Tuesday, July 31, 2007

You have days...

Where things just don't go as planned. Today was one of them.

I woke up early. That wasn't planned, and usually it wouldn't be a bummer, except it was REALLY early, and I am really tired, and I had a very difficult time sleeping last night.

Skype wasn't working for a pre-planned phone call. I was bummed. I have Internet, which I know is a blessing, but sometimes there just isn't enough bandwidth to go around. I wonder who else is up at 5 am on the Internet?

Uploaded all the interns photos to burn disks for them and the home office. I noticed my external hard drive, that has EVERYTHING on it, isn't working correctly. Everything folks...means everything...photos, stories, newsletters, financial records...everything. I don't have time to fix it because of my hair appointment. Plus I wouldn't really know where to begin.

Short hair requires more frequent trims, I should have considered that when I cut it! Anyhow, I was on my way to the salon and the oil light came on. Odd, I checked it last week, and there was plenty! Anyhow, I was right in front of a gas station, pulled over, stopped the car and put in some oil. Turned on the engine, and to my horror I experienced shaking similar to the earthquakes a few weeks ago, and clanging similar to a class of toddlers beating on metal drums. I immediately turned off the engine and called Scott, team leader, aka father-like figure to all us single gals over here. He was without a vehicle. I called the mechanic, who surprisingly sent over two mechanics and had them look at the vehicle. They made the noises stop, but recommended I bring it in to the shop. I drove it the 2 kilometers to the shop and dropped it off. It was due for a service, so asked them to do that as well. I asked if I would have the car back by evening so that I could get the girls to the shuttle. They said, Pam, servicing only takes an hour, you'll have it back by lunch! SWEET!

Cancelled the hair appointment, I was so late at that point it didn't really require cancelling!

Called the girls who were in town with Donnie, pleading for a ride. Went to the house to help the girls finish packing. One of the girls was struggling, I found her on the floor, all her belonging strewn about, not knowing where to start. Half an hour later I noticed she was still there, no progress made...so I packed her bag for her.

All the while, trying to burn disks, but the hard drive isn't working correctly. Miraculously, after I had tried everything I could think of, it started working on its own.

Lunch. Oh yeah, we ate lunch. Tedi wanted to make a traditional Tanzanian meal for the girls since it was their last day. Dare I mention I failed to pick up the necessary ingredients... Tedi managed though, and was very gracious to me. This way though, the meal was truly traditional, in that we had to use what we had, and make a good meal.

I hadn't heard from the mechanic, so I called him, he said it was done and I should come by. I waited a few hours, there was PLENTY to do to get the girls ready and all their preps for home taken care of. So I hitched a ride to the garage, and asked for my keys and the bill. It was at this point that I learned, my car wasn't done, and it won't be done anytime soon. Yep folks, my engine is going to be taken apart and put back together. Something to do with shafts and other parts that I don't understand in English let alone Swahili! I asked how it happened, "Pam, you didn't have enough oil in your car, you have to put oil in your car!" I responded, "I know that, I have been driving years, and checked it last week, and the light was on for maybe 5 whole seconds!" AGH! So, my car, is at the garage, and maybe I will get it back in 2-3 err...this is Africa lets give them 4-5 weeks! I didn't ask how much it would set me back, but at dinner worked up the gumption to ask Scott. He laughed,"Pam you're looking at a couple thousand." UGH!

All this griping isn't for griping sake. Cause even as I look at the day, there are so many blessings that came about, even in the chaos. Getting up earlier than I expected, although I am tired, allowed for some extra God time, I apparently was gonna need it. Even though skype didn't work, I did get to IM, which is better than nothing. I did get to talk to Katie, and that was an encouragement. I was able to reschedule the hair cut, for Friday no less (it can sometimes take a month to get an appointment.) I got to spend extra time with the girls because my change of plans. I got to share one more day with them, speaking and sharing life and truth with them. I learned, that my Swahili is rockin! Can I boast a little here? I am really doing well with my Swahili! I translated for the girls as they said goodbye to Tedi, and I think I did it for the most part correct. Both parties understood and communicated, and I helped! That was exciting! Forgive the boasting, cause truly it isn't anything I have done, but what God did in me, and that is cool. I did get the DVDs of photos burned, and I did get my external hard drive working, although at the moment it isn't again. The next time it is working I have vowed to copy everything on it, although it is supposed to be my back-up. I guess I should have a back-up for the back-up. I am learning. I have another vehicle I can use in the interim of mine getting repaired, that is a blessing, as there is so much going on in Unga that to be with out a car would be difficult. And really, as frustrated as things came to be, God was there, the whole time, present in His fullness, giving great peace. That, my friends is worth the hassles. Today was so busy I might not have noticed his presence otherwise.

It's so quiet...

I don't quite know what to do.

About 8 weeks ago, I was writing a post "This is Africa" and sharing about the adventure our REACH interns encountered upon their arrival. There is another part of Africa that sometimes is forgotten...

People come. People love to come to this wonderful country, groups come all the time and they change our lives! Precious people who love the Lord come and share their lives with us, for a week, ten days, 2 weeks, some 6 months and longer, and they become a part of us, a part of what we are doing, a part of our extended family, and we are forever changed. This is one of the parts of Africa I love the most. The visitors, who are more than visitors, who are a blessing and an opportunity to bless.

Then the other part. People go. How dare they do that? How dare they come and provide such encouragement, words of wisdom, helping hands get us all used to having them here and then leave! The nerve! Yeah I know, they warn us about this ahead of time, that they can only stay a few weeks, but it is always hard to see them go. Tonight, was no different.

