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I doubt that one can be half-mad, half-crazy or even half schizophrenic. I guess your are or you aren’t, but yesterday I felt that half-madness had overtaken me. I’ll try to explain.

Night before last Jessie and I had a dinner guest, a woman from England who suffers from MS but who is a volunteer English teacher, something we hope never to have to teach again -(gerunds, dangling participles, simple-past negatives – oh horrors)! It was a warm night so we opened the back door in order to have some cross-ventilation. We had not opened the back door before because we are gone most of the day, and the nights are delightfully cool. Looking out the back door and seeing that our kitchen drain had emptied a lot of garbage out there and making it look like the world’s cess pool, and being that it was late and I still had the kitchen to clean up, I said to Jessie: “I think I hate Africa. I’m tired of the daily dirty beggars, tired of cleaning my shoes every day, tired of not knowing if we would have water or the internet, tired of dim lighting that has probably permanently ruined my eyes, tired of dirt and dust, tired of my skin and head itching from the dryness, tired of the suffering, tired of the starvation poverty – tired-tired-tired.”  Africa seemed hopeless to me that night and I guess I had a real case of “poor me.” Perhaps I am not mad but human and feeling helpless in the face of so much suffering.

Now here is where the real “go figure” comes in.

The very next day I had an English conversation class. Usually Jessie and I do this class together but she had another class at Bishop  Stanway so I went alone never expecting the fall-out that was about to happen. The conversation lesson for the day was to identify items one would find in various rooms in a house or home. They had been prepped for this with small pictures of the average western home and they named all the items – sofas, chairs, lamps, desks, computers, showers, toilets, cookers (stoves), cabinets, towels, sheets, pots, pans, microwaves and on and on. I knew that they not only didn’t have those things, often they didn’t even know what they were (Stupid lesson).  When we got to a garage and what one might find in an average American garage I suddenly teared-up. They said a water hose to water grass and flowers. When I asked how they bathed or washed they said: “with a bucket.” I felt so horrible for having such an “attitude” the day before. They are such dear people and I couldn’t bear that I use water indiscrimately – turn on the faucet and voila, I have water. Fill up a tub of hot water just for a soak, push a button or turn a knob and the outdoor watering system comes on. Here they thank God for a glass of water. Where am I going with this; I honestly don’t know. I only know that I told them it was our last class and I walked around the room and shook all of their beautiful black hands and wished them God’s blessings and then I left crying.

I stopped at Sandy’s on my way home and said: “last night I hated Africa and today I am crying over leaving and I love Africa”. She said: “welcome to Africa – now you are becoming a missionary. I’m not sure I even know what that means. Maybe I have a love/hate relationship with Africa. I do know that something is not right with this picture but I sure as heck don’t know what to do about it. Keep on keeping on, perhaps, and try to remember Mother Teresa’s wisdom – we can only do small things with great love or “better to light one candle than curse the darkness.”

Calling all qualified English Teachers!! As you know, Tally and I are attempting to teach English grammar and have found out just how utterly clueless we are about the structure and rules of our own language.  It is a total mystery. We attempt to teach young women every morning a class at 8:00. Yesterday, because it was one of the gal’s birthday, we brought in a cake and had a party. The earrings from Morgan Miller were a huge hit. In the afternoon, we had an English conversation class, this is a bit easier since we certainly can speak! However, I was so tired, I spiraled down in to idiocy when a man told me his name was “Peter”. Most of the names are tribal – but Peter! All I could think of was: “Peter, peter pumpkin eater, had a wife and couldn’t keep her, he put her in a pumpkin shell and there he kept her very well”. Of course we then had to explain what a pumpkin was, which is good since it is a conversation class. But, I could not leave bad enough alone and proceeded on to “eensie, weensie, spider” and ended demonstrated “I’m a little tea pot”. Now I have not done that since kindergarten. Tally took pity on me and asked a sensible question: “Does Tanzania have an army?”

So much of our days are filled with new challenges.  Our old brains, already forgetful, are really shorting out these days as there is so much new information, challenges, and wonders to process.  Life is utterly fascinating, never boring.  But, there are the small everyday tasks we do here that soothe in their calming, arcane behaviours we thought we would share:

There is the morning washing of the blackboard rag at the tap outside the classroom before our English Class.

washing the blackboard ragEnglish class


Jessie Texting

feeding the poor sick dog that wanders our neighborhood,

feeding the poor dog

Tally shining our shoes after our day of walking the dirt paths to and from our classes.

Tally shining shoes 1Tally shining shoes 2Tally Shining shoes 3

Feeding our neighbor, Iri Moto’s, chickens who calm and amuse us with their clucks and antics,

Tally feeding the chickens

giving food to old Shamba who comes everyday in his heavy coat and bare feet,


then lastly our “cocktail hour” before we cook our dinner of beans and rice, do some work and usually turn into our beds around 9:00 to read before going to sleep.

cocktail time

Busy day for Tally and me.  We had our usual traumatic English class, we did not know how to explain when to use “present continuous”, heck, we are back to learning how to conjugate the verb “to be” ourselves so we can teach it.  We went with our tails between our legs to the head of the English department hoping to be fired, and instead were given Murphy’s Red Book on Essential Grammar In Use.  Pray for us!!

On the way to this meeting with the Head of the English Department, a four and a half foot snake sidewinded (or is it sidewound) across our path, a person coming towards us said:  “Oh, we interrupted his meal, he was after that lizzard.”  We looked and saw the big green lizzard happily going on his way to live another day.  Interestingly, Tally didn’t mind the snake one bit, but a half centimeter spider is another story…

This afternoon, I went with some of the teachers from “my” school to visit other schools in the area to talk about how they conduct their schools, guess you would call it a “fact-finding” mission.  Very informative.  Tally and I worked with the children making quilts for the schools in the States that have partnered with the school here, the children are also working on paintings for me to bring back for an art show. Good night!  Jessie

English Class

Letter from Dodoma this time from Tally.

This is being written on Jessie’s computer since I am still not on-line.  I am trying not to obsess and remind myself that “it’s Africa.”

Classes began this morning following Morning Prayer in the chapel at 7:30 ~ oy vey.  We have 10 students in the English class ~ all young girls and all quiet and scared.  To tell the truth, I felt scared too!  My Pastoral Care students are absolutely gorgeous ~ one was once a smuggler before God got to him.  He is  now a pastor in the Moravian Church.  God does pick some interesting folk.  He/She even sent Jessie and me to this heart-breaking place.  The animals break our hearts and we are such “softies” but even another scene to capture the heart was to witness Jessie’s favorite little girls rush up to her this morning.  You can look into Jessie’s emotional face and “feel” the  joy.

I’ve had similar reunions with my students from last year, but not recorded on camera for they surprised me on the path, or the porch.


I am living closer to nature than ever before ~  just as  we were leaving for our afternoon walk, I said to Jessie “there is a hen rushing up on our porch looking a bit frantic.”  Immediately followed a Rooster, hot on her tail.  I asked Jessie what is he doing, and she explained the rather crude method of love making of chickens, talk about “slam,  bam, thank you mam”  We both felt sorry for the hen, she was missing quite a few feathers from her neck, so we chased the rooster away so she could get a break, she hid behind a bush with another “knowing” hen.  Later, on the path, Jessie moved quickly to her left when she heard a hissing snake.  I heard the hiss as well, thank God it wasn’t a spider!

Thank you for your prayers and response to our blog!  Tally

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