Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Volunteer Vacation in Tanzania - Tuesday, October 15, 2013

“If you put water into a cup, it becomes the cup.  If you put water into a teapot, it becomes the teapot.”  
  -Bruce Lee

One of the great features about water is in its adaptability: water can clean you, drown you, save you, feed you.  Our bodies, similar to the earth we are born into, are mainly made of water.  Like water, we adapt, or eventually perish.  Tuesday was a day that represented our beginning to the adaptation of Pommern.  We began the day with another great breakfast, I woke up a little late due to the slumber party Shahana, Roxanna and I had the night before.  We saw the Great Gatsby.  We went to school for the first time and met the staff and some students.  When we came back home, we were treated to a great lunch, a great dinner, and a fantastic lesson by Muhammad on Hey-Hey/Swahili.  Later that night we all danced to Latin music, samba, African music, and reggae.  This would prepare us well for tomorrow.  The spontaneous movement to patterned music is very symbolic of the way we move through life.  The earth rotates the same.  The sun rises and falls, and in between it the static patterns are fluid motions of life.

Monday, October 14, 2013

Volunteer Vacation in Tanzania - Monday, October 14, 2013

“It takes a village to bring up a child.”

The trip continues to unfold.  Still having the ‘oh my god, we’re in Africa!’ moments.  We woke to a brilliant, clear sky and the bustle of Iringa preparing to host the president of the country.  Our hosts at the Lutheran guest house were still cheerful and gracious after staying late last night to be sure we got dinner… Muhammad took us into town to shop. 
Mama Toni shopping for team meals.
Going with Mama Toni as she went to the market for food and then eating in Pommern was the high light.   The covered market was a beautiful display of color in the form of fresh fruit, vegetable, legumes and spices – everything piled high with the vendors in their own colorful outfits often sitting atop the display and doing business from there.  Mama Joni made her way confidently thru the thing.  She carefully selected her items, then left them to be packaged up and collected later. 

We, her ducklings, tried to keep up but often wandered away only to catch up with her later.  The presidential visit stalled our departure from town a little. By around 3 PM we left but not before visiting a gift shop called Neema, I think.  The items are made and the shop is run by disabled people.  I know Edward probably feels like he’s trying to herd cats when he dares to let us out anywhere.  There were pretty cool items there - We shall return.  The drive to Pommern was beautiful starting with a panoramic view of Iringa as we departed.  We followed dirt roads that seemed to get deeper red the further we moved away from Iringa.  The houses were fewer.   The goats, cows, and chickens had as much right to the road as vehicles and were often escorted by a child or adult herding them along.  Muhammad does an expert job of weaving through all this without killing anything.  People were all busy with the business of living – sitting under trees, children playing, adults talking, women washing, men making furniture, people of all ages walking with heavy loads balanced on their heads or toting large, cumbersome loads on their bikes, boys swimming in the rivers.  And then the village of Pommern was down a red tree lined road.
Our old 1899 mission house awaited us – a romantic old European style building with a veranda all around it.  The van was unpacked, and we were shown our rooms.  Jackson, a boy of about 9 or so, introduced himself and his younger brother Frank, about 4.  “Hello, what’s your name?” He asked in perfect English.  As we were leaving for a walk we found Mama Toni cooking for us in the dark – using only a small flashlight between her teeth when she really needed light – softly moving around her kitchen – calm and sure of her work.  Wow!  It was a lovely meal of fried banana, noodles, fish in a tasty broth, and a banana for dessert.  So far Edward, Muhammad and Mama Toni are the village that has cared for us with generosity and kindness.  We hope soon to be able to do something for them.

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Volunteer Vacation in Tanzania - Saturday, October 12, 2013

The Ocean View in Dar es Salaam
We met for breakfast and started our journey to Iringa.  We were also joined by Edward’s brother-in-law and a doctor.  Along the way, we stopped for a delicious lunch and snapped pictures of the scenic roads, giraffes, baboons, and deer.  Tanzania has the most beautiful trees that I have ever seen.  Each is unique, elegant, and displays a strong foundation, just like the people and culture of Tanzania.  So far, Tanzania has felt vivid, colorful, diverse, vibrant, friendly, and most of all homely.  I think like the trees of Tanzania, the people here have the kind of beauty, elegance, and strength which makes you feel warm, safe, and welcomed right away.  I hope in the next few weeks I can be of some assistance to our gracious hosts.  Moreover, I’m looking forward to developing long lasting relationships with the friends I make here.  After all, as Edward beautifully reminded us, “we are one.”

 “Not all of us can do great things.  But we can do small things with great love.”
   –Mother Theresa

 “Life isn’t about waiting for the storm to pass… It is about learning to dance in the rain.”

            -Vivian Greene

“If you wish to experience peace, provide peace for another.”

            - Dalai Lama