Friday, January 26, 2007

The gift of life and the people that fill it. Today was a very special day for various reasons and was filled with reflection and discovery! We are at the point that our senses and self have been stimulated for many days now, in such a way that we will never be the same and we do not have the option to turn back—hallelujah!
This morning (unlike the others) was quiet and sad for we were all worried about “the Friendly Neighbor,” Roger. Not only were a few pieces of or beautiful growing puzzle missing, we were uncertain if they had made it to Iringa, if Roger had seen a doctor and if Roger was really pain free. However, we knew Harran, Mohammed and Papa Toni would do anything and everything for Roger.
As soon as the clock hit breakfast time Mama Toni’s phone rang and Harran spoke with Eloise explaining Roger’s current state and what the current plan was. We felt somewhat at ease but the morning conversation still was slow and quite subdued for our minds all gathered around one idea: Please let Roger be okay. Throughout the day we heard from Harran updating us on Roger. Roger, please know we are thinking of you.
One of the reasons today was such a special day was the fact that I was celebrating the 30 years I have walked the earth. I do not even know how to explain the amazing colors everyone painted on my life today. It began with the clock hitting 12 am and feeling nothing but warmth inside knowing that the jump to the next yar was taking place in this beautiful country of Tanzania with great people surrounding me. Every year is a new beginning so starting this next year in this peaceful place was very special.
When I woke Eloise wished me happy birthday and I was surprised she knew. Yet it made my day as I was just going to celebrate it inside—wow, am I glad I did not.
Outside of us worrying about Roger the morning was as the others—admiring students for their dedication and desire to learn, as well as providing them with some new information to go conquer the world.
After lunch Bill and I traveled across the land and soaked up the beauty around us. The landscape here is unbelievable in what it has to offer. I felt as if we were walking through a painting with wonderful surprises behind every corner, hill and personality we encountered. Once again our feet had taken us to a place in which we were given a new perspective of our Ipalamwa hilltop. As we looked back our hearts beat an extra beat for we were a part of this special place.
On our journey we saw many things and many villagers who we connected with, with an exchange of a smile or wave and the words, “Kam wene”. One of our favorite characters became this young lady who was so happy while carrying maize on her head that she was swinging her arms and singing on the way to her home.
On our return I thought our 3-hour trip was going to be the highlight of the day and moment I would treasure forever. However, the beauty of the day had only started unfolding. Mama Toni, Eloise and Lace were busy cooking Eloise’s famous rice pudding (well, at least that is what we were told). Later in the evening I was to find out that the wonderful hearts surrounding me had planned a celebration for my birthday. The rice pudding was not the only dessert. Dessert also included Mama Toni’s delicious donuts, which is what she and Eloise and Lace were actually making in the kitchen when we returned. Surprisingly, I had no idea (yet Bill did [smile])
Before we sat down for dinner with Mr. Fanuel and Mr. Nickson I had a great chat with one of the students, Enoch. Every time we encounter a student or group of students we get to see a new side of their individual personality. They are so warm, excited to share and converse with us. While Enoch and I were discussing the beauty of Ipalamwa, Eloise and I were dragged away to the forest (that I had not yet seen) to take photos with some of the girl students—a photo shot we will always remember.
Dinner was filled with laughs and then it was time for Eloise’s rice pudding. Mama Toni and Eloise went to get the rice pudding and came back singing with the others in the room, Happy Birthday. I felt I was dreaming.
The lights from the candles were like stars glistening the room. I was so happy tears of joy started welling slowly and I knew I was awake. Then a few minutes later there came magical voices that I had come to love. Their voices again captured our hearts and galloped in the moonlight. Amold, Abed, Icesta, Titus, Editha and Eliza with Mr. Fanuel on the guitar filled our dining room with many colors. I seriously felt as if I was having an outer body experience when they were singing. This day of celebration was truly very powerful and the most magical birthday I have ever had. I will have the memory implanted on my mind and heart forever. Thank you to all for creating and sharing such a special moment in my life. “Asante sana.”
There are two things that will always bring back the memory of this unique day. The last song “Mungu Unaweza” (Lord, we are able) and the moon. Bill first saw the moon’s glow and while he was still telling us to look, I ran and ran trying to reach a point where my eyes could completely capture its beauty. I stopped and stared into its body. The moon had decided to shine its full light on us to show us its appreciation for life and what we are experiencing (hopefully Roger also got to enjoy the moon’s light).

Thought For The Day:

“I soon realized that no journey carries one far unless, as it extends into the world around use, it goes on equal distance into the world within” (William Smith)