Thursday, March 22, 2007

She's changed.

March 22, 2006

March 22, 2007

Looking on the outside, I look very much the same. The hair is a little lighter, mostly from the sun, and honeslty a few more gray hairs have appeared over the last year... But my physical make-up is quite honestly the same. But I find, that I am not the person I was when I got on that NWA flight a year ago today...

My eyes, though they don't look any different, see the world differently. They see things from a Tanzanian perspective, not just an American.
My heart, although any doctor will tell you it is physically the same size, has grown many sizes bigger as I have learned more about loving people, and living in a different culture. it has changed. It is much more compassionate, more merciful, more loving, and more understanding of the love God has for me.

My mouth still has the same tastebuds, teeth, etc, but the language that comes out of it is different, i speak a new version of english and now swahili.

My mind, thinks things through a little differently, even though it is the same brain. Sometimes it thinks like an African, other days like an American, and yet other days it is very confused and unsure of how to approach things. My mind also carries the burdens of the things I have seen over the last year, the poverty, AIDS, the trash in the streets, the lives facing hardship.

My hands, they reach further. Some days they reach to the heavens begging for help, other days they are reaching down patting the head of a child yelling "MZUNGU" (white person) demonstrating my love for them.

My feet, they have grown more calloused, not just from the dry dusty conditions and my choosing to favor flip-flops over any other shoe, but because they have walked along side many who are hurting and breaking. I hate those callouses, but they serve as a great reminder of the hardship of the lives around me.

I am changed. I am amazed at how much I have changed over the last year. And although I don't have any plans to come home any times soon, I will admit I am a little nervous about how I will stay changed, but also feel at home in America. Cause the honest truth is, "home" has changed a bit too. I have two homes, both of which I love.
As I look over the last year and think about what I have learned, what I have experienced and how much I have changed, I wonder what it will be like another year from now... It has been a learning curve of a year.

I am so thankful for God, for his guiding me and staying so near to me over the last year. And I am thankful for each of you too! You were a big part in my adjustment! Wow. What a year.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007


Yes. I am MOVING again. Yes this is the 3rd place I have "lived in" since I arrived last march. Yes I am crazy, but at the same time I think if I continue to stay in the place I am in and continue to have the hassles with water and daily survival...I will really be crazy...I still don't have an account with the electric company, Water is a daily issue, and the list goes on and on...

My friends (and neighbors) Pam and Brandt are moving. Thus, their house, which is close by, is coming available, and it is in my budget. I know this will be a better situation as since they have lived there 2 years without water problems I know that headache will soon be gone. Also, Brandt is a well trained carpenter, and can fix just about that being said I know the house is working! (this is BIG deal!) I will still have a bad road, but I will not have the water problems I am having, and my water bill will drop about $150 per month (that's reason enough!) and I will still have plenty of space to host guests...speaking of which...when are you coming to visit?

Moving day is April 30/May 1.

PS. One should note, that the day I was praying about whether or not to water pump broke...i took that as an inevitable sign of future life in this house...yet again...water in the house is sparse... plenty in the tank though!

Saturday, March 17, 2007

We should dance for joy...


Now I think it is time for a shower!

Testing the patience...

If you ask my family, i never really was an extremely patient person...but over the last 29 years I have been learning...albiet sometimes slower than others.

Tanzania tests my patience sometimes. STILL NO WATER! Last night I called the water truck myself and had a few words with him. It amazes me that some days I just can't get anything out, but when it is necessary I can. I asked when he was bringing me water (it was now 5pm) and he said, I have left work for the day. I about blew a gasket, took a deep breath and said, but you said you were going to bring me water on monday, tuesday, wednesday, thursday and today and you haven't! And he says, its not my fault, the president is in town. Having read the newspaper I inform him the president left wednesday. He argues with me and says he didn't, although according to other papers in East Africa, the President is in Zambia.

He promises to bring water this morning. We will see.

Friday, March 16, 2007

Water..its not everywhere.

So the water saga continues. The water truck still hasn't come and to be honest it is getting hard to laugh about it by the minute. He keeps saying today. Then the day goes by. Endless calling doesn't seem to help...maybe tomorrow. maybe next week. Praise God for performing miracles though, it has rained enough each night for me to have the water necessary for washing, flushing, etc.

