Archive for the ‘Celebrations’ Category

Adios Amigos

Well, it wouldn’t be right if we didn’t have a BBQ to end our time here in Dar. Our friends Steve and Dyan and some others, helped to put together a Beach BBQ this past weekend which was such a perfect way to end our time here.

We invited all of our friends here, including our fellow staff at HOPAC, all of the Tanaznians we have been friends with, our Young Life Africa family and all of my students. It was such a blessing to have everyone together in one spot. It was also a blessing to see our two sets of friends here, Tanzanian, and Expats, come together.

We had hot dogs, many different side dishes brought by our guests, punch, and two fabulous cakes made by our dear friend and host Dyan. We played sand volleyball, beach soccer, and swam in the ocean. We tried to visit with everyone we could, but it was not easy because there were so many people here. It was so nice to feel so celebrated, appreciated and loved. At the end everyone gathered around us to pray. I thought I was going to be able to make it through the party without crying, but no such luck. A few of my students prayed for us, which choked me up right away. To think about all of the memories we had together, in and out of the classroom, how much they have grown, and how much they have taught me is truly a work of God.

Thank you SOOOO MUCH STEVE, DYAN, TESFAYE, CALEB, ZOE, and EPIPHANY! For hosting our party and loving us so well this year! We are in denial that we will not be neighbors anymore!

Adios Amigos! Vaya con Dios!

Babu and his family!

The Grahams : )

Beach volleyball with the whole gang!

Cake made with love from Dyan!

Happy Fourth Of July!

Getting the pontoon ready for the Flotilla parade, 2008. Hopefully we can be back to win the title again soon! : )

We are at Young Life camp in Iringa for this fourth of July so there won’t be any fireworks or BBQ’s, but we will be having a great time!

Hope that your Fourth is filled with joy and lots of family time! Missing out families in Pinetop and on the lake at this time. Hopefully we can be at one of those next year!

Nothing But Proud!

In case you don’t know, this is my brother. He is one of the most determined, hard working, gentle, and so many other great qualities, people you will ever meet!

Growing up, Drew and I were so blessed to be the kind of siblings that actually get along really well. We had our fair share of fights over the remote, or who got the last bowl of cereal but overall we really have been best friends since I can remember.

Well, this week he is officially a college graduate and I am so proud of him! Although he is one of the hardest working people I know, school has never been fun for Drew. I always loved school and never wanted to miss a day, but Drew wanted to be outside spending time shoeing or doing anything else besides school. Therefore, this was no small accomplishment.

He is graduating with a degree in History and a minor in Equine Sciences (which is perfect because he loves history and always has, and he is so passionate about horses and the proper care they need.)

During his sophomore year in college he decided to sign up for the ROTC Army program at the U of A. He is now a graduate of this program which makes him and OFFICER! So cool! He leaves the week after graduation for Kentucky to lead a ROTC training, then heads off to Virginia to train for his position, and then in January will be stationed at Ft. Hood, in Texas.

I am so excited for my brother and his new adventure, although I must admit I am a bit sad because he will be far away for awhile. However, I cannot talk too much considering I currently live on the other side of the world. Either way, I am nothing but proud of my brother! I pray God’s blessing upon him in the next four years in the military and will be praying everyday for his protection.

I am so grateful for the blessing of my brother and only wish I could be there to celebrate in person with him today!


Grill Time

The long awaited grill has come and Austin has officially begun the DMGA (Dar es Salaam Men’s Grill Association). He is super pumped about this and I must admit that I am too.

Being the researching type, Austin made sure to look around and get the best grill Dar es Salaam had to offer. In Dar there is no Home Depot or grill specialty store to get your grill from. No, here there are men on the side of the road who are grill “fundi’s” or experts if you will.  After much research he decided on THE grill that fit the bill.

DMGA and Grill

A few weeks later he got a bunch of men together, and a truck and bought the grill!

Since then we have used the grill a few times. We are still trying to get a feel for it and figure out which charcoal to use and such but I would say our attempts have been successful.

We had a big BBQ with all of our neighbors and many friends from the community. It was so much fun! Austin and I always love having people over and what better excuse than a new grill. We ate some delicious chips, salsa, and guacamole (homemade of course), hamburgers, and funfetti cake all the way from America. We had a dance party for the kids and lots of laughter with friends. Hopefully we can get more BBQ’s going very soon!


Party Time!

The grill master.

Dance Party!!!!

Thanks to all the Mantime Men out there who helped support the DMGA BBQ! You have no idea what it means over here!!!!!

Happy New Year from Ethiopia!

