Wednesday, April 28, 2010

This Other World

It’s been almost three weeks since we’ve been back. But it seems like longer. Now that I am fully awake and fully functioning, it feels like we never left. Sometimes my two worlds feel like different planets…they are so different that it’s hard for me to even imagine the other one from the vantage point of the this one. I forget, really, how different this world is, until I go to America and have the cold water of American life splashed in my face to remind me.

Some small examples of the “normal” parts of life for me here, that I forget are not really “normal” for most Americans:

• Wrestling to get my fridge to cool properly in the heat. We moved it about a foot from the wall, put a fan behind it, rearranged the food inside, turned the temperature gauge up as high as it will go….and still food is spoiling from not cooling properly. I start thinking we need to buy another fridge, and then, lo and behold, we have a “cold” day (70 degrees) from all the rain and the fridge starts freezing everything inside! I had to throw away a perfectly good bowl of (expensive) lettuce this morning because it was frozen….whereas two days ago, I couldn’t get it cold enough. This pattern has repeated itself a few times during the last couple of years.
• Getting the shocks on our car fixed for the fourth time in two years….replacing blown out tires for the second time in a year….gifts from the Dar es Salaam roads.
• Paying for all our bills in person, in cash….carefully planning this out since we can only withdraw a certain amount of cash per 24 hours.
• Taking an hour to drive less than 10 miles because of traffic
• Being responsible for organizing household workers
• Bringing Grace to the local salon to get her hair done….four hours (thank goodness for our iPod!) and $5 later, and it’s done for the next month.
• Going through a 10 pound bag of flour every week
• Lighting my stove and oven with a match
• Communicating often with those who don’t speak my language…or my dialect. Even those who speak English as their first language(British, Australian,Irish)often have a totally different vocabulary.

People in the States often asked me if I “like it there.” That’s such a tough question to answer. Do I like the inconveniences? Of course not. Do I like being away from my family? No. Do I like the beauty, the culture, the adventure? Yes, definitely. But even those reasons aren’t why I would say I “like” it here. I guess “liking it here” simply comes from the conviction, as I’ve said before, that this is where I am supposed to be. After that, it just comes down to just getting used to the way of life (it’s amazing what we can get used to, even when we think we won’t) and choosing contentment. I don’t always succeed in that. But most of the time, yes, I like it.

In other news….Almost all internet in the entire country (even all of East Africa and West India) has been shut off this past week….this has been a challenge mostly because we do so much local communication by email. Imagine….I’ve had to resort to phone calls! Since all cell phone calls (other than text messages) cost about 30 cents a minute, this is a crisis indeed! Thankfully, got a connection today and am trying to catch up…we’ll see if this connection, weak as it is, allows me to make this post.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Random Thoughts From a Jetlagged Brain

Have you ever been jetlagged? Tanzania is 10 time zones from California, so we literally are switching our bodies and brains from night to day and day to night.

It feels like staying up all day after a night of insomnia, but then on top of that, taking a double dose of nighttime cold medicine and still trying to stay awake. Your brain is in a fog, your eyelids have anchors attached to them, yet it's daytime. The kids say things they've never said before, like, "Mommy, I want a nap....Mommy, I want to sleep." Then, when you finally fall into bed at night and allow yourself to fall asleep, your eyes pop open three hours later and you are completely awake. And totally ravenous. When you finally fall asleep again a couple hours later, you hear "Mommy?" And so the night progresses. Thankfully, unlike mothers of newborns or flight attendants, it does eventually end.

But anyway, all that to say--I can't really take full responsibility for everything I write here. And don't expect it to be cohesive.

So....we're back.

Leaving was hard. Did I expect anything less? As I evaluated my emotions, I realized that for the first time, I did not feel that crippling fear that haunted me the last few times we left. No fear. Only sadness. And the sadness this time was deeper.

