safe. He grew up in a muslim family, became a Christian about a year ago and his family is looking for him, trying to kill him! It’s the kind of thing that doesn’t seem like it happens in real life, but here it is.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

HAHAHAHAHA!!!!!

So last night at dinner Neema and I had such a laughing fit! Neema is on staff here as well and we get on really well. She has been taking her Christmas break at Regina’s house so when I have been there on the weekends we have been spending a lot of time together. Her English is very good so we are able to joke and have fun together. She just came back to the base yesterday and already it feels like a more exciting place to be. But last night at dinner, I don’t know if you have ever experienced this, but it happens to me sometimes here, last night at dinner, I forgot I was white.

Because I spend all day with black people and I never think of myself as being any different, occasionally the sight of my own skin surprises me. We were naving a nice meal of makande (beans and maize, one of my new favorites) and a good conversation and I saw my hand and thought “whoa. I’m white.” And not just like “I’m so white I need a tan la la” like, “I am not a black person.” Well, I have never mentioned this before but last night I did and the whole table cracked up! But Neema and I were laughing for almost ten minutes… you know that kind of laugh where just when you get it under control the other one cracks a smile and then you both are at it again… it was fun!

My for-real roommate arrived yesterday as well. Elietha from the photo down below has gone to another base in Lukobe near here to work on a school there and Paulina/Kapesa returned from her holiday today. It is nice to have someone in the room who I can communicate with! Things are getting back to normal after the holidays so it's good.

We’ve set the dates for the school and if all goes according to plan it will start on the 21st of February. This is great for me as it gives me plenty of time to get familiar with the curriculum and to find and work with the other teacher(s). I am asking God for eight or nine students and one or two other teachers. You can pray for a woman , Josephine who is home with her family in Kenya, we are hoping that she will be released to come and staff the English School.

The other awesome thing that happened this week is that I found out that my friend Silje is engaged!!!! Regina and I prayed that I would be able to go to the wedding since I was planning a visit to Norway on my way home from here anyway and turns out the wedding is 8 days after the English school finishes!!! Just enough time to get there. I am SOOOOO EXCITED! And so thankful! And SOOOOO HAPPY for Silje and Benjamin!!!!

Also, many have asked about mailing things. My address here is:
Ashley Horton
Youth With a Mission
Box 6123
Morogoro
Tanzania
East Africa

There is a reasonably good chance of things getting here but a good rule is, if it is so valuable that you will be upset if I don't get it, don't send it. Small packages and letters are usually fine from what I understand and I'm a great penpal when I am away from home so I can promise to write back. Now is a great time to start that stamp collection you have always dreamed of...

Saturday, January 5, 2008

decisions decisions...

As promised. The Toilet.
So I've decided to go ahead and commit to leading the english school. It's not really the vision I had when I planned this trip as it will mean that I can't be a part of the tailoring school but God kept bringing back this verse
"Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past.
see, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do not
perceive it? I am making a way in the desert and
streams in the wasteland" Isaiah 43:18-19
(thanks Siri)
and I'm pretty sure this is the new thing! It was kind of awesome because I was looking for some confirmation that this was the right thing to do and as soon as I said yes to it, several people let me know that they believed that this was why God brought me here at this time they just hadn't wanted to say anything before because they didn't want to pressure me..... But it's a good thing now we are hoping for one or two more teachers, you can pray that God will send us the right people!

The situation in Kenya is still rather dire. It seems to be mainly a problem of tribalism. Pray that God would break that spirit. It also seems to be a problem of an opportunistic and slightly shady leader... after the election results, he had himself inagurated within an hour. They don't usually wait the two months that we wait in the states but It's usually days at least, not an hour. There also seems to have been some extra votes counted for him. more votes than there are voters! Pray that the two candidates would submit to talks and negotiations with other regional leaders to sort this out and that they would no longer allow their followers to hurt and kill innocent people.

In other pressing news...I was just thinking the other day, wow... I have NO IDEA what is going on with Britney Spears. There is something beautiful and peaceful and freeing about that. And then I bought a newspaper yesterday...Can you believe it?!?!?! there she is....ay..... there is apparently no escape...

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Heri ya mwako mpya! Happy New Year!

Happy New Year gentle readers (ten points to anyone who gets the reference, well anyone besides Kelly, of course you know it...) New years eve was a HUGE celebration here. There is a big meeting hall on the base and some people had gone around the village earlier in the week and invited everyone to celebrate the new year with us. Somewhere around 200 people turned out! There was music and skits and some preaching, sort of like Christmas but on a MUCH larger scale.

Anyone who has spent any time working in a church youth group has probably run across this certain skit. In Brooklyn it was "the box" (don't touch the box , don't touch the box, someone touches the box, gets stuck to the box, tries to get free and ends up with both hands and feet "stuck" in and on the box and they can't get free until they pray) In Morogoro its called "usigusi" literally "Don't touch" and they did it with african drums playing along and it lasted literally 20 minutes. Even with the unnecessary length it was pretty awesome to watch. I have some video but I haven't figured out how to get it onto my computer yet. I'll try though!

So here's some more photos of New Years Day actually. A group of 15 of us piled into this minivan and went to a church about 40 minutes away. It was really good and I was even able to understand some of the songs in Swahili--none very complicated but still! One of our team preached and then we enjoyed a meal with them. It was a lot of fun. This is Anna, my new friend holding a bottle of Stoney my new favorite soda it's like ginger ale but kind of spicy.... yummm! The girl in yellow is my roommate Elietha. She doesn't speak much english so you should see us trying to communicate. She says something in Swahili, I have no idea what it is but I answer in English as best as I can figure out. we go back and forth and finally realise we have no idea what the other one is saying and crack up laughing. She's a good teacher though, a lot of what I have learned so far has come from her. Oh and one more, here is the road to town, a bit washed out from a good rain that we had but pretty breathtaking.... it's hot but it's beautiful!On a more serious note. I don't know how much coverage this is getting in the west but there is a pretty terrible situation in Kenya, Tanzania's northern neighbour, right now. There has been a dispute about the results of the recent presidential election and two of the tribes are fighting with somewhere between 100 and 300 people killed depending on which tribes account you listen to. You can find an article at NYTIMES.com that tells about the worst tragedy so far where up to 50 people were burned to death inside a church yesterday morning. Please pray that the tribes will accept the results and that peace will come to Kenya.

Call me Ashley the Mosquito Hunter!

To your left you will see the before photo. I don't have an after so you'll just have to imagine it. It's pretty, I know. Notice my look of helpless dismay. Those giant red marks are the effect of two tiny mosquitoes who somehow managed to find their way inside my net. They itch. This is before I decided to fight back. Last night--I think it may have been lack of sleep from New Years --I found I had had enough! I went on attack and I bested somewhere around 12 mosquitoes. stop laughing at me. that's 12 mosquitoes who are no longer out roaming the streets searching for innocent victims to attack. I have done a great service to society.