Archive for October, 2008

October 28, 2008

 

our teammates - the millers - flooded yard

our teammates - the millers - flooded yard

 

 

while some parts of Columbus were getting snow flurries yesterday, we had a glimpse of the rainy season –about five months early. there were torrential downpours for about 15-20 hours straight. we counted nine leaks in our house, some not so significant and some – well, enough water fell to soak the top of our mattress! we have a fantastic landlady who was in our home an hour or so after we phoned, with two mafundi (guys who know what to do). she sat at our table for the latter part of the morning and into the afternoon, sharing tea and insights, telling us stories as well as her opinion about why certain things are the way they are and why we should or should not do this or that. she’s great and it is quite fitting to preface her name with the culturally appropriate “mama”, because she IS, quite a mama.

 

although we thought we had a lot of leakage, our neighbor, who is also our weekend night guard, literally had a lake for a yard – and house. he inhabits the house with his wife and child as well as a number of other families. our landlady told us that the water inside their house literally comes up to the knees. he apparently has built a floor that is 3 feet above the ground in order to keep their dishes from floating out the front door.

when we left to pick up the kids from school, we took a picture of the road right in front of his house – it looks like a rushing river – and dumps out into this families’ yard and home. it is unbelievable. it made us realize that having a few little leaks is something to be really grateful for.

 

 

the road in front of our house

the road in front of our house

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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lengthy post ahead

October 18, 2008

 

Happy Birthday, Aidan! We love you! You are compassionate, honest and full of life and love.

Happy Birthday, Aidan! We love you! You are compassionate, honest and full of life and love.

This week we celebrated Aidan’s eighth birthday. Although he expressed sadness about not getting to be with his family and close friends, he was very well celebrated and we had loads of fun! A HUGE thank you (!) to friends and family for sending cards and presents – every gift, card, and email was so special to Aidan (and all of us) and part of what made this birthday happy and memorable. We love you guys! 

At the school Aidan attends, there is quite an emphasis on community outreach – one thing we love about this school. This week, the second graders went to a local school for orphans and spent part of the afternoon with them. On Monday, Lyndi joined Aidan’s class as they went to the store and purchased food and then on Wednesday, the children prepared lunches and took them to the school and hung out with the children. Aidan told us all about the little girl he spent time with, describing the songs they sung and how they communicated with one another, even though he knows very little Swahili and she knows very little English. He also noticed that many of the kids didn’t eat the lunches that were brought for them, or only ate one or two things and tucked away the remaining items. Aidan said, ‘This is because, they only get to eat once everyday, so they are saving some for later and then they can eat again.’

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We are continuing on in our quest to learn Swahili. Today during our Swahili lesson we learned SEVEN verbs that mean, “to wash”. Yes, it depends on what you want to wash, to merely say “wash” doesn’t cut it. Are we talking about laundry, dishes, the face and hands, the entire body, certain “parts” of the body, etc.? Swahili is quite an intricate language with many variations and we have only scratched the surface.

After returning from language school, we were instructed to take about a month to live and use the language we had learned before going back into a classroom setting. Now that we are back darasani (‘in class’ in Swahili), we find that the combination of living and learning together – both inside and outside the classroom – is extremely helpful.

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Struggle and Beauty Inspire a Top 10 

Many people communicated with us after our last post because it was so heavy.  Many did not have words to respond, but felt compassion and sadness for the individual lives and circumstances described in the post. You don’t have to look hard to find suffering here.

Whether it is pregnant women crouching on the floor in a maternity ward that is overcrowded; or children, not in school, begging on the street to support their family; or men crowding the streets looking for work or the next opportunity to secure food for themselves and their family, many Tanzanians are struggling.  In sharp contrast to this suffering, the beautiful, deep orange sun announces itself daily over the lush and beautiful Eastern coast of Africa and the smiles and greetings, and warm, relational community togetherness is what dominates the reality of the morning.  Yes, many are struggling, but many are reaching out their hands to those who are down and the heart of God is heavily perceptible in a land where people know that part of their purpose in being alive is to take care of one another. 

We also want the encouraging notes of this reality to play a prominent role in the impression we are painting in your mind.  With that in mind, we have decided to include a list of 10 cool things either from our lives in Dar es Salaam or from things we have witnessed in Dar.  Some have pictures to illustrate; so please enjoy.

