Friday, December 11, 2009

More Baylor Pics

After 6 days of trying, I have finally succeeded in posting these pictures.  You're probably thinking this is due to the newborn, but really it's just because of the internet.  We've had some troubles there the last few days.  But don't worry, no more waiting to see the cuteness.

These two pictures were taken in the hospital just 12 or so hours after her birth.  She was very alert for a newborn, and content and happy to play and sleep.  This has since been replaced with eating and more eating and crying when she's not eating.

Our first family photo away from the hospital.

Baylor is not a fan of bath time.  I myself love bath time.  In fact, I wish I had time for a sudsy soak with a ducky every day.  Baylor does, however, enjoy being wrapped up in a nice, soft towel afterwards and being cuddled by her Baba.  In case you don't recognize him, the guy in the second picture is Brett.  Yes, Sasquatchy Brett has left, hopefully never to return again.  It's so hot here, we were only home from the hospital 30 minutes before he darted off to get his shave and a haircut.  The reactions of our friends here were highly entertaining to watch. None of them had ever seen Brett without the shaggy hair and scraggly backpacker beard before.  Baylor has a pretty strong grip, so it was probably wise of him before she ripped out a big chunk anyway.

For those of you who don't know, I'm a big fan of sheep, and am pretty happy about the fact that my daughter's initials spell BAH.  In honor of this, we bought her this little sheep outfit so that she can not only look adorable, but also maybe start counting early and get a good night's rest (the good night's rest is really my dream though).

Friday, December 4, 2009

Introducing Baylor... Finally

I'm happy to introduce to you our beautiful, wrinkly daughter,
Baylor Adelaide Harrison.

Born December 4th (12 days late), 2:00 am
Weight:  7 lbs, 10 oz
Length:  They apparently don't take this measurement at Tanzanian hospitals.
(We'll let you know the next time we're near a tape measure...)

Everybody's happy and healthy.  More details later.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Crafts, Curries, and Cullens

Today we went to Makutano, a big craft fair in downtown Dar.  Local artists bring their many wares and sell them at somewhat puffed up prices to tourists and other expats.  There were all kinds of things available, from clothes to jewelry to 15ft. long metal crocodiles.  I tried to convince Brett that we needed to strap that thing to the top of our car and take it back to Geita for our front yard.  What says welcome more than a large snapping beast?  We didn't buy very much, but it was enjoyable, nonetheless,  and I know a lot of Tanzanians made a lot of money that they don't often have, so I'm glad to have participated.

After the fair, we went to a community Thanksgiving dinner.  This was the most unusual Thanksgiving dinner I've attended.  First, it wasn't on Thanksgiving.  Second, I only knew a few people.  Third, it was held at the home of two South Africans.  Fourth, there were not only Americans, but also the aforementioned South Africans, Britains, Tanzanians, and Indians.  And fifth, this was an everybody bring a dish meal, and the food was a bit different than what I expected.  Our little group brought green bean casserole, corn casserole, and apple pies.  So traditional we are.  When we walked in the room the overwhelming aroma was curry.  Not quite the cinnamon and sage smells I was expecting.  They had two turkeys, one of which was grilled, and the other of which was seasoned with all kinds of Indian spices I don't know the names of.  There were also a few other dishes I've never seen on the dining room table at this time of year.  It was all good, though it was a strange mixing curried meat and raisins with sweet potatoes and marshmallows.

After our very American Thanksgiving, we headed to the movies with friends to watch New Moon, the latest in the Twilight series.  I've read all the books and really enjoyed them, but thought the first movie was horrible.  But the movie theater being air-conditioned, I was more than willing to sit through the second installment (which started 30 minutes late), and it was actually a lot better than the first.  I think that was mostly due to the fact that the guy that plays Edward Cullen was not in the movie for much of the time, greatly increasing the general talent level of the cast.

It was nice to get out of the house and break the monotony of sitting and waiting.  We've been doing that kind of a lot lately.

Friday, November 27, 2009


Yesterday was my first Thanksgiving in 100-ish degree weather.  It definitely changes the atmosphere a bit.  It also makes cooking in the kitchen crazy hot.   Nonetheless, we enjoyed a nice quiet evening with our friends, Kate and Carley, here in Dar.  I offered to make the dinner mostly by myself because the others are teachers and don't get the day off--sad.  Plus I really like to cook.  So in order to make my life a little easier, I started cooking things on Tuesday, chopping and whatnot.  Then I made a little more on Wednesday and a little more on Thursday.  I realize that we only had four people eating, but who wants Thanksgiving without all the things to eat you grew up with?  So we had stuffing, green bean casserole, vegetable casserole, mashed potatoes, sister schubert rolls, roast chicken (turkeys are $65 here in Dar--what's that about?), pumpkin pie (Kate made very cute individual little pies), apple crisp, and molasses cookies.  We didn't really put a dent in the feast, but who doesn't enjoy Thanksgiving leftovers?  I was going to take a picture of us but the electricity went out and I couldn't find the camera in the dark.  Ah, Africa.  Hope you all enjoyed your holiday.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Baby Pool

So I'm still pregnant.  Not too thrilled about this, but you know, she's not actually due for 5 more days, so I guess I should've expected it.  Our friends here have started a game to guess when Baylor will be born.  The winner gets a meal paid for by the rest of the participants at a lovely Italian restaurant on the beach.  

I thought perhaps some of you might like to join in on the fun.  So, here is your information: Baylor is due this Sunday, November 22nd.  The doctor here predicted she would be born last Friday.  Too bad she wasn't the winner.  Anyway, I realize if you win you won't be able to receive the grand prize of dinner on the beach, but I do encourage you to treat yourself to a Sonic slushy.  I highly recommend the blue coconut.  I suppose it's a bit cold there though, so maybe just indulge in an extra helping of green bean casserole and pumpkin pie at Thanksgiving.  

Any guesses?

One more thing.  Brett has started an additional blog of his own to share his ramblings on theology as well as to give more detailed reports of the work we're doing here.  The address is  I'm sure he would appreciate lots of comments on how superduper nice it looks.  

Thursday, November 12, 2009

So This Is Us

Here we are at 38 weeks of tummy and beard growth.  I think Brett's head looks very round with all that hair.  

Oh, and the pancakes were delicious.  

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

In Dar

We've now been in Dar for a week and have settled in quite nicely for our short stay.  We're enjoying hanging out with friends and getting to know them better.  We've eaten pizza and last night even went to a movie, which was in an air conditioned theater.  The movie, Surrogates, wasn't so great, but I'll happily pay $5 to sit in the air conditioning for a couple hours.  

