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 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


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 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!


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!