Friday, December 24, 2010

Unique Tree Decorating Tips

Baylor has enjoyed having the Christmas tree up immensely.  The bottom third of our tree has only unbreakable ornaments so that she can take them on and off as she pleases.  She has even taken part in the decorating herself.  I have found a bell pepper and a jar of puffs in the tree.  My personal favorite though, was a game of cribbage.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

More Birthday Fun

For my birthday this year, I got the best present ever.  My friend RaDora came to see me for 2 whole weeks.  She brought loads of goodies for birthdays and Christmas, but mostly I was just happy she brought herself.  RaDora and I were interns together in Jinja, Uganda almost 10 years ago during college and this was her first time to revisit the continent since then.  

While Brett made blueberry waffles for breakfast, RaDora made me a strawberry cake with cream cheese icing.  So delicious.  We went out to the gold mine for lunch where we were joined by our whole team.  

How wonderful it is to know that it takes fewer candles to write out the age you are than to just put that many on the cake.  

After lunch we spent the afternoon playing squash and lounging by the pool.  For dinner we ate homemade pizza and then played a game.  I love my birthday.  

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Baylor's 1st Birthday

Yesterday was Baylor's first birthday.  It's crazy how fast it's gone by.  Baylor is full of life.  She's adventurous, loud, and has unending energy.  She doesn't like to stop for anything, including sleep.  Her laugh is infectious (though to be fair, so is her grumpiness) and her smile just makes me happy.  

Baylor continues to love to eat and is finally starting to gain a little bit of the weight that all that food consumed should bring.  She's still pretty small though.  She started wearing her 9-12 month clothes a month ago.  She loves being outside.  I look forward to the day when our yard is something other than dirt and mud so she can go play anytime she wants, instead of it being a special treat.  Baylor walks all the time now and has started trying to run, which generally means she ends up face down on the ground and crying.  But babies are resilient so she just gets up and does it again.  Her hobbies these days include taking items out of larger items and putting them back in and bringing things to me and taking them back and bringing them to me again.  I've had a lot of Christmas tree ornaments in my lap lately.  Baylor also loves to swim so we try to get her in the water as often as we can.  Bath time's fun, but it's just not the same.

Yesterday we went to Mwanza to pick up one of my best friends, RaDora, for her two week visit and then headed back to Geita for Baylor's birthday party.  We asked our teammates to come over a little early and get the grill started with some hamburgers since we would be on the road, and they went above and beyond.  We arrived to a house decorated and sparkly.  It was great.

I made a cake for the occasion, completely from scratch (though only because I couldn't find any cake mix anywhere in Geita, Mwanza, or Kigali) and even decorated it.  Baylor was super excited anticipating it's deliciousness, though I think ended up being exhausted by her efforts to consume as much sugar as possible in the largest bites that could possibly fit in her mouth.  

The birthday t-shirt was a present from RaDora -- very cute.  Baylor also got some other great presents and enjoyed opening them once she realized how to do it.  

All in all, it was a great day and we're so thankful that God put Baylor in our lives!

Monday, November 29, 2010

Electricity junkies?

I remember on the rare occasions living in America when the electricity would go out, people behaved as if it were the end of the world.  After storms the news would report how many homes were still without electricity several hours later.  We're so dependent on it.  Our computers, fax machines, tvs, refrigerators, air conditioners, and so many more things, all run on electricity and it seems that we don't know how to function without it.  It wasn't too long ago that no one had it.  For most, it was a luxury, reserved for the wealthy.  Now it's available to pretty much everyone and it's a necessity.

Living in Africa has shown me that electricity, while nice, isn't needed for living.  Last week our electricity was out for a total of about 53 hours, which is about average.  Sometimes we lose it a little more, sometimes a little less.  And you know, it's not that big a deal.  We only need lights for about 4 hours of our waking day.  While it can get hot without fans, we always have the windows open and there's usually a breeze.  We have a gas oven, so cooking's not usually affected.  Refrigerators don't need to be on all the time to keep things cold.  The only times it really bothers me are when I'm in the middle of doing laundry and from about 6:30 to 8:00 at night when we're trying to cook, eat, and get Baylor to bed by lantern.  Granted, we do have a back up generator that runs on petrol that we can use if we want, but it's expensive so we don't unless we need to...or if we've had a really long day and don't feel like sitting in the dark again.

