bwana elliott

May 14, 2009

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today is the 5th birthday of our baby, aka (to Tanzanians) ‘bwana elliotti’ or ‘meesta’ elliott.

on saturday we had nine boys here – relay racing, throwing eggs, popping balloons, putting oranges, throwing cream pies at doug and celebrating the wonderfulness that is elliott joel. today the fun continues, as he requested birthday ‘pampcakes’ with sprinkles for breakfast and later we’re going out to the one restaurant in the whole of dar es salaam with an indoor play set and the coolest birthday song hoopla you’ve ever seen.

 we love you, elliott! happy  birthday!

 

let's get this party started! elliott gears up with another plateful

let's get this party started! elliott gears up with another plateful

 

awesome!

awesome!

 

doggie whisperer – elliott is QUITE the dog enthusiast

doggie whisperer – elliott is QUITE the dog enthusiast

 

elliott and asher at judy's school - one of the weekly highlights

elliott and asher at judy's school - one of our weekly highlights

got a moment to pray?

May 2, 2009

Our friend Aloise is so faithful. He serves is so many areas in our church: greeter, collects offering, leads us in prayer. He never asks for a thing even though his life has been quite difficult.

Over the next two weeks he is interviewing on a Tanzanian Premier League football team.  This is the country’s professional level football league. Does he have a good shot at being selected?  I am not sure.  But I know that it would be quite a blessing for him to earn the steady income that would come with this position. Please pray that he performs well and is looked upon favorably.

 

 

Aloise under halo; do you recognize Said? Hum? Who is missing?

Aloise under halo; do you recognize Said? Hum? Who is missing?

 

 

 

Also, please pray for blessing on our church service tomorrow!   

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enjoying a step forward

April 29, 2009

We are preparing for small group tonight.  Last week was a milestone small group for us. Fifteen of our African friends attended and we ran out of chairs.  More than numbers, people are getting involved and taking ownership of the group through praying, serving, teaching, and bringing new worship songs for us to sing.

We lost electricity at the beginning of group so over twenty of us (including our kids who think it is a treat when they get to stay up for worship) were standing around candles in our living room praising God in Swahili.  For us, this is quite powerful.  To start in a country where we were without a home and knew nothing, and to now witness our home filled with people every Wednesday– we have come a long way.  God is good.

smallgroup    

a bit closer for all of us

April 29, 2009

As some of you may know we have had three amazing visitors in the past two months.  First, Lyndi’s sister Nikki and our precious niece Zoe, then, most recently, one of our closest friends and pastor, Patrick Crawford, aka Baba Mkubwa.

Their visits enriched our lives in many ways and one has to do with you.

Their presence, interest and excitement about our lives here in Tanzania have reminded us of the value of staying connected.

Writing on this blog had at times become overwhelming; so much happens in our lives in any given week; how do we possibly explain it in a simple blog post? At times, it has also been difficult because communicating with home means thinking about home and thinking about all we have said goodbye to.

We’ve decided to take our sister’s advice. Keep blogging; connecting, even through a blog, makes 8,000 miles seem a bit closer for all of us.

 

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Said’s Thanks

February 19, 2009

Thank you for your continued interest and support of our efforts.

As we continue to branch out here in Tanzania and God expands our influence through the number of lives we get to be involved in, it is no longer only our family that is encouraged and motivated by your support; it becomes everyone our family has an opportunity to work with here in Dar.

The look on Said’s face was quite memorable when I told him that I am not a wealthy man, but that God has placed me here in Tanzania and I am able to help him with school fees because of the effort, love and support of over one- hundred people.  He is tangibly experiencing God’s love through our effort.  He literally told me so through this story.  

Said’s father died a while ago and last year after his mother was crippled in an accident, he prayed to Jesus that somone would help him with school fees when he returned to Tanzania.  Said is a bright young man who was quite aware that without support he would quickly get  overtaken by the struggling education system in Tanzania that provides little to no opportunity for  advancement if you cannot afford a secondary education.  Primary education (through the equivalent of 7th grade) is free, but the economic dividing line in the country is secondary education, which requires money.  It is humbling, inspiring, and gives me goosebumps to know that God used all of us to answer a 14-year-old boy’s prayer.

