Wednesday, June 21, 2006

I saw the President!

Not the President of the United States, or the President of Tanzanina...but the President of Ireland! HA! Who would have thought that while I am studying swahili in Tanzania the President of Ireland would pay a visit to my school! Sorry to disappoint my Irish heritage but I didn't get to talk to her or shake her hand, and sadly I don't even know here name. Here they just call her the Rais wa Ireland! I have to admit, it was a bit fun to see such an important official come to my school, and it was fun to have a break from all of the studying as our teacher was equally excited to see this very esteemed visitor!

Monday, June 19, 2006

Looking for the comforter...

Matthew 5:4 Blessed are those who mourn, they will be comforted.

A short while ago, a friend was teasing me about how I am "roughing it for Jesus." Although I know this is a joke, I had have had difficulty with this too. I sometimes think...aren't missionaries supposed to suffer terribly physically? Anyhow, I am recently learning that suffering physically is in no comparison to suffering spiritually or emotionally.

That being said. I have entered a new stage of suffering for Jesus. I have found myself in a place where I feel so incredibly alone, not because there isn't anyone around, but because I haven't found someone that I can be the bare bones myself with. I was feeling a bit lonely, and I thought that would be cut short by having guests, but I realized this weekend, as I spent the weekend with a large group of people, that you could still feel very much alone even though you are surrounded by others. I am currently grieving the loss of the intimate friendships and wondering when the friends I have here will become like those I left behind who I could be me around even though I was not perfect.

I was thinking about this last night, and asking God what it would take to take away the pain of this loss. And then I was shocked by His response. In my heart I realized that the reason I do not have those deep intimate relationships yet with others is because I have not been willing to take off the mask of what I think people want me to be, which demonstrates a lack of trust. You can't be in deep relationship with others if you lack trust.

Then it went a step further. This lack of trust is not just in myself or in others, but ultimately shows a lack of trust in God, for if I trusted him to mold me into who he wanted me to be, and thus, allow me to be real in front of others, I would not wear the mask that prevents me from doing so.

So this missionary, who is somewhat challenged by the idea of almost always having electricity, almost always having hot water, a warm bed at night, a vehicle to get around etc. is realizing new meanings for the word suffer.

Saturday, June 17, 2006

Ninajifunza Kiswahili!

I promise, I have not fallen off the face of the planet, life has just been extremely busy the last two weeks! I have the morning free, so I thought while I am waiting on laundry I would try and bring you up to speed!

On June 5th I started commuting to language school in a town about 1/2 hour-45 minutes from my home. I am taking a three week intensive course at MS-TCDC, a training center established by Danish workers here in Tanzania. Swahili is one of the many things that is taught at this facility, and I must say they are doing a good job. Intensive is an adequate word for this course, class is from 8:30-4:30 M-F and it is all about swahili. I have often times left at the end of the day with my head spinning and the challenge to spend a few hours more at night processing what I learned! I have learned a ton, and already feel more capable to hold my own in a conversation with Tanzanians. This is a blessing to me as I so desperately want to talk to them in their language. I have been taught a lot in the last two weeks, next week is the last week of the course, and then I will spend the next four-six months mastering what I have been taught. Pray that I learn all that was taught effectively before I take the next intensive course in the fall.

On June 7th, the CMF Tanzania team had four interns arrive! Although I am not doing much work with them because of school, I do get the joy of hosting two of them in my home. I told them the other night I get the fun part, while Scott and Annelle get all the work. I get to encourage and pray with them, as well as help them process their day. What fun! They arrived very much the same way I did just two months ago...tired...pumping with adrenaline and in shock that they were here! In addition to their bags, they also brought Scott and Annelle and I gifts that many of you had sent! I will get the thank you notes out, but until then, please know that I am incredibly greatful for each gift you sent! Last Saturday I took them all to the market and we had a blast! I was mostly impressed by their independence, as they didn't seem to mind that they couldn't speak the language, they just wanted to get out there! I have to boast on my swahili as I was quite proud that I could converse for them in many situations, as well as have conversations with the shopkeepers! Thank you Lord for the ability to learn languages!

