Sunday, December 25, 2011

Christmas in Arusha, Tanzania

HERI YA KRISMASI!! (Merry Christmas!)

What a GREAT Christmas. I can honestly say that. While of course it has been out of the norm (eating way too much, spending time with family/ close friends, wearing long underwear, cuddling with my dog by the fire, crazy present exchanges beating my family in cards... etc etc..)- it has been such a wonderful and joyous Christmas.

This weekend has been full of warm-hearted invitations to various family’s houses, church friends and even potlucks. I have been overwhelmed by the amount of hospitality I have been shown by so many here in Arusha, and I am so thankful for that, if you know anyone wherever you are that will be alone for Christmas, take this time to think about what it would feel like to be that person, maybe it’s a perfect opportunity to reach out and really make a difference – because I assure you, it really does.

Anywho, being 80-some degrees however... it didn’t quite feel like Christmas to me... that is- - until the Carols by Candlelight service here. I was able to participate in a church choral service here in Arusha where we sang many Christmas carols (I think I will end with my favorite verse of my favorite Christmas hymn - In the Bleak Mid-Winter) - - This service just made it feel like home, and filled me with such an amazing Christmas joy- which I hope to try and encompass year-round, because- shouldn’t Christmas joy really be a year round thing anyways? < I’ve decided it should :- )> Anyways it was just a great service and a great reminder- I felt like a small child hearing the Christmas story for the first time—even though I’ve heard it so many times because of how happy it made me, it was also just a HUGE reminder of the love story this story, the story of Jesus’ birth is for each and all of us : -) Now that’s something to be joyful about.

Christmas Eve here was fun too, in the evening, my housemate Brian and a medical student from Germany came over, we made homemade pizzas, guacamole and watched.. get ready... my favorite Christmas special, Rudolph. It was fun!

Then today, on Christmas I woke up to some amazing acts of kindness, surprise gifts from people including kitenges (jenny! ;-) and even... a BICYCLE! My task force is giving me money to buy myself a bicycle for traveling around in my village, I’m super excited about that, hooray! That’s right, I woke up on Christmas morning to a Bike! ☺ After a great church service some of my friends and I did perhaps the most meaningful thing I have ever done on Christmas. We went to the Plaster House.

I have mentioned Plaster House before, but it is a children’s home in Arusha for children from around Tanzania to recover in after they have had corrective orthopaedic surgery, plastic surgery or neurosurgery for a disability check out the website, if you have any desire to give to an organization this holiday season, give a gift to the plaster house, it's a wonderful place and they're raising funds to build a bigger house!! ;-) Myself and five of my medical friends went with lots of cookies and two cakes. We got there right after the children had eaten, in time for them to get their presents. Oh. My. Goodness. These children were instructed that they would each get a bag of goodies, in which they had to keep closed until all 30-ish of them had their presents, then altogether they would open them. This would never have worked in the US, but here the children got their presents, held them silently and patiently waiting for everyone to have theirs, before they were given permission to open them. Wow. Amazing. Then they opened up gifts of various toys, small balls, stuffed animals, hot wheels oh and tooth brushes soap etc etc (which they were also pumped about). It was simply amazing.

We stayed and played with the children for a few hours, it was SO much fun playing with and interacting with the kids (aged probably 2-18 about..) So. Much Fun and Joy! Some of these children have deformities, that may cause them to be self-conscious, but here at plaster house all children are equal- included, and treated as equal it’s amazing. Also, one small boy maybe 6-7 picked up some car wheels of a broken toy, I half expected him to cry, be angry – like most kids would be.. but he picked it up and looked at me with the biggest (two front teeth missing) smile ever- so full of happiness. Something I hope has found all of you this Christmas, it sure has found me.

I guess what I think I’ve learned this Christmas is; Sometimes God shows us amazing joy- at times we don’t always expect it, and many times we need to be mindful in all circumstances to do our best be joyful, even when handed broken car wheels. I think also I was shown how wonderful it is to have others share joy with you maybe when you really need it, which you never know when someone could really need some joy in their lives so let’s just spread it around for fun... all year round.

