Friday, December 29, 2006

A bad day.

Today was not a good day. Everyone on our team, except me, has been homeless for the last several months. The Carter family was nice enough to let the Woods and Prices stay in their home while they were on furlough. Gary and Judy are moving into my house this weekend, as they will be going on furlough in May. Carters come back next week (the good part of today!) so we needed to get all of the Woods stuff out of their house, and all of the Prices stuff out of their house, and move some things between the houses, refrigerators, beds, little things etc. that were being swapped among teammates.

Well it was off to a good start. We were hanging curtains at the Price house which is finally finished! The first truck load arrived. I was very inappropriate and even though I was a girl I helped lift stuff and carry it into the house. To make a long story short, as I write this blog entry I am learning to type with 9 fingers and I broke one finger today moving furniture. When helping carry a desk, one of the workers was going to fast and rammed by finger between the desk and the door jam. I kept my cool, and finished that task. He felt really bad so I tried to blow it off, but I couldn't, I knew it was bad. I used to think people were wimpy when they whined about breaking a finger, but now I know it hurts just as bad as breaking any other bone. My pinky is a nice shade of blue-green-purple and is the size of my middle finger, if not larger. It is putting off heat, and it hurts. I can't bend it. I can't touch it. I can't touch anything with it. It is throbbing as I feel the blood pump through it. Have I whined enough? Really I am not exaggerating, it hurts. Thankfully judy is smart and we made a splint with half a wooden clothespin and some tape. I just wonder, how long does it take for a broken finger to heal? When will it stop hurting?

As if that wasn't enough for the day. After we were done unloading, Judy, myself and two fundi's from town got into my car to head back to town. (Prices will be living at the training center) For some reason there is a tree in the middle of the Prices driveway. I typically park to the far side of the driveway cause I always think to myself if I park anywhere near that tree I am going to forget it is there and hit it. Again, I am not sure why I didn't do the same thing today. To make a long story short, my car is in my driveway and the back window is covered in plastic because somehow, in the process of reversing a mere 3 feet, I managed to gain enough speed to cave in my back door and shatter the glass in the back window. I am still shocked that such damage can be done with such a short distance and such a slow speed.

So it was a bad day. But, thankfully I am ok. no one was hurt, in the accident that is. I feel foolish as I don't usually make such stupid mistakes. Cars here aren't cheap and I have already caused severe damage to my car. Add that to the fact that I feel irresponsible because my supporters are the one who paid for the car...for some reason it is worse since I didn't pay for the car out of my own pocket. I am really trying hard not to beat myself up, but that is difficult when you are tired. I am trying to keep a good head on my shoulders, hopefully I will wake up refreshed in the morning and be able to laugh at myself and the whole situation.

The thing that gets me is, that much like the Tanesco thing, everything takes longer to accomplish here, and I don't anticipate getting my car fixed to be any easier. Ugh. Cultural adaptation. isn't it lovely?

Tanesco

Tanesco is the electrical supply company here in Tanzania...that is when we have power! Which by the way has been almost constant for 2 weeks! That is the longest stretch of power since I arrived! YEAH!

After I moved into my house, I asked my landlord what his account number for Tanesco was. He told me he didn't know because he bought the house in March and didn't get anything from the previous owner. (notice that means the power bill hasn't been paid since march!)

So I, trying to be a good resident of this country, went to Tanesco. I told them I wanted to pay my bill, but that I didn't have an account number. They sent me home to find a number on my meter. The next day I went back with everything they told me I would need. It wasn't enough. After beign there for 2 hours and them "searching" for my account with the info I gave them they asked me to drive them to my house so they could find out the problem. So I did. (I should mention that I live on one of the worst roads in Arusha. There are days I don't leave my house and work from home as it is much more appealing than driving down my road, especially when it has been raining and it is a swamp!) The guy talked to my guard who has worked here for years. He gave him the history of the house. We took it back to the Tanesco office. Another hour later he comes back to me and says he can't find an account and tells me to find the guy who BUILT the house and ask him if he knows the account. He also said that if I didn't they would come cut my power cause the bill hasn't been paid since March.

So I am not sure what the moral of the story is. I spent three hours in the Tanesco office, and still don't have an account and can't pay my bill. I was trying to be proactive and now am risking having my power shut off, where, if I had done nothing I would not be in this situation.

The rest of the story later. Just know this. I will never complain about the utility challenges in America.

Monday, December 25, 2006

I've only met her once...

and she TAGGED me! Lisa Borden and her family are working on joining the team of some pretty cool people here in Arusha. I met her and her husband while they were here for a short visit about 2 months ago! Anyhow, she tagged me, so I am supposed to share with you 5 things that you might not know...this is a challenge, 5 things...mmm

  • I always test as an intervert on any personality test.
  • I have many screws in my head due to a surgery I had when I was a freshman in highschool. Not to worry, none of them are loose!
  • I love to read autobiographies and learn about peoples lives.
  • I made my vocal debut and final appearance on a John David Webster album.
  • When I am angry or stressed I have two coping mechanisms, cooking and cleaning!

Merry Christmas from Africa!

Well, I did it. I survived my first Christmas away from family and friends and all of my traditions! It was a great day, I talked to many loved ones on the phone and we compared and contrasted Christmases in America and Africa. Praying that you had a glorious day, and that you were able to take a minute to reflect on the Joy that took over the earth as Jesus was born!

Friday, December 22, 2006

9 Months

About this time, 9 months ago, I was on a plane bound for Africa. To be exact I think I was in the Detroit Airport having my last American meal...McDonalds of course, but only because my connection was a little late and it was the only thing close! It is amazing to me to fathom that I have been here 9 months, almost 1/4 of my term. I can't believe that I have been here almost a year, and I can't believe how much I have changed. It almost scares me at this point to think about going home (not that I am anytime soon!) because I am so different, and I am afraid that America will be so different. These are some of the things I have noticed are different:
  • I speak a new language.
  • Sometimes my sentences have a mix of spanish, swahili and english...all at once!
  • I am in the minority.
  • I recognize new values in having family close by.
  • I look at the world differently.
  • My relationship with God is stronger.
  • My view of God is different.
  • I weigh 25 pounds less.
  • I eat tomatoes.
  • I also eat onions. (mom would be so proud!)
  • I know how to cook many things from scratch and how to substitute.
  • I am more aware of the whole person instead of just their physical need or my perception of their spiritual need.
  • I am more aware of myself and my own needs.
  • I have an understanding of another culture.
  • I have friends from all around the world.
  • I am the labeled "extrovert-socialite" of the group. (don't worry, i still really am introverted)
  • I get angry less easily.
  • I am much more patient.
  • I am healthier.
  • I view worship differently.
  • I view world issues differently.
  • I long for things like time with Lisa, Eric, Addi and Makenna or a fountain coke on a regular basis. (just to be clear, I always wanted to hang out with Lisa, but now I realize the depths of our frienships)
  • I wish for a smooth road.
  • I sit up at 12:30 in the morning writing a blog post.
  • I am becoming a morning person. (don't get too excited Scott...I am still not on military time!)
  • I manage a bank account in three different currencies.
  • I get home by dark, and decide weather or not I can leave my house by how much it has rained in the last 24 hours.
  • I see giraffes and zebras when I go on road trips.
  • I cry when I listen to Christmas music.
  • I cry more often in general.
  • I also laugh more heartily.

The list goes on. I still can't believe I have been here 9 months. I can't believe how much my life has changed, and how my heart has changed. God really is amazing.

Saturday, December 16, 2006

Marangu Falls

To celebrate the beginning of Christmas break for all three of us, Jack, Devon and I took a trek to the base of Mount Kilimanjaro to Marangu falls! These falls are caused by water flowing due to the melting of snow on top of Kili! Of course it took us longer to get there than we planned, and also managed to start raining when we arrived, but we didn't let that stop us from having a little fun in these frigid falls anyhow!











Friday, December 15, 2006

Tumemaliza Shule!






That's right folks! School is out! I had my very last day of swahili class today and I can't tell you how exciting it was to reach this landmark! A few pictures from this last course below! We went on a field trip to visit a womens progam in a village, I learned to make mats with the leaves of banana trees! We also had a day of learning how to cook a traditional Tanzanian meal...well actually several of them! You will also see the learning chart we used to help us conceptualize all of the grammar we were taught! Whew! I can now see it in my head on many days...I also wake up and go to sleep translating random phrases...

Monday, December 11, 2006

Pictures

Last week to practice our swahili we went on a field trip to a village near to Arusha. It was great fun talking with the ladies and learning about the program they have developed to be able to provide for their families. I have a ton of pictures but am still having trouble uploading. Will keep trying, but here are a few for now.



Sunday, December 10, 2006

On breaking...

I should start by letting you know I have made several blog entries lately, with pictures of my studious self...but blogger keeps giving me errors, quite possibly the slow internet connection.

Breaking hurts. I was thinking today that whenever you break something, it hurts. I have this set of dishes my girlfriends made for me for my birthday before I left the US. If one of them ever breaks (and I assume one will at one point!) it will hurt. Breaking is never clean. If I break a glass...it isn't clean, the pieces are not nice and orderly...they are broken. Breaking is never smooth. Ever broken a tree branch? Breaking changes the condition of the original object...evidenced by the pain I experience in my right shoulder during cold weather from when I shattered it in middle school? Breaking things is rarely quiet. Typically there is a crash, a clang or a screech. Breaking is never pleasant. I recall many a worried moments when I wondered what punishment awaited when I broke something I wasn't supposed to be playing with. Breaking. I don't like breaking.

