Walking the Line Between Black and White

Upon arriving in Tanzania, I was unaware of what our lives would look like here. I LOVE learning about other cultures, learning other languages, and most especially love living IN other cultures. I think the best way to get to know people, and language is to be among them. Before coming here, I had hoped that we would have this kind of experience here in Dar, however, I have found that we have experienced something completely different than my expectations.

Working at a school for mostly foreigner’s children, and the rest being of the wealthier population in Tanzania, the community that we have been apart of, although wonderful, does not represent the majority of Tanzanians. Living on a compound with huge houses, in the city, with way more than we need, although a huge blessing, we have been separated from living life with Tanzanians. Being surrounded by English in our jobs, has made it difficult for us to pick up any language, and we definitely did not have time to study it while we were working so hard. Overall, our friends here have been friends that we made through HOPAC. They hail from all over America, England, Europe, and other countries, but very few of them from Tanzania.

Therefore, I found that we were in this sort of “third culture.” Where we were not apart of Tanzanian life, or the life that we were familiar with like that of the ex-patriots that live here in Dar, but with a culture that has been created all on its own at HOPAC.

There are times when I get a taste of Tanzanian life. Like when I am squished inside the dala dalas with 30 other of my closest friends, or when I am shopping in the duka’s nearby and people actually know my name and asking me how I am doing, or when I am actually in a situation where I can only use Kiswahili, or eating out at T-square (a local Tanzanian restaurant). However, the majority of the time my life is not filled with Tanzanian culture.

There are a few Tanzanians who have been a significant part of our lives here. The first one being our houseworker Jackie, she only speaks Kiswahili so she really is a great help in language. The second are our guards Imani, Panclas, and Francis. Day and night they are working on our compound taking care of the yard, and protecting us from harm. They are wonderful. The third are the HOPAC staff who are Tanzanian. Many of them have been working there for a long time and they are always super friendly and welcoming. And finally, our friends workers who do a myriad of jobs. They too are wonderful, and they teach us a lot about Tanzanian culture.

Recently we had two barbecues. The first one consisted of our wazungu, foreigner, friends and the second was with our Tanzanian friends. I so badly wish that the two worlds collided more but in our circumstance they do not. There are definitely cultural lines, and employer/employee lines that get gray when it comes to this. The reality is that as an American, that has traveled all this way, I have way more than many Tanzanians may have in a life time when it comes to financial resources and needs and wants being met. This does not make me any better than them, it does however make them see me differently. As a white person you are thought of as wealthy, and although it is true in most cases, and definitely compared to most Tanzanians, it creates a divide. You are white with more than you could ever need, they are black with many needs.

I find myself wanting to live with them, speak with them, eat with them, so that I can better understand them and so that the divide between us could be less. I try my best to love everyone as Christ loves me regardless of color or status. I try to make them all feel welcome, equal and included. I want to be best friends with them, and sit and have conversations about family, faith, and life, like I would with anyone else. Although, this is difficult here. I know people who are doing this here in Africa, and I so very much admire their work. I would love for it to not be us and them, but rather to be just us. I so wish this divide could be shattered. Until then, I will be praying for  Christ’s love to come and be the bridge in this community between black and white.

Island Paradise

Welcome to Mbudja Island!

Just off the shore of the Indian ocean that we live one mile from, there are a few islands that you can take day trips to. There are Tanzanians that live on the Island and take all the money from the wazungu that want to spend the day there. However, it is well worth the 30 dollar trip in my opinion.

Snake Island (We chose not to go there).

Another boat we ran into on the way.

We started with a short boat ride on a “speed boat.” It was not so speedy but it did get us there. When we arrived we set up camp in a banda and then headed out for adventure. I was unsure if you could actually walk around the entire island but found out that it was possible. It took us about 2 hours to walk around the whole thing, and thank the Lord it was low tide or else it would not have been possible at all. We saw all sorts of sea life including, starfish big and small, sea cucumbers which I have never seen in the wild before, crabs of all sizes and colors, many different fish, sea urchins everywhere, and we even saw an eel that was about 3 feet long, and had babies. It was an exciting adventure to say the least. While out on the far side of the island we were also able to see the bigger waves that break right at the barrier reef just a few miles from shore. If only they broke right at shore. Then Austin could have perfected his surfing and opened up the first ever surf shop in Tanzania.

Starfish #1.

Starfish #2. It was HUGE!.

Sea Urchins.

So beautiful!


After our two hours circumnavigating the island, it was lunch time. The menu consisted of Fresh Fish caught while we were exploring and chips (french fries). They were delicious.

We were all ready for some rest after lunch. We sat and read and enjoyed the cool ocean breezes of winter.

The return boat came to pick us up, but not before we got to take a quick dip in the water. The temperature was perfect both inside and outside of the water and it was so refreshing.

Our new friends Mary and Erin.

The way back was a bit choppy as the winds had picked up. We were all completely soaked but it, along with our sunburns, did not spoil our day of paradise at Mbudja Island.

