Saturday, December 15, 2012

Happy Holidays; Thankful: Thorns have Roses.

 Happy Thanksgiving, Merry Christmas, and Happiest of New Years to all of you!! (you may think I'm confused with my timing...Thanksgiving has passed, Christmas isn't for a couple of weeks and New Years beyond that...) But... Aren't all of these holidays full of attitudes that we should be mindful of more than once a year? After finishing my first year teaching and a year living in Kiabakari, I've taken some time to reflect a bit on the past year and the year to come.

“Some people grumble that roses have thorns; I am grateful that thorns have roses.” ― Alphonse Karr

I've taken some time to think about the past year, the joy, the challenges, the exciting and dull days... and this year for me, Thanksgiving has taken on a whole new meaning. A much deeper sense of how much I truly have in my life to be grateful for.  This, newfound sense of all the blessings in my life would not be possible without ALL of the experiences I have had here in Tanzania. The way I view myself and the reality of the world and situations I live in, and therefore the gratefulness I have for my life and all of these experiences would not be the same without the past year in Tanzania. 

So what is it that I'm more mindful to be grateful of this year? 

I'm more mindful of the harsh realities for so many around the world, and so grateful for how blessed I have been in my life. 

I'm grateful for the opportunities I have had in my life, even the most thorny, challenging and painful ones, because those tend to have the ability to teach us something meaningful and have the capacity to bloom into a beautiful rose. 

As I've become more aware about vast inequity in places in the world, I'm grateful for being raised in a household where I was taught no one human being is better than another. Not even based on various attributes, such as economic status, gender, race, education, age, etc. 

One thing that has been brought to my  full awareness while I have been living here, is the large gap here between women and men. I've written before about the inequality between men and women in the area I am living in, and this has made me very grateful for the opportunities I have in my life.  This is not to say where I am living is an awful place where every single woman is oppressed and doesn't enjoy life. However, that being said many women face challenges unimaginable to many of us as well.  I do not want to portray the village I'm living in, in a negative light, however it has challenges , just as everywhere in the world. For instance, I would argue women still lack equitable opportunities and rights to men the United States.  However, we have come a long way and through many experiences, I am more grateful for what my grandmother and mother had to endure not so long ago to gain certain privileges for women that many in the world still struggle for today.

 Something else that strikes me is how little people need to survive and yet can be quite happy... (key word, need). I face it quite often here traveling in various villages seeing adorable, content children playing with broken toys (if they're lucky), pebbles or seeds or dirt more often. It never ceases to amaze me and so often shame me. It is all to easy to get caught up in our excess, especially this time of year, the season of "giving".

The last thing I'm overwhelmingly grateful for is my community of support. I have two of the most amazing and supportive parents in the world, wonderful supporting friends and family both near far away! Also I'm so blessed by an amazing group of people here in Tanzania that being here is so much easier than most you back home imagine. For all of that I'm immeasurably grateful.

“When it comes to life the critical thing is whether you take things for granted or take them with gratitude.” ― G.K. Chesterton

Many people (myself included), don't realize the privileges and freedoms we have, we can so easily take them for granted. Living here facing some difficult challenges and seeing some of those around me facing even more unimaginable challenges  has made me so thankful for the privileges I have and the wonderful people I'm blessed to have.

Happiest of Holidays to you all from Tanzania.
Mungu akubariki ~God bless,

Annie Bunio

Three of my  holiday movie quotes:

"And the Grinch, with his Grinch-feet ice cold in the snow, stood puzzling and puzzling, how could it be so? It came without ribbons. It came without tags. It came without packages, boxes or bags. And he puzzled and puzzled 'till his puzzler was sore. Then the Grinch thought of something he hadn't before. What if Christmas, he thought, doesn't come from a store. What if Christmas, perhaps, means a little bit more." - Dr. Suess

"No man is a failure who has friends." Clarence ( It's a Wonderful Life)

" Sure, Charlie Brown, I can tell you what Christmas is all about. Lights, please. And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid. And the angel said unto them, 'Fear not: for behold, I bring unto you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the City of David a Savior, which is Christ the Lord. And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.' And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host, praising God, and saying, 'Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.' That's what Christmas is all about, Charlie Brown." Linus Van PeltFrom my Android phone on T-Mobile. The first nationwide 4G network.

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Updates! Graduation and travels

Hello everyone from Arusha! I know what you might be thinking... arusha what? Or why have you not been blogging??? (thanks Tom Morris for getting on my case, I cannot believe it's been almost two months..I will do better!!)... Anyways, let me attempt to fill you all in on some of the crazy, amazing, wonderful and challenging things that have been going on since I last wrote. Last I wrote we had three weeks left of teaching exams and then graduation. It went by so fast! It's been planting season so we also had some days in the fields planting and digging up weeds, by hand, or hoe rather.. It's also been raining which just meant a few days of heavy mud hoe work... Not easy, but good work and nice time working with the students. I'll attach some pictures of a myself and a couple.students that did work with me on a Saturday morning. you'll enjoy our mud shoes...the mud cakes your I've learned to ditch them right as I enter the field, then the mud will cake to your feet and form new protective mud shoes :-) I also have purchased some wonderful tire shoes Enough about shoes!!! The last few weeks of teaching went by really fast. The very last week we had some wonderful Norwegian Bible school students who came to Kiabakari and helped in the classroom for a week! The students did a project with these Norwegian visitors and it was a wonderful way to wrap up the school year. It was nice to see many students asking the visitors questions and really trying to use some of what they had learned. Halloween visited Kiabakari this year, I decided, being born in the Halloween Capitol of the World and all, (yes... Anoka MN) that I needed to share this with my friends in I explained trick-or-treating in my class, then I invited everyone students and coworkers alike to come trick or treat at my house in the evening...of course.costumes mandatory. It was wonderful, everyone came I made.cookies and it was a lot of fun (lots of Obama costumes...:) best Halloween ever! I also taught the Norwegian children how to carve pumpkins....they were thrilled they loved it and look forward to it next year as well :-) I think the last big update is graduation and travel plans! Graduation was nuts and wonderful! A lot of preparation and work, but it was wonderful to see the students graduate. Each student was given one invitation to invite one guest, I was honored when one often of my students invited me! ;Graduation was also really surreal... These are the students I moved to Kiabakari with, and now moving on, it will be different in January... I don't think it will fully sink in until then, but until then I can officially say I've finished a whole school year teaching, and crazy enough have been in Tanzania over a year! Nuts! Travel.. I spent two days on the road by car the first day, ten hours to Nairobi, Kenya. Then on Thanksgiving I got up early and got on a bus to Arusha, Tanzania (ok i may have woken 5:30 instead of 6 to indulge in a HOT.shower :-) I arrived in Arusha late afternoon, on Thanksgiving :-)It's been wonderful to see "family" and friends here! ;I am so thankful to be here and was able to celebrate Thanksgiving with a potluck of 62 people and even got invited to a second Thanksgiving dinner over the weekend. Amazing! I'm having a wonderful time with my adoptive parents here in Arusha Linda and Mark, who I am so blessed to have in my life, they are such wonderful examples for me to be around, and they treat me like a daughter :-) so lucky! Another thing I'm thankful for is the opportunity to go back to Rwanda! Two of my friends here and myself, will travel by bus from Arusha to Nairobi, to Kampala to Rwanda! Stay for a few days and then head back through Tanzania, where I will head back to Kiabakari! So that is what I've been up to for those of you who've been anxious to know!! >Thanks for reading!< Annie

Other fun things...
1. I dug up a sweet potato the size of my head, called it my child, when I asked my students if it looked like me they said without hesitation, yeah, it's white...
2 Obama is living in my backyard.. Lady the dog had puppies, due to premature birth all died but one spurred by (awesome) election results, I named him Obama.
3. Somehow hearing Christmas music at 80°makes it feel like I'm listening to Christmas music in July.. But it's advent... Hmmf it'll mama's sending me It's A Wonderful Life!