Many people in Geita don't have electricity in their homes at all, and only very few have generators.  It's like it was in America way back when--a luxury.  I read somewhere that in America more electricity is used to power televisions when they're off than when they're on--I suppose to keep that little red light on in the front.  I've just been thinking lately how odd it is that we expect to have electricity all the time, even in the day in our homes when we're not there.  I'm not going to say I don't care about it at all; obviously I prefer to have it.  But I have learned that I don't need it and it's not so bad without it--though it does make having ice cream a bit difficult.  I guess I'll just have to eat it all at once.

Saturday, November 27, 2010


The oddest thing about Thanksgiving here is the lack of cold weather.  Yesterday was actually one of the hottest days we've had.  It just doesn't seem very Thanksgivingy.  I imagine Christmas will be the same, except that I plan on decking the house out with holly, shiny orbs on green trees, and tiny reindeer.

Our team, with the addition of Carson's parents, met together for the day at the Groens' house.  We each brought several delicious things to eat and ended up with somewhat of a feast: stuffing, casseroles galore, pies a plenty, and much much more.

Lunch was followed with naps and games.  No college football though.  Baylor had a fantastic time running around with everyone.  And the running is almost becoming literal.  Her abilities to move around upright are rapidly improving.

The only disappointing part of the day was when we tried to skype with our families.  The internet was down so we only got to talk to Brett's family for a few minutes and mine not at all.  However, I'm sure there will plenty more opportunities to chat over the next month or so what with birthdays and Christmas looming near.

We're so thankful for this past year.  We have a beautiful baby girl, a house to live in, food to eat, a car to drive, wonderful family and friends.  God is indeed good.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Baby Explorer

Nearing the ripe old age of one, Baylor has a strong hatred for staying still.  She is constantly wanting to move and explore.  She tires easily of not only toys, but also of rooms and even our entire house.  If we don't go somewhere every couple of days she transforms into Grumpy Baylor and our happy lives become much less so.

This past Sunday we went out to a village for the day.  Baylor loves going to to the village.  There are chickens and goats to chase, yummy food to eat, and lots of new people to play with.  We assume she's going to come  home dirty no matter what we do, so we just put her in old clothes and let her roam-supervised, of course.

After worship under a mango tree we were just sitting around and so I let Baylor go off to play in the fields with some kids.  A little while later I went to check on her and found her giggling loudly, happily playing with a big old chunk of cow poop.  Fantastic.  It was at least mostly old and dried out. And she also had her pacifier in her mouth so the exciting new toy stayed on her hands.

There are just some things I wish she would be content not to explore.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

What Are They Thinking?

Recently our night guard, Oscar, had his home broken into (ironic, I know) and everything was stolen except for his family's clothes and shoes.  Everything.

In Tanzania, theft is common.   Anyone who can afford it puts some kind of fence or wall around their house and bars on the windows.  I would never leave my bike in town, even chained up, knowing it probably wouldn't be there when I came back.  Nor do I walk around town with my bag unzipped.  I don't walk around afraid I'll be stolen from, I just don't see a reason to not do what I can to prevent it.

The odd thing about theft being so common here is that the punishment for thieves is harsh.  Harsh is actually putting it lightly.  If a thief is caught, he is immediately mobbed by those around.  Hearing the mob, more people usually join in, making the mob larger and more uncontrollable.  The thief, if he is lucky, will only be beaten to within an inch of his life.  If he isn't lucky, he will not survive the beating, or worse, will be burned alive.  The police rarely arrive in time to prevent this from happening.  There is no sympathy.  I have been told stories of other missionaries who stepped in to prevent mobs from killing children, guilty of pick-pocketing.  Tanzanians do not typically step in to save someone, though I have known some to.