We've now been to the hospital 3 times, none of which has seemed particularly productive.  The first time we went, they showed us the delivery rooms and maternity wards, which was helpful, and told us we'd have to come back on Friday to pre-register because they only do that on Mondays and Fridays.  So, we went back on Friday and found out in order to pre-register and deliver there, we had to sign up and pay for 9 months of pre-natal care.  This was annoying to us as we've already had and paid for 9 months of pre-natal care elsewhere.  But even Brett couldn't convince them to change their demands, so we paid up.  Then they told me that none of my records from my other doctor were valid as they don't know her and that I would have to have all the tests and everything done again.  My American, Cornell educated doctor is not good enough? They said if I would just sit down and wait a few minutes they'd have me in to see the doctor. Three hours later and still sitting, Brett told them we were leaving, to which they responded "Oh, but she's next." Sure I was.  But they did bring me in and took blood and put my name on the top of a piece of paper and told me I could go.  No doctor present.  They then told me the doctor wasn't there and I should come back on Tuesday for an appointment with her.  So this morning we made our way back to the hospital, where they told us I needed to get my blood taken and have a checkup and maybe I'd see the doctor.  They seem to be really into have blood taken.  But we just insisted on seeing the doctor and not having other tests done and only 30 minutes later we got to see her.  She checked up a little on the baby and basically just told me it could be any day now, making sure I knew the signs of labor and where to go when I get to the hospital.  And then we left.  So I'm not thrilled with the way the pre-natal care part of the hospital is run, but the maternity ward itself seems well organized and everyone there has seemed very helpful and knowledgeable.  I'll just try to avoid the over-excited blood-takers. 

This afternoon I'm teaching a girl how to make pancakes.  She's a domestic worker and wants to broaden her resume, so I thought pancakes would be a pretty alright place to start.  She also often wears a Virginia Is For Lovers t-shirt, which makes me happy and reminds me of home. I'll let you know how it goes. 

Thursday, November 5, 2009

The Journey

We have finally arrived in Dar Es Salaam to await the birth of our daughter.  We left Geita last Thursday for Mwanza, and on Friday I had a doctor's appointment there.  Everything is looking great.  Baylor seems to be on her way out and Dr. Beatrice guessed that I would deliver a week early.  I realize that is a complete guess and probably she has no real way of knowing, but I can hope!  We spent Saturday and Sunday running errands in Mwanza before we left on Monday morning.  

Monday we drove 9 hours to Dodoma, the capital city of Tanzania.  It is a common mistake to think that Dar is the capital, as it is both the largest city and where the president lives and all the embassies are.  However, Parliament meets in Dodoma, and for reasons unknown to me (though I think it has something to do with the city being more centrally located), it is in fact the capital. Anyway, I learned this trip that driving 9 hours while 8 1/2 months pregnant is entirely different from driving 9 hours at any other time.  The roads from Mwanza to Dodoma are actually quite good; they're all paved except for about an hour-and-a-half stretch.  But driving on paved roads here is still just not the same.  For example, they love speed bumps in Tanzania.  Speed bumps of all sizes, shapes, colors, locations.  They just simply adore them.  Which is why, in the middle of nowhere, you'll be driving 70 miles an hour and Oh! a speed bump!  And you hope that either there is a sign to warn you of said speed bump or you could see it from far enough away to slow down so that your car does not get too much air time.  No matter how slow you're driving speed bumps are not pleasant in our 12 year old beast of a car. And speed bumps are not good for pregnant women.  

But anyway, speed bumps aside, we made it to Dodoma and were able to spend the evening and stay with our Swiss friends, Rueben and Sara, and their daughter, Aleah.  Here is Brett practicing his parenting skills with Aleah.  He's the duck.  

Tuesday morning we got up and headed to Dar.  This drive was only a little over 5 hours, which is better than 9, but even so, we were really happy to finally get here. We're staying in Dar with our friend Kate, who teaches at a Christian school here, and her new roommates, Austin and Amy, also teachers and fairly newly married as well.  An interesting situation, but the house is enormous (I think think there are 4 living rooms), and we're grateful to to have a free place to stay and friends to spend time with.  So far we're enjoying ourselves, despite the oppressive heat (I'm not sure any of you have ever really experienced what hot actually feels like, I know I hadn't until 2 days ago--maybe people from Nevada? or the Sahara?).  

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

House Update

It's funny.  Two months ago, before we started working on the house, our landlord and contractor both said that the house would be ready to move into in 10 days.  Now, we knew that that would never happen, but we did think it would be ready for us to move into before we left for Dar to have Baylor.  And now, two months later, the house continues to be needing lots of work.  But that's ok with us.  We weren't real thrilled with the idea of moving in and then immediately leaving anyway.  And now we don't have to worry about that.  We are worrying a little about whether or not things will actually get done while we're gone.  Fortunately, we have Carson and Calvin around to keep an eye on things.  Right now, they're painting the bars of the windows.  When they're done with that, they'll paint the rest of the house, finish the electricity, install the windows and hopefully, that'll be it!  With the inside anyway.  They'll paint the outside of the house and build the water tower (to hold our water tank) after we get back.  But the house is actually starting to really look like a place people will live.  This is our kitchen. 

You've probably noticed that it's all concrete.  The whole house is all concrete, like most houses here.  It's the cheapest and sturdiest way to build.  The sink's already been put in down there at the end, and the oven will go underneath the window on the left.  The fridge will actually go in a storeroom off to the right.  And the room is not actually slanted--I'm just a bad photographer. I'll eventually post a picture of the completed kitchen for you to compare, but it'll probably be a while because we're leaving Geita tomorrow to start making our way towards Dar.  Just 3 1/2 weeks left (hopefully...)!

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Meet Gus

Having a guard dog in Africa is a necessity.  Theft is often a big problem here, and most Africans don't like dogs, so just having one in the yard is a big deterrent.  Perhaps our little puppy is not so formidable right now, but he's a german shepherd/rotweiler mix, so one day he should at least look scary.  We got Gus from a family on the Mwanza team who just had puppies and the McNeals and Groens picked up a couple of his sisters for themselves as well. We're hoping that Gus will be a nice friendly dog to all except people attempting to break into our house in the wee hours of the morning...not that we're really expecting that to happen--just a precaution. Also, I hope that this picture of me at 35 weeks convinces some of you scoffers out there that I really do look pregnant.  

Friday, October 16, 2009

Temporary Abode Number...

Over the last year or so, we've lived in so many different places I've lost count.  I'm sure I could actually figure it out, but that would take more effort than I'm willing to put into it at the current moment.  

Last weekend we were happy to have the Groen Family join us in Geita.  When we moved to Geita 6 weeks ago, they stayed in Mwanza to work on some paperwork and other legalities for the orphanage they're starting.  The Groens had previously arranged to rent a house in Geita, and that is what the McNeals and we have been living in while waiting for our own houses to be ready.  Now that the Groens have moved in, we decided 9 people in a house with one bathroom was a little much, so Brett and I moved into the little detached guest house/room next door.  We'll only be here a few weeks, and it definitely makes it easier on everyone to have a little extra space.  We have our own bathroom (no hot water, though) and Brett created a little kitchen for us to use.  I give him an award for excellent use of paint cans and plywood.  For about 200 square feet, it's actually quite functional.

