Wednesday, November 20, 2013

goodbye and hello

I lay awake in my bed staring at the blue mosquito net surrounding me and think of how I'll never need one again. Glancing at the clock, I see that it is 5 a.m.. Across the walls I can hear Daudi and Philip, to 14yr. old neighbor kids, just getting up; they spent the night at our house so that they could "escort" us to the airport. Daddy comes down the hall to make sure all are awake, telling us we've got 15 minutes to get ready. Then it started raining. It was November 12th, the day in which we would leave.

I thought of a dream my sister Susanna recently had. "It was just before we were to leave and it started raining, and raining, and raining. It wouldn't stop and then it flooded...and then we couldn't go to the airport." Leaving our little home in Nyakato, Tanzania has been a hard move for us to make. In the meantime my father, Daudi, Philip, and our friend, Baraka (who drove) left, with all the luggage, for the airport. 

Philip, Daudi, and Max
My sisters, brother, and I then had a horribly long wait for the car to come back and take us. I could hear Mama in the kitchen with her best friend, Neema, as they talked and prayed. Fr. Muheta waited in the, now bare, living/dining room. "Grandpa" Kipili came up with my little brother, who often stayed at their house, and waited with us. We all talked a little, but mostly tried to hold back the tears. We were all happy to be seeing family and friends in the states again, but not knowing if we'd ever see these beautiful African family and friends again made it difficult. I once wrote in my journal "Our family was made for Africa." and I still hold that statement to be true.

I kept waiting, with what I thought was just false hope, that someone on the compound would wake up before I left. Maybe Eric, or Mama Davie, or Davie himself? Just as the car pulled up I looked up to see Davie, his mom, and his brother at their door. I dropped my bags and ran down to say goodbye. I scooped Davie (a child that has stolen most of my heart...) up into my arms and told him that I loved him and would never forget him and don't forget to ask God if I can come back someday. He looked at me and then hit me. Then he hit me again. Whenever Davie is mad, he hits. It's not a "I hate you" hit, but, rather, a "Stop. Don't tell me that. NO!" sort of hit. He held on to me as if he was holding on for dear life. I had to pry him off. I gave his mom a hug and walked away. To this day I can't think, talk or read about Davie without tears coming. 

We had a short wait at the airport before we boarded our first flight. It was a short one, only an hour and a half, to the big city of Dar es Salaam where we were greeted with horrid hot and humid weather. We spent the night at a Catholic retreat center, and I think we drove our "neighbors" crazy with us going in and out of our two rooms and the doors echoing down the hall each time we opened a shut them. 

The next day we set off, from the Dar airport, with our first flight being only 6 hours. You will see soon why I say "only." Once in Dubai I tried to get a little sleep, to no avail, and then we set off for the last and longest flight...14 hours. Watched movies, slept, watched movies, ate food (surprisingly the airplane food was pretty great!). Emerites treated us like royalty; I can't imagine first class. 

Waiting to get checked in

Enjoying some tea and a movie before catching some sleep.
At 8 a.m. on Thursday morning we arrived in DC. Our friends in that area picked us up and my brother and his friend came up a couple days later. I didn't have much in the way of culture shock or jet-lag. That was a surprise. We headed home on Monday morning. Twelve hours later we pulled into our driveway to be greeted by Kat's family and some of our family as well. My sister had put together a meal and we all gathered around the table. The first "reverse culture shock" I had was when I stepped inside our house. "Yikes! This place is huge! Oh my goodness, look at all the white people! Is this really home? Wow." I wanted to run and hide.

A brand new day dawns
So now we're home. Well one of them anyways. I don't know if I'll ever return to the beautiful land of Tanzania, but in the mean time I'm excited to see what life here will bring my way. God is good. 

Friday, November 1, 2013

The Motor Runs Hot...

