Thursday, July 3, 2008

“Faith never knows where it is being led, but it knows and loves the one who is leading” ~ Oswald Chambers

It is winter here in Africa and the evening temperature is perfect weather for sleeping. We wake up to hot coffee, cocoa and tea – fresh fruit or oatmeal and of course, the company of our Global colleagues. Harran calls for the quote and the daily journal, goes over our schedule for the day and gives us any important updates. Then we are of to our respective assignments.

The morning was made up of classes and clinic. The central meeting place for all the teachers. The teachers lounge, saw a steady stream of “Mazungu” throughout the morning as we floated between one class or another. At 10:10 – high tea and Mandazi was served as usual, then back to work.

The experience at the clinic in Pommern this afternoon was an eye opener. Dr. Godlove is an angel in our midst. (Is that really his name?). He put on his dentistry and oral surgeons´ as a steady string of patients with toothaches or an abscess walks through the door. One patient in particular, a middle aged woman, was specially complicated. Dr. Godlove spent most of an hour working to get all of the pieces of a molar which had wrapped itself around the woman´s jawbone out of her mouth. He first screwed the best chair she sat on to its highest point because he is short and in stature and the tooth was at the top of her mouth. He set his feet standing in front of the woman with nurse Patricia and – or Dr. Fiscus holding the patients head as she leaned back for him and with all his strength he coaxed and dug and talked to that tooth until he got a good enough grip on it to yank it out. I will never forget the bravery, strength and gratefulness of this woman when he held up that tooth for her to see.

She went around to each one of us in that room and thanked us with a handshake individually – and then her husband thanked us. Asante san- Asante san
If there is any point at all to life, surely it is to live at our dreams, to serve, to become fully realized human beings, savoring the possibility of our full potential and to find the simple joy of giving at the end of the day.
But, by the love of God – Never ever find yourself in POmmern with a toothache.


Wednesday, July 2, 2008

“If I can stop one heart for breaking,
I should not live in vain.
If I can ease one life the aching
Or cool one pain,
Or help one fanting robin
Into its nest again,
I shall not live in vain.º

Emily Dickenson

Daybreak found us all snug in our beds in our new home at the mission house. At breakfast I came to the realization that with mama Tony’s delicious cooking, this trip will not be the time to shed a few pounds.

After breakfast Harran asked us each to write down three personal goals we had or this experience. There were many insightful goals such as to contribute to healthcare, to learn from the people and the community and to follow a calling to serve. As a group we then transformed these into some common group goals: to serve, to learn, to build relationships and to gain from these cultural experience.
Our meeting concluded, Patrick, the headmaster of Pommern Secondary School, led us through the village, past the clinic where the villagers were already waiting to see the visiting eye doctor. Past fields of corn and sunflowers, we arrived at Pommern Secondary School, quickly noting the sign “No English, No service.” After meeting with Edward, the academic master, and meeting all the teachers, we shared a delicious morning snack of tea and Maandazi, similar to hot donuts – yum!

AS we casually walked out into the morning sun, we were stunned to see before us gathered the entire fourth, fifth, and sixth forms, approximately 500 students. They sang songs of welcome , one of witch was “We are marching in the light of God” which brought a tear or two to my eye because we sing it many Sundays at home. I think we were all in awe of the impressive facilities they showed us on our tour. From the library and classrooms to science labs and solar power computers complete with Windows XP.

As our group introduced ourselves to the assembled students, they sent up cheers of delight when one of us mentioned an interest or profession I something such as Geography, English or computers. AS these students hope to enter the University next year, Edward urged them to talk with us and ask lots of questions to practice their English to better enabled them to get out into the world.

After lunch we dove right in when Harran gave out our assignments for tomorrow. Lynn, Lily, Matt and Rachel will be working with younger kids – Lynn and Lily prepared a lesson on vocabulary and letters for the Kindergarteners, while Matt and Rachel created lessons in basic conversation and math for 11 to 12 year olds. Mackenzie is introducing students to literature, Jordan is working on grammar and syntax, while Kady and Sonia worked in Chemistry: Personally I am thrilled to be working with Carmen as we helped the Geography and History teacher, Adidas, something I have a fighting chance of knowing something about. Of course, she and I might me working late by flashlight since he told us our lessons are to be on Socialism, the formation of the planet and continental drift. He is confident and gifted so we know we are in good hands. Already Katie and Shelly have put in a long afternoon helping Doctor Godlove see patients at the clinic, only after Dr. Shelly had made a new best friend this morning, the school nurse!

We close our afternoon with a performance by the children´s choir in the old church, in which, all the Global Volunteers joined in to wish Michelle a Happy Birthday, followed by the inspiring adult choir. As I write this I am distracted by the sounds of life outside the window: Jordan, Kady and Matt coloring, chatting, chasing a kite, and playing catch with all of our new “under seven” friends. I can´t write anymore, I must go play too.