So why on earth would anyone continue to steal?  It's something I don't know if I will ever understand.

I've thought about why the reaction to theft is so harsh here, because other crimes are not so treated.  My conclusion is this:  Tanzania is a culture of giving.  If you need something, you ask and someone will help you.  Most people don't have enough money for everything all the time, so you help each other out. "I know that if I help pay for your children's school fees now, later you will help me pay for my son's wedding."  If people show up at your door, you feed them and give them a place to stay, indefinitely.  It's never ok to ask a guest to leave, they may stay as long as they desire.  So for someone to steal is a complete rejection of the way of life here.  It's as if they are saying, "I don't care about any of you.  I only care about myself.  I don't want to ask you for help because I don't want to be held responsible for helping you later."  Greed and selfishness are some of the worst traits you can possess.  If you have, you share.  If you don't have, you will be taken care of.

I don't know if I'm right, but it seems the most logical conclusion.

As for Oscar and his thief; the man was later caught.  It turns out he was part of a larger crime ring that had been stealing all over Geita district for some time.  When he was caught, he confessed and gave up his partners and their hideout.  Upon confessing, he was burned to death.  Soon after, police raided the house where the other thieves were, shot and killed them all, then burned their hideout to the ground (before removing all the stolen goods).

The whole thing makes me sad.  What makes these people take such a risk just for things?  And where is the mercy for their mistakes?

Monday, November 1, 2010

Halloween--Not So Scary In Tanzania

Never has Halloween passed by with so little fanfare as this year.  I saw not one costume, no candy, no orange and black decorations or clothing, no ghosts, goblins, or witches.  Only normal people going about their normal day as if there were no anticipation of jack-o-lanterns and kids hyped up on sugar.  Last year we happened to be in Mwanza for Halloween and there was at least a costume party for kids.  But in Geita, hamna (there wasn't anything).  

Not that I find Halloween to be the best holiday ever -- that would be my birthday ( and yes, I do consider it a holiday), but still, I loved dressing up as a kid and going trick or treating.  I also know that Baylor would have no idea what was going if I were to dress her up as a tiny ghost and take her from house to house to get candy that she would not be allowed to eat.  But still, I assume in the future it will make me a little sad that she won't get to experience that here.  Fortunately, we've decided that our furloughs will generally be in the fall, so at least some years she'll get to participate.  

So on Halloween we took our recovering from and still somewhat sick from a bad cold family to the gold mine for lunch and a short swim.  Not exactly typical of October 31st, but not too shabby either.  We put Baylor in her Halloween pajamas (which glow in the dark) for a photo shoot that she did not in the least enjoy to commemorate her first Halloween.    

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Chase Tyler

I am more than happy to announce the arrival of my new nephew, Chase Tyler Bruns, born yesterday at 8:44am.  He weighs 7lb 13oz and is 19 inches long.  He has dark brown hair like his daddy.  Thus far he enjoys both sleeping and eating.  Mom (my sister Amy) and baby are both happy and healthy.  

Here is big brother Kaleb, who turns 3 next week, holding his little brother for the first time.  He seemed to enjoy it briefly, but then decided Chase was heavy and gave him away to someone else so he could  play with cars.

Happy birthday Chase!

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Nyerere Day

Last Thursday was Nyerere Day.  Julius Nyerere was the first president of Tanzania, serving from 1964 until 1985.  He was and is still well-loved by the people here.  He was a teacher by profession and so that is what the country called him; not Mr. President, but Teacher.  In honor of his life and service to Tanzania, October 14th is a holiday.

To celebrate this holiday Brett and I went to a traditional music and dance performance.  The Sukuma are known throughout Tanzania for their drumming and dancing, particularly with snakes, though thankfully they left them at home last week.  The dancing was really good, much different than what you see driving by the discos here.  I'm sure you would love to see pictures of this event, but as I forgot my camera, you will just have to imagine the long grass and feathery skirts worn by all.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010


I thought you might be interested in what Baylor had for breakfast today.  I don't usually think what she eats for breakfast is blogworthy, but today was a bit unusual.

