Monday, August 29, 2011

The Nursery

                                                                                Me and Upendo

All of the babies 0-6 months live in the nursery which is across the driveway from the big house. I love my shifts in the nursery because I can just pick up any darling baby and cuddle with it! Definitely a dream job. When you open the door, the smell of baby oil, baby formula, and baby powder comes wafting out. Currently, there are 9 babies in the nursery and we are expecting one more to arrive soon. To see the babies smile and giggle is the highlight of the job, whereas changing their diapers is the less glamorous part. 3-month old baby Charles spit up all over me yesterday and I'm pretty sure it was ALL the milk I had just fed him. Although it was gross, he was a lot happier afterward! I don't have pictures of all of the babies yet, but here's a peak into the nursery.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Dear Family

Since I am missing you a lot right now, I thought I would blog about you! I think you are a great family and I love you 1000 times the amount of ants I found in my box of oatmeal the other day. 

Two days before I left for Africa, it was mom’s birthday! All morning, we watched home videos, providing us with lots of laughter. In the afternoon, we drove out to Vancouver to bike and rollerblade on a beautiful trail through the woods. Unfortunately, Brooklyn had just come down with the chickenpox and was not feeling good, but as we got riding, she cheered up a bit. We were blessed with a beautiful day, fresh air, exercise, and each other. Our tummies were craving some spaghetti along with fresh bread and garlic butter when we completed our bike ride, so we piled back into our little red VW Jetta with the bikes on the back and zipped over to the Old Spaghetti Factory. Delicious! Now that I’m writing about it, I’m really wanting to eat the manager’s favorite with spumoni ice cream afterwards. I cannot do much about that right now, though…I suppose we’ll just have to go when I get back.

Thank you for loving me, supporting me, praying for me, sending me packages, emailing me, and waking up extremely early so that I can try to talk to you through the choppy skype connection. I miss each one of you and pray for you every single day. I also thank God every day for blessing me through you.
I love you, Beau. I love you, Cooks, I love you, Mom. I love you, Dad. Give Bailey a hug for me too!
p.s. I really think we need to move to Africa…I found the perfect little mountain village for us :)

Love, Bethany

Eating Ants

I opened up my fresh box of oats in the morning to make oatmeal. As I poured some into my bowl, I noticed that it was moving! There were ants everywhere as well as a few small white worm type things. Yuck! I really wanted oatmeal, though, so I decided to take the time to sift through it and pick them all out. After completing the process, I added my boiling water, cooked my oatmeal, and enjoyed my breakfast. Teonna (another volunteer who just left) told me that I should probably throw that box away because of the worms that she believed were maggots. Since she was leaving, Teonna gave me her oats because they were in a sealed Tupperware container and she said there were no ants or worms in them. Completely believing her, I made oatmeal the next evening without sifting through it. After enjoying a few bites, I looked at my next bite and noticed an ant in my spoon—a cooked ant. I then started pushing my oatmeal around and looking more carefully only to find an abundance of ants! Trying to be a tough missionary, I took two more bites and then decided that was all I could take. I dumped out my oatmeal and made some toast instead. I have found out since then that ants are everywhere and get into everything! Pasta, rice, anything left out, even certain sealed packages! I have now moved a lot of my food to the freezer so even if there were ants, they are now dead and won’t be having any more babies in my food. In order to make it edible, I just need to work on my patience to sift through it!

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Cold Showers

Just a few minutes ago, I took a cold shower and because I am still shivering, I thought I would write about it. We do not have hot water here at the orphanage. In order to bathe the little babies, they have to heat water in a kettle and mix it with the cold water. The toddlers are not quite as pampered, though…they must deal with the cold water. To be quite honest, I don’t think bathing is looked forward to by anyone here at the orphanage. I try to get away with as few showers as possible because it is so cold. When I finally decide to take one, I turn the water on and simply stand there looking at it trying to wrap my mind around the fact that my whole body will be under that water soon. After gasping some and holding my breath, it is not so bad because your body kind of gets used to it. Let me tell you something, though—I have never been so excited to get out of the shower as I am here! Even though cold showers are not my favorite, this little write-up is not meant to be a complaint at all. Cold showers are teaching me how to be efficient and quick, which I suppose is a valuable lesson. Also, when we do not have power for a few days in a row and the water tank runs out, we do not have any running water at all! The experience of having no running water for a few days in a row made me extremely thankful for water in general…even my cold water!

Tuesday, August 23, 2011


On Sabbath afternoon, Claire and I went with Brenden to see some wildlife! Just a few minutes down the road is a lovely lodge with many little cottages overlooking a wide expanse of animals. These animals are either handicapped or have been hurt in some way so this is a safe place for them to live. It was a beautiful area and I enjoyed it much more than the average zoo because there were no big fences making it feel like an unnatural environment. Since we were going to see animals, we thought it would be fun to bring a couple of babies along, so Claire and I took Nancy and Witness. Nancy is precious and has the cutest smile! She never wants to take her fingers out of her mouth, though, even when she's laughing. Witness is adorable too. Not only do I love her name, but her personality is so fun. These girls are a joy to be with and it was special to have some one-on-one time with them as we enjoyed the animals.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Baby Boom

