Tuesday, November 29, 2011


                                                                               (our welcome sign in Swahili :)

Mashed potatoes & gravy, cucumber salad, tofu turkey, peas & corn, apple pie & icecream, mulberry muffins, and zucchini bread made up our Thanksgiving meal here in Tanzania. With joint efforts, we cooked all day Thursday and did a little bit of decorating to make it feel like home. My mom as well as my friend, Jo, sent pressed and dried autumn leaves from home, which added much to the cozy feel. In attendance, we had Brendon, Claire, Claire’s dad who is visiting, Selemani, baby Helen, Sonya, and Kellie. Sarah, Lilli and I hosted the evening upstairs in the apartment. It was the German girls' first time celebrating thanksgiving as well as Claire and her Dad from England! The food was delicious and the fellowship was wonderful. It was a great opportunity to go around and share what we were thankful for as well as thank God for blessing us in so many ways. Though it wasn’t quite like being at home, it was a special thanksgiving in Africa and I will always remember it!

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Bone Safari & a Dip in the Water

  This is a giraffe skin and some of its spine...and our shadows

 I think we decided this is part of the shoulders of the giraffe...at first glance it kind of looks like a pelvic bone, though
                                                                     Kellie is examining some bones
               The giraffe skull! I learned that giraffes have very heavy heads. (I have one of its teeth as a souvenir!)

I forget what we decided this deceased creature was...a zebra maybe?

There's a bird in this picture, but it kind of blends in with its surroundings

On the way to the hot springs, we stopped at a cool, hollow tree worth taking a picture with!

Hot springs! Kellie had some fancy jumps off the rope swing

My moves were not as cool as Kellie's. This jump ended in somewhat of a belly-flop

The swing was great fun and the water was WONDERFUL!

Kellie, Lilli, and Sarah

                                                                                          Fantastic Five

At 4am, two Sundays ago, we staggered out to the car to set-out for our own safari in hopes of seeing elephants, giraffes, and zebras. We drove about two hours away to the Western slope of Kilimanjaro in the middle of no where. We experienced a gorgeous sun-rise as we drove around in search of animals. We saw huge, distinct elephant footprints, but no elephants. We saw some gazelle and other species of deer, but no giraffes or zebras. We saw many monkeys, but we've got those in the back yard...they're not so exciting anymore. There were beautiful landscapes and beautiful birds, but no lions. What we did come across, though, were many bones. We drove through some very large elephant bones, and zebra bones, but the most exciting was the giraffe bones because they were so impressive. There were so many of them altogether with much of the skin as well! We don't know how this giraffe died or how long its bones had been there, but it was an interesting find. My one year in anatomy and physiology class produced in me an interest in bones and how God created them all to work and fit together. This safari became somewhat of an educational field-trip as we all discussed and debated which bones were what and where they belonged. Since we didn't see many live animals, I decided to call this our bone safari. I still hope to see some live animals in the future.
We did see an ostrich on our way back. For as far as they eye could see, there was simply sand and rocks...and a random, lone ostrich. We chased it a little bit to help him get some exercise and then we headed to the hot springs.
The hot springs are located about an hour and a half away from the orphanage out in the desert. It's amazing how quickly the landscape changes in just a short drive. Past a few little villages, there is a natural lagoon type pool, like a little oasis. The water is sparkling clear and there is a small river that you can swim up to reach another quiet pool. The water is just cool enough to be refreshing from the hot sun and there is a great rope-swing that we made use of over and over again. Though we didn't see the animals we were hoping for, we managed to have a blast with the bones followed by a much appreciated soak in the hot springs!

Sunday, November 20, 2011

A Different Way of Life

After we gave them the rice, they wanted to present us with gifts too. All of us girls received beautifully beaded necklaces.

These girls are holding my ipod watching a video of themselves singing for the first time. They were amazed!

The Maasai live in a way that seems ancient and almost unreal. Their dress, their jewelry, culture, and traditions fascinate me. We have quite a few Maasai in and around Arusha. I have been wanting to go to a   Maasai village for a long time to see for myself what it's like. 
Because their way of living is so different and intriguing, many villages have become tourist hot spots. I definitely did not want to go to a touristy village. I try NOT to be a tourist. As much as I may still look like a tourist sometimes, I try to think of myself as a local and I try to do things as un-touristy as possible. So, Brendon and my fellow volunteer friends decided to buy a 10 kg bag of rice and go in search of a Maasai village in the middle of nowhere. Brendon knew of a general area, so we drove to a place that's about half an hour away from the orphanage and then half an hour off the road into the desert. There really wasn't a road at all anymore. It was just dirt and random villages of mud huts. There were sheep everywhere and some cows. Any person we saw was dressed in bright red, orange, purple, or blue...the Maasai colors. We finally stopped at a couple of huts shared by one large family. We gave them the rice we bought as a gift and they were extremely thankful. They don't have many resources out there and they mostly live off of meat from their own animals. Rice is somewhat of a treat...so I've heard. (I need to research it and learn more about their culture.) We had a bit of a language barrier since none of them spoke a word of English, but they were so welcoming and friendly. We sang them some fun Christian campfire songs with actions and clapping and they loved it! In turn, they sang and danced for us, which was the highlight of the whole visit. The men weren't at home, so it was only the women and children...but there were many of them! They wanted to buy Kelly, one of the volunteers, as a wife for one of their men. They offered us 5 cows, but we kindly declined the offer...Kelly was a little upset that she was only worth 5 cows. We left, feeling like we had made new friends and we plan to go back to visit again. Their way of life is so different, yet beautiful in a way. I know there are a few practices that are less than healthy or positive, but at the same time, the people were happy and the children were vibrant! I'm eager to learn more about their culture and visit again to see their smiling faces.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Prince Charles comes to Town

