Friday, September 30, 2011

My Week (warning: this is a very long post)

SUNDAY. From 8am-5pm I had the joy of feeding newborns, changing diapers, bouncing fussy babies, and playing with the giggly babies in the nursery. We have two new babies named Clinton and Gloria. Clinton was found abandoned on the ground in Arusha so he was brought to the Cradle of Love. Gloria’s parents both have leprosy. Her mother died after she was born and her father is a beggar on the streets, but he would like to have her back once she is two years old.
Another exciting event in the nursery is the break out of Scabies! Yuck. Zawadi, a darling 2 month old, broke out with it initially and spread it to many of the other babies. Thankfully, it has not spread to the big house yet. I pray it will not! Scabies broke out last year and went around for about 10 months. The staff, the volunteers, and the children all took their turn fighting the unpleasant skin disease.
Anyways, my Sundays in the nursery are great and I look forward to them not only because I love the little babies, but because yummy snacks are included! At 11am, one of the nannies brings over some Chai tea and mandazi (a Tanzanian doughnut sort of thing) and at 2pm, they bring over beans and rice. Delicious!
MONDAY was an average day. Feeding time at 9am, preschool from 10am-12pm, and then feeding time again! After the kids are down for a nap, we have our lunch break. During that time, I walked down the dusty road to the post office to check the mailbox for packages or letters. It was empty, but to look at the bright side, I got a little bit of exercise out of the walk! After the kids nap time, it’s play time once again. At 5pm, it’s supper time and then one by one the kids are taken to get their heavy cloth diapers changed and their jammies put on. A lot of the diapers are soaked through or hanging down, their tops are covered in ugi (porridge) and their faces are a mess. This is a very noisy time! After about an hour, the smaller ones are put to bed and all the toddlers are cleaned up and looking adorable in their pajamas. We sing songs and do actions until snack time at 6:30 when they get to eat a boiled egg or a piece of bread with peanut butter on it. At 7pm, it’s kulala (sleeping) time! We tuck them in, exchange a goodnight kiss, and drape the mosquito net over their cribs. They stick their thumbs in their mouths and go to sleep!
TUESDAY morning started with a jog at 7am! Sarah is my faithful jogging partner and we try to get out before the heat of the day rises. After a cold shower, devotion time, and some fruit for breakfast, we head downstairs again for the normal routine. We made a zebra craft in preschool and also learned about the porcupine! For lunch we ate chapati with guacamole and tomatoes and for desert, we had chapatti with peanut butter and honey! (creative, I know) Since I have Tuesday afternoons off, I looked after the twins, David and Silvamos, who are now 2 months old. I did a Swahili lesson while they were asleep and bounced and fed them while they were awake. Simon, an ADRA worker comes up to the apartment every night to cuddle the twins and visit with us. It was an uneventful and pleasant evening!
WEDNESDAY was full of surprises. Hope and Lazaro are the eldest children in the orphanage. They are turning 4 today! They came to the orphanage as premature twins because their mother died and their father could not afford to look after them. Now they are brilliant kids and they love to help with the younger babies. They are due to move to an older children’s home this month because their father is very poor and old and lives in a village far away. He still cannot afford to look after them and provide for them the education they need and deserve, but he visits every once in awhile. He needed to sign some documents for them to be able to move to the next orphanage, so he visited on Wednesday morning! It was interesting to see because he didn’t do much with them at all except for hold them on his lap, but they loved it. They talk about their dad all the time and want to go home with him. He had quite a few teeth missing and the remaining ones were brown (which is not uncommon here) and he was poorly dressed. He didn’t speak any English, but Hope and Lazaro were chatting away to him in English and Swahili because they are quite fluent in both. They were showing him books and coloring pictures and he just sat there. It was an interesting sight to watch. When it was time for him to go, they sobbed and sobbed and he simply left. It was an event that I didn’t quite understand, but it brought tears to my own eyes as I tried to comfort Hope and Lazaro. After lunch, Claire and I had some errands to run, so we hopped on the dala dala and settled in for a bumpy, stinky ride. About half way to Arusha, at one of the stops, there was an unusual crowd of people all standing around and jabbering loudly. Everyone inside the dala dala was peering out to see what was going on. Apparently, a man had tried to steal something and so a mob of people killed him…they burned him, to be exact. I am sure there is more to the story, but that is all we could get out of the explanation in broken English from someone sitting next to us. The sight of the burned, dead man on the ground made my stomach and heart do flip-flops. It was grotesque and extremely sad. Unfortunately, I will never forget that picture. For everybody else, though, life seemed to move on. Some more people climbed on the already crowded dala dala and the door slammed shut as we zoomed on into town.