We had four amazing college gals with us the last 8 weeks. All four of them from distinctly different backgrounds, upbringing, education experience, church experience and distinctly different, extremely different personalities, but we all learned, we all grew, we were all challenged and we were all blessed, and tonight, we put them on a shuttle to Kilimanjaro Internaional Airport.

Pray for Amber, Elsa, Hilary and Jackie. Pray for safe travel, and for their transition back home.

Saturday, July 28, 2007

Cheers for Chebe!

Cheers for strangers reading your blog!

It seems like there is some light shining in the wheat free world. Check out Chebe. I'll let you know if it is any good after I get some to Tanzania. No worries, orders are in process.

Friday, July 27, 2007

Branching Out

There is so much going on in Unga Limited, it needs its own space. The events and stories relating to the work in Unga Limited should not be hidden among all my other ramblings. From now on Unga Limited related stories will be found here.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

It pays to know the boss...

Or to come in a few days after Bill Clinton does.

Tuesday I took the interns shopping, I also looked for a few things, as I had a few gifts I was wanting to pick up. I saw one thing, and I just knew it would the perfect gift, so I asked one of the floor help guys how much it was, he gave me an insane price, so sadly, even though I knew it was perfect, and the receiver would love it, I put it back on the shelf.

Today I went back. I have thought non-stop about the item I saw on Tuesday, and I thought, maybe there is something like it, that won't break the bank. I saw many similar items, and the item I didn't get on Tuesday. The owner was there and he asked how I was doing, how ministry was going and what I was looking for. I told him a gift for a friend, and handed him several items that I thought would be good and asked the price for each of them so I could decide. I also snuck in the item from Tuesday. For comparison of course.

While he was getting prices, I asked how business had been, and he informed me that Bill Clinton had stopped by on Tuesday and that they had a nice visit. It was quite casual actually, as if they were longtime friends. I then asked if he was smiling because his old friend had come by, or if Bill had helped the local economy and visited his Tanzanite counter. Tanzanite is a gorgeous blue gemstone. I am not a jewel person, or really a jewelry kinda gal, but the blue hue of Tanzanite will stop anyone in their tracks, and apparently it stops Bill too! The store owner responded, "let's put it this way, I am smiling!"

So I am not sure if it is because I know the owner, of if it is because of Bill's recent spending, but when I got all the prices for the items I was comparing, the item I didn't get on Tuesday, was less than half the price it was on Tuesday. I should have visited the Tanzanite counter as well.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

August 15

That's the day we will host our first vision seminar for ministry in Unga Limited. Pray for the four ladies who have asked for our help, that they catch the vision, can grasp the big picture, and that they will desire to move forward and minister to their neighbors.

God is big. God is doing big things. It is fun to watch Him work.

Today the optimist wept on the inside.

A week ago I told you about the visit Amber and I had with Amini. I remarked on her condition and my frustration with the system and how she was dying and her family was watching.

Today I talked to Mama Diwani about going with her again to visit some other AIDS patients and about sharing the vision of CHE with her. At the end of our conversation I asked about Amini. Amini died yesterday.

There are so many things I want to say, but really I can't put into words my sorrow, anger, frustration and the depths of my discouragement. I just don't have the words.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Wheat Woes

This whole "no wheat" thing is getting ridiculous. It is working, however this week it is on my nerves. Today, all I could think about was a pizza. Nope, can't eat pizza. yesterday we made taco soup and some chips, no chips Pam. The other day it was chapati, a really good flatbread. Another time is was toast, for some reason I really wanted toast with my eggs.

Usually, I don't mind this new food hassle, but lately, the lack of variety is getting annoying. I need to find some new recipes apparently.

I am learning just how difficult this new lifestyle can be. Not only with cooking, but eating out. If I go out, I have to find the most simple thing on the menu (often a salad, without the dressing of course)...cause I have no idea what they are using. You know, boullion has wheat in it, so even soups, could potentially make me sick! I found out the hard way the other day that Soy sauce also has wheat in it. That wasn't so fun. I find myself praying more and more that this is just temporary, that in a few months it won't be a problem and I can be my pasta and bread loving self again.

Ok. enough whining. I will survive. Really, there are foods I can eat, I am just spoiled.

Childrens Classroom!

I don't talk about our CMF training center very often. I should. There is a lot going on there!

Just outside of Arusha, we have land where we (well not me really because I am so new here) have been developing a center to train those who CMF Tanzania is equipping to plant churches in various parts of rural Tanzania. In the future it will be used for our Urban work as well.

Right now there are five families studying on our center, from a variety of backgrounds and locations. Even languages! Our training is currently translated from English to Swahili to Maa! Yikes! We bring those we train here as families, because the family unit is so important to this culture and the culture of the church. Part of that involves children, and this week, we got to celebrate the opening of the children's classroom!

I wake up singing...

And I am learning, that the songs of my mornings, are not necessarily coincidence. I love music, and it often transforms my mood, my spirit, my being. I am also learning that often, the songs are not songs that state where my heart is exactly, but rather an expression of where I long for it to be, of where I need it to be. Todays song was no exception.

Take My Life: Chris Tomlin's Version
Take my life and let it be consecrated Lord, to thee.
Take my moments and my days, let them flow in ceasless praise.
Take my hands and let them move, at the impulse of thy love.
Take my feet and let them be swift and beautiful for thee.

Take my voice and let me sing, always only for my king.
Take my lips and let them be filled with messages from thee.
Take my silver and my gold not a might would I withhold.
Take my intellect and use every power as you choose.

Here am I, all of me.
Take my life, it's all for thee.