She started with half an egg mixed with tomatoes.  Then moved on to a big chunck of papaya.  If you've never had papaya, it tastes like feet.  Then a few bites of chapati, an Indian flat bread.  From there she devoured several slices each of carrots and zucchini.  And then it got more interesting.  She ate a fish finger.  Yes, a fish finger--minus the breading.  To end the meal she had 3/4 of a banana. And it wasn't one of those teeny African bananas, either; it was a big one.

We were not dining at home.  No fish fingers for breakfast at the Harrison house.  Or any other meal for that matter, yucky fish.

Our daughter does indeed love to eat.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

A Visit

The first two weeks of September were made wonderful by the presence of Scott and Cheryl McFaddin. Cheryl is one of my best friends from college and I was more than excited that they were coming to visit.  They actually came also to check out the Geita situation to see if maybe God was leading them there as well.  You never know where He's going to take you.  They spent a lot of time getting to know our team and the work that's currently being done as well as the work planned for the future.  My English students especially loved having new people to practice with.  Cheryl opted for the full Africa experience and got her hair braided in the market by two of my friends.  It was entertaining for everyone involved.  

As you can see, Cheryl is currently pregnant with their third little boy and I applaud her adventurousness (I do realize that's not a real word) in coming to the middle of nowhere Tanzania while growing a tiny person inside her.  It's not the easiest thing in the world; there are lots of bumpy roads,  uncomfortable mattresses and no sonic blue coconut slushes.  Of course, that's sad for all of us.  Well, maybe just me.

Anyway, it was great visit.  Brett and I were were happy that Scott enjoys Trivial Pursuit as much as we do.  We look forward to the next showdown.

Friday, September 17, 2010

9 Months of Baylor

Sorry for my lack of posts lately.  We just got our good friends, Scott and Cheryl McFaddin, off to the airport after a fantastic two-week visit.

But this post is about Baylor.  I realize I haven't had much in the way of updates about her recently and that I need to appease the grandparents.

So, here it is.

Baylor is now over 9 months old.  She's 28 inches tall and weighs 17.4 lbs.  That puts her in the 57% and 19%, respectively.  I've decided she's on the skinny side because she never stops moving.  She's becoming an expert climber, already able to scale the couch and nearly escape the pack n play.  She took her first steps last week.  Her record is two.  She seems to prefer crawling, as she can move that way both quickly and easily.  I'm not sure when she'll decide walking is worth the extra effort.

She also thoroughly enjoys eating.  I'd be amazed at the amount of food she can pack away except that I've seen Brett eat, so I suppose it's only natural for her.  Her favorite food continues to be banana, and she'll eat anything if it's mixed with banana.  She's also a big fan of grilled chicken, butternut squash, yogurt, and anything that is a fruit, even papaya, which tastes like feet.  She likes to feed herself and is sometimes pretty good at it.  She's also discovered where I keep her puffs in my bag and will dig them out, pop off the lid, reach inside, pull them out and eat them until I take them away, which she does not like.  Food isn't the only thing she likes to put in her mouth though.  Actually, she'll put pretty much anything in there.

Baylor is a very loud girl.  She babbles all day long (another trait passed on by her father) and generally does not do it quietly, which recent visitors Scott and Cheryl can attest to.  She can say things that are words, but she doesn't know they're words, so we don't count them.  We're working pretty hard on getting her to say Baba, though.

Baylor is not a good sleeper, and still does not sleep through the night.  We are tired.  Rare are the moments we can enjoy times like these.  But we love her all the same, even sleepy.

Here is the most recent family pic, taken over a river that was suppose to have crocodiles and hippos, but didn't.

Maybe next time.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

English Class

I never intended to teach English here in Geita.  With all the other pressing needs to meet, in addition to sharing the Good News, it just never crossed my mind that I would spend my time doing something that, to me, seemed unimportant.  When we moved here last September I would ask people in town what they felt were their greatest needs and about four times out of five the first answer was better access to water and the second was to learn English.  Better access to water is a huge problem to tackle and would like to help with it, but know it could take years.  Teaching English, though, now that is something I can do.

