Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Top 10 Very Important Things Learned from Power Rationing

1. The things in my fridge will last 12 hours with no power before I have to worry. My freezer--24 hours. (Except for ice cream--that only lasts about an hour when the power goes off).

2. Mayonnaise does not have to be refrigerated. It can be left out--at least for a while. I can hear the screams of protest now. It's true. I too used to believe that you couldn't eat a chicken salad sandwich or potato salad that had been left out too long....but in those cases, the mayo is actually a's the chicken or other ingredients that will spoil! Don't believe me? Google it, you doubters.

3. Creativity abounds. When no power, sit in the car and run your laptop off of the car battery. Watch a movie with your husband in there. You even get air conditioning.

4. Even animals need light. Our poor Jack Russell sprained her foot coming up the stairs when the power was out. Poor thing; she is still limping.

5. More creativity. When it goes out during youth group and you've got 40 students in your house and no lights and they are kind of stinky from playing basketball and it's 90 degrees outside and 200 degrees inside.....just hand out a bunch of glow sticks and divide them into groups and tell them you'll give prizes for whoever comes up with the best dance. Oh yeah.

6. Never put a candle on top of an appliance with a plastic lid. Because you'll set it on fire. But I wouldn't know anything about that. Ahem.

7. All the phone numbers for the power company are programmed into my cell phone. The routine: "I'm calling from the Mbezi/Kunduchi area. How long will it be off? Are they working on it? What is the schedule for this week?"

8. Your cell phone makes a really great temporary flashlight.

9. Never underestimate the value of head lamps.

10. I APPRECIATE Electricity!!!!

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

The Appointment Has Been Made....

...for 9:00 Thursday morning.

I go with Josiah to the embassy to apply for another visa.

Deep breath.

Monday, October 19, 2009


We live in a beautiful country. And I have a very talented husband with an eye for beauty.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

I Love Electricity

Dar es Salaam sometimes reminds me of an adolescent boy. You know, when he starts growing so fast that he doesn't know what to do with all his arms and legs, and his mind hasn't caught up to his body yet?

Well, that's our city. I can't believe how much construction is going on. How many cars are being imported. How rent prices are skyrocketing. But private business is growing so fast that government infrastructure can't keep up. I used to think that traffic was atrocious. Well, now it's, umm...really atrocious. I used to be able to leave the house any time after 8:15 am to avoid hitting traffic if I wanted to go to town (about 10 miles away). Now I have to wait until 9:00 am, and yet there still seems to be sections where there is always traffic, no matter what time of day it is. I'm not talking about freeway commute traffic--because there are no freeways. When I had to be at the embassy at 8:00 am for Josiah's interview 3 weeks ago, we left at 6:30 in the morning. To go 10 miles.

But what is worse these days is the electricity. Tanzania hasn't gotten enough rain, and since most of the power is hydro-electric, that's bad news. Couple that with a lot of mismanagement and corruption and "suddenly" the country doesn't have enough power. This happened in 2006, when the power rationing got so bad that the entire city was without electricity from 7 am to 7 pm, every day. Two weeks ago, it started again. First it was twice a week for our area--Wednesdays from 6 pm to 11 pm and Sundays from 9 am to 6 pm.

Then, Friday afternoon, it went off exactly at 4 pm and came on at 11 pm. Uh oh. Bad news. When it goes on and off so exactly like that, we know it's a cut and not just a little problem some where.

Thankfully, we didn't have Youth Group this Friday since it was HOPAC's break. But...uh, what exactly are we going to do with 40 teenagers on Friday nights with no electricity?

So, we hem and hah and sigh and try hard not to complain. Do everything without complaining or arguing. And we decided that we need to bite the bullet and buy a generator. Except that unfortunately, everyone else in the city has the same idea, so they are a little hard to come by right now. Oops.

When I get over being extremely irritated, I really end up just being sad for Tanzania. Obviously losing power for hours every other day (which could soon become every day) isn't exactly good for the economy. This is an amazing country with incredible potential. It just can't seem to get up on its feet.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Unexpected Hope

A lot of us adoptive families have been networking with each other about these visa issues.

So yesterday morning, when I found out that a family had actually been granted a tourist visa, I just about fell to pieces. With frustration. Infuriation. Why? Because this family was a missionary family, just like us. Not much difference between our situations. There is no logical reason why they would be granted a visa when we were not.

When I got this news, we happened to be on our way to the embassy. We were putting in our application for Grace's U.S. passport, since she has been a citizen since April. So while we were there we decided to once again bring up the issue of Josiah's tourist visa.

