Wamefika! They have arrived!
On Friday, July 9th I was joined here in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania by Felice Stewart, Katie Wilcoxson, and Michael Pagedas. We will be together for the time being as we all work on learning Kiswahili. It has been a delight having them here, and I’m enjoying showing them the ropes of life in Tanzania’s biggest city. Of course there are always hiccups, but so far they have been thankfully minor. It has been a delight to play “host” for a change, after months of being the “guest.” Please continue to pray for us as we begin to learn how to work together as a team.
A few things have happened since I last wrote. My dad was in Tanzania for much of June in his capacity as agricultural consultant for ECHO as they are organizing an agricultural conference in Arusha next year. After concluding his business in Arusha, he came down to spend several days with me in Dar es Salaam. It was great to have Dad around and to show him what life in the city is like. He’s been speaking Kiswahili since I was very young, and so now that I’m learning the language we were able to get around together in the local language– pretty cool.
And I am well into my third month of language learning. The more I understand of the world around me, the more I’m aware of how very little I understand. But lately, every now and then, I’ll see someoen’s face light up in appreciation of my effort to speak and behave their way, rather than expecting them to know my language and culture. It’s a nice feeling.
Last month I was also able to take a two-day vacation out to the island of Zanzibar. The one thing I forgot to pack was my camera. The “excuse” was that Zanzibar is the birthplace of Kiswahili, so it would be a learning experience. Which it was, but two nights on the island was also a delightful change of pace from the big city. The highlight of my time there was visiting the Christ Church Anglican Cathedral (no Orthodox parish yet!). When the Sultan of Zanzibar abolished slavery in the late 19th century, he donated the slave market to the Anglican Church and the cathedral’s high altar was built where the whipping-post used to be. It’s a moving place to visit.
July 4th, of course, is not a holiday in Tanzania. I felt a little lonely that day, especially since I wasn’t able to find any American treats like sweet tea or mashed potatoes. But July 7th, called Saba Saba (“seven seven”) is a major holiday somewhat akin to the American Fourth of July. So my language helper and I went with some friends to the fairgrounds nearby to join in the festivities and see the exhibits. We missed out on the official opening ceremony with President Lulu de Silva of Brazil along with Tanzania’s Jakaya Kikwete, but my Kiswahili was taxed to its limits learning about Parliament, AIDS prevention, and fish-farming. Then we went to everyone’s favorite part: the zoo. Yes, I took a picture of the giraffe.
My sister Ginny and her husband Stephen have arrived in Doro, Sudan where they will spend the next few months assisting a Protestant group there with water development projects. Their African experience has been very different from mine- and the story of their journey from Nairobi, Kenya up to Doro is well worth the read.
God willing, in the coming months I will be able to transition to Mwanza and begin working for Metropolitan Jeronymos there in addition to continuing with Kiswahili language study. In the meantime, I thank God for continued good health and strength as I continue learning how to speak, live and act in Tanzania. I know that many of you are praying for me, because I am being well-cared for here. Thank you for your prayers, as well as for your friendship and encouragement. Please keep in touch.
By your prayers,