THURSDAY morning was a happy one! Claire, Lilli, Sarah and I took the preschoolers to the game lodge down the road where they have animals that have been injured in some way, which causes them to be endangered in the wild. This place provides a beautiful and safe environment for these animals to live in. These kids have VERY rarely ridden in a car or been anywhere but the orphanage so it is quite an experience taking them out. They got to see zebras, crocodiles, eagles, porcupines, monkeys, lizards, ostriches, exotic birds and an Eland. We had them all sitting on the wall gazing at the animals when the Eland decided to walk over and be friendly! As it started coming toward us, you could see the fear start to increase in the children’s eyes. As it got closer they all got up and ran away screaming and crying at the top of their lungs,. The kids did this routine for almost all of the animals. It was hilarious! But slowly it got better and one by one, they got brave enough to go say hello to the different animals and peak over the wall at the porcupines. It was our first field trip and we had a jolly good time! Since we had a few potty trainers, we had to bring a little plastic potty-chair along and take potty breaks by the car. Those are always funny because all the kids just pull down their pants while they wait for their turn. In a public venue like this game/wildlife lodge, we got many odd looks—four white girls (mizungus) with 8 black kids with no pants on waiting for a potty in the middle of an empty parking lot! Anyways, it was great to get them out and expose them to animals in real life instead of just pictures of these animals in preschool. For lunch, we made “chips mayai” which is a Tanzanian dish of French fries and eggs fried together to make a big patty type thing. Greasy, but delicious! After that, I chopped up a watermelon, sweet melon, and a pineapple for a fruit salad. Yum! I swept and mopped the apartment with one twin strapped on my back and the other in a car seat, rotating them whenever one got fussy! It’s great fun having these twins up here because it keeps life interesting.
FRIDAY morning was the last day of the month, so there was a staff meeting. All of the nannies crowded into the back play room with Claire and talked about the events of the last month and what they could do to improve. They sang some songs in Swahili as well, which was lovely to hear! While this meeting was going on, us volunteers tried to keep some of the children distracted in the front playroom. We introduced the game of soccer! Some caught on, some did not…but we had a great time. After lunch, Claire and I went into town again (it doesn’t usually happen twice in a week, but we ran out of baby formula). We purchased more baby formula and some more diapers for the nursery. Since I am a relatively impulsive person, I made a random decision to cut my hair! While in town, I thought I should do it while I had the chance. So I did it! More than 10 inches off my head..boom just like that. I haven’t had short hair like this since I was in grade 3, but it feels pretty good. I may look like I am in grade 3 again, but now I can spend less time in the freezing cold shower and the kids will have less hair to tug on and pull out. I learned early on that long hair doesn’t do well with 49 children.
So that was my week! Now you know, roughly, what a week is like for me here in Tanzania. Though we may have a routine, I have learned that it ALWAYS changes in Africa. Each week holds some new twist and nothing ever goes the way it’s planned. This can be frustrating sometimes, but I love the spontaneity! This was a long blog post, so if you made it all the way through, congratulations! I just thought I would update you on my life lately since we haven’t had internet all week. I would have loved to add pictures to each one of the descriptions of the days this week, but the internet is sooo slow right now, it would take an hour to load one picture. So I’ll add pictures later!
Now it is 10:15 on Friday night and I am gratefully welcoming in the Sabbath!  Tomorrow we are having communion and I know it will be a very special day. I praise God for what I have learned this week, the way He reveals Himself through the children and the way He is working in my life. Thanks for your prayers and I hope you have a wonderful Sabbath.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

