Friday, April 28, 2006

Are you sure I am in Africa?

If you stood inside my apartment today and peered out the window, you wouldn't guess that you were in Africa, as the scene outside was a day of rain! It honestly reminds me of a midwestern fall day...and I am 3 degrees south of the Equator? God continues to answer the prayers of many, and provide much needed rain.

However within a few minutes, you would figure out that you were indeed in Africa, when you went to the bathroom to find water on the floor. Apparently, the landlord hasn't fixed the leaking roof so when it rains outside, it rains inside! I called him about it, and he said he ws fixing it right now...I wonder how this could I called from the bathroom, and there was no evidence of anyone being on the roof! Ironically, the only dry part of that bathroom is the shower!

Fortunately, I am still able to laugh at these things and not get frustrated!

Thursday, April 27, 2006

Rain Rain Don't Go Away!

Caedmon's Call coined a song years ago, but the lyrics have been going through my head for the last several weeks!

The chorus goes something like this:

rain rain don't go away
we need you this dry and dusty day
rain rain don't go away
though some may say please go away

East Africa has been suffering from a terrible drought for many years, and I must say, God has heard and answered our prayers for rain. My pictures here do not do the rain justice. Suffice it to say, that it has rained at least a small bit, but most often A LOT each day since I have arrived in Tanzania! Even with all this rain, our team will not complain, and we continue to encourage you to ask for more. We are still a long way from recovering from the drought. The rains that caused this outdoor restaraunt to flood, caused water to run through streets causing them to look like rivers, and the rivers...the look like rivers too! Praise God for His provision! Pray also, for the Tanzanians to be safe as the rushing waters can be quite dangerous. Because the ground is so dry, it doesn't take long for the puddles to dry up, in fact, the puddle pictured was dry by the time we finished with dinner!

This past week, I spent with teammates Gary and Judy Woods, pictured below. They weren't listed on the blog with my team intros, because Judy was out of town! Anyhow, we had our annual team meeting and it was easier on everyone if I stayed with Gary and Judy since I still don't have a car! It worked out well for me because I was able to spend time with Gary and Judy and get to know them better! I also had the pleasure of discovering where to get amazing pancakes!
While I was gone, apparently someone else decided they would move into my apartment! Not to worry, this 8 legged creature was quickly scorned, and informed that I was in fact paying the rent and I did not think he would be a good roommate. I am happy to report that the can of DOOM! lives up to its name, as this bug, who very much resembles a cockroach is no longer living! I am also thrilled to report, that I won my first bug encounter in Africa, and I plan on buying more DOOM! to keep on hand for future occurances!

Some have asked if I have made decisions about where to study Swahili. Well with much prayer, discussion with others, wavering, prayer, wavering, prayer, and more wavering I decided I will apply to take the course here in Arusha. I also, will be starting with a language helper (tutor) starting next week. I think the combination will allow me to learn the structure of the language and also the common slang and phrases used around town. I have been able to learn quite a bit by just listening, so I hope that by having a tutor, practicing in the market, and going to school, I will be able to pick up even more. By staying in town, I am also awarded the time to continue to get to know my team, and my new home better, both things I am very excited about.

I still haven't found a car. I am often reminded how difficult it is to buy a car in the US. As a girl I always question whether or not the seller is being honest. Well, add in a new culture, a new language, and the fact that Wazungu (white people) are believed to have much money, I often wonder if I am being taken... A teammate has suggested a website where you can get a reliable used car and have it shipped to TZ from Japan, but it is weird to buy a car that I have never seen except in pictures. We heard that I could get a brand new car shipped over here as well, but it was $7000 over my budget so it was scratched. Back to the used market I go! Thankfully, a family on our team is going on furlough in two weeks and they have offered to let me use their car while they are gone until I can find one. This eases the pressure a bit.

Some have asked about bus transportation or bikes. My location is not suitable for a bike, it would take a good hour to get anywhere that my team meets or gathers. It would take a couple hours to get to school when school starts. There are busses here, however the color of my skin makes me a target and thus, my team recommends not riding one alone.

It was great hearing from all of you! I could not express to you how much it blesses me to hear what is going on in your lives! I love to hear the stories about your day to day and what is going on in the United States.

Saturday, April 22, 2006

Yes...that man is carrying a toilet!

So today I did something that I had been putting off, I labeled myself a tourist and took pictures around Arusha. I couldn't bring myself to do it completely, I already stand out, and well, I want to be known one day as a resident, not a tourist, so the pictures are taken from in the car while it is moving...pride...gets in the ways sometimes! Enjoy!