Happy New Year to all!  We are currently in Ethiopia and have so much to share! However, we have very little internet! Sorry I haven’t posted anything yet. I should have them up by Monday!

Kuwa na Krismasi Njema!

“The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel”[d]—which means, “God with us.” Matthew 1:23

In  such a beautiful season of love and happiness, I am so reminded of how blessed we are. GOD IS WITH US! Glory to God in the Highest and Peace to His people on earth!

Merry Christmas to all of our friends and family! We miss you all terribly. We are so grateful for your love and support. Wishing you a Happy Christmas and a prosperous New Year!

If you can't be with family you might as well be at the beach.

Birthday in Bed : (

Austin turned 27 today. After my big birthday celebrations, I wanted so badly to spoil Austin as well as he had spoiled me. He kept saying he wanted to just have dinner at home and to keep it small and low key. So I did. I got him a small present and got all the supplies to make dinner.

Sadly, the Saturday before his birthday, Austin got sick. He spent the entire day sleeping on the couch with a headache. Sunday, it was a similar day, however, he did make it to church and lunch afterwards. We took his temperature that night and he was at 101.2. As Monday morning approached I could tell this would not be the birthday I was thinking of for him.

Lying in bed watching a movie.

I decorated the house, made a cake, wrapped his presents and made a big spaghetti dinner, while Austin stayed in bed ALL DAY! I felt so bad. I just wanted to do anything to make him feel better. We watched A Christmas Story, It’s a Wonderful Life, Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer (with the Abominable Snowman, a childhood favorite of his), and Harry Potter. He left the room just a few times to eat and the house once for a few mins to run down and grab eggs from the duka with me.

Homemade Yellow cake with chocolate frosting.

Apparently, growing up he spent his birthday sick a lot of the time. Makes sense to me, once you let your body rest after working so hard, your immune system lets down and you are more susceptible to falling ill.

Due to his sickness we have decided to not go with the Larmey’s to Ruaha for Christmas. We were very sad about the decision, but we are glad to be resting over the break, and getting back to 100%.

As much as I hate watching Austin be sick, I love his attitude about it all. Instead of complaining, he just kept telling me how much he loves me and loves how I take care of him. I wish that I could say the same about my thoughts when I am sick. He is so selfless in so many ways that I am not. I thank the Lord for his selflessness and pray that in being married to him that some of that will rub off on me over time.

Happy Birthday My Love! May this year be filled with many blessings!

Make a wish!

A Quarter of a Century.

Funfetti cake with a goat print. Only in Africa.

Today I was so very spoiled by so many friends here in Africa, but mostly by Austin. I woke up to the house decorated with birthday banners and streamers on the fan (very creative if you ask me.) Then after getting ready for school Austin and I sat down to eat my favorite breakfast, French toast. After quickly shoveling it in, we headed to school.

We were only at school for a very short time because of the Children’s Christmas production The Peace Child, which seems to have taken over life these days. We were then picked up by Opas, our friends driver, who took us to the Muhumbili Hospital. Okay so being at the hospital is not ideal for your birthday however, in this instance it was a blessing and a half.

As many of you may know, I have suffered from anxiety since my grandmother passed away on March 24th of this year. For the months that followed, I was in an out of doctors, convinced that something was really wrong with me and that I was dying, when in fact it was just my body dealing with what my mind could not. To be honest it was the most difficult thing I have ever gone through. Thankfully, Austin and my family and friends were there to see me through it. We had many reservations about even moving to Africa because of my health, but felt that we were still supposed to go. And so we did. Living here, although hard in some aspects especially missing family, has been so healing for me in so many ways. My anxiety is almost completely gone. I think that removing myself from my everyday grind was the best thing I could have done to begin truly healing. This does not mean that I do not still miss my grandmother, but God has really taught me a lot through this trying experience.

Anyways back to the doctor’s appointment, since March, I have had this feeling in my throat as if something is there. I had many doctors tell me different things, and after awhile I knew it could very well have been a globus, which is a feeling that your throat creates when you are anxious about something. I wanted someone to just take a scope and check it out. If nothing was there, at least I know it is my anxiety and we can begin to deal with that. After a long process and experience that was unforgettable (see blog On Being a Minority), I got the scope and found out that all was well, except for a bit of a stretched vocal chord. This was great news for two reasons. One because there is nothing majorly wrong with my throat, therefore my worries may cease. Two, there was something going on in my throat which means I am not just anxious and crazy. I was so relieved, and I think Austin was too! Praise the Lord that I am so healthy right now!

