Thursday, January 24, 2013


Morning Everybody! I want to let you know that I will gradually begin switching over to only using my Wordpress blog over these next few weeks. I have found that I am now posting the exact same things to each, but the design elements are superior on wordpress. So why don't we all come together there?
The address is  I look forward to seeing your pageviews and comments there. Asante sana! (thank you very much)
I'll post this message again in a few days for my not-so-regular viewers to see the message as well.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Sunday Philosophies

This Sunday’s church service was really different and pretty remarkable. We started with the worship group as usual, but this Sunday they were just so on it! They were mostly New Life kids and I was so amazed by their skill. All the instrumentalists could play every instrument, and the lead singer was this girl, Jane, who I have taught before and I had no idea what a stunning voice she had. Strong, deep, and gentle…man, I was blown away. If that wasn’t enough one of most popular gospel singers in Tanzania, Upendo Kilahiro, joined the musicians for the last few songs, as she was in town from the Uzima Launch Conference that ended the day before. Maybe this incredible musical energy fed the sermon to equal its strength.
The sermon was about prophecy. Baba preached a very short sermon about Saul from the Corinthians. He shared a bible story about how one time Saul couldn’t find his donkeys, so he asked God where they were. When his neighbor and family did not know, he turned to God. Baba theorized that God lost the donkeys on purpose so that Saul could be found. Saul was not a perfect man – he had performed many a sin and did not always rely on the Lord. But God put him in a place of need so that He could help Saul out in a far greater way than just helping him locate the donkeys.
God lost the donkeys so Saul could be found. This presents a different perspective on an element of faith that has always bothered me: we are most likely to look to God in a time of need.
A few years back, my Mom’s only sister passed away. She was young and lively, a big part of our lives. I remember when I found out I was shocked and confused, so I began to pray to God for the first time in a long time. I grew instantly angry with myself for falling into the illusive trap of faith. I, who had chosen for the past few years to not prioritize faith, was suddenly praying my heart away because it was convenient; it was the only answer I had left. Just like Ancient Greeks and Romans used their Gods to explain elements they struggled to understand such as rain, light, and tidal patterns, I used my God to help me grasp death at a young age. I was angry with myself for depending upon the comfortable illusion that my confusion could be accurately reasoned by a higher power. We learned thousands of years later that science was the true answer to the prayers of the polytheistic ancients, so why should it be any different for me?
Well maybe there is more than one explanation for the weather. Maybe science handles that which can be explained, now or in the future, but all else is really in the hands of someone or something else.
Maybe, there’s a great finger pushing around the chess pieces so that every now and then, when we get knocked down in some way or another and are forced the look up and say, “Who did that? And why?” But maybe that Finger isn’t even asking us to look up. Maybe It wants us to look around too. Saul went first to his family and friends. I joined my family and friends in mourning when we faced the loss of my aunt. Maybe a primary part of being found stretches beyond our relationship with that Finger and into our relationships with those around us. We are all familiar with the idea that pain and suffering draws us closer, but what if it doesn’t end there? What if that’s the whole point of the pain to begin with?

Monday, January 21, 2013

Sick of Kili Yet? I'm not!

On the way to work this morning, I was graced with this stunning sight. Usually, on a cloudy day you can't see Kili, but the mountain was gorgeously framed by these clouds this morning. Princely snapped a pic with my phone as we were walking

Culture Blurb: Buffet Style Meals

This is a small cultural difference that I hardly noticed until last night. I was thinking about how, through my blog, I hope to provide snippets, like short video clips, for people back home to get a taste of my experience. So last night I was thinking, they probably have a misunderstanding of what dinner looks like, because it is similar, but not quite like dinner at home.
Everything is served buffet style to a degree. The larger the event, the more buffet it is. For example, each night at dinner, we cook the food and then bring it onto this small glass table in the living room. There are two big comfy chairs, a couch for two, and a regular chair that we position around the food table at dinner. We stack the plates with the spoons atop (Tanzanians don’t often use forks) next to the food. Guests eat first, then men, then children, then women. For the first few weeks, this meant that I ate first, but now I count as a woman, which I am quite proud of. Often times the wife serves the man and the children food. Like any buffet, you go down the line and take your food. We don’t eat at a table, rather on the arm of the chair or our laps.
When there are many guests, we take out many tables and eat outside with a full buffet table. I guess the buffet style is just more space and material efficient, but I thought I should clarify that we eat both lunch and dinner buffet style each day.
Even at the mzungu gatherings we go buffet style

