Tuesday, January 30, 2007

The result of bad decisions

I failed to finish my last post. Aside from the Glory and beauty of seeing God's creation, and the creativity of it all as a result of the lengai climb, i arrived home sicker than a dog. this is the real reason why you want to be rested and well before climbing a mountain.

I arrived home and crashed in my bed. awoke later losing lungs with the nastiest mucous cough I have ever had in my life and a fever of 102 degrees and missed my mom terribly while I placed myself on the tile floor in the fetal position trying to cool off. Judy and Gary came home, Judy had a better idea, and gave me an ice pack and I fell back asleep.

Today, I did nothing. Absolutely nothing, except process my climbing, enter these blogs and type a few emails. And I am no longer losing lungs. It seems, rest is what was necessary. I have high hopes of waking up tomorrow completely healed...i know...i did say they were high!

Still learning...

How to make good decisions.

Several months ago, a few friends and I decided we were going to climb Oldoinyo Lengai. (also called the Mountain of God) Lengai is an active volcano in northern Tanzania, that is known for its "day" climbing trps, spectacular views and hiking adventures...not to mention that some of it has a 45-50 degree climb. Nadine, had climbed it before, and I loved the idea of it, so we grabbed a few others to come along. A few months ago it sounded like a splendid idea. Doesn't the volcano below just call your name?

I should toss in a vital detail, that would explain why this was such a lesson in decision making. We were set to take off on Saturday morning. Thursday morning I woke up with a sore throat, cough, and congestion. Friday it was going away, but I put myself on hold for the trip. Saturday I felt great. and went. This was the poor decision. I didn't take into account that my body was not really well, I mostly took into account that I wanted to go hiking, explore with some friends, new and old, and get to the top of this amazing volcano I had been hearing about. I ignored the website comments, "it is a very demanding and sometimes dangerously steep walk and scramble. You should be fit, strong and above all VERY determined." I don't doubt if I am fit, but I know, that I was not strong, I was recovering from traveling earlier in the week and being sick late in the week.

So around 9 am saturday morning we all load up (me, nadine, johannes, sina, holgier, janska and scott.) We drive all day to our campsite, arriving around 4pm and set up camp. Eat dinner and to bed by 7:30. Why so early? We have to wake up at 12am to start our trek!

You see, it takes 4-6 hours to climb/hike to the 2962 meter peak, and they suggest you start around midnight or 1am so that you aren't climbing in the heat of the day. We get a late start, arrving at the base of the volcano around 1:30, and start our hike at 1:45. We hike, and we groan, and to be honest I got scared at parts, as the slope was so incredibly steap. (the pictures don't quite do it justice, but trust me 45-50 degree slopes are really intense, especially when they are near the top!) About halfway I start feeling sick, my cold symptoms returning, exhaustion setting in, and well, I am halfway, so I can't turn back!

We arrive just after sunrise at 7am.

The Crater top. Spectacular!From the top of Lengai, you can see the top of Kilimanjaro and Mount Meru!

So we hang out, eat, explore this great natural wonder, and around 10 start heading down the mountain. This time the climb is different, the sun is out. And I am shocked that I made it to the top. Honestly, if the sun was out when we climbed up I would not have made it. My fears of falling would have gotten in the way. About half way down it hits me. I am getting sick. I start to struggle catching my breath, and I am exhausted. I take it slow, the rest of the group takes it slow as well, they too are tired, but not as foolish as I am in taking on this climb on an exhausted body. The sore throat, the headache, the cough from the week before come back as if in full force. I am miserable. I feel like a fool, why did I do this to myself. Oh yeah, the adventure. Getting away and going hiking.

So humbly, I must admit, at as we get closer and closer to the bottom I get sicker and sicker, and about 1 kilometer from the car require help getting to the car from the three guys. Heat Exhaustion sets in. How? I don't know, I did everything right, drank water, took it slow, wore appropriate clothing. Again, i think it was the weak system to start with.

So here are so many lessons learned:

  • The obvious. Don't climg unless you are healthy.

  • Accept the help from your friends. (they wanted to help sooner, but I was stubborn)

  • Make wise decisions ahead of time to prevent chaos later.

As I hiked, I couldn't help but parallel this with my spiritual walk as well. Sometimes I am convinced that I am healthy, but really, need to rest and regroup spiritual as well. When I don't, I get into trouble, I get discouraged, I refuse help from others. I also thought about how much this relates with maintaining your relationship with God. I needed to listen as I climbed and as I decended. I didn't. I ignored. I kept thinking about how we often try to climb mountains of faith, yet we are ready, we are tired, we are weary, we haven't spent time with the Lord...the list goes on. I do this to, and well, this physical example has reminded me how it all affects each other.