Afterwards we headed up to Oyster Bay, I would compare it to the La Encantada of Dar, except that it all can fit in the Crate and Barrel store. We had a gift certificate to eat at a restaurant called Sweet Easy, which we got from HOPAC as a Christmas present. We had a surprisingly delicious lunch with Opas, the driver. Then we walked around the shopping center. Lots of cool little shops. A deli, which I am pretty sure is the only one in Dar, sandwiches cannot be found here a fancy hardware store, a pet store that smelled not so pleasant, a recommended computer store, a flower shop rare indeed, a few clothing shops and a leather shop. At the leather shop I got this awesome wallet that we saw in it’s factory in Moshi while we were there in October. We then headed home for a short nap time before the big dinner.

For dinner we met a few our friends at a well known restaurant called, Addis in Dar, it is an Ethiopian Restaurant. Addis in Dar has one of the best atmospheres in all of the restaurants we have been to in Dar. They have these boldy colored umbrellas over the lights, a beautiful upstairs patio, comfortable seating and family style table arrangements. The food was incredible! We had so much fun with our friends Pierre and Renshaw, Neal, Sarah and baby Joseph and the Larmeys. When dinner was over we had a special Coffee Ceremony. To top it all off, Dyan made me a Funfetti cake all the way from America, stamped with the hoof print of their goat Marmalade.

I thought that being away from my family for my birthday would be unbearable, but as hard as it was to not be with them, turning 25 in Dar es Salaam turned out pretty good.


My students through my my first ever surprise party the day before my birthday. I would not say that it was a real surprise however, I did not think they would do it the day before my real birthday. According to Austin they had been planning it for about 3 months, they take this very seriously! Have I mentioned that they are a great group of kids!

Spanish Tortilla

They all brought in goodies and stored them in the Kindergarten room. Then during break time they had Austin steal me away so they could decorate the room. They put up crape paper, wrote notes all over the boards and set up a nice table filled with goodies.

I came back into a big SURPRISE! It was so cute! They were so very excited. They brought in sushi (from one of my Korean students), homemade cakes, chips, chocolate oatmeal cookies, and soda. My favorite by far was the homemade Spanish tortilla made by my student from Spain! So good! Reminded me of my time in Spain. I try to make it but still have not figured out how to make it just right.

Anyways, the party was complete with music and dancing and lots of eating. It was so nice to be so loved by my students! What a blessing!

You can see the decorations in the background.

Hopped up on soda and lots of sugar. As you can see we have lots of fun!

Thanksgiving in Dar

Thanksgiving without family is like Spaghetti without Meatballs! It is no secret that I have a HUGE family, that we get together all of the time and that we actually like hanging out together. A small family gathering is no less than 30 people, and a large one well it can be over 200. Family means the world to me. I was raised in a home where family always came first, and I love that that is how my family works.

This being my first major holiday without my family, made it a difficult thing to swallow. A few nights before Thanksgiving, when I realized that even if I wanted to fly home I wouldn’t be able to get there in time, I broke down. What is a Thanksgiving without family? My family is so much of what I have to be thankful for. Not that I don’t thank the Lord for what I have here in Africa, for my husband, my great students, our friends, the ocean and this awesome opportunity. I have so much to be thankful for. But for me family is what I am most thankful for, and I love being able to show them this during Thanksgiving.

Last minute, we ended up putting together a large Thanksgiving dinner for 23 people, including the Larmey’s (our foster family over here  ), neighbors, friends from HOPAC and Young Life, and our night guards from our compound. It was such a blessing to have a large family here to prepare a meal for. It made Thanksgiving feel like home. I even made them all sing We Gather Together and read William Bradford’s Proclamation. They willingly sang and listened which made it even better. (I can’t wait to teach them our Christmas Traditions. They have no idea what they are in for.)

After dinner we spent a few house Skyping our families. It was so good to see everyone for Thanksgiving, cousins, aunts, uncles, and parents all together. Thank the Lord for Skype!

The Americans at HOPAC also put together a meal on the Saturday after Thanksgiving because it is a lot easier than trying to do it while you are working. It was held ad a South African’s home, who normally house a Mexican restaurant once a week and on the table was a Curry turkey, a unique experience to say the least. Although it was fun and the company was great, having Thanksgiving not on Thanksgiving Day just isn’t the same.

When it was all said and done, there are a few things I have to say about Thanksgiving. First, I love my family and I know that they know that which is such blessing. Second, not being home for the holidays is harder than I thought, and although I would prefer to not miss any others, some how I was able to get though it. Finally, I am so thankful for all of the blessings that the Lord has given me! Happy Thanksgiving Everyone!