On a different note, there was plenty of fun on my beach vacation and plenty of water too! Thanks mom and dad for the gift of a vacation for Christmas! It was truly spectacular. Here's some photos!

The beach at our first hotel in Jambiani.

The view from our hotel at the second beach in Nunqwi.

Spectacular sunset in stonetown.
Its early in the morning and this picture doesn't do it justice, but the water was so clear that when I was over my head I could still see the details on the flecks of seaweed below.

On our last day we returned to stonetown, the main town on the island and did some sightseeing and shopping. We stopped at a historical sight were the slave industry held kidnapped slaves until they were sold and sent to foreign lands. The pictures again don't do it justice, as I literally was nauseated when I read the signs and saw the small closets of spaces where they would keep mass amounts of people. I had heard about slavery all of my life, but for some reason being in this land, the silence, the pictures, the stories, it all was overwhelming. That we could do such things to another human...

There was a sign near to the entrance to the chamber pictured at the right. It said, "During the slave trade, these underground rooms were used to keep slaves, before being taken to the market for auctioning. A small hut was on top and that was a big hole used as an entrance to the slave chambers. Slaves were kept in terrible conditions, so many died of suffocation and starvation the amount was terrible. (tanzanian english!)." Somewhere else in mentioned cramming an insane amount of people in this room at one time, to give you an idea, my small 5'4" body could not stand up straight in the entrance, aside from the flash the room is pitch black, no toilet, just cement and chains. Again, that we could do such a thing to another human.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Words that challenged me this morning...

That is God's call to us -- simply to be people who are content to live close to Him and to renew the kind of life in which the closeness is felt and experienced. -Thomas Merton

I wish I was brave enough or willing to be content with just living close to that is the kind of life I desire. If only the distractions of this world weren't so... well... distracting!

Harvesting Water

Today I was a farmer. A farmer of water. Allow me to explain.

Water in Africa is different than water in America. At my house, I have two water tanks. One that is buried in my yard that holds about 25,000 liters (roughly 660 gallons) of water. The second tank is raised above ground, on a tower that sits above my house so that I can have water pressure to flush my toilet, shower etc. What typically happens is I pay for a water truck to come to my house and bring me water, about every two weeks (there are four of us living in my house right now.) The guy is a nice guy, and for 80,000 Tanzanian shillings (about $65) he brings me 15,000 liters. (My tank is never "full" as there isn't a truck that holds the 25,000 liters required to fill it.) There is a pump that we turn on that pumps water from the tank in the ground up to the tank above the house when that tank needs filling. Then water comes into the house as needed.

Well, I noticed in January we had gone through water a little more quickly. Instead of lasting two weeks, a truck full lasted about 10 days. In February I noticed the same and mentioned it to my roomies, hoping that they would say they have been using a lot doing laundry etc. The water guy was happy cause he made a little extra money in the meantime!

Well last tuesday, as I was packing for my vacation starting on wednesday, my guard came to me and said, Pam, the water tank (the one below ground) is empty. I calculated. It had only been 7 days, and most of us living in the house had not been home the entire week. Deduction...there is a leak in the under ground holding tank and i am spending a lot of money watering the soil around my tank. (too bad grass won't grow there.) So what exactly does a girl do, she has people living in her house, but also has a plane ticket to get away for a week after the longest year of her life? She calls in the troops, calls the fundi, warns those living in her house and goes on least there will be water there, I was going to the beach!

Now don't worry, I didn't just leave. I did maintain phone contact and checked on the progress of the repair. I just did it from the beach. On Sunday the workers finished the repairs. Those helping called the water truck to have water delivered. He said he would come.

A little while later, he called and said he couldn't make it until monday. Why you ask? Well, the President of Arusha was coming for a visit. As part of his visit he was going to go out to a few projects in areas that were off the few paved roads we have. (We have about 6 paved roads. Any road outside of the center of town often reminds me of moguls on a ski slope.) It was important that the President be able to ride on the dirt roads and not bounce like mad like the rest of us...even though he does have a very nice Land Cruiser transporting him. Roadwork usually takes place in the rainy season cause they need to wet the road as part of grading it because the dirt itself becomes like rock. ALL of the water trucks in Arusha were to report to said locations so they could prepare the roads for the Presidents arrival! HA! The water guy apologized and said he would come on monday.