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

If you have nothing nice to say, don't say anything at all... Personal reflections

Hello Everyone-

I’ve decided to allow myself to write some of my own reflections and contemplations of late. So, if you are looking for updates this blog post may not be what you are looking for (but you can scroll to the last bulleted list with the heading updates: ) However, rather than merely giving you updates of life events here in Tanzania, I would like to take an opportunity to write some of my own personal thoughts down. Therefore take the following reflections with that in mind- they are my own personal reflections spurred by current events, some discussions with friends home and here, and also a sermon I gave (in Swahili :) this morning. (They do not necessarily reflect the school I work for or the ELCA or Synod-).

This morning I was asked to give the Muhubiri or message at our daily morning chapel service. The weekly heading is Imani iletayo ushindi = Faith will give us victory... (Roughly translated-)_. My reading came from Micah: -7:7-10. Reading these verses I decided to take some different angles on the reading - the more blatant connection to me seemed to be that although Micah is writing at a time of trial in his life, he continues to have faith in God. Verse 7 discusses how Micah will continue to watch wait for the Lord and he knows God will hear him. However, another point I wanted to make was Micah’s discussion about his enemies. I didn’t so much want to touch on the wrath that would befall on his enemies.... rather Micah’s assertion that God is our judge.

I feel as a person of faith, part of having faith is allowing God to do His job, and not try to do it for Him. Therefore, as Micah asserts God is our judge, which means two things to me...

First, we as the imperfect human beings we are, have to have faith that God will grant us His righteousness, which comes through grace (Acts 3:21-24). We have to trust God to judge us. A scary thought perhaps, but my own personal theology of God is not that he wants to gloat over us (as Micah depicts his enemies do) rather if we truly repent and ask God for his grace we will be forgiven and (verse 9) “He (God) will bring me out into the light; I will see His righteousness.”

The second thing, which is really where I want to give my emphasis in this reflection, is that God is our one judge, so we can all put down our gavels. Micah puts the trial of his enemies into God’s hands. A verse that gave this point even more clarity is Romans 14:4- “Who are you to judge someone else’s servant? To his own master he stands or falls. And he will stand, for the Lord is able to make him stand.”

Despite your religion, nationality, gender, sexual orientation, race, occupation whatever else you want to put in the blank... I do NOT feel we are not called to be judges- (hence being judgmental) here on earth. However, truly as of late in our world I see more and more judges coming into the works, in such a destructive and distressing way.

As the presidential election nears in the United States people really like to pick up their gavels and tote them wherever they go. Turn on a T.V. for all of 15 minutes and you are bound to see some political advertisement filling your heads with negative thoughts towards the “other”...being the political party you won’t be voting for come election day. Go on facebook and see numerous harsh, insensitive words in debates between various ‘friends’.

Perhaps those of you who are educators can also lend your observations. Have you observed your students and perhaps even staff enjoying talking about the other students (and or staff)? Did you see what so and so did the other week, or what she wore?! Hmmm... Unfortunately it is the truth and it happens all over the world- in different ways sometimes yes, but we live in societies that encourage us to judge others. As Morrie Schwartz said “The culture we have does not make people feel good about themselves. And you have to be strong enough to say if the culture doesn’t work, don’t buy it.” I hope we can stop buying this judgmental culture so many are being raised in. (I am by no means saying I am guilt-free in passing judgment either! It is an easy thing to fall into.)

Another place we can just as easily find judgment is in the church itself, good old church politics. Yes, church politics (the perfect dinner conversation I’d say!). No one can say honestly church politics do not exist. Look at the way various Christian churches are continually dividing and splitting into different churches or even just caught in numerous arguments based of various things such as gender, sexual orientation or which creeds should be said at Sunday services. Certainly focusing so much on these issues takes way from the true meaning of a church... and takes away from spreading the love and grace of God.

I was discussing this with a friend and he asked me if this means I feel we should not have court systems, or some kind of international responsibility to put a stop to injustice. For those of you who know me, you know this is anything but true. I am very passionate about international justice and the fight against human injustice. So am I a big hypocrite? Maybe... I would like to think not, but chose what you may.... let me explain further...

You see I would like to assert a difference between justice and judgment. Of course I feel people who have committed injustices need to be brought to justice here on earth. However, I think there is a difference between bringing that person to justice and judging that person for the mistakes they have made. THIS is the real kicker- and the really hard thing to do (which is why many of us fail at it time and time again.) Of course there are people in this world who have committed major atrocities and it is more than easy to judge these people personally. But I think this is where we need to leave God to His work.

Whether you are Christian, Agnostic, Buddhist, Muslim, White, Black, Purple, Green, Male, Female, American, Tanzanian, Chinese, Straight, Gay, Human, Alien .... hopefully you catch my drift... I hope we can all agree that passing judgment on others for their own personal individual ways of life does us no good. Others have judged us all at least once in our lives for various personal things, and we all know how horrible that can feel.

Judging others can have serious ramifications as well. Take for instance when ONE person recently chose to make a video passing judgment on a major world religion. That ONE person chose to spread a message not of love and acceptance but of hate and rejection. The ramifications of which extended throughout the world with violence, animosity and turmoil. We have to remember our actions, the way we treat others who may not be exactly like us- have serious ramifications whether it be the way in which you negatively impact an individual life, or your actions/ words have ramifications worldwide... (You truly can)... Perhaps we should remember the phrase so often told to young children... If you have nothing nice to say, don’t say anything at all.

Spread peace not turmoil, spread love not hate, accept others for who they are, not who you want them to be- after all if we were all the same, life would be quite boring. No, I’m not saying it’s easy- but does that mean we shouldn’t try to do the right thing?
Amani, Umoja, na Upendo- Peace, Unity and Love- From Tanzania-

Annie Bunio

“You love those who don’t love you. You love those you don’t like. You love those whose ways are distasteful to you. You love every man because God loves him.” Martin Luther King Jr.

“All humans are humans. There are no humans more human than the others.” Romeo Dallaire (UN Chief Commander in Rwanda during the genocide)

A few updates on Tanzanian life-:
1. I woke up to army ants all over in my house at 6am on Saturday morning! I evacuated for a full day until they eventually left. Not so fun! 2. The heat has been dreadful, I almost constantly feel like I am going to sweat or bake to death... the rain came a little yesterday (I’ve never been so happy for rain..) so, here’s to hoping it will stay for a while and help water the crops that have now been planted... they need it badly!
3. We have three weeks left of teaching and a couple weeks of exams and then the students will have their graduation ceremony. It’s been a bit of a crazy realization that come January a new year starts and the students that have been here with me since the beginning won’t all be returning for the next year... strange.
4. An owl showed up at my house last night and fought with the puppies until I stepped in and retreated deciding I don’t need to get clawed by an owl in a place where quality healthcare is well.. not close by... So... eventually I stooped to barking at the owl myself and it flew off.... Everyone I have told this story to has laughed profusely especially my gardener Nyawena who could not stop... so hopefully it brings you some joy too.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Quarter of a century... Survival of the fittest? Oy!

Hello Everyone!

Warmest greetings from Kiabakari.. literally- It has been so hot here lately- everyone is hoping for the rain to come soon! Yesterday we put a thermometer in the sun and it hit up to 50˚C (a bit over 120˚F!) In the shade it’s often in the upper nineties and in the house its well in the eighties! Uffdah! So yes, you have my most sincere warm greetings!

Needless to say, I’ve made it back safe and sound! The trip back was long and tiring, but it was wonderful to arrive to such wonderful people- from landing in Nairobi- all the way back to everyone here in Kiabakari, it truly has been good to be back with the wonderful people here.

That being said, it has not been an easy transition for me, and it’s not easy for me to admit (feeling guilty since I do have such wonderful people here..). It was harder than I thought to have to leave my wonderful family and friends again, even though I am so grateful for all the time at home, wow, it’s hard to be around such wonderful people (yes, you)...and leave again! It took me a couple weeks to feel alright about being back, and still to think about the my time remaining can sometimes be daunting and discouraging, however... deep down I believe it will go by fast-- -and truly I have to remind myself how wonderfully blessed I am to have this opportunity. Not many people can say they have been able to have the experiences I have, so in the long run, I feel lucky... though I do have my moments.

