Monday, September 24, 2012

Linda's Birthday (Sept 24)

Today I celebrated my 28th birthday! Being in Tanzania has definitely made this a unique birthday. It was a beautiful day, and I wanted to share some of my joys.

It was actually also the birthday of the daughter of two of the other students. Little Yara turned two today:-) Her dad had ordered a cake from town, so we all enjoyed cake at breakfast. Eric bought me a quilted satchel and beautiful wall-hanging from the campus store. I love them both! I also received a piece of dark chocolate from our friend Emily and some Korean instant coffee from Amani.

Classes were classes, but at lunch break the kitchen staff had prepared another cake specifically for me. It didn’t have icing and was more like a sweet cornbread, but it was really delicious. Everyone dug into their second cake of the day:-)

We discovered there is an orphanage within walking distance, so after class, one of the teachers took us (Linda, Eric and Emily) over there. After a very pleasant half hour walk, we arrived and were almost knocked over by children literally jumping into our arms. We spent the next 45 minutes wrestling, snuggling and laughing with children. At one point Eric had three children treating him like a jungle gym. We also got to hold some of the babies. It was so fun!

On our walk back for dinner, some kids were looking up into a tree. When we looked up, we saw a family of little monkeys jumping from tree to tree eating fruit! Another special birthday memory:-)

At dinner, they had my favorite fruit (pineapple). After dinner, I got to make some international calls before starting homework. And then after homework, I got to go online and see the birthday wishes many of you left me. Thank you all so much! It was all around a great birthday!

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Morogoro: Part 2

We have been in Tanzania for two weeks now and we are settling into a rhythm.

Our Weekday Schedule
6-6:30am      Wake up - Depending on whether we need to study or shower
7am             Breakfast - Usually it is a buffet of yogurt, bread with butter and jam, uji which is a type of porridge, some kind of fruit, and sometimes eggs.
7:30am         Head back to our room to take our malaria prophylaxis and other meds and grab our books.
7:45am         Morning Prayer with the other students and teachers. We will sing a Swahili hymn and hear a scripture reading in English and Swahili. Then, someone will offer prayer (usually in Swahili) and sometimes we all say the Lord’s prayer in Swahili. After one final Swahili hymn, the day of classes begins.
8am             Class - We meet in small groups based on when you arrived and how long you are staying. Eric and I are together with our own teacher. The teachers rotate every week so we have a new one each week. This helps us get used to different styles and different ways people speak Swahili
10am           Tea Break - They offer tea, coffee, hot chocolate and some kind of snack such as popcorn, banana chips, fried dough, etc. Usually by then our heads our about to explode, so the break feels amazing.
10:30am       Class
12pm           Lunch - A typical lunch buffet is rice, beans, potatoes, a vegetable sauce, greens and some kind of fruit.
1pm             Break - This gives us a chance to rest, study, write emails, etc.
2:30pm        Class or Lecture - We will either continue working on our Swahili or hear a lecture on a specific topic. So far we’ve heard lectures on “Tanzanian Beliefs about the Spirit World,” “Malaria,” and “The History of Christianity in Tanzania”
4pm             Tea Break
4:30pm         Free Time - Usually we will go for a walk, go into Morogoro, or try to get online. Our favorite walking destination has been a baobab tree that is climbable. Trips to and from Morogoro require us to ride on a daladala (a 15 passenger vehicle that Tanzanians manage to fit 26 people into with a combination of sitting and standing.)
6pm             Dinner - Similar to lunch. Sometimes we will have noodles instead of potatoes. Other options may include chicken, fish, goat m, hot dogs, or occasionally pizza (though the toppings are a bit different- light on the cheese because it is so pricey, cut up hot dog, onion and pinapple)
7pm             Free Time - Usually this is when we do our homework and studying.
8:30 or 9pm  Internet - So far this has been the best time to get online, though it is still very slow. About all we have time for in an hour is checking Facebook and all of our emails. Twitter thus far has been impossible, but we are still working on it. Right now we use the school’s wireless internet and pay by the hour.
9:30-10:30    Get Ready for Bed - Shower and possibly some for-fun reading or a MASH episode (We brought the series.)
10:30-11pm  Bed Time