Take my will and make it thine it shall be no longer mine.
Take my heart it is thine own; it shall be they royal throne.
Take my love, my Lord I pour at your feet its treasure store.
Take myself and I will be ever, only all for thee,
Take myself and I will be ever only all for thee.

This song entirely reflects where I have been striving to be lately, but I have worked so hard at it and I get so frustrated because yet again this morning I realize I am so far from there. I can't even get passed the first line. There are too many "I's" in that sentence.

Consecrated: to devote irrevocably to the worship of God by a solemn ceremony. To make or declare sacred. to devote to a purpose with or as if with deep solemnity or dedication.

I try. I try so hard to make my life all about Jesus. I realize the rest of this song, is a reflection of living out consecration, but I still fail so miserably. There are the things in this world, things on this earth that catch my attention, that take my glance from Christ. Simple things really. My health. My desire to have a successful ministry. My desire to receive praise for successful ministry. My desire to be adored for who I am. These are not necessarily bad things to desire, but I am looking for them in all the wrong places. And I am desiring them for myself, and forgetting that everything I do, is meant to reflect and glorify the love of Christ, it is meant to give Him praise and adoration. I long to devote my life fully to Him, but I am learning that each passing moment represents a moment where I must surrender, and allow Him to lead me into that place of consecration, I can't do it on my own. Thats the song for the day.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

The sign says it all.

Yep folks. This weekend we are taking the interns to Peponi Beach on the Tanzanian coast for some rest and recovery, as well as some debrief of their time and experiences here. Pray for us as we make the 6-8 hour (it varies, and yes that much) drive on Thursday and then again on Sunday. Pray also for rest, for excellent dialogue about their time here, and for safety!

Fortunately I got a flat tire today, so I am assuming my car troubles for the trip are out of the way!

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

I see a vision seminar in my future!

Folks, this is an exciting post, however I am exhausted so I will keep it short. Today Lorivi and I met with Mama Jackson and shared the vision for CHE in perfect swahili instead of my swahili. She caught the vision and got excited. We are looking to have her and four or five other ladies spend a day with us learning with hands on exercises about CHE in the upcoming weeks. This is the first step to starting a CHE program in her area! This is thrilling. Pray for Mama Jackson, Lorivi, myself and the other ladies she wants to invite!

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Elsa felt it first.

Earthquake #8 in 6 days. Kinda freaky.

July 17 9:27 PM Magnitude 5.0

Our earthquakes are even felt in Nairobi. Read about it here. Or see what The Standard has to say about it.

blog crazy

There was a lot to fill you in on. There are a lot of updates today. I recommend starting at the bottom and working your way up, it will make more sense that way. If you do, you would read them in this order:

absent but not without reason
One more thing!
AIDS in Unga
Tanzania Church
Orphanage Woes


I was offered a husband again today. I was in the office of a local Compassion International project. Mary and William Msuya's church hosts the project office on their property. William and Mary are the church we are trying to partner with to start a CHE program.

While I was visiting with the precious ladies in the office one of them blurted out, "Pam are you still a little girl?"

Knowing that she meant that I was still not married I responded affirmatively. She then asked if I wanted a Tanzanian husband, which is a really difficult question to answer. I don't want one, I know enough of the culture and marriage in this culture to know that I don't want a Tanzanian husband. But how do you say that without applying insult. So I blamed my mom. Which wasn't a lie really, my mom would be sad if I ever married a Tanzanian, not necessarily because he was Tanzanian but because it would mean I wouldn't move back home. I explain it to them, and usually it suffices. Today it didn't. They pressed the issue, and then said, "what about you?" "do you want to?" AGH! What is a girl to do? I admit that I would be a terrible wife for a Tanzanian, I can't fetch water with a bucket on my head, I don't know how to cook Tanzanian food, and well, it just wouldn't work. They kept pressing. So I blurted out the only card I had left. I confessed to them, that although I am not engaged, I do have interests elsewhere. This sent the room roaring with joy. Apparently my singleness is causing great concern. Since I have interest elsewhere I will apparently be ok.

I laughed as they turned and put the pressure on Amber. Poor girl, didn't know what to do, but she didn't understand much of what they were saying anyhow so she escaped unharmed and unhitched.

Orphange Woes.

I get frustrated. I really get frustrated when I can't do anything about a situation, or if I don't feel like I have the resources available to really make a difference. This is what gives my heart such a struggle on orphanage days.

Those precious kiddos, deserve someone who will come and spend time with them, significant time, each week, or even each day, but I just can't do that. I also see things in the Orphange that I would like to change, the diaper changing station for example, needs some serious work. It is hard to not fall in love with those kiddows, but it also isn't fair to do so if I am not going to commit to being there for them long term. My job here isn't to run an orphange, so I can't give of myself there the way I want to. So I get frustrated.

Tanzania Church

As promised. The church blog.

On Sunday, Amber, Jackie, Elsa and I went to Mama Jacksons church. Hillary stayed home sick. Upon our arrival, we discovered that although we thought we were late due to some crazy morning struggles, we were actually early. Mama Jackson told us the wrong time for service! This meant though, that no one was really there yet, well people were there, but they were all milling amongst themselves. So we picked a bench and sat down.

A few minutes later, one of the leaders of the church came up to introduce himself. He then asked the all to often asked question, please come sit in the first row. Let me explain. White people are revered, they are always special guests, there isn't anonymity, there isn't a choice of seating. If you are white, you are always requested (rather forced) to sit up front, and often asked to give a small sermon or message to encourage the people. I was annoyed. I just wanted to blend, but really, how could four white girls blend in that crowd. He asked a second time, we obliged. Although I will admit, I did so begrudgingly.