Two big things that happened to me personally in the past week are, I got older and I reached my one year anniversary of arriving in Tanzania! So... the big 2-5, I can now say I’ve been around a quarter of a century... oh joy... My birthday was really great. Many people asked how people celebrate birthdays in Tanzania, but the truth is, most Tanzanians don’t celebrate their birthdays at all, in fact some don’t even know their exact date of birth. However, the other missionaries at school were not going to let me get away with not celebrating. I woke up early to go on a run and watch the sunrise over the mountains :) How can my birthday be bad with a start like that : ) Then I got home, wondering where my puppies as my back gate was open to my house.. I walked in, and almost got a heart-attack for my birthday- my family here decorated my backyard with balloons and pictures (the missionary children made—some are pretty hilarious, ie-the one of “me” in a bright bikini diving after a volleyball... oh if only I could wear that in this crazy heat... but if trousers are not allowed, certainly bikinis are frowned upon! :) It was great, a total surprise- we ate breakfast (and cake! : ) the students and other staff came and joined us- it was wonderful! Per Danish tradition I even got cinnamon dumped on me, because I’m now 25 and still single... thanks Inge-Marie and Simon...haha - Then Inge-Marie and Kjersti- my two cool big sisters took me to Musoma for the afternoon and we sat on the beach at Lake Victoria – it was a nice way to spend my birthday!

The evening after my birthday was an action packed evening, making me wonder if reaching a quarter of a century means you need to be on top of your game- survival of the fittest so to speak. First, I got called out of my house to see a nice big snake- between my house and my neighbors... Woah-- Okay – so my previous experience with snakes were all quite small, but this was a big FAT puff adder... not nice. It was killed, and ever since I am a little more careful walking around in the dark to look where I am going. (Bluck!) Then some friends came to place cement in the cracks where the ever-present bees have been entering my roof and building their hive. They’ve shifted some now, and have started coming in my sleeping room... having bees crawling on my mosquito net in the morning is not the most pleasant wake up call... They sealed the outside...but it made the bees a little less than happy- so they started flying around angry and coming through my ceiling boards.. there were so many flying around in my room- I followed sound advice and went elsewhere to sleep.... A good old bee evacuation. I don’t know what that means for survival of the fittest, but even though I gave up my house for a night, I survived so I think it’s okay :- ) I’ve also decided if the bees, snakes don’t get you, the heat will, or the tarantulas that fall on you (yes, that happened).. or the 8 young men visiting from Norway who have the ability to pick you up fully clothed and throw you in a kiddie pool... They’re lucky it was warm so I wasn’t too angry! ;)

Other than all of that, teaching is going well, yet it is proving to also be quite challenging. I’m working hard and trying to encourage the students (we’re in past tense mode and they’re not fans of all the irregular verbs.. at this point, neither am I!) Maombi with the women at church is going well, we have had a few weeks were there has been over a dozen of us! It’s really great. Uffdah..I think this blog is long enough for now, but I was long overdue for an update ..I will try to do better! Promise! Otherwise, before leaving I got a smart phone and am using that at the school for my internet- it has been working pretty well, skype is sometimes working, email is great and even facebook! It’s been wonderful to have for teaching and also I am loving keeping up-to –date with news! Or if you’re into hand-writing letters My address is: Shule ya Biblia Kiabakari
SLP 100
Kiabakari, Tanzania

Thanks so much everyone for all your birthday wishes and all other support, I cannot begin to explain how much it means!

Miss you all- Mungu akubariki ! (God bless!)

Other random items:
1)Petey and Tubby are here and happily living in my backyard... I love them- but sometimes I get frustrated, it’s like having children sometimes!
2) A thank you to the Norwegians who took me to Kijereshi a nice place near the Serengeti with a pool! It was a lovely pre-birthday present :-) So relaxing and lots of fun! Thanks guys! See you next year!
3) Happy Birthday to my mama- love you :-) You are wonderful!
4) Eating veggies from your own garden tastes better than from the market, or store..
5) I split wood by axe- no further explanation needed.
6) Stove 3, arms= 0 yay burns!
7) The word hairisha (Moved or delayed) is very close to harisha- to have diarrhea.. don’t tell people the bishop had diarrhea... oops...

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

So Different, I can't even imagine...

Hello Everyone from much closer to home than my normal posts!  I wrote this reflectiony- blog after being home a while and it sure is encouraging as I start to make my way back to Tanzania for another year and a half to read this again :- ) Hope you enjoy it too - - :)

It's strange to be writing a blog post from the comfort of my parent’s home in MN.  I've been home for about 3 weeks and that is simply nuts to me! My time home so far has consisted of packing in visits with friends and family, my brother's wedding and my college roommate's wedding.  :)

I wanted to take a few minutes to write some of the reflections I have had since I’ve been home... or coming home as it may be.  You see, as I made my trek home, I had to start thinking about what to tell people.  People love to ask the following questions-
“How is Africa?”  “Are you happy you're home?”  “Do you really want to go back?”  and my personal favorite - -“What are you going to do when you're all finished?”  (I still have a good year and a half right?? well.. okay maybe it's time to start thinking about it...!) I just wish the answer Tanzanians love to hear- I am not sure, but God knows - works on everyone here as it does there :)

Anywho- There was one comment in particular that really had me start thinking about things, and that was: "I'm sure it's so different, I can't even imagine." 

Something in this comment really struck me... I was in the Amsterdam airport on my way home, and for some reason I couldn't stop thinking about it.   So different, I can't imagine it.  Yet to me, it doesn't seem so different at all...  It took me a while to figure out why this statement made me feel so uneasy and why I felt it wasn't really true, let me share with you my thought process in unraveling it! 

Here's how some of my thought processing worked:  Different??  Really?
 Hmm....   Here are some of the differences I came up with....

1) Bugs and Snakes-  There are a lot of creepy crawlies that I don't  particularly care for in Tanzania,  and for those of you that know me- as a camp counselor I would pick up spiders and snakes (yes, in MN our snakes are small and non-harmful).  However, in Tanzania, there are a lot of large bugs and snakes (which I learned from waking up to a cobra in my bathroom the first morning in Kiabakari)-  that I cannot safely/ am not willing to pick up.  One of my least favorite are the giant cockroaches that live in my pantry cupboards! I am not missing them here in MN.

2) Water-  I have to boil my water, (and apparently for longer than what I have been boiling it for.. bwah bwah..yay stomach parasites and other fun things! ).  It takes time yes, but in reality it makes one think more about water and not wasting it.  Here, in the US where a person can turn on a tap pretty much anywhere and drink to their hearts content.  Also, if we forget to turn the tap off and leave it run, it won't run out anytime soon.  :(  But please don't do that!).   I also don’t have hot water... meaning cold showers!  Which isn't awful, it's just an additional caffeine shot to my mornings- meaning it helps wake me up - -which is good, since I don’t have my normal coffee supply, and it also decreases the number of showers I take ;-)

3) Mosquitos: I don’t know if you know this but as many of you do, mosquitos are the true state bird in MN... However, Mosquitos in Tanzania are dangerous.  The area around me (Mara, Tanzania) is one of the worst areas for Malaria.  So, it means that I sleep in a mosquito net and get more irritated at them for biting me than I would at home :)

4) Patience isn’t just a virtue, it’s a necessity.  Things take longer.  If you’ve ever heard/ experienced the phrase “African Time” you know what I mean. Things are more run on a schedule of well, when this is done then we move on... meaning things take longer in general and there aren’t specific time frames for things.  My biggest example for this is church services.  Church, is what happens on Sunday.  So, when that is finished then you can do whatever else you need to do, meaning services range from 1.5 hours to 5 or 6 hours.  :) But, this also contributes to a more relaxed atmosphere and less stress of being on time to things, because a lot of times things start, when everyone shows up... also increasing the need for patience at many times. 

4) Roads:  Most of the roads around me are dirt roads, there is a giant paved road that is being worked on that stretches down to Mwanza and up to Kenya.  But around the village it's dirt... or slippery mud during rainy season (I don't advise running (aka falling) - in it).