For the shopper out there...there are a variety of ways to purchase your goods...with a variety of prices as well. You could go to what I like to call the "farmers markets" of Arusha:

Or you could go to our local "walmart" a.k.a Shoprite: Another option is to have a pleasant conversation with one of these lovely ladies:

Or...if you feel like can chase after these ladies who have bananas on their head, trying to not get run over...did I mention yet that pedestrians DO NOT have the right of way:

Many of you have asked many questions. What do I eat here? What do I miss? What is the weirdest thing I have eaten? What is the hardest part? What do I enjoy the most? So, in short...

I eat many things that I used to eat in the US. I cook for myself (now that I have a fridge and stove!) so I can eat what I am willing to fix. Today I had my first Tanzanian dish Wali Rost (Roast beef...I think that is what it was...and rice). This meal furthered the thoughts of becoming a vegetarian! There are things that are hard to find, mexican seasonings and the sort come with a hefty price. I have been eating a lot of fruits and vegetables and pastas and rice. I learned a lesson on the rice, it isn't instant rice, so beware! You have to prepare it differently!

What do I miss? Of course YOU! This week has been a real eye opening week. I am now realizing all that I left in the US, and miss it. This is normal, so I just trust God as I walk through these emotions. I also miss good cheese. I became spoiled in Oregon, and became a cheese snob. The cheese here...will never compare... What I wouldn't give for some extra sharp cheddar! I also miss my independence. With being so new, and not having transportation, and being a girl...etc...there are limits to my freedom. I can't just come and go when I please like I could in the US. It has been a humbling experience to rely and depend on others so much...not something I am used to doing.

I haven't eaten anything weird. Sorry to disappoint you. The meat however, I think comes pretty close!

What is the hardest part? Everything is hard, but it is all worth it. I was talking with a teammate today about missing family, and that life is not too different here, but it is hard to be away when life is going on in your former home without you. There is a desire to be in both places...

What do I enjoy the most? The PEOPLE! Tanzanians are so friendly! My favorite experiences have been going to the markets. It is extremely intimidating in that I don't know enough swahili to have a decent conversation with the wonderful people there, but I love it all the same. I look forward to learning and growing with them as I tackle swahili!

Friday, April 21, 2006

A new way of life...

I find myself doing things I have never done before. Of course, you all knew that would be the case...I live in Africa now, and that means life is obviously going to be different! But there are a few things I never ever thought I would see myself doing. Note, that I laugh through each of these and I hope you do too! Here go:
  • This may gross you out, but I no longer shower everyday...too much of a hassle.
  • I now wash out ziplock bags, with gentle caution, so they won't break.
  • I get excited that the local grocery has tortillas (something I never expected to see here) and put forth the equivalent of $11US for them. They may never be there again, maybe I should have bought two packages.
  • I eat ham sandwiches. For those of you who don't know me well enough, I dislike ham very much, but it is the only lunch meat available.
  • Speaking of meat, I have seriously thought about becoming a vegetarian, nothing I ever thought I would do...I love chicken too much. But, when you drive down the road and see cows walking through streams filled with you-know-what and then see them eating out of a garbage makes you wonder what you are getting when you eat. Oh by the way, you see chickens doing the same thing.
  • I sang praises to Jesus for an oven. The singing praises isn't necessarily a new thing, but an oven is a big deal...I never said thanks for an appliance before!
  • I now regularly check the temperature in my refrigerator. (I sang praises for that appliance too!) With the power fluctuating, you never know if it is cold enough...or too cold...and ruin a whole head of lettuce because it froze overnight!
  • Text messaging. I know many of you Text Message or rather txt msg, however I never did this in the states, and I still find it a bit of a hassle, but it costs less than the phone call.
  • Eating yogurt with fruit in it! Just ask Lisa. I used to have texture issues with food.
  • "no mango's please" This mango lover said those words the other day... a mango a day... is too many mango's!
  • Making brownies from scratch...Oh, by the way, when you bake in Arusha, you should look for a recipe that accomodates the higher altitude! I feel so sorry for the teammates who graciously ate those horrible brownies!
  • Getting excited over spices! Now that I am in a country where most things are prepared from scratch, I was ever so thrilled to walk into a Duka (shop) that is filled with just about any spice you can imagine! The smell was amazing!
  • Get up at 5:30 in the morning. I dislike mornings greatly. But when you are trying to talk to family on the other side of the world, sometimes a sacrfice is involved, that day, the sacrifice was sleep, but it was worth it.
  • Carry a mini maglight in my purse. You never know if you are going to have power when you come home at night, and those keyholes are hard to find in the dark!

