Saturday, August 23, 2008

One Year Ago

One year ago, 75 primary school girls were living in a house in the town of Babati with no less than 6 bunk beds in each room. The dormitories at Aldersgate School were overcrowded. The same number of primary school boys were living in 2 classrooms on the school campus. During the rainy season, the house where the girls lived would flood, forcing the girls to seek refuge in other houses in town.
This is one of the rooms where the girls were staying.

One year ago, the children of Aldersgate School surrounded the perimeter to pray over the grounds where the 1st of 3 new dormitories would be built.

Ed, along with Ben Shular have worked tirelessly to give the primary school girls and boys a safe and clean place to live.
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Girls Just Wanna Have Fun

On Friday afternoons, the children at Aldersgate school go to "chapel". The Muslim students leave the school grounds and attend mosque in town, other kids go home, and still others stay at school for devotion. Last year, my friend's daughters, E, H, M, and their friend, P, would come to the house on Friday afternoons. We have made countless cookies, painted toenails, played games, drank sodas, built tents, climbed trees, and all kids of other things kids love to do. They have cooked some dishes for us, even showing me how to make ugali, a most favored food for Tanzanians.

We haven't been able to continue our visits since January as I have been working in the school office 5 full days a week. The girls and I have missed each other, so I took off this past Friday afternoon and we got together again. Their mom wanted their hair cut, so we sat outside and cut 3 heads of hair, drank mango juice, and ate popcorn. A recent visitor left a box of "beanie babies", so the girls each picked one out to take home with them.
I loved "E"'s choice!!!!
This is the next best thing to my precious grand kids in the US.
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International Evening

We always enjoy sharing an evening with our Indian friends. The food is always wonderful and lots of fun with their 3 young daughters to entertain us. Tonight was interesting. We met a friend of theirs, "V", last week and he invited us to come tour his plant where they extract sandalwood oil and export it to India.

So here we are: in Tanzania, with friends, the wife from India, and the husband from Pakistan, who was educated in Japan and England. The plant we toured, run by "V" (also from India) was very interesting. They import the finest sandalwood from Australia and Sudan, Uganda. Eucalyptus wood is brought in from South Africa to run the furnaces to process the oil. The purified oil sells for about $160/kilogram, which calculates to $4000 per 25 kilo container. (Compare that to oil prices!!!). "V" has a German shepherd. And, we were entertained by an American movie, The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly.....which we all know is a "spaghetti" western, made in Italy.

We agreed to get together again soon, and I was asked to prepare a meal I had made for the family several months ago: fried chicken, mashed potatoes, cream gravy, and biscuits. "Southern" would you consider that "international"? You bet your "buttered biscuit" it is!!!!!

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Reality Bites

Although, I have been posting some funny things on the blog, I never want to take for granted the more serious side of living in a 3rd world country. Things you can't photograph....many things you can't even express, and an infinite number of things you can't "fix".

* The devastation of an already meager corn crop by elephants looking for food
* A 3 year old boy sent to boarding school. His mother had AIDS, his father doesn't want him.
* The same little boy sick with the fever from malaria and a mommy not there to comfort him
* Women accepting that being beaten by their husbands is a way of life
* Sharing the same husband (good or bad) with numerous other wives
* Families suffering from upper respiratory problems because their mud hut is not ventilated to allow smoke to escape from their home
* Children herding cattle rather being schooled
* 400 children, 4 classrooms, 4 teachers
* Walking to school being dangerous, because of real predators (leopards, hyena, babboon)
* The acceptance that "surgical procedures" are nearly usually a "death sentence"
* Women/children walking miles for a bucket of water
* Those same women making you a cup of tea with the same water
* Flies lighting, un-noticed, on a child's face (usually near the eyes or nose)
* A 12 year old girl given in marriage by her father to a much older man
* A mother's desperate search to get her "special needs" child help
* The public's perception of people with "special needs"
* The belief that witchdoctors are the answer
We Americans take so very much for granted and then we think we should have more. Do you wonder if you could make a difference?

Monday, August 11, 2008

More to the Chicken Story......

