15 July 2013

God Answers (Katie's) Prayers

Most of you know that much of the past two years we've been living in Shirati have been difficult for me on a personal level.  I've spent large amounts of time feeling lonely with a husband who travels frequently for work, and our older son, Innocent, at boarding school most of the year.  Wesley was an unplanned (by us) partial solution to that isolation I felt, but one still can't have deep conversation with a baby.  I felt a deep need for friends, and it didn't seem to be happening, making me rather discontent and unhappy in Shirati.  I even started pushing Fred that we should move away from Shirati, and we started to put tentative plans in place for a move in June or July, but we saw God put that plan on hold and tell us to just stay put for the time being.  God has given me a lot of peace about staying put, and one of the biggest reasons is a direct answer to prayer that my co-worker, Katie, has been faithfully praying on my behalf: good friends.

Wesley and Kaleb playing with water,
wearing matching diapers and farmer's tans.
About 10 months ago we met Eric and Liz, church planters with the United Methodist Church, who are living in Tarime.  They have a son, Kaleb, who is just a few months younger than Wesley, and are adopting a Tanzanian boy named Derek, who is just a few months younger than Innocent.  Liz and I have experienced a lot in common living in Tanzania the past few years, and Kaleb and Wesley love playing together.  Unfortunately, they live about 90 minutes away, so we don't get to see them as much as we'd like, but it is always delightful to go over and eat hamburgers or other fun food at their house.

Around the time we were leaving for our four months in America, a new American family moved to Shirati.  Bill and Ladene are missionaries with Church of God in Christ, and they moved here with their 5-year-old daughter and 3-year-old son.  Just when we got back from America and I was looking forward to spending more time with Ladene, they moved out to a village to plant a church, so we only get to see them now when they come into Shirati.  Still, I find myself very drawn to Ladene, who evidences a peaceful contentment with the (not always pleasant) circumstances of life here.  Fred and Bill have great fun discussing manual-operated water pumps and solar panels and such.  Wish we got to see them more also!

Then, a few months ago, a Dutch couple moved to Shirati with their daughter, Daphne.  Pim and Yvonne are doctors at the Shirati Hospital, and Daphne is almost 4 months younger than Wesley.  Although busy work routines for us and for them don't always permit a lot of time together, we're working on scheduling a weekly time for Yvonne, Daphne, Wesley and I to get together.  Although hanging out with English speakers isn't the highest form of relaxation for them, since English isn't their first language, we find we have a lot in common, including two high-energy, aggressive little ones!

Finlay and Innocent play with Legos.  (Photo credit: Ada)
During the summer (in America) we always get a lot of medical students and medical professionals coming through Shirati to volunteer at the hospital or at the local heath NGO.  Many times we don't really connect with these people because it's a lot of work to get to know them, and they pass out of our lives very quickly.  (Plus, frankly, a lot of them are just not so interested in hanging out with an American work-from-home mom and her one-year-old.  After all, they're in AFRICA!)  An exception happened this past week, when I finally ran out to the road to stop a white woman with two young blond children.  I'd seen the kids pass by numerous times in the week prior, either with the woman or with a man, and I'd been wanting to meet them, so I finally got out there to introduce myself.  That afternoon, Innocent and Finlay, their 7-year-old boy, and Ada, their 5-year-old girl, played together for hours while I chatted with Jeff and Reta about their life and work and passion and our life and work and passion.  The next day we did again, for longer, and it's now a daily plan until they leave later this week.  Jeff and Reta are doctors, and their vision for reducing maternal mortality in the villages around Shirati is so inspiring to both Fred and me.  Beyond that shared passion, we just really, really like them and have a lot in common!  We can already tell that this is a family we will be staying in touch with for many years as they come back to visit TZ and we go to the States.  Their friendship, although brief in terms of time, is already very precious to me and to us.

All these people becoming a bigger part of our life here have made a big difference in my own contentment to be in Shirati, and just in my happiness.  Plus, it's so satisfying, as a mother, to see the boys playing with kids their own ages, whether that play be climbing trees or throwing plastic bins across the room.  So thank you, Katie, for praying, and thank you, God, for answering!

08 July 2013

Trip to Kenya

This past weekend we went up to Kenya to see some friends and family.  We stopped to pick up Innocent along the way, since all primary schools in Kenya are closed due to the government primary school teachers being on strike.  When the government teachers go on strike, they make it impossible for private schools to continue teaching by protesting and even having violent demonstrations outside the private schools.  So all the schools close when the government teachers strike, which has happened twice in the past year, and they're actually violating a court order by staying on strike right now, but it's not stopping them, so the students of Kenya are on an unplanned break from school!

Anyway, we stopped in Rongo to pick up Innocent and went up to Mbita, Kenya for the post-wedding celebration for our friends Joe and Daneen Peterson.  Mbita is right on Lake Victoria, and the dinner we went to was held at a place called Suba Environmental Education of Kenya (S.E.E.K.) and we stayed in one of their cabins Friday night.

On Saturday morning we spent some time down at the lake, which the boys loved, then we went on to Fred's village, Sindo, to see his family and friends.  Fred's grandmother had only seen Wesley once since he was born, and that was back in October.  She was amazed at how much he's grown since then!  Innocent had a great time playing with his cousins, and Fred got to catch up with some old friends.

We left Sindo on Sunday morning to come back home to Shirati.  All told, about 450 kilometers round trip (280 miles) in 12 different cars!  It was fast, but we had a good time traveling together as a family and getting to see family!