             The Tanzanian flag and the Union Jack were set up in front of Leganga school to welcome the Prince    (that's our beautiful Mt. Meru in the background)

He was 45 minutes late so we started to have our own fun by dancing around with our flags and taking pictures

These are some of my lovely class 6 students

Fancy welcome sign they put up for him

This is myself and head teacher, Minja on my left and another fellow teacher on my right. I love teacher Minja! I spend lots of time in her office grading papers and chatting with her. She calls me Bethaleen no matter how many times I tell her my name is Bethany.
A select group of students prepared a great song with some traditional dancing to do for the prince when he arrived. Their director was wearing ALL bright pink and I thought she looked pretty snazzy.

Finally, they came! Prince Charles and Camilla, surrounded by 20 different vehicles with sirens and many guards. It cracked me up how Camilla had her little umbrella out because she was only outside for all of 3 minutes before they entered the building...but I guess maybe she didn't want a sunburn...or the umbrella just went with her outfit.

                                                                          I felt kind of like a paparazzi for the first time in my life.
Some cute students welcoming them with flowers. 

As I was sprinting across the field to school on Monday, something was different. Instead of an empty field, It was full of desks and benches being scrubbed by hundreds of students. Kids were painting, scrubbing, cleaning, planting trees, you name it! Out of breath because I was already late for my first class, I quickly asked someone what was going on. "The Prince of England is coming on Wednesday!" he said. I didn't believe him, so I went to ask the head teacher of my school and sure enough, he was coming to visit Leganga Primary School and Kilimani. So instead of going to class, the students worked busily all day and the next to get the place looking  neat, tidy, and impressive for the prince. I'm still not sure of the reason he visited our school, but it was exciting nonetheless! He went inside to take a tour of the school, sign a book, and give a talk in one of the classrooms. I wish we had waited around to shake his hand and meet him after...just to say we did it, but unfortunately we left too early. I'm over it, though, and we had a great time that day!

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

11/11/11 Nina, Anya, Tessa

The date on Friday was pretty cool, being the 11th day of the 11th month of the year 2011. Since many things happened on Friday, I will share them with you really quick as well as introduce you to Nina, Anya, and Tessa!
-I gave my first English test to my class 6 students in school and I have an enormous stack of grading to do. 
-We had no power or water all night or all day, so we had to carry big buckets of water to the orphanage from somewhere nearby that had a stash. 
-Lilli and I took the dala dala into Usa for some chips mayai at lunch because we were craving it and then of course had to pick up some mandazi for dessert (I love having super cheap food so easily accessible!)
-Some nurses from a hospital came and dropped off a new baby named Tumaini, meaning hope, because his 18 year old mother died and no one knows who the father is.
-This evening Sarah made banana bread...she thought I told her to put in 3 cups of sugar when I actually said 3/4 cup...so we had a very sweet loaf of banana bread. It's yummy, but you can only have so much before you get your fill of sweetness.

-The most significant event of the day, though, was saying goodbye to Nina, Anya, and Tessa, our triplets. They just turned 3 years-old and it was time for them to move on. Originally, they were quadruplets, but their brother died when he was a baby. Their mother died when they were born and the father had no means to take care of them. He is an older Maasai man and he visited the orphanage every once in a while. The triplets were terrified of him, though, and would shriek and scream whenever they saw him. Because the family is too poor to feed 3 more mouths and we wanted the girls to get an education, the girls went to a Maasai school near Arusha. This is a boarding school/ orphanage for Maasai girls who need a home and education. The school was started by some Germans who wanted to preserve the children's cultural heritage, but also rescue them from many of the tribes unhealthy practices. It's a wonderful place and I think the triplets will flourish there.
                          From left to right: Nina, Anya, Tessa in their new outfits before going to the Maasai school. Tessa has lighter skin and looks quite different from her sisters, but I still have trouble telling Nina and Anya apart sometimes.
                                            They each got a new pair of shoes before they left and this excited them greatly!

Nina, Anya, and Tessa are a handful! They are wild, yet so lovable. Sometimes, I wanted to pull out all of my hair while teaching pre-school because they would be so crazy and disobedient, yet at other times, I was so proud of them for learning something new, that I couldn't stop smiling and hugging them. They're smart girls and full of life and fun. Every night when we tucked them into their beds, and draped their mosquito net over them, they would say with puckered lips, "I want to kishu! I want to kishu!"... so we would all get many juicy goodnight kisses from the triplets. We miss them already, but will be praying for them and definitely going for visits!