(written 12/10/12 but unable to post until now due to computer difficulties!)
What a blessing it was to be able to visit our family and friends in America. In many ways our time there was very short and in other ways it was long. We missed seeing many people that we meant to see. Some of our plans did not work out for obvious reasons. We had intended to take the train to NYC for the day and also to go to Point Pleasant at the shore. Hurricane Sandy changed those plans for us.
Here are some of the things we enjoyed:
We spoke at several churches about our work here. We were warmly welcomed to our home congregation, St John’s in Philadelphia. We also visited St Luke, Devon; the Northeast Conference All Saint’s worship at St Timothy, Philadelphia; Lutheran Church of the Resurrection, Yardley; and St John’s Lutheran Church on Oahu, Hawaii where our son and his family are members. We also attended the Bishop’s Fall Gathering. It was a joy for us to meet so many people and talk about God’s work here in Tanzania.
We enjoyed time with our children and their spouses and especially with our eight grandchildren, who have all grown so much. Lilliana ran right up to us in the Philadelphia airport and we thank God for the gift of Skype. We enjoyed watching Mira and Milan play soccer at their last games of the season. We swam in the Pacific Ocean with Connor, Kadyn, and Avery and got to sing “Happy Birthday” to Lukas on his second birthday. We enjoyed our Thanksgiving dinner with Maureen, Louis, Ella and Lilliana at a beautiful old inn in PA. We went to the Junior ROTC ball with Chris and Abigail and had the great pleasure of listening to her A Cappella group sing the National Anthem. We also enjoyed going to the movies with them and an amazing Amish breakfast there.
We were moved by our visits to the Arizona Memorial in Hawaii and the 9/11 Memorial at the Pentagon.
We flew over thirty thousand miles! We also drove about 2500 miles while in PA, NJ and MD. Getting re-accustomed to the traffic in America was very challenging, especially on the Washington Beltway!
We managed to eat our way through our food wish list. When we returned to the Children’s Home, our students proclaimed us both “bonge” (fat)! Now we are back to our rice and fresh vegetables and fruit. This is really a more healthy diet, but we did enjoy all of the things we had been craving. In answer to the question of what we ate first, I had a Wawa meatball parm sandwich and Tom had a Wawa hoagie.
Both of us had minor meltdowns in stores at home. When Maureen and I went shopping at Boscov’s in Pottstown, I could only stay in the store for about 15 minutes and needed to leave. Too many choices! Tom had the same thing happen when we stopped to pick up a few things in a grocery store. The life of plenty can be overwhelming when you are not used to it.
On returning to Tanzania, we discovered that the update to our Mac computer resulted in not being able to use our Airtel modem. Airtel requires a new update, but without being able to connect to the internet, we were unable to run the new download for Java. It has been a Catch 22. Right now I am writing from Uhuru Lutheran Hostel in Moshi on their wireless internet. Hopefully the download that is running will solve our connectivity problems. If not, who knows? We are very sorry that we have been out of touch for so long! It will take some time to catch up with emails.
We are here in Moshi to meet Chris and Abigail at Kilimanjaro Airport tonight. We can’t wait to show them around and have them be able to re-assure the family that we are doing just fine here. I am sure some people have their doubts that things are really good here. Mama Mdemu, the staff and our students are so excited to get to meet some of our family.
While they are here, we will spend a couple of days at a resort in Pangani on the Indian Ocean. We will celebrate New Year’s Eve in Arusha and spend the 1st and 2nd at Ngorongoro Crater and another national park. They leave for home early in the morning of the 4th.
We thank you all for your love and understanding that we are so far away. We feel that this is where we are meant to be right now.
Susan and Tom