My Apartment-mates

Lilli and Sarah arrived at the orphanage a couple of weeks ago straight from Germany! Lilli is a kindergarten teacher and Sarah is a doctor's assistant. They will be volunteers here at Cradle of Love for a year! I have really enjoyed getting to know them so far and look forward to spending lots more time with them over the next few months :) These pictures are from a hike we took out behind the orphanage after church on Sabbath.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

African Moon

Last week we had a full moon and it was gorgeous! The moon looks different in Africa than it does at home...I'm not sure why because it's the same moon. But I love it when it is full! I set up my tripod outside and zoomed in as far as I could. Unfortunately, I didn't spot any people on the moon!
By reflecting the sun, the moon produces a lot of light. Even though it was late at night, it was very bright outside when I took this picture. As Christians, we have just as much capability of lighting up the world, because we were created to reflect the Son. I would venture to say we have double the capability of lighting up the world because we reflect the Son of God who created the sun with all it's power and brightness. To reflect the Son is our purpose here and though it's not always easy, I'm praying that I will constantly be in tune with Him so that I may reflect His character. And I pray the same for you!

Safari International Half-Marathon

I had been holding up the rear of the leading pack of runners for most of the past 20.5 kilometers and I could take it no longer…I knew I could win this race so I mustered up my last bit of energy to finish strong. As I sprinted past the long, lean, muscular, world-class Kenyan and Tanzanian runners to the finish line, the crowds went wild...hahaha! Just kidding, I certainly did not win! I was probably in the group of about 50 of the last finishers, BUT I completed my first half-marathon on Sunday here in Arusha, Tanzania and it was a great experience! The race was a bit different than races at home because they didn’t stop traffic for the runners—we just ran in and amongst the traffic, dodging dala dala’s, buses, dogs, chickens, goats, crowds of people…you name it! Traffic is a whole lot different here in the city than at home too.  I wish I could describe it to you, but I don’t know how to put it into words. It’s definitely comical, though! Once we got out of the city, we ran out past the Arusha airport where it was a lot quieter and less dusty.  The race course was set up with a turn around point so when I was on my way to the turn around point, I passed the super fast leading pack of runners coming the other way. If you have seen races in North America, you know that you can count on an African guy winning it with an incredible time! Well…this is where these guys come from so just imagine 30 of them sprinting together, shoulder to shoulder with a cloud of African dust flying up and swirling around behind their heels. Then there were many more fast packs of them following the one in the lead. Let me tell ya—it was a sight to behold! It was a bit depressing for me because I still had a good 30 minutes to go before I even got to the turn around point. At the time, I was running with a guy in long jeans and flat shoes. We ran together for about 5km or something and kept each other going. After the turning point, he decided to walk so I kept going until I met up with a boy who looked about 10-years-old. I tried to pass him, but he would not let me! He would speed up when I sped up or get in front of me when I tried to pass. So, we ended up running together for the last 8km or so. He was super cute and we started to bond as we ran together dodging the traffic. When I would slow down, he would encourage me (in Swahili) and motion to me to go faster. We sprinted to the finish line together with a time of 2 hours and 10 min. It was a blast! It was interesting to see the mix of different sorts of runners. There were the hardcore ones who were super fast and then there were many people just wearing jeans and terrible shoes for running. (It didn't seem to matter, though, because they all finished in pretty good time!) The wheel chair race was another sight to see. In America, the wheelchair competitors have fancy wheelchairs made for racing and they're dressed in racing attire. Not these guys. The wheel chairs here were just normal, upright wheelchairs you would see in a hospital that appeared very old and looked like they would fall apart at any moment. It was very sad to see and I have no idea how they pushed those chairs for 21km…but they did! It almost brought tears to my eyes to watch them cross the finish line because everyone was cheering so loudly for them and it was so special to see the expressions of relief and satisfaction on their faces.
When I got back to the apartment after the race, Lili made me pose for a picture with my medal. She was also intrigued by my big water blister on my 4th toe…so she took a picture of that too. I know my foot looks gross in that picture because of all the dust and dirt it collected, but I put it up so you could see the giant water blister! After the run, I could feel the water jiggling around in it as I walked! (That’s how impressive it was) lol. I think that’s enough for this post!

Monday, September 19, 2011

Sabbath, Sept. 17

This past Sabbath, Yona took Sarah, Lili, and I to a new church up in the mountains that is just starting! Yona, the current director of ADRA, loves working with young churches to help them grow and begin to flourish. Yona has an incredible family who is dedicated to the Lord’s work and I admire them greatly! They all pitch in and help with Sabbath school and anything else needed to bring Jesus to more people. A one-day church was donated to this village (which is a huge blessing because it rained hard during the service and it was nice to have a strong roof) and they have built some bricks around it to block the wind out. They are going to build another building so they can have a place dedicated to the kids and one as the sanctuary. I hope to help in this building project on my days off because homemade bricks and mud sound pretty exciting to me! There were only four adults at church on Sabbath, but they were on fire for God and very excited to have us volunteers join their small congregation. Though the number of adults was small, there were 10 or 15 kids in Sabbath school! Most of these kids are non-Adventist, which poses a problem because their parents are not in favor of them being there since they are Lutheran or Muslim. There are still more who have come in the past, but their parents or grandparents do not allow it anymore. I am praying that God will provide a way for every child in this village and the nearby villages to come to Sabbath school because I want each one of them to meet Jesus. There are no English speakers there, but I was able to teach them part of Jesus loves me in English and they taught me a Swahili song. I told a children’s story with Yona’s nephew translating and we had a lot of fun. It was amazing to me how these children listened to the lesson and sat so quietly. A couple of them were taking care of baby siblings and keeping them content as they listened and learned. It was an inspiring Sabbath overall and I can’t wait to get to know the members as I worship with them and watch the church grow. We hope to bring coloring, crafts, and felts to Sabbath school in the future to give the kids some more variety and experience some new activities for the first time! This past Sabbath revealed to me that God really is working ALL around the world, even in tiny little communities.

