As of today, I have lived in Tanzania for exactly 3 months. Hopefully my sporadic photo-bombing on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram has given you a glimpse of my life here. But I’ve also realized that some of those photos might need some explanation. As I continue to discover new joys and trials (albeit few!) of living in Tanzania, I want to share those with you so that you can be a part of my life here.
Every Tuesday, I do #TruthTuesdays with my students, where they have 5-10 minutes to ask me any question (even if its not school-related). So far, it has made Tuesdays my favorite day of the week, despite a completely full schedule. I love getting to share my life with this group of inquisitive 10th, 11th, and 12th grade students from all over the world. This morning, we discussed tattoos, my church background, my “dating requirements,” and more. Not surprisingly, we also talked about the repercussions of the Westgate attack on our lives here in Tanzania. But I think what made my day the most is when a student told me, “Miss, we like your way of thinking about life. You live beautifully.” That has to be one of the greatest compliments I have ever received!
Unity. This is the theme at HOPAC this year. For me, the first step in being a part of this is just to learn students’ names. And I’m making progress. Finally. It also means getting to know other staff members. This past weekend, I had the opportunity to join several other HOPAC teachers in a trip to Mbudya Island, a small island just off the coast. While I am quite content to visit the beach here on the mainland, it was fun to hang out with everyone for a day full of snorkeling, paddleboarding, swimming, and, best of all, fresh fish and chips! Fresh meaning, of course, that upon receiving our order, they then went out in a boat, caught the fish, and then smoked them. Really fresh. The following day, some of the same teachers and myself participated in a triathlon. We chose the team option (because we are working on being united, after all!), and my role was the 750 meter open-water (read: Indian Ocean) swim. I was a bit intimidated, as I’ve never swam that far before–and certainly not in open water. But, I didn’t drown, and all is well!
Sunday marked my second week as official Mbezi Chapel volleyball coach. Despite the fact that I’ve never coached before and that my Swahili is far too limited to really communicate anything to the players, my new role at church is facilitating and teaching volleyball to a group of eager vijana (youths). This is quite the adventure, but an enormous amount of fun. Some of the teens have some incredible natural talent, and with even my horrendous attempt at explaining basic passing and setting skills, are improving enormously. Due to this, I am also developing working friendships with the mchungaji (pastor) and his younger brother, Tomas, who is one of the youth leaders.
In the last several weeks, I have accumulated an increasing number of Swahili tutors. In addition to meeting with Happy once a week, I am also getting daily homework from Jane, a Tanzanian teacher at HOPAC, as well as communicating in Swahili with Tomas via texting. This, of course, is in addition to my daily adventures with attempting to communicate with those around me. Perhaps my most common mistake is responding “Ndiyo” (yes) when I really mean “Nzuri” (good). This is typically in response to one of the many greetings, such as “Habari za leo?” (What is the news of your day?). Another great blunder was when I asked for karanga (peanuts) when I really wanted mharagwe (beans). The best part is that I didn’t even notice when purchasing them and asked my houseworker to make beans and rice for me the next day, setting out rice and peanuts for her. Oops! =D
This morning I read 1 Chronicles 11 and was once again challenged by Eleazar, who, when everyone else fled, stood his ground alone and fought. And the Lord won a great victory that day. What is my field of barley? Where is God calling me to stand? One of the things God brought to mind was the need to live contextually within the culture here. Regardless of what other expatriates here are choosing to do, I need to be sensitive to the culture around me, perhaps especially now that I have somewhat of a leadership role among the youth at church because of volleyball. What about you? Where is God calling you to stand? Or, maybe as well, where is He calling you to flee?
This is just a small look at some of my adventures and lessons over the past few weeks. As always, if you have any questions, or want to share stories from home, I would love to hear from you!