Enjoy Said’s Thanks!

February 3, 2009

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Some may wonder what a day looks like for Lyndi and me.  That idea came to my mind on this day, January 27, 2009 at about 5:30 in the evening. I had finished the work segment of my day and was sitting down to read the Tanzanian daily news in my favorite English medium Tanzanian newspaper, which is very appropriately titled This Day. 

 

Mundane and the Magnificent

Musing in my mind, enjoying a good moment before I read, as the kids were playing outside and Lyndi was preparing dinner, I realized that this day was the perfect combination of the mundane, amazing, and frustrating that it is a fairly representative snap shot of what our lives are like now.  Of course there are days that demand a headline because of some exciting cultural moment or some type of adrenaline pumping drama that causes us to pause and remember that we are actually living on another continent over 8, 000 miles away from home.  But other days can be so routine: drop the kids off at school, study Swahili, fix Elliott lunch, pick up the kids from school, make dinner, bathe the kids, put them to bed, do Swahili homework, go to bed.

 

However, today was a good day.  Now, don’t get me wrong; it was not that good, but it was a day caught between routine and amazing.  A day that opened exciting future possibilities, while also illustrating the frustrations of cross-cultural communication.  For this reason, I have decided to write about this day, to capture a bit of its extraordinary mixed with its mediocrity to recreate a bit of what our lives are like.

 

I purchased the newspaper, the one that I was preparing to read when I got the idea to write this, at about 5:00 in the afternoon as I drove home from a revealing yet mildly disappointing three-hour journey.

 

Traffic Lessons

Before going further, I must say that I am quite thankful to have a car as I navigate the city of Dar es Salaam.  Even while blessed with a car, it is very easy to become unthankful because Dar traffic can be frustrating enough to make a grown man whine like a spoiled child three-year old child who wants the candy now but has been forced to wait. Whenever the sharp reality of a public transport bus (or daladala) squeals to a halt beside me, I am always quickly shaken from this fantasy of frustration. Suddenly, from the comfortable view of my music filled, air conditioned car, I see thirty people squeezed tight in a vehicle designed to seat ten and I am quickly reminded that it is not me who should think of crying.

 

Buying and Selling

As I mentioned, making it through traffic on my way home is when I bought the newspaper, which was purchased while I had stopped to buy fresh fruit and vegetables for dinner.  I decided to stop in a small area located just outside of my immediate neighborhood.  Stopping at this location was not the most convenient option, but today I decided that I wanted to continue to challenge myself by doing new things.  Of course buying vegetables was not new, but buying them away from of my neighborhood markets, where people don’t know me, meant that I had to stand on my Swahili alone to get through the transactions.  It also meant that I needed to be convincing enough or else I would receive inflated prices that are often dolled out to tourists.  Pulling up in my 1997 four-door Toyota SUV also would not incline strangers to give me a good price, so I ditched the car in a relatively safe lot (that means there is a security guard visible) and walked into the neighborhood. 

Vendor one—tikiti maji, he was a young teenager and gave me a good price, so I scored the watermelon.  Next vendor, maembe, he quoted the best price I had heard this season, so I purchased two large juicy mangos.  The glory faded a bit at the final stop.  I was losing from the beginning from a lack of confidence because I forgot the Swahili word for green pepper—pilipili hoho! Did this lead to a mzungu (foreigner or white person) price for produce?  I think so, but it was not too bad.  Then on my way out of the market I saw one more challenge—the fish stand.

Facing the Fish

For the past six months I have watched the same men set up their fish stand every evening on the main road that leads to our house.  I have always wanted to buy some fish, but I was always intimidated.  I don’t know the names of the fish and asking too many questions quickly reveals the complete novice level of my Swahili.  But today, for some reason, I decided it must be done and I approached the table. 

Men with large knives were filleting whole fish right on the side of the road.  The man I approached seemed excited for a customer and pointed me toward the large whole fish.  “Elfu kumi na tano” he said holding up a nice size fish that I learned was a red snapper.  This means 15,000 shillings or about $12 for the whole fish, which is much more than I wanted to spend on my first attempt.  I moved to where a man was cutting thick red snapper steaks with quick chops of a large but dull machete.  I asked, “Bei gani?” or how much?  The price for one thick steak—“elfu nne” or just under three US dollars.  I decided to go for it. Although I did not get the best price, I walked back to my car with a small black plastic bag full of fresh Indian Ocean snapper, feeling that another area I once feared had now been conquered.