The motor under me is running hot.
There are twenty-eight people
And lots of luggage in the truck.
Underneath are my bad tires.
The brakes are unreliable.
Unfortunately I have no money,
And parts are difficult to get.
"Jesus is mine"
Is written on the vehicle,
For without Him I would not drive a single mile.
The people in the back are relying on me.
They trust me because they see the words:
"Jesus is mine."
I trust You!
First come the straight road
With little danger,
I can keep my eyes on the women,
Children and chickens in the village.
But soon the road begins to turn,
It goes up and down,
It jumps and dances,
This death-road to Kumasi.
Tractors carrying mahogany trunks drive
As if there were no right or left.
Kusami is the temptation
To take more people than we should.
Let's overcome it!
The road to Accra is another problem.
Truck drivers try to beat the record,
Although the road is poor
And has many holes
And there are many curves
Before we come to the hills.
And finally to Akwasim.
Passing large churches in every village,
I am reminded of you, and in reverence
I take off my hat.
Now downhill in second gear.

Taken from "And African Prayer Book", 
compiled by Bp. Desmond Tutu

Our main form of transportation here, in Tanzania, is a dala dala. This is the term for a 16 passenger van/bus that works like a city bus. These buses are often decorated with words and pictures. Some I’ve seen are like this: “King Jesus” or “Trust God” or “Ensured by mafia; you hit us, we hit you” or “Allah is the one.” Africans like color and d├ęcor, so having a clean white bus would just not be right! There have been times I could see the road under me, and the walls bursting. It’s not unusual to find 28 people in the vehicle. There was one time my sister sat between two fat people “Every time we went over a bump, I thought the sides were going to burst. The wall was literally moving.” One time we rode along and the door fell off. Then there’s also been the one’s we’ve ridden with fancy seats and purple lights inside. Riding a dala dala is an adventure in itself, and I love it!

One time my sister got in beside the driver. A passenger next to her said “You’re sitting on the motor.” She thought to herself “I don’t care…” Minutes later her seat was “burning up beneath me” and she moved to the seat over as soon as she could. The motor runs hot beneath me…

Oh, and the time someone put a load of oranges on, and they spilled all over. It smelled good. J
Then there was the time my two sisters were on a dala dala and an old, ugly guy proposed to them. It produced a great amount of laughter in the bus. He was drunk.

Once my whole family was riding home and the only dala dala available was an almost full one. There was two free seats in the middle isle. So we piled in…and there was a “pile of Wazungu down the middle.” It must have been funny because the lady in front of us couldn’t stop laughing, and neither could her children. (If you’ve ever seen My Big Fat Greek Wedding, then just think of someone from the Greek side…)
One Sunday morning two of my sisters and I were going to church alone on a dala dala. The first bus stop we made was full of young men…one jumped up and down in excitement, another jumped in the bus, and yet another would not stop blowing a whistle. Now, I don’t know how well you know Kat, but she despises whistles. Absolutely cannot stand them…and this guy came to her window, and blew the whistle in her ears. Ha!

On main highways there are speed bumps every 3 miles, so bumpety bump along, my friends!
There was also that one time we drove along a road in the midst of getting new gravel. There would be piles of gravel on one side for a mile and then suddenly the piles would be on the other side. It went on like this for several miles…that was a fun ride!

To give you an idea of the roads, Kat says “You want some thrill? Let’s go cross the road. It’s better than a roller coaster because there are no safety precautions; you just guess and go.” Or you could grab on to someone else’s hand as they cross. Yes, she (Kat) did that, to a complete stranger.

Our great fun on the African roads will be over soon. In just 1 ½ short weeks we will pack up, say our goodbyes, and fly away. This is going to be a hard transition to all of us. I think my heart is going to shatter. No more Davie (4 yrs. old)  at the door at 7am for chia and prayers. No more randomness on the walk to work each morning. No more tree ripened mangos. No more market days. No more dala dala rides. I don’t know if I will ever return to this lovely place, for I don’t know what God has in store for my life. But one thing I do know is this: that I have two homes now – Nyakato, Tanzania and Liberty, Kentucky. I am so blessed to have been here for 6 months of my life. Keep us in your prayers as we begin the trek home.

Next time…America! 

P.S. My Dad (and I) wrote a great post with lots of pictures HERE