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.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Bravery has its rewards...

I stayed up too late again...for the third night in a row! I can't help but take the time out to tell you about my day! It was a mountaintop day!

There is a market I go to in order to practice swahili. I try and go once a week, and just talk to the mama's who are working there. Without realizing it, I have made some friends, some days I regret sharing my name, as it is a market, and when I show up everyone calls my name so that I will come buy from them. But one woman is different. Her name is Mama Iran. (ee-ron). She calls my name for a different reason, to visit.

Last week I was talking with Mama Iran and she invited me to sit down with her. We were stumbling (rather I was stumbling) through our conversation and then we started to talk about her family. After talking a while she asked me to come to her home and meet her kids and her husband. Without thinking, I responded with an affirmative, excited "yes!"

A little while later I realized that this woman, although I talk to her once a week, is still a stranger, I have no idea where she lives, what kind of neighborhood she lives in or if I am a fool for going. Would I be safe? What if I get into trouble? I can't tell anyone where I am going because I don't know where I am going! I asked some people if I was a fool. I got a few discouraging responses...along the lines of...she wants you to see how poor she is so that you will give her money... I thought about making up a reason not to go, but in my heart i just couldn't so saying a prayer and stepping out in faith I kept my committment to meet her at the market and go to her home this afternoon.

IT WAS AMAZING! I have rarely had the opportunity just to visit the home of a Tanzanian, unless it was the home of someone CMF is currently working with. I met her children and we laughed as they were more fluent in the language we were speaking. We talked about playing soccer, school, and literally just giggled. I met Mama Iran's mother-in-law and neighbors, and although I was an oddity in town, something to be stared at, I didn't mind one bit. I felt at peace, I felt at home. I then realized there seemed to be little motivation for bringing me here, other than to share the afternoon with a friend. She considered me a friend. I then kicked in to planning for ministry gear, and couldn't help but wonder, could this village be a village I work in one day? I left encouraged, wondering how soon I could go back, wishing I had brought a soccer ball and had enough daylight left to play with the kids and encourage the mama's a little bit more. I am so glad I did not let fear get in the way of this experience.

Pray for Mama Iran and her family. They live in a shack, along a river, they have little but joy fills their eyes. They know the hope of Christ, pray that it remains among them, that they would be blanketed in the peace of God as their neighbors and families struggle with the hardships of poverty.

Monday, July 17, 2006

I am the mountain...

Every now and a then, a song stops me in my tracks. This song has been in my music library for quite some time, but yesterday, as I wrestled through more cultural adjustment, loneliness and just plain uncertainty, this came up on my ipod. It reminded me how fickle my relationship with God can be, how conditional I make His love out to be in my life. How I have been told what I should do, how I should live and what should take place by all those "church" experts but everything in me tells me there must be more. I have found, that no matter what trial I am going through, what cultural faux pas I make, how lonely life seems, or how far away family and friends are, there is a constant that gets me through it all. It seems that when I am far from my God, (cause let's face it, He is ALWAYS the one who is near!) these situations seem unbearable, life is empty, conversations are empty, and I hate what I have become... But when I remember His nearness...I am on fire, I feel like I can conquer the world, Africa seems bearable, the mountain is a challenge I am excited about covering and I am ready to stand on the edge with arms extended singing at the top of my lungs praise to the God of the universe who will get me through any difficult situation who loves me more than I can ever conceive being possible. I have also come to realize that I can be that mountain in the way of His nearness and my being changed. If only I would take the chance and accept His nearness, and be always in His audience. Wonder what would happen if I let this mystery take over my fears, my hurts, my regrets, my future...

On Fire. Switchfoot
Tell you where you need to go
Tell you when you'll need to leave
Tell you what you need to know
Tell you who you need to be

But everything inside you knows
Says more than what you've heard
So much more than empty conversations
Filled with empty words

And you're on fire
when he's near you
You're on fire
When he speaks
You're on fire
Burning at these mysteries

Give me one more time around
Give me one more chance to see
Give me everything you are
Give me one more chance to be near you

Cause everything inside looks like
Everything I hate
You are the hope I have for change
You are the only chance I'll take

When I'm on fire
When you're near me
I'm on fire
When you speak
I'm on fire
Burning at these mysteries
These mysteries...

I'm standing on the edge of me (x4)
I'm standing on the edge of everything I've never been before
And I've been standing on the edge of me,
I'm standing on the edge.
And I'm on fire
When you're near me
I'm on fire
When you speak
(yea) I'm fire.

You're a mystery

Sunday, July 16, 2006

You want photos! I've got photos!

I am still getting requests for pictures. These are quite random. But they are pictures! It is amazing to me that in the same week I can experience the awe of God's creation looking at Mt. Kilimanjaro or the sunrise over the Indian ocean, fellowship with believers, see poverty as it affects a family, and experience the tragedy of lives lost to an illness that is 100% preventable. Quite shocking actually.