So no, I didn’t have my family, nor my closest friends, I didn’t have my family traditions, waaay too many Christmas cookies, Christmas lights everywhere, presents under a tree, yet I had one of the most joyous Christmas’ ever. Thank you to all of you who spread joy to me this Christmas, there are too many to name.

Much Love and a Merry Christmas to you all,


Let’s try to make Christmas joy ever-present in our lives and those we meet, all year round.

“What Can I Give Him, Poor As I Am
If I Were A Shepherd, I Would Bring A Lamb
If I Were A Wiseman, I Would Do My Part
Yet What I Can I Give Him, Give My Heart “

Sunday, December 11, 2011


Hello everyone-

A quick unpleasant update for you all- - Saturday, while walking through town around 1:30pm, I was mugged on one of the main streets in Arusha Town. I've heard things to this nature are getting worse and worse, and also crime goes up over Christmas time. I thought I was being careful, had my tall friend Cameron with me was holding my (zipped) purse close to my body, but sometimes these things happen. I feel very fortunate I was not hurt, because the thief was swinging a machete at my arm to get me to let go of my purse. I did and yelled Mwizi (thief in swahili) but he got away. (which I figure is okay because the huge crowd that gathered right after may have beat him pretty badly if they caught him- and I don't want that on my conscious).

He didn't get too much exciting maybe $50 in shillings , my phone, a sweater< which my mom told me was bad karma since my dog Toby ripped off a pocket in it right before I left, haha - well good riddance sweater-) and all my swahili materials (which I am bummed about, but I'm sure is a joke on him because he was probably hoping for a computer not swahili notebooks and books). It was pretty upsetting but all in all I'm happy that I'm okay and my friend Cameron was with me, he was very helpful and kept reassuring me that everything in the purse was replaceable. True, story Cameron. So as of right now I do not have a phone but am hoping to get my number back today- will let you know if it changes.

On a brighter note, yesterday I hung out more with Rabies- he followed me all the way to a friends house and then walked me home.. true love... ;-)

Hope you are well,


Friday, December 9, 2011

Arusha Adventures and The Love of My Life

Hello everyone!

Miaka Hamsini Uhuru!! (50 years of freedom!) Yes—today is Independence Day here in Tanzania- I celebrated by going to my new sessions of swahili studies – I kept telling my teacher, Leo ni Lakizo (today’s a holiday- -) but he would laugh and say... not for you American – haha ...
Hope this post finds everyone happy and healthy – I haven’t written in a while, and will do my best to keep this short... (although I say that every post) Thanksgiving was wonderful here- I got to eat all the wonderful Thanksgiving food, and spend it with lots of wonderful people! It was also a good reminder of what wonderful friends and family I have at home! (miss you all- thanks for your continued support...couldn’t do it without you rooting for me at home)

A discovery I decided it was time I shared: I have found SO much family here in Tanzania- it’s crazy. I found out I have LOTS of children, mama to probably in the hundreds of thousands of people. I have eve more numbers of brothers (kaka) and sisters (dada).... It’s funny- people greet or call you mama/ dada wherever you go- depending on the age difference ;-) Just a realization as I’ve been walking around much more - -

I have also fallen in love...

... with two dogs here that live at the dispensary near Jacobson’s. One’s named Rabies, and the other Mange. Don’t let their names fool you they’re super sweet- and they’ve stolen my heart (yes these dogs do, but no so far none of the men who’ve confessed their love to me on the streets have won me over ;-) Anyways, one dog- Rabies is named that because he has this weird twitch type thing where he snarls every few seconds, at first it freaked me out, but now I know it’s just his thing and well.. I love him. Mange - -well I’m sure you can figure that one out for yourselves. But they’re both great especially rabies will greet me with a wagging tail and kisses (on the hand). Yes, I let a dog named rabies kiss me, oh well ;-)
So yes.. I am in love—with Rabies. (if you are skimming this blog you will be utterly confused and concerned unless you read the previous paragraph!)