After a weekend of fun and getting the girls adjusted, I returned to school, for more swahili! Week two was a much slower pace, but we were all so tired from the first week we didn't seem to mind too much. We still managed to learn many more vocabulary words and also learned a few more verb tenses...past and future! Now I can tell you more than what I am currently doing! WHAT JOY! I can also tell you what I did or did not do last week...as well as what I will or will not do!

Amidst all of the language learning I can see in my self the stress of culture adapatation taking place. Things have been more busy and more stressful, so I think the reality of the challenge of life here is setting in too! I am thankful for the training course I took a few weeks ago about healthy cultural adjustment. On my daily drive to school I have plenty of time to think and process, and often times things come to heart and mind that I didn't even know where there. I see things and my heart grieves in a new way. I hear songs and wonder what God has in store for Tanzania. I fall more in more in love with Arusha, and my heart for the Tanzanians grows daily. My heart weeps over the corruption, the abuse of power, and the lives that are being taken advantage of. Recently a thought question came to mind, and with a bit of unease I share it here..."Why does there have to be a world tragedy for us to respond to a need?" I am embarrased by my own heart as I reflect on my life and how I never felt the need to do something until there was a tragic event taking place...I never felt the need to help the poor in Indonesia until there was a Tsunami...or to reach the lost in Louisiana until Katrina came...or to pray desperately for the children in Uganda, until someone shared the tragedy taking place there. I feel that I should have been burdened for all of these things before, and that I should have acted before a tragedy occured...after all God doesn't necessarily tell us to take care of our neighbor in tragedy...he says to love our neighbor as ourself... and I hope people don't wait until I am in a tragic state to come to my aid...

As I strive to adapt to my new home and new way of life, I have found that I miss some things at home. Some of these things are surprising to me...as just this past week I had a dream I was in walmart...only in my dream everyone spoke Kiswahili! I never really liked Walmart in the states...I was more of Kroger and Target girl, but apparently there are some comforts that I have missed! Obviously there is a lot going on in my head and heart right now!

This week, Gary, Judy and Jack returned from Kenya. Finally Judy was released to travel after her broken arm! It is so great to have them back with us. Please continue to pray for a good recovery for Judy, as she is still unable to do pretty much anything but rest...rest...and rest some more.

The long rains have since stopped in Tanzania...but there is still an occasional rain. With the long rains gone...the government felt the need to bring back the power rationing in Dar and Arusha. Thankfully they are not occuring every day, and I have been fortunate to have power in my home most days, but on occasion it is still a bit frustrating. A few weeks ago I had the team over for dinner. Five minutes after they arrived the power was cut. You could tell we all have gotten a bit used to it as everyone resumed what they were doing after we all took turns lighting candles and getting lanterns. The kids kept on playing as if nothing really happened! We enjoyed a wonderful dinner and pleasant conversation by candlelight...

The coming weeks will be much of the same...language learning, hosting and helping with the interns as much as I can, and adjusting to my new way of life! Please pray as I wrestle with my thoughts, as I learn a language, as I try and be an encourager for the interns, and as I continue to study culture and adjust to my new home!

Sunday, June 11, 2006

Commenting just became more difficult...

I am sorry to say that I have been spammed! Fortunately not with canned ham, but someone has managed to use a computer program to send me an insane amount of comments to this blog to my email address. All of which make little or no sense. I hate spam. I hate it so much that I will say it again. I hate spam.

So, I am sorry to say that the comment feature on the blog has changed a bit. You can still leave comments anonymously (ie. without having a blogger account), but you will have to type in a word verification code before it will let you. I am sorry about this, and apologize to those of you who will be annoyed by the change.

I pray that you will be patient with me through this change, and that you will keep the comments coming!

It has been an awesome and busy week, but I will have to write about that later! I have homework to do before school starts back up tomorrow!