Emily, Myself, Amber, Annelle and Morganne:
AIDS Orphan whose mother died during childbirth.
Rural Family
The majestic Kilimanjaro covered in SNOW!
Sunrise over the Indian Ocean
Tanya and I.

Things remembered...

Today I had some time alone. Probably too much, as I started thinking of all of the things I missed. I didn't realize the list was so long, but I thought I would share... FYI, the list is in no particular order...

My big hero brother.
My mom.
My dad.
Grandma Pat.
Aunt Mary.
Uncle Jim.
Uncle John.
Aunt Sharon.
Aunt Nancy.
Silly travels with Tara T.
Walks and talks with Michelle T.
heart conversations with Leslie T.
Hugs from Della.
Pranking Teresa and the family (FLIES!)
Late night chats with the Hirte's
The Love of the Shafer family.
State Parks.
Hiking with or without a goal.
Camping.
Freedom to do whatever I want whenever I want.
Independence.
"how is your soul?" talks with the Bow Family.
Bruises from being hit by former boss aka big brother Eric.
Sitting on the rainbow bridge talking to homeless kids.
Going into abandoned buildings looking for hurting people.
Dark worship at night at Common Ground.
Picnics in the park.
Going to the movies.
Drive thrus.
Ben and Jerry's runs with Lisa.
Giggling with Addi.
Cuddling Makenna.
Not wearing a mask.
Serving dinner at Community Kitchen.
The convenience of buying a pair of running shoes and not having to figure out how you can get them delivered to you.
Pastor Derek Duncans messages.
Getting teased by David Case.
Laughing with Debbie Groat.
Tillamook Cheese.
Heart talks with Megan.
Chloe's tail wagging at the door.
Warm clothes fresh out of the dryer.
anonymity.
Pranks.
Hugs from a special little girl named J***.
Hoshaw family weekends!
Hot chocolate dates with Sara.
US 31 (it always took me to a good place!)
The warmth of the family of First Presbyterian in Kokomo.
Hugs from papa Jim.
Talks with Shirley.
Martha Moments.
Rob's jokes.
The laughter and noise of the kids at 1001 E. 10th Street.
What's God teaching you talks with Marlin.
The crunch and smell of Fall Leaves.
The smell of new books at Barne's and Noble.
Helping Rachel break her diet...
Having friends that are boys, and it being acceptable.
Not ever feeling alone.
Midweek bible studies.
Girls nights.
Sushi.
High speed fast internet.

Thursday, July 13, 2006

through the lens...

FYI. My pictures will be posted at http://www.flickr.com/photos/pdmckerring from now on. For some reason it is easier to upload them there than it is to put them on the blog. I will try to remember to let you know when I upload new ones, but you might just check back to see.

Grace,
Pam

Power

You really just never know if you are going to have power when you wake up or come at the end of the day. Of my teammates I have been the fortunate one, most often I have power.

This week seemed to be a week of paybacks. Monday the power went out. Tuesday it was still out. It came on Tuesday night just in time for me to give up and eat dinner at someone else's house. My landlord came by tuesday to collect rent and I asked him if he had paid the electricity or if we were being rationed. He said he would look into it. Wednesday I had power. I assumed he left my place and paid the bill.

Wednesday night I got a text message: " Meter No. ######. Customer id ######. Group #####. Tariff index 01. You will be using that to TANESCO to buy unit. I will bring your card."

It was 10:30PM. I was sick. I went back to sleep.

Thursday. I wake up still sick, but better than wednesday. I get out of bed, turn on the light, but the light does not come on. No power. 3 days out of 4. Mind you, I have no clue if it is my landlord or the electric company's fault. All I know is that I am sick, aka grumpy (just ask mom), and I want a hot shower (not an option without power), and I am frustrated. (recall previous posts about reality setting in.) My landlord sends me another text. "You do not have power because you did not buy power from TANESCO. You must use the numbers I sent you and go buy power. I am going to Dar (es Salaam). I will bring you your ID card when I get back."

I haven't a clue where TANESCO is. I haven't a clue how much it costs. I don't even want to get out of bed at this point cause I don't feel good. Not sure if it is a flu, malaria, or amoeba type bug, but nonetheless I want power. I get dressed. Drive to town. Find TANESCO.

To end this incredibly boring post, I have power, after spending nearly an hour at TANESCO, standing in four different lines, then being taken back to a secret room to talk to a supervisor, then back to another line. They said I needed an ID card. I don't have an ID card. My landlord has it with him in Dar. They couldn't find my account, and my landlord conveniently had his phone off at the time so I couldn't call him. Finally they take pity on the white girl, and find her account using the computer. To top it all off, the woman cheated me out of 10,000 Tsh. Or rather I allowed myelf to be cheated as I didn't look at the receipt before leaving the window. I gave her 50,000 Tsh, with hopes that it would cover a months worth of power. She gave me 40,000 Tsh worth of credit. Too late now. I guess I learned a few lessons today.