Since my last post, I have graduated my Swahili Beginners course, complete with a certificate and shaking the headmaster’s hand. Wahoo, two graduations in 2 years, I am impressed too, don’t worry ;-) I loved school – the people, language, food , and teachers GREAT experience, and I feel as though I’ve learned a lot! Now a few days ago I’ve started attending Swahili lessons for a few hours a day- it’s good, I love learning the language. Some of my friends from school and I went to a place called Mitumba one weekend, it’s basically a goodwill here but x 1,000, a huge used clothing market- I LOVED IT!! I mean- you all know I get all my clothes from goodwill, so I was overjoyed to find this great place! One more thing I REALLY enjoyed about Swahili school was the Aerobics class. Yes, for those of you who know me it’s hard to imagine but then I ask you to picture this: Abba’s Dancing Queen techno mix- -blasting, an extremely energetic, encouraging and enthusiastic instructor named Amadeus, friends, and lots of laughter ;-) need I say more – it was hilarious and a decent workout too!

I’ve also been on a few hikes here, a few with friends around language school where Alicia and I decided to let the boys Freddy and Alex find our way back to school a new way from that which we came... It was a tad frightening, but we made it back before dark and discovered some really cool places, and lots of Siafu (army ants that travel in herds and if you get in their way they’ll crawl up your legs and bite you!). And last weekend I went hiking up Mount Meru to a waterfall, I didn’t’ really realize it was UP the mountain.. nor that it was a good 6 hour hike.. haha ( I woke up to an invitation from my friend and decided I could be ready to leave in 10 minutes... haha oops!) -- but it was fun and pretty. We climbed a lot, it was SO steep for a good hour, then eventually a bit more gradual climb, then straight down a bit to a stream / through a stream to a waterfall, then on the way back up up up and down steep... it was POURING, I was soaking wet, and we were all fighting falling the whole way down (so slippery!) ;-) I got home and was soaked muddy and exhausted, BUT it was beautiful and lots of fun!

I also had the opportunity to house sit with my wonderful friend Jenny (no dad, I did not actually sit on a house ;-) it was fun! Basically meant eating and cooking lots of yummy things together play games and watch movies, like mini slumber parties each night Things we cooked get ready: grilled cheese/tomato soup, pasta with fresh veggies of course ;-), butternut squash, banana bread, chocolate chip cookes (YUM- I personally think they gave sweet martha’s a run..); homemade pizza –it was fun- of course guacamole.. (I am getting really good at making guacamole ☺ yum!)

I also Joined church kuwaya (choir)- :- ) We are doing Christmas program called Carols by candle light here on Dec. 22nd and on the 18th we’re going to go caroling at a few of the hospitals in town.. (and no- not in Swahili – mostly in English- -sorry) BUT it is SO much fun to be a part of – I am loving it!

Last update sorry to bombard you with so much writing, I didn’t want to write too much, I’m here in Arusha for the time being waiting on a few things to get figured out before I head back to Kiabakari to start teaching in January- My thanks for continued prayers! Love to you all!


Monday, November 14, 2011

Kenya, An Arusha Halloween and Language School

Hello Everyone-

Sorry for the lack of updates- truly- I should have informed you I arrived in Arusha safely 2 weeks ago! SO sorry-- Alas I am here safely in Arusha!

The trip through Kenya went smoothly no real problems other than being antsy sitting in cars/ busses for a while – I also filled up my passport some- getting 4 stamps in 2 days! Things I saw on my trip : rolling mountains, chickens, goats, donkeys, cows, roosters etc etc.. Where Obama’s family lives- -okay.. we passed close by only like an hour away..), The Rift Valley (drove through it : ) Then up above the Rift Valley (simply breathtaking and no.. I didn’t get pictures dumb! Sorry) pouring rain and hail, and Nairobi (holy cow! Nairobi is huge especially coming from a couple weeks at Kiabakari- ! wow) I stayed overnight in a guesthouse for Scripture Mission which was nice and I was able to meet Geir’s family that was a blast! We played (some of you Than and Cambronnes) won’t believe it but we played Scottland Yard (the board game) together which was nice, good to meet his family.

