25 June 2008

Oops, it's been a while

So I realized yesterday that it’s been about three weeks since I updated my blog. I was thinking about why that might be, and, aside from the busy-ness, I realized something. During my first trip I was absolutely wide-eyed and gaping at everything. All around me were new sounds, sights, smells, and stories, and I wanted to hold onto everything, so I wrote long novels of email updates. On the second trip that newness had worn off a bit, and my emails were shorter and less frequent. On this trip, that dynamic is intensified. The things I’m learning and thinking about are pretty abstract and personal, not leaving loads to email home about. However, in the interest of communication, I have come up with a few (hopefully) interesting things to tell you about.

Since last update:

1. Dodoma, Tanzania I love, love, love these people, and I was, again, blessed to be in community with them. I was there with the team from Portland’s Vibrant Church, and went on home visits to some of the clients of Grace and Healing Ministry of Dodoma. We took about twenty of the kids from the sponsorship program to go “Bible camping”, which was a really special time hanging out with the kids.This is Emmanuel Anderson, Michael Gere, and Stewart Mboya. (Michael in the middle still needs a sponsor!)

Part of our experience was staying with families in their homes, rather than staying at a hotel. I stayed with Mama Neema, the accountant at the church. She was so hospitable, and I really enjoyed spending more time with Mama Neema and her daughters, Saada and Neema. Their home does not have electricity, so I got to practice using a kerosene lantern to get ready for bed. It was a really valuable experience, and I loved hanging out with them! Here's a photo I took in the courtyard of their home.

We went to Dar es Salaam (a much faster trip than my reverse journey), and saw the Vibrant team off back to Portland, minus Dan. Dan, Edwin, and I returned to Nairobi the next day. I'd write an update about our brief stopover in Nairobi last week, except that pretty much all that happened was lots of meetings and lots of being cold. (It's their winter here.)

Dan, Edwin, Bealy, and I had good travels to Kampala, Uganda on Saturday night/Sunday morning, and our friend Mandi from Lahash met us here on Monday. It was really nice to have another girl around to answer those crucial questions like "What's the see-through factor of this skirt?" Y'know, those little things that are so important, but only garner blank stares from guys.

Right now we're preparing to leave Kampala for Adjumani on the bus tomorrow, so I'm excited to see Rick and Faye Meyer in only a very short time! We probably won't have much internet access until returning to Kampala in early July, at which time I'll update about all the stuff at Kampala House, Amazing Grace Orphanage, and St. Bartholomew's Orphanage, and all the adorable kids there!

Thanks for being faithful readers and prayers. Please pray for my energy level right now, which is flagging. I love you all!

05 June 2008

Arrived in Tanzania

I arrived in Dodoma, Tanzania last night after more than the usual brutal transportation. Ordinarily the journey from Nairobi to Dodoma is a two day event: the first day is 12 to 14 hours from Nairobi to Dar es Salaam, then the second day should be a comparatively easy 6 to 7 hours from Dar es Salaam to Dodoma. (If you look at a map, you'll realize that the route seems illogical, because it is not a direct line by any stretch, but the roads are so bad that it's necessary to go through Dar es Salaam.)

Unfortunately for me, out of all the potential buses, I chose the single slowest one from Dar to Dodoma. It took nine hours, without any breakdowns or traffic or anything. It was just slow and stopped for something like two hours for lunch. Apparently the driver must live in that town and decided to go home for lunch or something.

Buses are the standard mode of transport both within and between cities in East Africa. When I was in Nairobi, we'd catch the bus into downtown every few days. Bealy insisted on sitting up front whenever possible, because the back of the bus tends to take the bumps and turns a bit harder than the front of the bus. The side effect of sitting in the very front of the bus is a heart-gripping fear for your life! The driver has two spots next to him in the cab, and since the engine is under the cab, it's a flat front. The way Nairobi bus drivers drive, that means that, on average, there are only probably 12 to 18 inches between my feet and the bumper of the car in front of the bus. You think I'm exaggerating, but I assure you, it's true. I got good practice in having peace in situations outside my control, that's for certain. The speed at which we barrelled down windy hills took my breath away at times. Add in pedestrians leaping off the curbs and cars sticking their noses into heavy traffic to force traffic to make room, and you've got a crazy situation!

Anyway, the internet access here at the Kanisa ya Mennonite (Mennonite Church) is good enough that I can upload a few photos in a day or two.