Sunday, November 27, 2011

Our new home in Irente

We arrived in Irente yesterday afternoon at about 3pm.  Our little house is very nice.  We have two bedrooms, a sitting room, bathroom, and kitchen.  The garden out front is very beautiful, with cala lillies and other flowers and plants I do not know.  Out back there is a vegetable garden with cabbages, corn, beans, bananas and my favorite vegetable name, pilipili hoho which is green peppers.  We are on a mountain and had forgotten how far up we drove last time.  It is so beautiful here.  We will be traveling to Tanga one day this week to buy some things for the house that we need and hope to stop at Kana Lutheran Parish when there.  People here couldn't be more kind or gracious to us.  They brought us our dinner last night and breakfast this morning.
Yesterday afternoon we visited the Childrens' Home before we unpacked and met some of the young women we will be teaching along with some really beautiful children.  There is one girl who is 5 or 6 years old, but all of the rest are under 3.  There are also three infants, but we did not see them.  When Tom introduced himself to the girls they all giggled.  “Jina langu ni Tom”.  In Kiswahili, the word tamu means sweet. 
We were especially glad to see Hawa again.  Many of you have heard of Hawa, who has lived at the home since she was a baby.  She is now 38 years old.  In spite of her limitations she meets and greets everyone.  She loves to hold hands and is happy to hold and feed babies.
This morning we were picked up by Godfrey the driver and taken to Cathedral Church for the late service.  The first Sunday of Advent is a time when they celebrate the women of the church.  The women’s choir processed in carrying a palm frond and branch of bouganvilla.  They were all wearing white blouses and beautiful blue kangas patterned with the Luther Seal with the words “Wanawake ELCT” and “Women of ELCT” on them.  While we did not understand the words of the hymn, we did recognize “Hosanna”.  The music between the verses was Lift High the Cross.  There were two other choirs and each choir sang two or three anthems.  The movements that they do throughout each one would certainly be an aerobic workout for most of us.  
We recognized the cadence of the Apostle’s Creed and also Bwana Yetu...The Lord’s Prayer.  The gospel may have been Jesus blessing the children, because we heard the words “watoto and mtoto”,  children and child.  While the sermon, prayers, and announcements went right over our heads, the sound of the hymns and choir anthems filled our hearts with the love for Mungu, God.
This week we will go to the diocese office for orientation.  We will also meet with the director the home to find out what she has planned for us.  We look forward to the challenges ahead.
Susan and Tom

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Happy Thanksgiving!

It is difficult to realize that tomorrow is Thanksgiving when I look out the window and see  trees flowering and feel the warm breeze.  The Thanksgiving Day that we celebrate is definitely an American holiday, although other countries have similar days at different times of the year.
Here we will have our class as usual tomorrow.  The food in the dining hall will probably be similar to what we have most nights.  We have enjoyed the meals here very much, but Thanksgiving is really not about the turkey and cranberry sauce.  
On Sunday, we enjoyed our Thanksgiving meal with the ELCA rep for Tanzania, Barbara Hinderlie, her husband Pastor Andy and their children.  They also invited Annie Bunio, a volunteer we met at our training in Toronto in July, and two families from their church.
Barbara ordered a 15 pound frozen turkey from Meat King in Arusha.  We also had stuffing, cranberry sauce, mashed potatoes, beans and corn on the cob.  The meal was delicious, but the fellowship around the table was what meant the most.  Many of the expats we have met here are volunteers or mission personnel from the US, Canada, and  Europe.  Most have served God in this place for many years.  It is humbling to be included in their company.
After dinner, Barbara served a pumpkin pie brought by Carolyn from their church.  There are no pie pans here, so she made the crust and fit it into a roasting pan.  The pie was wonderful and reminded us of home.  My brother-in-law Mike always teased me about my “shallow dish” pumpkin pie.  You can’t imagine what pie from a roast pan looks like.
Improvisation and flexibility seem to be the key things to remember here.
We thank God for each of you.  Tomorrow when we have our dinner, we will be thinking of all of you at home and will offer a prayer of thanks for you.  We will miss being with you, but we rejoice in being here.
God bless you all,
Susan and Tom

Friday, November 18, 2011

Kiswahili week 2

Jina langu ni Susan.  Mimi mi mwanafunzi wa Kiswahili hapa.  (How are things going?   My name is Susan.  I am a student of Swahili here.)

Well, two weeks down and one to go.  I feel like Alice in Wonderland or Through the Looking Glass, I can't remember which one, but the part where they have to run as fast as they can just to stay in one place.  Pastor Lee shared a new Beatitude with us last week....Blessed are the mzee....blessed are the old.  We pray for God's help in studying, thinking and especially remembering.  It is making sense, but slowly.

We have spent the last two weeks learning lots of vocabulary, as well as grammar both in Kiswahili and English.  It has been a while since we gave a lot of thought to verb tenses, adjectives, adverbs etc.  We also learned the names of fruits, vegetables, and the language for shopping.  On Wednesday, we went by bus to Tengeru Women's Market (Tengeru Sokoni Wanawake).  We were each given 2000 TZ shillings and a list of items to buy.  Our job included bargaining with the vendors.   "Hapana, ghali sana!"  (no, too expensive).  Tom and I bought tomatoes, green peppers, carrots, cabbage, onions and a coconut.  My favorite vegetable name is green pepper...pilipili hoho.  It means the pepper that is hollow.