Thursday, September 15, 2011


After a 7-hour drive and a 10-minute ferry ride, Claire, Brenden, and I arrived in Pangani, a little beach town on the coast of Tanzania. It is a beautiful place and very hot! Everyone rides bicycles and lives in mud huts with grass roofs. Chickens, goats, cows, sheep, and monkeys roam around while the children play all day on the beach and on the little dirt roads in the villages. No one speaks English there, but the locals were very friendly and gave us much opportunity to practice our Swahili. Pangani was an extremely small, poor town, but the people there were rich in happiness and smiles! I loved it there. We camped on a beach for the weekend about 10 minutes past the town.

To the Beach!

These pictures are from the lagoon we stayed at last week for a short little holiday. We set up two tents in the sand on the beach and made it our little home for a couple of days. We read books, snorkeled, played on the beach with the local children, and cooked on our little campfire in the sand. We drank and ate coconuts straight off the trees and had a great cultural experience. I attempted climbing one of the coconut trees like the locals do with a little rope around my ankles, but after getting up a couple meters, I didn’t have enough muscle to get back down, so I just kind of slid down leaving me extremely bruised and scratched! Claire stepped on sea urchins when we were exploring in the water, and still has them in her heel to this moment, causing her much pain...we don't know how to get them out. Other than those two events, we had a wonderful time at the beach.

Saturday, September 3, 2011



“Darasa time, darasa time, darasa time!” Lazaro screams as he runs down the hall to collect the other preschoolers. When I come around the corner the rest of the kids start chanting, “Darasa!” while they scurry around to put on their shoes. Darasa means “class/school” in Swahili. Many of the kids know some English, but their understanding of Swahili is much better. I have eight kids in preschool right now. Kurwa, Jaqueline and Karen are all 2 - 2.5 years old. Triplets, Nina, Anya, and Tessa are 3 years old while twins, Hope and Lazaro will be 4 years old in a couple of months. We are currently learning our colors, animals, alphabet, English, numbers and about Jesus! Some are still learning how to go potty and others can already write their name. We have lots of fun making crafts, singing songs, playing duck-duck-goose, and going for walks. We have good days and bad days, but overall I love it and they seem to love it too! Sometimes they are very naughty and disobedient, but they are extremely bright kids and fast learners as well, which makes every day full of surprises:)

Thursday, September 1, 2011


It was a beautiful hot, sunny day here in Usa, Tanzania. For those of you who don't know, I am teaching preschool for two hours every weekday morning here at the orphanage. The kids are definitely a handful! Some days are very discouraging because the potty-trainers will wet their pants and produce puddles on the floor while others are throwing temper-tantrums while others are tearing the decorations off the wall while still others are hitting each-other. BUT, there are also days like today where we have a blast and everyone behaves and no one wets their pants and we sing songs and make crafts! I will take pictures soon so you can meet the children in preschool. They are smart kids and I love each one of them very much already! After a great morning of preschool, it was feeding time at 12pm. (Feeding time is busy and noisy as you can imagine) When all the babies were fed and down for a nap, I went up to the apartment to make some lunch with Claire and feed the little twins. (They are 1 month old today and a whopping 6 pounds, 3 oz! They're growing and healthy!) Since I have Thursday afternoons off, I chose to go sit in the grass and take pictures of the monkeys. On hot days, they are extra playful and friendly so I was quite entertained simply watching them. While watching the monkeys, I heard a weird noise in the leaves a few feet away. My heart nearly stopped when I saw what it was! At first I thought it was a snake, but then I saw some legs so I figured it was some kind of lizard. I took a few pictures since I was too afraid to move and as it walked away, slithering its tongue, I called one of the nannies over to tell me what it was. She, then called one of the ADRA workers over to tell both of us what it was! He said it was a baby lizard that grows to be the size of a small crocodile...but it is harmless. I don't know if I believe that was harmless, but either way I am thankful that it was no bigger than it was already! When my memory card was full and my battery dead, I decided to walk to the post office to check for packages and to my surprise, I had one waiting for me from my grandma and grandpa! As I walked back, I had a clear view of Mt. Kilimanjaro and Mt. Meru which is special because they are usually bathed in clouds and hazy air. I returned to the apartment to find that the power was still on after being on continuously for almost three days now! September 1, 2011 has been a wonderful day for me so I just thought I would share that with you! These pictures are of some of the monkeys I happily observed today as well as the lizard. As soon as I take some more pictures, I'll introduce you to the kids in preschool with my next blog!