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.