Bargaining, also known as haggling is not one of my favorite things.  I like barcodes or a price marked on an item.  I really don't like yard sales, either as the buyer or seller.  Give me the Shop Rite any time.  By the way, the big grocery store in Arusha is Shop Rite...same spelling, but the things for sale are way different.

We had three different teachers this week.  It was nothing we did, trust me.  Mama Elda was replaced by Kisanji, who was replaced by Mama Lois.  Mama Lois worked here for many years before retiring.  They asked her to come back for the next few weeks.  She is a wonderful teacher.  She is incredibly patient and explains things so clearly.  She also speaks in a very proper and exacting way, so we can follow her without too much trouble.

When we told her that we are the Pole Pole (slow) class and that we are all Wazee (old people) she gave us some wonderful advice.  Mama Lois told us that the most important thing we can do in life is to accept ourselves as we are.  God has made us as we are and we should be glad for this.  She also is very big on positive thinking.  She told us of a student who became so discouraged that he talked of quitting and going home.  Mama Lois asked him if he felt he had been called by God to serve in Tanzania.  When he said he had, she asked if God had told him to quit.

Please pray for the teachers and students here, as well as those throughout God's world.  We also pray that we can all be glad for the person God has created in each of us.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Swahili no problem

         And to think they thought they were going to teach a 62 year man Swahili. But I showed them.Nothing could penetrate this hard head. This week was very challenging. Time changes,new food, class all day and most of all trying to learn a new language..
          We have the most incredible teacher, Mama Elda.  She is teaching us proper sentence structure as we learn the language.She has the patience of a saint with me. How blessed we are to have her. We have two more weeks of classes before we go to our mission site. I hope Mama Elda can hold out that long. I know I can.
         Tanzania is a beautiful country. In this part, things are green with many flowers and trees blooming everywhere.  The colors are breathtaking. There are many large birds making their nest in the trees around the school.This makes my wife very happy. This weekend we plan to take it easy. .I think some rest is needed for both of us.
          When I've had  time to think about what we are doing and where we are, I thank God.
Without him and all of you this mission could not of happened. Please keep Mama Elda in your prayers.

                                                                                                 GOD BLESS
                                                                                            SUSAN &TOM



Monday, November 7, 2011


November 2

Pastor Lee, Heather, and Griffin came to our house to see us off.  Pastor Tricia would us to the airport.  Pastor Lee made the sign of the cross on our foreheads using ointment from father's container (which I am sure has a special name) remembering our Baptism.   This was very emotional for us all.  We thought of Pastor Lee I and Joan Miller and how they had talked of serving for a time in Zimbabwe when they retired.  This anointing made me feel they were traveling along with us.

At baggage check in we waited while Pastor Tricia parked her car.  How strange it was to see most of our possessions on a baggage cart...three duffle bags and two suitcases.

Jesus told his disciples to go and not take an extra cloak.  We fell short of his direction in this.  We needed to plan for warm and cool weather.  We also brought along some items to feel at home; our comforter, pillows, an afghan made by my Mother ( we arrive in Tanzania on what would have been her 93rd birthday).

We all stand on the shoulders of those who have gone before us.  For All The Saints!

Will you come and follow Me?


A fairly new hymn that we sing begins, "Will you come and follow Me if I but call your name?"  It has become one of my favorites.  It speaks of answering God's call to "never be the same".

Three years ago when we felt that we needed to serve in Tanzania, we thought we were ready.  We were so wrong.  Pastor Lee encouraged us that Delay is not Denial.  We see now that the process needed to be long.  Over the past three years, we have grown so much.

We are told that the vine must be pruned in order to grow stronger.  All of the parts of our lives, both joyful and sorrowful, make us what we are.  A very dear friend of mine has told me that through the many challenges she faces right now in her life, she prays that while she knows the Lord will not give her more than she can handle, she needs His help through it all.  It is a great testament to her faith to be able to trust in God.

We are grateful to all who have given us their blessing, while not understanding why we would want to be here.  We thank all of you who have helped us to grow and prepare for this journey, especially our pastors, the Global Companion Team members at the Southeastern PA Synod, Global Mission staff of the ElCA, our training time at CCF in Toronto and the ELCA Summer Mission Gathering in Wisconsin.
All of these have changed us and molded us to become better servants of Christ in his world.

Everyone has a mission in life, not all of these missions include a plane trip.  We can all serve wherever we are.  One mission is not more important than another.

The Sending

We cannot begin to describe the feelings we had at both worship services on Oct 23rd and at the lunch that followed.  We have talked for hours about how blessed we are to have so many people with us on our journey to Tanzania.  In all our months of preparation for going, we were not prepared for how hard it would be to leave.

We are grateful that our family and friends could be with us to share the love that is evident at every service at St. John's.  We are thankful for the presence of the Bishop, clergy, members, and new friends we have met through our visits to congregations throughout SEPA.  We appreciate the changes that were made to regular schedules in order to be with us.

Our thanks go to everyone who helped with the planning and work involved in providing the lunch.  What a great idea to have local and Tanzanian food.  Everything was wonderful.

The day confirmed how truly blessed we are to be part of the family of God throughout the world.  We thank God for all of you.