Wednesday, July 1, 2009

As I sit here, I’m stuck on my second hot stuffy plane waiting for take off. I realize the first step has been taken. The goodbyes.

Carley, Me, Delicia, and Helen....Nyumba ya Duma!!!!

Below is our house worker Mama Mawazo

I haven’t been able to write on here in a while. Every time I started, I just didn’t know what to say. So much of my heart is still in Tanzania. The last few weeks with the kids were filled with lots of activities and fun times. I enjoyed each minute I had with them to see their smiles and just spend some more time without the pressure to complete any work.

Their paper airplane contest (learning aerodynamics)

Some kids dancing at the circus.

Our last Grade 5 Assembly!!!

Many goodbye with staff at HOPAC. This is Avril giving Clare her present....I got one to a picture of the whole school!

After saying goodbye to most people at HOPAC, I still had about 10 days left to spend with friends. Michelle, Naomi, and I decided that we needed stuff to do…so we came up with a schedule of events. Something for each day going until Michelle leaves at the end of July. I was so grateful for that schedule. It kept us all busy, got the last minute tourist things out of my system, and kept me from focusing on the hard goodbye’s coming up.

Me, Michelle, Delicia, and Naomi at dinner one night.

Our resort at south beach.

Young Boy selling hard boiled eggs on the beach.

I will miss these gorgeous beaches!!!

One of the greatest blessings this year has been living on the compound. I think I told you before, but it consisted of 10 single girls living in 3 houses, two families, and one couple. We have lovingly called it the “convent” and once it was even called the “harem”. God has just been such a blessing to surround me with these amazing people. I know I took their friendship and support, and dedication to Christ for granted this year. But each girl (especially) has taught me so many things and has been an encouragement to me. I don’t know how many amazing conversations and problems, and concerns were worked through. But it was a lot. I could go to a number of different people to laugh, cry, or just seek godly advice.

My new Indian Outfit from one of my students. What a blessing to be covered in other cultures.

I will miss everyone as I head back. Helen and Clare have returned to London. Kate, Delicia, Carley, and Noami stay to continue serving at HOPAC. And Michelle returns to Texas and Lisa returns to Louisiana for a short time before going back to Tanzania. The best part of their returning is the fact that I KNOW it wasn’t a final goodbye. I might have completely lost it if I didn’t think I would see them again. But I now have standing invites to come stay in LONDON!!!! Yay!!

Many people have taught me and encouraged me. Showed me how to trust the Lord, showed me how to pray through all circumstances, showed me how to struggle through with a smile on your face and a joy to come to the circumstances.

People already mentioned notwithstanding, I will also greatly miss Tanzania and my friends there. The warmth and open hearts that I have encountered there are just inspiring. Friends who truly care and remember you and your needs.
Kids from the village waiting to hear their Bible story on Saturday mornings.

William with his service to his home village. Working at the school, preaching on Sundays, running kids programs. He has more than two full time jobs, but is always will to serve and ALWAYS greeting you with a “Bwana Safiwe” (Praise the Lord). But many others who are just working hard in my church or around Tanzania, but willing to open their hearts to new people. I think a hard adjustment will be losing those immediate and trusting friendships.

This morning (my last morning) in Tanzania, I took my breakfast up to the roof and watched the sun rise over the Indian Ocean. My heart just started rejoicing in the Lord. What a blessing this year had been. How exciting to serve those who are working on the front lines fighting for the gospel to get out on the frontier. What a privilege to know those whom I have met and what a joy to encounter friends from all over the world who care for me and my relationship with the Lord. View from my rooftop.

Despite the tears, despite the power issues, mosquitoes, hot weather, and hard times. I wouldn’t trade this year for anything. Don’t get me wrong, it is difficult to live away from family and friends, yet these experiences have deepened my love of God, have opened my mind to what others are facing, and has changed my view of life. How can you weigh that against the minor difficulties faced there.

I know I can trust my savior. I didn’t know what this past year held when it started, but God did. Thank you Lord for guiding me and using me as I blindly stumbled through the path, one step at a time. Continue to guide me as I step forward in faith again, not sure of what the future holds, but knowing you are there sustaining me, planning for me, and using me.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

mbagala blast update

Thank you so much for your prayers. I wanted to reflect a bit about the bombing that happened a few weeks ago. As many of you know, the military had a horrible accident. A ammunition storage facility became too old to contain itself and simply exploded in the Mbagala section of Dar. It was a HUGE explosion with pieces of all types of munition traveling in the area.

To add this misfortune, the city had expanded since the site was originally built meaning that the army base was surrounded my homes. Many people lost their entire houses and even some lost their lives. It was a confusing time for everyone until people could figure out what was happening.

Some people at HOPAC came together to give some relief and we collected food, clothes, blankets, etc as a school. On Saturday a group of us took the relief down. It was so amazing to be able to offer assistance. Most of the time you hear about awful things happening, but are too far away to help.

It was awful seeing all the houses bombed. It reminded me of pictures of war zones that I have seen, but this came from their own government negligence. However, so far they were given tents to live in to keep their stuff dry and them a place to sleep that isn't in danger of the roof caving in! No pics...the military that was there keeping the peace was not happy with pics. I didn't get any taken.

Once we got to the church (or what was left of the church) we realized that the information that mzungo's were coming had leaked out! There was just crowds of people hanging around seeing if they could get anything. Most people were awesome to talk to! They were thankful that we had even just come down to visit them! I met a few that spoke good English and was able to have a few conversations. The rest of the time, I tried (not very well) to use my Swahili and make some friendships.

At one point, the kids were just swarming a few of us, so we decided to teach them some songs! It was fun to hear them repeating the words (in English) when they really didn't know what they meant! Hayden was able to translate "My God is so big" into Swahili and we all sang that together. It was a fun time. You never really know what to expect when things like this happen.

