Archive for the ‘Life in Africa’ Category


Yesterday, we welcomed some brand new folks from Virginia, Ben and Mary, who will be serving at HOPAC for the coming school year. Tomorrow, Erin, another teacher will be coming to join us. Austin and I will be showing them Dar es Salaam, and the ins and outs of living in Tanzania.

I would say it seems like only yesterday since we arrived, however it does not. This has been a long year packed full of adventure, work, friends, struggles, new experiences, and so many blessings. It is sometimes hard to comprehend just how much we have changed through this experience and how much we have grown in our time here.

Seeing the new faces arrives reminds me of what we felt like when we first came. New sights, new smells, new language. All things that were overwhelming, and yet now they all just seem so normal to us.

We are so very excited to have them all here, to show them the ropes and to get to know them all as they begin their own African adventures.

KARIBUNI BEN, MARY, NA ERIN! May god bless your time here!

More Adventures in Cooking

I have been cooking A LOT MORE! Way more than I ever did in America, and I have found that I quite enjoy it. I have tried to be adventurous with my cooking but to be honest, I did not really know how to make some of the staples.

The great part about it all is that while cooking, am also teaching our house worker Jackie how to cook all of these things as well. This is great for many reasons. The first being that she is great company and I really love spending time with her. The second that I get to practice my Kiswahili everyday. And the third that after we have left she has a whole set of skills that will help her to get a job with many other families.

Here is a list of the things we have cooked lately:

Fresh bread


Tomato Soup



Mmmm Pizza.

Banana Bread

Sugar Cookies

Morning Glory Muffins


These babies are work!

Snicker doodles

Cinnamon Rolls

Molasses Cookies

Peanut Butter Cookies

Even had Hershey's Kisses to put on top!






And many more….

We could never eat all of the food we make, so I give a lot of it away. Austin does not like this because in a batch a of cookies he may only get 3 or 4. I however, do not like to have all of the sweets around because I will eat them. They are much too tempting.

I really hope that when we get home, I continue these adventures in cooking.

Surprise Camp Out

Austin has been working super hard lately, and I have had some free time on my hands so I decided to cook up a surprise date one afternoon.

First, I had to make sure that we had good food so ventured to make homemade cannelloni. A first for me for sure. They proved to be pretty easy to make but a bit time consuming. Mostly I was just hoping they were worth the work. I prepared a salad and fresh bread as well. For dessert chocolate chip cookies. I also made some Oatmeal Cinnamon Muffins for our breakfast. A bit of wine, some sodas, and oranges for fresh orange juice and the food was all ready.

I gathered up all of the different things that we would need to camp out. Flashlights, sheets, tent, dishes, toilet paper, and other essentials. Once the food was ready and all of the stuff was together, I made sure I was cleaned up and looking good for my honey. Before I walked out the door I wrote a quick note telling Austin to meet me at the beach plot, as well as bring a few things and freshen up.

I asked my friend to drop me off at the beach, which was a great help! I lugged the ridiculous amount of stuff I brought or one night. (It’s times like these when I wish I could just pack up and go with one small bag and which has everything I need in it. Unfortunately, I am still working on that.)

First line of duty on the beach was pitching the tent. I have done this many times before but not with the particular tent we had. However, it proved pretty easy. It is supposedly and 8 man tent, but I have no idea how 8 regular adult sized people would fit in it. Austin and I will now only refer to it as a 4 man tent. Either way, I got it all set up. Made the inside cute and ready with the bed made, beach gear all laid out and dinner ready to go.I used our friends, who live across the street from the ocean, to keep the food hot. Thanks Dyan! : )

Finally, I got a text from Austin saying he was on the way. YAY!

He was very surprised indeed! We had a wonderful time hanging on the beach and reading, playing card games and completing crosswords, just talking and getting quality time together, taking a moonlit stroll with a beach all to our selves, waking up to the sun rising over the Indian Ocean, and of course good food. Turns out that cannelloni is quite delicious and we both were very happy with our dinner!

I once read that “The secret to a happy marriage is to add some romance to everyday.” If you haven’t had a surprise date in awhile, I highly suggest one! It is a great way to add that romance into your day.

Our tent all set up.

The inside of the tent.

Playing Scrabble Slam.

The view of the ocean from our tent.

I love him : )

BBQ Time Again

Since we were ready to entertain with our home, we decided it was only fitting to throw a BBQ. We invited all of the neighbors on the compound, many of the HOPAC community and some of the brand new incoming teachers who had just arrived. There were lots of little kids running around, old friends catching up, new friends being made and lots of great food.

Grill Master Austin

Super Cute Kids watchin A Bugs Life

Len and Laura : )

The Martin

Dyan and Amy chatting. So happy that Dyan is recovering well and that the Larmey's are back in Dar!

Enjoying great company.

Did I mention we love having people over? I am ready for the next one whenever. Karibuni Sana! : )

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.

