Archive for the ‘Celebrations’ Category

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!


Thanksgiving in Dar es Salaam

We had 23 friends over for Thanksgiving yesterday.  It was awesome.  Complete with Macys Parade re-run clips, some football clips and Charlie Brown Thanksgiving.  All the foods were present minus the Turkey, which was replaced by Chicken.

Brett, Christie and soon to be BABY…….

Just a few days after we moved into our new house with Kate, we added two more roommates. So we went from being in a house by ourselves to living with three and a half people pretty much overnight. Lots of fun for sure!

Brett and Christie are currently doing missionary work in Geita, a city on the Northwestern coast of Tanzania, by Lake Victoria. They have been here for about 9 months, so they got pregnant right as they arrived here. Anyways, they opted to have their baby girl here in Dar, as the healthcare is much better here and way more advanced than in Geita.

While here, they have been hanging out in our hot house, pole sana, catching up on some rest, and cruising the streets of Dar. Mostly I enjoy that they make us dinner and that they are wonderful company. The baby is due any day now so before we know it we will have a new born in the house. Praise the Lord for new roommates and babies.

Stuco Retreat and Brett and Christy 076

The Beard and Belly picture they send out to friends and family. He has not shaved since they got pregnant!

Happy Anniversary in Zanzibar!

It has officially been one year since Austin and I said I do. I am seriously in shock that the time has passed by so quickly! Who knew that a year from our day of marriage that we would be in Tanzania?

For the weekend we decided to head to Zanzibar, an island off the coast of Tanzania. It is just a 20 min flight of 2 hour boat ride.  We took a plane to maximize our short weekend there but next time I think I will opt for the ferry option. The planes that you take there are the little puddle jumpers that seem as if they could be swept away by the wind at any moment while you are in the air. AHHHH! Nerve-racking to say the least.

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Sunset In Zanzibar

When we arrived we took a short taxi ride from the Zanizibar International Airport to the Mtoni Marine, our hotel. Even during this short drive you could instantly tell that we were in a different culture. The town has a different feel. The island is 99 percent Muslim and it is easy to tell that from the second you get off the plane. Men wear their traditional headpiece while women are completely covered. The majority of them covering everything except the eyes. This is something that I still have a hard time understanding and that is hard to even be in the presence of because of the freedoms that I have known my entire life.

The Mtoni Marine a small hotel that is on the coast. It is very peaceful and has great views of the sunset. We has dinner there on our first night by the pool which is an enormous pool that leads right up to the ocean.

The next morning, we were considering  a spice tour but because of the rain that was ruled out. So we went to Stone Town, the downtown district of the city if you will. When we arrived we were greeted by the fish market. This fish market was unlike any other I had seen! There were swordfish that had to be 250 lbs that they had just pulled in a were chopping up and auctioning off. Tons of different types of fish that were huge being bought on the spot. It was fascinating to me. It made me wonder why they don’t have awesome sushi restaurants in Zanzibar or in Dar es Salaam.

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Look at the size of the fish in that basket!

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Amy and a large stingray about to be chopped up and auctioned off.

After my fascination with the fish wore off we began to walk around. The streets narrow and pretty much only for walking, although you do see the occasional motorcycle or bicycle traffic. They are lined with markets and vendors that are selling all types of goods. From oils, to wooden chests, to Masai jewelry, to the famous Zanizibar spices, they have it all. They also have tons of antique shops and awesome decoration pieces that you would be paying an arm and a leg for in the States. Mostly I just enjoyed walking around, watching the people and experiencing the Zanzibar culture. People there are very friendly ad helpful but they can be a bit pushy when they want you to buy something. We bought a few things had some lunch and headed back to the hotel. Still pouring outside.

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One of the many doors of Zanzibar

The next day we went back to Stone Town where we were able to check out some other shops and historical sights but while we were walking we heard singing from a church. It sounded so beautiful so we decided to follow it. The singing lead us to St. Monica’s an Anglican church. Unfortunately we just missed the service but we were able to spend some time at church on a Sunday. I really enjoyed seeing a church among the overwhelming population of Muslims.  It was so uplifting!

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St. Monica's

After more time in Stone Town and a bit of time just relaxing by the ocean we hopped on the plane ride back.

It was great being able to celebrate 1 year in such a foreign culture. I am so blessed to have such an amazing husband and I am so thankful for all the year has brought.

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A Birthday Party!

September 12, 2009

Tonight we went to our favorite restaurant so far Mediterrano to celebrate the fourth grade teacher, Delicia’s birthday. It was great fun! There were about 30 people, which is a rather large crowd for any restaurant around. Delicia is a bubbly person, a hard worker and can sing like the good ole Gospel singers of the South, her voice is truly a blessing. I have really enjoyed getting to know her and love having her next door as a teaching buddy.

She is well loved in this community and everyone came to share that love. The food was great’ Homemade ravioli stuffed with spinach, homemade hummus with pita, and a caprese salad.  For desert one of the mom’s made a delightful chocolate cake with chocolate frosting with strawberries and raspberries on top. Even better was the company. The people at the table feel a bit like a family here for us. We are eager to get to know them more as time goes on, and we are grateful to have them here with us.

Austin being as curious as always began to play with the light fixture in the middle of the table. They looked like the lights that a parking attendant waves around to show you where to go. Naturally he began to do that. Our friend Steve did some interpretive dancing for Delicia with the Bob Marley like band providing music. We sang happy birthday and the band continued with the song “Tequila” but of course replaced the word “Tequila” with “Delicia” pretty clever if you ask me.

The night was lots of fun and made me very eager for more times like this in Dar.