Tuesday, July 1, 2008

"Indeed I wish to be the drop that creates the ripples of change” ~ Aliakhbar A. Jumrani

Today started with a wonderful breakfast and then the job of loading up the vans again. The time passed quickly with the entretaiment (ours and his) of a small boy at the University where we stayed. There was picture taking and patty-cake magic markers (Mackenzie has the tattoo on the leg to prove it).
We then set off to our meeting at the Luther . we had the honor to meet several employees and pastor Sagaa from the church in Pommern. Our big treat was to meet the Bishop Owdenberg Mdegella, who spoke to us about his vision for helping Tanzania as well as great practical advise for our stay here.

From there we split into two groups. One group went to sign up for Safari while others went to help mama Tony at the market.

The market place was an amazing place of color, aromas (even the pile of little dead fish as tall as me) and people. Mama Tony wheeled and dealed with the vendors while we watched with amazement. Susan recognized one boy from her previous trip two years ealier. He had the same basket of green peas on his head (just like the photograph she has of him). He was taller and had practiced his English a lot. Many of the team members got to talk to him and he helped them at the Hasty – Taste, which included great pizza and sodas.

We drove the bumpy, slow road to Pommern but it was worth the wait. All along the way, but especially closer to Pommern, we were greeted by smiles and waves (mostly because Shelly kept screaming Kam-wanee at everyone she saw).

We were greeted at the Mission house by the choir from the Secondary School. They danced and sang and made us fell so welcome. I am not sure if it was the drums beating or my heart pounding but it was a moving moment to see the girls in their pink skirts, the music, the little children joining in and just clinging to us.
After settling in our rooms, we enjoyed a wonderful dinner and some good discussions on what makes an effective team. The lights dimmed, we brushed our teeth and crawled into our new beds.


Monday, June 30, 2008

ºWe with our quick dividing eyes
Measure, distinguish and are gone
The forest burns, the tree frog dies,
Yet one is all and all are oneº ~ Rainforest by Judith Wright

After enjoying an egg and toast breakfast, we loaded up two vehicles with our luggage and headed to Iringa. Many of us had arrived in Dar es Salaam after dark, so our van was a buzz with excitement as we drive through the city noticing crowded vans and colorful katangas. The drive to our first step was filled with many new scenes. In between practicing Swahili and trying to open starburst without using hands, we noticed things like the many bags of charcoal alongside the road, fields of sisal, brown mud homes and the enormous number of people working and biking alongside a major road.

You could not help but wonder how far and how long people walk to get even the necessities. There were multiple times that we saw young boys herding cows and goats along the roadside going to or returning from grazing. It seemed like no time until we were stopping to check tires and eat a great buffet lunch where many had their first taste of Ugali, as well as their first cultural restroom experience. At a later stop, two of our team members (who will remain unidentified) were spotted demonstrating the ºSquatty potty positionº needed for a successful restroom experience! After lunch, we continued on our journey while admiring the jagged edge of the mountain range jintting into the sky.

Before long, we entered Mikumi National Park and with cameras poised, the hunt for wildlife began –each side of the van being given specific instructions to peer out their windows without ceasing and to sound the alarm when wildlife was spotted. Due to the sharp eyes of run team members and Muhamad’s willingness to pull over, go back and go up, this 50 km. proved to be all that we could possibly ask for.

Beginning with a zebra family who stopped traffic to cross the road in front of us, we left the park with photos of elephants galore, warthogs, gazelle and a whole herd of stampeding baboons –many of them moms with babies hanging on tightly. Dawn was sure that she saw one baboon with a snake in its mouth, but I am not sure of anyone actually captured that on film for verification. The rest of the ride may not have been quite as exciting, but was very bit as amazing with the giant …..trees and the beautiful mountain scenery that unfolded before us. As night drew closer and we could feel the temperature drop, we arrived I Iringa, checked into our rooms, ate dinner and called it a night. I think we are all beginning to realize that ºwe are not in Kansas anymoreº.


Sunday, June 29, 2008

“The King will reply, I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.”~ Matthew 25:40

Tonight was our first group meeting. We sat, introducing ourselves and enjoying pizza as the sun sank into the Indian Ocean beside us.
A very beautiful end to a gorgeous day. Part of the team arrived yesterday, while the rest arrived this evening. After getting to know watch other a little more, Haran gave us an overview of our trip and answered any questions we had. I think we are all glad to have such `pro with us!
After dinner, we enjoyed hanging around for some live music. The music started off predictably enough, but I think we were all a bit shocked to hear the sudden start of ºWipeoutº soon followed by ºSweet home Alabamaº and later in the evening ºBeautiful girlº by Sean Kingston. It is amazing what songs span the globe.
I am very much so looking forward to getting to know the people on this team and sharing such an amazing experience.