Our brief encounter with the Fifa World Cup 2010

Well as you probably already know the World Cup has begun! Being in Africa, we can see the excitement all around us. People have been talking about it since we arrived. Many of our Tanzanian friends are so proud to have such a World Wide event here in Africa.

When we first got here, we were under the naive impression that it would be cheap and easy for us to get ourselves tickets to the World Cup. We quickly found out that this was not the case. It is not cheap or easy at all. In fact, just traveling around Tanzania is not cheap or easy. With that being said we realized our hopes of going to the World Cup were not going to be a reality. Being more the type of people who like to play a sport, than watch it we were more than content with joining our friends here and there to watch a few games on the TV.

However, one day a few weeks ago we heard a rumor that Brazil, one of the number 1 contenders for this year’s cup were going to come and play the Tanzanian team here in Dar es Salaam. This was something we all were excited about and so we decided to go. Our good friend Shaun waited all day long in a place that we were not even sure really had tickets. When the tickets were finally delivered they were brought in an old beat up dala dala with 6 men selling tickets out the window and people crowding all around trying to get their tickets. No such thing as lines and organization for this one.

We left early after school, decked out in Tanzanian colors, for the adventure with a group of our friends, so that we could avoid traffic. Thankfully, the traffic was not too bad and we got to the stadium in time.

The stadium is just 2 years old and was built by the Chinese. There are many things all throughout Africa that have been build by the Chinese. The stadium is very impressive, especially for Dar es Salaam. The old stadium is still right beside the new one, and it pales in comparison to the new one.

The old stadium.

The new stadium (and Austin and our friends Lindsey, Steve and Elaine)

Singing the national anthems inside of the stadium.

Anyways, we were so very excited to be there to see some of the best players in the world playing right in front of our eyes. You could tell that many Tanzanian’s had never been to an event like this before. They were cheering for both teams and most of them were not sporting their own country’s colors. It was however, a great event.


1. During the Brazil National Anthem the men running the sound system were not able to turn off the advertisement blaring in the background. Sorry Brazil.. no disrespect. Whoops.

2. The power point and excel slide show, due to the fact that whoever was running the AV was not very familiar with the system.

3. A Tanzanian fan who ran across the field past security, gave Kaka a hug and then was quickly ushered off the field and given a stern talking from the Tanzanian officials.

Of course Brazil won, and to be honest they were not really even trying hard. Tanzania did get one goal which was surprising and exciting! The final score was 5-1.

This was truly one of those once in a life time experiences that I am very grateful. Maybe one day we will be able to go and see the real thing! BRAZIL 2014 ? There is always a possibility.

Brazilian players dominating.

Kaka right before a random Tanzanian ran and gave him a hug on the field.

Coming together after scoring one of five goals.

Excited to be there!

Coming and Going

One thing that we have learned about living in a missionary community is that people come and go a lot. It seems like just about every month or so there is a welcome, or going away party. This is just part of life in our community here in Dar.We have been very blessed to have community here. I would surely go crazy if I did not have the people around to love, encourage and support our work here.
Over this year there are a few particular people that have left/are leaving, who have meant a lot to us.
Brandon and Amanda Maxwell have already left to go back home to Minnesota but we really loved their friendship and the service they gave to HOPAC. They have just finished their 3rd year here in Dar es Salaam and have done so much for the community here. Brandon is a stellar English teacher and Basketball coach and Amanda ran the service learning for primary, student council and really spear headed the entire soccer program for HOPAC. Amanda is an amazing soccer coach, and player and her expertise really added to the HOPAC program. Outside of HOPAC, they were involved in some village work where they ran sports, and games for kids. They also helped to build a church and installed a clean water well for the people of the village. There is no doubt their work here will have a lasting impact on this community. They are now home safely preparing to have their first child which is very exciting. We are so grateful for our time with them and we miss them dearly!

Brandon and Amanda : )

Another couple that has been a great source of friendship for us here have been Steve and Lindsey Kreiger. We did not meet them until November when we started going to a new church. They are from Virginia, and are here with Reach Global teaching business to the local Tanzanians. There is such a need for this as many have no concept of what a business should look like or how it should be ran, yet many of them have their own small businesses. Unlike us, they have learned a lot of Swahili, and in my opinion are more than conversationally fluent (I must admit I am jealous of this! We do not get the same exposure here at HOPAC, and I love learning languages.) They have been busy all year teaching classes and running workshops but their year is coming to a close. They will be leaving in July, because they too will be going home to have a baby boy! So exciting.

Cheering on Tanzania at the Brazil v TZ game.

We have enjoyed our many hours of hang out time with them. We have had lots of dinners, played lots of card games, BBQ’d and went to the Brazil v. Tanzania game with them which was such an adventure! We are so grateful for them in our lives.

Steve and Lindsey (and Isaiah our nieghbor in the background) enjoying a BBQ at the Baum's

We are sad that they are all leaving but wish them nothing but the blessings in their future endeavors as parents. Hopefully, we will be able to visit them again one day in the States and meet their new little ones.