Me with my sponsored children

Me with my sponsored children
Me with my sponsored children

Thursday, June 28, 2012

The good-byes continue

Sunday were my goodbyes at church. Vineyard Arusha is the church for many ex-pats and NGO's and their volunteers and staff, so a part of every week's announcements is, "Is anyone new here today at Vineyard?" Sadly, another part is ,"Is this anyone's last Sunday with us at Vineyard?" This past Sunday, I had to raise my hand. The person doing the announcements said, "Oh, how sad." Many hugs and goodbyes after that. Tuesday night was goodbyes at Home Group, my weekly Bble Study group. Those people are really like family. We meet in someone's house, usually my TZ friend Janeth's, eat together, pray together, laugh a lot together, even cry together. I had gifts to give them, and they had a gift for me, we took pictures, they prayed for me, more hugs. Janeth asked me afterwards if we could get together Wednesday because she had a gift for me, but she hadn't bought it, yet. So, yesterday, I said goodbye to the teachers at Joshua Primary School, which was hard. I didn't technically say goodbye to my preschoolers because there's a group of teenagers here this week from NZ, and they are busy with them, so I left them alone more than usual. I met Janeth for ice cream (mango sorbet!) and more goodbyes, then went to Imara and said goodbye there. That was really hard. I hadn't told my friend Miriam I was leaving, and even though she's leaving Imara, it was a shock to her that I'm leaving TZ altogether! So, a few tears there. My friend Jenny called this morning to say goodbye, and Carly will come out to Joshua in a little while. Last night was dinner with Josh and Renee and Sarah and Don, I've been saying goodbye to people on base as I see them, and Sarah and I will go see the base workers at lunch (and take crates of soda for our present to them) and say goodbye there. We also have to say goodbye to our house girl today, and that will be sad, too. I read just the other day that in Heaven we won't ever have to say goodbye. So glad!

Monday, June 25, 2012

Goodbyes begin

Friday I went to Karanse for the first, and possibly hardest, of my TZ goodbyes. One of the many things I have learned this time around is that I‘m not the only one who needs the closure of goodbyes. Godfrey had told me to give him a couple of days’ notice before coming out, and I did. Carly and I went (in time for morning tea, of course!); she went to preschool, and I went to meet with Godfrey. I had presents and had meant to write all of the teachers’ notes, but somehow forgot to actually do it. So after my meeting with Godfrey I went to the dining hall to write notes, and interrupted the decorating! As we had arrived, I had heard a drum and singing, but decided not to ask too many questions, so I also pretended to ignore the decorating! Godfrey came in and told me the plan, as they brought in all the benches, rearranged the furniture, etc. The children would eat lunch, then everyone would gather in the dining hall for the farewell ceremonies, then the teachers and honored guests would eat. The ceremony was so lovely, without being overly maudlin. The children sang songs (good byes and telling all about Mama Karanse!), there was dancing by the children, and even the teachers danced and sang as they presented me with gifts. I had already seen Debora John and given her new shoes and a big hug, but Aneri and I couldn’t even make eye contact without tearing up, which was really sad. After all of their speeches, songs, and dances, it was my turn. The last time I had to do this I cried through the whole thing, but this was much easier, as it didn’t feel so final. I realize there’s an open door, so to speak, for my return, in whatever capacity God sees fit for me to come back. The last time I left, it just felt so final, but I realize that’s just not the case. Though my big gift will be curtains for the computer lab, I presented the school with a beautifully framed poster about using their gifts and talents well, as God gave them as gifts to them in the first place. Then I gave each of the teachers framed verses about building houses filled with beautiful treasures. Just after all of that, I asked Abraham to go get Aneri for me so I could say goodbye to him in private. We both were so close to tears, but it was necessary for us to have that time. A wonderful lunch, more goodbyes to each teacher, then Carly and I left. It was really good that she came, as she was my official photographer of the event! As soon as I get my memory stick with pictures from her, I’ll add them, too. More goodbyes to come, but I can make it through all of those with this one under my belt.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Roller coaster week

