Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Easter in Arusha

After much consideration, we decided to travel to Arusha for the Holy Week and Easter services.  We had been invited to a get-together for mission personnel at the home of Barbara and Andy Hinderlie.  Barbara is the ELCA representative to Tanzania and her husband is a pastor and representative to Kenya, Rwanda, Uganda, and two other countries in East Africa.  They planned a combined BBQ and Super Bowl party.  
On Thursday, we left very early in the morning.  Of course, this was the day that the “rainy season” started in our area.  It rained all of the six and one half hours to Arusha.  Last time we drove there, we could see Mt Kilimanjaro for several hours.  This time the clouds were low and heavy.  The road to Arusha is one long two lane highway.  It passes though some very beautiful areas, as well as dry flat plains.  This trip, we mostly saw the windshield wipers smearing the rain and mud.
We arrived in Arusha at about 12:30 pm and checked into the Impala Hotel.  We had decided to stay there this time because of its “high speed” internet, four restaurants,  swimming pool, and best of all.....bathtubs!  We parked the truck and left it there for the whole five days.  Driving in Arusha is stressful and dangerous.  The traffic is crazy.  We decided to use taxis instead of trying to drive.  This was a good decision, since the driver we used for the whole weekend was excellent and knew where we could shop for the items we wanted.
After five months of services in Kiswahili, we needed some English services.  The Maundy Thursday service alone was worth every minute of the drive there.  Located on the grounds of Arusha Lutheran Medical Center is Arusha Community Church.  It is a non-denominational church founded through the auspices of the Lutheran Church.  The congregation is made up of people from all over East Africa, Europe, and America.  We had the pleasure of listening to the Passion read by teenagers with Irish, British, and American accents.  The leader of the service was a German Moravian gentleman.
Good Friday was observed much as it is in our home congregation, St John’s Lutheran Church in Philadelphia.  The rough wooden cross was laid at the foot of the altar with votive candles lit by those attending the service.  The readings and time for meditation were solemn and filled with the Holy Spirit.  
The Easter Sunday service was filled with great joy.  We sang some favorite Easter hymns and we were asked to assist with the distribution of Communion.  The music and choir were wonderful, but the best was the sermon.  Pastor Hinderlie was the preacher that day and delivered a great sermon.  The church was packed.  With a few dozen people still in the aisle, the bread almost ran out.  Tom and Pastor Hinderlie broke the remaining bread into smaller pieces.   The pre-poured wine and juice also ran out, and they were served common cup.  It was a joyous occasion.
At the meeting on Monday, we met people who are serving all over the area.  Besides the Lutherans present, we met people from other denominations including Mennonite, Presbyterians, and Catholics.  It was a wonderful chance to share our faith stories with each other.  We also learned about the many types of work that is being done.  It reminded us of the expression, “God’s work, our hands”.  We left there filled with the Holy Spirit as well as barbecued chicken and potato salad.  
On Tuesday morning, we left Arusha at 6 am, anxious to get home.  Our trip was just over five hours.  After we passed Moshi, we saw Mt Kilimanjaro in our rear window, shining in the sunlight.  As we climbed the mountain from Mambo to Lushoto and the temperature dropped, we were glad to return to our home.  We arrived home refreshed, rejuvenated, and thankful for our time away. 
(And for those who are wondering, the Super Bowl was sent to the Hinderlies on a disk from home.  Someone from the church brought a big screen and projector and the game was played from a computer.  Even though those who watched knew the outcome of the game, there was still a lot of cheering going on.  We left in order to be back at our hotel before dark.)

We wish all of you "Pasaka Njema" ....Happy Easter

Friday, April 6, 2012

Easter shoe shopping

Most people in America are familiar with the television show Sex and the City, even if they never watched it on HBO or the less risque version on another channel.  The show follows the lives of four women in New York City.  One of the results of the program was a sudden fashion emphasis on shoes.  We heard constantly about the outrageous prices Carrie paid for her shoes.  One whole episode dealt with a thief who steals her Manolo Blanco “strappy sandals”.  In Carrie’s life this was a disaster.
One evening this week, Tom and I took our evening walk and ended up as usual in the kitchen area of the Home.  Two women were there waiting for the students.  They had a very large black plastic bag with them.  It was about the size you might put in a thirty gallon trash can.  The women had walked up from Lushoto in hopes of selling what was in the bag.
When the students arrived from evening devotions, the contents of the bag were spilled on the ground.  It was filled with many pairs of used shoes.  It was like Christmas.  Like young women shopping anywhere, the girls all had to look at, touch, model, and dance in various pairs of shoes.  Most of the shoes were high heels.  Many were very fancy, with rhinestones, bows or gold buckles.  Some were made of satin, like bridesmaids shoes.  All of the shoes were in good condition, some looked like they had never been worn.  We have all bought a pair at one time or another that we never wore once we got them home.  The shopping continued until it was too dark to see, at which point one of the sellers brought out her flashlight.  Several pairs of shoes were sold that evening.  We look forward to seeing the new high heels walking down our dirt road to church on Sunday morning.
In Lushoto, there are no new shoe stores.  Most of the items of pre-made clothing are second hand, with the exception of underwear and socks.  The highest quality items are sold in shops hung on hangers, like at home.  On Thursday and Sunday, market day, there are vendors who lay out large mats or tarps and spread huge piles of clothing for shoppers to go through.  Great bargains can be found on market day.  Some items still have the original price tags from stores in Europe or the U.S.  
In Lushoto there are many Dukas (shops) where you can buy custom made clothing.  There you can pick the material you like and the fundi (craftsman) will make any thing you want from skirts and shirts to men’s suits.  The colors and patterns of the material are beautiful.  The result is wonderfully made clothing stitched on treadle sewing machines.  Women’s skirts are primarily at ankle length or just above.  Sitting at the hostel on Saturday mornings, we can watch a fashion show of women passing by on their way to market.