I realized today that Christmas is two weeks away. I realized I still had not yet ordered any gifts for my family. I would like to say it was because I have been super busy, as it is, I have been super busy, but in all reality, it was because I didn't want to go through the agony of purchasing gifts. I knew it would break me. It would hurt my heart and cause incredible discomfort as I admitted to myself that I am in fact getting ready to spend my first Christmas away from any family members. Nothing about this experience is a clean break. It hurts. It really hurts. It isn't smooth, in fact my heart is pretty ragged right now. Even though there isn't any clanging, there is the noise of the occasional sniffle. And I don't await any punishment here, but I know there is pain on the other side of the world as my family prepares to spend Christmas without me...and I think that hurts worse than anticipated punishment.

This breaking though, as with all breaks, will leave me changed. My shoulder healed. My heart will heal. I know that Jesus is all that I need and that he will get me through this. I also know, that as I posted earlier, that I need to give him this heartache that I feel and let him hold me and my hurt. I also need to rejoice as I look around and see the family he has put around me here in Arusha.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

What can I give?

Sometimes when I am tired, I start wondering to myself, "what in the world can God do with me?" This occured this past week. I was sick, I was tired, I was thinking of home and I was overwhelmed with many things, and I thought, I have nothing left to give. I have nothing left to offer.

It is almost habit to turn itunes on the instant I walk in the door these days. The music makes the house seem less empty and also quite often I am encouraged by it. I am moved by music what can I say. Well keeping my habits I turned it on as I was doing homework. As I went to turn down my computer tonight I was stopped by a song. The lyrics were:

What can I give? What can I bring? What can I give as an offering Lord?

As I stopped and listened my heart was turned to the rest of the lyrics of Matt Redmans Song.

This song reminds me of the beauty of serving God. It is quite unexplainable really. I choose to worship God not because he makes me because of the death he endured on the cross but because I can. My heart is overwhelmed by the love demonstrated by His willingness to die, His willing to be my friend, by His willingness to be a King who loves His people. I am awed by the lengths he will go to show me He loves me!

Then the answer to my question becomes this. In my attempt to serve, I often bring it down to something I can understand, or something I know I can do well. Maybe a song? Maybe a good journal entry? Maybe playing with the neighborhood kids. Maybe going to the mission field? Maybe leaving family and friends? But this song and many passages in scripture tell me these are not the things he wants from me (don't worry, I am not going anywhere, these are just what I get to do!) but what he wants from me, is me, all of me, even the hardest part to give, the broken parts of my heart. It really is quite difficult isn't it, to give our brokenness to God. First how do you give brokenness? How do you do it well? It is a challenge for me to give it up. I somehow think that if I take care of it it won't become any more broken than it is. I don't like to share my brokenness with anyone, but I am learning, that God loves my brokenness and wants to heal the brokenness if only I would have the courage to give it to him and trust Him to handle it with care.

So what can I give? Me. All of Me. My Joys. My Laughter. My Songs. My words. My Brokenness.

Friday, December 01, 2006

Guess who is coming to Newberg Oregon!

YOURS TRULY!

Coming however is a relative word. I won't be there physically, but this sunday I will get to test technology and try to have a chat with the kids in QUEST. I am so excited about this opporutunity! I look forward to hearing the voices of people I left a year ago, I can't believe it was a year ago, and I look forward to sharing with the kids what life is like here! It will be so fun! Pray that technology works well, that things go smoothly and that I can bless and encourage those kids!

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

The prostitute.

My neighbor is a prostitute. Yes you read that correctly. She didn't come right out and say it. But her words didn't need to. Her actions have it written all over it. She has about 10 children, with about as many different fathers. many of them she doesn't know who their father is. She is a modern woman at the well. She has men who come to "visit" her. They "hang out" and "talk." Yet she is not married. She also, doesn't have a job and is supporting all her children. Her sister, who lives with her, is involved in the same activities.

Things like this grieve my heart. It reminds me why I am here. Prostitution is such a demeaning profession. It removes you of your dignity. It makes you feel as if you are trash. It leaves you feeling worthless, or worth just the amount of money you were given for allowing someone to "visit" you. What continues to grieve my heart is what this womans children are learning. The boys are learning that women are objects. They are learning that they can be abused, misused and left on the wayside. The girls are learning the same things about themselves. Obviously I live in Africa so we must bring AIDS into the discussion. How sad it is to me that this woman somehow reached the point years ago that she felt the only way she could make ends meet was to sell her physical body, her dignity, her self worth, and her life. I wonder where she learned this was an option. was it from her mother?

I look forward to the relationship I hope to have with her. One that gives her worth. One that points her to restoration. A relationship that restores hope. One that points her in the direction of the Man who loves her regardless of who she is, was or will be. The man who died on the cross for her years ago.

Again I hate evil.

Good and Evil.

This weekend when I was driving myself back from Nairobi (yes I am a BIG girl now!) i was listening to an old sermon of Erwin Mcmanus on my ipod. He was reading from Genesis 3 where the account of the fall of man takes place. Something new jumped out at me.

Typically, in sermons around Genesis 3:1-7 we focus on how Eve was deceived by the serpent. How he twisted God's words and she fell for it. But like I said, something new jumped out. The phrase about the knowledge of good and evil:

The serpent said to the woman, "you surely will not die! For God, knows that in the day you eat from it your eyes will be opened and you will be like God, KNOWING GOOD AND EVIL." When the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was desireable to make one WISE, she took from its fruit and ate...

I then wondered, how much the desire for wisdom and knowing things that only God knows played in her choosing to do what she had distinctly been told not to do. I then realized how much I hate evil. How when I hear about things that are evil I often become sick to my stomach and want to hurl. I wonder, at the same time, how much my desire to know things contributes to my sin, and what would happen if we would all "flee from evil and cling to what is good." If only we would let God be the one who is all knowing, and trust him to reveal to us what he wants to when he wants to. We might save ourselves from having to endure such evil. I hate evil. I think from now on I will try to practice this idea. flee from it. cling to the goodness of trusting my God to know what is best for me and revel in the awe of him revealing what I need to know when I need to know it.

The outspoken American strikes again!

Well friends. We all know that I can be pretty blunt and outspoken. Some of you REALLY like that about me...and others of you...well it drives you crazy...especially when I forget to wrap the truth in Love.

Anyhow. Today. The thrify, outspoken American spoke up. You see, again, school was dumbed down for those in the class who refused to take the first course and wanted to skip ahead to the next level. Mind you, if you have lived here a while and made an honest attempt to learn, you could probably do that, but none of the people in my class have done so. They are all newbies to Tanzania!

After sitting in class, for the second straight day, and doing stuff I distinctly remember doing in the first course, for the second day in a row, I finally resolved to ask my teacher for some help. She took it well. I gently voiced my concern, in that those who are supporting me are helping to pay for me to take an intermediate course, not to retake the beginners course.

Her response: Pam you know too much swahili. (Shocking I know. even for me. I still get lost in swahili conversations!) Anyhow, it seems as if they don't know what to do either, so possibly tomorrow they will teach me one on one in my own class, because I am too far ahead of the others. It is a first for me. I was always a good student, but never really the smart one of the group!

Monday, November 27, 2006

Water problems...Language School...Returned Joy!

I failed to let you all know I was experiencing water problems...AGAIN! About two weeks ago I reached the point where my underground water tank didn't have enough water to pump water into the house. This was devastating for many reasons...I do like to wash my hands now and then, not to mention shower, and do laundry. I survivied by pulling buckets out of the tank much like you would a well, and did manage to master the art of bucket bathing...nonetheless...the most frustrating part, was I somehow managed to go through way too much water in way too short of a time. I was thankful when I learned the tank had a crack in it and I wasn't just a water hog!

However, the my thankfulness was short lived, in that a crack meant that all the water I had paid to put into the tank would have to be wasted so they could repair the tank. (I had spent about $100 US to fill the tank two weeks prior)

Well, I am happy to say, that after two weeks of no water, joy returned to my home in that water is once again flowing in my house! YEAH

Also started my LAST language course today! Another YEAH! There are five of us in the class. Myself. Two German gals. A guy from Sudan and a gal from Israel. We make up quite the group. I stand out in two ways, I am the only American, and I am the ONLY one who has taken the courses at levels prior to this one and the ONLY one who has any swahili experience! It is great to be at the top of the class, however I can say I am a bit frustrated as I feel the lack of experience the others have is already holding the course back.

And last, I was a few days late, but managed to get it done...I set up my Christmas tree! I thought long and hard last year about whether to get a mini tree when they were on clearance and boy am I glad that I did! I am also glad that I had the forethought to make ornaments with pictures of my family to put on my tiny (less that 2" tall) tree.

I am sure there is much to tell you, however, I have school tomorrow! Must get to bed!

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Happy Thanksgiving!


Sorry I am late! Happy Thanksgiving to you all! Believe it or not I actually had a turkey dinner myself, and got to spend the day with wonderful friends! I am incredibly thankful for the friendships I have, they make being away from family so much easier! I hope you had a great day and that you enjoy your day after thanksgiving shopping!

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Police...again.

THis morning was the day I was supposed to meet up with the CMF Kenya Urban Poor team to learn about their strategy for implementing CHE in the slums of Nairobi.