For those of you who didn't already know, you can probably tell from the above picture that Holly is also pregnant, due at then end of February.  And for those of you who have held the theory that missionaries in Geita can't produce male children (there are 6 girls with 2 more on the way, 0 boys), Holly and Carson defy you.  They found out recently that they are, in fact, having a boy.  I feel kind of bad for the kid, as he'll be the only little boy around for a while, at least.  But it's good, because I have a feeling the people of Geita might have started to think it a little strange that all of us only have little girls. Plus, he'll probably be the manliest kid in the world, as all the men on our team will fight over him for doing manly activities, such as rock climbing, wrestling, and lighting things on fire.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

1st Annual Rock City Marathon

Sunday was the 1st Annual Rock City Marathon in Mwanza.  Brett, being Brett, decided to run it. After doing a bit of research on the internet to get more information, he discovered that it was not, in fact, a marathon, but only a half marathon.  However, it didn't seem like the race organizers were aware of that.  I believe the website said something like, "the standard marathon distance of 21k."  Hmmm.... Nonetheless, Brett got there about 6am Sunday morning (it had to be really early because they didn't block off any roads), paid his $2 entry fee, and ran the race.  He placed 3rd in the white person category!  Seriously.  He said he felt like it was a little bit shorter than it should've been, so later we drove off the course and it was actually about a mile short of being a half marathon.  Some of the other guys here ran the 5k race and they marked it off as only 4k.  I would be pretty happy with a shorter race anyway.  Also, if they wanted to know their times, they had to keep up with it themselves. All in all, a successful run for everyone.  Though Brett did say people along the road kept asking him why he was running so slow.  

In other news, I had a doctor's appointment on Monday and was happy to find out that Baylor is quite the healthy one.  She's catching up on her size to where she's only a few days behind what she should be instead of week or a week-and-a-half behind like she was at 22 weeks.  She's just a late bloomer.  Happy to continue kicking Mom in the ribs for a little while longer. 

And we now have a permanent post office address for anyone who was waiting on the edge of their seats to send us fun treats.  
                                                            Brett and Christie Harrison
                                                            Kanisa La Kristo
                                                            PO Box 1420
                                                            Mwanza, Tanzania

We can't get a po box in geita for the time being, as there are none available, and anyway, the postal situation in Mwanza is better anyway. We figure someone from our team will be out there at least once a month and can grab all the mail for everyone, so it's just a better deal. Happy mailing.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

The House

Like I said in a previous post, searching for houses in Tanzania is not the same as searching for houses in the States.  But, after a week of driving all over Geita, we found a house that actually fit our criteria, or at least most of it.  It is 1) within 1 mile of the central market and town, so I can walk easily; 2) is super cheap; and 3) has an indoor kitchen!  I'm very excited about number 3. The house is larger than we were wanting, but there is just not a lot available in Geita, so you take what you can get.  We found a few other houses that also fit what we were looking for, except they were even bigger.  One house that our friends looked at had 11 bedrooms and 11 bathrooms.  I'm thinking it was originally meant to be a guest house.  Anyway, ours does not have that many rooms.  But we do have 2 guest rooms, so Karibu! (karibu means welcome, which is probably the most common word used in Swahili) We also found a few houses that were smaller, but they either did not have indoor kitchens or were more expensive to rent.  

Our landlord is giving is such a good price because he believes God sent us to him so that he could help us out and in turn, we could help the community. He's also a very wealthy man, so money's not so much an issue with him.  

So here's our house:

As you can probably tell, the house is not quite finished.  Or not at all finished.  People here often begin building a house and don't finish it until they find a renter.  Otherwise, squatters will move in, not take care of the house, and bring down the value.  So, while our house had walls and a roof, it didn't have much else.  When you rent a house in Tanzania, you pay between 1 and 3 years rent up front (security for the landlord).  And if the house is not finished, that money goes towards finishing the house.  We are paying 3 years rent to finish the house, and while we don't particularly like the money part, it does mean we get some say in how the house will be finished.  For example, I don't have to have royal blue tinted windows or tile covering every square inch of the house (including the front porch and walls-very popular here-to show wealth).  

Brett has been spending the last several weeks supervising and helping with the work being done on the house.  It's a stressful job, and I'm glad I'm not the one who has to do it.  But he's been able to build relationships while doing this, and two families have requested Bible studies as a result of this work.  Praise God!

We're hoping to move in to the house when we come back from Dar Es Salaam after Baylor is born.  It should be finished before then, but we don't know for sure.   And I don't know if our watch puppy will be up to guarding the house and its contents all on his own before then. I'll post more pictures as we get more work done.  I think today we're getting a toilet.   

Saturday, September 26, 2009

A Couple of Large Things

There are many creatures in Africa that I would not welcome into my home.  However, we enjoy having geckos around, because they eat mosquitos and in general cause no problems.  Yesterday we saw this enormous lizard hanging out on our window screen, and while I like lizards fine, I'm glad this one was on the outside of the house.  I doubt you can really tell how big it is, but from head to tail, it's at least a foot long.  

  The second large thing is me.  Ok, so I'm not exactly huge for 32 weeks, but I assure you I am uncomfortable and often bump my stomach on various pieces of furniture, cars, and other pointy items.  And I don't know why I'm sideways--I edited the picture to be up and down.  And I'm squinting because it's really sunny.  

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Girls and Dresses

One day, while wandering through the market in town, a duka (little  shop) filled with young women beckoned for me to come over to them.  So I went.  They are all seamstresses, and sew in this little wooden shop for about 10 hours a day.  There are 4 girls who are there every day, and sometimes they're joined by a younger girl who is apprenticing to be a seamstress, and when I'm there, usually several others who work nearby come to visit.  

These girls are super nice.  For the last 2 weeks, I've been going to sit with them every day in their duka for 30 minutes or an hour, just chatting.  I get to practice my Swahili, learn about life in Geita as a young woman, and make friends.  On my first visit, I discovered they were all Muslim, and that they were surprised that I, a Christian, would want to be friends with and help the people here, regardless of their religious beliefs and practices.  It makes me wonder what the other Christians in town are like that they would think this.  I'm hoping that I'll be able to develop deeper relationships with these girls that are also intentional in sharing God's love.  

They're very excited that I'm going to have a baby.  So excited that one of them decided to make me a maternity dress as a gift.  I was hoping you'd be able to see the whole dress in the picture, because it is something, but alas, no one around knew how to use a camera, so I just stuck my arm out and took it myself.  I would like to point out that I am not nearly so pasty in real life as this picture would indicate--I actually have a fairly decent tan.  So this is me with my first friends in Geita.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

It Has Begun

So this morning I awoke to a bright sunny day, happy to discover we had both electricity and running water.  Yea--I can do laundry!  So, I put my clothes in the washing machine and 3 minutes later, the electricity goes out.  Ah well, it happens.  Perhaps it will come back on again soon.  So, I eat breakfast and wash the dishes, and then the electricity does come back on.  Wahoo!  So, I turn on the washing machine and 3 minutes later, oh, no more running water.  Well, at least I finished washing the dishes.  I go ahead and do my Bible and prayer time and then start studying Swahili, when the water comes back on.  We'll see if it works this time.  I turn the washer back on and continue studying, and am delighted to see that both the water and electricity is staying on.  Holly and I have a meeting at 11:00 with a man who will hopefully be supplying us with milk straight from the cow every morning (which we'll pasteurize ourselves) so that instead of paying $9/gallon at the store, we can pay him $1.75/gallon.  At about 11:30, Mr. Milkman still not here, I finish up my Swahili and set about making hamburger buns for supper (it's Holly's birthday, so we're having an All-American dinner), continuing to wait for the laundry to be done (for the half-hour setting, it typically takes an hour or an hour-and-a-half; something to do with the low levels of water and electricity) and for our guy to show up.  12:30 rolls around and we still have no milkman, but my washing machine sings to me that it is finished.  I take out our clothes and head to the back yard to hang them on the line.  The minute I walk outside it starts raining.  I haven't seen rain in 5 months.  I mean seriously, not just no rain, but not a cloud in the sky, beautiful blue sunny days.  And it has now been pouring down rain for the last 3 hours.  I take my newly laundered clothes inside and try to find places to hang them all over the house.  Hopefully they'll still get dry.  

