Saturday, September 29, 2007

Tanzania Life, Part 3

The only American chain in east Africa. And it really feels and looks and smells like a Subway! The main difference is that no pork products are served, as it is owned by a Muslim.

A typical road...on my way to the grocery store.

"Shopper's Supermarket"--one of just a few grocery stores in town that sells imported goods. This store just doubled in size a couple weeks ago and oh would have thought Disneyland had just come to town from the reaction of friends (and myself!).

Just got my new washing machine last week and started using it today. If you want to know what happened to my old washing machine, well...we'll just leave that in the archives. This one has a plastic top, just like the old one. And in reading the "warnings" section of the manual today (I'm an instructions-reader), I found this, "Do not put a candle light or cigarette light on the washer. A fire may take place." Hmmm....

Daddy made a house for Gracie from the box!

Drying clothes. No one uses clothes dryers here.

The other members of our family: Daisy (white lab) and Minnie (Jack Russell terrier). Dogs are an important means of security here, but we also just like dogs. So does Grace. She thinks they are hysterical when they chase each other.

Grace's room. She still sleeps in the Pack n' Play, but the big bed is ready for her when she gets a little brother!

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Tanzania Life, Part 2

The road to and from our house

This set of shops is a 5 minute walk from home. Here I can buy flour, sugar, beans, eggs...the basics.

Anna's shop where I buy veggies. Today Grace kept pointing at everything and saying "Apples?" No apples at this shop! Those are imported.

Americans grow oranges and plums in their backyards....we grow bananas! The problem with these is that when a whole stalk gets ripe, there's way too many bananas to eat before they spoil. I mash and freeze lots of them for banana bread.

Utilities are interesting here, because everything is pre-paid. There's no such thing as getting bills in the mail. Electricity is sold at "Luku shops." I buy a certain number of units of electricity, which is put on a card. The card is then put into this box in my pantry, which recharges the house with electricity. Got to keep a close eye on it, or we end up going down to the Luku shop late at night when the power runs out!

This is how I buy gas for my stove. Every couple months I go down to the gas shop and purchase a new gas bomb for about $20.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Tanzania Life, Part 1

While in the States, lots of people asked what life is like in Dar es Salaam. I often find it so hard to describe, since it's so unlike anything in the States, yet not nearly as primitive as some people expect. So I plan to make a few posts of pictures that will show little pieces of life here, starting with....

Our house. This picture is looking through the gate into our driveway. Our house is on the right. Most houses in Dar es Salaam are completely surrounded by a wall. You can also see our car in this picture--a Suzuki Escudo. A four wheel drive vehicle is practically a necessity here!

Here you can see our driveway, with a little guest house to the left. Guest houses on property are also very common here. Often a guard or houseworker will live there. Our good friend Janelle is living there this year. Janelle is also with ReachGlobal (EFCA) and teaches 3rd grade at HOPAC. I love having her so close by!

Our back yard

Our side yard and patio. We love all this space, and it's fantastic on Friday nights when we have 30 kids here for youth group!

Our front room. I especially love the doors that open up onto the patio. We would eat on the patio all the time, except the mosquitoes drive us away.

Our bedroom. The mosquito net is not just for show!

Our guest room. Karibu! (Welcome!)

I don't have a picture of Grace's room, so I'll add that later. Our house is pretty typical of other houses in this area, though a majority of our students (esp. the Tanzanians, since they are upper class) live in houses that are a lot nicer than ours. I absolutely love this house--I love all the plants, the windows, the "openness" and because it is "normal" looking. Many houses in this area have some rather odd architecture--triangular rooms, cone shaped ceilings, things like that. Or metallic gold painted cabinets, pink floor tiles....we've seen some interesting things!

Monday, September 17, 2007

Oh Happy Day!

September 12, 2007...the day the judge formally announced that he was issuing Grace's adoption order! It's been 10 months since Grace joined our family, and though I was never too worried that something would go wrong, it is such a relief to know that now everything is legal! (Though she still won't be an American citizen for another year.)

Everything on Wednesday went so well. This was our third court hearing--at the first two, at least one of the essential people did not show up. We didn't have high expectations for this hearing either, because of social worker problems. But everyone showed up on time (lawyers, social worker), and we only had to wait 45 minutes to see the judge. (Everyone shows up at 9, and you never know when your case will be called. With a toddler, this gets interesting! The hallway where we waited is full of lawyers and criminals in chains!)

Below are pictures from the exciting day. They are not very clear--since we didn't expect much too happen that day, we hadn't brought our camera--so these are from Gil's cell phone!

Our social worker Harriet, and our two lawyers

In front of the court house--now officially a Medina!

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

Back Home?

Our trip home this summer was the first time in my adult life that I have just “visited” the United States. It was an odd feeling—coming back to so many places that I have lived for so long, but only visiting. Like other times we have gone back to the States, I felt “out of it” and somewhat lost… I found myself longing for “home”—here in Tanzania—because here I feel comfortable and settled. I decided that the States is a great place to visit—sort of like Disneyland…I love to go there, but wouldn’t want to live there—it’s too much, too fast, and if you see it every day, it loses its magic. We got our fill of American life and food and entertainment, and even a trip to Walmart was thrilling...everything in one place and all of it so inexpensive!

These were my thoughts while in the States. And then I came back to Tanzania last week, and started feeling the “same old” culture shock feelings (though far less this time), and found myself discouraged with the inconveniences and difficulties of living in a third world country. And so saddened because Grace is growing up without her grandparents and aunts and uncles and cousins. My conclusions? Life is often just difficult, wherever you live. In the States there is the superficiality and excess and discontent that come from having everything you want. In Africa there are the problems with water and electricity and bad roads. Thus, I will do my best to live contentedly wherever God has happened to put me at the moment, knowing that each place has its joys and sighs. And I long for the day when I will live in my forever home…with everyone I love...and there will be no more sighs.

Anyway, below are pictures of some of the "magic":

One thoroughly spoiled girl! Grace at her shower.

One of our 8 dessert nights--wonderful times with friends and supporters.

Disneyland with Tim and Autumn (and no kids!)

Crazy Uncle Paul at Bass Lake!

Grace's absolute all-time favorite toy. That one made it back to Tanzania!

At Hillside's Family Camp in Lake Tahoe. Grace learned to say the word "dirty" that week!

With Babu and Bibi, Uncle Paul and Aunt Kimmie

On vacation in Sonora, Mexico with the Medina clan

She learned to hold her breath under water...for up to 7 seconds!

Kisses for cousin Maddie!

So many little time!