On my way my phone rang incessantly. It was the same person and they would not accept my ignoring their call. It is illegal to talk on the phone while driving in Nairobi. After about 3 or 4 call attemps in a row from this person, I answer long enough to say, I am driving, I will call you back. At the same time there are two Kenyan police officers on the side of the road and they wave me down to stop.

Police #1: Mam. You are breaking the law. your life is more important than that phone call. Don't you know it is illegal to talk on the phone in Kenya? We must take you to the police station.
Me: I am really sorry sir. I know it was wrong, they kept calling so I answered to tell them I couldn't talk and to stop calling.
Police #1 and #2: Mam. that is no excuse. We must go to the station and you will have to go to court on thursday.
Me: Ok. let me just call my boss so he can come with us.
Police #2. Ok.

I try to call incessantly, but wouldn't you figure my phone is not working at this point. I assume it is because I don't have enough money (I have a prepaid cell) so I pull out a scratch off card to add money to try and call. As I scratch the prepaid card:

Police officer #2 : I need money on my phone too. Why don't you give that to me?

Me: If I give this to you, then I can't call my boss to meet us at the station.
Police #1: You know, we could just settle this here, and then you wouldn't have to go to the station and you could continue on your way.
Me: But isn't that illegal?
Police #1: Well yes. It is legal and illegal. it is both.
Me: I am pretty sure it is illegal.
Police #2: It is both. illegal and legal.
Me: well sirs, I really try hard not to break the law. I didn't mean to break the law this morning, I was getting distracted by the incessant ringing. I would hate to break the law two times in the same day. I don't think we should take care of it here. (I am well aware they are wanting a bribe)
Police #1: Oh, really, you are just kind of breaking the law, not fully.
Me: Sir, I don't even want to kinda break the law. I will just call my boss to meet us at the station.

Both police officers walk away and start speaking swahili. They assume I don't understand them. I like a good mzungu listen to every word.

Police #1 then returns. "Mam, you may go, but don't ever, ever talk on the phone while driving again."

So there you have it. I have managed to be pulled over twice in three days, and leave both experiences unharmed, and have managed to survive both experiences! I now turn off my phone when I drive.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Security guards...and humility.

Helen and Amy arrived today! YEAH! It was SO good to see them! We planned almost a year ago to hook up in Kenya over Thanksgiving and we are all shocked that we are 1) here. 2) really seeing each other and 3) that thanksgiving has already arrived!

So to celebrate, we went to the movies. And thus sets the stage for our excitement for the night. I drove since I knew where we were going. On a side note, sometimes when you go into a shopping center parking lot they give you a plastic card that you must return upon your exit. I haven't yet figured out the science yet, sometimes you get one and sometimes you don't.

So we watch our movie. grab a snack and discover that it is getting late, so we should head out. Confident that I had not received a plastic card upon our arrival I inform the guard at the gate and he makes me pull off to the side. (I must also point out this was the second time today. earlier I went in to a different parking lot and didn't get a card.) A different guard comes up and says we have a problem. I should have received a card so I have to pay 500 Kenyan shillings to get out of the lot. This is equivalent to about $7 US. and I am cheap. And I am certain that I did not receive a card so I tell him I should not have to pay. He says if a card is missing when his shift is over then he will have to pay the money. I told him a card would not be missing because I didn't get one so I shouldn't have to pay for it. We discuss the situation for nearly half an hour. Finally I say, how about I give you my phone number and if a card is missing you can call me tomorrow and I will come back and give you the money. (After all I am certain I did not get a card, and I can choose to not answer my phone.) So I grab my phone to look up the number and helen takes my purse and soon says, "Pam, what is this?"

I respond. The plastic card that I thought I didn't get.

I humbly apologize and grovel with the guard who then gives me the Kenyan version of "I told you so!"

Monday, November 20, 2006

Conquering fears

I have to admit I have a fear of police. In America they are a bit intimidating, but here, you hear about all of the corruption, and it just scares me to have to even talk to one of them. Today I got to both meet, talk, and drive away from the Kenya police.

Did I mention it was my first time ever driving alone in Nairobi? And that it was after dark?

I was driving to to my guest house, but made a stop on the way to get some tylenol, as I was feeling a migraine coming on. My first mistake, was stopping even though it was after dark. My second mistake is that I took the wrong exit and got on the wrong road. About 5 seconds later as I am looking for a turn-around, I encounter a random police check. Since I am white, and have Tanzania plates, I was a definate victim.

So I was slightly harassed. I had all my ducks in a row, however the policeman decided I needed to have not only a US drivers license, and a Tanzanian one, but also a Kenyan. After 20 minutes of harassment, a few attempts to get me to pay a bribe, and many compliments I managed to be freed from his presence. Thankfullky when I had to go through a second time after turning around to go the right way, I wasn't stopped again.

I survived my first encounter with the Kenyan police.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Car Troubles...and laughter

Sunday I left for a week long trip to Nairobi. There were many things on the agenda, learning to drive in Nairobi, learning my way around, experiencing the urban CHE program here and learning from it as I plan to start the CHE program in Arusha, and also, a Thanksgiving feast. Apparently, God has some other things for me to learn.

Sundays drive in itself as a laughing experience. I have never driven my car to Kenya. I usually take the shuttle or ride with someone, but I needed to learn the border crossing process and I had so many things to do that it would be best for me to drive. I got about 10 Kilometers outside of Arusha and my car started acting up. I called the person I was caravaning with and we checked all fluids, and called the mechanic we knew in Nairobi and he said keep on driving and bring it straight to him upon arrival in Nairobi. My entire trip, my RPM's were in the 3-5000 RPM range, most often around 4. It was frustrating. I used an entire tank of gas getting here, when it should have taken 1/2 a tank. I arrived, the mechanic pulled open the hood, and wiggled a spark plug. I laughed as I thought to myself, if only I had known, I could have done that 400 kilometers ago! I really should take a basic mechanics course.

Sunday, November 12, 2006

American Grocery Stores...

When I was sending an email in response to Phil's Comment on my "Rejection" entry last week, I realized that many of you would get a kick over my thoughts on the American Grocery store:

I hadn't given much thought to missing them, until he brought up telling his friend to visit one if she ever got the chance. It was then that I fondly remembered...the Kroger on east 10th. Which is ironic in itself in that most of us from Indy would not ever fondly remember the Kroger on east 10th. We might rather glorify Marsh on 82nd and Allisonville...but alas, Kroger was my near to home one stop shop! I remembered the clean floors...which is also ironic as it isn't necessarily a clean place! I remembered the bright lights! The space, oh my goodness the space! And how everything was organized, the flowers were all together, the meat was in the same place, the dairy had its own section! You could find the cereal you were wanting and the brands you trusted! You had choices, and there was competition for the cheaper prices! Aisles were organized and made sense! It was decorated like a party with banners, bargains and various items hanging from the ceiling to get your attention! I could get my soy milk and my toilet paper all on the same store! And it must be said, that the Americans who visited knew how to stand in a cue, and Kroger did offer the three in line guarantee! What JOY! Perhaps I will have to visit my Kroger when I return...that is if it is still there!

One must comment, that as I fondly remember shopping in the US, I don't envy those of you who are about to embark on the shopping frenzy of the Holiday Season, and I am incredibly grateful to miss such an occasion!

Firsts!

The last few weeks were quite phenominal. I have had many firsts:

1. I shed tears for the first time in a public location. In all honesty, I think I was mostly just tired and fed up with the work it takes to get things done. I can truthfully say it wasn't the situation itself, it was just the straw that broke the camels back. I lived to tell about it and I am sure the workers all told their friends about the white girl who cried because she was having a hard time getting car insurance.

2. I saw my first Nairobi Fly. These are terrible little bugs that burn you instead of stinging you. It is quite painful as I am told, thankfully I didn't touch it as I encountered it!

3. I admitted that I like dogs. (Lisa I await your comment on this one!)

4-6. I went to my first Tanzanian wedding, my first catholic mass, and went to 3 weddings all at once! This requires some explanation for sure. One of our national workers was getting married and of course we were invited. It was difficult as since we are white, we are automatically guests of honor, and I still haven't gotten used to that. Anyhow, Gary, Judy and I showed up at the church, but saw a bride, that looked nothing like the girl we know, so we started heading towards our car thinking we were in the wrong place, when Scollar hollars out, guys where are you going? We turn around to see the bride that we know arriving. It so happens that they were doing 3 weddings, all at the same time. It was interesting. The wedding was a catholic wedding, which led to my first attendance of a mass. Uncle John you would be proud in that I still knew when to stand and kneel!

7. I was refered to as the socialite of Arusha. This is HYSTERICAL to me as I am such an introvert, but when I arrived, all the young people my age didn't bother to do anything. Out of my own need I have started hosting a bi-weekly worship and prayer time at my house, a long with regular gatherings for fellowship. Apparently this makes me a socialite. I beg to differ. It is just my fighting loneliness!

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Lost in Translation.

Every now and then, I think i have swahili licked. I feel super confident and ready to conquer the world. Until today. Three different events took place today, that reminded me to continue studying and continue trying.