I guess conquered is a strong word, experienced might be more appropriate; yes, another unknown part of Tanzanian culture I have experienced, and, in addition, we can now have fresh fish for dinner whenever we want. It was during this semi-victorious walk back to the car that I bought the newspaper that I was reading when I got inspired to write about this day.

Back to the Start

Now I rewind back to the beginning to the morning of this day. Before heading out on this three- hour journey that culminated with the previously described culinary acquisitions, I was entangled in cross-cultural miscommunication. 

The Cell Phone—Tanzania’s Drug of Choice

The cell phone has certainly had positive effects on industry and communication in Africa.  But the system, devised to make cell phones affordable to the very poor, while also allowing the phone companies to earn obnoxious profit, also exacerbates the difficulties of cross-cultural communication.  A good question after reading that sentence might be, “How so?” 

Well, here is the heart of the problem.  Airtime is purchased on mini scratch off cards that reveal a secret code users punch into the phone.  These cards can be purchased in ridiculously small denominations, as small as 1000 shillings (about 80 cents) so that people from all walks of life can afford to buy them; however, using the airtime is the problem; one minute of airtime can cost up to 700 shillings a minute. 

A drug dealing metaphor comes to mind every time I think of this system that preys upon the poor.  Through mass advertizing companies get people hooked on the drug of instant communication, then the product is “cut” into doses small enough that all can afford a small communication fix, but no one ever gets enough.  The craving keeps calling people back for more.

Outrageous phone charges affected my communication on this morning similarly to how phone calls are often disrupted in Dar; it is the awkwardly abrupt cut off without warning. As a result, I often receive twenty-second calls from Swahili speakers and I have to try to discern what they are communicating before the call cuts off and I am left wondering, what in the heck just happened!   

Mapping the Quest of Cross-Cultural Communication

Now back to this day. While talking with a Tanzanian about the directions I needed for my journey, his phone ran out of credit and sharply our conversation ended. When I called him back, is when my phone ran out of credit.  So, I called him again from our landline, which is less expensive, and we were finally able to communicate.  Unfortunately our communication difficulties did not end here; phone communication is simply an added layer on the already complex realities of cross-cultural communication.

It was to my advantage that the man I was communicating with was a Tanzanian who speaks English quite well, so language was not the issue.  The communication hurdle at hand was getting directions in a culture that has very few road signs.  I needed to remember markers such as “the place where they make furniture,” “the petrol station,” and the best one “turn right at the sign that reads ‘equal opportunity for all’. ”  Once I had at least a little confidence that I might be able to find him, we said goodbye and I prayed for God’s directional blessings as I got in the car.  The previously described victorious purchase of the produce, fish, and newspaper was the culmination of heading off on this journey that I knew might get me lost.

Goal 1: Meet Coach A

As I got in my car on that morning, I set out with three goals.  The first was to meet up with my acquaintance, Coach Aluko, who is the coach and founder of the Dar es Salaam Youth Olympic Center.  The name of the center conjures up freshly groomed football (US soccer) fields and elaborate training facilities.  The reality is that the 120 some kids who compose this program are looking to football as a means of advancement or at least discipline and direction in their lives.  Because of some outside Danish support, several of these children are now attending school. In addition to the schooling and the discipline of soccer training, at least thirty of these boys now have a home because of DYOC.  The DYOC hostel is very humble; it does not have running water, but it provides a roof and a sense of community for these adolescent boys who are either orphans or their families are not able to support them.  Coach Aluko founded and oversees this whole operation.

Goal 2: Investing in the Future

With this backdrop the broad scope of my second goal and why I was very excited for this safari (by using this word I simply mean trip) can now be understood.  After meeting Aluko, we were to travel to Ebenezer Secondary School to discuss the details of school fees for a young man currently living in the DYOC hostel who has no means to attend school. 

