I apologize for the disjointed (and lengthy) nature of this post, as it was composed intermittently throughout the final week of my stay in Iringa. I just wanted to share some of the little things that made this week special.
On Sunday afternoon, after returning from church, Angelica and I embarked on my first long hike since getting sick over two weeks prior. Our destination was a large rock outcropping near the top of a lone mountain. When we reached the rock, we found that there was no easy way to the top, but were able to scramble our way up a nearly vertical face. Once on top of the rock, it felt like we were on top of the world. The view was breathtaking. I took a panoramic photo with my phone (below), but it doesn’t really capture the beauty of the view.
Several days later, I met Ambrose, who I consider to be one of the coolest people I’ve ever met. He arrived at the campsite on his bicycle, loaded down with panniers. After talking to him, I discovered that he had been riding for almost ten months, having left France and traveled through Europe, the Middle East, and Northeast Africa on his way to Dar es Salaam, where he then planned to catch a flight to India in order to spend the next ten months touring Asia. His steel-frame touring bike bore the marks of hard use, with the front fork being welded back together after being broken by officials in Palestine who thought a bomb might have been concealed in the frame. While Ambrose certainly was not a person I would consider “noble,” I did admire his spirit in quitting his job and just riding every day. Pretty sick!
One special blessing this week, was a complete surprise. While in Iringa, my only internet access was via my phone, and the way it works here, you pay for a “bundle” each week that includes a certain amount of data, number of texts, and calling minutes. So last Friday afternoon, I had purchased a bundle that included 400 mb of data–an amount that should have been plenty for an entire week. Sunday morning, when I checked my balance, as I periodically do, the entire 400 mb was gone. And I couldn’t purchase a new bundle until Friday night. The prospect of an entire week without contact with home was pretty bleak, but there wasn’t really any other option. Thursday morning, after finishing up my devotions, I randomly checked my balance, and my data had reappeared–all 384 mb of it! It was such a blessing to be able to Facebook chat with my family on Thursday night.
I know having internet access isn’t a big deal, but sometimes it seems like it is a lifeline. Since Monday morning, I had been dealing with a constant headache and increasingly sore throat, and being able to chat with my nurse-mother was just what I needed on Thursday, when I was feeling the worst. Even better, my nurse-mom suggested starting an antibiotic for strep throat that had been offered to me by one of the other families. They kindly shared their medicine with me and I was feeling better the very next day!
On Friday, when we finished class, the other students and I surprised Lucy with a small gift to allow her to visit her relatives in Arusha and a kikoi (wrap-skirt) in her favorite color. It was a small thing to show our gratitude, but so amazing to see how excited she was! I can’t thank God enough for giving Lucy to me as a friend and language helper!
Then, on my last day at River Valley, I actually got to ride on, and even drive, a “piki piki” (motorcycle) here in Tanzania thanks to Daniel, one of the camp’s drivers! It wasn’t even his bike, but he offered to let me ride it with him…and then made me driver, when the owner needed to leave. So I ended up driving the owner down to the gate, then giving him his bike back. Good times! Its funny how much you miss the little things like driving when you don’t do them for awhile…
Then, after dinner, all of the families got together and had a bonfire and cooked popcorn over the fire. I love popcorn, and the stars in Iringa were just brilliant! The Bakkes and VanKampen families are staying in Iringa for three more months of language study, so keep them in your prayers. They were fun partners in study!
Saturday night, Kevin and Peter, two of the workers there, said goodbye to us (and especially Lucy). After dinner, we all (Kevin, Peter, Lucy, Amy, and I) held hands and walked from the dining hall down to our cabin, laughing and talking the whole way. They were so animated and happy and funny. They (and Isa, the camp’s chef) even came down to the road to wait for the bus with us in the morning–during their off hours! Its the little things that are worth remembering.