#1
A few weeks ago when I was talking with my guard about the daily routine. I meant to tell him he could leave for his lunch break in the daytime, just make sure I had they keys. Yesterday I was gone most of the day and when i got back I asked if he had eaten. He said he hadn't. Today I got back around 3 and asked, if he had eaten. He said he hadn't. He then asked if I was staying, I said no, I was leaving again. I told him to go eat, but apparently he thought that there always had to be someone at the house, so the last two weeks when I was at work all day the poor guy hasn't eaten lunch. Fortunately today we were able to clear things up.

#2
I was driving up the road to my house this afternoon when Austin hollered out "aunt pam! stop for a minute!" Austin's family lives down the road, about 1/2 kilometer from my house and his mom (also named Pam) and I have become good friends. Anyhow, a village boy he was playing with got hit in the mouth and was bleeding. He wanted me to look at it. So I stopped and looked at it and determined he had just split his lip and would be fine. The humbling part... a 7 year old was translating for me.

#3
I had the suspension redone on my car last week. It was BAD! I didn't realize it as the roads are so bad I never noticed the difference until I got it back. Probably it was bad to begin with. Anyhow, yesterday as I was bringing Austin and his brother Ty back to the house I noticed a terrible clunking, crunching sound that scared the daylights out of me. So I went to the CMF office today and fortunately we share a compound with a mechanic. I had the guy look at it, and he did. He fixed it, didn't charge me, but because I don't know the words for car parts yet, I have no idea what he did, I just know that something was broken and he welded it back together.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Rejection

Finding out you are normal and right on track is always encouraging. I personally like to be ahead of the curve, but I realize that this can't always be the case.

Today I learned, that I am right on track in the culture adjustment process. A few months back Nichole sent me the "Culture Curve." In general it shows you the stages of adjustment to a new culture over several months. According to this curve. I am right on track with my desire to reject it immediately!

The curve begins with a romantic stage. Everything is beautiful! Then comes the realization stage. Things are still good, but reality is settling in. Then the line plumments from month 4 or 5 to month 12. At that point, your emotional satisfaction is plummeting and eventually it levels off people typically make one of three decisions: Repatriation. Retreat. Readjustment.

I know in recent posts I have expressed my frustration with this place. In all honesty, I do really like this place, and I really am ok. Yesterday I was talking with a Tanzanian about life in America. They asked if I wanted to go back like everyone who has. I could answer with a very truthful "no." It is just that, sometimes, I get so very annoyed at how difficult life can be here. I don't regret my decision at all, there are days where I just wish I didn't have to work so hard to communicate, work, get things accomplished or have my needs met. There are valuable lessons in all of these experiences, and I am growing tremendously from them, growing is sometimes just painful and I would like a reprieve.

So there you have it. I am nearing month 8, so only 4 months or so left of this rejection. That is, if I stay on track. Pray that as I go through this process i would not take the first two options of the three, but rather that I would readjust, as that would be the healthiest for me and my ministry.

Monday, November 06, 2006

Life in the fishbowl

In my 28 years, i have grown accustomed to the American way of life, including Americans not noticing you or what you are doing when you are in your own yard. Life has since changed.

Now, instead of going to bed knowing there is not anyone on my property, I remind myself that the person sitting on my porch is there to watch over me, not watch me. It is quite odd. It is weird to sit at my desk when I know on the other side of the curtain not even 1o feet from me is someone sitting on my porch. It goes against all of my hospitable nature to just let him sit there and do his job. I fight the desire to invite him in, give him a cup of coffee and talk the day away.

Even though they probably aren't, I feel as if they are watching my every move, taking note on all that I do...well I guess they probably are. They probably think I am strange for staying up until midnight, and even stranger for not getting out of bed before 7. I am sure I throw away things in my trash that they think are perfectly usable. They probably think it strange that I have special meat for my dogs. (no such thing as purina here!) They think it is crazy that I cuddle my puppies and pet them and talk to them. Ahhh...life in the fishbowl it is always interesting isn't it!

What's Missing?




The pictures above show a bit of my weekend adventures. Can you tell what is missing from them? The doorknob. Yep. In my first week here I have already caused damage to my new home. Technically I was not the one who broke the door knob...allow me to explain.

Sunday morning I got up early for two reasons. There was power which meant a hot shower and I had a friend over and thought I would surprise her with breakfast. The shower happened, the breakfast did not cause I got locked in the bathroom! Yep. The handle broke. I yelled for my friend to wake up. She came running to my rescue, but to no avail. We removed the handle, we tried everything from a knife to a screwdriver to set me free, but nothing worked. She used my phone to call Gary Woods, fellow teammate who was in town for the weekend. He came and tried the same tactics we tried that had failed and since I had been in there nearly an hour and was about to lose my mind I informed him of a hammer close by and that I would somehow pay to replace the door. He listend, and I moved out of the way, as he used the claw of the hammer to remove all wood surrounding the locking mechanism of the door handle. The joys of life in Tanzania. I have since learned that if you remove the handle, the system automatically locks to prevent breakins...or breakouts!




MZUNGU! MZUNGU! MZUNGU!

Have you ever been around when a movie star was spotted in public? Have you ever heard people shout when Peyton Manning came onto the field? Have you yourself ever yelled someone's name, even though you didn't know them personally...yet they were famous and you spotted them...only to hear the rest of the crowd hollar too?

Mzungu. (english translation: white person). If there is any word that I have come to despise in the Swahili language it is this very word. Today I reached my max. I was climbing the mud ridden hill to my house (by the way it has been raining a ton! Thanks God!) which required the four wheel drive. As I was driving I had to stop because another car had gotten stuck and a tractor was pulling it out. Mind you, I was short on patience to begin with, it was getting dark and I just wanted to get home. So I am stopped on my road. It literally took 1.2 seconds for the shouts to begin and the crowd to form. "Mzungu! Mzungu! Mzungu!" It continues the entire 10 minutes I wait for my turn to pass, which seemed like hours. This word frustrates me cause sometimes, on a bad day, I feel like they are yelling something like, "leper! Look a leper!" or "crazywoman! look a crazywoman!" or something of the sort. To have nearly 30 people yelling Mzungu outside your car, to hit your car and keep yelling, puts one on edge. So I calmly (my mom probably wouldn't have said I was calm had she been here) I rolled down my window and caught them by surprise with my swahili skills. English translation: "Don't hit my car. Don't call me mzungu. I live on this street like the rest of you. I know your mom would not be proud of you right now."

Because it is true. The parents encourage respect from all people. And mind you it is only a word. But a word can be quite frustrating or harmful if said in the wrong tone. I hate being called mzungu.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

The Irony...

I have never been a huge dog fan. But here, they are a must if you have a home. They are added protection. While Kendra was here we searched and searched for two dogs (that way they can entertain each other!). But to no avail. All we could find were puppies...that we are certain will become quite large. So to those of you back home who know me well...enjoy the laughter you will get from me posting a picture of these really cute, I think I really like them puppies! (lisa)

I introduce you to... (Left to Right) Dulce and Anigo (I think. Not sure on that name yet. It has changed three times now.)


An American Girl

Every now and then you have moments where you want to scream, or hollar, "If I was in America, this would be SO much EASIER!" I have had a few of these moments in the last few weeks.

A few examples:
Cooking for large groups in America is much easier.
Hosting guests is much easier.
Moving. Moving is so much easier.
Getting insurance for your car is easier.
Driving. Driving in general is easier.
Communicating. It is so much easier to communicate in english.

Also, there are points where I have said, "if I were in America, this would not have happened." For Example:

If I was in America, when I moved into my house there would have been water in the tank. I would not have had to fight for two weeks before moving in for water to be delivered from the borehole. I would not have had to pay about $60 US to have a truck of water delivered to my house only to find that the water pump could not pump water into the house. So I had water, but not in the house.

If I was in America, I would know that when I was to arrive home there would be power so I could see. I would not have to remember to switch the little switch in my house to the generator or Tanesco (local power) input so that the security lights would come on.

If I was in America I would not have to handle icky gross meat that came from I don't even know what so that my guard could cook it for the dogs.

If I was in America, I would not have dogs.

So, I guess it is obvious, that this week has been an enlightening week as far as culture adjustment goes. Poor Gary had to witness my tears of frustration yesterday in the office of the car insurance company. It seems that in culture adjustment, there are days when I laugh and days when I cry. I can laugh at all of these things today, my emotions are often a pendulum swinging from extreme joy to frustration... but after all... I am an American girl.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Arriving

It is odd that as I prepare for my team to depart, I feel as if I have been arriving. Every now and then I have these moments when I feel as if I have "arrived" as far as learning language and culture. Now, I know I will never fully "arrive" but these little milestones serve as encouragement. As mentioned in previous posts Annelle had to leave a little over a month ago, Carter's are on furlough, Woods are in Kenya. Kendra came for a visit. Two short term teams came as well. The last team left last friday. Scott leaves on Sunday. Kendra leaves on Monday. Gary and Judy will head back to Kenya this next week, with the promise that most likely one or both of them or all three of them (Jack too!) will be coming almost weekly between now and when they move down in December!

Are you confused yet? I am.

This is the reason for a lack of an entry for the month of October, but worry not, at least there will be 1! A LOT has been going on. I have helped to host the teams that came to work with Scott and Annelle Price, filling in for Annelles role in her absence. This put me in the role of Hospitality, cooking, debriefing, loving, encouraging, challenging, translating and shopping. WHAT FUN!

