Showing posts with label the fam. Show all posts
Showing posts with label the fam. Show all posts

Sunday, February 13, 2011

A Multi-Cultural Christmas

Many of you know that I got to spend time in Kzoo for two weeks over Christmas... and you might have seen my culture-shock posts from when I was there!  However, I never really got a chance to share the great parts of being home... all of which have Proper names.

The Fam.  My mom, me, my bro and sis-in-law, my dad, Claudia's parents
Us.  Our first multicultural family Christmas in Kzoo :)
Fun shots from the Walter side...
Can't forget the dogs...
It was a crazy time... but lots of fun!  I also got to spend time with some great friends... who I didn't get a chance to take pics with because we were having too good a time catching up.  And last but not least, here's a picture of my poor feet on their way from Dar to MI... (Think lots of snow outside at the Amsterdam airport)... good thing I remembered to bring socks on the plane!

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Kwaheri, Tanzania, kwa Sasa!

(Bye, Tanzania, for now!)
18 December 2011

It's a funny thing, this word Kwaheri.  As a person who doesn't like transitions and who hates goodbyes, I'm a big fan of See Ya Laters!  (Tuta anon badai.)  That's what most Tanzanians will say when leaving, even for a long period of time.  (Or, at least that's my experience... Heffts and others, correct me if I'm wrong!)

"Home" is another weird concept for me.  As a single (which definitely changes everything), home is often where I am not.  I'm "going home" to Kalamazoo, and when I'm in Kalamazoo, I'll be ready to "go home" to Tanzania.  I wonder if this ever really changes... hopefully at least when I get married some day!  Or whether this just has something to do with the transitional status I've been in seemingly since arriving at college.

Anyway, the fact is that I'm going "home."  To Kalamazoo.  Today.  For a quick, two-week visit to see family over the holidays.  Yes, I know.  I'm crazy.  Yet with my brother and his wife coming from Florida, and others are coming in from across the country, it seems strange NOT to make the trip to see everyone at once.  And since I haven't been "home" in a "while..."

As many of you know how good I am at worrying, I've made a list of all the things that are on my mind as I head towards this strange, very culturally different location around the world.

  • Snow!  Enough said.  (Today in Dar it's 90 degrees, sunny, with a humidity that promotes boiling while standing still)
  • Dress - I'm just glad I'm going at a time when everyone will be bundled up... I'm not sure how I'd handle seeing short shorts right now... 
  • Family - I love them!  And I can't wait to get some great hugs! :)  But I'm a little overwhelmed to imagine EVERYONE (my brother, his wife, her parents, my parents, and me) all sleeping in the same house over the next couple of weeks...
  • The question - "What comes next?"  Another inevitable transitional question that I'm sure will come up again and again while I'm home...  I'll fill you all in later!!!
  • Flights - Making it through, with no bad connections or delays or weather issues or bad announcers and speakers that don't let me here when they're announcing my flights... PLEASE PRAY!!!
  • FRIENDS - No, I'm not worried about this :)  But it will be weird to see friends married that weren't, friends with kids that I've never met, etc.  Lots of changes going on!
  • Jet Lag - I'm going home for two weeks.  Just pray that I get over jet lag both ways quickly... and that I don't arrive back in Dar any MORE tired than I am while leaving! 
Ok, the list goes on... but it should also include things like the amazing questions of what food I'll get to eat (I'm thinking Arby's!.... with Chick-fil-a milkshakes as a close second, except it doesn't exist in MI)... what kinds of great kitchen house stuff I can find that will supplement our very meager selection of utensils in our new house here... the overwhelming prospective of being in the dollar section of Target again or the Dollar Tree (Yes, I am definitely a teacher)... and replenishing my supply of Craisins, dried cherries, and maple syrup flavoring for the next several months of life in Tanzania!

But most of all, I'm just excited to be going "home."  And I'm praying that, no matter what happens, I'll be able to enjoy - and be present - and thankful - about whatever is going on and whatever God has planned!

Kwaheri, Rafiki!

(P.S.  If I don't get to see you in the next few days, please don't take offense!  I've got lots of visits to make to see family and not much time for anything else.  I'll look forward to seeing ALL of you this summer sometime... and truly CAN'T WAIT till those reunion times come!!!)

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

My Utmost... and random thoughts, again...

10 August 2010
"Jesus never measured His life by how or where He was of the greatest use. God places His saints where they will bring the most glory to Him, and we are totally incapable of judging where that may be."  - My Utmost for His Highest
It's been an interesting time of looking back (in a blur!) as my parents prepare to leave Tanzania for their home, jobs, and "life" in the States. We've done a lot - climbed a mountain and got altitude sickness, been on safari, met Compassion kids and did the spice tour on Zanzibar. Not to mention driving all over the country, learning a bit of Swahili, cooking meals from scratch and learning how to tie a kanga! It was funny to hear someone describe our relationship as reversed - with Marie and I as the parents, and mom and dad as the babies, here in the Land of Tanz.  That really explains it to a T.  I've wondered throughout just what my parent's impression of my "home" and life here - and those around me - might be making, but didn't get much feedback till now. I'm sure they were still taking it all in. It's funny how many these things don't make much of an impression on me anymore - things like not having safe drinking water available from the tap - or even within their village - for people to use... or seeing people live in small 2 room mud houses with 3 families and watching the kids get excited about eating rice. Or realizing the truths about Islam and witchcraft and everything else that is a part of the heritage and normal daily lives of many people around me every day.  I can't decide if this is bad - desensitization - or if it's good, meaning I'm coping and adjusting and living in this place!?