So, I survived. and the trip, even though it was miserable, I learned so much, and I learned so much about my friends, and well, the view was incredible, but no worries, next time, if there is a next time for Lengai, I will be rested, I will be trained, and I will listen.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

The AWE.

I am exhausted. Literally falling asleep at the keyboard, but I just couldnt wait to write this post, as I am afraid I will forget something.

And really, as I try, (this is the 3rd try) I cannot put the last few days into words. In the last three days I have driven 24 hours, experienced the Reunion of a lifetime, and seen God do amazing things.

I think I need more time. In short, here are the facts. I took Doug and Robyn Priest to Twa Twa Twa, a village they lived in over 20 years ago and were asked to leave suddenly 19 years ago after learning maasai and making relationships among the maasai there. After 19 years they were allowed to go back, and I, being the only one here when the trip was being planned, got to lobby my role as driver. I am floored by what i saw and what I experienced in this trip. Emotions are whirling and words aren't coming. I have been home for 2 hours, and really, still can't manage to come up with the words. Imagine, feeling led by God to move remove all physical comforts and move to a village in the middle of nowhere to learn Maasai and live among the Maasai in hopes of bringing them to Christ. Giving all this up to be asked to leave the country a few years later. Then, to be allowed to come back after 19 years, to see your friends, their now grown up children, and their grandchildren. To see the church that has since started and be able to worship with them in the Maasai language. To have all those memories flood back, the hurt of having to leave, and then new memories flood in, the joy of seeing what God has done even in your absence. The joy of seeing your friends and family worshiping in their own language. The joy of returning to a place you called home but didn't get to close when you had to leave.

I can't imagine all that was going through their minds. All I know is that I was overcome with AWE and WONDER as I had the HONOR of walking this path with them. I can't find the words.

If I find them...I will share them...but honestly it was such an emotionally intense weekend I dont know if I could ever express them!

Thursday, January 18, 2007

For Mom and Dad

Moms and Dads like pictures of their kids...no matter how old they are! Especially when they haven't seen their kids face to face in almost a year! I can't get my email to send photos, so even though this entry is intended for mom and dad, enjoy it yourself!

Monday, January 15, 2007

I met Pamela yesterday.

It was weird. On saturday night I got an sms from the wife of one of the guys who helps us with CHE here in Tanzania. She said "Good evening Pam. We just got home from the hospital and Pamela wants to say hello to you."

I laughed. Sunday after church I went to meet "Pamela." A very cute, just about 6 lb baby girl who was born early friday morning.

Some say it is an honor to have someone use your name. For some reason it feels weird. Now there are three of us Pamela's in town! Yikes! Arusha is not that big!


The car: the update on the car is that it is locked in a compound waiting for a second estimate. I got the first estimate and it was 2.3 million TSH (about $2000) and the insurance demanded another. I dropped my car off at a place the insurance company recommended and they said they would have the estimate in about 15 minutes and call me. They never called. It has been a week. Upon calling to follow up we discovered that someone in the family had passed away so the shop is closed until the proper mourning time is over.

The police: related to the car, the police didnt give me all the documents that were necessary. As noted in the last blog, I went armed, and we managed to get one of two documents we were still needing. The insurance company said it would suffice. I did mange to get a marriage proposal and make some new friends through the deal, and now, I get stopped everytime I go through that checkpoint! what fun!

The finger: is healing, but oh so slowly! I fear however, that I may have set it wrong. I am now going splintless! YEAH! but it still hurts and I forget it is hurt and so does society when I go out. It has been the cause of many painful handshakes! Anyhow, i can bend it a little bit, but not completely, and I have to laugh cause when I bend it is bends crooked. Maybe I should have gone to med school after all...I might have at least learned how to properly set a finger!

The language: I am learning! Every day I am learning! I am so thankful for God giving me the ability to grasp and the ability to laugh at myself as I try and try and try again! I am free to do ministry now! YEAH!

The cultural adjustment: It is coming. Depending on the day. Many days I love this place, but many days...well lets just say that some days I honk the horn in traffic a lot more often than others!

Thanks for praying!

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Have warriors...will conquer!

As promised. The rest of the story.

I made sure this morning that I was armed and ready for todays trip to the police station. Let me explain. There is an unwritten heirarchy here. Women are respected very little...until they get married. They become even more respected when they bear a child. Men, are respected from the get go. They however, gain more respect with age, experience and depending on job or where they come from. Today, I took one of our older workers, who is male, who lives in the community where the police station is located.

The day started off rough. I had to type a letter to take with us this morning and wouldn't you know it there was a typo. So we stopped at the office to retype and reprint. As luck would have it, the printer refused to function. So we prayed and took a hand written letter.

