Rafiki Wa Karibu

Me and Jackie : )

It is customary in Tanzania, for foreigners and upper class Tanzanians,  to hire a house worker to do daily tasks, such as cleaning and laundry. Some people even have hired full time cooks and drivers. Upon coming here, Austin and I were unsure of how this would work because we are very capable of doing our own chores, however, we very much wanted to be able to provide a job for someone here.

We ended up hiring a girl named Jackie, who is the sister of one of our friends workers. I had no idea then, how much of an impact she would make on us in just one year! Over the course of this year, she has become my closest friend here in Tanzania, and I am so very grateful for the time I have spent with her.

One year ago Jackie had no job, and like many Tanzanians, comes from a loving but poor family, and at 25, just a few months older than me, she has been through so many trials. However, she is so strong, and through our time together we have both grown together in friendship and in the Lord.

Although, I truly have appreciated all that she has done for us when it comes to house chores and much much more, it is her friendship I have appreciated most. At first, this was very difficult because of the language barrier. She has pretty much no English, and with my limited Kiswahili our conversations were basic greetings, and me frantically searching in the dictionary for every word of a sentence. As the year progressed, I started to pick up more and more Kiswahili. I learned a bit of grammar and my vocabulary grew which was a big help. Unfortunately, because I was working at an all English speaking school it was difficult for me to really get good practice in.

In January, I began teaching Jackie to cook lots of new dishes. After a few weeks, I was amazed at how much better my Kiswahili was getting, but even more amazed at how much I loved that time I was having with her. After school three times a week I would do my very best to come home and think of something new we could learn to cook together. I too am a novice chef and so we were learning together. We have had so much fun deciphering each other and eventually getting to a point where we can have full conversations. : ) YAY!

After the craziness of the end of the school year, my time with Jackie increased dramatically, which I was so very happy about. She can now cook so many “Western” foods, which is great for her in keeping a job in the future.

Most of all I have loved our conversations. We talk about family and how we grew up. She is one of 8 children and grew up in Moshi, a town at the bottom of Mt. Kilimanjaro. She has two children Ramson who is 8 and goes to school in Moshi, and is looked after by Jackie’s mom, and Kevin who is 2 and lives with her here in Dar es Salaam. She has a husband named Steve, who is a driver. She loves her family very much, and is so dedicated to providing for them. We talk about faith in the Lord and how He helps us through everything. She loves going to church, and Bible study, and is so inspired by how much her son Ramson loves Jesus. We talk about how different life is in America and Tanzania, which I find really hard to explain. We talk about her dreams to learn English, for her kids to go to great schools and succeed, and how she wants to own her very own shop.We talk about pretty much everything, and although many Tanzanians do not understand my Kiswahili very well, Jackie is able to decipher meaning from what I am saying which gives me more confidence, to keep trying.

Words truly cannot express how thankful I am for her, and how much I am going to miss her. She has taught me so much about life in Tanzania, lots of Kiswahili, and so much about how to live with the Joy of the Lord! I think what is most crazy to me, is that she and I are so close in age yet, we come from two completely different worlds, neither one better than the other, just completely different. She for sure gone through more struggles than I have, and yet is still so filled with joy and hope. This is so humbling. What a blessing it has been that the Lord has crossed our paths. In all of our differences He is truly the one who unites us.

I pray so many blessings on Jackie, and her family. and I do pray that her hopes and dreams may one day be a reality. Asante Sana Jackie, kwa kuwa rafiki yangu mkubwa.! Nitakukosa sana. Mungu akubariki sana!

Austin and I with Jackie and her son Kevin

I HEART Jackie!

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