We talked for a while with the a consular officer--a different one that the person who denied us three weeks ago. Hmmm. Got the distinct impression that maybe, just maybe, this all would have been different if I had interviewed with her that day, instead of the other guy.

But the great news is, that she also told us that once we submit the I-600 application (for Josiah's citizenship), we could re-apply for a tourist visa and would have a much greater chance of having it granted. Great, great news. Why? Because we thought we would have to wait for that application to be accepted and approved before we could go to the States. And that could take many weeks.

Our I-600 will probably be ready to submit in about a week. Hopefully. I will then immediately make another appointment for a tourist visa interview. And maybe, we'll get it.

Yesterday I contacted our travel agent and told him to get us reservations for November 15th. Not buying yet, though. We'll wait this time to buy tickets until we have that visa.

So. Yesterday I was bombarded by conflicting emotions: intense frustration that maybe things could have been different, and intense hope that maybe we won't have to wait that long after all. And as we all know, "maybe things could have been different" doesn't really work with God's sovereignty.

Not quite ready to rejoice about this yet--I'm still too cautious after all the disappointment. But hope....yes, there is hope.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Piece of Heaven

This week is HOPAC's mid-term break. So we went to the beach for a few days. We stayed one night at a beach hotel, and then visited some good friends at the beach house where they were staying. We immediately fell in love with this incredible beach house and decided we need to make our own trip there as soon as possible!

It's the most amazing can't see from the picture, but the entire back of the house opens up to join the porch....all looking out to the ocean.

But even more incredible is the beach it is on...probably the most uniquely beautiful beach I have ever laid eyes on.

Waves crashing on the reef, creating huge geysers and hundreds of little water falls....

...filling small pools with warm water, perfect for the kids to play in.

Just fabulous!

Grace and her very best friend Caleb.

My lil' skinny boy...but he's getting taller!

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Nifty Nerd Night

...that is, last Friday night at Youth Group.

The coolest part is that we get to have this much fun and call it our job.

Adorable nerds.

Nerd games: Tangrams, Rubix Cube, Scrabble.

Jedi Fights

Nerd Dance-Off

Secret Nerd Handshakes

The cutest nerds of all.
When Grace found out that we were all dressing up, she insisted on being a princess. Later that night she came to me almost in tears and said, "Mommy, one of the boys said I'm not a nerd!" Hmm...doubt that will break her heart 10 years from now.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

October 6th

Our plane is leaving today. Except that we’re not on it.

Two weeks ago I wrote that I am trusting in God’s character. And I asked you to keep me accountable to it if we didn’t get on that plane on October 6th. So I guess I better trust, eh? Because the world is watching.

I was worried, but I didn’t really think it wouldn’t happen. At least, not after we got the adoption certificate. That was always the wild card in this thing. Not the visa.

Yet….there goes our plane. And in front of us lies an uncertain process with uncertain timing. I have been working like crazy to collect all the pieces necessary for this application we have to submit. But once it is submitted, we wait. We don’t know for how long. Even the Dar embassy couldn’t tell us because the application gets sent up to the embassy in Nairobi.

I was thinking about how I need to print out new calendar pages. Because the calendar pages I have now say depressing things on them like, “Disneyland with family” and “Luncheon with FCC,” and “Pumpkin Patch with Living Stones.” So I decided to print out new pages for October and November. But not December. “You can have October and November, God,” I thought. “But you’d better not take December from me!”

Ha. Foolish Amy. But who are you, O man, to talk back to God? As if I were the ruler of my universe. Elisabeth Elliot often talked about how anything we love is “material for sacrifice.” That’s what December is for me. Material for sacrifice. Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him…Dear children, keep yourselves from idols.

Today is one of those “what-if-things-had-been-different” days. What if this hadn’t happened? What if we were waiting in the airport right now, ready to board in just a few minutes? What if our family was getting ready to pick us up? How different I would be feeling right now!

I’ve been thinking about another significant date. May 21st, 2005. Another huge disappointment in our lives. The date we lost our first and only biological child to early miscarriage. That baby would have been due the first week of January, 2006. I remember thinking about that baby during that week in January, thinking the same “what-if-things-had-been-different” thoughts.

It wasn’t until 10 months later, when Gil and I brought home our beautiful, precious, 10-month-old Grace, that I realized: She was born at the same time. The same time my biological baby would have been born, my precious Gracie was being born. Yet God chose to take the baby from my womb, and instead place in my arms another precious child—conceived at almost the exact same time. Yet I didn’t know on May 21st; I didn’t know in January. I didn’t know what God had in mind until November 1, 2006.

He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the hearts of men; yet they cannot fathom what God has done from beginning to end.

Okay, God. I'm trying hard to hold out December with open hands.