We arrived late, mostly because of the printer malfunctioning. The police man asked if we got what we needed, and we said yes. Then he went next door to get the form that I needed from him. It was his last form. He said he could only do it if we went and copied the form for him. So we went to the next village, and went to the photocopy place. Their copies were poor quality....REALLY poor. So we went down the road further. This one the power was cut so it was closed. A little further, closed as well. Last, we found a place to make good copies...BUT they were out of paper! So we had to go to another store and buy paper.

We returned to the station with copies in hand. The policeman takes us inside and says he cant fill it out until we go to court, even though yesterday he said he could. we argued (rather the two Tanzanians with me argued) and finally he set it aside and started working on the second document I needed from him. No Joke, it took him nearly an hour to fill out a form hat was half a sheet of paper. I was later informed that it was because he wanted us to realize how hard he had to work in hopes that we would give him something. Back to the first document. Again, refusal to fill it out. We decide to plead with the insurance company about it, and see if it is really necessary.

We leave, have lunch and go to the Insurance company. They understand full well...and grant us a pardon on the last document we needed! So, as we speak, my car is getting an estimate, and hopefully soon it will get repaired!

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Almond M&M's

You all may have tried them, loved them, and left them...but this weekend I had a new M&M and it was AMAZING! (the little things!)

Judy recently went to America, and to surprise Jack she brought back almond M&M's and peanut M&M's. Since they are living in my house, they shared. and I am SO glad they did. Jack didnt care too much for the almond, so between Gary and I we pretty much finished the whole bag, just in time for the clock to strike midnight and the New Year to begin!

Yum. Feel free to send more!

Pam breaks the law...

If you keep up to speed with this blog, you know that last week I backed my car into a tree on the CMF Training center property where Scott and Annelle (my team leaders) will be living.

On Saturday, one of the girls who works with us went to the insurance company to find out what needed to be done to get my car fixed. (back window shattered and back door crinkled)
She called me saturday afternoon to let me know I needed to go to the Police Station to fill out a police report and get several documents from them. We made plans to meet up with one of the guys who works at the center who saw the humbling moment to go with us this morning. (New Years holiday caused us to delay a few days.)

So we go to the main police station downtown. We walk through to the office we are told to go to, and they say we need to go to the inspection office across the street. Mind you, the office was a cart (much like an old hot dog vendor cart) across the street in a dirt parking lot. We ask the guy for the inspection. He tells us we have to talk to someone at the station first, the person we just spoke too. We informed them that she told us to come to him first. He responded with a firm "no" and told me to go across the street again.

We cross the street. Go into another office filled with police officers. They ask why we are there. Another humbling moment occurs. We are there because white girl over there ran her car into a tree and needs a police report. (I don't let on that I know swahili at this point, I am told it is to my advantage, the cops are supposed to know English.) Listening in, they argue over who has to fill out the form. Then someone asks us where it happened. we tell them. they say we have to go the police station nearest to the center, which is a tiny station along the road. Off we go.

We arrive. Much of the same occurs. Greetings. Explanations. Laughter and comments...she hit a tree? How did she do that? The difference in this station is that I get an offer for marriage. Flattered I turn them down and continue with our task. The police officer seems a little annoyed at the fact that we are interupting his afternoon, but agrees to help us, sending us outside to wait. We wait. Then he comes out and says he wants to see the tree I hit.

We drive him to the center. Whereas he refuses to speak to me in English. I tell him I am learning but don't know enough, please help me to understand better by using English. He doesn't. He sees the tree and draws up a report. (A picture on a piece of printing paper. stick figures and all.) He makes me initial it and then says, you know, this tree is in a bad place, but it is your fault. I agree. MISTAKE! He says "You know it is your fault then?" Yes sir. I hit the tree with my car. MISTAKE #2! He then reverts back to swahili and tells the two Tanzanians I am with that I will have to go to court because I broke the law. One of them says "which law?" He informs us that I broke the law because I hit the tree. Apparently it is illegal to run your own car, into your own tree, on your own property! He goes on and on and on about how I broke the law and will have to go to court and face fines andsuch. We disagree, but not verbally. We head back to the station. (it is way after lunch time at this point. We have spent 3+ hours trying to get a report!)

To shorten this story that is way too long already, after nearly 5 hours trying to get a report and a non-corrupt cop, we head back to town, get the inspection we tried to get before the accident and get a paper that says we have to write a letter and sign it and bring it with us tomorrow.

Not without the lecture I might add: "Mam you also broke the law because you did not pay attention (does he ever watch Tanzanians drive???) and if you had hit a person it would have been much much worse. The reason you must go to court is to face your punishment, cause if that tree had been a person, it would have been real bad."

Translation: You are white. You own a car. You must have money. I want to scare you into offering me a bribe to let you off. If that doesn't work, I will try to guilt you instead.

Stay tuned....returning to the police station tomorrow!

(all this to say, I still haven't made it to Tanesco yet...maybe thursday.)