Going back to the quote above... It's funny that sometimes we don't see what we're doing along the way, or why. It's been easy to wonder why I'm here teaching MKs instead of working with the poorest of the poor. I know it's because I'm doing my job that other families are able to reach out and do more than I ever could by myself for these people... but sometimes it's still a feeling of "could I be doing more?!"  Especially as I gather my teaching-persona, prepare my classroom, and dive in to another year of teaching third grade... and think about what else I can, should, or might want to do along the way!  The comparison game is always a dangerous one, and not one we're called to play. But in the meantime, it's awesome to remember that God has me here for a purpose - and that my maybe one small part of that is so that my family could catch a glimpse of people who live life around the world, a bit differently from how we grew up!

It never ceases to amaze me how we measure ourselves by standards that even Jesus didn't use.  I wonder what God will be teaching ME tomorrow?!

Side note: If you ever get the opportunity - or can MAKE the opportunity - to visit a missionary around the world where they live, do it. You have no idea how much you're going will bless them - and enable them to have someone to relate to after the fact. And then, you have no idea what you'll find waiting for you, either... God has a lot to teach us in the places we'd never expect!

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Random Thoughts for the Day: 7-21-10

Random thoughts for the day of: 21 July 2010.  (Or is that July 2010 21?  I can't remember...)
  1. One year ago today, exactly, I boarded a plane to move to Africa to teach awesome MKs (Missionary Kids).  What an adventure it has been!!!!!
  2. Now that I'm back around a computer with working internet, I'm spending way too much time on FB.  BUT part of the reason I'm chilling on my computer so much is that I've sent out 8 batches of emails, taking 20+ minutes to upload each one, with newsletters to all of you!  That's assuming, of course, the "send" didn't time out or fail before actually sending :(  Yay for internet that teaches patience and perseverance! (I think...)
  3. My July newsletter is finally done and out!  Check it out here, or at the link on the right side under "newsletters," to discover a few of the things we've recently been laughing at around Tanzania.
  4. I am slowly learning to like fundis (experts - could be of anything, including plumbing, sewing, construction... you get the picture).  It turns out some of them actually listen to you, do the job well, and clean up afterwords all by themselves!  It's a rarity but I'll rejoice when we get the good ones :)
  5. The official countdown is... exactly 2 days from now, as in 48 hours from this moment... my parents arrive by plane to Dar!  Can't wait to get some great hugs, see them face to face, and let them experience a very different kind of life from what they're used to!!!!!

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Credit Cards in a Cash Society

27 December 2009

I was standing at the airport waiting to pick up my brother and Claudia a few weeks ago, and saw an advertisement that caught my attention. The ad was for credit cards, and it read “We’re the first bank in Tanzania to issue credit cards. You can use them to buy things online, and to purchase plane tickets.” And that was it.

I had to laugh as I thought of other possible uses for credit cards in the country. I couldn’t imagine anyway. If I brought a credit card across the street to the local duka (which, from what I hear, is probably unregistered anyway…) they would look at me like I was crazy. My Swahili wouldn’t be up for the task of explaining it, let alone why they might want to get a machine, and power, and a network connection, to allow people to use such a thing!

I turned to the taxi driver who had brought me to the airport and tried to explain the humor of the ad, but soon realized he didn’t know what I was talking about. “A credit card is kind of like a bank card,” I tried to explain. “You can pay for things with it…”

Granted, the driver’s perspective of his fellow countrymen can be a bit critical at times. But I had to think when he replied, “Then no one in Tanzania could get one anyway, because no one has five thousand shillings to put in the bank.”

Is a “free cash card” really a good idea to introduce in a developing country? Now I’m not so sure…

A couple of weeks later, Jeremy, Claudia, my roommates, and myself all went up to a little town called Lushoto for a breath of cool air. The hostel we stayed at advertised the ability to use visa for payment, so we inquired about this fact on our last night as we paid. After many run-arounds of refiguring our bill itself, we finally decided on a price (that was later contested, twice…) and brought out “The Card.” The nun looked very confused until Jeremy pointed to the aforementioned sign. Then, “ah! We’ll see if the network is working…” They disappeared to a different room, where the sweet nun took out an instruction page and began to read. In the end, Claudia helped punch in the correct amount, Jeremy helped swipe the card correctly, and the screen finally read “transaction completed.” A huge smile graced the face of the nun at her first-ever successful credit card transaction.

Tanzania has a long way to go towards using credit cards in everyday life. But, I wonder… is it the RIGHT way for them to go?