I found a new pad. Landing pad that is, as I am holding out until moving next week to stop and rest. At that point, I imagine I will land my backside on the couch for a day or two. Rest is lacking and very much needed. Up until today I thought there was no way I would be moving in the beginning of next week. There were many things that needed to happen for security purposes. They are almost finished. This whole house experience has been a lesson in trust. I will say I had a moment of "arrival" a few days ago when I was at the home of my day guard and he, another CMFer, another guard and I were joking...in SWAHILI! I can joke in swahili. It was definately a moment of arrival.

Another moment of "arrival" came today. I have effectively learned enough swahili to give a fundi (worker) a piece of my mind (in Christian love of course!) To add to the delight it was over the phone! (I have found it most difficult to talk to people in swahili on the phone as they are quite difficult to understand through the static.) Anyhow, I was able to express my disappointment in the work that was (or rather, was not) getting done. When I hung up, my guard who was standing there through the whole conversation commented, "Pam, you know swahili."

And then there was another of "arrival." For some reason, even though there is an agreement and all parts are in working order, for the last week to 10 days there has not been water at the house. I am more than annoyed. Today my guard (he is a very helpful guy if you haven't noticed) showed me how to get to the office of the guy who I have an agreement with through my landlord. In swahili, I was able to again express my needs, and my preferences and negotiate the need for water to be pumped to my house today. He promised it would happen. (sidenote: when I left the house at 8pm tonight there still was no water.) We are going back tomorrow for another moment of "arrival."

Taking the groups shopping I experienced a different type of "arrival" when we showed up at the tourist market for gifts. My friend Mama Iran (from previous post) sat me down and we talked about why I had not been there for a while. I told the group they had an hour or so until we would leave for lunch. What felt like a few minutes later the guests showed up to where mama Iran and I were sitting and apologized for being late. I had been sitting, chatting, giggling, encouraging and been encouraged all in Swahili...for over an hour! I remember a few months ago when 5 minutes of talk seemed like days! That day time flew by without me noticing!

Then there are finances. To be honest, they are aren't my strong point. CMF is great in that they expect a report on every cent or tanzanian shilling spent. This past month I finally did mine all by myself. This is a HUGE point of "arrival" in that when everyone leaves I will have no choice but to do it by myself! That, and I am taking over a portion of the CMF finances here in Tanzania as the team leaves! YIKES!

The next several days promise new opportunities for arrival. Tomorrow the fundi's are supposed to finish the work. Tomorrow I get to go seek out answers again to my water problems. Saturday I get to go to a clinic opening in Kenya. Sunday I say goodbye to my team leader and trust that I can get by on my own for a few months. Monday I say goodbye to Kendra, who hopefully will return quickly. Tuesday I move into the house. Wednesday I pick up the two dogs I recently adopted. (I know, those of you who know I am not a dog-lover are in shock. They are for protection, but since they are cute puppies I think we might become friends too =)) There will surely be more on them later. Thursday I will start to recover from the last 5-6 weeks and look for more moments of arrival.

Saturday, September 30, 2006

Gaining Confidence

My 6 month anniversary passed without incident. So much so that I nearly made it through the day without realizing it was here. That is possibly because so much has been going on.

September brought some sad news. The Delaughter family is no longer going to be working with us. This means the CMF Tanzania Urban Team is me, and the hopefully soon to arrive Kendra. A little stressful to say the least. Kendra is an amazing gal who has been raising support to work with our team for 3 years and also to work as our Field Business Administrator. Her roles are huge on our team, but the support is not coming in. I need her partnership as I start this ministry. The team needs her partnership as Scott has been filling in as FBA and not able to do what his heart came here to do. We need Kendra. Anyone interested in supporting her email me!

A work team of 7 arrived sunday night to work with Scott and Annelle. Annelle had to make an unexpected trip to the States a week ago last wednesday. Gary and Judy came down and the three of us are helping Scott to care for his team. It says a lot about Annelle, that it takes three of us to replace what she would have done! My job is mostly relational, getting the little odd jobs done, and cooking. Cooking for 12 is fun, but there are some allergies on this team which make it a little more difficult. Thankfully, the CMF staff don't have any allergies. On the work team we have one who is diabetic, one who can't have any sodium nitrate, and one who can't have sugar, wheat or dairy! Yikes! Find a menu that accomodates all of those, that is easy to cook for a large group! No casseroles this week!

This week was also our bi-annual team meeting. This meeting is to review the goals from the last year, and set goals for the next year. As well as to talk about any issues the team needs to discuss. I have a love-hate relationship with these meetings. It is exciting to review what has been accomplished and also exciting to dream about the next year, but I really detest meetings of any kind...hence comes the love-hate relationship.

I signed a lease on a house yesterday. With all of the changes that have taken place on our team I thought it necessary to move closer to the rest of the team (they all live on the NW side of Arusha) and the office (also on the NW side of Arusha.) I live on the SE side. Traffic, bad drivers, increased work outside of the home etc. all pointed in the direction of moving. Also, there is the potential of 2 college gals coming to stay for 5-6 months in January, and I don't have room for them in my apt. The great news is that I found a house that can house us all, and future teams, that rents for less than half the rent of my apartment! I was thrilled and jumped on the opportunity. Needless to say I didn't think of how busy times are this month. Another team arrives for two weeks a week from tomorrow. I will help Scott with that team as well. Kendra will be here for the month of October too. She doesn't have the support to come and stay, but we really needed her here, so she is coming for the month. We also hope that in her time here she will get a better glimpse and vision about what she is doing and be able to better communicate to her supporters...and gain the support she needs to get here. (Sidenote: if you are interested in supporting a very much needed part of our team here, email me, I will get you all of the details.)

The house, comes with a little work. This leads to my point of gaining confidence. I managed to hire a fundi (worker) to put grills in the windows and doors (to prevent unwanted intruders) all by myself! In Swahili! I was thrilled. This is not to say that I am fluent. We did use some hand gestures, and laughed a bit, but he was patient and talked slow enough and enunciated so I could understand him! I was elated. As for the grills in the windows, this is commonplace, even the Tanzanians have them here. It takes some getting used to, you feel like you are in a jail by having bars in the windows and and extra gate with bars padlocked outside your door, but after a while you stop noticing these things!

Things left of the list before moving:
  • Buy a generator (did I mention the power is out 12 hours a day now.)
  • Stay on top of the fundi to make sure the job gets finished in time.
  • Find guard dogs. (big scary looking ones that are sweet and kind to me are preferred :)
  • Find guards.
  • Transfer my contract with the security company from the apartment to the house.
  • Find curtains. (the house has many windows, which is nice, but not at night!)
  • Find some guys to move the stuff.
  • Pack my stuff.

Not a lot, I suppose, just a lot of other things going on to get in the way.

Other than that, not too much else to report. The goals are set for Urban ministry for 2007. I should be slated to start in late January early February 2007. It is a little overwhelming to think of starting this ministry by myself. Did I mention there is a quality gal who has become a dear friend and partner in ministry that is raising support in the states! She would love to come ASAP, and I would love for her to be here ASAP, so if you are interested in supporting her, drop me an email!

Grace,
Pam

Monday, September 18, 2006

Hakuna Maji. Hakuna Umeme.

Peek a boo!


Blog Title Translation: There is no water. There is no power.

In my apartment that is.

I guess I had it coming. I have been quite fortunate when it came to the power rations, however, today was my day, and it all came crashing down. No power. No big deal. Add in no water...it becomes a bigger deal. I should not complain, I have been here 6 months and have had very few probablems, and these are common for many people I know...just thought I would put the word out there...I am not immune to the no water, no power bug that comes through Arusha and its surrounding areas.


On a less griping note (where is the gripe-smacker when you need it!) I had an incredible weekend. A friend had a guest, who needed (as if we ever NEED) to go on safari, so I took inventory of what I had left of my paycheck and decided that I needed to go as well. We made it cheap by not hiring a tour company, and just drove my car, so we just had to pay for park admission and gas. IT WAS INCREDIBLE! I have never experienced something so spectacular in my life, aside from assisting a dear gal with 2 of her childbirth experiences! I put a few (very few, internet is slow today) photos on the flickr site (link to the right). Here are a few for your viewing pleasure. The animals were so close, it was incredibly cool, but a bit creapy as well! In one picture, you can see the elephant, rather large I might say, crossing the road in front of my car, and you can tell how close it is by the fact that you can see the edge of my hood in the bottom right hand corner.





enough for now. your dirt covered friend must head to bed. no water to shower. maybe tomorrow.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

If anyone has been reading my blog lately, i realize that the last several entries are quite somber...down right near to depressing...but I have got Good News for YOU!

Today, I plugged my ipod in to charge it. It I received the video ipod as a gift for my birthday just before heading to Africa. My brother recommended it, and I thought he was crazy (still working on the honesty here!) but I must admit, he was right. I use it DAILY! I use it at the gym, in the car, in traffic...on the bus to Nairobi. If this thing lasts for the next four years it will be a miracle! I really should write Mac and see if they want me to be their spokesperson, cause I have really become a fan of the ipod and itunes. I don't usually let products take up this much space on my blog...

Well, it seems, that itunes has just gotten better! THEY HAVE MOVIES! Yep. Now I can not only pay to download the latest television shows, audio books and music, but the latest movies as well! What a joy! I should buy stock in Mac. if I had the money maybe I would, but it seems like my spare money goes to purchasing music instead...and I have a feeling that now that there are movies, I will have to put myself on an itunes budget!

Did I mention they have gift cards? this is a smart company.

My heart resounds...