The ability to speak English here is the chance for a better life.  It would be difficult to be admitted to high school here without English and there's no chance of going to college without it.  By learning English you can work in the tourism industry, one of Tanzania's largest industries.  Speaking English makes you marketable.  It gives you an edge against other applicants.  Education and jobs are scarce here, so anything you can do to improve your chances is another step closer to ensuring you can provide a home, food and education for your family.

So about 4 months ago, I started my first English class.  I have 8 students, all adults, who come faithfully every week (though maybe a little bit late), do their homework and practice speaking with each other throughout the week since there are so few other English speakers to try their new vocabulary out on.  We have no books, and on occasion I have had to resort to writing on an old box because there wasn't any paper and once in the dirt outside because we had a problem getting in the classroom.  No one seems to mind that much.  Instead of giving them a worksheet, I write their practice sentences on the board and they copy them down in their notebooks.  Markers here have short lives.  I go through about 3 per class.   People have been asking when I'm going to open another class.  I'm hoping to do that later this fall.  We're looking for a better classroom situation.  I enjoy teaching the class; it's a lot of fun.  Sometimes you just never know what you'll end up doing.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Friends and Family Afternoon

A couple weeks ago we had a bunch of our friends and their families come to our house to spend a Saturday.  To invite more than one family at a time is fun, but magnifies the chaos by about a billion, because inviting someone's family here is not the same as inviting someone's family in the States.  Here, if you say say "family", it can mean anything from their immediate family of spouse and children, to whoever is living with them (which could include a few other relatives or even people not related at all) to every person they are even close to kind of related to.  Cousins here, for example, are only cousins if they are your mother's brother's children or your father's sister's children.  Your mother's sister's children and your father's brother's children are called your brothers and sisters.  So, if you only desire what we think of as the immediate family to show up, you have to be pretty specific in your invitation.  And even then, they might have 15 kids or can't possible come without their grandmother who is visiting.  Which is fine, the more the merrier, especially if it's an outdoor party.

So, we invited four of our friends' families to come and ended up with, I think, 18 people.  Some didn't even bring their whole families.  If they had, the number would have gone up to 26.  We ordered Tanzanian food from a local cafe and had a picnic on our porch.

Obama even visited us for the afternoon. 

Seriously, this kid's name is Obama.  He's a funny one, too.  Loves to put on other people's shoes (especially high heels) that are too big for him and walk around.  

This is Baylor with Margaret.  Baylor loves Margaret.  

And here we all are for a nice end of the day picture, with the exception of those of us taking pictures.

It was a fun day.  The kids played soccer and drank cokes and the adults learned about making sandbag homes while taking turns holding Baylor.  Everyone ate a lot, which I think is the true measure of enjoyment as a visitor here in Tanzania.

Thursday, August 19, 2010


I realized the other day that I never put any pictures up from our Rwanda trip last month with Brett's friends from college.  Even though Rwanda is only a 3 hour drive from Geita, it looks and feels completely different.  Well, maybe not the restrooms at the border.

It now election time in Rwanda.  Paul Kagame is running again and even has an opponent. Kagame has done so many good things for his country I don't know why anyone wouldn't vote for him.  These billboards were all over the country.  I never saw one for the other guy.

We visited some genocide sites as well as the Genocide Museum and Memorial.  They're hard to look at, but important if you want to understand the people of Rwanda. 

We also stopped by the Mille Colline, made known worldwide by its place in the movie Hotel Rwanda.  A good movie, but even better is the documentary, Ghosts of Rwanda.  

My favorite part about visiting Kigali is the pizza.  An Italian guy moved there several years ago and opened a restaurant, Sole Luna, and it has fantastic pizza.  There are (I think) 89 choices of pizzas on the menu.  Our choices in Geita are limited to what I find in the market to put on the pizza I make, so needless to say, we enjoy it immensely.  

And in completely unrelated news, a bat flew into our house last night.  That is, inside our house, not that it ran into the walls.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

The Harrison Menagerie Continues

While I would be exaggerating to say this kind of thing happens all the time, it does seem ironic that the day after I posted about the visiting creatures, we had more visiting creatures.