Field Trips and Extra Activities
The last two weeks the school has had a big group of college-age German students (about 25 students), so there have been a lot of extra activities. One evening we took a field trip into Morogoro so we could find our way around. Another night we had an International Dinner where everyone was asked to prepare a dish from their home country. We had dishes from Germany, the U.S., India, the Congo, Korea, and Tanzania and it was all delicious! One day we went for a 6-hour hike in the Mountains of Morogoro. The views were incredible! One night they brought in Traditional Tanzania Dancers and Musicians. And then yesterday we went to Mikumi National Park and saw elephants, zebras, giraffes, warthogs, hippos, impalas, etc. in their natural habitat. It was absolutely amazingly unforgettable! For pictures of all these events, go to You don’t need a Facebook account to see the pictures.

On Sundays, we get up and go to the English worship service at 7am and sometimes to the Swahili service at 8:30am. Otherwise the weekends are pretty low key and unstructured (with the exception of meals. No sleeping in if you want breakfast). Almost all of the German students left today, so it has been pretty quiet. There has been a small short term mission group from Oklahoma staying here the last few days and we have enjoyed their company.

We have spent the day cleaning our dorm, washing our underwear by hand (we can pay to have everything else washed, but having someone other than family wash your underclothes is taboo), and organizing life. Last week, I (Linda) successfully cut Eric’s hair for the first time and it turned out really well! Power goes in and out. However, we were able to get this post up, so obviously the power has come back on after being off most of the day.

So that’s a little taste of our life right now. Thanks for your loving support and we learn to navigate this new world!

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

In God's Time...

We were just recently reflecting about how many things came together in God’s time and not our own (including this blog).

Departure—We had hoped to leave in September for 2011 rather than September of 2012. However, last year we had no idea that Linda’s sister would be getting married in August of 2012. Going overseas a year later than we had planned gave us the opportunity to participate in all of the wedding celebration. Linda was able to attend the Bridal Shower, Bachelorette weekend, Rehearsal, and Wedding as Karen’s Matron of Honor. The “delayed” time also gave us a chance to see all of our grandparents again right before we left (Eric’s during a family vacation in Colorado and Linda’s at the wedding).

The Money— One of our big stressors in our last month in the U.S. was trying to sell our car. We had one offer through Craigslist that was over $2000 less than the value of the car, and we struggled with the decision of whether or not to just accept the loss. During our prayer time, we felt like God was telling us to wait and be patient. When no more offers came in and we discovered that the previous buyer was no longer interested, we began to wonder if we had waited too long. Then, less than a week before our departure we heard from the sister-in-law of one of Eric’s high school classmates. Three days before we left, she test drove it, and the day before we left, she bought it for more than the previous offer! Because it wasn’t an anonymous Craigslist sale, we didn’t have to worry about whether or not the money was good. We would have preferred it if the sale had happened sooner, but God answered our prayer in His time. Like manna in the desert, sometimes the provision is no more and no less than needed.

The Healing— The Friday (5 days) before we left Linda pulled a muscle in her back. “Not good timing God.” Being Labor Day weekend, Linda’s doctor was unavailable and we weren’t sure who else to call. We had so much to do in terms of errands and packing, not to mention moving us and all of our stuff across the world. On Sunday, Linda’s pain level was making her wonder whether they would even be able to make the trip that week. She asked people to pray for some significant healing by Wednesday. That day a friend mentioned that one of the members at our church is a chiropractor. He was willing to come into the office on Labor Day and fit her in the next day as well, all for free! With his help and God’s healing touch, Linda was significantly improved by Wednesday and able to endure the LONG journey overseas. This was yet another reminder that God provides.J It is not always when we want it or how we expect it, but it happens. The question is, “Do we recognize it?”

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Morogoro: Part 1

We have arrived safely in Morogoro, Tanzania! Actually we arrived safely on Friday, but this is the first day we have had access to internetJ

Overall, our trip went very smoothly. Our flight to Dallas on Tuesday was delayed by two hours, but we were able to relax with Linda’s parents that night and run many errands on Wednesday before our evening flight.