A few minutes after church started, I noticed Mama Jackson and her kids sneaking into the service. I waved and gave her a look that I hoped she would interpret to mean, "we do want to sit with you but your pastor won't let us!"

Service was incredible. It is always a little difficult because everyone will come up and say hi to you, often at what we would consider inappropriate times. It is also difficult because they sing amazing songs, and usually we don't know the words as they aren't put on a screen like in the US, but shockingly I knew some of them. I enjoyed the message, although from the swahili I know I know it wasn't quite translated into English correctly. In the middle of church I starting thinking to myself, I should come here more often. It would help me to make more Tanzanian friends, it would help with my swahili, and after all, even with the nuances, it is fun. I was nearly convinced. Then service ended.

After service, we were escorted out to meet the Pastor and his wife. And I encountered one of those cultural moments that cause all the fire to well up inside me! I was infuriated, as we were all standing in a line, Amber, Jackie, Elsa, Mama Jackson and then me. The pastor warmly greeted the girls, and ask Mama Jackson attempted to greet her he pushed her aside in order to greet me. Then he continued to talk to me and completely ignored Mama Jackson. I was so frustrated. She was a committed member of his congregation, and he brushed her off! So eventually he asked how we came to come visit his church. I thought I would give it to him, as I was still mad, I don't like when people disrespect others. Instead though, I pointed out quite nicely, that mama Jackson is a friend of mine and that she was really proud of her church and that she had invited us here to worship with her. I then directed him towards her so he could greet her. He didn't. I felt like putting my foot down, but didn't. Culture.

Mama Jackson invited us back this week. On Wednesday I am going to take Lorivi with me in hopes that he can better explain CHE and answer all her questions in his perfect swahili! Be praying.

AIDS in Unga.

Each area has a government official called a Diwani. I called the Diwani Michael this afternoon at the beginning of our walk to see if he had completed the surveys I had been trying to collect for our research of Unga. He said he had not, but encouraged us to stop by his home anyhow and meet his wife.

In other conversations with Michael and with Mary (the pastors wife of the church we have been doing a lot with) I had learned that Micheals wife had been doing a lot of work with AIDS victims. So of course, since we were invited, we stopped and visited with her. I talked to her a little bit and let her know how I knew her husband and where she lived. She warmly greeted us, and shared some of what has been going on in the community. I mentioned to her that I would one day like to go with her when she does her visits. She said I was welcome anytime. (Sweet!) She then told us about Amini. Amini has AIDS and is not doing well at all. Today she had gone to visit Amini and determined that she really needed to go to the hospital. She said it was because the family was worried about costs and couldn't transport her. Knowing the transportation costs were minimal and I could provide it myself, I offered to help. She invited us to go visit with Amini and her family.

Upon entering, it was obvious that Amini had AIDS. She had the skeleton body, she was in tears from her pain, there were sores on her body, she was dying. It was obvious that if she didn't get any care, it wasn't going to be long before she was gone. Mama Diwani (Michaels wife) informed them that we were her friends (Amber was with me today) and that we had offered to help transport Amini to the hospital. Amini wept more and more. These were tears of gratitude. Her husband though was concerned, her father (they were living with her parents) did not think she needed to go to the hospital. He was the head of the household, and can't go against their wishes. Mama Diwani pleaded with them some more. She then plead her case with Amini's mom who was present. Amini's mom stuck to her guns and said they needed to wait for the father to return to let him decide. It was a gut wrenching afternoon.

The thing is, Amini, who is the patient, had no voice in whether or not she went. She was in tears pleading with us, but culturally, it wasn't her decision to make at this point. As I listened I realized that it came down to finances. Her illness was causing undo financial burden to the family. Daddy was fed up and didn't have any more money. They also didn't have anyone to take care of her younger sister, although they live in a community no one would do it. The interesting thing is that Mama Diwani had found a Doc who would treat her without cost, but it still didn't help. It made me realize just how complex the stigma is surrounding HIV/AIDS patients in Africa. It is sickening.

A friend of mine, Lisa, who is serving in Arusha with her family, also wrote about AIDS recently. Check her stories out.

Pray for Amini. Pray also for Amber and I. It was a shocking reality to the disease that kills millions. I don't think I will ever forget her frail body on the bed, writhing in pain, or the tears in her eyes or the desperation in her voice. Pray for peace for Amini. (whose name also means peace)


Today I was in the grocery store, and yep you guessed it, there was another earthquake! That would be the fourth that I have felt since Sunday night. It motivated me to do some research. I was curious, how strong are they? where are they?

From what I could find online, there have been not only four earthquakes since Sunday, but seven in the last week! The details:

Thursday July 12 6:31 PM Magnitude 4.4
Saturday July 14 3:23 PM Magnitude 4.5
Sunday July 15 2:24 PM Magnitude 5.4
Sunday July 15 11:45 PM Magnitude 5.4
Monday July 16 12:10 PM Magnitude 4.7
Monday July 16 5:23 PM Magnitude 4.7
Tuesday July 17 5:10 PM Magnitude 6.0

They all have similar epicenters, all in the region of that lovely active volcano I climbed in January! Don't worry mom. We do have an evacuation plan if it is ever necessary, however I don't think it will be.

One more thing!

Kendra is coming! August 4th! I can't believe I haven't posted this amazing news! Kendra and I had hoped to arrive on the same plane in March of 2006. We had planned on doing the studying, language learning and ministry together, but it didn't work out that way.