The next day the journey continued I saw busy bustling Nairobi (which to me seemed kind of dirty and smoggy a big city) – and the Nairobi Marathon was going on that morning so I saw that- it was crazy!! I think I enjoyed the scenery for my marathon a bit more than I would have in Nairobi. Anways got a few more stamps in my passport and with all the items in Nairobi I was able to buy the “essentials” at a stop- the East African newspaper :- ) and chocolate crackers yumm chocolate!) The bus ride was about 6 hours from Kenya to Arusha – and pulling into Arusha finally, I was SO giddy to see my Arusha family – it feels like home here with these wonderful people.

My time in Arusha the following week I arrived was filled with fun Halloween Activities- Yes, Mama Linda made sure I had my Halloween since she knows it’s kind of a big deal where I come from (Anoka MN, Halloween Capital of the World..) So she saw to it that we went to the market, found pumpkins to carve, made caramel apples, dressed up in costumes, had a Halloween themed dinner with decorations, and I even did reverse trick-or-treating.. giving my medical friends candy wearing a nice costume : - ) yes it was a great Halloween in Tanzania- Linda said the Halloween Capital of Tanzania- I would say she was right!

I also had meetings with my regional representative in Arusha which has been great, she’s been so helpful and I appreciate all the work she does (which is a lot!) she’s been very supportive to me too so hooray!

Now, I’m at language school – and I started to write this many days ago.. but you’ll see why this did not happen in a bit. School has been great Ninapenda kujifunza Kiswahili sana! I I love studying Swahili!) It’s been really fun I’m making friends, learning Swahili and hoping that I will get a good basis and lots of vocab (which is being shoved down our throats a bit overwhelming ... but good)- The teachers are great too, I’ve enjoyed it- we split into small classes, so my class has 5 students to one teacher and we have class almost 6 hours a day 5 days a week, so it’s good. I know it’s working because the night I started writing this, I actually started feeling pretty crummy... which turned into really crummy, which turned into wanting to die a few times.. (but glad I didn’t!) I was down for the count so to say for about 4 days, fever, as my friend Erik Teig said “pooping my brains out” and of course some vomiting (my favorite ;( ) on top of it all- But I am happy to say after missing 2 classes, I am back in school and feeling pretty good once again, just tired and trying to catch up on missed work -

That being said- Things are going well right now – I better get back to studying- Wednesday we are going to be testing out our Swahili with a trip to the market! Wish me luck! ( I am pretty sure it will go better than previous trips – I just need to have confidence and do my best!)

Salama- miss you all lots!


Friday, October 28, 2011

Off to Kenya- Then Arusha- -

Hello Everyone-

A lot to write about - - but not much time to write a lot – I am finishing packing up things here at the guesthouse because tomorrow early in the morning, I will be traveling with the Norwegian missionary here at the school to Nairobi –It’s about a ten hour journey – Eek! Haha- It will be good, then from Nairobi Sunday morning I will take a bus from Nairobi to Arusha- that is about a five hour bus ride plus border stops! I appreciate any thoughts and prayers! This seemed like the best (most cost effective way ) to get back to Arusha for language school (thank goodness! ) Swahili is definitely necessary up here-

Promise to update you all more when I am in Arusha!

Love and Peace


Saturday, October 22, 2011

Roosters Bees, Cobras and Phone Calls!

Hello from Kiabakari Everyone – Sorry it has taken me a while to put that I am safely here in Kiabakari.. I have to figure out something for my internet because I am starting to think that this may not be the best situation, but maybe it’s all I can do- after 3 attempts and a total time of probably 25 minutes I was able to open my email. We’ll see how posting this blog goes! (otherwise at the bottom is information on how to call me! I would love phone calls!)

I am here and trying to get adjusted. Which to be honest has not been easy. It has been really hard trying to figure things out an get settled here so far. I am trying really hard though! People are nice here, but it’s really hard to communicate, I am really anxious to go to language school because my Swahili does not cut it.. and that is really hard. I am trying though and learning slowly here. But not being able to communicate really does make one feel like an outsider let me tell you and... well turns out I am not a huge fan of living all by myself.. I miss my wonderful roomies! Hmmf – enough complaining- I am sure it will just take time and adjusting..