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Open Air

“Yo, yo listen up my brothers and my sister. Today I am going on a trip to AC, yeah you heard me de A-city Arusha Town yao. And when I go, you know I’m going to bring…” Florence takes a deep breath before he begins delegating the items he’ll bring for each person, “An apple, a ball, yee, a cat, a dolphin for you my friend, an epo for you, and for myself imma bring…a frog.”
“A what?”
“No, before that.”
“An epo…”
“As in apple?”
All the guys began laughing and lightly teasing Florence for switching to Swahili.
“Bro, I said an elephant, not epo” Kelvin chimed in, between laughs.
As we played from there on out, whenever someone got to E, we all said Epo instead of Elephant, and had a good laugh over it.

Last night after the conference was over, Princely and I rode in the New Life truck to get home. The truck has been running since the 1970s and many times the passenger door opens during the drive, but by some miracle, the truck runs steadily. The open back is often used to carry both people and heavy machinery or materials. Last night we used it to carry the Uzima musical equipment from the conference to the church. After all the instruments were emptied and we were on our way back to New Life, Princely and I hopped in the back of the truck with six New Life students. A fuss was made about me getting back there, “No, no it’s too uncomfortable, sit in the front sit in the front.” But in fact I had a blast.
I showed them the game that I usually play in car rides with my family. The first person says, “I’m going on a vacation to _______ and I’m going to bring (something that begins with an A).” Then the next person says the item from the first person that begins with an A, and adds their own item that begins with a B, and so forth through the whole alphabet. It’s a memory game of sorts.
Had I suggested it to my friends at home, they probably wouldn’t have been interested. But last night, I got the perfect mix where the guys were eager to play, but then they were still goofy and boyish, pretending to act all thug as we played.
It was one of my favorite moments since I have been back because I was able to actually connect with the students on a friend level, which was something I was somewhat nervous to do last time. I thought it was more important to maintain a sense of authority over them, instead of being peers. But we can be both, I think, because I know that if any of them came to me and had something to teach me, I would listen to them. Therefore when Pri and I go to their classes and teach them, they will listen even if they view us as peers.

When they all got out of the truck at New Life, they greeted me goodnight with a “Usikumwema Dada” Sleep tight sister instead of the usual, “Goodbye Madame” and a casual handshake-hug thing as opposed to an actual handshake. As Princely and I rode in the back on the way home, I was all smiles the whole way. He gave me a congratulatory squeeze on my shoulder and without a word he understood.

Friday, January 18, 2013

1, 2, Catch Up

Before I crawl into bed, I will write a quick word about the conference. It started Thursday and today we finished our second of three days. It’s been smaller, far smaller, than we expected, but really great. The first day we had some wonderful speakers and heard beautiful testimonies. Today we had Tanzanian starlight Upendo to join us as a lead singer during worship. We also focused more directly on the Uzima Crisis Pregnancy Center today and shared much information about abortion and the need to raise awareness against it.
(Side note: In one of my college essays, I wrote about how my time in Tanzania has affected my view on the Pro-Choice Pro-Life debate…I’ll have to post about that here sometime soon.)
We decided that this rise against abortion will be one of our key focuses for 2013 and in fact even gained a Muslim business partner today, which is incredible for a Tanzanian Christian organization.
Each day I am learning so much (besides how to speak fluent Swahili which is a bit of a drawback because the conference is mostly in Swahili) and becoming so comfortable. It feels like I’ve been here for so much more than a week because I feel an increased sense of independence as I begin to really find my place in this organization, this culture, this community, and this family without leaning on others for support all the time.
I apologize for the vague nature of this post, hopefully I will soon supplement it with a fun story to support one of the many inspirations I have experienced this week.
Uskumeza! (Sleep tight)

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Along the Beaten Path

I was walking through downtown Moshi the other day and this stunning waiting-to-be-a-picture view was literally right on the path. Sometimes the hidden wonders of this town aren't so hidden at all