Monday comes along. (Mind you I am still on vacation, so I really can't complain.) The President isn't finished with his visit. The water guy calls. He can't make it today, as he again was summoned to service the president. He will come tuesday for sure.

Tuesday comes. Again. The President calls. Surely on Wednesday. I fly in tuesday night. We are at critical rationing point. There is miraculously water coming in from the small tank above the house (quite a miracle since no water has been pumped into the tank in nearly a week!) I talk with my roomies and we laugh at the situation.

Today is Wednesday. The water guy cannot be reached. He is not answering his phone. Maybe he is having a private lunch with the president or something. Who knows. This is where the harvesting of water begins. The guy who owns my house is a relatively smart guy. He follows an idea that many use here. They route the gutters on the roof of the house to flow into their holding tank...FREE WATER! This afternoon, I am sitting at my computer and it starts raining and I thank God! That means water is going into the tank... Then I realize, that because of my mogul road I better start praying cause the water truck refuses to come up my road after a really is quite treacherous, there are days that I don't chance it either so I can't blame him. Then I hear a loud splash. Water is flooding my porch. The pipe connecting the gutters to the water tank is not connected. Probably a measure to keep water from going in during the repair process. So what do I do...I find every bucket and basin I can and start catching water. (Photo below) Let the harvest begin!

A few things I realized in this experience. First, Vacations are a good and necessary thing. Had I not been able to get away and rest...I can promise I would not have laughed through this experience...i would have most likely cried tears of frustration. Second, water, in any form, is a blessing...i nearly danced for joy! I can shower! (notice the brown water in the pictures) Third, God keeps his promises. Isaiah 58 was a large part of my choosing to come to Africa and work here. Verse 11 says, "The LORD will guide you always; he will satisfy your needs in a sun-scorched land and will strengthen your frame. You will be like a well watered garden like a spring whose waters never fail."

I have clung to this promise on many occasions, when I feel lonely, when I am discouraged, when I feel oppressed and like I am going to crumble under pressure, when I long for a husband and family... If I had not had this water situation, I would have missed the blessing of the reminder that God will strengthen my frame and satisfy my every need in this sun scorched land.

Praise God for leaky tanks.

Monday, March 05, 2007

Passion Juice Please.

Today I went with some team members to McMoody's. Our own local McDonald's imitation, no worries, it is nothing like McD's, however they do have one thing in common. I don't really like either of them!

Anyhow, i got there after everyone else. First mistake. Everyone else had ordered (no ordering at the counter here.) I called the waiter over and asked for the cheeseburger meal with passion juice. The cheeseburger meal comes with chips and a juice.

About 5 minutes later I saw him coming up the stairs with a tray full of passion juice. He drops one at every table but ours. He glances our way so assume he remembers my juice.

Another 5 minutes pass. He brings a few pepsi's to the others at my table. I remind him about my juice. He says, I will be right back.

Another 5-10. He brings everyones food. I ask again for my passion juice.

Another 5. (not joking at all) He brings the table next to us, refills in passion juice. Does not bring mine. i try to get his attention. He keeps walking.

Another 4-5. We are laughing hysterically at this point. He brings me my cheeseburger, but no chips. I ask for my chips. He says, you want chips? I say, yes, the cheeseburger comes with chips and juice. He want juice? I switch to swahili. Yes. I want chips and I want passion juice please.

A few minutes later. The chips arrive. Still no juice. We laugh harder.

A few minutes later he brings yet another tray of juice up for others sitting in the area, i assume one will be for me. not a chance. We are holding our stomachs laughing at this point and the lady at the table next to us thinks we must be some weird tourists!

I get his attention and ask for my juice. He says ok. Comes up the stairs with a juice...and takes it to another table! Now I am annoyed.

I try another route and grab a different person. In swahili I pleasantly stop this young girl and say, I am really sorry to bother you, but I have asked that man for juice at least 10 times, but he can't seem to bring one, could you please help me and bring me a passion juice the next time you come up the stairs.

She says sure. I will get it now. And sends the guy himself to get a passion juice for me.

He comes back up, but not with juice. My meal is nearly finished and we are all having a good laugh at all the juices that have managed to make it up the stairs to this sitting area and gone right past us!