The week started off great. After a good day at the safari lodge, then a great safari with the Perimeter team, I was back in Arusha in my own bed for a night. Team worship on Sunday night, preschool on Monday, then off to meet the team for a good-bye lunch. I decided to go to the ATM and get out money for the week, and that's when the downward part started. I found out my ATM card had just expired! While there are other ways to get money here (as I found out during various phone calls to both my banks), they are all either difficult or expensive or both. During that minor (?) crisis, Catherine, from the team from Arizona, and I were texting, callng, and emailing to figure out what the 4 of them who stayed behind when their team left wanted to do. They'd asked me to go along, drive, etc. and said they'd pay for my gas and lodging. At 9:00 that night, we all decided on Pangani, which is on the coast and I've never been there but heard great things about it. I grabbed a map and a guidebook, got hotel reccomendations, and we were off by 8:30 the next morning! We had been told it was a 6-8 hour trip, but we managed to make it in 15! Three one hour stops along the way for car "repairs," with about 20 various Tanzanian men to help, a ferry boat ride at 10:30 p.m. with a stretcher being carried by 4 men in gloves holding a dead body, several phone calls to the hotel saying we were still coming but weren't there, yet, my fuel light going on at least 15 km from the hotel, finally gettng so frustrated at not finding the place that we took a security guard from a neighboring hotel along with us to show us the way! Fell into bed before midnight, completely exhausted! Then 2 days on the upward part of the roller coaster: sun, a pool, right on the beach, great food, a boat ride and snorkelling, sleeping to the sound of the waves and wind, lots of exercise and reading, just perfect. Friday dawned beautful and warm and went back downhill! My car went into reverse to get out of our parking space, into drive, then never moved again. Even when we stopped for bathroom breaks or to get gas, I couldn't put it into park or turn off the engine. Along with that were the rdiculous number of police stops for fire extingusher checks, a seatbelt check, and finally a speeding stop. I had argued and gotten away with not paying at the other stops, but by the time I got pulled over for speeding, I had just had it and paid the 30,000 Tsh (about $20), but I did ask for the paper copy of the ticket. A miracle happened here. (Unfortunately TZ police are known to be largely corrupt, often pulling people to ask for money for food, a ride somewhere, etc.) The policeman went to get the paperwork and brought back another officer. He asked me where we were coming from, going to, etc., and when I told him I had wageni (visitors) who had to go back to America the next day, he said, "The United States of America?" I said yes, and he said, "Let me say we are sorry," and he handed me back the 30,000! This is unheard of - a policeman apologizing and returning money! I guess he wanted Americans to have a favorable opinion of TZ! The return trip only took 11 hours, and when we got back to where I was leaving the visitors (my friends' Jenny and Carly's place) I knew I couldn't go any further, even 45 minutes home. So I turned off the car (still in drive), locked it with my remote, and was done. The next morning a fundi (trained worker in some area) we know and trust came to look at the car. My only moment of worry was when he asked, "How are you going to start it?" I thought though, that's why you're here! Jenny has bought a new car but not sold her old one, so she loaned me her old car. I haven't heard from the fundi, but managed to get home and to church today, so I'm happy about that. Last downward slope of the roller coaster came yesterday afternoon. I set up on-line banking as I may need that for some financial stuff involving my ATM card and resolving my temporary financial crisis, and I went on-line to check balances, etc. Only to fnd out over the last 2 months someone has hacked into my account and stolen a huge amount of money! Trying to get that resolved from TZ won't be easy, so my friend Russ and my mother spent large parts of yesterday trying to track that all down. I've broken out in a rash, which I'm pretty sure is stress-related! I know God has a plan, is still in control, and is bigger than all these situations, but I'll still be glad when it's all resolved!!