Without school fees it is impossible to advance your station in life through the education system in Tanzania.  Primary school, equivalent to up to grade eight, is provided through government-funded public schools.  But to advance to Secondary, two barriers must be crossed—a test and school fees.  Lyndi and I decided that investing money that has been entrusted to us by our supporters to pay school fees for a bright, young fourteen-year-old Tanzanian boy named Said, was money well spent.  Arranging the details for this to occur was my second goal for this day.

You can read endless books that debate the ideology surrounding money from the west and African development, but I believe God’s love is not boxed in by these ideologies and investing in young people’s education is always sustainable development. So many possibilities emerge from one life becoming educated combined with God’s limitless potential to use that growth and development in one life, for His purposes in the lives of other Tanzanians.  The impact is not sudden; jubilant headlines won’t be written about it, but the impact cannot be denied by anyone with faith that God is at work through the lives of humanity.

Goal 3: Getting There Alone!

Therefore the opportunity to travel to the other side of Dar and make arrangements for two young men to be educated is quite exciting.  The location of my destination and the length of the journey bring me to my third goal for this trip. 

When living in a new country, especially a developing country, there is a slow but continual process of becoming more and more independent in living life in what often feels like a new world, not just another country.  For example, when we first arrived in Dar we were not even able to brush our teeth or sleep independently because we had to learn a new process for both without risking illness.  Over the past six months we have continued to reach new milestones similar to the story of the fish purchase.

My third goal for this safari involved achieving another first.  I wanted to be able to drive to Chang’ombe alone.  This is the neighborhood of the DYOC hostel.  Driving to another neighborhood may seem insignificant, but getting to Chang’ombe requires passing through at least three major intersections and each intersection could cause traffic to be backed up for at least 15 minutes at a time. Additionally, just remembering directions in a country where everything you see all day long is new, makes finding new locations quite difficult.

Thankfully, this goal was achieved.  I made it to the hostel with only minimal directional assistance from Coach Aluko. Then we were off to Ebenezer Secondary School to help put a young man named Said in school.

What the Journey Means

Much more could be written about the details of our trip to the school, but there have been many details and my mind is tired of writing.  The bottom line is that this day, just like many since I have been living in Tanzania, came to an end with only the two more secondary goals being completed.  That is why I felt like this day was representative of our lives here.  It is not a “share the glory” story.  It is a reality story. I did meet Coach Aluko and I did learn how to drive independently to Chang’ombe, but the head of school was not present at Ebenezer. It was very easy to begin to feel that the whole trip was pointless.  For without him, no school fees could be paid and no progress could be made. But feeling this way about the trip is only one way of thinking, which I am slowly learning to understand since living here for almost seven months. 

I am learning to focus more on the fact that the secondary goals were achieved and feeling thankful that through the process of this journey I discovered something important that, before the experience of this trip, I would not have even thought to set as a goal. Although I did not plan or anticipate the importance of it, I realized during and after this trip that I got to know Coach Aluko.  Only by going on this possibly deemed “unsuccessful trip” did I realize that I really needed to know Aluko better so that our dealings could be more comfortable.

To get frustrated about not achieving goals that I established in advance, not knowing the details of the reality I was entering, is not time well spent. Even the most well crafted goals are a bit arbitrary by nature because goals always involve aspects of life that cannot be controlled, and I am beginning to realize that more parts of life fall under this category than I ever thought before.  

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The entrance to Ebenezer.

 

Though no school fees were paid, this day was progress; it was a step forward. 

Fruit from the Journey

On a new day, February 2nd to be exact, I arrived much more confidently in Chang’ombe; I felt much more comfortable with Coach Aluko and this time the head of school was there.  And not only that, the head of school generously granted a discount rate to students from DYOC because they all come from very difficult circumstances. So, because of the funds so many supporters have provided, we were able to pay school fees for two fourteen-year-old boys, not just one.  

 As we continue to live in Tanzania we have faith that each day will build on the next and that we will learn and grow from our experiences and that our efforts will combine to create impact as God leads and blesses our work.

 

 

Said, a Ebenezer School Representative, and Coach A. (in the hat) as the fees were paid.

Said, a Ebenezer School Representative, and Coach A. (in the hat) as the fees were paid.

 

 

December 26, 2008

krismas njema na heri ya mwaka mpya!  

(merry christmas and happy new year!)