Yesterday morning I loaded the washing machine and when I opened the slot for the detergent, I was surprised to see about 50 siafu, or as we say in English, huge giant ants that bite and hurt.  We just pulled the whole thing out and threw them on the ground, though I think a few ended up getting a very soapy bath.

A few minutes later I went into our bedroom and found this little guy hanging out on Brett's adidas bag.

I suppose he's not so little for a praying mantis.  He seemed pretty content there for a long time, but I guess eventually got bored since he's no longer there. 

My favorite visitors of the day, though, had to be the cows.  Yes, two big old cows.  

One of them went right out, but it took a while for Brett to round up the other. 

Life is never dull here at the Harrison Menagerie.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

A Pig, a Fish, and a Snake...Sort Of

The other night we were sitting down to dinner when I saw our night guard, Ondiak, sprint to close our gate.  Odd, I thought.  Until about 10 seconds later I saw a pig in our yard.  He was just enjoying himself, snorting around as pigs do.  Ondiak had mistakenly thought we'd bought a pig and it was trying to escape.  So now the pig was locked in.  Brett went outside and soon our neighbor's son came over, realizing that their pig had gone missing, and the three of them ran around the yard trying to get the pig to go out.  Highly entertaining.

Two days later, I got a call from a Tanzanian friend whom I'd given a ride the previous day to our English class, telling me she'd left her fish in our car.  A fish.  Overnight.  In our car.  Fantastic.  I boldly go out to the car and open the doors, hit immediately by waves of dead, been sitting in the car for 18 hours in the heat, fish, and find it wrapped in a bag on the floorboards in the back.  Gross.  We left the doors open the rest of the day.  

Friday Baylor was crawling around and I saw her pick up a little something in the corner of the living room that looked like tissue paper.

 Upon closer inspection, it was actually a piece of the skin of a reptile.  Again, so excited.  Who doesn't want a snake molting in their house?  Brett called Carson and they slowly took apart the living room, armed with brooms for the killing.  No snake found.   Nor did they find the rest of the skin.  We tried to decide if we should continue to systematically search the house or assume it left when Carson posed the question, "Do lizards shed their skin?" Hmm, we'd never thought about that.  Like everyone here, we have an abundance of small lizards calling our house home.  Brett looked it up on the internet and it turns out that yes, lizards do, in fact, shed their skin.  We assumed the little piece of skin was just the tip of the end of a small snake, but analyzing it further, we saw what was clearly the shape of a leg, exactly where a little lizard's leg should be.  So happy.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010


Brett, Balyor, and I spend a lot of time on our front porch.  There's a nice breeze, a beautiful view, and we can greet people as they walk by.  Baylor loves it especially, and every time she notices the front door is open, she makes a break for the glorious outdoors.  I thought you might enjoy a glimpse of something we enjoy daily, so here is a picture from our front porch.  Keep in mind that it's the middle of dry season, so everything is a bit brown.  Also, our yard is still just a bunch of dirt, as we can't plant grass until the rainy season this fall.  The area below the rocks is going to be our garden.

One day we intend to enjoy our back porch and yard as well.  But for now it's not so nice.  We're currently having our backyard leveled (it was extremely uneven--not good at all for a mini soccer field). The structure in the back right corner is our kennel for Gus, who prefers life with his sister, Eames, at Carson and Holly's and continues escaping and making his way over there.

Our back porch is also the home of our washing machine.  This is actually quite normal here, at least for those with washing machines.  The water just runs out of the machine into our back yard.

I took pictures of Baylor happy and laughing, but I thought, how often do you get to see pictures of a grumpy baby in a washing machine?