Not to worry. For those of you who are afraid you won't know me at all when I return, there are a few things that I still stay very far from:

  • Tomotoes
  • Coffee (Eric, I know you are disappointed!)
  • Bugs

In all seriousness, I am loving my new home. There are some decisions I need to make pretty quickly, and prayer about them would be appreciated. One of those decisions is about a vehicle. Do I buy a very used car and hope it works, or do I somehow find more money to buy a new or newer one that should be pretty reliable? In the states, I would go with the cheapest route, however in Africa, I am not so confident, I don't want to be stuck in this foreign country broken down and unable to speak swahili.

Which leads to the next decision. Where to study Swahili. There are some here who have gone to a school in a town called Morogoro. It is a four month course, and I would have to live there, because it is so far from Arusha. The other option is a course here in Arusha. There are pros and cons to both and in my mind I can't decide what to do. I don't know if I can handle moving again. I am just now realizing the depth of friendship and community I left behind in the States. I am just now starting to make friends here, and the thought of doing that again, even if it is for only four months, is rather devastating. I want to do what is best for future ministry in Arusha. I just don't know what that is.

A few pictures for you. I have not done a very good job of getting pictures in and around Arusha yet. I promise to play tourist soon!

Dinner at Kahn's Barbeque:

Mountain Meru:

As I close out this post, I must say I love my new life. I was forwarned, that culture shock will set in, and I will go through periods of disliking my new home, and I don't look forward to those days. For now though, I must say, Arusha is a great place, filled with great people, and hopefully one day soon they will know a Great God!

More stories and pictures to come soon!

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

It's been two weeks!

Check out the double rainbow that appeared over Arusha this past weekend. It reminded me that God provided a rainbow as a symbol of His promises. I choose to have it remind me of the covenant He has with us, and the promises He has for Arusha.

I can't believe it has been two weeks since my last post, mainly because I can't believe I have been in Tanzania for nearly two weeks! I apologize to all of you for not keeping you posted, but my internet access at the moment is sporadic. In the next couple of weeks I will have more reliable access...once I get it set up in my own place!

Which leads to the task of the day! Finally, I have signed a lease on an apartment! It only took a week of meeting, calling, meeting, calling, calling, calling... I have learned that things take longer to get done here, but they do eventually get done. I love my new place, it is rather empty right now, actually I don't have anything in it due time. It is on the third floor (top) of a small apartment building (only 6 units total) and has enough space for me to be able to host guests from here as well as from afar... Let me know when you'll be visiting, I will pencil you in!

My team (pictures below) has taken very good care of me in the last two weeks. They have been very welcoming, inviting and full of wisdom that has helped me as I go through the hurdles of establishing a new life...opening a new bank account, obtaining a telephone, searching for a place to live, looking for a language tutor, and learning to drive. I have also had many opportunities to fellowship with them, share meals, spend the night and have a lot of laughs over the last two weeks. I am incredibly grateful for each of them, as they have made this transition so much easier.

Meet Scott and Annelle Price:

Meet Todd, Tami, Wesley, Meghen and Savanah Carter:

Meet Bill, Leah, Katrina and Heather Delaughter:

This week, my team is heading to Malindi Kenya, for a retreat with CMF Missionaries from all around Africa. I look forward to this time with my team, as well as the time I will get to spend with other experienced missionaries who have been in my place over the last several years.

In coming weeks I will formally start learning Swahili! I can entertain a standard greeting and goodbye at the moment, just from observing and being in the market with my team. When we return from Malindi, I will start meeting with a language tutor and head to language school in July. I hope that the combination of these two methods proves to help me communicate with people in Arusha in their own language.

Many have asked what I miss most, and honestly, the thing I miss most is not a "thing" at all. I miss the independence and freedom. I am completely reliant on my team right now, to do anything, and that is difficult at times. They are always helpful but I hate to ask so much of them, plus I am a rather independent individual and like to do things on my own.

My new address is:

CMF International

Pam McKerring

PO BOX 2582

Arusha, Tanzania

Know that I am doing well, that I am incredibly thankful for all of your prayers and for this opportunity. More to come.