Sunday, March 30, 2008

Zanzibar!!! 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 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'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's hokey-pokey time! No matter how discouraged you are (student and teacher alike) it is physically impossible to hokey-pokey and not'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


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?. 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!