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Mosquito Face

Relaxing in Geita is not always so relaxing.  People show up at your house unexpected, you run out of water or there's no electricity, and you still have to cook, because unless you want beans and rice (which I actually do really like), there's no place to eat in town either.  So Brett and I devised a way to allow us to get a lot of work done and still be able to enjoy our free time.  We work 6 days a week here in Geita and only take 1 day off.  Thus, every 6 weeks we have a full week off.  That way we can leave Geita if we want.  We can go to Mwanza, stay with friends and go to a couple of restaurants, even spend a day at a pool.  We don't always take that week off though; sometimes we take just a few days or sometimes none at all so we can have more time later.  For example, we want to make sure we have enough time to spend with friends and family when they come to visit.  Of course we continue working some of the time they're here and just take them along with us.  But it can take anywhere from 2 to 4 days just to pick them up from the airport and take them back and it's nice to be able to take them on safari or somewhere else if they want to.

Last week a friend of Brett's from college and one of his friends came to visit.  They spent a week in Dar and on safari before they came to see us and a week in Zanzibar for a week after they left.  During the week they were here, we showed them around Mwanza and Geita, took them out to a village where they got to experience real Tanzanian life (which most tourists never see), drove them to Kigali where they toured genocide sites and then out to Musanze (formally Ruhengeri) to trek through Volcanoes National Park to see gorillas.  Brett and I just enjoyed the cool weather around a fire with Baylor while they did that.  It was a super busy week, but a lot of fun.  Definitely worth the 6 day work week.

The only bad thing was that one night while in Kigali, a mosquito got into Baylor's net and bit her little face 60 or 70 times.  She looked like she had the chicken pocks.  Fortunately, 1) they didn't seem to bother her at all and 2) malaria is rare in Rwanda because of the high altitude.  She just looks real sad.  I would post a picture of her, but I don't want you to be sad too.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010


Saturday Brett, Baylor and I went out to a village in somewhat nearby Sengerema (only about an hour's drive).  They were having a harambee, which is a coming together of people to help someone or a group of someones.  In this case, the church there (began by the Mwanza team some time ago) was raising money for a church building.  The community gathers together for a day of fun, worship, auctions, eating, and of course, giving.  There's an MC who moves things along: announcing performers, introducing important attendees, making fun of people who don't dance their way to the front to give their money (it seems that dancing, or some sort of shuffling, is integral to the giving experience at a harambee).

We were told to arrive there at 12:30, and knowing things were not going to start on time, we got there about 1:00.  When we got there, they were still setting up, tying logs together for benches, hanging tarps up for shade, testing the audio equipment (yes, they had microphones and speakers in the middle of rural Tanzania).  We talked to some people for a while and then were invited to have lunch.  This is a more wealthy village than most, so we were served rice, chicken, and sheep. They even brought us warm cokes. Now I am not normally a fan of warm coke, but it was given to me right about the time I was munching on a sheep liver, so I was happy to gulp it down.  Brett got the intestines.  I'll go for liver any day over that.  The chicken was downright tasty, though.  After eating we made our way over to the cooking area to thank the women for lunch and were amazed to find about 20 industrial-sized cooking pots over open flames.  "How many people were they expecting?" we asked.  "About 200."  That's a lot of food for a lot of people.  As Brett said, "I guess it takes money to make money."

Round about 4:30 the MC started things up, only 4 hours after the initial starting time.  We knew the rest of the people there would stay til the wee hours of the morning singing, praying, and giving, but it's not particularly safe to drive between towns after dark, so we left about 5:30, after being fed another meal of barbequed chicken livers and rice, and taking about 30 pictures.  We haven't heard how the rest of the event went, but I assume well.  A member of parliament was even scheduled to attend, which is a pretty big deal.

We really enjoy harambees.  It's so encouraging to see not only groups of Christians get together to help each other, but also to be joined by other members of their communities.  It doesn't seem like that sort of thing happens too often in the world.