Fortunately, she is now packing bags, and containers! She has her ticket and is expected to arrive the evening of August 4. Pray though, as her work permit has not been approved. It of course is taking longer than it should have. Prya also as she says goodbye and prepares her heart for her arrival!

She's coming folks! She's coming! My roomie and friend is coming!

absent but not without reason!

Life has been really really really busy the last several days! This post is a re-run of the week. Sadly because of time and pressure to fill you all in, there isn't much of the fluffy feeling stuff...that will come!

Friday was Jack's birthday, which necessitated a party! (mind you, i often don't need a reason for a party, but this was a REALLY good reason!) We celebrated well into the night. After games, and more games, and movies, and cake we finally all hit our pillows and I counted the hours I could sleep before having to get up again.

Early Saturday morning we put Jack on a shuttle to Nairobi. It was an unplanned trip, in that he was supposed to be here another week, but a family illness required that he get on a bus early Saturday morning and head home, while his two friends slept soundly at my house!

I got home after taking him to the bus and found his friends and the interns awake and bustling! We had big plans to go to Marangu falls at the base of Kilimanjaro. We fixed breakfast for the boys (sadly I didn't have it in me to make any pancakes, I was spent). And then packed a picnic lunch (have you ever packed a picnic lunch without wheat, it proves interesting!) We loaded everyone in the car, dropped the boys off and headed east.

Two hours later we arrived at our destination. I honestly, took a little nap while the girls explored a little bit, but soon recognized I would miss out on a lot of fun. Although I was exhausted from the emotions, and activities of the previous week I got myself up, and pulled out the camera and explored with them. I didn't however, get in the freezing cold water, as I am always cold anyhow, and you have got to be crazy to put yourself in the snow melt of Kilimanjaro in the dead of winter (yes we are in the dead of winter). But our interns, they proved to be a little crazy and about half an hour after we got there, all of them were shivering and laughing as they were drenched. It was fun to watch them.

After a short hike on newly discovered trails we loaded up so we would be sure to get home by dark. I started the two hour drive with a slight headache. I made it almost completely home, but the nausea set in, so I relinquished the wheel, apologized for turning off all music, and curled up in the passengers seat. Thinking about anything I could to distract me from the intense desire to hurl.

Sunday brought the excitement of going to church with mama Jackson! It was such an amazing time, that it really deserves its own post! Suffice it to say at this time that it was incredible and I am thinking of making regular appearances there instead of the church I have been going to. I will be sure to post more later. 3 and a half hours after we arrived, church ended and we apologized for our need to hurry home because one intern was sick and needed to be checked on.

Sunday afternoon brought a few hours of unplanned activity, for much needed cleaning up from Friday's party, Saturday's picnic, and for preparing for yet another party! Sunday night we had the Carter girls over for a girl slumber party. I was trying to be the good aunt, and had wanted to have them over for some girl fun, but hadn't managed to find the time. The interns also wanted to do it, so we crammed it in. The party lasted until about midnight.

Sunday also brought some excitement of a different form! We had some earthquakes! Minor ones of course, the type that most Californians would dismiss and probably not even notice! I didn't notice the one in the afternoon, but I did notice the two in the middle of the night. Ironically I have never experienced an earthquake in the United States the country I am from and have lived in most of my life, but all of the earthquakes I have experienced have been in Chile and now Tanzania!

Monday I got up early, made some pancakes and got all 7 of the girls in my house moving and fed in order to leave by 8:30 and get to our weekly time of prayer as a team! It was a bit nutty, especially since I stayed up so late Sunday night. I was operating on 3.5 hours sleep, and it was obvious by my dropping the milk, and spilling the juice, but the pancakes fortunately turned out! There weren't any complaints at breakfast.

Monday afternoon brought our weekly orphanage trip! I admittedly wasn't too thrilled. This is another post for a later date, but I have a hard time going to the orphanage. I will like I said explain that later. It was a hard discovery though, to arrive and find out that one of the little boys passed away the week prior. You could feel the sadness in the place, you could sense the low spirits of the staff. We also found Baraka's bed empty and started to worry. He was the little guy who was so sick weeks prior. He had recovered the last time we saw him but his empty bed caused some hearts to skip a beat. Fortunately he is still alive, but he is in the hospital and apparently quite sick. Pray for him.

Today, so far has been about recovery. I let myself get too tired again. I need to learn more about balance! This week head to the beach, to let us all get a little rest and start debriefing the girls time here.

This afternoon though, I am heading back to Unga, we are gonna do some more prayer, and I find it interesting that something that had become so monotonous to me is now so eagerly welcomed! I look forward to the normalcy of walking in Unga today. I am also looking forward to seeing Mama Jackson.

This afternoon I also get to meet with my landlord and try to convince him to reinforce my fence, and make it taller. A section has become vulnerable, and apparently I am not the only one who noticed. Thankfully Ihave two fierce (well not so fierce really, but no one else knows that) guard dogs who prevented the man who climbed the fence Sunday night from getting in. Apparently when he was about to jump down they met him at the bottom and freaked him out and he ran for the hills! Good job dogs! They got some special attention for that one!

So that's the update. All words, but not much heart. I will get the heart stuff later. I promise.

And yeah, I know the photo slide show is missing, I took it off to update it. A new one will appear soon!

Friday, July 13, 2007

Life Changing Decisions

This morning when the power went out, I had a new decision to make because of the new do. Do I turn on the generator in order to straighten the hair? Is that wasteful? Is that just vain?

I fortunately didn't have to make the decision. The power came back on.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

She invited us in

She is a breath of fresh air. Mama Jackson is a breath of fresh air.