 

well, once again it’s been a month since we’ve shared some of our daily experiences. rather than writing a novel, we thought it best to post a pictorial summary of the past month. enjoy!

 

with the help of play it forward and our supporters, our team donated much needed soccer jerseys, shorts, water and balls to the youth of DYOC

with the help of play it forward and our supporters, our team donated much needed soccer jerseys, shorts, water and balls to the youth of DYOC

 

many of the 120 youth from this organization were once homeless or abandoned. it has been a blessing for us and our teammates to have an ongoing relationship with them.

many of the 120 youth from this organization were once homeless or abandoned. it has been a blessing for us and our teammates to have an ongoing relationship with them.

 

 

tanzanian culture 101 - we attended the wedding of our friend, alois and his stunning bride, jeni. the ceremony was LONG and we had a blast!

tanzanian culture 101 - we attended the wedding of our friend, alois and his stunning bride, jeni. the ceremony was LONG and we had a blast!

 

 

we went to a neighborhood just outside the city for the wedding. everyone at the small, dirt floored church was SO welcoming to us and surprised that 'these wazungu' even like the food here! we loved it and the kids did, too.

we went to a neighborhood just outside the city for the wedding. everyone at the small, dirt floored church was SO welcoming to us and surprised that 'these wazungu' even like the food here! we loved it and the kids did, too. hongera alois and jeni!

 

doug made barbells and dumbells out of wooden poles, concrete, and our empty water jugs! he used our luggage scale to estimate the weight. now THAT's a guy determined to stay in shape.

he's crafty: doug made barbells and dumbells out of wooden poles, concrete, and our empty water jugs! he used our luggage scale to calculate the weight. now THAT's a guy determined to stay in shape.

 

of course, we decked the halls! it may be 95 degrees, but it's still christmas! we put up our first fake tree ever and got out some good old staples from christmas' past that made the cut in our luggage.

of course, we decked the halls! it may be 95 degrees, but it's still christmas! we put up our first fake tree ever and got out some good old staples from christmas' past that made the cut in our luggage.

 

 we even organized a cookie exchange - memories of doug's days at TWHS! here is elliott working hard on his gingerbread man. we had a great time baking (in the sweltering heat) and we've been eating wonderfully yummie, homemade christmas cookies

we even organized a cookie exchange - memories of doug's days at TWHS! here is elliott working hard on his gingerbread man. we had a great time baking (in the sweltering heat) and we've been eating wonderfully yummie, homemade christmas cookies

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

doug and the coaches from DYOC - george, brown and aluko

doug and the coaches from DYOC - george, brown and aluko

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

last saturday our team had a holiday party and invited many of our tanzanian friends. ben and melissa hosted over 50 people – we talked, ate, and had fun celebrating with our many new friends.

Our dapper neighbors and friends who joined us at the party.

Our neighbors and friends who joined us at the party.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

lyndi and stela at the christmas party

lyndi and stela at the christmas party

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

swahili teachers, friends and tanzanian team members

swahili teachers, friends and tanzanian team members

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

lyndi captured the moment on film.

the good: doug buying 25 kilos of corn flour for the boys who live at the DYOC hostel. the bad: he thought he was buying 25 kilos of rice. the ugly: lyndi captured the moment on film.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

visiting the DYOC hostel

visiting the DYOC hostel

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

jude nathan enjoyed wrangling the boys’ christmas goat!  mbuzi choma!  (grilled goat)

jude nathan enjoyed wrangling the boys’ christmas goat! mbuzi choma! (grilled goat)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

this young man plays soccer for DYOC and voluntarily cooks every meal for over 35 youth.  one day he wants to cook professionally; for now, this is his kitchen.

this young man plays soccer for DYOC and voluntarily cooks every meal for over 35 youth. one day he wants to cook professionally; for now, this is his kitchen.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

the boys are proud of their new jerseys and that they are 3-0 since they started wearing them.

the boys are proud of their new jerseys and that they are 3-0 since they started wearing them.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

our team distributes christmas goodies to the boys living at the hostel.

our team distributes christmas goodies to the boys living at the hostel.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

new shoestrings, socks, candy bars, and many kilos of rice, beans, sugar, wheat flour, 25 kilos of corn flour! (thanks to doug’s “learning experience”), and mafuta (cooking oil)-  the boys were happy and thankful!