5) Language:  Here in Kiabakari, Swahili is the first language, and the language I use most (unless I'm with the other mzungus (or white folks), mostly being the other missionaries (which for them English is their second language as well- - I’m slowly working on my Danish and Norwegian... (and by slowlyl I mean it...sloooowly).  But Swahili is used, at church, at school, in my teaching (of course paired with English), walking on the road and in the market.  (It's a fun language though :) 

6) CULTURAL: Here's where we get into more serious differences. However since they are cultural differences, these are not things we can simply classify as good or bad, rather we accept them as they are, differences; and simply work and hope for change in those things perhaps deemed as unequal or discriminating.  Some minor things that are different to home culturally living in the village include: Women must wear skirts. As a Christian you may not smoke or drink any alcohol.  Elders are to be respected, from the way you greet them, to the way you speak with them and by all means you must listen to them.  

One other large cultural difference in the area I am living in that at times has been personally challenging is the way women are treated.  I have written about this before in my previous blogs, but as a recap, for the most part women are to be subordinate to men.  They are not allowed into all work positions (including they are not allowed to be ordained in my region, or be leaders in many other spheres of the workplace).  As far as marriage goes, the men are to rule over the women and in many cases it is not an equal bond as the woman must listen and obey what the man says.  

However, as we may or may not agree with these cultural differences I remind us all that they are simply that, cultural differences and as frustrating as it may be at times it does not make anyone better or worse as a person or culture.  It also makes me think about how in the not-so-distant past, women in the United States had to work hard to gain many rights as well and I am very fortunate for the privileges I have had growing up.  It has also been quite interesting for me to see in some respects how women's freedom is changing slowly within the church, and also the huge differences when I travel to the larger cities in Tanzania and Kenya. For instance in Arusha and Nairobi, you will find many women wearing jeans (usually the younger generations).  

Those are some of the differences I came up with.  I by no means mean to minimize them, as they are differences that I live with on a daily basis.  However... what I realized as I figured out the similarities that smacked me in the face was why I felt things weren’t so different after all.

Similarities :)

1)    All in all... People are people no matter where you go- we may look different, we may speak different languages and we may think differently on some things, but all in all we feel the same feelings and emotions and we share in may similar experiences.

2)    The Importance of Community:  Think about it... How much support have you received from various communities throughout your life?

 No matter where you go, no matter where you are, we are communal people. Whether it’s friends, family, church groups, sports teams, whatever it may be - We as human beings need community- People always ask me- what is it like living all alone in Tanzania.  My thoughts as I think about it now are- I don’t that would be weird and hard, but there are actually roughly 42 million citizens of Tanzania!!  (Neato) - - I know that is the smart- aleck answer and that most people mean being in a house/ moving to this village alone mostly... but I don’t feel alone.  The community that God has put me in is simply amazing. I am blessed and amazed by the wonderful friends and even family (as it feels like to me) I have been given in Tanzania.  I’ve also discovered that if we share God’s love as Jesus commands of us in John chapter 15 vs 9-12  - we will be surrounded by this community wherever we go- how amazing is that?!

3)    LOVE- The love and help I’ve experienced from those in Tanzania has been pretty amazing... For those of you who have been to Tanzania you’ll agree that we could all take some lessons on hospitality, caring for your neighbor and the amazing help you will receive even when there is little to give.

Maybe in the grand scheme of things- I felt the statement of – So different... I can’t even imagine it- - was so odd- because, even halfway across the world we’re not so different after all.  After all we’re all brothers and sisters in Christ, we’re all children of God- and if we all do our best to follow Jesus’ example to love all those we come into contact with, no matter what the differences may be between us- cultural, gender, religious etc... we will always be united through that love. :- ) 

John 15 : 9-12 Jesus Said - “As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you.  Now remain in my love.  If you obey my commands, you will remain in my love, jut as I have obeyed my father’s commands and remain in his love.  I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete.  My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. 

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

3 Claps! :-D

Hello Everyone- 

Wow- It is definitely time for an update!  Saa inakimbia sasa!  Time is flying – well here they use running- but it’s not only running- at least not with my speed of running!

I am pleased to tell you I am much healthier than my last post!  I got quite sick in/ after going to Nairobi- and couldn’t eat much for a good week.  But- don’t worry I am eating plenty now :- )

Well- really the time is going by SO fast- I will be home in just over a month- it’s completely nuts!  My countdown in my office is as follows:
Days until Arusha: 30 days
Days until I land in beautiful Minneapolis 41 days
Days until my big brother gets hitched :- ) 52!

Holy cow... it’s crazy that it’s so close when I started my countdown around 100 days until I come home.... Don’t get me wrong- Things are for the most part going really well- and being here definitely feels like home now... and it has occurred to me so many times how different my countdown would be if I were not coming back to Tanzania in August, instead of sheer joy and pee-my-pants excitement.... I would have a heavy heart knowing I would have to leave this place and the people that are starting to etch permanent marks on my heart and soul.  Besides- I am NOT done learning .. (thought I’m not sure we as humans, ever really are..). It’s not that I think I will ever “figure things out..” so to speak... but I am having some great and not so great experiences- and doing my best to engrain each of them into my bongo kubwa- (literally translates to big brain...) My students love when I use that term- You have a bongo kubwa so use it to think-- or I have a bongo kubwa so I know when you’re trying to get away with something you’re not supposed to ;-)  They also like when I say sijazaliwa jana... I wasn’t born yesterday... I am not so sure that these idioms always translate directly- but I think they get the points still!

One thing that has been impossible to ignore is what I will call the woes of a young female in the village...  I think I have written some before about the area in which I am living and the way women are to be submissive to men. Well, usually I am respectful of this and try to be very respectful to the men in the village especially pastors and leaders kwa kawaida- per usual here in Tanzania.  However last week- I had enough with the students treating me different than the other teachers because for me I have two stigmas against me, 1. I am young.. (even if I feel old, at least half my students are older than me some much older, 40...)  and 2.  I am a woman.  Oh boy.
  Last week I was mwalimu wa zamu- the head teacher and the rest of the teachers were all in a seminar held at the school for pastors.  This meant a few things- a) I had more lessons (yippee!- I really do like teaching) b) we had visitors  c) I was in charge of all cleaning and other work projects.   This is my LEAST favorite thing of all to be in charge of and my least favorite part of being head teacher.  Giving the students their jobs takes so much effort- and some of them really argue and argue with me.  It’s always been this way- but this past week was worse.  Over and over again arguing- not doing what I asked.  Finally I had enough- and I needed to talk to the principal about.  As far as myself- I have decided I am done arguing with students if it happens again.  I will tell them once maybe twice and if they don’t do there work- they can deal with the principal- who was very supportive.  It’s just strange sometimes to be at a bible school for evangelists and be treated without much respect. Plus I feel it necessary to say it’s not  all of the students- maybe around half and also I have found it quite interesting to see how things are changing here slowly for women.... Oh well- life will go on... just the woes of a young female in the village.

Other than work projects teaching is going well.  This term has gone by so fast!  It’s been really short with trips for evangelism on the weekends, harvesting, and other things- I just hope that I can get through most of the things I would like to teach  by November!  (Our school starts in January- November!)    The video is also coming along slowly... It takes a lot of time to answer questions and work together to translate answers then record... but I am determined to get some of it done for this summer!  It may be a preview of sorts but it will still be insightful ( I can say this because I have been working with the students and heard their answers! : )

On other news, I became a Godmother!  The Danish missionaries here Inge Marie and Simon had a baby- (who I met and returned to Kiabakari with from Nairobi)- and they asked me to be God-mom- What an HONOR!! Plus it is tradition here that the Godparents hold the baby while it is being baptized,  this means I held little Hanna (my God-daughter) while she was being baptized! (And she was so good- sleeping most of it- meaning she was squirming and I didn’t even get close to dropping her phew!)  And yes- I think it is safe to say I’m no longer afraid of babies for all you friends back home- I am holding them and exposed to them very much here – why was I afraid again?? They actually aren’t super breakable as I thought! Who knew!?
 As far as my other 9 children go... the puppies... I am so ready to sell the majority of them! I love them... most times... but they are also 1) very loud 2) smelly at times  3) pooping/ peeing more often  4) Escaping more often 5) did I mention loud.. at all hours?  6) they have given me fleas... (not the first time...hooray...)  But also I am very attached to one or two of them- given them names and everything- the one I will keep is named Penny- or Pendo (Which means love in Swahili- but I think I will call her penny mostly !)

