Mikumi National Park

Saturday, July 14, 2012

In Moments Like These

It is nights like last night that make me want to stay in Africa forever. Mornings like this morning make me rejoice that we are moving home soon.

Last night some wonderful friends came over for dinner. Their four kids plus our three proved to be a great time. We enjoyed good food, had great conversation and laughed at each other out loud. We had serious discussion about our faith and our work. We laughed at each other (OK, mostly we laughed at Jeff) as we played with the kids and made funny voices. I promise he can sound just like the black preacher on "What's in the Bible". Which is funny since he preaches in Tanzanian churches on a regular basis. 

We have plenty to talk about. The men's work is totally different but they share some of the same struggles. Jeff and Wendy are missionaries with the Assembly of God church. Jeff teaches at the Bible College, digs water wells, build churches, coordinates with the convention in the US and a myriad of other things. He is one busy man. Wendy home schools their four kids and supports Jeff in his ministry. (Although her list is short her task is grand.)

We talk about the struggles of life here. We laugh about it. Jeff has great stories about his trips into the bush.  We shake our heads and laugh and conclude that it is just another day in Tanzania. We talk about what is going on in our home country and how our hearts break as it turns further and further away from God. We share our personal struggles but still remember that our God is bigger and stronger and He is present.

Our kids get along really well. That makes it easy to get together, right. We have people whose company we really enjoy but if the kids don't get along you are less likely to get together much. Our kids get along great. Our little ones adore each other and cry every time we have to leave. The boys play video games and love jumping on the trampoline. Our big girls love all of the same things and their daughter is old enough that Madeline doesn't try to boss her around.

It was a great night.

Then I woke up this morning.

Roosters were crowing. (They are sooo loud it makes me want to scream! I really have suggested our gardener eat the rooster but he just laughs. I am SURE he will eat it as soon as we move.) Windows were creaking in the breeze. Our window panes swing open (as opposed to moving up and down) and must be latched open or closed. All of the latches don't work and they swing and creak. I am trapped in my mosquito net and have to push my way out. My little one is in bed with me. The roosters wake her up. My husband is not in bed. Here they work EVERY Saturday. I can hear the pump whinning. The city water must be off. Laurence has to wash dishes so the kids can eat breakfast. We only have a few bowls. We used them all last night when our friends came to eat. We have no dishwasher. Our housekeeper will not be in this weekend because I gave her the weekend off so she could see her kids. I had to pay her bus fare and some school fees for her kids. The kids could not eat the few granola bars we have left from the US for breakfast. We are going on safari in a few weeks and we have to save them. No telling what the lodge will serve us. If we break down on the trip (highly likely) we need to have something to eat. Even if there is a cafe' to get something to eat it would take forever and no telling what sickness we could get from it. So the granola bars must be saved. As I go into the kitchen there are two guards sitting on my porch. They are speaking Swahili, which I still don't understand. (I know it is my fault.) It creeps me out.

Just another morning in Tanzania.

We really have enjoyed our time here in Africa. We have met some AMAZING people. To see what they do and how they live has been an invaluable experience. To live in another culture and see that although we are all different we all want the same things even if the definition of what those things are or how to achieve them is different has been immeasurable. (I know that is a run-on sentence. Get over it.) I have experienced it. It is not my life calling. I want to go home.


Sunday, July 8, 2012


I didn't mention that we moved. Yep. Sorry. We went back to the states in October of 2011 and found out a few days before we returned to Tanzania that we had to move. We moved from beautiful, green, lush Morogoro to dry, dusty, arid Dodoma. Almost from rain forest to dessert.

There are a lot of challenges to moving in Africa. My husband, the awesome, wonderful guy that he is took care of most of the challenges. One thing that frightened me the most was what about our housekeeper and how will I get groceries? You see, there are a few grocery stores but the bulk of our food comes from the market. With my limited Kiswahili the market is a daunting place. In fact, even our career missionary friends rarely go to the market. They send their housekeepers. In Morogoro, we actually had a gentleman that came to the house several times a week and asked if we needed errands run and one of those was going to the market for us. Sweet, I know! I would give Lighton a list, some money, and he would return with wonderful fresh fruits and vegetables. And by money I mean less than you spend at McDonalds for one meal. He even knew to bring us knew seasonal fruit for the kids to try.

In the manner that God ALWAYS provides for us, he took care of our needs. Our new home has servants quarters in the rear of the property. That allowed our sweet Sabina to come with us and have a safe, free place to live. When we arrived the cousin of our landlord who was out of work, spoke English and was willing to do whatever job he could to provide for his family. Did I mention he is a committed Christian and his wife is a pastor?  God ALWAYS provides. He became our gardener and goes to the market for me.

So this is all background information, right. We have been living here for about 6 months. So there is another family we knew in Morogoro. Our housekeepers sister is their nanny and housekeeper. Angelina is wonderful. She can cook, speaks great English and is even smilier than our Sabina. The kids Adore her. She babysat for us a few times. Her employer had to move to Dar es Salaam and she went with them. Very common here in Tanzania. NOW, that family is moving to the United Kingdom and taking her with them.

Just to get this straight. We have a wonderful housekeeper named Sabina. We are moving back to the states in a few weeks and leaving her here. Her sister is a housekeeper and nanny to another family and they are moving to the UK and taking her with them. When I was talking about this with Sabina she said the other family "loves Angelina very much." My heart broke. You see, we love Sabina too. But there is NO WAY we could bring her back to the States. She just doesn't understand that. I wonder if she thought that it was a possibility. I wonder if she dreamed (as I often dream of winning a millions dollars and what would I do with it) about coming to the States and living in the land of plenty. She even said that life in Tanzania was no good and life in the UK was very good. I wonder if she dreamed of having plenty of money forever and being able to send her kids to a better school and providing them with a nice home and clothes. 

I wonder if she thinks we don't love her.

Is a world of plenty actually a better life? A life of ease and convenience. Is that better than being raised by your own mother? These women are good, godly mothers. They love their children and they worship their god. Is the price of opportunity worth the cost? Angelina's kids will have more opportunity. They will now have plenty of food and will be able to go to a better school and have more opportunity. But they will not have their mother because she will be in the UK raising someone else's children. Don't get me wrong. I am not blaming Angelina, nor do I think she is making the wrong choice. Given the choice to provide for your family in a magnificent way or face the possibility of unemployment she has to choose the job. I guess I am angry at the family for making this decision for her. It seems very selfish that they are bringing her along so that THEIR children do not have to go through another transition. What about what Angelina's kids are missing out on? But what about what her children are going to receive?

But on the other hand maybe this IS their chance? Maybe this will give them the opportunity to rise up out of mediocrity and be the next generation of Christian leaders in this country that is full of corruption and greed. Just maybe. I pray this it is. I pray for the best for these kids. 

I realize this has very little to do with me directly. We could never bring Sabina back with us and neither do I desire it. I can take care of my own home and raise my own children. I actually do not desire to have a housekeeper. I like my privacy. Oh, and coupled with the fact that we could not pay her enough or get her a Visa to be in the US. I mean really, I am just trying to picture in my head what it would look like with her trying to figure out a dishwasher and dryer, trying to find a tub to hand wash and find a line to dry her clothes. Food and food preparation is a whole nother ball game! Oh, my! Could you see her trying to find sweet potato leaves somewhere? And cooking over an open fire? 

We love Sabina and we need to make sure she knows it even though she is not moving back with us.

Just what I am thinking about today.