Sunday, February 10, 2013

A new year

Hello everyone (written February 1)! Greetings from my home, sweet home, in Kiabakari, Tanzania. I've been back a couple months now, and despite some illness, it's been nice to be home. I had an amazing time and quite a wonderful adventures with all my travels, but it was such a wonderful feeling to come home. I was lucky to have two trips over our long "summer" break! (yes, summer here ... not that it ever gets to be truly winter)! First, I had a wonderful time in Arusha visiting wonderful friends and family. From Arusha, I traveled with my "cousins" Jessie and Eric to Rwanda, via bus. We took buses from Arusha to Nairobi (Kenya), Nairobi to Kampala (Uganda), and Kampala to Kigali (Rwanda). <4/5 East African countries via bus!> It was a really long trip, all in all about 34 hours on three buses (7, 14, and 13 hours)! We also decided in order to avoid the costs of hotels, it would be a good idea to take overnight buses and see the cities in the afternoons...(good idea?? Well... It was an adventure, I'll leave it at that... ;) It was interesting, tiring and frustrating -but we got there in one piece, and I'm very thankful for that! ( and also very thankful for the various strangers that genuinely helped us along the way from emergency toilet situations, to directions, and even rides!) I had such an amazing time in Kigali. I was so lucky to spend a day at the orphanage I had volunteered at nearly three years ago! It was so wonderful to see some of my brothers and sisters there and catch up with them...( I hope to go back again before my return to the states!) I also got to visit my Rwandan mama and her new baby (my brother :) what a proud moment he's so stinking cute!! I had a wonderful time catching up with friends, seeing my old home and making new friends too :) I'm very fortunate for this trip. After our time there I took an 17+ hour bus to mwanza and the next day a few hours to get me back home! I'm so thankful for safe and blessed travels! For Christmas I traveled (again...) to the coast with my Danish family here in Kiabakari. It was a very Danish Christmas (complete with dancing around the Christmas tree), spent with many wonderful Danish families in Dar Es Salaam. I had a wonderful time surrounded by wonderful people who welcomed me into their family and made me feel at home.  Then for New Years I went camping along the Indian ocean near a place called Tanga :) it was pretty amazing, relaxing filled with well camping, hammock time, swimming, reading and great company. :) Now, I'm back in Kiabakari, where things are wonderful. The week before school started, I spent a lot of time working on English curriculum for the school, including daily lesson plans and a workbook of exercises (good, but definitely work!) It was nice to get a bunch ready and finished though. :) School "opened" January 14. The students came slowly ... We didn't start teaching until the following Monday, when we had three students. With prayers and encouragement, this past Monday (January 25) we reached a total of 7 students. Last year we started with 25.  We don't expect more students to show up. It's a little strange having so few students, and at first I think we(staff) were all a bit discouraged, but I came to realize and ask myself where the sense in that was.  I try to think about how this is the last year for these students at the school and despite the small numbers, they deserve the best we have to offer. Therefore I need to put more time and energy into my teaching to make his the best year possible (getting focused on numbers doesn't help). So far I've been EXTREMELY impressed with the students this year!! Four of the seven are returning students from last year. I was told this year would be more difficult for me, as many of the students are older. This made me so worried that going into my first day of teaching I could barely sleep!  Well I'm happy to say  it was wonderful (in fact I think my classes have all been great, thanks to my students). They have been very motivated, participate a lot in class, and are trying very hard! Outside of classes as well, I'm amazed by the great example they set for being in community with one another. They have cleaning duties every week, but instead of dividing them, they have decided to share all of the work instead and work together. One student told me "Where one person has a job, we all do." (pretty big difference from last year!) I feel so blessed for this all and truly look forward to getting to know the students well, since we are so few :) this is all proof to myself that there's no sense in worrying about things until I know what it will be like! (plus this was not in my control I have to trust God's bigger than so many things I spend way too much time worrying about! That's about all for now! Sorry to write so much I'll try to do better about updating every couple weeks! Until then much love to you all from Kiabakari! Annie Other stuff: 1. In 40 days one of the coolest guys I know will be arriving in Tanzania!! To visit me!! My dad :) cannot wait! 2. Obama lives in my backyard poor guy has fleas and worms.... But he's running around and happy and a good kisser (I'll add a picture ;) 3. I climbed a few local mountains the past weeks, fun and great views over the Serengeti and lake Vick 4. Read a great book by my favorite author Mitch Albom (Tuesdays with Morrie) he wrote a new one "the timekeeper" my mom sent it for Christmas! It's a quick read and very much worth it!  It was a good lesson to me about how precious time is and how it's not to be taken for granted, rushed, or bargained with! Time is a gift  God- we're the ones measure it, but it's not up to us how much we get!  pictures:(in order) sunrise over the Indian.ocean, my kiss from Obama, and (market) (16 months along in the journey and 10 and some to go;)

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