Many of you who know me well know how much I love building relationships face to face over a really good cup of coffee. Some of my favorite memories are sitting across the table from a friend, or even a stranger, conversing with each other about life, love, family and faith.
The good and the bad have always been easy to share in person. So it hasn’t been a huge surprise to me that I have struggled this last year to communicate with friends and family back in the states (I am sorry). As our world was shaken up in many ways, I have wrestled with how to share open and honestly about our new reality through written word.
When I communicated this struggle to a friend, she encouraged me to pretend that I was sitting across the table from you all with coffee in hand (cold brew here as it is 95 degrees!) and jazz music playing in the background. I decided that I would give it a shot!
Thank you for all the questions you asked on our facebook page last month. It has helped me to know what kind of things you wonder about as we do life here in Tanzania.
I will break all the questions you asked up into a couple of posts!
What is a language victory and/or struggle that you have experienced?
Language learning is TOUGH. So hard that the best advice I’ve read is: “Anyone who wants to learn a language well must have a solid theology of suffering.” Every single day there are struggles. It is a humbling process that requires patience, humility and perseverance. Lots and lots of perseverance!
My journey of studying Swahili has been one of the biggest challenges for me this last year. My own expectations of how fast I think I should be learning, my perfectionism to want to know before I speak, and the crazy amount of times I just feel totally and completely incompetent. Relationships that I want to build and go deeper in but struggle to because of the language barrier, and the list goes on. Yes, I can make conversation and understand dialogue when I know the context. But then I will hear a conversation or someone will talk to me about something out of context and I am completely clueless.
Defeat and discouragement have taken over many times yet the Lord continues to give me the strength to press on and take it one day at a time. The victories come when I humble myself, become like a child (in spirit), and allow the Lord to use me exactly where He has me. Broken Swahili and all!
What do you love about Tanzania (Love and/or Love to do!)?
I decided that it would be fun to include my family in this one…
Luke: I love experiencing new culture (the foods/the smells/the people), learning how people live and think, developing relationships with people who have a completely different background than me, worshiping and praying with brothers and sisters in Christ, seeing the ocean everyday, fresh coconut water from the guys on the bikes, eating outside year round, balmy ocean breezes in the morning, side of the road vegetable and fruit shopping, encouraging young Tanzanian’s in business ideas and strategies.
Amber: I love the relationships I am building with people. Monday nights praying with Tanzanian sisters for our city. Wednesday morning mommies group. I love watching children walking home from school, the bright colorful dresses that women wear, the view of the ocean, the colorful pots and nurseries alongside of the road, when it rains (especially if I don’t have to drive in it), the bold colors of the sunrise, understanding and experiencing new cultures, our local church, teaching Sunday school, the indian food, and our children’s amazing school HOPAC!
Adi (10): My friends are my favorite thing about Tanzania. I also love the food (kuku=chicken, Pilau=traditional rice, and chips mayai=eggs and fries mixed), my school (HOPAC), our church (God’s Tribe), the Indian ocean, color all around, my neighbors dog “Cookie” and that my mom teaches gymnastics at my school.
Jude (7): My favorite thing about Tanzania is exploring, playing in the ocean, my friends at school, playing football (soccer), eating lots of food, riding my longboard and the Masai men.
Ezra (5): My favorite thing is to play with friends at school and to play with friends on our compound. I like to explore for bugs and snakes, play football, ride my bike, watch movies, and play on the beach.
Noises that are new:
All day long the goats and cows roam next to our house. The goats sound like a seriously injured person and I am constantly asking Luke if that is a person or an animal.
The call to prayer 5 times a day. It is often the first thing we hear in the morning and the last thing we hear before going to bed.
Dinosaur like birds that make the craziest noises in the evening. I imagine it is what the pterodactyl sounded like.
Coconuts falling! Coconuts and/or the branches fall daily and they make a loud crash on the concrete. We are always reminding the kids not to play under the coconut trees that line our property. Sadly, a few weeks ago I was hit by a 12 foot coconut branch that fell 30 feet from the sky. Praise the Lord I blocked my head and ducked.
About once a week the Masai men that reside behind our house do their tribal dancing, jumping, and shouting ceremony. It is pretty beautiful to watch and to listen to. (You can read about the Masai and their jumping dance HERE.)
Friday and Saturday nights the nightclubs are hopping. The music bumping all across the city until the wee hours of the morning.
The gun range down the street from our house. There can be weeks at a time that it sounds like a battle zone where we live. This week they are taking a break and we are enjoying the quiet!
Children chanting and singing in the morning at the government school down the street.
Termites that eat the wood in our walls. The scraping sound is so loud that you could not imaging it coming from such a small creature.
What does your house look like? (pictures?)
God made me to really love color and design. I love to create new from old and challenge myself with DIY ideas. So when we first arrived and started looking for a house to rent, I was ready to take on the challenge of beginning completely from scratch. After 4 weeks of looking, we found Oasis Villas. 18 units in a small compound…Guards and gardeners included….Relationships right outside of our door (which is a HUGE blessing as most houses are behind tall walls)…some pavement for the kids to ride bikes on…Walking distance to dukas (small stand shops), close enough to the kids school, and under budget. This home has been a blessing to us and we have loved to be a blessing to others in and through it. (A friend recently asked me, so I want to clarify that we are the only American family that lives in the compound. They are mostly Tanzanians but some other Africans as well)
1. Front door. 2. Entry way. 3. Back porch (with shared lawn areas) 4. Kitchen (water filter system on the floor)
1. Our room 2. Adi’s room 3. Boys room (all with nets to keep out those malaria infecting mosquitos.)
What is it like to drive in Dar?
Dar traffic is insane. People and animals in the road, a sudden lack of road, water covering the road, suicide lanes, giant concrete blocks placed randomly in the road, motorcycles that zig zag through traffic and in between tight spaces, giant big rigs called “bulldozers” that do not and will not stop for you because they are bigger than you, free-for-all intersections, ALL WHILE DRIVING ON THE OPPOSITE SIDE OF THE CAR AND STREET.
There ARE rules of the road but it seems that they can change at any moment. Monday through Saturday it can take either 30 minutes to go 10 miles or it can take 2 hours to go 10 miles. Sundays are nice travel days as the traffic in the city gets much lighter. The police move around from intersection to intersection controlling traffic, so you must never fully trust what the light says because there might be a police man waving cars the other way. When waiting in traffic, people walk around selling things (dishtowels, plates, toys, mats, food, clothes, and SO much more) and young street boys wash your windows for next to nothing. A city of 5 million people with really poor infrastructure….that is where we live.
I pray when I leave my driveway and I thank the Lord when I return safely each and every single time I go out. To see a fun commute to the kids school one morning last week, check THIS out!)
What foods do I miss the most?
(With foods like this, why would I miss anything in America????)
(Ben Miller and I eating fried squid that we just watched get prepared on the dirty concrete slab of the fish market. Good thing the fire killed off any “grosseness” that the flies left on it!
But really, I do miss...
Baskin Robbins cappuccino blast.
A good iced coffee (from Preservation)
A good taqueria/Taco trucks
Yogurt Mill (Salted caramel with yogurt chips)
Thanks for reading! On my next post…
What does ministry look like for you? How have you used your photography? Where do you go when you miss the states? How do you feel supported emotionally? Have you made any great friends? What is God teaching you about himself?