But anyway, rainy season has begun.  This is good for several reasons.  The main one being that there is a major lack of water here, so now people will have enough for not only themselves, but also their crops.  The only downfall here is that there are more mosquitoes during the rainy season and the rain is annoying.  This is not so much a place where you drive around to the grocery store.  I walk to the market every day to not only buy food, but also just to talk to people, building relationships and practicing my Swahili.  The market is, of course, outside, which makes this slightly more difficult.  But, I have a wonderful pair of wellingtons and a somewhat waterproof jacket, so after I finish this blog post, I will go out in the rain in my skirt and continue to live life, just like everybody else.  Maybe the milkman will come tomorrow?

Friday, September 11, 2009


A few weeks ago we went to Kigali, Rwanda for week-long conference on church planting movements.  There were over 100 people there from 17 countries and they sections in both English and French.  The teacher was David Watson, who has done mission work all over the world.  

The conference was great.  Before we came to Tanzania, our team had spent some time learning about discovery bible studies, or 3-column studies, from John King, the preacher at our home church.  The method is, in short, this: In the first column, you copy word for word the section of scripture you are studying.  In the second column, you re-write the passage in your own words, and in the third column, you write what you feel prompted to do from your study of the passage and prayer.  We call these "I will" statements.  The first column makes you slow down and really look at the passage.  The second column ensures that you really have an understanding of what it means.  This is great for study--I think we often skip over things b/c "we know" what they mean, and then when it comes time to explain it, we lose our knowing.  The third column is great for obedience and is really the key of this style of study.  So often we read something and think, "oh, that's great, " but we don't really do anything about it.  The I will statements have you actually acting out what the Bible teaches.  These studies are typically done in groups, and thus you are also accountable to do what you said you are going to do.  

CPM also puts more emphasis on God and the Bible as the real teachers, rather than the missionary.  If the learners have questions, instead of just answering the question, we show them where in the Bible to read, and they learn to look for answers from God themselves.  Also, while we will still be attending the group studies, we quit leading them after just 2 or 3 weeks.  We train a member of the group to lead the study (even though they are usually not yet believers), and meet with him some time the week before to go over things. This creates more ownership in a church and allows for less dependence on the missionary.  Another key is multiplication.  Group members are instructed to share what they learned that week with at least one other person.  After a group has been meeting a couple of weeks, no one else is allowed to join the group.  Instead, when someone comes and says, "My friends wants to study too." We tell them to start another group which they can lead.  So that person continues in the group they are in and is leading another group.  

So, that is CPM in brief.  Trying to fit a week-long conference in two paragraphs is difficult, but you get the gist.  The picture at the top is of Brett with the members of his small group at the conference.  I think the guy on the right decided to try to start growing a beard to compete with Brett...

In addition to learning a lot of neat things, I also got to see several friends from college, most of whom I had no idea would be there.  So that was a nice bonus.  Plus, Kigali has a great pizza restaurant.

Monday, September 7, 2009

First Invite

Yesterday we were invited to have lunch at the house of a family in town.  So, we headed off at 11:00 to their home.  We met the father of the family while looking at houses to rent.  It looks like he's going to be our landlord.  He and his wife have 3 kids and one on the way, plus a few other relative living with them.  He owns a stationary store in town and is the main supplier of the region's businesses' copy needs.  As there was no electricity in town yesterday (or water for that matter), we spent a lazy day on the front porch getting to know the family and a few other friends.  They slaughtered a sheep and grilled it--probably the best meat we've had since we've been here.  Plus about a million side dishes.  

Geita, while a pretty rough place, is also filled with welcoming, generous people.  We've been here less than a week and already spent 5 hours at one family's home and have been invited to another.  Building relationships in Africa is a good bit different than in the States, and takes some getting used to, but it certainly isn't difficult to meet people.  Everyone wants to be your friend--which is great, but also not so great sometimes.  Relationships are everything in this culture, and building your circle of friends and aquaintances is high on everybody's list.  It's a system that will take a long time for me to really get used to, introvert that I am, but Brett fits right in.  

We're really excited about the way things are going so far, and are thankful that God is working so evidently already.  Can't wait to see what He's got planned next:)

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Finally in Geita!!

We have finally made it to Geita, the town we’ve been planning on living in for the last four years, after five-and-a-half months of being in Tanzania.  This is quite exciting for us.  It’s been really good to have gotten into things slowly here, spending time with the Mwanza team, language school, and the conference in Rwanda (more on that in another post)-- I think in the long run, adjusting slowly is a much better course of action than jumping right into working not knowing any language, culture, etc.  

So, Brett and I moved here on Wednesday and are currently sharing a house with Carson and Holly, which the Groen’s have rented but won’t move into for a while because they’re in Mwanza doing paperwork and going through red tape for the orphanage.  The house is a nice little place, only about a 100 yard walk to the center market, which is helpful.  On the other hand, it’s also 100 yards to the market, which also means 100 yards from the discos, the church which is having a revival ( I don’t think you can comprehend the meaning of loud until you have attended a Tanzanian church revival), and the Mosque which reads 1/30 of the Koran every night on a loudspeaker for Ramadan.  Currently, none of us in the house are speaking, because you can’t hear each other unless you yell.  This lasts from about 8:30am to midnight.  Of course, once the revival’s over, it won’t be an everyday thing.  

This is our current house.  You can't see it, but there's a big beautiful mango tree right in front of it.

But we have been looking for houses.  We’re trying to find a house within a mile of the town center, so we can be accessible to the people here, yet be far enough away to not hear the music all the time.  Also high on our list is a house with an indoor kitchen.  This is a harder task than you might think.  Tanzanians typically cook outside, so most houses don’t have kitchens.  And often the ones that do are very small, just enough room for a sink and refrigerator.  Finding houses to rent is in itself a highly amusing process.  There aren’t any real estate agents or for rent signs here, so basically you just drive around town until you see a house you think you might like, then stop the car, get out, and ask if anyone is home.  If there is someone home, you ask if they live there, and if the house is for rent.  If it is, you then find out who the owner is and somehow manage to get in contact with him (often they live in another town) to see the house.  If the house is not for rent, you ask if they know of any houses around that are.  Tanzanians hate telling someone “no,” because they don’t won’t to disappoint anyone, so often let you see the house even if it being rented, and then after an hour, hint that maybe you should look at another house, because it might be more suitable.  We really liked one house until we found that it was already being rented.  Some days of house-hunting have been more successful than others.  But never boring.  

The people of Geita have been extremely welcoming and friendly.  They love that we speak Swahili, even if we don’t speak it perfectly.  They’re happy to just sit and talk for 30 minutes or an hour about whatever, and we’ve been able to have some good conversations already about the needs of the community, etc.  