Finally. I make eye contact with the girl and the guy who are standing together. They look at each other and I beg for a juice. My juice arrives. I appoint someone else at our table to ask for the bill...we didn't have enough time for me to ask for it!

I think the part that makes this story so funny, and kept us laughing so hard, is that this is not just a one time experience. I have this problem (not necessarily with juice per se) but with McMoody's every time i go there. Last time I tried to order a cheese pizza and add chicken, but couldn't cause the cheese pizza was on the vegetarian menu and chicken is a meat. Another side of life in Tanzania.


Each sunday I have a decision to make about where I will go to church. There is a church in town that is mostly Expatriates, it is a great church, and most often I choose to go there, just for some bit of escape and cause it really makes a difference when you can participate in worship.

But there is another church in town, a tanzanian church that I also like to attend. Yesterday I chose to go to this church as I was feeling the need to expose myself more to swahili and also cause I was invited by the family I had stayed with months ago. I always like the cultural lessons I learn when I attend this church, and I love the lessons about life I learn.

Yesterday after a few songs (thankfully even though they were in swahili I knew them, so I got to participate!) the pastor invited people to come up and praise God for something He has done in their lives. No one moves at first, but then slowly a young girl, probably about 20 walks forward carrying an infant in her arms. The pastor gets up, and takes the child from her arms, and her tears start flowing. Through tears, she shared how she praised God for the child that was with her. It was her sisters. Her sister was sick and died. This infant, probably about 4 months old was now her reponsibility. She thanked the Lord for having mercy on her sister, and thanked Him for His promises to care for her and this child even though she wasn't quite sure how they would survive. It moved me nearly to tears.

This is LIFE in Tanzania. Praise God He keeps His promises.

Sunday, March 04, 2007

The locksmith, the electrician and the missionary

No this is not some twisted joke. This week I decided to tackle some home projects. One of them was by choice, one was by necessity.

The locksmith:
On monday night I closed the front door and there was a clink, and the handle laxed in its position. Upon looking at the door handle, I realized we had a problem. Upon playing with it, it was obviously something that needed a solution, the handle would just spin in circles...not opening the door. It was late, so I locked our security gate and locked the door and went to bed. I woke up the next morning, talked with my roomates about the lock and we decided it was bigger than we could handle so we called Mr Fix It Brandt who also happens to be my neighbor! He couldn't come by until wednesday morning, so we decided to trust in our security gate for a few more hours. He came by wednesday to help me remove the lock and handle from the door (it required hammers, skill, and well a willingness to fail and buy a new lock of necessary!). I then got on the search for a locksmith.

Assuming (1st mistake) I would need a new lock, I took the box with me, but left the pieces to the handle at home. The locksmith scouled at me, and said he would get to it in a few days. I informed him that it was the handle/locking mechanism to my front door. He said maybe tomorrow then. I went home and got the handles (without his requesting) and took them back to him. He fixed iton the spot. This is where I overstepped my bounds. I took the lock box home and tried to install it myself. I couldn't wedge it back into the space, it just wouldn't fit and function correctly. So I decided I needed to take a few things apart. Oops. Bad decision. Long story short, 3 hours later we (Gary stepped in to help once he got home) had put the lock back together successfully even guessed where the spring lock parts go so effectively we don't have to get a new key and also had manged to put it into the door and make all parts work!

The Electrician:
I have an electric stove, that flips the main breaker of the house whenever it is turned on. I have put off fixing it, as when I first got here I purchased a gas stove cause electricity was never on. (yes I have two stoves...spoiled missionary) So an electrician came to look at my problem. He decided I needed to put a whole new system in. (take advantage of the mzungu who is female and clueless) Little did he know I had a clue. I entertained his idea for about 2 seconds and let him believe it for a little while longer as I got more info from him so I would know how to proceed in the future, and learn some new swahili words. I sent him on his way with an "I'll call you later." I have no intention of calling him. upon switching a few things we have not had a single flip of the breaker switch.

The Missionary:
I am learning that missionaries have multiple tasks, and challenges in life. It used to be that my dad did the work and I watched or rather got in the way. It seems like ina week I go to my little red tool box daddy-o got me when I moved into my first apartment for a tool to fix something, the freezer door, the front door, the bathroom door (apparently i have a thing with doors), the wiring, the windows, the car. I am learning so many languages here it is crazy!

the plumber story is for another day!