new shoestrings, socks, candy bars, and many kilos of rice, beans, sugar, wheat flour, 25 kilos of corn flour! (thanks to doug’s “learning experience”), and mafuta (cooking oil)- the boys were happy and thankful!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

aidan watching our first DYOC soccer game from a tree.

aidan watching our first DYOC soccer game from a tree.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

our pre-christmas eve trip to the central fish market—quite an experience!  yes, that is a 30 lb. grouper you see on the table!

our pre-christmas eve trip to the central fish market—quite an experience! yes, that is a 30 lb. grouper you see on the table!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

the shark was like kryptonite to superman!

the shark was like kryptonite to superman!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

thanks to our loving family and friends aidan and elliott got to open many gifts on christmas.  shirts were not needed this year!

thanks to our loving family and friends aidan and elliott got to open many gifts on christmas. shirts were not needed this year!

dad’s shopping skills have improved a bit.  he bought this bike on the street and even managed to get the seller, who is know for being quite stubborn, to punguza bei (reduce the price) 5,000 shillings, about 4.50 USD.  aidan is learning to ride.

dad’s shopping skills have improved a bit. he bought this bike on the street and even managed to get the seller, who is know for being quite stubborn, to punguza bei (reduce the price) 5,000 shillings, about 4.50 USD. aidan is learning to ride.

elliott rode his bike around the house all of christmas morning.

elliott rode his bike around the house all of christmas morning.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

tanzania team (minus the lyatuus who were visiting family) enjoy christmas dinner at nyumbani kwetu (our house).

tanzania team (minus the lyatuus who were visiting family) enjoy christmas dinner at nyumbani kwetu (our house).

 

 

 

the tanzania team kiddos after a game of charades

the tanzania team kiddos after a game of charades

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

merry christmas!

merry christmas!

November 23, 2008

 

it’s been quite an eventful three weeks in the buckley household.

here are some of the highlights:

first things first – nearly three weeks ago, the American people elected a new president! still, everywhere we go, the first thing most people want to talk about is obama – the next president of the united states. we’ve seen t-shirts (‘tanzanians for obama’), kangas and heard many a radio segment on the newly elected president with African roots. we had plans on the morning of the 5th to head over to the embassy and catch some of the highlights, but were stuck in our house, unable to get beyond our driveway.

 

Obama in Tanzania
obama kanga in tanzania
yes, we were stuck in our house. our driveway had been washed away by another rainstorm that lasted nearly a day. there was literally a three to four feet drop off from the main road to our gravel driveway. this rainstorm was like nothing we have ever seen or heard. the thunder that bellowed through the night felt like it was going to knock our house down. our neighbor that we mentioned in our last post actually had to send his family away and slept on his rooftop; it was crazy.

we watched the rain and wondered how much longer it could fall with our good friends phil and judy niemie, a couple that we appreciate and love so much, who are our newly-arrived teammates that we welcomed on november 3rd. we are so excited to have them here and delighted to be on this journey with them.

Niemies land in Dar!
Niemies land in Dar!

 

in other news, aidan’s nose was broken as he fell THROUGH the playground equipment at school. although he had a lot of pain and a swollen nose and upper lip for several days as well as doctors and x-ray technicians touching and assessing him, thanks to the prayers of our amazing family and friends – he is doing MUCH better! he’s back to playing outside and you cannot even tell by looking at him that his nose was broken. he has remained upbeat and did not even want to miss the day of school following the incident (although he had to take that day and the rest of the week off). we are so thankful for all of you who prayed for him and continue to do so.

 

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another notable event was the arrival of my mom. she came on november 9th and we had the pleasure of her company for twelve days. she was here when aidan broke his nose, which helped him and helped us as we went to all of the doctor appointments. and of course, we all had such fun with her. she brought so many things that we enjoyed (and will continue to enjoy for months to come!) during her stay – gifts sent from our wonderful family and friends, activities to enjoy (for future days when we’re stuck in our house during the rain), fun food that we miss (thank you williams!), and so much life and encouragement. we loved our time with her and on this hot sunday in november – the week of thanksgiving – we are truly thankful for her, our mom and grandma. 

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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