17 September 2012

Can we drive to America?

It's too bad we can't drive, because this guy is ready to go!
The past ten days or so have been pretty quiet on the Facebook/blog from our side because Fred and I were on the road, although going different directions.  We went the first leg together, then he headed off to Kigali, Rwanda for a follow-up training in trauma and grief counseling.  He was certified as a facilitator for counseling by the American Bible Society.  He went to the first part of this training back in February when we were waiting for our little guy to arrive, and this trip happened at Wesley's half-birthday.  We spent the day on the road to Dodoma, where Wesley and I were going to attend a Lahash retreat.
After a relaxing three days of Dodoma sun (and breeze--it's the cold time of year), good fellowship with the Angotes and Will Campbell, fabulous food, meditation on justice, mercy and hope, and afternoon naps, I feel energized and renewed for a new season of work.  Actually, the work started right away, as I had a meeting with Mama Askofu Muhagachi, the director of GHMD, about the ways that the Higher Education Program will benefit the students in her program.  Although more information will be coming in future months, one of the first candidates for a university scholarship from Lahash will be someone I have sponsored for the past five years, Baraka Kibiro.  He's starting his national exams, which are comparable to SATs in America, in a few weeks.
Wesley and I spent a couple of extra days in Dodoma for meetings, shopping and watching episodes of "New Girl" (It's Jess!) on Will's computer.  From Dodoma, we went on to the town of Shinyanga, which is the location of a potential new Lahash partner, Path of Hope.  I reviewed some exciting proposals with the director of Path of Hope, and Wesley exhibited the best of his charms and tricks for her.  The director, Mama Askofu Nyakyema, and I have a lot in common, although we're a generation apart, not least of which is that we're American women married to Luo men.  She's like a stand-in grandma, and Wesley had fun practicing eating grown-up food with her.
We all got home yesterday after good trips, and we are happy to be together again.  Wesley has been showing Fred how well and how much he can eat, how he "walks" (taking steps while being supported upright), how ticklish he's become, his almost-breaking-through tooth buds and how he's learning a little independence.  He doesn't have to be held every single moment and he has even become friendly with new people!  Fred and Wesley have been together almost every moment since we met up yesterday, making noises and faces at each other.
We are buying plane tickets this week, and hope to be arriving back in the States in 17 days!  Watch this blog for more information about our timeframe and events to hear about our work in East Africa.

04 September 2012

Family Doings

Wesley helping Fred check his Facebook
September finds us all shifting in high gear for the coming month, especially as we prepare to come to the States in October for a few months ($875 still to raise!).

Innocent - After a month of leave, Innocent is going back to school for his final term of kindergarten.  He's lucky (or unlucky, depending on one's perspective) to be at a private school, since Kenyan government teachers are on strike.  Since he loves school, he's glad his teachers are not on strike.  He'll also be turning seven this month!

Samuel Wesley - Our little man is coming up on six months old, and it seems like he's decided to skip crawling and try for walking.  He's not very interested in being on his stomach, but he loves to practice standing.  He only needs a little bit of help balancing, then he'll be trying to walk in no time!

Leisha - This weekend I'll be going to Dodoma for a Lahash staff retreat with the Angote family and Will C.  I'm excited to see my co-workers and to eat some pizza and Chinese food.  I also hear there's a new coffee shop in town that I haven't had a chance to check out yet.  I'll also stop in Shinyanga to visit some friends on my way back.  Then I'll be working on packing and ticking off the many items on our to-do list before leaving.

Fred - Fred continues his role of master traveler this month.  He will take Innocent back to school, then the next day take Wesley and me to Mwanza (halfway to Dodoma), and will spend all of next week in Kigali, Rwanda at a training for grief and trauma counseling.  He gets back to Shirati with 14 days to conduct a palliative care training and get all of his various programs to a good point for him to leave.

In other news: We thought we finally had all our immigration documents in proper order for all of our family members.  This wasn't an easy task: Tanzanian residence permits for all three of us, Kenyan and American passports for the baby, Kenyan residence permit for me and American visa for Fred meant dealing with three different governments, each with different rules and different levels of efficiency.  Anyway, we thought we were all legal and finally done with paying for visas and permits and passports, when the Tanzanian government decided to invalidate all residence permits for foreigners.  At first we thought we have to pay the $550 fee for my permit again (after just paying it in April), but a friend in the Tanzanian immigration department assured us that we just have to do the paperwork, as long as it is done before December 31st.  Of course this means we have had to get our resumes, letters of recommendation, passport photos and applications all together and submitted ASAP so that we get the permits before we leave for the States.

Literally days after finding out that we have to reapply for the Tanzanian permits, I was refused entry to Kenya on my spouse's permit.  Apparently the Kenyan government had passed a new immigration law which requires me to have an additional pass in addition to my spouse's permit.  It didn't cost much, but required Fred going up to Nairobi to get it for me.  It also disrupted our plans to go see Fred's grandmother and aunt, so they still haven't had a chance to meet Wesley, which was disappointing to all of us.  We're trying to arrange travel plans so that we can see them on our way to the airport in October.  Ah, Africa!  You don't make anything easy, do you?