Friday, June 8, 2012

Week in Karanse with the Perimeter team

Just got back yesterday from a week in Karanse with Carter’s team. So very special that “my” last team here was led by a former student of mine! We’ve been here in TZ together before, but this is the first team he’s led, and we’ve enjoyed the week so much. Last Saturday we were at the school for Compassion Saturday, where the Compassion-sponsored children, many of whom don’t go to our school, come for their Christian training, kind of like Sunday school, except on Saturday and at school not church. During the morning, I was sitting with some preschoolers, and they started to sing a song I hadn’t heard before. The only words I heard were, “I am not forgotten. I am not forgotten.” I assumed it was about not being forgotten by God, and it really touched me. These sweet little children in an unknown village in Africa aren’t forgotten by God. After lunch at the school on Saturday, we went on sponsored children visits with the team. We went to see 3 of their sponsored children at home, and those are always such touching times. Sarah, one of the college girls on the team, was given a chicken by her sponsored child’s family, and the other 2 visits were equally sweet. Sunday was a great worship service. We all share our testimonies or something God has been teaching us, and I used what I had heard from the children the day before. I told them it was my last time at church so I thought that meant I could speak a little longer and tell them what was on my heart for them. I used the children’s song to remind them they are not forgotten by God, either. There was a sort of subtext, for me, as I know I won’t forget them, either, and I am hopeful they won’t forget me. Another lunch at the school, then a few widows’ visits. We went to see the Flower Bibi, the lady who throws flowers during worship at the church to show her Amen to what is being said. She had not been at church that morning, and we had missed her. She could not have not been more thrilled to see us. The 2 other widows we visited were similarly touched and grateful. They think they are the ones blessed by our visits, but we are always the ones who walk away knowing we have learned lessons about humility and gratitude. On the way home, Godfrey was driving, and he said, “Miriam, there’s Jordan.” I was trying to figure out who that was, when I saw him. Jordan’s family gave us our first chicken on our first trip here, and I’ve known him since the beginning. He’s now in his third year of secondary (high) school. He took one look and shouted, “Miriam!” I waved and yelled out the window to him, too. My morning’s message came back to me; I am not forgotten, either. The rest of the week I read stories and did crafts projects in classrooms, met with Godfrey, then with Pastor, Godfrey, Rachel, and Elijah about the new library/admin building under discussion. Also, we planted trees, with the help of the fathers’ group, went to Wednesday morning devotions, gave out sponsored children gifts, and one of my favorites, dedicated the computer room. Godfrey had asked me to give a short speech on “Why a computer lab,” and I think that went well. I also got to see my Deborah John’s daddy, and we did our usual effusive greetings! Can’t wait till heaven when we can actually talk to each other! He speaks Swahili to me, and I speak baby Swahili to him, and we hug and grin and shake hands. It’s always very special to see him. Another first of the week was hearing the school song they have written! Very delightful to hear them sing about this school they love! Bittersweet good-byes as I didn’t have to say final good-byes like the team did, but I know mine are coming.

Monday, May 21, 2012

When it’s especially good to know some Swahili!

Since I’ve been in preschool the past 3 weeks, I’ve listened to lots of Swahili, and I definitely know the words for, “Stop, No, Write, Listen, How are you,” etc. But, my favorite came the other day. Little Juven was outside playing on a bike, and I was hanging around watching several of the children. I heard him to say to another little boy, “Teacher Miriam, nampenda,” which is, “I love Teacher Miriam.” So glad I understood that!

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Saidi to the rescue, again!

You may not remember that my car has a name, as do all my cars. This one’s name is Saidi, which is “help” in Swahili. I named it that almost time I knew it was my car, as I knew what a big help it would be here. Today was another one of those times. As a partial digression: at our house we have a solar water heater with an electric back-up. Since it’s the rainy season, we haven’t had enough sun lately to heat our water, and apparently the back-up isn’t working, so we’ve been heating kettles of water every morning and taking bucket baths. However, this morning, after 2 pretty sunny days, I actually had warm water for my shower, and I got in without having to wait for my (at the moment) 5 housemates to finish with the shower! I had a lovely shower and had come down to the kitchen to make a cup of tea and begin a leisurely Sunday morning getting ready for church when… Corinne, one of the other mentors, came in and said Samwelli, one of our TZ security guards’ wife was about to give birth and could I… she just left it hanging, but I knew she meant could I take them to the hospital? I told her to tell him I needed 5 minutes, and I rushed upstairs, dressed, put on make-up, grabbed what I‘d need for church, grabbed my tea, and was out the door. It was drizzling a bit, but not enough to make the road any worse, and he and I took off to get his wife. She and her friends were walking (!) down the road to meet us, so I picked up 3 of them and we were off. As bad as the road usually is, it felt even worse today with a very pregnant mama in the back seat! I actually prayed I’d miss most of the potholes! No trouble, and we made it to the hospital with time to spare (as she didn’t have the baby in my car!), and Samwelli had the biggest grin when they all got out of the car! Can’t wait to hear what they had. You can’t make this stuff up!

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

My "commute" this month

I thought about this just yesterday and decided to share it. Since I'm working in the preschool at Joshua this month, my commute is about a 5 minute's walk! Of course, it is the rainy season, so it does involve "gum boots," but it's still a great way to get to work! I sleep in till about 7:15, shower, dress, read my Bible, make up my bed, have the first cup of tea, put the rest in a travel mug (!), and am on my way. I pass workers just coming on to work, exchange greetings, and usually arrive to the sound of the children singing at devotions. On clear days, which we haven't had any of, I could see Mount Meru rising on my left, but she's gone for now most of the day. Beats sitting in traffic, that's for sure!