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! 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
So conditioned for the win
to sharing victors' stories
but in the place of ambitions din
I have heard of other glories
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

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


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!


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.