It's been a crazy busy week, so I'm going to limit myself to one highlight from each of the past seven days.
Friday the 6th - HUGE thunderstorm to kick off the rainy season. I sat out on my little verandah to watch and listen to the spectacle. One thunderclap sounded right over the house (I've never heard one closer), scaring me badly enough to duck and cover my head, and making Jackie scream and fall down inside the house.
Saturday the 7th - We visited a woman who is living with HIV and had been so neglected by her family that she was found essentially starving to death. Leah had been to visit her several times, and was present the day she was found, but it was my first visit to her in the hospital. I'll spare you all the details, but they let me be a tiny bit helpful in getting her dressed and fed, but I wasn't the one who had to clean her up, if you know what I mean. She was so sweet, and so grateful to be alive, and she gave us a thumbs up as we left. (Second runner up for best highlight was a call from my parents.)
Sunday the 8th - I got my second roommate, another Tanzanian woman named Beatrice, and we had some Leah and two of our friends, Mseti and Paulo, over for lunch. It was the first time I felt like I fit in with these young people as one of their peers, in a similar, but different, way to my friends back home. We had a fantastic conversation, and had some meat for lunch that Jackie had cooked in the taco spices I brought from home, which turned out to be a hit.
Monday the 9th - Leah and I attempted our first public cooking spectacle: French Toast. It was the 14th birthday of my Tanzanian little brother, Victor, so we made some French Toast for the whole family, sweetening it by making a kind of sugar syrup and pouring it into the egg/milk mix. People enjoyed it so much I attempted it later in the week for another crowd, and got similar enthusiasm.
Tuesday the 10th - Small triumphs: I finished The State of Africa, which I had been reading for work, and The Man in the Brown Suit I re-read in almost one sitting out on the verandah.
Wednesday the 11th - So many great things happened this day. First Jackie, Beatrice, and I hosted the church staff meeting at our house in the morning, where I asked them to go around and affirm the person on their right. They'd never done anything like that before, and it was lovely to see them encouraging them one another. Mama Neema, the accountant, said such beautiful things about me that I nearly cried. Later at a planning meeting for the HIV Community Event, (remember how I was learning to dance for this event?), someone said "Why do we need to change the ngoma (dancing)? If Leisha can dance with her hips, surely the rest of us can." I'll take that as a compliment. Best of all, we finally got to the post office, and I had a book from my Grandma Adams and a stack of photos of my family from my Grandma Jones. Grandmas are the best!
Thursday the 12th - Does it sound callous to say that the highlight of today was firing my house help? She'd been making me dread the days she came to clean because she didn't clean well, didn't cook well, was rude to my roommates, always demanded breakfast that I didn't even have for myself, and might have been stealing sugar and oil. She's gone now, although she made it clear that I can call her if I want to hire her to do my laundry, which she's actually decent at. The lowlight of today is that I haven't had a soda. First day in probably two weeks that I haven't had at least one soda, although the day isn't over yet!