Lastly- the biggest and most recent update is about Ibadaa this morning.  Every morning we have Ibadaa service, including liturgy a short message and singing.  Someone thought I should be included in the message portion... so today for my first time I had muhubiri- or the sermon/ message.  Ahh!  Also it follows a calendar- so each day is an assigned scripture!  I was so nervous I couldn’t sleep much last night.  BUT- it went really well :- D  I got three claps!!  Three claps is something they do in Tanzania as an honor/ appreciation- you get three claps.  I was pretty proud. Plus the principal Sube thanked me in his announcements asked for the three claps- and then said I am now Tanzanian and my swahili is as though I have lived here for 10 years.  (Yes I think I was blushing... :- ) But I am pretty thrilled about it all : -D!!  I got three claps! :D Hooray!

Other Random/ Interesting Experiences:
1- I bought my bike! :- ) In Musoma I picked one up- and I love it- a used mountain bike- I just cruised home from Maombi and the local market on it- I got  back only a few minutes after the person driving a car! :- )
2- I’ve started singing with the choir at church- it is fun! : -)
3- I had a nice run in with Siafu- (army ants) they were close to my house- and I was worried about the puppies... they could wipe out all nine of them if they wanted... So – as I was monitoring where they were headed..I got bit :( Not only that but found out.. firsthand this time where the phrase ants in your pants come from.. and it’s not a phrase to be taken lightly let’s leave it at that. Oof!
4- I taught baseball : - )  Well- it’s a cross between baseball and whiffle ball! We used down tree branches / big sticks- for bats, and a soft ball wrapped in duct tape! It’s pretty awesome (as a side note- GO TWINS!)

Monday, April 23, 2012

Trip to Nairobi!

Hello from Nairobi Everyone- I had the opportunity to come to Nairobi Thursday-Tuesday- although Thursday and Tuesday were full days spent in the car... I took the bus up here on Thursday with another missionary and his two children a trip that included 2 hours in a car, 10.5 on a bus and some various stops along the way. It was a nice trip. Strange things are happening to me... Strange experience one:Friday I got up, put on my trousers- pants... Ahh- it was so strange! I haven't worn trousers for a few months now, and I felt naked in them! I slowly got used to them again.. Weird Strange experience number two: Where I am staying I could drink water from the taps- and brush my teeth from it- I was terrified at first so I drank just a tad to know if it'd make me super sick... but it did't- so then I thoroughly enjoyed it.. Strange experience number three: Shopping. Holy Cow. Shopping MALLS- huge- multi-level- stores apple stores, I went into a large supermarket and felt like everything was so foreign, 15 kinds of toothpaste?! what is this! There were things I didn't recognize and by the end I just left without seeing the whole store, because I was a tad overwhelmed... (but I did buy me some apples, oreos, and cockroach killer..) Strange experience number four: HOT shower...okay not strange, more wonderful.. it's nice almost not to have it- to know what I'm missing- because truly.. it's not a big deal to have a hot shower, just something extra that's nice.. Strange/Awesome/ Amazing experience number five: Getting internet to work so I could watch my best friend Carly Tonkin turn into Carly Peet-- PLUS getting to watch it together with friends in Hong Kong and be able to chat with them during the wedding! Strange/Horrible Experience Six: Getting SO sick that I wished death upon myself a few times.. Came out of nowhere had AWFUL fevers that would spike quickly.. plus spending some quality time on the bathroom floor.. an entire day in bed... meaning prolonging our return trip to Kiabakari because I was to ill to travel... That being said- I've been mostly upright 70% of the day today- fever free 90%- ate some and thus we will return to kiabakari tomorrow- It's been real interesting.. until next time Nairobi... ~Annie PS- Carly and Dave- Hongera SANA!! (congrats!)

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Heri Ya Pasaka- Happy Easter!/ Video Project- would love input

Yesu Amefufuka! Amefufuka Kweli Kweli Aleluya!! (Christ has risen- He has risen indeed!) Happy Easter everyone! I hope you all had wonderful joyous Easters – How can you not! Christ has risen! My Easter was a bit busy... I woke up expecting to be a little sad to wake up Easter morning alone in my house- but woke up to some really nice sunlight in my room and I also ate a piece of chocolate that I ration- (which always helps! I think chocolate and ice cream are two of the best medicines- I don’t know if I wrote about spilling on my computer- but that day we went to Musoma and I had a ice cream cone similar to a drumstick and I swear for a brief moment I had the thought of – I would rather have these in my life than my computer... but.. I am glad that my computer is reborn and working again.. and think I wouldn’t trade it for ice cream in reality.)

Anywho, my Easter: I went to church in a village called Butiama about 40 minutes from here, Mama Emma’s boy Daniel was getting baptized so I was invited to the service. This meant we had 3 different services, one for Easter Sunday, One Ibadaa for Chakula cha Bwana- (communion) and the last for Baptizo, the baptisms. The service itself was a bit over 3 hours. But it was great – I held Daniel for a lot of the service, including when he fell asleep literally 2 minutes after being baptized- so funny- (it was quite a workout holding him too because he is a big boy! (and extremely cute and well- behaved). Afterwards we were invited to a house for some chai.. and food uffdah after we went to Mama Emmas for more food and to visit and watch the movie The Life of Christ- with voice-over in Swahili... interesting yes... Then we came back to the school-at 6:30 so we left for church around 9:30 am... just a 9 hour day- uffdah! I was pretty tired but also happy.

This past week we had a seminar with some teachers/ pastors at 3 different bible schools. I was really happy to sit in on the sessions, we had a teacher/pastor here from Zanzibar teaching about Islam, (he studied Muslim Christian Relations for his Masters) He really shared a lot and challenged us to think about some things. It was a bit strange being the only woman in a group of 11 men, most being pastors and two bishops... I felt a little out of place, especially at the discussion we had about ordaining females... I was of course the only one who was pro-woman ordination... in this group – and unlike what is expected of me- I was open about it- but did reserve myself a little. I definitely felt like an outsider at this seminar in many ways- but it was really good to get in on these discussions to be more aware of how many (especially those higher up) are thinking on these issues... and also to be challenged to think of why I feel the way I do- it’s always good to be challenged into actually thinking about your beliefs, which I think all of us were...

Then something AMAZING happened on Wednesday- well first I was pretty sick- my stomach has been acting a bit strange – and I’m hoping it’s not a parasite or amoeba friend or worms, but.. the missionary here who was a nurse told me many times those even work themselves out of your system- so .. that’s cool I guess. (don’t worry I’m eating and everything!) BUT the amazing thing is.... The female dog at our school had PUPPIES! She had ten beautiful puppies and only lost one. However it was a very unfortunate time to be born, as rainy season is now in full force, they were born Wednesday and that night it was POURING and really cold... I couldn’t stand to wake up and have all the puppies dead... so.... I offered my guest room to them... so now I have 10 guests at my house- 9 teeny tiny puppies who still can’t open their eyes and mama- who’s afraid of me but I’m working on it... I sometimes just sit in the room and work so they she gets accustomed to me. So that’s that I’m pretty pumped and every break from school I run home to see how they’re all doing and count them all to see that they’re here and safe and sound.. :- ) I won’t keep all of them.. but think I may get attached and maybe keep one... the school says I could give it to the school when I leave to work here as a guard dog... so we’ll see...

That’s about all- I’m heading to Nairobi Thursday – Monday to attempt to have internet for my wonderful roomie and best friend’s wedding! (Hooray Carly and Dave are getting married!! =D!!!!! I’ll be travelling over 20 hours in 5 days- crossing the border twice and taking a few busses... :- ) So prayers for safe travel- are VERY appreciated!

Thanks for all your emails and continued support- I miss you all but am doing well here- getting ready for term two to start tomorrow- VERBS- (eek! If you have any advice for teaching verbs.. please email me!)

Hugs from me mama dog (who I’ve named Lady) and the nine pups (who are all lying besides me ...) from Tanzania-


ALSO- Please read the following about a video project I'm going to start this semester- I would LOVE feedback!

Take a minute to read this if you're interested in helping me in a project I'm undertaking here in the next couple years here in Tanzania all you have to do is read this and let me know if you have input! It's as easy as that!!!!!