OK, there is more to the chicken story.....Moses is a man we met while working at Step by Step Learning Center. It just so happens he was going to be passing through Babati on his way to bargain for his "bride price" with his "intended's" family. As tradition would have it, the groom has to come up with all the money. First he has to bargain for the bride: possibly a few cows, a blanket for grandma, a new pot or piece of fabric for Mama. If all goes well, then, at a later date, there is a "send off" from the bride's community/home which can be as costly as a wedding. The groom pays for all of this. And eventually there is the wedding where the groom is expected to feed everyone and pay for transportation for the bride's family to attend. Everyone at the wedding has a great time, but the bride and groom remain "straight faced" through the whole thing. When asked why they don't smile, we were told it is because the bride is being taken from her family and it is a very serious time.

Now back to Moses. Several of us were in fervent prayer that the "bargaining" would go well. Moses was willing to offer 5 cows and was delighted when the father took the offer of 2 cows, the khanga (cloth) for Mama, and the blanket for Grandma. Praising God, he buys 2 live chickens, ties their legs together, and travels with them on the bus to Babati. (The other will travel another 120 miles to friends in Arusha). They arrive at our house and it obvious they are here to spend the night. Ed and I double up on the fold down futon bunk bed we use as a sofa, and distribute Moses, Christina, and volunteer guests, Joe and Amanda throughout the house. Before we drift off to sleep, I calmly tell Ed, "Baby, I know how you like 'roughing it" in Africa, but there is no way on God's green earth I am butchering that chicken." He reassures me all will be fine........"baby".

After church, the following day, we untie the chicken's legs, take the picture shown in the previous blog, and take Moses, Christina, and the other live chicken to the bus stand.

I must say that I am thankful to Ed's mom and his granny for showing him how to process a chicken. I won't post the photos I took of Ed doing the "deed". But the product was a nice plump chicken for the pot and one proud "Texan".
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Christmas In July

In July, we celebrated our 17th wedding anniversary. Actually it was the 3rd consecutive anniversary we have spent in Tanzania. Ed asked me 3 years ago, if I still would have married him knowing we would end up in Tanzania. Without a's been an adventure.

Anyway, back to "Christmas in July". Do you know you can actually get away with wearing a Christmas t-shirt in July, in Tanzania, and no one......I one will say "eeuuwww" or call the "fashion police". It was, after all, a special occasion.......and now my t-shirt, with holly berries, can be worn as a special "anniversary shirt".
Ho!! Ho!! Ho!!
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A Mastercard Moment

A romantic dinner of chicken cordon bleu with a nice wine: $100

A fun afternoon with grandkids enjoying a Chicken McNugget Happy Meal: $15

The look on your husband's face when someone presents him with a gift of a live chicken......without a doubt...

Only with "Master Card".......definitely a MasterCard moment!!!!!
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It's the Little Things

Yes, it is the "little things". After hearing that our daughter, Susan, was having a pedicure for her birthday, I looked at my feet and decided they could use a little "t l c". I wear open-toed shoes most of the time and the dirt here is red, so you can imagine what a state my feet were in. Some visitors to Tanzania brought me a wonderful pedicure kit with all kinds of scrubs, creams and tools that made it possible for a little pampering. There is a movie called "Happy Feet".....well that would be me.

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Found--Reflections on Sambasha

We did finally find Sambasha and it has given me cause to reflect on this past year. A little over a year ago, I joined Ed in Tanzania to begin a different phase in our lives. Upon arriving in Tanzania, Ed and I had the privilege to work with an OMEGA team ( from our home church, Aldersgate, in Lubbock, TX. In recent years, OMEGA has partnered with the Sambasha community to build classrooms for a nursery school as well as building walls on their church. The congregation of Sambasha, under the leadership of Pastor Saitoti have a passion for Jesus Christ and have planted 9 other churches, with little thought of their own facility. This is what their building looked like a year ago with scrap lumber for walls.

One year later, the church is 3 times the size and there are solid walls and a roof. As a result of partnering with OMEGA, the church has nearly enough money to complete the church. Posting an update as things progress will be a privilege. Here is Sambasha today.

As always, it is a joy to reconnect with friends, after a year's separation.

What an adventure this past year has been!!!!