Archive for July, 2010

What Makes a House a Home?

After not feeling settled for the majority of our time here in Tanzania, I started to think about what really makes a house a home.

Is it a living room, with comfy chairs, bookshelves with trinkets and pictures hung?

Our Living Room

Is it having a guest bedroom and office where you can see the Indian Ocean everyday?

The Beautiful View from our guest bed/office.

Is it when you have lots of pictures up of friends and family?

Family and Friends Photos

Is it having Fresh Basil in the yard?

Fresh Basil that I grew.

Is it having a place to sit and enjoy each other’s company while reading a book, drinking coffee, or having quiet time?

A place to enjoy the view.

Or is it knowing where everything goes, having everything organized and encouraging notes up too?


Is it a kitchen that welcomes people warmly, is fully stocked and easy to cook in?

Is it having a table to share laughter and food with friends?

Dining Room (Please don't mind our disgusting curtains)

Is it a bedroom with an ocean view?

This year has been a bit chaotic when it comes to feeling settled in a home of our own. When we first moved here we lived in a house that we really loved and that started to feel like home, However, after just three months, we moved into a house literally next door on the compound. Although we very much appreciated our time in that house, our roommate Kate and other guests, there is sure something about living in your own home that just feels right.

After getting back from camps, we moved back into our previous house and have been able to make it feel more like a home. Although we will only be here for a short time, it feels so nice to have a place to call home. We have even had lots of parties already, just like we like it!

Although all of these pieces help to make a house a home, I think what really makes it the most for me is being able to have a house full of people who we love!


Scenes from Tanzania

Here are some recent photos I took from our drive from Dar es Salaam to Iringa. Enjoy the beauty of Tanzania.

Typical house in the bush.

Bicycle Taxi on the highway.

Dukas and bicycle shop.

Elephant Mommy and Baby driving down the highway. These guys were just a few feet infront of us.

Peaceful afternoon enjoying friends.

Many vendors selling fresh fruits and veggies.

A village street.

Everyone's favorite guy...The Azam Icecream Man making his daily rounds.

City traffic.

Busy city sidewalk.

Today’s Adventures

Today’s Adventures

Here is what my today looked like. I would say it is a typical day I have here, however, there is no such thing as a typical day here. Everything is unpredictable and you have to be willing to roll with the punches.

7:30 Wake up to the sunrise over the ocean. Make Austin coffee and enjoy some quiet time reading the Bible and journaling.

8:30 Check emails, facebook and any blogs I like keeping up with. Map out a schedule for the day so that I make sure I stay on track.

9:00 Jackie, our wonderful houseworker, arrives. Today she brought her son Kevin because we invited all of our Tanzanian friends over for dinner, and she is included of course.

9:30 Head to HOPAC to give Austin his lunch that he forgot, and do some various odds and ends at HOPAC.

9:45 Hail a bajaj driver to take me to White Sands. Today the Bajaj driver I used, I have used before. Unfortunately because my Kiswahili is getting better I can understand a lot more of what they are saying. He told me he loved me and wanted to marry me repeatedly, even though I told him multiple times that I have a husband. This made for a very awkward ride. Needless to say, I will not use him again as a driver.

9:55 Arrive at Larmey’s house. Say hello to Len and have a nice chat. Grab a good book, and a crock pot that we got for free and left there on accident. Say hello to Opas, our friend and driver.

10:00 Attempt to leave with car, however Opas informs me that one of the tires needs air. I say no problem I can get it filled. Off I go to run a few errands.

10:15 Arrive at Engen, a local gas station/supermarket/pharmacy/cooking gas/power/car repair shop/ATM/ Movie Shop/ and Fast food stop all wrapped into one, it really is convenient. I tell the car fundis (experts) about my tire problem but they tell me sorry we cannot fix because we do not have any air pressure in our machines.

10:30 I make a last minute decision to stop at the pharmacy to get our second dose of deworming medication. (Yes, I know you are all jealous. You are strongly encouraged to deworm every 6 months here.) Super helpful pharmacist. I also buy Umeme (power). No monthly bills here just give your meter number and they give you a receipt with a ridiculously long set of numbers you enter into the meter to give you credit.

10:40 I went to the super market grabbed a few things sugar, milk, bread and phone credit. I so badly wanted to buy Austin a magazine but they are really expensive here. While paying one of the tire guys approaches me and tries to tell me something about changing a tire. My Kiswahili is still limited, especially when it comes to car talk so I tell him to wait and that I will come.