What is it?? - So I've gotten some inspiration to create a video about life/ the school here in Kiabakari. What I plan to do- is interview my students asking them maybe 3 or four questions and then make a quasi-documentary including some of their responses and then footage from around the village here- and neighboring villages.

I just though this would A) be a neat opportunity for my students we'll work one on one answering first in Swahili- then translating it together into English- so it's also extra practice/ practical practice too- for their English B) Something for me to remember my time here from (no I'm not anywhere close to being done, but if I start now maybe I'll have some to share this summer) and most of all - C) Something to share with others which my questions will be focused around.

So why am I writing to you- Well I need some help deciding on a few good questions... Here are some that I spurted out of my brain somehow onto paper - but if you have better ways to phrase them/ other ideas-PLEASE let me know!! I am going to be introducing the idea to the students this week but probably won't start working with them one on one until at least the week after !

My Questions so far:

ο If you could share one thing about what it means to be a Christian what would it be?
ο If you could share one thing about faith...
ο If you could share one thing about being an evangelist what would it be?
ο Why do you want to be an evangelist?
ο If you could share one thing with people around the world what would it be ?
ο If you could share one thing about life in Tanzania/ Tanzanian culture/ or what it means to be Tanzanian... what would it be?

Okay these are just some I've been brainstorming- if you have any input- please take time in the next week to write! I would appreciate it- I'll also ask my students of course too.

Asante sana- thank you very much!

Mungu akubariki!


Wednesday, April 4, 2012


Bwana Yesu Asifiwe ! _- Amen!

This is a common phrase any church occasion you attend- it means Praise the Lord!

Hello from an empty Shule ya Kiabakari- ALL of the students have returned home for Easter- now campus is quiet- and weird... I guess I enjoy the students- even when they’re giving me lip and don’t want to do work... kids these days... wait some of them are 40.. yes- my students range in age from 18-40 ha- okay- well students these days ;- ) Sometimes it truly is a challenge being a young, blonde female- I just wasn’t made exactly to fit in here... but I do my best- and try not to let it bother me.. I think it’s importance to bridge those gaps... building bridges... one of my jobs here- -

Things are well here- I have a nice cold that makes me sound strange and look a bit like Rudolph – although it’s not quite the season for that- and getting bad colds when it’s 85ish degrees outside- never does make any sense to me, but many of the students had colds- so they decided to share with me- how nice- ;- )

Another pesky thing is the new visitors in my house... I have SO many bees.. it’s awful.. SIPENDI nyuki! I don’t like bees- many of you know that bout me.. well I’m getting accustomed to them.. but I still hate them...They’re building a hive in my roof.. and I see hundreds swarming my roof daily- also some find cracks to come inside my house- how lovely.. so I guess on the bright side- I now have many visitors in my house... I just would rather have others.. You know it’s bad when you find yourself in bed one morning at 6am- the bees have woken you up- and you find yourself yelling.. “I want the fleas back, I want the fleas back...” Not a sentence I ever dreamed I would utter, let alone yell at 6am- yes this is a true story! Haha.. I guess it’s mildly funny... My mom doesn’t think so though... Hopefully I’ll figure out some way to get rid of them- with help of course... My students laughed at me- because for Fun Fact Friday- and Maswali Monday (Two short ice-breakers to warm up their brains for class... ) have been about bees... One of them was about how queen bees can lay 800-1,500 eggs a day.. (NOT comforting) the other was about bees have 5 eyes... (yes.. my random facts have found a home here too) Now- however my students make fun of me saying my house has many eyes... and the bees are all watching me with their five eyes... Har har har..

Oh well- This past week again I taught/ led bible study again for the women at church- we started studying one of the camp’s bible studies- it was a lot of work translating bits and pieces and making sure the questions still make sense- but it went well – really well, there were only four of us this week, but one of the women reminded me- where there are two or more, God is with us- so let’s take time to study his word.. how can I argue with that! :- ) It went really well we all had things to say- and I felt I understood a lot better today when we were discussing things!! PLUS I took the school bicycle to Bible Study because I was running late and it’s about a 30 minute walk.. when I got on the bike the principal’s wife said... do you know how to ride that? I said oh sure- I do it all the time at home... still concerned.. Annie- - that’s different this bike is not good- and the roads are quite different... ah, nah I said.. no problem... hahaha.. She didn’t mention the difficulties I would have riding in my SKIRT! Boo.. next time it’s trousers and a kanga for sure-! But I made it and it was so nice- I can’t wait to pick up my own bike from Musoma (thanks to the TTF/ MD- DE Synod- who gave me money to buy one as a Christmas gift :- ) I’m pretty excited!)

At church two weekends ago, I played drums with the choir! I was nervous but it went well- I felt pressure because I am the mzungu- playing the drums? Can they do that? Haha – I think they found out it’s possible.. I also had a row of children sitting right in front of me staring at me intensely... Oy! Sometimes here I feel like a safari animal must when people just stare and say mzungu mzungu—like elephant look an elephant! Or sometimes when I’m next to small children at Kiabakari church- I feel like I’m at a petting zoo, because every so often I’m next to bold children who just like to play with my skin and from time to time grab my hair... I think maybe some of them think they can rub off my mzungu skin.... hopefully they give up on that soon- - sometimes it’s endearing but others it’s not pleasant... haha

On a reflecting note... one of my friends asked me if I was happy here and if I’ve adjusted.... and I thought... woah big questions... I think as far as adjusting goes... is it’s a constant – something that will be constant for the next few years... there’s always something I’m learning and don’t think I’ll figure out everything in the next two years...but as far as being comfortable with my surroundings- most days! (lately- not as much with the bees!) As far as being happy- something I’ve been shown/ learning here is that happiness is a really a state of mentality, a choice we can make- we all deserve to be happy but I think so many things in American society teach us not to be happy/ content... producers/ advertisements want us to think- we don’t have enough, we need more, we’re not good enough - - But I really try to think about being content with where I am/ what I have, and also live with everyday experiences here, the people, the place- the culture, the flora and fauna- (Buuuut maybe not the bees....) – I mean- if we take time to think about things we are thankful and blessed for – we have so many things to be happy about- even if 90% of our culture tells us not to be happy/ content... What if Jesus came to earth and put up a fuss, was not happy or content...Jesus definitely did not have an easy life either hmm an uncontent unhappy Jesus.. that would be a whole different story... Anyway that’s enough rambling- !

After a nice hiatus-- I have started running again!! I love running- it’s so hard to believe how much I need to train again and really difficult to believe I ran an entire marathon- - but I really enjoy it- My first day back at running was one day in Michezo- only one student came... so I said let’s run... we did.. and he laughed at me.. I followed him and he kept saying Mwalimu- umechoka... Teacher you’re tired.. (Yes I’d love a piece of humble pie while I run.. thanks ;- ) haha- oh but it’s been fun- I have even convinced another missionary to run with me some days- and I have been running many mornings at 6:15! If I’m alone I stick to the school/ or school shambas (fields)- But with the other missionary we go on the roads, which is nice! It’s so BEAUTIFUL up here- If I haven’t written about the landscape- it’s very hilly- I would call them mountins—but then again I am from Minnesota... it’s also rocky–yet green with lots of shambas- fields to farm :- ) It’s pretty there’s also lots of kinds of trees (many banana trees- which look like bright green starbursts (not the candy...) and lots of kinds of flowers!) It’s very pretty and to run and see the sun come up is always something I enjoy-- (more-so when I go to bed around 8 or 9... ;- )

Other Fun Tidbits/ Experiences
• One of my banana trees surprised me when they produced baby RED bananas- I had a red banana in Arusha- nice and sweet- and now I have little baby red bananas- yum! Yes- they’re gone..
• Innge Marie had her baby- just April 2nd in the middle of the wee morning hours- : - ) which is pretty exciting! Can’t wait for them to return from Nairobi- to meet her!
• I had some bad milk- when I boiled it (I boil all my milk it comes straight from the cow ☺ ) But when I boiled it.. it turned into crazy weird- cheese like substance... I didn’t eat it- but fed some to the cat who’s still alive!
• I started cooking some things and two of my ladies from Bible study are coming over to bake cookies this afternoon : - )

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Cobras and such!

