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We arrived in Tanzania as the moon was rising full and beautiful. We’ve watched it wane and now it is nearly full again. It is time to come home. As we prepare for our last seven days on this continent we are filled with awe, sadness, hope, sometimes despair but always love and gratitude for what we have experienced and what we have learned. Some of you will agree with me that it is easier to say “hello” than “goodbye,” but I remind myself that goodbye is derived from “God be with you” and we leave our friends here with that prayer.

With the few remaining days we want to fill them to the brim. As I may have mentioned, we had dinner with Bishop Mdimi Mhogolo and his lovely wife Irene on Saturday night. He gave us a personal tour of his grounds where he himself is growing casava, mangoes and grapes. Tanzanian wine is not the greatest, so here’s hoping the bishop can grow a grape that will harvest a good crop for communion wine.

We ate in their dining room with a Lazy Susan. At one point I asked if it was permissible to take seconds and Irene said it would be impermissible not to have seconds and imagine this: the bishop began to clear the table. I thought that was the deacon’s job or privilege. Later we retired to his living room where the bishop gave us his undivided attention about some of the schools and projects that we are interested in. On Sunday we were again with him as he ordained over 30 men and women to the diaconate and the priesthood. He graciously invited me to vest and participate but I had not brought robes and I was quite happy to sit with Jessie and other friends. Our friend, Joseph Kyense who was in one of my classes last year moved to sit close to us so he could translate for us. The service was in Kiswahili. There is a genuine kindness in the bishop’s face and demeanor. It was a glorious day as are all ordinations. We are all on the mountain top that day and the next day we are in the valley where most of life’s growth occurs.

We have a full week with a visit to another diocesan school nearby and we have volunteered to have an orientation for 4 students who are coming to the states in January to do four weeks of urban ministry at Virginia Theological Seminary. None of them have ever been on an airplane and some are nervous wrecks. Jessie and I hope to alleviate some of their fears or concerns.

This coming Saturday two of my former students and one whom Jessie gave art supplies to are taking us to Manyoni and Itigi to a different diocese. We will visit with church leaders and their bishop and then we are promised a magnificent view of the Rift Valley in Kenya. I asked Sandy why they were going to so much trouble for us and she said it is all they have to give us.

One last note for this entry. Today at 4:00 a lovely man, Daniel Fweda came for tea with his wife, Karen. As Jessie and I picked up our cups they stopped us and said: “we must give thanks for the tea.” Embarrassed, we said that we say grace at mealtimes but not at tea. When Daniel said they give thanks for a glass of water I nearly dissolved in tears.

Jessie will follow this up with news of a project that really lights my fire. We are investigating all the hopes and possibilities.

Blessings

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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?”

Another busy, and unusual day for Tally and me.  It started with our English Class for Secretaries.  Tally and I took a course from the Literacy Council thinking this would give us the information we would need to teach here.  Well… there is a lot of grammar which neither of us can remember!  Are there 8 or 10 parts of speech.  10 commandments, so must be 8 parts of speech…We are supposed to know these things, we are supposed to know not only the definition of a noun, but the difference between abstract, countable, collective, etc., nouns.  There are so many rules in English, and we don’t remember any of them, though we feel we know how to speak.  So, our afternoons see us googling, prepositions, definitions, and thumbing through all the wonderful material the teachers here have used for years.  They are such Pros, we are idiots by comparison and pray that we are not messing up their students.  Got so desperate the other day, I brought paint and had the Secretarial students painting, and then writing the names of the colours.

We are also working at our other classes, Tally – Pastoral Care, and me at the Primary School.  So much going on there, but won’t write about that tonight.  Except to say that am getting some good drawings and paintings from the children, and working with the teachers on management and problem solving things involving the running of the school.

The milk that Tally wrote about last night?  well, this morning at chapel, she mentioned the delicious milk she drank and everyone said:  “Well, of course you boiled it…”  She didn’t, but since it was still warm from the cow, she hopes it was okay.  I don’t drink milk, so no problem for me.  Tally is also getting to be a pro at feeding chickens.  I kept chickens when I lived in England and loved them, now she is learning how nice they are to have around.  They certainly keep the lizzard population down, not to mention other insects.  We give them table scraps.

So much of our days are comprised of things not familiar to us and require forebrain effot and planning, that we are tired by afternoon.  We take a short rest, do some “homework” take a walk, then have dinner.  We are usually in bed by 9:00.  Up at six.

tally's photos 008

We were up at 6:30 this morning in order to be ready to leave for a Roman Catholic service four miles from where we live. We didn’t know but suspected that we would be going via Dala-Dala, a small van similar to the first Volkswagen buses, but not as large and also in very poor repair.

After walking about a mile we hopped onto a packed Dala-Dala and bounced along the dirt road until we got to the church. Sonorous music came from inside and soon we were seated among 5 to 6 hundred Africans listening to a service in Kiswahili. Funny how we couldn’t even say the Nicene Creed in English. We needed the BCP. We were allowed to take communion “provided our hearts were right.” We were comfortable with the liturgy and felt quite at home.

We assumed that we would return to Msalato after the service but our friends then wanted to know if we were willing to walk into Dodoma town. I think they worried about me, a bibi, (grandmother) not knowing that I walk 4 to 5 miles everyday with James and Jessie and her dogs. They didn’t accept or understand that we have been into town many times. It seemed they wanted to be our guides and take us sightseeing (oh, what sights) in Dodoma Town.

We finally told them that we needed to get back to do some preparation for tomorrow’s classes. Again we climbed aboard a Dala-Dala along with 24 anothers packed in like sardines in a tin can. Jessie and I shared a seat with half of my bohiney hanging off the seat and with my arms hanging onto Jessie as our driver navigated the potholes in the road. Don Schulte advised me on my first journey to South Africa to take in the sights, the smells, and the entire landscape. We certainly had that opportunity today. We took our friends to a new cafe for lunch and ordered chopped eggs not knowing what in the world chopped eggs were. ‘Twas a hard boiled egg wrapped in a thin shell of meat??? and dipped in what looked like a coconut shell, or whatever and then fried. Actually they were pretty tasty.

Our hosts wanted to continue to “take us on the town” all on foot. As the afternoon wore on we insisted that we needed to get back to Msalato to work on tomorrow’s lessons. At 3:30 we arrived home and all we could think about was a bucket bath! The power went off just as Jessie began to cook dinner. Believe me, that’s Africa.

I wish you could have seen me standing by the Dodoma Road alone while Jessie went to look for the man who was to take us to the church. I was the only mzungu (white person) on the planet. All in all it was a happy day but let me reassure sure you that living and working in a totally different culture is a challenge. Remember what FDR said? “Eleanor hates war, I hate war, Falla hates war, but we love the smell of gunpowder?” Jessie and I love the challenge.

anna's lesson

We are having our third blog lesson, oy vay!  don’t know how much we will remember…notice that ANNA is very young!

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