In the last ten days, Cradle of Love has received seven new babies! This is a lot of children for such a short period of time. Some of these babies come here because their mother died in childbirth or soon after, whereas others are sadly abandoned. I will give you the background stories to a couple of the new babies that stick out in my mind.
Two days ago a newborn, still attached to the placenta, was found on the road in Usa Plaza (not far from here). A man picked her up and brought her to the orphanage where she was named Upendo. Because of the lack of running water that evening, we were unable to bathe her and wash the blood and vernix off. The umbilical cord was cut, though, and she was wrapped up warm and tight, and added to the nursery! She is a gorgeous and healthy baby girl around 6 pounds. Another child around two-years-old… (we’re not sure of her age) was dropped off yesterday evening because her mother ran away. The father is now re-married, but the new wife refuses to care for his daughter. The orphanage does not usually take in cases like that, because we are not a baby-sitting service and we believe that it is the father’s responsibility to take care of his child. He went to social services, though, to plead his case and to make a long story short, his daughter named Princess ended up with us. She is a very pretty girl with very sweet eyes. My heart was just aching for her because it would be an immense change being raised in a home then being plopped in an orphanage with nothing familiar and 50 screaming kids poking, prodding, and pushing you over. For a while, she just stood off at a distance with tears streaming out of her big, brown, beautiful eyes and it was all I could do to keep myself from crying simply watching her. She does not speak English, but we cuddled for a little bit that evening and I hope she felt some love and reassurance. I’m praying that one day she will learn that she is a real Princess—not only in name, but because she is a child of the King.

Riding the Dala Dala

Sunday, August 15, 2011

The dalla dalla is the local transportation system here in Tanzania. It costs 500 tsh (Tanzanian shillings) to ride it into Arusha and 200 tsh to ride into Usa. (500tsh is about the equivalent of 30 cents or something). One of the nannies, Teonna, and I walked to the end of our road, crossed the street, and waited to get picked up for a ride into town. While still afar off, the dalla dalla started honking repeatedly until it came speeding straight at us, skidding to a stop maybe a couple inches from where we were standing. I thought my life was going to end right then and there as it was speeding towards us, but the driver somehow missed hitting us. When the door opened, I noticed that this vehicle was already packed full to the brim, so I naturally assumed we would wait for the next one to come along…but no! To my surprise, we were shoved on by the guy who opens and closes the door. With a couple smacks on the roof by that same guy, the dalla dalla took off, skidding back onto the road with the door still wide open and me still dangling out! What I learned is that it does not matter how many seats there are, because you can fit three times as many people in there! Teonna told me that the most she has counted inside of a dalla dalla was 34 people! I was across from (smushed face to face with) an old man picking his nose and I also had someone sitting on my lap somewhat, while the people on either side of me were half under me and half over me. The body positioning changes at each stop as some get off and more climb on. This rearranging of bodies and smells keeps things interesting. The loud music is also fun. I wish I could have gotten my camera out to take a picture of the scene, but I couldn’t move and it also would’ve been really awkward as no one would have appreciated it. So for now, you will just have to imagine it. Riding the dalla dalla into town is something I will probably get used to eventually, but I will always remember this first experience!

Sunday, August 14, 2011

The Twins

Claire is a nanny from England in her early twenties with a beautiful accent! (If I could pick up her accent while I am here as well as learn Swahili, that would be great!) Claire has had lots of experience with children and babies and is currently keeping the orphanage running while Davona is gone for a few months. Almost two weeks ago, the mother of premature twin boys died in the hospital nearby. Instead of putting the boys in our orphanage nursery right away, Claire volunteered to keep them with her for the first couple of months until they grow and get stronger. When they came, they were a mere 2kg each! David and Silvamos are precious little bundles and I am greatly enjoying having them live in the apartment with us!

Friday, August 12, 2011

Welcome to Tanzania!

Friday. August 12. 2011
The birds are conversing outside my window, the crickets are chirping, and the sun has risen. I am currently experiencing my first morning in Usa River, Tanzania at the Cradle of Love Baby Home! Before the sun came up, the chickens were making a racket, the wild dogs were howling, and the Muslim call to prayer was being blasted on loudspeakers somewhere nearby. So, as you can imagine, I have been awake for a while. As I sit here and eat my breakfast of cliff bars, celery, and chocolate covered almonds, there are monkeys playing in the trees behind our backyard and there are 42 adorable babies and toddlers waking up. I met many of them last night, but I have yet to learn their names and get to know their personalities. My journey is just beginning! In my Cross-cultural ministries class last year, I learned a lot of valuable information to prepare me for being a missionary and living overseas. One thing I learned that sticks out in my mind is that missionaries go through phases of culture shock. The author of our textbook broke it down into four stages:
  1. Initial High – During this phase you usually feel excited because you are finally there! (A little bit nervous about being in a new country, though). The level of satisfaction is high. It’s the honeymoon phase of the missionary stay.
  2. Frustration – Sooner or later it hits you. You are here to stay. The different tastes and sounds will not go away and some of these different things begin to get to you. You can’t seem to understand anybody. Misunderstandings seem frequent and your patience wears thin. The satisfaction level is low and you feel like going home.
  3. Recovery – The good news is that culture shock is temporary. Efforts to make friends are crucial and pay off. Some of “their” strange and different ways begin to make sense when viewed from their viewpoint and bonding begins to occur.
  4. Acceptance – You begin to feel comfortable again. There is a sense of satisfaction about your work. You are accepting the local climate, food, dress, and customs. You function without anxiety. You make friends and enjoy them. Eventually you will miss them!
There you have it! As I blog and give you updates throughout the months, we will find out if these phases are indeed true. I am definitely not limiting myself to these four stages, of course, but it is nice to have an outline and an idea of what is to come. If I can avoid the frustration phase, I certainly will. However, I know that as Christians we often grow the most when we are in the valley, so I am sure some frustrations and trials are ahead, but I trust that God will use them to make me a better person. I believe He has led me here and I am excited to see what opportunities He has waiting for me. I will try to post updates and pictures as often as I can get internet. So here it goes! Join me as I begin my chapter of life in Tanzania.