O Lord my God, Light of the blind, and Strength of the weak; yea also Light of those that see, and Strength of the strong: hearken unto my soul, and hear it crying out of the depths.
- - Augustine

Seasons of grief...

I have a friend, who is incredibly honest with her supporters and challenges me to be honest as well. In a few days, I will mark my 6 month anniversary. WOW! I greet this day with excitment, but also with sadness, as it means that it has been six months since I have seen my family. I didn't see them all that often when I lived in America, but I am learning, that, just knowing I can see them makes all of the difference.

So I have found, in recent weeks that there are seasons in the cultural adjustment process. Seasons of great Joy, and seasons of grieving. Right now it is safe to say that I am in a season of grieving. I can't just call up mom for a mexican meal, or even just call my brother in the middle of the night to tell him I care about him. I can't plan a last minute trip to sit on the beach with dad in Florida. I grieve the late nights at the howard house and the weekly trips to Kokomo to visit the Hoshaws. I grieve worshipping at E91, common ground and NCC, and I grieve missing Della pounce in my door on her way to school when I interned at NCC. I grieve so many things...I grieve thursday night girl nights, womens bible studies, and so much more.

I am told that these seasons come and go. No matter how long I am here, I will have seasons of grief. The good part, is that I am promised seasons of Joy as well.

Thursday, September 07, 2006

How's that for honesty...

It was a big weekend. Probably the biggest since I have been here. And I survived. I would love to say that I conquered, but I am very well aware that I did not. For those of you thinking about the mission field or moving away from family, when you tell yourself it won't be a big deal to miss an event...you're wrong.

I told myself that missing the wedding this past weekend wouldn't be so bad...after all, my brother and his wife have been legally married for over a year, and I went to the official "I Do's" at the courthouse, knowing I would miss the "wedding." I didn't think it would be so hard. I didn't realize that I would cry each day in the week before. I didn't think I would miss family so much. Basically, I didn't think.

But I did survive the weekend. I have three great girlfriends who joined me on a trip to Nairobi. We had big plans, eating at Java House, going to a movie and shopping. We did all three, had some laughs, and had some difficult moments as well. I will point out that I did have a real "american" donut (it was actually called and american donut!) and I had a burrito! I spoke english the whole weekend, and often times had to remind myself that I was in Africa! I would even go to say that I experienced some reverse culture shock over the weekend.

As much as I tried to hide the fact that my heart was breaking inside, I think they knew, that although my physical being was with them, my mind and heart were elsewhere. I had to force myself to keep from calculating the time and wondering, "what are they up to now?" But as friends often do, they stuck by me, and didn't push or pry, just let me be. I thank God for such friendships.

I have said it before, and I will probably say it a hundred more times. The hardest part for me in being here is missing out on big events. I missed the wedding. Who knows when my big brother will have kids, but most likely, I won't meet them in their infancy, unless I am lucky enough that they are born while I am on furlough, but I have to remember that that is part of the life I have chosen, albiet the hard part. I will miss graduations, anniversaries, promotions, job changes, etc. It didn't seem to bother me to miss these things when I lived near my family, now it kills me to think about missing them. I can handle the days without electricity. I can handle weird food. I can handle not being respected because I am a woman. I can handle the bug bites and the dust. Sometimes I wonder how long I can handle being separated from family, and I wonder, how long o Lord, until I will see them again.

Monday, August 28, 2006

Testing the four wheel drive...gravity..and having some fun!

A friend of ours had friends in town over the weekend. They decided they wanted to go paragliding so we went along too! I watched, as I wanted to save my money for my trip to Nairobi this weekend, but Tanya received her own flight as a birthday gift from Anna. After a somewhat nerve racking ride in four wheel drive we managed to get atop a hill overlooking Arusha! What a view! Tanya had her chance to test gravity and we all decided that it is such a cheap (about $15 US) activity we must do it again...ALL OF US! A bit nerve racking for a someone who really likes to keep her feet on the ground! More pictures on the Flickr site. (link to the right)
Tanya gets ready...
She gets set...
And off she goes! Goofing off while we wait for her to make it back ...
One of my favorite pictures from the day...

As I mentioned, heading to Nairobi, Kenya this weekend! I am excited to get out of town, as it is a hard week. My brothers wedding is this weekend in Houston, TX, and I won't be there. Before I left, I thought it wouldn't be so difficult to miss, after all, he has been married for a year and I made it to the courthouse event...but it just isn't the same. It is hard knowing my entire family will be in the same place celebrating...and I will be here. I think this is quite possibly the hardest episode of homesickness I have had so far. Prayers are very much appreciated!
The girls and I thought getting out of Arusha would be good. So, even though it doesn't compare, we are heading to Nairobi to "rest." (AKA go to the MOVIE THEATER!) We decided we must go all out...after all, none of us have been to a theater since we arrived in Tanzania! (however, rumors say Arusha is going to get her own movie theater soon!) We don't even care what is showing...well, I guess we care, but we are so excited we can't hold it in!
Still doing language and modules! I am learning a ton, and so thankful for the training program CMF requires I complete. Some think it quite odd, many though, when they see what I am learning with their org made them do something similar.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

I've Fallen in Love...

I realized today as I was driving up Temi Hill towards town, that I am one of the lucky ones. As I looked up towards Mountain Meru and saw the sun cast its sunset shadow, I realized Arusha has taken up a special place in my heart. I realized, that this place is becoming normal to me, it is becoming home, and I am lucky, because I like it...ALOT!

I was overtaken by emotion when I realized that I will miss this crazy town when I leave. I have fallen in love with this community, with its people, with its nuances, with its beauty, with its culture, with is street vendors, used clothings markets, beggars and with its bad drivers and dala dalas!

I am a fortunate one. I love my job. I love what I feel I have been created to do, and I love the place I am doing it in. I don't think it could get any better than this...well maybe if I had someone to share it with...maybe oneday I will find that love.

We've got a problem...BEES!

** Anyone reading this should note, that I am writing from what I have heard, not from what I have seen, as I am have no need whatsoever to go near the mission center at the present time...and I have no desire to do so either!

Scott mentioned our little (sarcasm) problem a few weeks ago in our team prayer time. It seems, that the CMF mission center, and the surrounding village is fighting a battle with bees. The problem lies, in that these aren't just normal bees, they are African Bees, also known as the African Killer Bees. Aparently they like the wood in the easements of the three homes out on the mission center...ALOT! Here is a picture of what I think is an entrance to a hive...as I am told they actually prefer to live up inside the easment/attic area:


These bees are dangerous in that if you are stung by one, it sends a signal, and others come and sting as well. They are more protective of their hive, and more easily agitated. Scott was stung last week, and fortunately was close enough to a door that he got in the house in a hurry. These bees don't hang out, as Scott puts it, they just attack you.

Fortunately no lives on our mission center have been lost...except that of one of the guard dogs, but we are told that many people in the surrounding village have been stung and had to go to the clinic and some have died.

Please pray that the bees would just go away. That there would once again be peace in this village.


Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Polka Dotted Pam...

So I am still itchy, and a bit polka dotted, but not nearly as bad as I was on Sunday.

Monday, after the spots continued to spread, itch, and hurt for the fourth day in a row, a friend and I decided to be brave and go to the local clinic. (Anna was sick as well, so we used the buddy system.)

Here is the take of the day at the clinic:

10:00 Arrive in the lobby of the jam packed clinic.
10:10 Still waiting with the mass of people to check in.
10:15 Following the African example before us, we push our way in front of the people who cut in front of us and check in.
11:30 Still waiting
12:45 Our names are called, and we think, HOORAY! We are told to go stand in a line to have our vitals checked.
1:15 Our vitals are checked and recorded. We stand in another line to pay for our visit (before seeing the dr.)
1:45 We are still waiting.
2:00 Our names are called again. We wait in line outside the door to the dr's room.
2:05 It is my turn to see the dr. I enter. He looks at me and says, "you don't look sick. why are you here?" I then pull up my sleeves and point towards my face neck and back showing the many red bumps on my body. Explain that they are itch and burn and are spreading each day. He says, you are allergic to something and gives me a prescription for who knows what.
2:08ish. I wait in another line to get my prescription.
2:15 I am told I have to pay for the prescription first, and must go to another line.
2:20 Back in prescription line, with receipt in hand.
2:30 In car, leaving clinic. Still polka dotted, itchy and burning.

All in all it wasn't that bad of a visit, even though it took FOUR hours and we were the only white people present and were the object of everyones attention!

A few things I noticed:
the many lines. (obvious)
paying before being seen.
The pushiest person is seen first. Then it reverts to first come first serve. (ie. the deathly ill are probably seen last unless someone is willing to push for them.)
Everyone dresses up for the clinic, wearing there sunday best, no joke!

Today, the spots are fading, and I am thankful. However, everywhere I went today (the market and gas station) everyone asked, "what is wrong with you?" There is really no anonymity here. Although I don't know what I was reacting to, I have an idea. And maybe one day I will have the courage to test my theory, until then, I will just avoid all possible options!

Sunday, August 20, 2006

It reminds me of the chicken pox...

Fortunately I have already had the chicken pox. And fortunately I know what chicken pox look like, and the little red itchy spots that have appeared on my body are do not look anything like them.

It started on Thursday last week. I got out of the shower and had a few itchy bumps on my hands. I first thought they were flea bites, and that I had got them from the family I was staying with...but then...throughout the day, more and more appeared, covering my hands. They itched ferociously. I started carrying hydrocortizone cream with me.