Sunday, June 04, 2006

The Team

The Tanzania Team: (Back Row L-R) Bill and Katrina Delaughter, Todd and Megan Carter, Tami Carter, Gary Woods, Scott Price. (Front Row L-R) Leah and Heather Delaughter, Wes Carter, Pam McKerring, Savannah Carter, Judy Woods, Annelle Price.

Thursday, June 01, 2006

When Cultures Collide

While my friends in Indy were having fun removing offensive signs (read in post below) I was having a much different day in Tanzania. I thought I would share with you.

On Wednesday mornings my house girl comes to clean the house. To read about my struggles with this you can read a previous post about how difficult this is for me! Anyhow, Mama Flora is dear to me, she is a believer and you can feel the presence of Christ when she is around. She lives in a community that is walking distance from my house. I had the desire to experience both my neighborhood, and Tanzanian culture, so I asked if she wouldn't mind walking the neighborhood, taking me to the market, and also teaching me how to cook at Tanzanian meal. She responded with delight. So we set out. To the disappointment of many, I did not take the camera, it hardly seemed appropriate.

So, I was saddened to realize, that within a 5 minute walk to my house, there is a community that in African standards is probably pretty decent, at least the homes are mud and not trash, but by American standards, the homes were in the beginning phases of construction. On the way to the market Mama Flora mentioned to me that her mom lived nearby and asked if I would like to meet her. I agreed so we took a detour through some corn and mud. I felt like I was walking in a jungle. We came upon a house and found her mom and Mama Flora's three children outside playing in the dirt. It was a heartbreaking honor to meet her kids. I have heard about them, and often desired to meet them, but now their were faces to the names, and faces to the poverty. They were my friends kids. They were the kids of a sister in Christ, living in a mud hut, playing in the dirt. They were also sick. Mama Flora mentioned that in previous weeks. They had colds because of the cold wet weather.

We vistited for a bit, then we walked to the market, and bought food. At first I thought it was weird that Mama Flora held my hand the whole time. After a minute though I realized this was an expression of her friendship, both to me and her community. It was extremely exciting to walk through this community, to meet people, to encounter Africa in this manner, but extremely daunting as well, as I became more aware of the task at hand. There are so many living without Christ, so many who are dying of curable and preventable illnesses without Christ. There are so many sick kids who don't know Christ.

After we returned, I did what was probably culturally inappropriate and asked to help Mama Flora cook the meal. I had hoped to learn how to make some Tanzanian dishes while I was here and I though that by helping her, I could learn a thing or two. And did I ever! After she cooked I made probably what would be considered another cultural taboo, and asked Mama Flora to share my table and eat the meal she had prepared...and taboo #3, I offered her a coke, instead of just tea or water.

All in all it was a great day! Did I mention that I spoke to Mama Flora in Swahili and she to me almost the entire time! This says nothing about my ability to speak swahili but more about Mama Flora's ability to translate the swahili of a two year old. This could be attributed to the practice she gets from having three small children.

So I must say I thoroughly enjoyed myself the entire time. I was energized by being in the community of Olorien. I was blessed to talk to the Tanzanians. I loved the food, and I loved the conversation, although I have to say I did not appreciate the many marriage proposals so much! But even with all these joys, I have some thoughts I am wrestling with. I am struggling to keep myself on a different class than Mama Flora. She is so dear, and precious, it is hard to not treat her as a friend. I probably made a huge mistake in Tanzanian eyes by helping her cook, even if my motives were pure. It is a given, I am a Mzungu, and she is Tanzanian, so that sets us apart drastically in Tanzanian eyes. Some Wazungus would say it is wrong to share a meal with her. Some would say it was wrong to eat at the same table as her. But I have difficulty in my mind thinking of her as less of a person, especially when I remember at the foot of the cross we are all equal. I want so badly to respect the culture, so I am willing to change my thoughts, but it is incredibly difficult to do so. I have set myself to ask more people about what actions are appropriate.