Hello Everyone!

Greetings from Kiabakari! I should have written sooner to let you all know- I survived last week’s chaos as Mwalimu wa Zamu (head teacher) – I also survived the multitude of Wazungus (white people) ;- ) It was good we had a good 30 guests from two different Bible schools in Norway.

Being Mwalimu wa Zamu is tiring with the extra hours you are in charge of various activities, but it was also nice to spend even more time with the students, and get time to both be teacher and to hang out a little too.

Teaching continues to be an up and down experience, most days are great but I still encounter difficult days- but I suppose that is with most careers, and I’m learning just as well as the students. Sometimes of my advanced class students like to push lessons into completely new subjects by asking not very related questions... which catches me a bit off guard and I try to both answer simply and tell them they are welcome to my office if they want further explanation... some of them just want to know everything about English right now.. even though we’ve had maybe 6 weeks of class- Hmm... I’ll do my best... I was also teaching family which made me miss my family a bit too... but I think that’s good if I didn’t miss them ever that would be a bad sign ;-) ( I am blessed with a wonderful family though). Luckily here too- so I don’t always mope about missing my far away family!

Anyways, we’re getting close to final exams- the week before Easter and so much of the time leading up to it is review which is very good for many of them.. they say practice makes perfect.

What else is new here...

Well- I had my second cobra at my home. By the time I got to my house to see it, it had already been killed though, but then I walked around with it on a stick to show others and ultimately give it to my gardener/ night guard John as a zawadi (present). I’m sure it’s just what he always wanted. It was a bit bigger than the last one in the guesthouse, and it’s right outside my door, near my water bomba – where I have to walk to go to the bathroom, so that’s unfortunate for the night trips I have to make to the toilet... Oh well... Maybe I'll make a "cobra's not welcome" sign or something...

I led Bible Study for the women this past week and I was SO nervous beforehand to lead it in Swahili! I think rightly so! I prepared a lot for it, but still was really nervous. It went alright- sometimes here in Tanzania it’s really hard to know how things go because people don’t always express if they’ve enjoyed themselves or not, it’s very different... so I asked many and they really said they like it and look forward to the next one I lead- which I get to branch out and try a camp bible study, which is exciting. It is frustrating though, to get lost in the discussion that takes place after questions I ask... that’s really hard for me, because I want to be involved especially leading it, but sometimes these women can talk FAST! (and no- not just the women!)

I was officially accepted into the choir, meaning they bought me a soda and called me into the cafeteria to have sodas with them, saying now you are officially a choir member. I really enjoy going to practices when I am able to. Yesterday they told me to try drumming... I said okay- and they seemed so surprised that I could do it, keep rhythm and even change the beat... I think it may not be my last time drumming : - ) I don’t mind.

Today we travelled to one of the student’s villages for church. He asked me numerous times if I would come, I think he was happy for me to come and see his family and home church. The church was small and hasn’t had a pastor for a year and a half. There are a lot of difficulties both at the church and for my student’s family. So the congregation and families of Olyio A- (I don’t know if the spelling is right but it sounds like Oleo..) would be appreciated. While it was a long day I didn’t get home until after 5pm and we left around 8:30, it was so good. The whole way there the students and myself were singing songs, it was really fun. I taught adjectives last week and it was nice for the students to tell me both I looked African and pretty in the dress I decided to wear (I don’t wear dresses to often but maybe I’ll start more since both of those things I consider as compliments.. although I always know I’ll be a huge Mzungu- even if I wear African clothing).

The service was also really good- and I got to witness my first baptisms here. I also got the opportunity to play with some children/ tease them for being afraid of a Mzungu (white person) and chase them around. It was fun. :- ) Then we ate a meal.. Ugali, Mystery Game meat.. ( I’d like to think it was Zebra, Elephant or Giraffe.. but who knows- it’s been dried and cooked.. I’m hoping I am not up sick tonight from it..) We also ate a fruit I had never seen before- a White watermelon, instead of being red inside it’s white-ish opaque and has reddish seeds. Crazy... I got one as a gift from my student and made the other missionaries try it... we all agree we like the red ones better.. much sweeter.

I think that’s all for updates for now- Thank you all so much for your emails, thoughts and support! I miss you all- it’s crazy to think I’ll be home in four months!

Much Love –


PS- Happy Birthday to my brother Nick! :- ) Good to chat a bit yesterday but so short :- (

PPS- I’m looking for good recipes for things to make here- Simple meals main ingredients include Potatoes, Rice, Beans, Lentils (yellow ones), Flour, Milk Eggs... Sugar... and other Vegetables and Fruit! If favorites or simple recipes I would LOVE them! I have two electric hot plates and a small electric oven attached to them! I just made American pancakes for the Danish and Norwegians, (their pancakes are so thin – they liked them!) :- )

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Let the teaching begin!

Hi Everyone!

Greetings from Kiabakari! Sorry for the much needed update! The past few weeks have FLOWN by- I simply cannot believe it’s been 5 months already-- I have been quite busy!

I’m still getting things to make it seem more homey in my house- it helps to have some pictures of family friends!! : -) My house is nice though some things I’ve experienced in it are always interesting.. lots of ants... (Luckily not Ciafu like my neighbors... oy.. I’ve experienced 2 Ciafu –army ants- invasions in their house.. not fun.. basically thousands of biting ants on a mission to go somewhere—unfortunately twice into their house...) The cat rotates between missionary houses, although I was quite pleased it chose mine Friday during the big lightening storm we had! Some other interesting experiences include things such as crazy rain/thunderstorms, silly electricity different insects including one of my favorites... cockroaches.. bluck! One night there was a huge one in my bed- bluck bluck! However—with only those issues... I’m best to say hamna shida no problem.. All in all things at home are good :-)

I don’t know if I mentioned in my last blog that there are two new missionary families here- (and by new meaning they weren’t here in October) it’s been really nice to have them here- a huge support- and it means that I’ve been less then lonely- I am not always good at making sure I have time for just me... like taking time for myself to write blogs! (sorry!) But it really is good- a good support system plus we do so much together like a big family like barbecues (yes- barbecues in February! ) playing games like ticket to ride and catan – (camp folk be happy!) and we also have weekly prayer meetings/ bible studies.

I started teaching a couple weeks ago. The first day went... well pretty rocky... I wanted to cry a little afterwards... but then I slapped myself in the face (not literally!) and told myself to suck it up.. I had been through much worse, and I shouldn’t let one silly day put me in a sour mood. :- ) I’m glad I didn’t because I went back to the classroom with more confidence in myself/ my swahili/ my teaching abilities - and my second and... well since then have been really great! It’s a LOT of work planning lessons making a curriculum myself... but it’s what I came here to do... so I will put as much effort into it as I can.

Also- as some of you may know already... I sometimes put a lot on my plate- which I’ve done here too-- (hence the lack of updates recently - One thing I’m particularly excited about is the weekly women’s group prayer/ bible study every Wednesday at the Kiabakari church ( i briefly mentioned it last post-). It has been so rewarding to be a part of it and it’s only been a few weeks! - It just started 3 or 4 weeks ago- so I’ve been able to be at the first meetings, which is really neat. It’s all in Swahili so it’s a good teaching tool for me, and it’s been such a joy to be with the women- and also to see similarities (like the fact that it’s a village church women’s group... like a small town group of women chatting about what’s going on in town..because let’s be honest if anyone knows—it’s the women’s church group..) Also VAST differences to life as a woman back home... let’s just say many things have opened my eyes to feel pretty fortunate to have grown up as a woman in the United States.