Friday some appeared on my neck.

Saturday they appeared on my face. I look like a pizza face. I don't like looking like a pizza face.

Today, I have a few more on my feet.

Thankfully no fever, or other illness to report, just insane itching. I have asked person after person and no one seems to know what it is. I have learned of new bugs since I have been here as one person says...it must be the mango worm. Then someone else says no, mango worm bites don't look like that...and they suggest another bug. I think if more appear tomorrow, I might risk going to the clinic...but something tells me they won't know what it is either, and they tell me to put hydrocortizone cream on it...

Thursday, August 17, 2006

The petting zoo...starring Pam McKerring!

In the last few weeks, I have made a few decisions that stand out in my mind. Two of which I thought I would share with you...

1. I chose, meaning I didn't have to, it wasn't even suggested, but I CHOSE to put myself into a Tanzanian home for a few weeks to learn about how Tanzanians really live. Some would argue that this was a crazy idea, I had several Tanzanians tell me I was a fool, and then laugh at me. But I would say, that this is by far the best decision I have made since my arrival to Arusha. I now have a better understanding of life here. I also have a community within this community that feels very much like a second home. oh yeah...my swahili has improved too!

2. The other decision was not such a good one. I allowed myself to dream about what it would be like if I got a plane ticket and surprised my brother by showing up at his wedding on September 2. I blissfully imagined giving him a hug, and participating in the roast, and maybe even showing up in costume (my family has a few crazy traditions.) This was not a wise decision, as it made me want to be there even more. Instead of spending $4500 traveling the 30 hours 1 way to America (I dreamed long enough to look it up, poor decision number 3), I will likely travel to Nairobi, Kenya (much cheaper, more affordable, and shorter trip) to be distracted by some girlfriends. I am wondering if it will work.

Now to the petting zoo...starring me...which is the real reason you all are reading this post. Believe it or not, some people in Tanzania have never seen a white person face to face, or been close enough to touch them. I encountered a girl, who was so incredibly facinated by my white skin that she couldn't help but touch, poke, and pinch. She then moved to my hair. I had it pulled back, but it didn't stop her from pulling it out of its ponytail, inspecting, and feeling it. So what do you do, when you are sitting on a stool, and a young girl is pulling your fingers and toes, your hair, pinching your arms, looking intently at your freckles and inspecting you like you were an alien? Remember that you are an alien, endure, and breathe a sigh of relief when she stops. Life is always a bit interesting.

Monday, August 14, 2006

How's your soul?

Someone asked me this question lately...and while I must say I am doing well...a recent journal entry reflects how my heart is doing...

"I have come to realize that the hard part of being here is not so much the physical challenges or the annoying cultural differences that occur in everyday life. I think I could eat Ugali and drink Loshoro until I became sick and I would still be ok. It is instead, the loss of intimate friendships, the changing of those relationships, the missing of family events and even the daily family occurances that bring heartache big enough to make me want to turn back.

It is at this juncture that I must remember that no one friend or family member aside from God can meet my emotional and relational needs. Turning back would bring a greater pain and a greater void as I would be turning away from the thing I believe I was created to do, and also turn away from the one who created me to do it. I press on, knowing, that God walks this path with me, and knowing that as He is the one who can meet all my needs, I want to walk as close and near to Him as I possibly can and watch those needs be met.

Be near me Lord Jesus."

Saturday, August 12, 2006

I am so incredibly White...

Now for all of those who know me, you know I was blessed, through my wonderful Irish heritage, with white, and I mean WHITE, skin! It doesn't take a brain surgeon to figure out, that just being white here would cause me to stand out.

Some might say that wouldn't be too big of an issue, but for me, the introvert, who likes to blend in as much as possible, there are days where I can hardly stand it. But the fact remains, I am white, and I am a novelty. It isn't something kept quiet. When I walk down the street, people yell..."Mzungu...Mzungu!" Then try any english they know, and then the part that is most disturbing...they pet you. Thursday, I had about had enough when I was talking with a few girls in the village. One of them started touching my toes, pulling on them, then started pinching my arm, and pulling on my ear lobe. It was about all I could take when I was reminded that I am new and strange to them. Thankfully after about 10 minutes of picking, she stopped, and I breathed an internal sigh of relief

The area I was in, they hardly ever see a white person, let alone have them staying in a home near them. Quite honestly, from what I understood, I was the first white person to actually "live" among them. Not only did I not know what to do...they didn't either! All they knew, was that white people from America, didn't live in mud houses, they had endless resources, and they know God better. I find the last remark a bit interesting, given the fact that some of the people I met in the last week have a much deeper and more committed faith than I do.

The more I continue in this module, the more I realize how misunderstood Africans are, and how misunderstood Americans are in this population. I am thankful for the opportunity presented to me to live among them, and learn from them. I am thankful also for the opportunity to set them straight about Americans. I pray that my example will leave a good taste for Americans (aside from being a financial resource) as well as be a good example of the God who loves them.

Friday, August 11, 2006

I NEED A HUSBAND!!!

Or at least that is what I was told!

There are so many things that I have learned in the last week, I am not sure I will get them down. I must admit I am still processing, still thinking through it all...but here are a few lessons learned...

Life for an African Woman is HARD!
This has little reflection on my physical surroundings in the last week, but more, reflects that work that the women do. It can easily be said, that they do all work pertaining to the home. All being, the cooking and cleaning, the farming, the selling of goods, the gathering and chopping of wood, the fetching of water, the taking care of the inlaws and the children.

Life for an African Woman who is not in a Christian Family is even HARDER!
I was told from talking with the ladies in this community, that they are the lucky ones. Their husbands are Christians and come home from work and at least respect them. They then proceeded to tell me how many families are falling apart because of the lack of standards and also the deception of alcohol, drugs and prostitution. They say, that many men, don't come home with money from work but instead go to town, spend it all on alcohol and prostitutes. He then returns home expecting food on the table. When there isn't food because he didn't bring home any money to buy the food, he then beats the wife. She and her kids go to bed starving and hurting.

And then there are the African girls.
The mama's all mentioned to me how sad it is that tradition has led to the pain of many girls who are sold into marriages with men who are old enough to be their father or grandfather. When she is unable to get pregnant, she is beaten and sent back to her parents. She is now used. She is able to get married again, but to find a spouse is a challenge.

To be my age and not married...is WEIRD!
Each day the topic came up, at least once, if not twice. It is a very odd thing for Tanzanian women to see a woman, who is 28 years old, living in Africa, without her parents or a husband. It literally, is beyond their comprehension. Girls are supposed to stay at home until they are married. And then, they are supposed to stay at that home. I AM A WEIRDO! (now I know many of you thought so already...save the jokes!) It was such a foreign idea to them, that these women were eager to help me out, many offered their sons to solve my problem of not having a husband...not to worry...I declined. I also learned that my lacking a husband, also effects the level of respect I receive in the community. A woman earns respect by marriage. She even earns more respect if she can produce a male child. I have done neither of which...I have little respect among the men. Mind you I am not opposed to marriage...it was just a whole new perspective on the subject to me.

The task ahead of us...is a BIG one!
Each day I get a little more of a glimpse of this. When I see how darkness has permeated this city, how the laws of other religions have oppressed women and children, when I see how the deceit of alcohol, drugs and prostitution have enabled such poverty to continue...I become challenged. We have a HUGE opportunity ahead of us...and we are thankful for this opportunity...the oppression itself brings us this opportunity to bring light into the lives of so many...but I recognize that this is not going to be easy. The darkness does not want us present. Thankfully, light always overpowers darkness.

The urban poor project...

My last post asked for prayers as the Urban Poor Team was meeting to begin talking strategy. This is the first of I am sure many meetings, but it was really to just bring to the table what God had been putting on our hearts so far as we look at the Arusha Urban CHE program.

I left that meeting encouraged and excited about heading into the poorer communities of Arusha. For lack of better words...I was pretty jazzed.

Friday morning, I had such an opportunity. Donnie Price, who I might say is an amazing photographer studying at Milligan, was in town visiting his parents. (Team Leaders Scott and Annelle Price). He asked if we needed any photos, video etc. and I jumped at the opportunity. Shockingly, even though I have been here almost 5 months, it was my first time to actually enter the slums. You can't just walk in, and you should always have a purpose in going. Since I was not proficient enough in the language and the starting of our project was so far off, there was no point in me going until now.

What an eye opening day. I can see how deception and oppression have removed all hope from these communities. We talked with many folks, one man, had 36, yes, 36, it is not a typo, children. He also had four wives. Sadly, he admitted that he could not tell you the names of all of his children or their ages. I could not even imagine what it must feel like to be his child. I am so greatful that my dad, and God the Father know so much about me!

We also had the rare occasion to meet one of the community leaders (much like a tribal chief) for a slum neighborhood. At first it was a bit scary. We were talking with a mama who was sitting outside her mud room with her children when we heard a man's voice behind us "Why are you to come into my neighborhood without first talking to the Committee?" We turned around to see a rather large, intimidating man dressed in his Friday Prayer clothing. Somehow, we were able to re-earn his respect. We had the joy of entering into his home, and talking with him. This man is a devout muslim. His community is 95% muslim. He wants development, but doesn't want Christianity. Yet, he was open to further discussion. At this point we are praying, we still aren't sure which neighborhood to enter first. This may be an open door. Pray with us for clarity.