The flight up here was amazing! I got to ride in a tiny airplane- (8 passenger) And I was the only one on board so my pilot let me sit in the co-pilot seat and wear the other headset- which was awesome!! Flying into Musoma was beautiful, the scenery up here is gorgeous- lots or mountains and fields and Lake Victoria is beautiful – (and where all my water comes from so- Hallelujah for Lake Victoria!).. When I got to Kiabakari it was getting dark and there was no electricity so I had to wait until morning to see it. It is a beautiful campus and nice and small. Right now I am staying in guest housing, but I think that I may be moving into a teachers house eventually... but only time will tell.

Some adventures of the past few days: Woke up to a baby snake in my bathroom the first morning... when I asked someone to look at it in the afternoon when it was still there... I found out it was a baby cobra.. Oh... yeah poisonous snakes here in Africa.. I’m not at camp with garter snakes anymore... Yikes!!) So.. I’m keeping my eyes out for more...) haha when I told my mom she didn’t believe me... it wasn’t a cobra.. yes. Mom. It was. No.. ;-) sorry mom- I wish it wasn’t too... but on the plus side since I got help spraying my room with some bug killer spray (hope it works on snakes too...) and they left the spray here... so when I saw a scary looking spider I stood at a distance and sprayed it like crazy! And it worked! ☺ Also – my blog title comes from the fact that there are some bees the size of small birds here- you all know how much I love bees, but so far I let them live/ burrow in my porch roof, they leave me alone! Also Roosters- All over the place! Roostering- ok- crowing all the time ;-)

I got to teach some already which was nice, hard since my Swahili is so awful, but we just worked on introduction stuff and the verbs be and have. So it was fun.. (that was actually where I planned to start my lessons so I had done some of the preparation already! ;-) I also got to go to the market where I got some basic food ( rice, beans, potatoes, onions sugar tea etc..) because I will be cooking all my meals – which takes time and I am trying to learn – I asked the cook in the kitchen if I could help her some so I can learn.

I also got to go to Bunda yesterday where I was given a tour of the hospital. I found out African women are tough because when I was leaving, there was a woman who was squatting down and found out within the next 15 mins she had given birth to a baby boy... she was squatting down to push out the baby! Eek! I also got to go to see where President Nyerere lived and a museum for him.

That’s all I really have for now, things I hope to find out in the next week, (how to get to the market by myself, how/ where I can buy a bike, more about water and cooking... and also maybe how I am getting back to Arusha in November for language school).

After talking with Linda Jacobson (My wonderful TZ mom in Arusha) before coming up here I realized that some things are just way out of my control, and many things here feel like that- especially being so new to so many things... All I can do is rely on God and hope that patience and time will bring good things! Sometimes I am good and can keep that in mind, but at other times, I get overwhelmed! -- Thoughts and payers are more than welcome in this time of transition!

Thank you all so very much!



PS- Dear friends and family - - Since my internet has been really hard so far here in Kiabakari for communication I am heartily welcoming phone calls if people would like to call from time to time- I have gotten a few from family and best friends and it is so nice to hear from people! The best way to do so is a calling card called (online) it’s about $10 for 100 minutes of talking time- If you go you click on Tanzania under countries and buy the top card – Wild Africa... Then after you buy it , it will give you numbers to type in...- (you dial the calling card number- an 877 number- then your access code or pin number which they give you after paying, then 011 255 – the country code then my phone number 0786017592 - (If it doesn’t work with the zero try dropping it to 786017592. I think it’s $10 gives you 100 minutes of talking time and it just saves whatever isn’t used so if we talk 10 minutes you would still have 90 left. Then the next time you add money you just recharge your calling card online- you don’t buy a new one. PPS- please do keep in mind somewhat – the time difference, +8 hours from MN time.. (I don’t mind being flexible but probably won’t fully enjoy/ remember a phone call at 3 am!

Monday, October 17, 2011

Off to Kiabakari!

Hello Everyone-

Just wanted to update you - tomorrow is my last day here in Arusha- I've been here for almost three weeks! It's crazy, makes me feel like my few months in Rwanda was so little! (but of course I still cherish that time!) Wednesday I will leave Arusha (Tuesday night- back home..) to fly (!) to Musoma where the Norwegian missionary at Kiabakari Bible College will pick me up. I found out today I will have to pay for some of my luggage, but I think it will be easiest to take it now, then I can get settled and bring a smaller bag back with me for language school- not that you all need to know that... haha

So-- tomorrow will be a day of getting my stuff organized ending with a great dinner with lots of good friends/ volunteers I have met here in Arusha- look forward to it, I have decided they will make it feel a little more lonely in Kiabakari- until I get settled (hopefully!)