There was also a Tanzanian that came to offer entertainment to the crowd. he dressed up like a clown...well in crazy clothes and did dances or tricks. It was so fun, but hard to see from all the people pressing in. At one point he pulled me into the center of the crowd to play a game! I was against a local boy....don't worry they only laughed at me a bit.

please keep this area in prayer! Safety and that the government would be convicted and follow through on their promise to provide new homes for all that got damaged.

Besides that my class is quite busy! We finished our testing and are moving into the last few weeks of class. The crunch is on to cover what they need to know before moving up to (scary) secondary. I have loved working with these kids, they have been working hard to learn this year and I will miss the self motivation that is so prevalent. These students know the value of education and are trying to gain as much knowledge as they can. Its easier for them because they are faced with the discrepancy of those educated and those not. It is huge here!

I'm quite excited to be going home in just a few days for Andrea's wedding! It hit me just recently that she is changing her name and becoming connected to Chet forever!! I will have a new brother in just a one more week. Crazy to think about.

Please pray for my forever plane ride! I hope I can sleep a lot to help pass the 14 hours!!!!

Friday, May 1, 2009

Don't Waste Your Life

I just finished the book by John Piper with this title. It was so encouraging, yet also challenging. What I loved most was the ending. He made a clear Biblical case for those that are called to the mission field and fighting the front lines of this fight against darkness.

But what i loved most, was the call for partnership. Just a reminder of how God has each one of us in a specific place for a specific purpose. I was reminded how I wouldn't have even been able to step foot off of American soil without the support of so many people. Both money and through prayer. money because at the time I decided to go i wouldn't have been able to even afford any flight! But through prayer so much more. He discussed (and i totally agree) how God has placed some to stay and some to go. Some to support and participate and encourage those He chose to Go....into the unknown, but to find the unloved, lost, and broken and bring God's healing touch.

God has been such a sustainer, quiet teacher, and guide to me these past 10 months especially. It might have something to do with having no Television and media/internet being out of my house. But without all the distractions...I have been able to read...a lot... Now I'm onto Ragamuffin my next post will be how we all need some more grace in our lives I guess.

Thank you, to all who pray for missionaries (not just me but anyone). But also thank you for those who have stayed and are fighting the fight in their own home soil; who are choosing to give instead of live more comfortably. Thank you to those who are hearing the word of God, but also living it out each day.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Snapshot of Life in Dar

To give you more of a taste of life here, some friends and I have (discreetly) taken pictures of daily life. Now a lot of people don't like their picture taken, so some shots are not the best. But i want to show what living in Dar is like...and what is see every day! So Enjoy! Feel free to ask questions....

Here is an example of DSW show warehouse!! In the ourdoor markets they can have rows and rows of sneakers. But always just one so you can't steal the pair. All are second hand and the guys that sell them take hours to clean and shape them up!

You see this all the time, carrying water back to houses. It is hard work to live here when there is no electicity and you can't afford to have clean water delivered.

Massai. They keep their clothes and customs and haven't adapted to western influences. But the men love to try their english out on Mzungu girls!

Peanuts are always available and often young children are trying to sell them. They are so cute, i end up with a lot of peanuts!

Pepsi distributer!

We were driving fast when this picture was taken, but this is how you get fish! It is quite fresh since they bring it in from the boats less than 2 miles from this place! Good stuff, although keeping it cold or in CLEAN water, does not seem to be a priority to these guys.

Nice resaurant (outside of downtown).

Furniture stores....all over the road selling everything you could need for a house.

Seems shady to sell out of a van, but saves on rent. here is Tanzania's version of Bed, Bath and beyond.

Cement bricks anyone?? Needed much more often here.

Some of the zanzibar doors and beds. The intricacy is hard to see, but this wood work is amazing!!

Electronics store!

Victoria secret!

Whenever there is a traffic jam, vendors come to sell whatever people need.

Here is a portable store!! he would have anything on that cart...changes from day to day.

Fast Food!

Sugar cane! They make juice from it or just sell to suck on.

Pineapple season....there are just piles of pineapple everywhere.....I can't wait for them to come good.

Drive-by store.....literally.

One of the local buses (dalla dalla) that has Obama. I have seen his picture on so many windows, wrap skirts (kanga), his name imprinted on every brick on houses....people love him here!

Fruit sellers...

Lowe's :-)

Local Bar/fast food restaurant....chips miyai (french fries cooked with eggs....mmmm so good)

here are some more bajai. They always hang out at certain corners, but is a cheap way to get around if you don't have time to walk to the market.

Clare buying fruit off a bike. Watermelon season...

SEW- Can someone think of a better acronym??

SEW- service emphasis week

The secondary took the week off of classes to spread out throughout Tanzania and donate their muscles, time and energy. The school was in such a buzz of excitement, it was awesome to see the kids pumped up to get involved in their community. Even the younger kids were excited about praying for them and hearing what they were doing.

Since one team was last minute, they needed some teachers to volunteer and I got to go with one of the day trips on Saturday. The team went up to Madala (William's village) that i have talked about before. Usually on Saturday's a few of us go up there and are working on Bible storying as well as building friendships and playing games.

Downpours did not even pause the soccer game.

This little girl started dancing when it poured! But i can understand why, since it filled their water bucket and this was the first time I saw any of them drink water!

The teens did an awesome job though! very into, plus so many of them were fluent in swahili! It was great to see them talking with the children. Usually the kids talk at me and i nod my head trying to pick up a word or two. Sometimes I understand, but other times I am sure I have no clue what they are saying.

I was blessed to spend the day with them and it was so exciting to see the younger ones stepping out of their comfort zone to lead stories or pray aloud. It reminded me of my STEM short term trips.

Some local volunteers!