Today we went walking again, and today we spent the entire afternoon in her home. Today was a little different. At first we talked about the usual, I took Jackie this time. We had to explain why there was a different visitor with me, and talk about Elsa being sick.

We covered all of the usual greetings. We then shared a meal. When we were finished, we started talking. I asked if I could ask some hard questions. Asked her about the neighborhood, were there many single parent homes? yes. How about unemployment? A problem. Do the kids go to school? Some of them. What about disease? Prevalent. What about water? There are two sources, they pay for clean water by the bucket, the stream that runs right by their house is unsuitable for drinking or cooking.

Then she had a few questions for me. Pam, you mentioned you have walked around here for several months, what are you going to do to help us? What are you doing to do about our problems?

I then start explaining that we would like to start a program here. She pipes in, gets excited, Like Compassion? (There are several children in Unga sponsored through Compassion) I explain, that although we are both ministries, CMF functions differently. We recognize that there are groups like Compassion and World Vision who can do child sponsorship really well. So we are leaving that up to them. Instead we want to teach the parents and their neighbors about how to live healthier as a community. I then give her the CHE pitch. There is obvious disappointment in her eyes at first. She was hoping for money. She was hoping for the immediate answers to her long term problems.

We then had a healthy chat about prevention, and about how all of the money in America couldn't really solve the problem long term. But educating her and her neighbors could make a definate long-term solution. She perks up as we talk about using CHE to teach her neighbors about Christ, and about how it could help with their water problems, and the children being sick, and with poor relationships. It was fun. I have to say, this was the most intense conversation I have had yet about CHE with anyone.

It started to get dark. We needed to start the trek to our car so we could get there before dusk. We thanked her over and over (and thanked God over and over too) as we departed. On our way out, she introduced us to her landlord, and told her landlord how good we were, and then informed her that we had really good ideas to help them. We also were able to meet many of her neighbors, to start building trust in that community. During our visit, many different neighbors stopped by to visit the white people. She introduced us to everyone, invited them into our conversation and talked about God using us. She invited us in. Further this time. We are becoming a part of her circle. What a JOY!

Praise GOD! Praise Him for opening this door into Mama Jacksons community! Praise Him for showing us He is capable of all things, of ALL things, and is just as interested in reaching this community (actually more I am sure because He is GOD!) as we are.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Hope. (the post that goes on and on and on)

Today I sat down to write the monthly e-newsletter that hasn't been so monthly lately. I haven't had anything to write about. I figure most people don't want to hear yet again, that I have been prayer walking, building relationships and praying for the right people to come forward for this project. I have become impatient. I have become frustrated. I have become tired of doing what is most necessary (praying and building those relationships for future ministry) and really just want to "DO" something. I have hesitated sharing these frustrations. I mentioned them to a friend and she strongly encouraged me to be real with everyone. She said that is the only way you can adequately pray, and that you all are there for the good fun stories and the not so great times as well. So I started to write a newsletter about discouragement and perseverence. I never finished the newsletter...I just couldn't...partly because the program I use wasn't happy with my slow internet connection, and partly because I couldn't communicate my heart effectively.

I ran out of time. Elsa and I were to go prayer walking in Unga today. In all honesty, I was dreading it. Lately I have felt like I am just walking in circles. I felt like all the people could see was a walking dollar sign. I felt like I would never be invited in, that I would never be seen as a potential help, but rather as just a source of cash and objects they were needing. I felt inadequate, I felt like I was failing. I didn't want to be asked yet again for money. I didn't want to get another marriage proposal. I didn't want someone to yet again offer me their child because they thought I had better resources than them to raise their child. I didn't want to go.

But this morning, when I was trying to write that newsletter, and it dawned on me, that I have been praying for a lot of things, but I haven't prayed about their lack of motivation to move forward, or their inability to see that life could be better than it is. So we went with a goal. I shared this with Elsa today, that these are the two focuses of our time, and if God shows us something more we will add to it.

So we start walking. All is going well. Then we encounter a crowd of people standing around a pile of furniture that looks to be the entire contents of a home. I ask if someone is moving. They say no, they are being forced out. I am reminded of the plight of the people. I am reminded that life in Unga is hard. I am reminded that they probably get tired of being there too. We keep walking and praying.

Then we hear someone calling us from a distance. A woman peeks her head out of a doorway and invites us to her home. Katie and I have been invited many times. We have on a few occasions accepted the offer. On all occasions it ended up being a private time to request money from us. I was hesitant, but thought, this will be good for Elsa, lets go.

We are invited in, and Mama Jackson introduces herself. I look at her humble surroundings and she invites us to take a seat. She lets us know she is cooking ugali and then I ask about her family. She says, I am saved. I believed in Jesus years ago and He has never let me down. She then says, I knew you guys were coming today, I didn't know when, but I knew you were coming. Then I heard you talking up the hill (where the house full of furniture and crowd were) and I knew it was you. I bless you for coming to our neighborhood. I knew God was sending you. And I know it is you that we have been waiting for. (I am literally shocked, but at the same time thinking, man this lady is good, wonder what she is gonna ask for...I can be so calloused at times.) She then tells us about how she has been raising her two kids on her own. Her husband decided he didn't want to be married to her and went to be with another woman 10 years ago. She hasn't heard from him since. In the same breath, she says, but God has taken care of my every need. He is so good to me. He loves me and provides more than we can imagine. With pride she tells us about her two kids and how good of a job they are doing at school. Then she asks, so why are you here? I knew you were coming, but why are you here? I have been preparing food for you, because I believe that you sometimes don't know if your guests that are to come are angels or people sent by God. I don't know what you are, but I know God sent you. He told me you would be coming.