10:50 Tire fundi shows me that there are two nails in the tire and it needs to be changed. I had no choice but to stop my future errands and get the tire changed. I called Opas who is an expert and knows how much it should cost. Got myself a fair price. They told me it would take 20 minutes. Being in Tanzania I knew this meant longer, my guess was 45 because as they were not busy.

11:00 I walked down the street a bit in search of some new furniture for some of the new Young Life people who are coming to work at HOPAC. The first place I stopped gave me an outrageous price, so I proceeded to the next store. The second place was very friendly, appreciated that I knew some Kiswahili (it seems as everyone appreciates when a mzumgu, or foreigner, knows enough kiswahili to have a bit of a conversation), and gave me pretty fair prices. I jotted them down and told them I would come back another day. I walked back to Engen to see if my car was ready.

11:20 Car not ready of course but no big deal. I had worked up a sweat so I bought some cold water to quench my thirst. Although it is winter here, it is still a bit humid and walking in the sun can be tiring. However, I am not complaining as the weather is generally between 75 and 80 with nice breezes all day. I sat down on a bench and began reading my book. I always carry a book with me here as you never know when you will have to wait for something.

11:30- Car is ready! Pretty good guess 40 mins and it was ready. I paid they men and was on my way.

11:40 On the way back I stopped at a local store. Not really sure what to call it. They sell toilets, showers, glass bowls, plates and cups, wrapping paper, paint and a few other things. I needed a shower curtain rod and they had one for a decent price. Whoo hoo! It is always a good day when they have what you need for a decent price. The vendor asked me if I was married, and if he could have my number, always awkward. I really like doing things with Austin better here. It alleviates a lot of the awkward moments.

11:45 Headed back to the house. Here I find Jackie working away and Kevin, who is 2 and cute as a button, wanting to play with me. He and I eat a piece of bread with blue band and begin our work. We cleaned together, and cut vegetables together and much more. He was a great help. Jackie and I realized we did not have enough garlic for the main dish, pilau, so off I went to the store again.

1:00 On the road again. Thankfully these dukas are very close to us. I stopped and got a few more sodas from the soda vendor. His name was Peter, and he asked if I would be willing to teach his children English. I told him I would love to but that I was leaving soon. He was very nice. Then I went to one of my favorite veggie dukas. Bought a bunch of garlic and decided last minute to get things to make my own pili pili sauce (hot sauce). On the way back I decided to stop and see our favorite banana vendor. I bought a bunch of bananas for our evening guests.

1:30 I returned. Back to work. Chopping. Peeling. Cutting. And lots of it! We made a huge heap of kachumbali salad (a cabbage salad) and pilau (meat, rice and potatoes dish). I purposely made lots of extras so that I could give it away to our friends.

4:45 After much work the food was ready and, the house picked up. Now it was time to get freshened up. At this time Austin came home from work, and helped a bit with the preparations.

5:30 Guests arrive. So fun to see our Tanzanian friends with the families. There were many kids and wives to. I finally feel as if my Kiswahili is decent enough that they can understand me and I can understand them a bit as well which is so very nice.

6:00 We all enjoy sodas, and homemade chips that Austin made. One of the babies who was about 1 and a half cried pretty much the whole time. He was scared of Austin and I . Apparently many Tanzanian children can be scared of wazungu (foreigners) because they are not used to having white people around. It was pretty funny seeing him cry dramatically the whole night. Poor baby.

6:30 We eat! I put out silverware, but I am not sure why. Austin and I were the only ones that used it. Definitely not cultural to use silverware. Making small talk and asking questions. Thanking them for all of their hard work and for all they have done for us. In turn they told us tutakumbuka, which means we will remember or miss you. This warmed my heart and made me wish I could have more time with them.

7:00 Austin began playing cards with our friends. Super fun as Austin’s Kiswahili is limited, but they all understood the game. It was called last card.

8:00 Guests are full tired and ready to leave, but very grateful for the food and party.

8:15 Austin and I clean up the mess. Apparently eating with your hands gets a lot more food on the floor.

9:00 We did it! Now time to relax, decompress and get ready for bed.

It was a long day and I am tired but a great day none the less. Everything did not go exactly as planned but still turned out all
right. I am so thankful for days like these where I just get experience Tanzanian culture. I am grateful for our house worker Jackie. She is such a blessing! Not as a worker at all but as a friend. She teaches me so much. I am thankful for all of our Tanzanian friends and pray God’s blessing on them and their families always.