Saying goodbye to Mbudja.

Man Projects

As many of you many know, Austin loves to work. He loves to fix things, like computers, cell phones, printers, and other technological devices. He loves to take them apart and start from scratch. He loves to read instruction manuals for complicated devices. He always has new ideas to create out of the ordinary devices such as heavy duty potato launchers, and  make your own satellites, and then he will actually go and make them. He loves doing work outdoors, with heavy machinery. His ideal Saturday would be spent with an early morning run to Home Depot, Ace Hardware or Auto Zone, and the rest of the day complete some sort of project (ie building a porch and deck or fixing the Jeep). I think he truly gets some sort of adrenaline rush from these things.

I absolutely love this about him, and wouldn’t change it for the world.

He has missed many things about Tucson but one things he has missed most is climbing. There are no rocks to climb here and no climbing gyms to make up for not having rocks. He has talked about building a Campus Board to increase his finger strength all year, and has finally gotten a chance to build one. Once he does set his mind to something and has the time for it he is able to complete it in no time flat. This baby was completed with in just a few days and under 24 hours of work. I am very impressed by it, as are the students, staff and guards at the school. It is very funny because Austin is one of the only people at the school with the upper body strength to actually use it (they play a lot of soccer here instead of climbing). Hopefully, in time others will follow his footsteps.

Here is the full process in pictures of his latest man project:

Using man tools.

Seriously Focused.

The beginning stages.

Backboard complete.

Finger boards ready and on.

Mounted and ready for use.

First Day Using the Campus Board

ONE YEAR!!!!!!

That’s right, today celebrates the one year anniversary of Austin and I stepping off of the plane and marching into an unknown adventure in Tanzania. It is hard to believe all that we have done, seen, and experienced in our time here. We have been so blessed by this experience, HOPAC, and the community of people surrounding us.

Here is a quick overview of what we have done in the past year (In no particular order):

-Taught a full year of fifth grade.

-Fixed more computers, printers, and other miscellaneous IT gadgets than you can imagine.

-Gone on Safari in the Terengeri Safari Park

-Gone to Arusha three times! We love it there. Hung out with our favorite people there Hannah, Zac, Jackie, Alexis, Fluffy, Dusty, Marlaina, and Imani.

-Climbed up to hut #1 on the Marangu trail of Mt. Kilimanjaro.

-Tramped around in the Amani Rainforest, in Tanga with 20 fifth graders.

-Helped with the first ever International School YL Africa Camp in the mountains of Lushoto

-Lead WYLDLIFE at HOPAC including Blueband club, Grody club and Luau Club. : )

-Served at 2 Young Life Summer Camps. One in Arusha and one in Iringa.

-Spent New Year’s in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, lead a training for WYLDLIFE and got to be apart of Campaigner’s Camp.

-Learned how to cook from scratch. Well at least got a good start.

-Went home for Katie’s wedding, and a refreshing time with family!

-Picked up a bit of Kiswahili and can actually have conversations with people now!

-Worked on our tans, and spent lots of quality time on the beaches of the Indian Ocean.

-Took a Marriage Course where we learned that 2=1 : )

-Employed a wonderful lady named Jackie for her very first job!

-Started the first ever Dar es Salaam Men’s Grill Association, and had many BBQ’s with great fellowship.

-Put together another man’s group, to do pre-navy seal training workouts.

-Completed a study on the book of Esther with some beautiful women.

– Explored the town of Bagamoyo.

-Spent lots of great time with our best friends here, the Kriegers, the Maxwells and the Larmeys!

-Watched most of the FIFA WORLD CUP, in Africa, while it was being held in Africa. Pretty Awesome!

-Kayaked the Open Seas.

-Sailed to Mbudja Island for some fellowship and fresh fish!

-Celebrated HOPAC’s 15th Anniversary.

-Rode in daladala’s, bicycle taxis, and bajaj’s more than cars.

-Worshiped the Lord with the Senior African Leadership Team.

-Watched Rikka Nne (A group of YL leaders), go through and graduate their official training.

-Had roommates. Something we did not expect but were blessed by.

-Celebrated our first anniversary in the spice capital of the world, the island of Zanzibar.

-Visited the dentist in Dar, and got a Wisdom tooth removed.

-Coached little girls soccer.

-Became best friends with Skype.

-Learned more about Ramadan, and other aspects of Muslim culture.

-Celebrated Birthday’s and Holidays away from home for the very first time.

-Helped out with primary Student Council.

-Read lots of books.

-Worked together for the first time. Ate all three meals together and did not get sick of each other. Hopefully. we can find a way to do this again in the future.

-Had more time to spend seeking the Lord, and listening to His plan for us.

As you can see this year has been full of so many wonderful, and life changing experiences! Thank you Lord for all of the blessings you have given us here in Africa! We are so grateful, and could not have dreamed a better adventure for ourselves. Asante sana Bwana Yesu!


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! : )

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.