The first 4 days here have been great, hopefully with more greatness to follow.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Week In Mwanza

We have, for the past week, been in Mwanza, about a 3-5 hour trip from Geita, depending on when you can catch the ferry. It's only about 100K, but sometimes road trips just take some time here.  We've been staying with Jason and Emily Miller, members of the Mwanza team, who always graciously allow us to stay with them whenever we want, and even cook for us.  

We've spent the week running errands before we move to Geita next week.  We spent 2 days pricing and buying a few appliances: oven, washing machine, refrigerator -- it's nice to know we can actually live when we move into a house.  We also got some minor repairs done on our truck. We don't have a mechanic yet in Geita, so we get have to get that stuff done here.  We got some paperwork done for insurance, applied for a post office box, went to the dentist, and bought some food-type supplies for Geita.  Friday we packed up all the Groen's things that they are moving to Geita from Mwanza -- furniture, etc.  So it's been a pretty full week.  

I forgot how hot most of Tanzania is.  When we first moved here, we all sweat all the time, but after a month or so, started to get used to it until we moved to Iringa for language school, where it was cold.  So now, moving back up to the Lake area, we have to get used to it all over again.  I'm thinking being pregnant makes it worse.  I don't really have a way to test this theory though, as I can't be pregnant and not pregnant at the same time to compare.  I think Geita will be slightly cooler, at least.  That's probably why there are hoards of pregnant women hanging out there....

Saturday, August 22, 2009

And on the Baby Front...

The day has come that we have finally decided on a name for our soon-to-be-in-this-world daughter:          
                                                        Baylor Adelaide Harrison

She'll go by Baylor.  As you can see, her initials are BAH, just like a sheep sound.  I do enjoy a good sheep sound.

Also, as so many people from so many different places across the country have been asking us what we need for the baby, at the suggestion of my ever-wise sister, we have registered at Target, to prevent getting 80 pacifiers and 1 tube of diaper rash cream.  We are listed as Brett and Christie Harrison in Nashville, TN, as Geita, Tanzania was not an option.  In addition to what's at Target, we could also use baby clothes from birth to 2 years, since we don't know exactly when we're coming home or how fast our little girl will grow.  And we are happy to receive your previously used baby items for those of you who are done with that phase of your life.  Also, for anything we registered for like medicine, baby sunscreen, etc., we're happy to get generics; they just weren't online for us to put on the list.  We already have some baby things (particularly larger items) coming on the container in October (hopefully), but if you think of something exceedingly important that we haven't mentioned, feel free to pass that along to us. Please believe me when I say we really aren't actively trying to get all of you to send us stuff. We'd like your prayers more than anything else.  

Our current address is:
                                     Kanisa La Kristo
                                         Brett and Christie Harrison
                                         PO Box 1371
                                         Mwanza, Tanzania

As our team doesn't have our own box yet, the current Mwanza Team has graciously offered to let us use theirs until we do.  Whenever we get our permanent address, I'll post it, but know that even if you send something to this address and we get our new address the next day, we'll still get whatever you send.  Also, there are a few things you should know about sending letters, packages, etc. to Tanzania.  First, a letter or a padded envelope of just about any size will generally make it to us within 2 or 3 weeks.  A larger, boxier package can take anywhere from a few weeks to 4 months.  At the post office they will give you the form for this, but you MUST list the contents of the package on the outside of  the box ,or envelope larger than card or letter-sized.  You must also list the value of each item.  We have been told by the postal workers here that it is best for you to give the garage sale value for everything that you send.  That is for 2 reasons: 1.  If something is of great value, it is more likely to just somehow not make it to us, and 2.  If the package does not fit in our post office box (which is larger than average--most padded envelopes will fit), than we must pay taxes on the total value of the contents in the package.  This tax can range anywhere from 10% to 50%, depending on who is working that day.  You just never know.  If you have any questions about any of this,  let me know.  

Also in response to questions about items we would like to receive in care packages, I have put a list of things we will always love to get over to the right underneath our profile and such. This list will always stay on our blog, and we'll add and take away from it at times.  Again, we're content with generics of all kinds.  I'm sure we can always think of other things if you want to send something different, but these will just always be there if you want an idea and most are pretty lightweight (except perhaps for my velveeta and Brett's Diet Dr. Peppers--which might would explode, so I'm not too sure about them in the mail). 

Hmmm...I suppose that's all.  Thanks for all the encouraging emails and comments, we love hearing from all of you!

Thursday, August 20, 2009

We're Graduates!

Finally, after almost 4 months, we are totally fluent in Swahili.  We now know all the words.  Ok, so maybe not so much.   But we can communicate well enough to not sound like complete idiots and we are officially done with language school.  Yea!  Brett and I really enjoyed our time at school and will actually miss being there a lot.  We'll especially miss our teachers.  

If you finish the course, they force you to have a graduation.  Now, we really didn't want to have this graduation, but there really was no way around it.  They had us give speeches (in Swahili) and made all the other students give us a blessing or share a memory or something along those lines.  This is actually quite entertaining as some of the other students have only been there 1 week.  They gave us diplomas and made us a cake.  No one played the graduation song, but I felt it in my heart.  

This is Brett with Tunku, one of our favorite teachers.  Brett is also Tunku's favorite student, which we know by how much he makes fun of Brett.  Also highly entertaining.  
This is me with some of the teachers after I so excitedly received my diploma, given to me by Peter, the Danish guy at language school.  I'm not sure why Peter was involved in this process, but hey, when have you ever gotten a diploma from a Danish guy?
This is me with our friends, Carley and Kate, Americans who are teaching in Dar at the Christian School.  They're much fun, and I'm sad they live so far away.  They ended school the same day as we did, but were only able to stay for a month total, so they didn't have the joy of getting diplomas from Peter, though they were still forced to make speeches.  The kids made us our lovely laurel crowns as a graduation present.  So beautiful. 

I know we still have a lot to learn, but the language school was great, so if any of you are wanting to learn Swahili, I highly recommend it. 

Saturday, August 15, 2009


Well, it's been a while.  But I said I would tell you about our trip to Dar, so that I will do.  We went to Dar a month-ish ago for a check-up for me and the baby.  We left on Friday late morning and made it there just in time for bad traffic.  wahoo!  But that's ok.  We had a nice dinner, complete with real french fries, and then headed back to our guest house.  We spent Saturday shopping for some needed items, including a few small appliances.  Most of the things we could buy in Mwanza, but they're way more expensive there, so we thought we'd take advantage of cheaper prices.  We also took advantage of the movie theatre, since Dar is the only place in Tanzania that has one.  Fortunately for me, the sixth Harry Potter movie came out the day before we got there.  wahoo for real!  

Sunday we spent trying to find a place for Brett to watch the Tour de France (which we were unsuccessful doing) and then decided to spend the afternoon at the beach.  There's a resort close to where we were staying that, while their room rates are pretty ridiculous, they let you use their facilities: pool, restaurant, beautiful beachfront complete with umbrellas and chairs, for just about $2.25.  The second picture is taken from the restaurant there.  We were invited to stay the night with some friends we met at language school who live in Dar, so we headed there for a nice evening.  