On a different note, yesterday I was hanging my laundry out to dry, and another Tanzanian girl interrupted and asked if I needed a housegirl, she could help me around the house. I explained that I had one, and she was confused that if I had one, why was I hanging my laundry? I gently explained that I could hand a load of laundry now and then. Her expression of shock caught me off guard. Are Wazungu completely incapable of doing any work?

So these are the things my days are made of:
  • Swahili. Lots of it! Next week I start my formal education. The course I am taking is about 1/2 hour to 45 minutes from my house, and lasts from 8am-5pm. Swahili, all day, in a classroom. I am excited and exhausted just thinking about it.
  • Learning culture, and trying to not make huge offensive mistakes, but also not take advantage of my fellow brothers and sisters in Christ or future brothers and sisters in Christ.
  • Trying to cope while living in a fishbowl, having everyone watch the white girl learn how to live in Tanzania.
  • Trying to dream about where to start the new Urban CHE program in Arusha. The poverty is vast, throughout the whole city.
  • Trying to be teachable in activities, actions, morals, life etc.

A few things to pray about:

  • The items mentioned above!
  • The four interns who will be spending the summer with our team! The travel and arrive in Tanzania next wednesday night! Two will be staying at my place! I look forward to the company.
  • Health. I have had little bouts of stomach issues, but this week I got sick for the first time. The usual, sinuses. I have had it many times growing up. It made me miss mom a bit more, and the comforts of home.
  • Gary and Judy Woods. Judy is still recovering from surgery and her broken arm a few weeks ago.

Stealing in the name of Jesus??

So I am going to retell a story a friend shared with me earlier, to get your thoughts. The headline I am sure grabbed you, but please read to the end and let us know what you think.

In the words of a friend in Indy : Last night was an interesting time. I planned to do something with Jenny**, but on the way to her house there was a sign up in the park that read "Would Jesus Discriminate?" put up by the metropolitan church (the church that says it is ok to be gay in Indy). I was really saddened by its misrepresentation of Christ so I determined to remove it after picking up Jenny. At first it was funny to get it and I had to check my motives of laugther remember that in my heart I was offended and didn't likes its misrepresentation of Christ. So I removed it. So then on Pleasant run pkwy there was another and Jenny got out and removed it. (which really surprised me that she was not only supporting but participating) So we saw a car up ahead stop and they followed us. And I am not exaggerating because I made an unexpected turn at the light and the followed us. So on our way to Starbucks(sidenote: in Tanzania there aren't any Starbucks, and I would really like to sit in one of their oversized chairs about now) and we saw MORE! So we determined to spend the rest of the evening picking them up off the street. as a note I know it is funny to tell, but let me reassert that my motives were pure and not for fun, thus I feel good about doing it and not like "hey I just had a good time with Jesus as my excuse" thus a sin issue for me. So in all Jenny and I got 17 signs off E washington...including the signs on the off ramp onto 465. So here is the thing. After we had about 14 of them, I saw on the corner of the sign, "property of jmcc" and remembered that God said "thou shall not steal" and I became convicted. Then I again looked at my heart, it had never occured to me that this was stealing, but that it was like any garage sale sign or concert announcement I was just removing. Also I thought that if they have the freedom of speech to put it there I have the freedom to disagree and remove it versus vandalize it with a "yes" and then turn it into an arguement for all to see...I would much rather the thought not be posed to the public. So anyway, I realized that the biblical quote was a manipulation on their part and a misuse of scripture to continue their misrepresentation of Christ. So the better good was to remove it. At least that is truly what my heart feels. It is interesting, because, although some would think it was a sin, in my heart I don't feel like it is.

So the question remains. Is removing the signs stealing? Is it a sin to remove a sign that would lead people astray concerning scripture?

**names have been changed to protect those who might be innocent.

As a sidenote I went to the website of this church, and on June 15th they are having an open town hall meeting to share what they think Jesus really would say about homosexuality, transgenderism and Christianity. I think many of my Christian friends in Indy should go participate in this "open" discussion and share truth and open their eyes to the manipulation.

I think this might be my most controversial blog ever. Way to go girls!