1.     Even though we had moments of sadness related to celebrating Aidan’s birthday away from the people we have shared it with for the last seven years, well, a birthday is still a birthday and there was lots of fun to be had. 

 

Birthday sleepover with buddies from school

Birthday sleepover with buddies from school

The guys having birthday brownies

The guys having birthday brownies

2.     When driving in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, the one essential rule is – anything goes – as long as you don’t wreck.  Let the fun begin, but expect a lot of traffic jams!

3.     The neighborhood kids enjoy coming over to play outside. One little girl named Amira stands on the mound of dirt on the other side of our wall and yells in a sing-song voice, “WAZUUUUNGU! WAZUUUUUNGU!” (Wazungu refers to any folks that aren’t African), waiting for the boys to come and play.

 

Snapping a shot of Amira as she yells for the 'Wazungu'!

Snapping a shot of Amira as she yells, 'Wazuuungu!'

4.     Elliott loves sharing the afternoon meal (chakula cha mchana) of ugali and mchicha with Mama Elizabet. And yes, mchicha is spinach!!

 

Mama Elisabet and Elliott having chakula

Mama Elisabet and Elliott having chakula

5.     Much of our out-of-class language and culture learning involves getting to hang out and become friends with many interesting and wonderful Tanzanians. Take for example today – a man from the water company came to our house to get some info for a new pipe about to be laid. In the process of talking on our front porch, we learned that not only is he a volunteer HIV/AIDS counselor, but also a local, famous rapper – whom Daudi (our day guard) verified as such. Doug LOVED this and the two of them had a short ‘rap session’ and exchanged numbers, making plans to connect again soon.

6.     Dar is tropical and coastal – white sand and clear (-ish) water, coconut and banana trees are plentiful, and the fresh fruits and vegetables are scrumptious.

7.     The reality of knowing your neighbors and being known by them is a vital aspect of becoming part of the community. When you know and become known, people look out for you and you look out for them. We love this part of Tanzanian culture.

8.     Doug is utilizing his English skills each Thursday, tutoring our young friend, Mohammed. His mother owns a duka near our house and we have become great friends with this family.

 

The English teacher has found a student

The English teacher has found a student

9.     Work is scarce in Dar es Salaam for people without a college education. Thanks to our supporters, FOUR families who would otherwise have no income are able to earn money to feed and provide for themselves and their families.

Elliott and Daudi, our day guard / helper who lives here with us

Elliott and Daudi, our day guard / helper who lives here with us

10. Lyndi gets to make Tanzanian friends by going to a salon.  Not sure what image you conjure up with the word ‘salon’, but this salon is housed in a 5’x10’ metal shipping container.  Looks truly are not everything though, because not only does Lyndi get to build growing relationships with Tanzanian women and gain insights into Swahili language and culture, she also received the best pedicure she has ever had in this converted shipping container.

 

Aidan and Mama Elisabet making tortilla chips

Aidan and Mama Elisabet making tortilla chips

Aidan and Elliott have joined the dark side

Aidan and Elliott have joined the dark side

 

Pray for Tanzania

October 8, 2008

Three children and one adult that we personally know have, in the past week, been fighting malaria. Sadly, the adult, a man who was helping us get our car out of port, succumbed to the disease and lost his life.

Pray for his family.

Pray for a malaria vaccination (that has been in the works for sometime now) to become available.

Pray that somehow, one of the biggest health threats in this part of Africa would be eradicated.

 

This week, we learned of a precious, fatherless and motherless child living in an orphanage being sexually abused by someone who was supposed to nurture and protect him.

Pray for this little life.

Pray that he would be rescued and that someone WILL protect him.

Pray for the orphans in Tanzania.

 

Yesterday we saw a picture on the front page of a local newspaper in which NINE women in labor shared a space the size of a large walk-in closet – crammed in two beds and lying on the floor of a nearby hospital.

Pray for the women of Tanzania.

Pray for the government in Tanzania to wisely spend the $40 million that was recently designated for the reduction of fetal and maternal fatalities.

 

Please pray for Tanzania.

Mungu ibariki Tanzania.  

God bless Tanzania.