Monday was our doctor's appointment, which didn't go quite as planned.... We saw a doctor who wasn't the one we made an appointment with, then were told their facilities aren't capable of reading the ultrasound so they needed to send us somewhere else.  This was slightly frustrating, as we had called a month earlier and told them why we were coming.  Anyway, we were supposed to go back to Iringa after that early morning appointment, but since we had to make another appointment that afternoon to see a different doctor, we called upon our friends for another free night's lodging and stayed for our second appointment.  This was a much better experience.  Everything went great, baby's healthy, we got to find out it was a girl, and eat more french fries.  The last picture is of our ultrasound.  It's actually really great quality, but it's just a picture of a picture since we don't have a scanner.  But if you look at the top, you'll see she's waving at you, a very friendly girl.

Also pictured is me, Brett, and his beard, in front of our little house at language school.  Pretty impressive, no?

Monday, August 10, 2009

we're here

Hello.  Just a quick note to let you we're still alive.  Sorry for the lapse in posting.  The road work to get to an internet connection has gotten a little ridiculous.  On a bright note, this is our last week of language school and we will soon be going to a land where there is internet everywhere.  We'll post pictures soon!

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Bump Update

Ok, so I know it's not a huge bump, but there is a bump, nonetheless.  I promise the baby is in there.  

For my next exciting post, I'll tell you about our trip to Dar, and I'll include a lovely picture of Sasquatch's ever-growing beard.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

And the Baby Is...

 A Girl!  So, all you out there who guessed boy, I'm sorry, maybe next time.  I have three theories as to why we should have known all along that it would be a girl. 
1.  I think Cheryl had it right.  I'm still pretty tiny, and if this were a Brett-sized boy, I'd probably be huge by now.
2.  T's comment about our team.  It seems that if you are a member of the Geita team, you are not permitted to have boys.  The Groen's have 3 girls, we're having a girl, and Daniel and Kasey are having a girl.  Now, the McNeal's don't know yet what they're having, so we'll have to wait 2 or 3 more months to see test this theory.
3.  Brett has always maintained that he is incapable of producing girls.  I assume God thought this would be a good opportunity for a laugh.

Really, we're happy with a girl.  The doctor's appointment went well, and the baby is very healthy.  She's a little small, which suits me just fine.  We actually have pictures of the ultrasound, but we don't have a scanner here so you'll have to wait on those.  We still haven't decided on a name yet, but we've got some ideas...Helga, Calvina, Hot Dog, and more!

Monday, July 13, 2009

Any Guesses?


This next weekend we are headed to Dar for a checkup at the doctor’s.  We’re hoping to find out if we’re having a boy or a girl.  I thought I’d see if anyone has any guesses...let you know the answer in a week or so:)

Giraffes Aplenty

For our fifth year wedding anniversary, we decided to go on a little safari.  Our actual anniversary isn’t for another couple of weeks, but the rates for safari lodges skyrocket in July, so we decided June was a fine time for a wedding.  

We went to Ruaha National Park, which is about 2 1/2 hours from Iringa.  This was Brett’s first safari, so I was really glad that all the animals were out and about.  I’ve never seen so many giraffes in my life.  They’re so amazing to watch move.  They always look like they’re in slow motion, even if they’re running.  We almost demolished our car by running into one coming around a corner.  But, thanks to Brett’s fast braking, we managed to not get squashed.  We also saw a herd of over 500 cape buffalo.  We came through to a clearing and there they were, as far as the eye could see.  We also saw elephants, warthogs, hyenas, jackals, greater kudu, about a million impala, hippos, crocodiles, baboons, zebras, birds, and more.  The only thing we didn’t get to see were lions. That was the top animal Brett wanted to see, so it was a little disappointing, but we figure surely sometime in the next 10 years we’ll have another chance.  It was a really great trip.

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

The Americans Take Over

One thing that I love about living overseas is meeting people from all over the world.  Language school has been no exception.  We've met people here from Switzerland, Germany, Denmark, Australia, New Zealand, Holland, Spain, South Africa, Scotland, Canada, Lithuania, and I'm sure I'm forgetting more. And we Americans have always been in the great minority. Until now.  Last week, a group of 27 Americans came to school.  So, we dominate.  Of course, having more Americans also means it's always louder, the table manners are worse, and we have to fight to be able to watch soccer on tv.

But this weekend is the 4th of July, so we will celebrate the fact that there are other people who appreciate this holiday.  And it's also fun to make fun of our British friends who run the camp--"How'd you like the year 1776? Was it good for your people?"  Really, the people who run the camp are a lot of fun, and they're giving us a good old-fashioned American bbq on Saturday, complete with hamburgers and potato salad.  I don't think we'll get the cake decorated like an American flag with blueberries for the stars and strawberries for the stripes, but I'll cross my fingers.  

Enjoy your festivities.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Swahili is Fun

I thought that since I'm learning so much Swahili, I'd teach you a few good, useful words.  Ok, so most of what follows is not so useful on a regular basis, but they are super good words.  

shagalabagala --- disorganized or messy
mshamba --- redneck (literally--person from a farm)
nusa nusa --- a spy (nusa literally means "to smell or sniff")
mwana siasa --- a politician (literally -- a person who is not genuine)
pi pi --- candy
piga mswaki --- to brush your teeth (literally -- to hit the toothbrush)
taco -- your bum

And here is my story about that word.  Our teachers have spent a lot of time with Westerners, for obvious reasons, thus they know a lot about our culture.  One day, teacher Saye was talking about cooking.  He said that he's a very good cook and he can cook everything except the taco.  I said, "Really? I can teach you how to make a taco. " He said, "Oh, you know how to make a taco?  Do you like to eat the taco?"  I said, "Of course, they're delicious!"  This is when he burst out laughing and told us what taco meant in Swahili.  Oh that jokester.  

I've been asked to post a picture of my tummy, so here it is--me, at 18 and 1/2 weeks.

And now, since that was so very disappointing ( I really have no idea where it's hiding), here is a picture of Brett's beard growth, which we will also call 18 weeks-ish, and is much more impressive.  He intends to grow this thing until the baby's born. I think he might scare it back into me.

Please try to use your new words at least three times today, or you might forget them.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Tour de Riverside

I thought I'd give a little glimpse into our lives at language school.  Riverside Camp and Language School is located 15 km outside of Iringa, in the southern highlands of Tanzania.  It's beautiful here and the camp runs right next to the Little Ruaha River, so it pretty much always stays green, even when it's dry and brown a few miles away.   It's also much colder here than I ever thought it would be in East Africa.  The afternoons are nice, usually in the 70s or low 80s, but the mornings and nights are really cold.  A lot of times I'll wear jeans, a t-shirt, a long-sleeved shirt, and a sweatshirt.  And since we didn't really expect this weather, we wear a lot of the same things over and over.  Fortunately, it's Africa, and no one cares.

Anyway, onto our tour.  This first picture is one of our classrooms.  There are about 6 classrooms, all a little different, and we are in a different one each week.  I think this is because one of the classrooms is way up a hill, and no one wants to hike there all the time.  This is the classroom we had last week, and it's right in front of the river, so you can hear the water all through class.

The picture on the right is our dining room.  All our meals are here, so we really like this room.

The picture above and to the left is the dining room on the inside.  The tables aren't usually set up that way, but our normal tables got taken to town to be used at a lunch for the prime minister.  seriously.  

