16 February 2010

Christmas Gift distribution!!

I got to do the best part of my job as sponsorship director last Friday. I have been dreaming for the past year about a Christmas gift program for our sponsored kids in which we could give each sponsor an individualized Christmas list of things that the children and their families actually need, then the sponsor could choose an item, donate online or through the mail, then we purchase the gift here, give to the child/family, and send photos and thank yous to the sponsor. Because of my trans-continental move during the key planning month for this program, it was really rough this year, but we still had our sponsors come through in a big way, and the evidence showed on Friday.

Not all of the sponsors could/did give, but some other friends gave money for school kits for the kids, which helped make sure that every child received a gift. Also, God blessed us so much in giving us a great exchange rate on the money, and we were able to bargain so many amazing deals that we remained with some money to buy extra food for hungry families.

I also got to experience the best part of being a sponsor. I sponsor three kids here, Potina, Anjela, and Kibiro. I bought dresses for each of the girls (and they look stunning), but I saved up to buy Kibiro the thing that he had been praying for for months: a bicycle. Kibiro is totally my little brother here, we are quite close, and he is always running errands for me to pay my water bill or mail something, and he always goes on foot. Well, now he has a bicycle to carry him around! We had been teasing him for months now that he should pray for financial blessing for his sponsor (me) to buy him a bicycle, and he always replied very seriously that he was indeed praying for his sponsor (me) every day. His gift was the very last one presented, and he was so happy!

On a side note, now is also the most difficult time to be working here. The growing season has started, but many, many families are going without food. Every week a new family comes to our attention because they are sleeping hungry. Some very small children are suffering from hunger right now. Leah and I have already given more money from our own personal budgets than is probably wise to buy food for some families, and we've scrimped and saved from the program budget also, but every couple of days we add another family to the list of those with no food.

I'll write more about what I've been learning from this season in my next snail-mail support letter, which will come out in early March. If you are not on the mailing list for that letter and would like to be, please email me your address. ladams[at]lahash[dot]net

If you would like to help with the hunger problem here, please sponsor a child (there are about ten remaining) or just donate to Grace and Healing Ministry at www.lahash.net/donate.html. Thanks.

09 February 2010

A Weekend Full of Food

A cheeseburger! An Audi with leather seats! Air conditioning! Is this heaven? No, it is Dar es Salaam.

Leah and I went to Dar es Salaam on Friday to pick up new Lahash volunteer, Katie Gresham. Baba Askofu went with us to do some work on our work visas. Here is our food diary for the time in Dar.

Friday dinner: We ate at a little African restaurant, watched Man City play Portsmouth, and I ate the Tanzanian classic - grilled chicken and chips (french fries) and Coke, Leah ate BBQ chicken and chips and Sparletta (citrus flavored soda similar to Squirt), and Baba ate grilled beef and ugali and juice. I made a strong African effort on my chicken (sucking on the bones, even), then ate about a quarter of Leah's chicken because Baba didn't think she'd eaten enough.

Saturday breakfast: Hotel brought us standard, but posh, breakfast of white bread with margarine, an omelette/fried egg each, and a slice of really good pineapple, along with Nido (milk powder) for our tea, a huge luxury. It shows how far I've come in my eating habits that I didn't even think twice about eating the egg, just made an egg sandwich and enjoyed.

Saturday snack: While waiting at the airport, we bought sodas and treated ourselves hugely to crackers. We should have just bought one box of the insanely expensive treats, but we couldn't decide on the right flavor, so we spent an extremely exorbitant 10,000 shillings (about $8) for two boxes. In retrospect, we let ourselves get a little carried away, but they were so good!

Saturday lunch: We went back to the same restaurant of the day before while Katie rested, and this time Baba and I ate the BBQ chicken and chips with Cokes, Leah ate chicken stew and chapatis (she's becoming so African!) with her Sparletta, and our friend Kangoye ate nyama choma with ugali and Fanta. Any American would have considered my chicken well eaten, but I received only grudging acceptance from Baba. There was a lot of skin that could have been eaten, in his opinion, and I hadn't sucked the bones totally clean.

Saturday dinner: We had an extremely un-African experience for Katie's first meal. We went to a mall so that Leah and I could make some purchases at the grocery store, then we went to a restaurant that serves American food (and beverages, if you catch my drift). I had a really good cheeseburger and fries, Leah and Baba ate chicken burgers and fries, and I made the huge error of recommending the fish for Katie. I had forgotten that the traditional African style of serving fish is with the head still on, which was rather distressing for her, but she made a valiant effort.

Sunday breakfast: Same as Saturday, except no pineapple and they only gave us one egg to split between us. We were annoyed at first, but eventually gave thanks, because...

Sunday snack: After church the pastor invited us and the other guest, Pastor Kateti, father of my roommate, to his office and served us sodas and glucose biscuits (cookies that taste like animal crackers). Immediately after that we were picked up by Pastor Kateti's brother (in his beautiful, air-conditioned, leather interior, dual personal DVD players Audi) and taken to his huge, amazing house where...

Sunday lunch, take one: His wife immediately gave us sodas again. We felt a little bit swimming from soda, but it would be rude to pass, so we sucked them down. Then, she served us lunch, a really tasty African meal of rice, ugali, peas, greens, chicken stew, potatoes, avocados, oranges, and bananas. I ate small portions, because something in the back of my mind told me to save room. That was wise because...

Sunday lunch, take two: After about a half hour, we left the house, ostensibly to go back to the hotel, but first we stopped at this beautiful outdoor restaurant. We thought for drinks. Leah and I were pressed to have the beverage that we miss so much from the States (then another round was ordered while we were just halfway through), and they insisted that we order "bites", which is basically finger food. After protesting that we were full to no avail, Leah, Katie, and I agreed to share fish bites. That ended up being a huge plate of really good chips and the biggest fish I have ever been served. Leah and Katie wussed out, leaving it to me to make a good, respectable showing. We did finish the chips, but the fish...well, we felt lucky to have finished one side, let along flipping it over to eat the other side! We were able to pass it off to Kangoye to finish for us, but as soon as that was done, a plate of fish kebabs was brought to us. Those tasted insanely good, but if we had had top buttons on our skirts, they would have been unbuttoned at that point.

Sunday dinner: Didn't exist. There was no way we could have eaten anything else. It took a good 14 hours of digestion to be ready for Monday breakfast.

Monday breakfast: Back to the proper proportions of Saturday's breakfast, which we finished completely.

Monday lunch: I hate eating on the bus, because I get carsick, and it's a lot easier to not throw up if there's nothing in my stomach, but we did finish off the crackers from Saturday at the halfway point.

Now we're essentially detoxing from splurging on so much food, and we're really happy to be back to our standard rice and beans. Ah, the simplicity of Dodoma. Food heaven is nice to visit, but I think I'm ruined for living there.