Dallas to London-- Our flight from Dallas to London actually felt relatively short (only 8 hours). We sat next Blanca, a woman from Mexico who was heading for France for friend’s wedding. On the far side of our row was Michael, who with his wife and three children (sitting in front of us) was moving to Glascow, Scotland. He will be getting his PHD in history there, writing about how Scottish Presbyterianism influenced American Colonialism and the American Revolution. They were both wonderful companions during the flight and made the journey seem shorter. Eric and I both got 3-4 hours of sleep that night. In the “morning”, Michael shared with us that he had experienced some insomnia during the “night”, so while he had walked the length of the plane, he had prayed for us and our work in Tanzania. We continue to be amazed by the beautiful encouraging people God puts in our lives!

10 hrs in London— One of Linda’s friends from her Social Work program now works in London so he had given us detailed directions about how to get around in London (Thanks Daniel!) When we arrived in London, we paid to have our carry-on luggage stored and took the underground into Central London. Everything in London was far more expensive than we expected, so we decided to go the cheapest route. We bought sandwiches at a local store and had an outdoor picnic in Trafulgar Square where a big screen was set up to show the Para-Olympics (side note: the U.S. is totally missing out by not broadcasting the Para-Olympics. It’s truly a shame and we should all write NBC. While we had lunch, we watched a former U.S. soldier who had lost his eyes in Afghanistan which a gold medal in swimming. It was awesome!) We then spent the rest of the afternoon touring the National Gallery (free) and seeing the outside (the free part) of Buckingham Palace, Big Ben, the London Eye, Westminster Abbey, the Royal Guards, Parliament, etc. Walking around helped us stay awake for most of the day, though we did take a brief nap in one of the parks. Finally, we headed back to the airport.

London to Dar Es Salaam— The next flight felt much longer even though it wasn’t that much longer (10 hrs). We were seated in a two-person row on a half-empty plane, so we did have a little more space to spread out. However, even though were both tired, Linda had a lot of trouble sleeping thanks to her back. She caught up on movies instead.

Dar Es Salaam to Morogoro— Thankfully all our luggage made it safely to Dar! J In Dar Es Salaam we were picked up by Abdallah, the same driver who drove us back in February. Instead of having to catch a bus to Morogoro, he drove us and all our luggage himself. We both slept some during the 3 hr trip, but Linda’s back was ready for a bed by the end.

Since arriving in Morogoro— We have now moved into our dormitory. All our meals are provided and have thus far been very tasty. On Friday, we caught a lecture with the other students on Tanzanian beliefs about the spirit world. We also unpacked and went to bed right after dinner. We were beyond exhausted!

On Saturday, we went into town to get some cash and buy a new SIM card for our phone (our one from February didn’t work). What we thought would be a 1 hr trip turned into a 4 hr trip since we were in a car full of people all getting supplies (a good example of “African time”). Saturday afternoon we rested, called our parents, and started getting to know our classmates. There is one family from Zambia and a girl from Korea who have been boarding here for weeks. The rest of the boarders, like us, arrived this weekend. There is only one other American girl and the rest (about 25 students) are from Germany. So the dormitories are full of languages we don’t understandJ. However, everyone’s English is also fairly good and we heard there are more American students living in town who take classes during the day.

On Sunday, we went to the English service at 7am and then went to the Swahili service at 8:30. We figured we should start becoming accustomed to the sound of Swahili. Plus the choir at the Swahili service was spectacular. We even knew a few songs from our Valpo days (Thank you Dr. Brugh!). This afternoon we again rested (jet lag is brutal) and went on a tour of the campus with the other students. We also were able to finally access internet cards. We have to buy them an hour at a time, and they only had 2 hours available tonight. Hopefully we’ll get more tomorrow because the internet here is incredibly slow.

So there’s your extended update! I will try to keep the rest of them shorter, but we’ve had a lot of time on our hands the last 2 days which gave us a chance to document our journey in detail. Tomorrow we begin classes so we’ll have less free time. Thanks for reading and for all of your prayers on our behalf!!