The picture above on the right is the chai lounge. We can have tea or coffee there at any hour and that's where we play games, darts, read, or watch tv, usually soccer, but last night the show Numbers was on--crazy.  I think it was even the current season, but I'm not sure because I've never really watched it.  

The last picture is our little home.  Brett and I have the room on the right, Carson and Holly are on the left, and we share a bathroom in the middle.  The rooms are just big enough for a bed, desk, and little armoire for clothes.  It's comfortable, and keeps us in shape because it's at the top of a big hill. We like it well enough.  

So that's our school.  

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Kupika kwa Kiswahili

Yesterday we learned to cook Tanzanian style.  As an exercise in learning kitchen words and following directions in Swahili, we (our team plus a few other students) cooked lunch for the teachers and the other students.  We cooked 14 different Tanzanian dishes, none of which we'd ever cooked before.  I was a little worried about our results being the only lunch option for everyone, but it actually turned out ok.  Most of the food we cooked is very typical for both town and village meals, though not all are eaten in all parts of the country.  Just about every Taznanian meal here includes either rice or ugali (a stiff cornmeal mush), and we cooked both.  My favorite thing to do was make coconut milk.   You shred coconut, then add warm water and squish.  It feels kind of like scraping out the guts of a pumpkin for halloween.  In the first picture, Brett is screening the rice for sand and small pebbles. It's not so good when you bite down on one of those.  I am cutting something, peppers, perhaps?  In the second picture, Brett is making chapatis, a kind of flatbread, deliciously introduced to Africa by the Indians long ago, now a staple, while I smile for the camera.  You can see some of our teachers in the background.  It was a fun day,  a nice change from sitting in the classroom for 5 hours, and we got to practice our speaking a lot in a practical way, which was helpful. And as a bonus, I can now cook dried whole little fish in a tomato sauce for any of you when you come to visit  (I'm kidding, please don't let that discourage you from visiting--I promise I won't make it--it's gross).  Bon appetite!

Saturday, May 30, 2009

It's Official

It's official.  We are now residents of Tanzania.  We can now legally live and work here for the next 2 years, until we have to go get permission again.  This process started in January, so I would say has gone very quickly by African standards.  We only had one minor bump along the way, which was that we didn't have ordination papers from our church.  Trying to explain the structure of the Churches of Christ to a Tanzanian is not the easiest thing, but we finally got things worked out and now have a big stamp in our passports.

Also official, is that I am out of my first trimester of pregnancy.  So all the horribleness of early pregnancy should be going away mostly.  To celebrate this freedom of horribleness, i decided to...get food poisoning!  Yes, I celebrated by adding more horribleness.  And lest you think, ah, scary Africa food, i can tell assure the culprit was actually a chicken teriyaki sub from Subway in Dar Es Salaam.  We had to go to Dar to get our residence permits taken care of, and so, of course, we had to stop in at Subway.  Little did I know then how much I would regret this decision.  I think what makes me most sad about it is that Subway in Dar is the only American restaurant in all of East Africa.  There is not even a McDonalds in Nairobi.  McDonalds should really get on that; I mean, they're everywhere else in the world.  So now, my only American food experience for the next 10 years or so has been ruined.  Back to beans and rice.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Language School

We are now living in Iringa, Tanzania for about 4 months, studying Swahili. Iringa is in southern Tanzania, about an 18 hour drive from Geita. We wanted to get away from Geita to study so we wouldn't be tempted to jump into the work right away before we could speak the language. That method of acquiring language tends to take a lot longer.

So, we've been in school for 2 weeks now, and we've already learned a lot. I've actually been pretty surprised at how quickly we can have conversations with people. Somewhat simple conversations, mind you, but communication nonetheless.

I thought you might be interested in what language school is like, so here is a typical day for us.

Breakfast - 7:00 - 8:00 am. (they cook all our meals for us, and they're actually quite good)

Class 1 - 8:00 - 10:00 am.

Tea Break - 10:00 - 10:30 am. (love that British influence)

Class 2 - 10:30 - 1:00 pm.

Lunch - 1:00 - 2:00 pm

The afternoons are completely free for us, but typically we do something like this:
2:00 - 4:30 - go running, read, play on the slack line, go swimming with the hippo, or drive the 20 minutes into town to check email

Homework and Swahili Study - 4:30 - 6:30

Dinner - 6:30 - 7:30 pm

Continue Studying, or if finished, watch a movie on the laptop or play cards - 7:30 - 9:30

If you're me, you generally are in bed by 10:00. If you're Brett, you generally stay up til 11:00 studying more b/c you didn't do it earlier or reading a magazine.

Anyway, that's a day. Weekends are a little different b/c we don't have class, but we don't really do anything that interest, so I won't try to talk about it. Some day I'll post pictures of the school so you can picture it better. That'll have to be after I get batteries for my camera, though....

One more important thing. You may have noticed the blog looks way better now that before, and that is due to the efforts of my ohso talented friend, Daisha, who volunteered to personalize our blog for us. The picture is of a road coming out of Geita. The people say there are 2 paved roads in Geita, but really it's just one that curves. Anyway, thanks so much to Daisha for her help!

Saturday, May 9, 2009

New Teammates!

We are very excited to announce that we'll have two new teammates joining us in November! The first will be Baby George! Daniel and Kasey George are expecting their first child at the end of November. They've decided to stay in the states until the little one is born and then join us in Tanzania after. This excites Brett and me in particular, because our second new teammate is going to be our own little peanut!- due November 22nd. I suppose our peanut is actually about the size of a lime now, but whatever. Now our kid will have someone to play with. I was going to post a picture of my tummy growth, but there really hasn't been any growth yet, so I figure there's no point spending an hour trying to upload it. We got to see the baby in an ultrasound and we could see the little heartbeat fluttering away. Pretty amazing.

So that's our big news. We would appreciate prayers of good health for the both of us, and perhaps now you'll understand more my great excitement at finding smoothies.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Circumnavigating Lake Victoria Part 3 - Rwanda

For the final installment of our trilogy, you are privileged to hear about our exciting journey to Kigali, Rwanda. The most important finding in our trip to Kigali was the smoothie. Smoothie? you say. Just a smoothie? But perhaps you are unaware of the lack of smoothies and slurpies in Africa. I assure you the Very Berry Smoothie is invaluable.

I suppose we also gathered some other valuable information while there. Baguette sandwiches, for example. Also, we found a pediatrician for the Mwanza team, we found that there is not an allergist for the Mwanza team, and that there are plenty of hotels and guesthouses for them to stay in when they go to Kigali in August for a conference. We noted that things in Kigali are ridiculously expensive, except for t.v.s, which are the cheapest of anywhere in East Africa. I have no idea why this is the case.

Kigali is the closest really big city to Geita, so we'll use it to buy some needed things, like appliances and some hard to find groceries. It'll also be a place to get away for a weekend to relax at a pool or drive on paved roads. It's the only place with roads good enough for Brett to do his cycling. Currently, there are a lot of new missionaries in Kigali, some of whom I went to college with, so it's nice to have friends to visit and stay with. Most of them will only be there for a year or so, though, to learn language before heading off to smaller, less reached cities.

Our trip to Kigali was mostly a fact-finding trip, so we feel pretty successful. We now have lots of facts.