I explained to her that we were walking. And since I knew she was a believer, I knew that I could freely share why we were walking. I let her know that we were walking, praying for opportunities, praying for God to open doors for the vision He gave us concerning Unga. Then I shared with her a specific passage from Ezekiel that I specifically believe is a foretelling of what Unga will one day be. She lit up. She asked me where it was, and pulled her bible out. I will say that although I know a lot of swahili, I haven't learned the bible language yet. It forces me to use everyday language if I don't know the "christianese of swahili." So I turn to Ezekial 36:22-36. She started reading it out loud, and I watched as the expression on her face changed when she reached the part of Ezekiel where God says he will make the land fruitful again, and people will look at it with wonder and will want to live there. Her eyes opened wide when God compared the desolate land to that of the garden of Eden. Yes, this passage, it doesn't say Unga specifically, but I truly feel in my heart, that this is God's hope for Unga.

I told her then, that we were praying, hoping God would do this. We were walking hoping to build relationships so that if God moves in this way we could play a part in it. She then stopped me in my tracks..."if Pam?" "IF?" If God says He will do something it is a matter of when not if." (so who is the missionary here?)

We talk, we shared ugali and veggies and fish, we talked some more. Then she took us to meet her friend Mama Abraham. Another similar conversation. We share a few hours with them, and not once did they express a need. They just shared time and space, and a desire to see what God might do in their community. They then made us promise to come back. We committed. Later this week.

As we walk out of Unga (we park the car about a mile away in a safer spot) I explained to Elsa how big today was. Never, have we been invited in like this. Never have we been able to share so much time and space so freely and never have we been able to just "be" and bless people. I explained to her, that God was doing something, that God met us today, that He meets us everyday, but today was different, today He challenged us to keep fighting for this community, and gave us a glimmer of hope of what is to come. We both had smiles from ear to ear. It was a good day in Unga.

I am floored when God knows my needs. I was needing a day like today. I have been so discouraged with the slowness of progress. I could go on and on, but God in His divine mercy, reminded me today, it isn't about me. It isn't about what I want, but at the same time, He knows my every need and was willing to encourage me through Mama Jackson and Mama Abraham. I am humbled that He would take that time out for me, and look forward to being a blessing to Mama Jackson and Mama Abraham.

Join me in praying for them, and for their neighbors. Pray that God would open doors, that He would continue to reveal His plan to us. Pray for healthy relationships to form. Pray for His will to be done. Pray a prayer of thanks, for His knowing, for His willingness to show us a little bit at a time, and for His willingness to use us.

Sunday, July 08, 2007

They're Back!

Today was a good day! For the first time in months, all of my dearest girl friends in Arusha were in the same place at the same time! (Except the other Pam, she has yet to come back, but I am counting down the days!) It has literally been months! Nadine went to Canada, Hannah went to the UK, and Anna and Tanya have been in the USA, South Africa and Lesotho. Ironically, part of church was about friendships and how God gives us friends and how much He uses them in our lives. It was fun to sit around the table with these ladies, and recall the many times God has used them in mine! We had lunch together, and then to top it off, Tanya and Anna came home, made vegetable beef soup with me and we spent a better part of the evening sitting on the floor in front of the fireplace shuffling the ipod. It was old times. It was a gift, to just sit and be, to share space together and bring each other up to speed on what has gone on in our lives in the last 3 months. It was joyful.

The Trek

On Saturday, the girls, Donnie, Jack, Jabriel and I took a trek from the CMF training center to a crater called Kilimoto. It isn't a tough climb at all, but from the top you can see all around the village of Oltrumet and Ekenwya just outside of Arusha.

It was a great start. It has been way too long since I have been able to go on a trek. I miss trekking. I miss exploring and everyday when I wash dishes and stare out my kitchen window and see Mount Meru, all I can think of is climbing that mountain, or just exploring it a little.

Kilimoto isn't a mountain, it is a crater, but I was stoked. All went well the first hour or two. Then as we walked through communities we of course gathered attention, and a few followers. This is fine, except eventually it becomes quite the following, literally at least 30 people. It wasn't what I had hoped for. I was looking forward to a nice quiet Saturday trek, and not being bothered. But soon, it set in, the begging. The asking for gifts and money. The guilt trips, because we have so much we should give them something. The kids played with your friends. You should give them money. I showed you how to get to the Crater, you should give me money. (mind you, we knew where the Crater was!) Anyhow, after explaining to them several times that we didn't bring money, the frustration grew, and I just wanted to get home. The view from the top was amazing, and it was neat to think about these people one day praising God through the work of our team at the Training Center, but I just couldn't play translator, and middle man any longer. We all started back, and the kids started throwing rocks at us. It was furstrating. I fought to sing songs of praise just to keep focus and not lose heart. It wasn't a total bust of a day though, we did have a great time, got some great exploring in, and learned more about the lives we live here as missionaries. Enjoy the photos.

I don't know what is better, the smile on this girls face, or the view!

Amber and Jackie playing games with the kiddos.

Jackie, using her swahili!

Amber, Hilary, Me, Elsa, Jackie
Yes. We wear skirts when we climb craters. We wear skirts anytime
we might run into a national.

Saturday, July 07, 2007

Everything in Africa is an adventure. So I am learning. Including this post. For some reason I can't give it a title...it won't allow me to!

Yesterday I had a few different adventures!