Some other things I’m involved in
• office hours for the students to receive extra help
• teaching 2 courses for workers here at the school (upon request.. how can I say no?) it’ll be good- I start this week!
• weekly prayer with the missionaries here
• and.... well adopting myself into a family now with many little siblings—(it’s good for me, I’ve never had before – I’ve EVEN been holding a baby a bunch.. ) but it takes time to spend time with my new younger siblings—who have fallen in love with the game phase 10. (It’s fun and always interesting with the language barrier).
I’ve also been appointed as the teacher for Michezo (games- so it’s like a gym class). This has been interesting, we played volleyball a few times- just got a net! Also on Friday I am very pleased to inform you I taught Ultimate Frizbee!!!! :- ) I was so surprised how fast they were picking up throwing the frizbee so I explained the game and we had a pretty good game that tired me out after 45 minutes! It was SO fun and many have asked to play again.. (Oh don’t you worry... we will as much as possible...) I think we’re playing football (Soccer) on Friday.. gulp.. the one I as a teacher don’t want to play.. haha I have a feeling it will be pretty humbling- but it’s so good to run around – so I don’t care too much! :- ) They hear me speak Swahili a bunch... that’s also humbling at times ;-)

Today I was asked to sub for someone- meaning I will teach 4 lessons... from about for about 5 hours... it was good, I have 2 classes so we split the time in two- I want to do a quiz Friday so we played Jeopardy half the class period- JEOPARDY! They actually really enjoyed it- and it’s a good review tool- it’s fun to try different activities to see what they will/ will not enjoy.. I’m learning everyday about what is effective.. it’s so interesting to see the differences in teaching/ class management.

I think that’s about it for now- Next week is my first week as Mwalimu wa zamu—(Head teacher) it will be interesting, I’m quite nervous about it—because I still feel new and also feel like I’m not the best teacher in the compound for disciplining.. especially when I’m a) a woman- who many men will not listen to and b) I’m younger than many of the students... Oh well- they’ve only seen me angry and use my teacher voice (it’s amazing how the teacher voice just comes out of you- without you knowing it’s the teacher voice.. until it happens...) a couple times... We also have a bunch of Norwegian volunteers coming next week to see the school and help out- so I think that also means extra English lessons too! Uffdah!

Thanks for all your emails, phone calls, prayers and continued support- I miss you all very much and look forward to seeing many of you in under 5 months! Wow!!

Peace- Love – Faith-


Monday, February 6, 2012

Fleas and Rats and Cats oh My! Getting Settled at Kiabakari -

Hello from Kiabakari everyone!

YES! I am here- and moved into my house.. well still moving/ settling somewhat- but it’s starting to feel a bit like home here... slowly.

So far it has been really great here. I have been welcomed by the other missionary families (that’s right there are 2 new families here- and Geir Tore too : -) Geir from Norway Havstein Binta and their four children from Faroe Islands and Inge Marie and Simon and their soon to be 2 children from Denmark. They have been so hospitable having me for many meals so far- (yup still not losing weight in the village- ) but hoping to get a more normal schedule down too. It’s been so nice having families to hang out with / play games with- We even had a barbecue yesterday here (YES- a Barbecue- IN FEBRUARY! It’s crazy!) Seriously, it’s so good to have them here- I had talked with Geir in October for the need to have weekly gatherings/ a Kiabakari family (partly because I love/ miss mine) AND- well it’s come true – I love getting to know/ spend time with my Kiabakari family!

Other things, Well—there have been some flea issues... still pending (yuck!- they seem to be in the grass so there’s no avoiding it). Some really noisy pigs living right near my house and waking up my second night to something ( I think a rat-) scurrying inside my was closed clothes cupboard.. YUCK! Hence my adoption of the cat living outside Havstein’s and Bintas—I hate to admit it but I’ve rather enjoyed the company and even bought it dagaa ( probably my least favorite thing in the market it Tanzania- dried sardine like fish- bluck- and to let that into my house for this cat must mean I am starting to like it- PLUS I hope it may get the rat... or just scare it from being in my house!)

My first day of teaching will be Wednesday- so far we have had harvest days. Wow- this work surely makes one more aware of all the effort put into all the food we eat... for those of you who like sunflower seeds... well I have some pictures for you but I helped harvest them part two after cutting them all down was to bang on them with big sticks (took us about 5 hours) to get all of the seeds out. Then today I spent harvesting maize for about 8 hours starting at good ol’ 6am! It’s tiring/ hot work..but really good. I feel like my desire for the accompaniment model and working hand in hand really comes to life working in the field with all the students.. But I am glad I won’t be doing it everyday! It will make chapel every morning at 7:30 seem like a sleep in!

Other fun/ random bits-:
• 1- If Ox Lake (Camp!) had a twin.. it’d be here probably- My Faroish friends have ticket to ride Europe and Settlers : - ) WOW (I feel many times I am at camp... especially when I stay up late playing that game.. it’s like staff training all over again.Also campy- graces in swahili going to bed pooped- having to go outside to use the toilet – new today- a Volleyball Net which makes me super thrilled because...
• I am the teacher in charge of Michezo – sports/games and I Stink at football! (soccer)- yet I am pumped to teach ultimate frizbee volleyball and maybe just get some students to go run with me—(which will be of course embarrassing at first!!)
• I need a good cat name:- it’s black and white and is really noisy.. but nice
• It’s hot. That’s all. (It actually encourages me to shower more nice cool water ahhh)
• Today at the big market I went to I had someone profess their love to me.. I’ve never seen them/ met them before in my life... It was touching really.
• Wednesday there’s a women’s prayer/ bible study group started at the Kiabakari church I’m pretty excited for that – also Thursday prayer meeting with the other teachers here- and Wednesday I’m going to join the student’s choir here- I told some of them today in the field- WOW- Karibu sana (very welcome) nice :- )
• Binta has season one of Gilmore Girls – WOW : -D

Okay that’s all hope this is somewhat interesting- I’m pooped- time for bed!

Sunday, January 29, 2012

New Chapter to this Adventue!

Hello Everyone!

Greetings to you from Musom! I am here now traveling with a delegation here from the Maryland-Deleware Syond.. I forgot to update telling everyone I was leaving my home for the past 4 months (Arusha) because I found out on short notice and was quite busy figuring out transportation/ packing/ and saying goodbye to my Arusha family- well so long for now anyways!

Musoma is good- I think there are definitely more mosquitos here than Arusha with the Lake nearby- woohoo! But.. as my Journey/ Ox friends know I’m horrible at wearing Mosquito spray.. so still have yet to use it in the 4 months since I’ve been here... oops.. haha good thing I packed 4 bottles! Maybe I’ll start... labda (maybe).

Anyways- I’ve been traveling with the delegation we’ve been all over the Mara diocese – we went to a village in Mugumu (4 hours from here inside the Serengeti) – Bunda Hospital ( I stayed out of the maternity ward this time after the last - ) Rusoli- and Kiabakari!! : -) I must say in all this travel I am SO happy to have my Swahili training... Even though I feel quite inadequate at times- I am able to understand a lot of parts of church services/ meetings and am able to hold conversations (unless the person things- ah she’s fluent and starts speaking quickly.. then I nod a lot and say ndiyo- yes...) haha hope I’m not agreeing to anything too crazy! Most people tell me I am doing really well though so that’s nice- since really from here on out it will be what I am using to communicate primarily—gulp!

I am pleased to tell you all how happy I am after my visit to the school- It was amazing – So good to see some of the coworkers I Had previously met. Also – there are 2 new young families at the school 1 from Denmark (Sonja I’m sure you’re happy about that : - ) and one from Norway- so we may be speaking Swahili with each other too! They were very nice and welcoming- so I’m really happy to feel like we’ll have a good staff Kiabakari family. I even saw my house! It’s ready for me to live in! I’m so happy- It’s pretty bare right now- but- after some trips to the market and unpacking ALL my bags finally- I am sure to make it feel somewhat like home.. I’m determined and we all know what happens when I get determined... It WILL BE a home! I’m even going to plant a garden : -) I was telling some of my friends furnishing the house fully may take a bit because we don’t have target or Ikea nearby anywhere- small dukas and markets ( maybe—maybe 1/50 of the size – teehee)- coming home next summer may be quite interesting after almost a year here.

I will move to the school Wednesday when the delegation leaves and I am feeling ready to begin this next stage of the journey. As many of you are aware there have been many complications with everything so far, and I appreciate all your support and prayers over the past four months. I am very happy to move forward from all this – and with grace- (what would we do without it) I am excited for all the parties involved in this partnership to move forward and work together in true accompaniment– Bega kwa bega- .

Thank you again- Bwana Yesu Asifiwe (Praise the Lord)-