Monday, July 12, 2010


Last week the Bailey's of the Mwanza team brought their 3 interns to Geita.  They'd spent most of the previous 6 weeks in a big city or villages so we'd thought we show them town life.  The first night Carson and Brett took them on a tour of Geita, visiting different locations and using those locations as a springboard for discussion on life in Geita, its joys and its problems.  The next morning they learned how to slaughter a pig, which is, fortunately for me, a part of Brett's life here, and not mine.  The afternoon they spent learning about church planting movements and our strategy for missions here.  Wednesday morning was pig processing and Wednesday afternoon Holly took them to the main market here, where they bought ingredients needed for the dinner they were cooking for our team that night.  Cooking here is an experience unto itself.  Wednesday night we had a time of worship (it was great to have our normal singing voices doubled) and games.  Thursday morning Calvin took them to visit Nelico, an organization here that works with orphans and protects albino children and to discuss Neema House, the orphanage he and Alicia are starting.  We all went out to lunch to the best cafe in town, ate some beans and rice, and went to on the English class I teach.  My students were so excited to practice the little English they knew with the visitors. We had about a 20 minute picture taking session after class.  Friday they all packed up and headed back to Mwanza.

It was so much fun to have them here.  I can see where having interns all summer is a lot of work, but totally worth it.  I loved my college internship in Uganda and it was interesting to me to see what internships are like from this side of it.  Internships are such a good way to not only see the world and learn about other cultures, but to learn about what God is doing in those places and perhaps to discover where you fit in to that work.

Anyway, we were really glad the Bailey's shared their interns with us briefly and hope they have a safe trip back to the States this week.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

An All-American 4th

I've always enjoyed the 4th of July more when out of the country.  Something about being away from home makes me more excited about celebrating it.  Our team got together on Sunday at Carson and Holly's house for hamburgers, french fries, deviled eggs, potato salad, jello, ice cream and American flag cookies.  Holly even made ice with blue food coloring for added fun.

The one thing that arrived in Geita last September in not quite perfect condition was our gas grill.  And by not quite perfect condition I mean 6 or 8 pieces.  Which was sad, because 1) we love to grill and 2) the weather's good year round for grilling and it's a terrible waste to not take advantage.  With the 4th looming and our desire for actual good-tasting burgers increasing, Carson and Brett set out to put the grill back together.  So Saturday night it was ready to go.  This was pretty exciting for us; not only for the holiday but for the many future opportunities for deliciousness.

So we ate, played bocce ball (an italian lawn game), ate some more, enjoyed fine conversation, and ate some more.  We were going to set off a firework, but it was forgotten back at the house, so Calvin set it off tonight for us instead.  It was a pretty good one, too.

We did have one cookie incident though.  I wanted a picture of Baylor in her 4th of July outfit and I thought it would be cute to include one of the American flag cookies that Holly made.  But Baylor tried to eat it so we tried to take it away and then it broke and fell on the ground.  This did not make Baylor happy.  She actually cried for almost a full 5 minutes.  This was the first time she cried over something being taken away from her.  But Baba made it all better by turning her bib into a cape and flying her around the yard.

Saturday, June 26, 2010


We eat rice a lot here in Tanzania.  Not quite so much as when we lived in China, but still, a fair amount.  Rice is found in abundance, is inexpensive, and Tanzanians like to eat it, so we always have some on hand.  Tomorrow we're having some Tanzanian friends over, so in my search to find something to cook that they will actually enjoy eating, I am including rice on the menu.  You may think that cooking rice is easy, so I'm lucky to be able to prepare something so simple that people will like.  And while that's not completely untrue, it's a bit more complicated here than in America.

First, I go to the market to buy the rice.  I usually order it by the kilo, and they measure it out on a scale balanced by weights on one side, then they put it into the smallest plastic bag that it will possibly fit in.  I usually end up spilling some on the way home.  After I get home, I get out my rice sifting basket, and I sort through the rice, pulling out little pebbles and the like.  Some of them are quite small, and you might think inconsequential, until you bite down on one on your (hopefully unbroken) tooth.  After I sort through the rice, I go outside and throw my rice up in the air in my basket to separate the rice from the chaff.  This works best on a windy day.  Finally, I rinse the rice several times to cleanse it from the dirt that it is smothered in.

All in all, it only takes an extra 30 minutes or so.  The things in the bowl are the pebbles I've pulled out from about 2 cups of rice.  This was a surprisingly clean selection.