I decided it was time to buckle down, and start using the fireplace, it is just too cold. So I went to buy firewood. The first lady I went to ripped me off. I paid for 5 bundles and only got 4, however she insists she counted correctly and gave me 5. We could not agree, so, I won't go back to her. These types of things feed my frustration sometimes.

I then went to another guy, for the larger pieces, the logs. He was a sweet, gentle old man, and very friendly. I think I will go back to him more often. We talked about life and about wood, and he taught me a lot about all the different types he sells. I will go back to him. He alleviated my frustration.

I also got a much needed hair cut yesterday. I went to the good place in town, where there is an expat who cuts hair. She is a little costly, but does a good job, and since I don't have to cut my hair too often, it evens out. Well I went in, with hair below my shoulders, asked her to cut off a few inches, so it would sit just above the shoulders. She misunderstood apparently, because my hair is short. Its short. It will take some getting used to and some serious prayer. I need power (electricity) for this new do. The natural curl and short hair combo on my head are BAD! Everything here is an adventure!

Today was an adventure of a different sort, a long hike to a crater in the African Plain with the interns, Jack, and a friend. I'll post more about that later!

Friday, July 06, 2007

Banana Chocolate Chip Pancakes.

"Pam! They're almost just like mom's! These are really good! The best yet! Aside from mom's of course!"


Today is off to a good start.

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

A child and a rooster.

It is normal for me to hear animals of all sorts because my house sits in the middle of a village. On any given day you can hear the goats, the cows, the chickens and the roosters. I am so used to it I most often don't hear them anymore.

This afternoon I was in my bathroom trying to pull the crazy curls out of my face and I heard a rooster crow. It was 4pm. A second later, a small child repeated the roosters crow. Then the rooster, then the child. The rooster. The child. It went on for at least 2 or 3 minutes. It was hysterical! It was like they were having an intense conversation. I literally started laughing, from my gut, as I imagined the child and the rooster yelling back and forth competing to see who could make the loudest sound.

One of the joys of living in Africa. You get new things to laugh at.

Gaining perspective

This morning I wrote an email. I was figuratively weeping. My heart was overwhelmed with joy and sorrow. I was experiencing great Joy due to what God is doing, and the adventure He has me on, but I was extremely sorrowful because I didn't know where the adventure was going, I was not in control, and because I wanted to be somewhere else having that adventure. I was experiencing the dichotomy of Joyful Sorrow.

I was experiencing the wrong perspective. I was looking at me. At them. At the situation and feeling defeated. I was wanting things my way, even though God has said he do could far more than I could ever dream or imagine. I was not looking at things the way God does.

On my way into town to get some groceries I was listening to the ipod and noticed my heart changing, with each word of each song. As I listened to the words of "I'm Ready Now" by Desperation Band I realized that this isn't about me. When the song "The Purest place" by Watermark came on, I recognized the best place for me to be was where God is. As I listened to song after song and allowed myself to speak the words myself, I remembered, that God is big. He knows my heart. He knows my desires. He knows me. He knows my future. He knows all things and in all things He is known. He reminded me to have perspective, to remember that He has a perspective far greater than any I could ever dream or imagine, and He knows what He is doing. He reminded me of His promises, of the words He has revealed to me in recent weeks, and reminded me that He has amazing plans for me.

Praise God there is more than one perspective in the world. Praise God that although mine is clouded, His is not. Praise God that I can choose his perspective, and find great comfort in it, no matter where it leads, no matter what hurdles will need crossing, no matter what joys and no matter what sorrows. No matter what.

Monday, July 02, 2007

It started at 2 am...the journey of desire.

The dogs barking. It used to never wake me up, but as of late it does. They bark, I wake up and wonder is something out there? I apparently have forgotten the words of Psalm 4:8. So I called the guard and asked why the dogs were barking so agressively and incessantly (I might add that I am currently impressed with my ability to say all that in swahili at 2 am, in a sleepy stupor) and he said there was another dog outside of the fence.

I fell back asleep, only to wake up again, and again and again. I gave up going back to sleep at 4:30. I had planned to get up a little before 6 anyhow. I started reading. I had nothing else I could do. My house was full of sleeping people and it seemed a little insane to cook at such an hour, or do laundry. So I read.

And I am thankful that God got my dogs to bark all night. In reading, I soon became concerned because there was a constant thread...persevere...rejoice when you face trials...persevere...persevere...no joke...it came up about 4 or 5 times. I have learned that when God reveals something to me more than once I should listen, 4 or 5 times he really means it.

So I was challenged to persevere. In what? I have no idea. I asked, and I felt like it was an answer to many questions in my life. In your prayer walking Pam...persevere. In your starting a ministry...persevere. In your relationships...persevere. Persevere Pam. Persevere in walking with me. Persevere.

So what does that have to do with a journey of Desire? I desire God fully. I desire to rest in the fulness of His love because I know that He alone is all I need, but yet I have desires in this earth as well. And I was challenged on that too this morning. That even in my desires, I need to persevere and follow him. That He alone is to be my God.

In essence, I hear a simple, yet challenging and scary sentence from God today.

"Pam, things are gonna be hard, really hard, but persevere with me on this journey of Desire."

It is a simple sentence. But I don't like knowing things are gonna be hard, I like them all wrapped up in pretty packages. It is scary because you don't know how things will end, or what will become of desires, of wants, or of life, but there is more.

He also promises to persevere with me. He promises to give me peace. Not as the world understands, but only as he can give, and he gives me great peace. Great peace and a desire to persevere, to walk in the fullness of His love and trust Him completely with whatever He is doing in my world, in my work, in my relationships and in my family.

Persevere Pam, on this journey of Desires.