Still grumpy. But life is looking good. Found some ginger ale and sprite while I was in town. It is the little things that count.

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Learning languages and photos from recent weeks...

So language learning has left me thinking quite a bit. I am repeatedly amazed by the response I get from Tanzanians when I speak to them in their language, even if I butcher it! They are so overjoyed by my attempts, that I get their attention and their audience. It leads me to think, that if we as Christians would make efforts to learn the language of those we are trying to minister to, maybe we would be more effective at getting their audience and they my actually hear what we have to say. Even in America, there are many languages that can be learned, the language of the poor, the language of the rich (cause face it, they are different!), the language of the homeless, of the single mother, the language of the children, college students, the list goes on! I wonder what it would say to them if we learned the language of their culture, and of their life and used it as we try to minister to them....hmmm.

On a different, and much more shallow note...recently the internet has been too bogged down to put any pictures on this site, and many have asked...Today we are without power, so many people can't get online to crowd the line! I am increasingly thankful for my back up power supply!



The Indian Ocean. A place I am learning to be a great escape from the stresses of cultural adjustment and language learning. A recent trip reminded me of the importance of taking a break, a deep breath and resting in the Lord. It also left me refreshed and eager to dive back in!










Katie, Myself, Emily, and Morganne on game night! These girls are amazing ladies, God is going to do great things through them!











Katie, Amber, Scott, Annelle, Myself, Morganne and Emily after a dinner at my favorite Indian place in Arusha, celebrating the end of language school! Little did we know how much fun we would have with these ladies!

Sunday, July 09, 2006

Bono Visits Arusha Tanzania

About a month ago, Bono took a 10 day campaign across Africa, making a stop in Arusha. Check out the video to see what he has to say. As you watch, think about the fact that every 5 seconds a child dies of malaria. That Tanzania is one of the poorest countries in the world based on GDP, and that AIDS, a disease that is rampant in East Africa is completely preventable.

Saturday, July 08, 2006

The Honeymoon is over...

The other day I was driving down the lower road...aptly called the lower road as there are two main roads through Arusha...and this road happens to be the lower one! Anyhow, I was driving down the lower road and became increasingly annoyed with the lack of common sense, the lack of courtesy, the lack of driving ability and the lack of stoplights, stop signs, turn signals and even more annoyed with the abundance of speed bumps, bikes, people, animals and just plain obstacles in the road. It hit me, the honeymoon, phase, the "everything is new and amazing and exciting and I love it" phase is over. I find myself challenged not to go to the other extreme of thinking everything is awful, annoying, lacking common sense and instead, I must adapt, find the beauty in everything...even when it makes no sense to my western American mindset.

A few minutes later, another realization dawned on me. I have become like them. One characteristic of a Tanzanian driver is they are best friends with their horn. I myself, rarely if ever used my horn in the states, I found it rude. I now use it probably 10 times a day to move animals, people, or bikes out of my way or to just voice my displeasure in general with those who are driving like animals around me. Another characteristic of Tanzanian drivers is that they try to ignore the fact that there are other people in the road. They just inch their way in, sometimes force their way through traffic, making room where there is none. If you want in, they act as if you aren't there...and I sadly admit...I have become one of them too...watch out friends...in four years I will return to driving on a road near you...SCARY!

Like I said, the honeymoon is over. The last few weeks I have had to challenge myself to still love this place. I am reminded though, that this is part of the acculturation process. It isn't a phase, it isn't a task to accomplish, but it is a learning time for me to grow, adapt, and adjust, and learn to trust God in a whole new way.

I can honestly say I still love Arusha. It keeps me on my toes, but it truly is an amazing city, and the people are genuinely lovely. But in all of my love for this community, I am challenged to also be real with you in that this is an incredibly difficult time. I am between two worlds. I find myself not fully at home here but with each passing day, less aware and less a part of my home in the States. Unsure of where home is, I know my heart, for the time being, belongs here, trusting God's leading in making this home for this season. Trusting that He knows exactly what I need, physically, emotionally and spiritually as I walk this road.

In addition to these realizations, adjustments and training, a lot has gone on! Last weekend I was able to take a much needed rest from being a new American in Arusha. God allowed the opportunity to go to the Indian Ocean with a friend, an opportunity that I didn't realize was as necessary and pressing as it soon became apparent to be. It was so refreshing to remove the layer of learning for a weekend. I literally, became a tourist in another community for 3 days. Removed the hat of "I am a missionary, and I need to adapt and adjust while causing as little offense as possible." and put on the hat of "I am a visitor." These three days showed me a valuable lesson of life. The value of Rest and Reflection. The importance of taking time out.

Four weeks ago we had four interns arrive to work with Scott and Annelle. Two of them have been living with me, which has made life a bit less quiet and a lot more fun! I have started modules and language learning at home again. I hope that some it starts to sink in soon!