Things in Arusha are still good-there was some sort of stomach virus-thingy- going around and I was lucky to catch some of it- but after not eating too much for a day or two and sleeping in until noon (I got up at 8 and fell back asleep.. next time I rolled over it was noon...whoops..) Now I am fine- In fact I ate half a donut today- it was great :-) I am sure gonna miss fancy donuts-as many of you know ;-) ! I played my oboe in church with Linda yesterday - which was wonderful, glad she asked me to do so- I am very glad that I brought my oboe with me - I think it will be really nice in my house to play when I need something enjoyable to do!! :-) Especially since I realized I moved to Tanzania for my first experience of living in a house by myself... (yes, I realized I have never lived alone!) Most people just get an apartment by friends, but decided to move here! :-) we'll see, I am thinking it was a good decision!

I have already posted the address to my school - I also have a mobile phone number (which you can get from my parents or email me for!) - -and my email is feel free to email me- I bought a modem that plugs into the USB port of my computer and it will run through the mobile phone company here so I will be able to check emails and will probably save in them in word documents and respond (since it will be a prepaid sort of thing) I also promise to update my blog still!) I am not sure how much I will be getting electricity either- so I may try to limit computer time some-- I am not sure! I have a lot of unknowns and am keeping a very open mind - they'll all be answered soon enough and I cannot wait :-) Whatever it will bring - will be good, God is good - can't wait to meet my new neighbors and community for the next two years.

Salama everyone (peace)


Friday, October 14, 2011

Let it RAIN!!

I have been told that I have brought the rain here to Tanzania- it has been raining a LOT here in Arusha- so much that it actually feels cold – can you believe it ?? I can’t – but I have spent a couple nights cuddled in my fleece and now have enjoyed two lovely fires ☺ (now if that isn’t Minnesotan starting with talking about the weather I don’t know what is..)

Anyways – Things are still going well here in Arusha I think I found a flight to go up to Musoma on Wednesday Oct- 19th! So prayers that will work out and for safe travel please! I am getting excited to go up there- see my new home and unpack and get settled in my house! I was talking to a good friend here Jenny today and realized I have never lived in a house by myself... (Holy. Cow.) - - To add to that I realize I have been making such great friends here.. that it may make the transition hard.. just with the loneliness factor.. Needless to say, it will take adjusting to no matter what.

Mark and Linda Jacobson ... Two EXTREMELY wonderful ELCA missionaries (and well just people) here in Arusha Tanzania, who I have been extremely blessed to stay with during my time here in Arusha. They are just wonderful I realized I didn’t give them enough mention in my last post. I feel like I have family here in Tanzania and it’s been SO wonderful spending time with them. I started calling Linda Lucy and I’m Ethel, because apparently Thelma and Louise are too violent.... according to Linda ;-) We’re becoming great friends...

What’s new here : I went to ICTR!!! The UN International Tribunal Court for the Rwandan Genocide! I was SO excited to go– (yes I am a bit of a dork..)... it was interesting. I only got to go in for a little because it became a closed court after 20 minutes (to protect the defense witness..) Then another hour and a half later I got in for 20 more minutes. It was a tad disappointing BUT.. somehow I almost expected that a bit.. anyways glad I got to go experience it some.

What else, I am not losing any weight – I have been eating lots of good food- and lots of not so healthy food- you name it – DONUTS! (can you believe it – one was even iced and another was sugar coated...) Tacos- Ice cream- Ethiopian- Stoney Tangawizii (strong ginger soda ☺ ) - Indian Food- Pizza- - and all of Linda’s great cooking – I helped make French toast this morning (holiday ☺ ) Yes- I am being serious – I do however, think things will change when I move out of Arusha- I believe I will expect lots of Ugali and beans! (But that’s tasty too! So.. no weight loss for me people – mom – don’t worry ;-)