In another slum, we encountered an older woman who was a Christian. She invited us in for tea, and as we sat and talked with her, saw how her life has been challenged by the darkness that is present in her neighborhood. Around the corner from her house is a local, home brewery, by home brewery it must be mentioned that this means a brewery in a shack. They showed us around, and the brew was so strong I thought I might become intoxicated by just smelling it. There was a crowd of men and women already there, at 10:30 am, obviously intoxicated.

In a third we encountered much of the same, and some prostitutes who were a little to eager to befriend the two men I was with. We talked briefly with them.

My words cannot adequately give you a picture of what we saw that day. I can only say that I left that day knowing this is a large task ahead of us, and I admit I was a bit overwhelmed by how bad the living conditions were. What an opportunity lies in front of us, and in front of God to redeem this town.

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Prayer requests and photos...

A quick note and some photos for you. Tomorrow, the CMF Tanzania Urban team will begin our discussions on the best strategy for beginning this new Community Health Evangelism project. This is an exciting time, as this is what I came for, but a little overhwelming too, as I am still doing modules and language learning. Planning ahead agrees with me, I am a natural planner...but I must say I am a bit intimidated by the daunting task of laying the ground work for this new ministry. Pray that we would hear the voice of God as we brainstorm (CHE has many different routes, methods, etc) the best possible way to reach the lost here. Pray that our team would be unified, and that progress would be made. I am sure this is the first of many meetings, but prayer would be appreciated!

Additional prayer would be appreciated as plans have finalized for me to move into the home of a national family on monday in order to work on my swahili. I will be leaving the comfort of my bed, kitchen (this is a big deal, I really like to cook), and hot shower. I am excited, but a bit nervous as I will be in a home that speaks little english, and it will be a traditional Tanzanian home, which brings amazing learning opportunities about the culture, but also a bit intimidating as I have never lived in such conditions. I don't know what the house looks like, I am just told it is a mud house (possibly similar to the one pictured below). I will come home on weekends, and will be sure to update you on my progress of adjustment and language learning.

Included some photos below as blogger was cooperating with me tonight! Enjoy.







Tuesday, August 01, 2006

The language of the horn...

I can count on my hands the number of times I used the horn of my car in the US. I have already exceeded that amount 100 times over. It dawned on me today that there is a language spoken by the horn.

There is a short "beep." used to tell bicycles and people to get out of your way.

There is a short "beep-beep." used to tell them a second time and to let them know that you are serious.

Then, there is the long "beeeeeeeeeep." This is used when you are in town to display your disgust to the person who is trying to cut you off.

My last, and most famous. Is the wedding honk. Here, weddings come with the wedding parade, and they occur all over town on saturdays and sundays causing terrific traffic jams. I hope to get a picture for you some day. And, with this honk, there is a notable rhythm with two short "beep-beeps" and a long "beeep, beep-beep."
A few hours ago, we said goodbye to some pretty quality girls. Katie, Emily, Morganne and Amber spent the summer with us, as part of CMF REACH internship program. It is safe to say that not only their lives were changed, but ours were as well. It was difficult to say goodbye, as they brought joy and laughter to us daily. Many memories were made, and I must say, that with all the practice of saying goodbyes that I have had over the last several months, that these goodbyes were not easy.

Friday, July 28, 2006

Where I'm From

I stumbled upon this poem on Jen's blog. She shared the template with me. Enjoy.

I am from the playground, fort, balance beam and sandbox in the back yard built by pa, cabbage patch dolls and Kraft Macaroni and Cheese.

I am from the only two story house on the block, standing out in all its pink glory, with a well manicured flower bed, bikes in the yard, and gutters perfect for playing in during a heavy rain.

From blizzards in winter and sweltering heat in summer.

I am from 1 present on Christmas eve, a mom who stayed home and cared for others' children so she could spend time with hers, from David, Penny and Matt.

I am from little league and volunteerism, getting corn from the farm, and riding my bike to school.

From mind your p's and q's, be respectful and leave things better than you found them.

I am from Catholicism turned Protestant, yet still confused as to why it was such a controversial switch for some in my family. From going to church when it was necessary to it being necessary all of the time.

I'm from Security, CO; Oscoda, MI; Indianapolis, IN; spaghetti, roast beef, and homemade and hand decorated birthday cakes.

From the tombstone pizzas in Central City, CO, summer road trips to Michigan with days spent on the beach of Lake Huron and the water of the Ausable River. From yearly canoe trips, water skiing and tubing.

I am from the box in mom's attic that holds reminders of my life, the pictures I painted as a kid, the letters from friends, the journals, the yearbooks, the college notes and the homemade ornaments on mom's tree.

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Stumbling...fumbling...ooh the pain!

I started this blog entry about 5 days ago. My mood was much different then. Here is the "up" version. Prepare yourselves it will be a long one.

Last week was a rough week. I thought I had learned to walk over 27 years ago, but apparently I still haven't mastered it. (this is an important detail later).

Monday: while carefully backing out of a friends driveway, I bump their gate, while their guard was watching, and therefore have my first dent (albiet it is quite small) and paint transfer on my (rather CMF's) car. My car is fine. My pride was hurt, and I get a little rosy every time I go back to their house and see their guard.

Tuesday: I have a loft in my apt. which works as the perfect office. I was walking up the stairs, and tripped, which of course was physically painful, however the greatest pain experienced occured as I watched the video camera I was carrying, that I had borrowed, fumble out of my hands and hit the floor.

Wednesday: I spent a great amount of the morning looking online for an exact replica of video camera from tuesday so I could purchase a new one for the original owner. Upon heading downstairs I tripped again, on the same step (that cursed step) and fell down the hard, uneven, solid stairs. There are still some sitting positions that are painful.

Thursday: I was able to laugh with teammates as I shared my humbling week. I also praised God that I had not fallen or broken anything that day.

Friday: Still laughing. Still no new breaks or bruises.

Saturday: I went to the "supermarket" to get a few things that I can't/shouldn't get at the local market. While walking out, I tripped over the curb, fell flat on my face with groceries in hand. Not laughing any longer, I had to somehow fight the tears that were coming as I tried to convince the massive crowd of Tanzanians who came to my assistance that I was ok. Not laughing. Pride is hurt. You know, in America, everyone would pretend they didn't see you and walk on. Not sure yet which is worse, having a horde of strangers speaking swahili come to your service (also informing you they saw everything) or feeling incredibly lonely because people in the states would rarely respond. Hmm.

I will add that I bought myself roses on the way home. I felt I deserved them. They are less than a dollar for a dozen, so why not! I broke a glass as I was trying to arrange them on my kitchen table. (mental note, if I ever get around to buying a vase, it better be plastic)

Sunday: What a redeeming day! I went to a village church. Sadly, my first village church experience. Although they made me stand up and introduce myself in front of everyone, I loved it. I also know that I shouldn't have to do that again, as they only make first time visitors make a fool of themselves!

Monday: I woke up to my phone ringing at 4:15 AM. Once I got over the fear of bad news (sad how we all think it must be bad news when it rings in the middle of the night) I fought tears when I heard my dad's voice. There was no bad news. He just wanted to say hi and took me seriously when I said call anytime day or night. I love that he did. I love that he called at 4:15am. 45 minutes later i tried to go back to sleep, but was so excited I had to fight. I eventually fell asleep...with a smile on my face.

Tuesday: grief set in. I fought it all day on monday after dad and I talked about my brothers upcoming wedding. He is married, but didn't have a wedding. The wedding is Labor Day weekend. At first I thought, I was at the legal wedding, I won't miss being there too much. I was wrong. Boy was I wrong. The closer it gets, the harder it gets. I am going to miss one of the biggest days in my brothers/aka favorite person's life. I can't begin to fathom not being there. The day will come. I know it will be here before I know it. You can pray on that day. I am sure it will be a difficult one.

I also learned on tuesday that I have three key ways of procrastinating besides the internet. Cleaning. Cooking. TV/Movies. I didn't have a car as my windshield was being replaced from when I had a rock thrown at me a little over a month ago. I also didn't have a computer because I had lent it to the interns for a few days. I was stuck in my house. You would have thought I would have gotten a lot of swahili accomplished or module work done. But I must admit I did very little of either. There are days, when I want to forget I am here. I don't want to think in another language let alone study it. I don't want to learn more about being here. I want to do normal things. So I cleaned. I washed the sheets on my bed, the two twin beds, and did an additional three loads of laundry. I experimented in my kitchen. I watched a movie and ate a heath bar. I watched the same movie a second time a few hours later. I wasted the day. I felt a little guilty. But today, I was again refreshed. I was excited about being here, and eager to get out there.

Wednesday: A day in the market. I LOVE the market. Not only do I love that I can get all of my fruits and vegetables for under $5 for the whole week, but I love the culture, the people, the chaos. I talked with the women and remembered why I was here. My heart was again overflowing with love for them. Their joy at my progressing swahili influenced me to press on, and I am again excited about opening that text and starting the LAMP route. I have also decided that try living with a Swahili-only speaking family to try and pick up swahili more effectively. I am going to try staying with a family monday-friday for three weeks to begin with. After that my next course starts. Hopefully it will work. I know enough to get by now. Which makes it difficult to learn more. Also spent the day with two of the interns. I can't believe they leave next week. They have been a blessing. that is an understatement. They will be severely missed.