The flights were long and.....long. The worst part, actually, was the first few hours of the first flight. The plane was packed, Josiah was very, very squirrly, and the person sitting behind him was entirely unsympathetic. Meals were being served so he couldn't move around. Thankfully the kids did sleep about half of that first 10 hour flight, and about half of the second 10 hours. Me, not so much, since I just can't sleep very well sitting up....though I always feel like the only person on the plane who has this problem.

We arrived in Dar and the windows of the plane immediately fogged up. We got off the plane and our lungs immediately fogged up. Ah yes....humidity, how I missed you! Our sweat glands, which had been dormant the last 5 months, immediately kicked into gear. When we got home and started stripping, we left the kids in their underwear. Josiah was very disturbed by this after months of being totally covered up. "I naked," he kept protesting. "I need pants. I need a shirt."

Josiah is also now terrified of our dogs and starts screaming whenever he sees them. He also immediately broke out in heat rash. Poor kid. He probably is having the most culture shock of any of us.

And so we've pushed through the last few days, and every day gets better. I have had my "What the heck am I doing here?" moments. Like on Monday when I went to town to renew our internet subscription, and it took me an hour to drive less than 10 miles....and our car was thumping loudly due to the shocks going out again because of the bad roads...and then getting home and the power being out....and pulling a cookie sheet out of the cupboard only to find a family of very large cockroaches jump out with it. Blech.

But today is better. The kids are now sleeping through the night, making it easier for Gil and I to sleep (though we still both were up at 3:30, and Gil never did go back to sleep). The power is on, the internet is on, I made banana bread yesterday, leftovers from meals brought by wonderful friends are in the fridge, Gil's students have been thrilled to have him back, and the sweating....well, hopefully that won't last much longer since "winter" is coming soon. My hair is perpetually pulled back in a ponytail, Josiah is wearing cloth diapers, and I am cooking from scratch again. I am back in my other other planet, it feels like. And God is good. Everything will be okay.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Kwa Heri! Twende!

A season has ended; a new one is beginning.
See you on the other side of the world!

Sunday, April 4, 2010

If Only for This Life

The events which transpired on this day almost 2000 years ago are the reason why I am willing to get on a plane on Wednesday and fly across the world to live in Africa.

I believe that Jesus Christ was a real, historical person whose real, historical events are recorded in the New Testament. He was not simply a spiritual leader, or a good man, or a wise sage. He claimed to be the Son of God, and I believe He was.

I believe that Jesus was killed by the Jews and the Romans, was buried, and came to life again three days later, on what we celebrate now as Easter Sunday.

Yep. I believe it is all historical fact. Many will think that puts me into the looney bin category. I understand that. And please don’t think that I haven’t wrestled and thought and researched and read just about everything I could get my hands on for this subject. This was not a blind decision or something I just “felt” was right. It came as a result of much mental turmoil. But I am truly convinced.

And that’s important. Because if Christ was not resurrected from the dead, I am wasting my life. If it was all just a fairy tale made up by delusional men, or only a "spiritual metaphor," then there is absolutely no point to us tearing our children away from their grandparents, to leaving the comforts of home, to looking away from lucrative job opportunities, and giving our lives to people in Africa.

If Christ was not resurrected from the dead, I am an absolute fool. Please, don’t patronize me by thinking that I am just a “good person” who is going to do “good things.” If Jesus Christ never existed, or if He wasn’t who He said He was, or if He never died and rose again, I give you complete permission to call me a fool.

The apostle Paul himself wrote, If only for this life we have hope in Christ, we are to be pitied more than all men.


But if it is true, then that changes everything. Right?

I stake my life on it.

He is risen; He is risen indeed!

And that is why I am getting on that plane.

Friday, April 2, 2010

That Little Charmer of Mine

Three seconds was all it took.

He found the pebble on my parents' family room floor. He remembered that pebbles belong outside (or so we are guessing). And he hurled it at the sliding glass door.

And there you have it. Good thing you are cute, little boy!

Oh, and just for your interest, recent stats:

Height: 50th percentile

Weight: 0 percentile

Yep, that's my boy.