I have gotten my bearings around town by now which is quite nice- I feel like I can figure things out and find places if/ when I need which is nice – I walked around town myself and did a few errands. It was good- On one of my trips, I got proposed to, which was nice- I was flattered by being called beautiful many times... - - don’t worry though I showed him my “engagement” ring, and he sadly said ohhh it’s too late for you .. and then proceeded to ask my friend if she was married hahaha - -(no..I am not proposed to everywhere..but it does happen sometimes.. so far I am only at one!) In other news - - I jammed to the backstreet boys in a taxi with some friends, have made lots of friends, had many great discussions, made a fool out of myself many times ;-), used a squat toilet (which if I need to get used to that in my home I need to learn to go faster .. what a quad work out!), went to a movie (Captain America hahaha) and have played my oboe some already – even with piano –thanks Linda - (I am already SO happy I brought it – can’t imagine how much I will enjoy it in my house up north! ☺ )

Mungu ni mwema – God is good! I am so thankful for what I have in my life – also for this opportunity- can’t wait to see what else it will bring me. I am also so thankful for the wonderful people I have already met here in Arusah- it has been great – Mungu ni mwema – Thanks to all my wonderful friends for the emails- once I move out to Kiabakari- that will be much appreciated and probably the easiest form of communication – I have a USB stick that’s a prepay internet service thing- - otherwise I have my phone number : +255 – Country code) 0786017592! There’s a pretty decent rate at (MUCH cheaper than skyp calling from skype credit to phone.. TRUST ME!) if you want to try using it and have questions ask!!

Much love to you all – Salama (peace)


Swahili Lesson of the post: Pole – (Poh- Lay) means sorry, or I sympathize or anything happening bad news people say pole- It’s used quite a lot.. however.. if you say Pole Pole.. it means slow... don’t make that mistake ;-)!

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Habari - Nzuri! ( Here in Arusha!)

Hello from Arusha everyone!

Sorry this is delayed- I should have told everyone I was safe and sound here in Arusha! It has been one week- wow! Crazy- even though I am still adjusting and my swahili is still a work in progress I feel it's been longer. It's taken some time to adjust to being here again. Which perhaps naively I did not expect, I was wondering when my excitement for being here would begin. On the long (but fortunately smooth :) transit here from minneapolis I decided, duh Annie- you'll get excited the minute you step off the airplane - it will hit you! However... when I stepped off the airport, smelled the familiar smell of Africa (yes I swear it DOES have a smell (must be the different flora and fauna- - I thought everyone was crazy but I totally got it getting off the plane).. anyways my thoughts were not! yippee hooray... but more.. Oh. My... What in the world did I get myself into? Two years? Here.. oh boy.. No.. nothing dramatic happened to me (aside from smelling my stinky sweaty self- waiting in long lines to get my visa) to make me think this.. it was just how I reacted to stepping off the plane.. and thereafter ..

Today however... I am feeling so much better (it's been gradually getting better and I've been adjusting...) But today has been a great dya..Which is why I decided to blog. Excitement, assurance, and determination may not have hit me all as I stepped off the airplane... but today I am feeling like this is good. So... let's do it! Today I was able to go visit a place called Plaster House- it's truly amazing. Words cannot describe how great it is. Plaster House is a home for children in Tanzania to stay in during recovery following corrective orthopaedic surgery, plastic surgery or neurosurgery for disability. Many of the children there now have surgery for things like fluorosis, spinabifida, club foot and more. I was lucky to go there learn more about the work done there and spend some time with the children. Then Sarah, the woman who runs plaster house took me and three wonderful med student friends to her house for coffee. It was so reassuring and she reminded as many others have (somehow today it all sank in) -- I'm here for a reason, I really want to do my best to help through teaching English at the college I will be going to (and I have been diligently trying to learn swahili because I know it's important to my work.. and I love talking to people.. who knew right? ;) Even though I will have days where I will feel like I made a mistake in coming and I know that I stick out and may not ever fully belong here, I'm here for a reason and can't wait to see where it brings me :)

Hope this all makes sense it's really late here but I knew I needed to do this now, while it's all fresh! As for now, I will be staying with Mark and Linda for ?? amount of days, before I go to the "bush" as some people are telling me.. I think they exaggerate some, but compared to here, with a toilet, nice electricity most times and internet.. I've even had ice cream twice for crying out loud... it may seem more bush-like ;) But who knows we will see. Anyways I'm still figuring how to get out there-- it's a good 11 hours driving through here and yup. that's all I will bore you with, there's lots of details like park fees and stuff that we're figuring out, but it will all work out :) when I know when I leave I will be sure to let you know!

