Monday, June 22, 2009

Handcrafted In...................?????

We have found that the Maasai are a very giving group of people. Many of their gifts are hand crafted by skilled artists. We have received a variety of items crafted in amazing beadwork patterns, but the men love giving their treasured pangas to other men.
A panga is a tool every Maasai man carries. Kind of like a Texan's pocket knife. They do come in handy in many situations. Ed has used it to whack off the chicken's head, cut down banana trees, and clear brush away from a water well site.
Recently, he unsheathed his authentic Maasai panga and read the imprint more closely.
This always brings a smile to the locals when he shows them it was "made in China".
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Texans in Tanzania

We are often asked how two middle-aged Texans ended up in Tanzania, East Africa. Well, I can honestly say that no one is more surprised than we are to find ourselves here. Africa was not even on our the list of top 10 "Places I Gotta See Before I Die".

After hearing about the vision our friend, Jerry Hale, had for OMEGA Mission, focusing on ministry in Tanzania, Ed immediately felt like God was urging him to find out more. He, jokingly, tells people that he pulled out his map of Texas and couldn't find Tanzania anywhere. So, to find out more, Ed traveled with the first OMEGA Mission team in October 2005 and knew he was being called to return on a long-term basis. With a great deal of prayer over the course of several months, we both felt like this was where we were meant to be. Ed returned to Tanzania for a 6month stretch in January 2006. Upon his return to the US that August, we made the decision to sell everything and made preparations to re-locate. He left again in January 2007, and I joined him that June.

God's call was simply, "show up". Although, we felt strongly the call would involve water projects, it has taken nearly 3 years to bring this about. We are involved in hosting OMEGA Mission teams and volunteers as they travel from all over to work on a variety of projects in Tanzania.

Our journey during this period has been one of learning to stay focused on the Lord and not what we think His will is for our lives. The journey has been exciting, frustrating, adventurous, joyful, and heart-wrenching. Most of all, it has been humbling to think God would call the 2 of us. We are, by no means, spiritual giants....just 2 ordinary Texans in Tanzania.

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Thursday, June 18, 2009

Beanie Babies - Tanzania

This past year, we have had 2 different OMEGA groups who came bearing suitcases full of "Beanie Babies" to give to the kids with whom they are working. Both groups had a few "babies" remaining and bestowed them on us to distribute as we see fit. There was probably close to 100, which I have given to a variety of kids. I don't ever bring them out unless I am positive there is enough for each child to have one.

This week we have been installing a pump at a rehabilitation center for the blind in Buigiri. Sighted families live on the compound with their blind family members. The population at the compound, is about 45, including approximately 21 children. The pump installation took 2 mornings and the kids were fascinated with the "wageni" (visitors).

This morning when we returned to complete the work, I grabbed the last 21 Beanie Babies we had. The kids reactions were delightful as each child got one of these colorful little creatures.


So, thank you Emily from the Brookings SD group and Rebecca from the San Antonio group. Your giving hearts brought a blessing to 21 children today......a whole year after your visit.
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Punguza Bei

All of our fruit, vegetables, beans, rice, and flour are purchased in the local "sokoni" (market). Year round staples include a variety of beans, carrots, cabbage, potatoes, onions, cucumbers, tomatoes, and bell pepper. The availability of fruit will vary with the season, but allows great choices of mango, papaya, banana, oranges, and pineapple.

PUNGUZA BEI means "lower the price". In Tanzania, we have the custom of negotiating prices. I have found you always negotiate the price and then ask for a "discounti", which consists of extra of whatever you are buying. Pricing, however, is discriminatory depending on if you are "wazungu" or Tanzanian. The wazungu price is always higher, but still cannot compare with the prices we pay in the States. I am still shocked when I see what I can buy for $5.


One item I have a difficult time asking for a lower price is the price of avocados. The avocados here are huge and flavorful.....and only cost about 30 cents each. Such a treat............

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Tuesday, June 9, 2009

One Stop Shop

The community water well, provides women a chance to catch up on local news. Retrieving water could take several hours depending on how many are in line before you.

This lady is ready to go home, after getting her water. This is an amazing fete of balance. Can you image walking, with this on your head?

Other ladies make use of the long wait for water by doing laundry while waiting.
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Thursday, June 4, 2009

Sweet Memories

Sometime in the mid-1980's we bought a kid's cookbook. We tried several recipes out of it, but always came back to the Snickerdoodles. I've heard tales about Jamie and Gail trying to make these tasty treats when I wasn't home. I think Gail used 1/2 cup salt rather than 1/2 teaspoon salt....or something like that.

Anyway, making Snickerdoodles this weekend made me smile.

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Here's Yer Sign #1

OK........I'm still trying to figure this one out.....

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Back to Basics

In the repair and replace pump business, pumps are always breaking down and then there's the problem of getting parts from wherever it is you get parts. Not only that but Ed has encountered about 5 different brands of pumps all engineered differently and requiring a unique variety of parts.

We recently had the opportunity to view a hand made pump called a "rope and washer" pump. With electronic junkies, it's the latest gadget.....with's the simplest thing that will get the job done. This really got him excited.

This pump is made with a rope, an axle made of re-bar or other suitable metal, and a pully made from 2 tire rings nailed together. Washers made from a old tire are strung on the rope at 1 meter intervals and then pulled through a PVC pipe the same size as the washers. This lifts the water.

Ed would have to explain the mechanics of how this works, but it definitely works.

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This type of pump is not for all wells, but Ed is already making plans for his first installation.

Traditional Water Sources

Since moving to Dodoma in April, a great deal of our time has been spent traveling to area villages to look at broken water pumps to determine what can be done to repair or replace them. The rainy season came to an end in May, so the water tables are at a good level in many of the areas, however, by November the situation will be difficult for many villages.

Pumps, whether they are electric or manual provide clean water to communities. When pumps break down, people revert to the older traditional methods of retrieving water.

Digging by hand can sometimes yield small amounts of water which accumulate slowly. Cups are used to dip the water into buckets to be carried back for home use. Often animals are brought to drink directly from this small accumulation.

Water seepage in a river bed

Water seepage near a field

Water seepage from a rock bed beside a road
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Driving....Here and There

It's amazing how many of our driving habits are still in effect....even in Tanzania.

We avoid dangerous intersections

We avoid the morning rush hour

And try not to get lost on side streets
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