I hope you have enjoyed our journey around the Lake.

Friday, May 1, 2009

Circumnavigating Lake Victoria Part 2 - Uganda

Continuing our journey...

From Kenya we went on to Jinja, Uganda.  Going to Jinja was particularly fun for me, as that's where I had my internship in 2001.  It was great to see some of the same people, the same church, and some of the places in town that were familiar.  Ah, memories.   

We stayed with friends, Bobby and Candice Garner, who have been in Jinja about a year now.  The guys especially spent a lot of time with Bobby and some Ugandans he works with learning more about agriculture, the Mvule Tree Project, and some animal husbandry.  But the highlight of the trip for Brett was discovering his newfound passion in life--beekeeping.  Bobby keeps bees at their house and so Brett got to try his hand at it.  Please enjoy forever this picture of Brett in a beesuit.

Brett, being so enamored, had 2 beehives made in Jinja by a beehive-making specialist for our own house when we move to Geita.  We're ignoring the fact that Brett is a bit allergic to bees.  Who cares if you swell up when you can have good honey anytime your heart desires?

From Jinja we went on to Kampala so Brett could search for his very own beesuit while the rest of us sipped on slushies at the local mall.  Yes, Kampala has an actual mall and there really were slushies - strawberry.  We also checked out the health care situation there and discovered a very nice, well-staffed hospital.  Only 9 hours away in case of emergency!   

Kampala will be a nice place to go occasionally to stock up on foods that we can't get in Tanzania as well as to see a movie in a movie theatre and for Brett to run marathons.  

We left Kampala and spent one night in Mbarara, Uganda to break up our trip to Rwanda.  We got to visit with the team there and were served perhaps the best meal we've had since we've been in Africa--poppyseed chicken casserole, green beans, bread, salad, and mashed potatoes.  If you're ever in Mbarara, Emily Glisson is an excellent cook.

I know you are on the edge of your seat wanting to know about Rwanda, but alas, you'll have to wait another day...or two...or five.

Thursday, April 30, 2009

Circumnavigating Lake Victoria Part 1 - Kenya

Well, the last 2 1/2 weeks were spent, as you've probably guessed by the title, driving around Lake Victoria visiting other mission teams, seeing the work they're doing, and doing a bit of research on what's available as far as food, health care, etc.

So, I'll start with Kenya.  The Annual East African Missionary Ladies' Retreat was held at Rondo, Kenya for 4 days.  Holly and I rode with the women on the Mwanza team.  The Retreat Center is a very relaxing place.  It's the perfect setting for getting away from everything and getting recharged. Not that we had a whole lot to get away from at this point in our life here, but you know, in the future.  It was great to meet a lot of the women working in East Africa.  Some have been here as little as a month and others have been here 30 years.  We got to hear what people are doing and how they're living their everyday lives. It's always interesting how differently people do things.  It was a very encouraging way to start things here.  I'm sure that if I ever need anything, I can call any one of them there and they'd be happy to help.  

People tend to get creative when there's not too much entertainment available, so the Jinja team, who was in charge of this year's retreat, decided we would be having a masquerade ball (I promise it fit in with the theme of the retreat).  We all brought things to wear and we made masks there.  Knowing the limit of my artistic abilities, I opted to make the ugliest mask I could, figuring that whatever dreams I had of making a spectacular mask would end up that way anyway.  This is Holly and me and our masks.  Holly was an art major, so it's not fair to compare us.

The velveeta and rotel is not us.  That picture was supposed to be elsewhere.  I have no idea, by the way, how to get pictures to go where you want them. Any of you experienced bloggers who have advice, feel free to share.  

The velveeta and rotel, while I won't say was the best part of the retreat, was definitely way up there.  We had a dirty santa gift thing, provided by the Jinja team, and we all thought they would be weird things found in the market or something, but no! they were wonderful things found in the glorious supermarket aisles of America: cake mixes, various cheeses, pretzels, and so many other scrumptious items longed for.  And I ended up with my dream of all dreams, velveeta and rotel.  It was good day.  

And while I was basking away those dreams of delicious goodness, Brett and Carson were in Eldoret, Kenya, just a couple hours away, visiting with a longtime missionary who does a lot of agricultural development.  They were able to see his projects and find out a lot of info on what grows well here, what low-tech things work, etc.  They also got to visit a cheese factory that makes not only their own cheese, but ice cream as well, much to their delight.  

From there they went on to Jinja, Uganda--but that is for another day.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

please appreciate the pictures

So, pictures take a long time to upload here in Tanzania--about an hour a picture, so please, appreciate them.  They took some time.  

Anyway the picture on the left is of us in a village.  We spent about four hours listening to the preacher, the guy who summarizes the preacher, the communion guy who preaches longer than the preacher, and then to the singing, which seemed to involve a lot of microphone testing and failure.  Why they think they need microphones in the middle of the village with 50 people in a small area, I don't know, but they really seem to.
Though they didn't seem concerned about the microphones when the rain came, which could explain the reason for the failure of the microphones.  

On Saturdays here, it seems that most of the expat children of Mwanza get together to play soccer.  Brett got to coach some and I got to watch with the other women and their kids who were too young to play.

It's the rainy season here, so this is a picture of Carson playing in the rain with our courtyard giraffe where we stayed in Geita. It was raining so hard the picture came down sideways... 

Did I mention that I don't really understand how to make this blog thing work properly?

Thursday, April 2, 2009

In Tanzania

Just wanted to let everyone know we're safe and sound in Tanzania.  For the last two weeks, we've been staying with the Mwanza team, about three hours away from Geita, where we'll be living.  They've been great.  We kind of see their team as an extension of our team, being so close, so we're happy to get to know them better.  

We now officially have Tanzanian driver's licenses, no car though.  We've been driving Carson and Holly's around, getting used to driving on the left. It's surprisingly not that weird-feeling.  I got to have a root canal this morning, wahoo.  Brett's favorite Tanzanian drink is Bitter Lemon Soda and mine is Pinenut.  That would be pineapple and coconut, not the actual pinenut.  We have already eaten more beans and rice in the last two weeks than in the last 6 months combined, which Brett is sooo happy about, and we've learned that galoshes really come in handy during the rainy season.  

I'll try to post some pictures soon, and hopefully update regularly enough that you won't stop checking.  

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Family Time

For starters, I apologize for our lack of blogging. Things have been a bit busy with the whole moving to Africa thing and the internet here in Tanzania is not quite as reliable as it is in the States.  But hopefully things will settle into more of a regular schedule soon and it'll be easier for us to post more.  

Secondly, I apologize for the blue writing and underlining. I assure you that was not planned. But the computer started doing it and I can't figure out how to change it, so everything will have to be blue and underlined for now.

I've been meaning to post these pictures for a long time.  They're all from time spent with our families before we left the States.  
This is us at the Chattanooga Aquarium.  We went there for Brett's sister, Brittney's, birthday.
This is us with Brittney and Brett's brother Brian, enjoying a rousing game of Bocce ball.
Enjoying a lazy, slow morning with our nephew Kaleb.
My mom, sometimes confused for a fraggle, and me outside my parents' house in virginia a month ago. 
We're so happy our favorite college teams have matching sweatshirts.