I miss you all! Thank you so much for your encouragement, thoughts and prayers!! They are MUCH appreciated!!! Love you all!


PS - Sorry - I promised myself I would write shorter entries I saw my last blog and realized woah... hope this was good! I was just so excited by today- lots to write :)

PPS - Here's a swahili lesson for you all- greetings/ asking how things are... habari - response nzuri (good!), habari za leo- response: nzuri; habari za asubuhi response: nzuri; habari za mchana? response: nzuri habari za jioni: Response : nzuri...... (haha basically anytime you hear somenone say habari- you say nzuri back!) :)

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

So Long- See You Later-

Hello Everyone-

I probably should not have left writing this last message before I take off to the morning I am leaving-- so please bear with me and my frazzled, less sane, sleep deprived brain that I have right now as I write! I want to thank everyone for all of their help, encouragement and support- it makes it even harder knowing the wonderful friends and family I am leaving behind. Guess this means everyone needs to be around when I get back right?! ;-) I thank you all again! If you are looking for ways to support me over the next two years, please- keep in touch! Keep me informed on your life -it would be a great honor and blessing to hear from you all!

My email - -
Phone number -- TBA- but check out (good rates)
Address: Shule ya Biblia Kiabakari,
SLP 100,
Kiabakari, TANZANIA

Take care of yourselves!! I will be missing you all!

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Bega Kwa Bega- "Shoulder to Shoulder"

Hello Everyone,

This is Annie- A little over two weeks left at home before I leave for Tanzania (Crazy!). For those of you who do not know, I will be moving Tanzania for a little over two years, where I will be working at establishing an English curriculum at a bible college in the northern region of the country. I will be going through the ELCA (Evangelical Lutheran Church of America), specifically working with the Maryland and Delaware Synods here in the U.S.

For this first post, I want to reflect on a few themes I find inherently important and crucial to the mission work I will be participating in for the next couple of years. You'll notice the title of this post is called "Bega Kwa Bega", along with it being my subtitle for the blog. Bega Kwa Bega - is Swahili for shoulder to shoulder. This is a great image to how I intend and hope my work can be carried out in Tanzania... shoulder to shoulder. Rather than having one person in front of the other, I will work together with the community in which striving to attain mutuality with those whom I will be spending my time. Rather than having the mentality of -- "You will be better because I know better..." I hope to embody and embrace a mentality of "We will be better because we share in each other's lives."-(more on this below! Robert Lupton)

Along these same lines is one of the ELCA'S core themes- Accompaniment or Acompa├▒amiento- which, the ELCA Global Mission Unit defines as "Walking together in solidarity that practices interdependence and mutuality". Therefore as my background photo (a photo of myself and my dear sister Olivia- from Rwanda..) shows, I will be aiming to work hand in hand with the community which I live to teach learn and grow together!

Please keep in touch over the next two years, your support and prayers are MUCH appreciated.

Peace and God Bless,


If you have time...

Food For Thought: Closing Thoughts/ Quotations I find important:

1- On Culture: "The World in which you were born in is just one model of reality. Other cultures are not failed attempts at being you. They are unique manifestations of the human spirit." Wade Davis

2) On Service: "Why friends rather than servants? Perhaps it is because He knew that servants could always become lords but that friends could not. Professional servants may operate on the assumption that 'you will be better because I know better,' but friends believe that 'we will be better because we share in each others' lives.' ... Here we are a nation of professional servers, following Christ's mandate to serve. And here He is, at the final moment, getting it backward once again. The final message is not to serve. Rather, He directs us to be friends." [Reference to John 15:15 right before Jesus' death.. "No longer do I call you servants, for a servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all things that I heard from My Father, I have made known to you."] - Robert Lupton adapted from John McKnight.