Planting Grass

One piece at a time

Some things… Okay many things that are done here in Tanzania are not done efficeintly, or conveniently, at least from my American perspective.

For example, the stairs in our house here have a half step that is shaped like a piece of a pie chart at each turn, ensuring that you will trip almost every time you are going up or down them.

Or when building a house the builders simply make a hole for a door or window that they feel is about the right size, and then the door and window experts come and hand craft a window or door to fit the hole.

Or when building a house they wait until it is erected to think about how piping and electrical circuits should be arranged. This results in many more hours of trying to fix the work that was done poorly in the first place.

There are many others, but the one that takes the top of the cake in my opinion is they way in which they plant grass. No machines or tools. No seeds. No already ready to go grass pads.

Instead they take huge bundles of already grown grass seedlings, and by hand dig small holes in the ground about three inches apart from each other, placing one grass root at a time in the ground. They then soak the ground completely and wait. This process can take weeks and weeks depending on how much land must be covered and how many workers there are. The process takes forever, and no one who is hired to do it looks like they are enjoying themselves.

The pros are that you are able to provide work for many that might not have work otherwise, and that in just a few weeks you really do have a great looking lawn. I am just thankful that I am not the one doing the planting.

TADA! Finished product!

Creepy Crawlies

This was crawling up my arm!

After having a nice relaxing morning, I was cleaning out a piece of the washer that needed a deep clean, when all of a sudden this centipede started crawling up my arm. Needless to say I was freaked out! I started screaming like a little girl and flung it off of me. I looked around and did not see it and neither did Austin. Then Austin saw it crawling up my shirt and I started screaming even more frantically. Austin batted it off and it slithered away. Jackie our house worker, had just arrived work, and heard me screaming. She came in saw the centipede and smashed it with her shoe. Jackie to the RESCUE! Thank the Lord she came!

I was so grossed out for the rest of the day, and have been on the look out ever since, just in case. The next day Austin found his friend in the bathroom. I hope that was the last one but I am being cautious for sure.

The next day Austin found this one in the bathroom.

Iringa Camp

A few days after getting laundry done and a bit of rest, Austin and I hopped back in the car and headed to Iringa, a city in the southern part of Tanzania, to serve at the first ever camp in Iringa. We went with Opas, Len, and Neal some of our good friends from Dar es Salaam, who also serve with Young Life Africa.

On the drive over we passed through Mikumi National Park that is the closest safari park to Dar es Salaam. As we passed through we got to see some animals for free, giraffes, zebras, monkeys and cape buffalo just off the side of the road. Pretty awesome if you ask me. It definitely made for a more interesting car ride.

Giraffes on the side of the road.

When we arrived we were happy to see that Iringa, was also very cold. We wore jackets and scarves which is a first for our time here in Tanzania. The town is placed in the midst of hills that are full of rocks. This made Austin very excited as we have not seen any rocks that are climbable since we have arrived here. Too bad we left his climbing gear in America. Iringa also has a great market that we got to check out and buy baskets from. There is also an awesome NGO there called Neema Crafts, which employs and helps disabled Tanzanians. It is an amazing ministry they do and their crafts are beautiful. We bought a few things from them and enjoyed coffee and snacks at their cafe.

We were joined by many of the same team who helped us with the Arusha camp. We all sat together and tried to plan the camp, however, this proved to be difficult because we had never had camp there before and because the University where the camp was to take place was not cooperating.

Nothing went as planned but camp was still a success. Our welcome, was not typical because we were not allowed to make much noise but the kids loved it anyways. The first club was held in a field at the school the kids attend. We had to pull weeds and clean up the area first, but everyone enjoyed it and the weather was perfect.

The First Club.

The kids headed back to the University with their leaders, on a scavenger hunt created by Austin and a few of the work crew.

Upon their arrival we greeted them and gave them a room key. Unfortunately we did not have enough rooms for everyone and many of them had to share with many others, but there was not complaint at all.  I love that about the kids here, they do not complain about much at all. They are grateful and full of joy.

Club #2 went well in our homemade club room. We bought fabric and sewed it together to create colorful walls, and decorated the dining hall as well.

Sewing up a colorful club room.

The food for this camp was incredible. Mama Edda, who runs YL Iringa, had some of her friends cater and they were amazing. Up until this week I did not know such food existed here. Austin and I were  very happy about this!

