Wednesday, October 22, 2008

A Near Death Experience

This week, we found a new visitor at home. We are no strangers to visitors in the house like the usual assortment of lizards, crickets, spiders, and small flying creatures. The lizards and spiders are friends mostly, as they eat the malaria-ridden mosquitoes that sometimes find their way inside our doors. The crickets are just funny, as they flop around and get completely disoriented. And the kitten-sized rats and lower-on-the-food-chain snakes have yet to penetrate our fortress. But this time, we came perhaps closer to death than ever before inside the comfort of our own home. While sitting on the couch reading a book I noticed a flash of movement beneath my feet that ran from one piece of furniture to another, and this one wasn't familiar.

This little guy is what we uncovered, and he was pretty quick moving when threatened. Using our incredible skills of discernment, we assumed that this bug was not a good one to have around, and we might want to use care. In the days following, we learned that the creature is known as Tandu in Swahili, and I'm not yet sure of the English or Latin name. A bite from the Tandu will not kill you directly, but will certainly send you to the hospital (we're told), as his poison will make you swell up like a balloon with leprosy. Many people however, have allergic reactions to this fella's bite, and their lungs as well swell shut... we hear that's not good.

In this photo, our friends are helping us to attack, capture, and kill the poisonous creature (the size of a small pencil) with the most sensible thing we could find: a machete. The best quote of the night came from Aaron. In response to "I'm trying to help you," and my attempt at scooping the bug onto the machete, he said, "I'm trying not to kill you!!" In the end, the little critter was cut in two, thrown outside, and the next day we mopped the floors.

So who's ready to come visit?

Swahili word for the day is Tandu, and it's that thing in the pictures.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Could it be true??

We spent most of this week in the big city; had some meetings and a few things to accomplish. Last week we'd heard a rumor about this supposed "Mexican Restaurant" that's opened in Dar. We kept our expectations extremely low, because our typical experience with the cultural meals in Tanzania are that everything is sort of "ish"ish. Yeah, that meal of fried rice was Chinese-ish. Or that slab of meat between some bread was burger-ish. Well that ice cream dessert was ok, but it'd be a long shot to call is Chocolate-ish. Get the idea?

So we saw the sign in the morning, and went back in the evening, and what a treat!! We walked in and sat down, surrounded by a small international crowd, and the ex-pat waitress walked up to us and asked if we had ever tried Mexican food. We laughed to ourselves but understood, as this may have been the first occasion of Mexican food being served outside of a private residence in Tanzania. We then quickly scanned the four item menu of Burritos, Tacos, Salad, and Chips & Salsa and decided on our delights. We even went off the menu and she graciously prepared a quesadilla starter as well!

Turns out that our waitress and company owner was an American from California who had some free time and thus decided to open a Mexican restaurant to see how it'd do. It doesn't have a location and is only in operation two nights a week, borrowing space from two other local eateries, but we think (and hope) it's here to stay! Now we know on which days to plan all of our trips in to the city!

What came to our table was goooooood. Really good. Real salsa, giant foil wrapped burritos. Mmmm. Sadly, because I set a personal record for eating time while wolfing down my burrito, I never did get a picture of it, but here's a picture of the second round of chips and salsa that came out after the burritos.

Also while in town, we went to the rather massive US Embassy to vote. Even though our write-in absentee ballots may never be looked at nor counted, it was fun to feel a part of it all. And hey, we got to do it before everyone at home!

Tomorrow we celebrate one year exactly in country. What a ride it's been and what a ride we have ahead of us...

Swahili word for the day is kupiga kura, which means to vote.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Our events as of late

We've had an eventful few weeks recently. All is well with us, Joe Joe is continuing to change, the baby kicks a lot, and God has blessed us both with pretty good health. Last week we had a wonderful opportunity to lead a training for students going up into the mountains to share Christ with Luguru farmers and people of the Mgeta community. The time of training was challenging, as we really pushed the students to take their call seriously and commit to return trips and discipleship. But we also had a lot of fun sharing stories, acting out dramas, singing, teaching, and thinking. Thank you for your prayers over this time! Some good relationships grew from it as well, now we're anxiously awaiting reports from the trip!

With students on break and away for a week, we were able to visit a church in town and enjoyed a more traditional African worship service. We happily embraced a welcome treat of observing a baptism during the service. We were encouraged to listen as the pastor explained from the water that the baptism carries no power of salvation in itself, but is a symbol of our re-birth. This act of obedience symbolizes faith in a buried and risen Saviour, and the rebirth of death to sin and resurrection to walk in newness of life in Christ Jesus. Said Jesus, "I tell you the truth, no one can see the kingdom of God unless he is born again" (John 3:3). Solid teaching such as this is important for the Church Body here in Africa, and we were excited to hear it.

We've also had the joy to welcome in a new batch of students at Mzumbe who are moving in as first-year freshmen, coming from all over the country. It's been fun to meet them and show some around, as we (the weird foreigners) actually know more about the university and the city than they do, having lived here for a year. In this picture with Joe Joe is not one of the new freshman.

Swahili word for the day is mpya, which means new.

Friday, October 3, 2008

Recent Vacation to the Beach

For Joe Joe's birthday, and of course to celebrate the coming of our first born, we went to a pretty nice place on a secluded beach. It was beautiful!!

Out here, the monkeys eat crabs. Our meals were pretty good too.

Here's one night's dinner.

Just beautiful.

Even more beautiful. :)

Watching baby sea turtles be born and take their initial trek to sea was a welcome surprise.