Obstacle courses, field games and much more went on in the few days to follow, however, everything about this camp was go with the flow. We did not know what was going to happen until the moment it happened. At times I was frustrated with this, but you just have to learn how to roll with the punches.

Alexi playing the vuvuzela.

Overall, the kids, leaders and work crew were very happy with their camp experience. It was a pleasure to serve at this camp and we pray that there are many more to come in the future for Iringa.

I heart Work Crew!

Arusha Camp

This summer we have had the awesome privilege of serving at some local Young Life camps here in Tanzania. First on the map was the Arusha Camp.

The Arusha Camp takes place at a local school called Peace House. Peace House was created 2 years ago by an American, and is school for children who would not otherwise be able to afford any education. The school itself is on a beautiful plot of land that has a beautiful view of Mt. Meru. It is a perfect location to hold camp as there are many dorms, and room for lots of people!

We arrived and were greeted by our dear friends Martin, Alexis, Jaque and others who work for Young Life Africa. Because camp for the Arusha YL had already been there before, they had a good idea of what needed to be done. Austin and I, along with our friends Zac and Hannah were Work Crew Bosses, this means we were in charge of the kids who came to make sure that camp was clean, ready and welcoming for the kids who have not been to camp. Austin was in charge of the Outdoor Crew, making sure the grounds looked great, and the obstacle course was full of mud. I was in charge of house keeping, making sure that everyone had a place to sleep and that it was clean.

The wedding band welcoming the kids to camp

Campers came being greeted by a traditional wedding band which was awesome. The work crew all grabbed branches from trees and paraded in with them. Martin, who was in charge of program, made sure to give them a big welcome as Mr. Biggie Biggie.

Martin as Mr. Biggie Biggie

After all 290 leaders and campers got settled we had our first meal. To say that it was loud is an understatement. The DJ was blasting, many kids had the world cup staple, the vuvuzela, blowing, and two kids even came in with trumpets blaring. The love LOUD!

After dinner we had the first club which was full of energy! To conclude the night, the campers and leaders went through the obstacle course. They had to crawl through mud, dodge water and flour, and carry their leaders in the cold windy weather, but they loved it thoroughly!

Mastering the obstacle course with vuvuzelas!

The second day was full of work for the work crew. We were all very tired at the end of cleaning up all of the mud from the obstacle course! I even got to serve as the camp nurse, which was interesting because I am not, nor should I ever be a real nurse. However, a few kids needed some mending. One girl had gotten lime in her eyes, because they used that instead of flour. Needless to say she needed a good cleansing. Poor baby. By the end of the week she was back to normal. Praise the Lord.

Later the kids had field games and ended the night with cultural dancing which was interesting to say the least. Each cabin put together a dance that was native to some of their own tribes. Many groups made their own grass skirts, from the fields.

Using nature to show off some tribal moves.

On the third day the kids were taken on a Safari. Most Tanzanians never have the opportunity to go on safari, even though they live in the safari capital of the world, so this is a HUGE treat for them. The kids loved it! While they were on Safari, the work crew cleaned and got to rest. We took a beautiful walk into the hills where there are some flower fields. They were gorgeous.

Flower fields with my honey : )

The fourth day we had one last club, cleaned up and headed out! It was a lot of work in a short amount of time but well worth it.

While there it was easy to feel very out of place. Although I know the ins and outs about camp in America, camp in Tanzania is very different. Not only were we of different color but our ways of thinking, and planning are so very different. I had to have much patience. This opened my eyes very much to what our friends Jaque, Alexis, and Martin must have gone through when we first met them and they were serving at Lost Canyon in America, in 2008. I can only imagine how overwhelming our American camp was to them.

After camp was over, I had a chance to talk to them about this and they very much agreed that it was overwhelming. The experience of serving at their camp was very rewarding and a wonderful opportunity for me to learn how Young Life can translate cross culturally.

All camp photo.

How Did We Get Here Anyways?

I realized I had never really blogged about how we got to Tanzania in the first place. Here is the short version:

Back in the summer of 2008, Austin and I had the pleasure of being part of the first ever International Assignment team for Young Life camps. Not really understanding the blessing God had given us at the time time, we can now see how much the Lord has worked through us and in us being there for the short time we were there.
While there we met and worked closely with, Alexis and Jackie, who are in charge of Arusha Young Life, Martin who is in charge of Nairobi Young Life, and Steve Larmey, who is the  vice president of YL Africa, and lives in Dar es Salaam with his family.
At camp Austin and I were still not married, but knew we were heading towards that and knew we wanted to do some sort of international work in the future. Pursuing the options in Latin America seemed like the best situation because of our knowledge of Spanish and love for Latin American cultures, but the door was not opening. I did however, get and invite from Dyan Larmey to come teach at the school her children attend. Because I had just finished my first year of teaching, which i disliked very much, I was very hesitant to say yes at the time.
After the amazing month with the team, Austin and I did get engaged and married a few months later. We then again began to pursue work abroad. Again no doors were opening in Latin America, but we got a mass email from Dyan about HOPAC, needing teachers including a fifth grade teacher. Austin and I read over the email and knew that this was the door we were waiting to open.
We quickly put together our applications and received word that we were accepted. From there we just had a few months to pack up, rent out our house, and figure out all of the logistics before moving to Africa. Ironically, China and the whole of Africa, were at the bottom of our list when it came to doing work abroad. But the Lord has a great sense of humor and Africa it was.
Coming to Africa for the first time, we had no idea what to expect, pack, or think, about what our time here would look like. We have been so pleasantly surprised by what our life here is, however it has not been easy and many times is extremely challenging.
We are not sure where the Lord will take us next, but we are grateful for the adventure we have been on so far.

Program with Sam, Martin and Alexis

Who would have known we would be with them in Africa 2 years later : )

The Oompa Loompas who were too tall and Miss Veruca. Good Times!

Arusha Time

I have said it before and I will say it again! I LOVE ARUSHA! Whenever we go there I am so filled with happiness and joy! There are many reasons for this but here are the reasons from our past week in Arusha:

1. There are mountains everywhere. Coming from Tucson, I love the mountains so much and miss them greatly while living in Dar. The mountains and hills are beautiful, especially when Mt. Meru, Kilimanjaro’s sister mountain in Tanzania, makes an appearance from behind the clouds.

Mt. Meru and the Wedding Band at Camp.

2. The weather was incredible. We even wore jackets and had gloves on. Maybe it wasn’t quite cold enough for them but either way we were actually feeling cold and I was loving it.

Bundled up (compared to Dar) with Hannah on the porch.

3. Great friends. We have many great friends in Arusha, and this time there were many more that came from Kenya and other areas who we got to hang out with. Zac and Hannah, who do YL at the International schools in Arusha and let us stay in their fabulous house. James and Martin, YL Africa Staff from Kenya who are sure to make you laugh every time you are with them. Alexis and Jaque who run YL in Arusha for the national schools, who are so passionate about what they are doing and great company. Along with these friends we were able to hang out with other people in their circle of friends which was so much fun. I have not laughed as hard as we laughed with them in a long while.

Laughing so hard with our friends at dinner.

4. Great food. Because of the cooler weather, Arusha is able to have things like grapes, raspberries, strawberries, and lettuce available much more often then we have in Dar. We were very thankful and made sure to capitalize during our time there. We also made sure to pick up some of the most delicious coffee (according to Austin the coffee expert), in Tanzania from Burka Coffee. On our final night we had a BBQ with Zac and Hannah and their friends Tait and Hunter and John and Wendy with their kids. It was so wonderful. We ate outside under the moonlight, with a bonfire.

Bonfire time.

All of these things made going back to Dar hard to swallow. I am so grateful for our time there of relaxing and spending time with wonderful people.

HOPAC Class of 2010

This year the HOPAC, class of 2010, was the second class to graduation from Kindergarten all the way until Grade 12. Of the class about half of them had been at HOPAC since Kindergarten, which is pretty amazing considering how mobile the missionary community is here.
Austin and I attended the graduation dinner at Anghiti’s, a local Indian restaurant, where Austin was the MC for the event. The students and parents all had a chance to say their thank you’s and goodbye’s to teacher’s who have loved them well.
On graduation day, they were all so proud of their accomplishments and so were their family and friends. The ceremony was filled with speeches, and songs, and praise to the Lord for allowing these students to get to this point.
It is amazing to see how many of them are heading off to great colleges around the world, and with full scholarship as well. The class of 20 students was awarded over 2.5 million dollars in scholarship money, one student has a full ride to Harvard. For having such a small class this is quite impressive.
We are particularly proud of the Wyld Life leaders who we were able to work with for the past year. They are all such wonderful lights in the community and we pray that the Lord continues to grow them in their walk of faith as they move on to the next step of life.
Congrats HOPAC Class of 2010! You did it!

WYld Life Leaders at their graduation dinner