Thursday, December 29, 2011


I hope that everyone had a Merry Christmas!  It was very strange for me to be here in Tanzania for Christmas instead of at home.  First of all, it didn’t really feel like Christmas.  The lowest temperature for the week leading up Christmas was in the mid 60s.  So it physically didn’t feel like Christmas.  Also, I don’t watch a lot of television here, so I didn’t have to sit through all the commercials talking about Christmas and Santa that I would normally get at home.  This means the commercialism that surrounds Christmas in the States was missing in my life this year.  For that, I am definitely not complaining.  But the thing that was missing the most was, of course, my family and friends and all the traditions that go along with the season.  I think one of the traditions I missed the most was Christmas Eve service at my home church with the playing of Silent Night while we light candles at the end of the service.  That is probably my favorite part of Christmas because it is probably the most peaceful part of the entire Christmas season in my life.  Here in Masasi, I actually had a Christmas tree in my house.  The student I will be working with put it up to help me feel more at home.  It reminds me of the Charlie Brown Christmas tree. :) I love it.  Christmas is celebrated here a little differently though.  There’s not really an exchange of gifts or anything.  The children all get new clothes for Christmas if the family can afford them.  Then we go to church.  I kind of like having church on Christmas day.  I realize this year, more churches back home (mine included) had service on Christmas day.  But that’s because Christmas happened to fall on a Sunday.  Normally, they only have services on Christmas Eve.  Well, the practice here in Tanzania is to have service on the actual day, no matter which day of the week it is.  I like that because it is a good reminder of why we celebrate.  It’s not about the gifts.  It’s about the birth of Christ and joining in celebrating His birth with our fellow believers.  So the day wasn’t spent in putting together new toys or installing new computer games, but in fellowshipping with fellow believers and sharing a meal together. 

But now I want to hear from you.  What Christmas tradition is your favorite?  Is there something that your family does and most don’t that you think would make the Christmas season more meaningful?  Since I didn’t participate in any of my normal traditions, I want to hear about all of the ones that you celebrate.  Tell me all about your Christmas in the comments section.  I just want to hear from you.  It brightens my day to hear from people back home.  So leave me some joy! :)

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

End of Language School and Moses

Hello out there in blog land!  I hope you are doing well.  I have quickly settled into the routine of a normal day at language school.  The only thing that disrupts that routine is the weekend where all I’ve done is read, study, do my language homework, and rest.  I’m definitely not complaining because my brain needs to rest after a week stuffed full of Swahili learning.   I’m done with language school this week.  I will head back to Dar es Salaam on Friday and be in Masasi by Monday.  I am excited to get settled into a routine down there and ready to get working on the real reason I came to Tanzania:  helping Joyce and Mavuto with their work here.

I’ve been reading Exodus in my devotions lately and the one that has stood out to me is the way Moses and the then the Isrealites questioned God about almost everything.  When I first read it, I couldn’t believe they had the guts to question God when He was audibly speaking.  Then I thought back on all the times I doubted God about whether I was supposed to come here or not.  I also think of all the ways He tried to show me that it was truly what He was calling me to do.  I still would like to think that if I had heard God’s voice like Moses did, I would believe Him no matter what, no questions or doubts. But who knows?  It does bring me comfort that I’m not alone in my constant doubting of God’s call on my life.  The important thing in Moses’ case and mine is that we finally listened.  We may have voiced some doubts, but we still went through with it and completed the call God put on our lives.  Obviously I haven’t completed God’s call, but  I’m hoping I will.

Have you ever had a time in your life when you felt God calling you to do something and you doubted and questioned Him?  Tell me about it in the comment section if you feel comfortable doing so.  

Friday, December 9, 2011

Life at Language School

I’ve decided that my blog posts need to be about more than just spiritual.  They will still include the spiritual things I’m learning, but I also want to include some details of my day to day. 

As I said, I’m in language school until December 16.  The language school is located right outside of a town called Morogoro.  A normal day for me here starts when I wake u pat 6am and get ready for breakfast at 7.  This sounds really early, but it so far hasn’t felt that early since my internal clock is messed up from being on Ohio time.  Just so you know, Ohio is 8 hours behind Tanzania.  So 7am here is 11pm the previous day in Ohio.  Breakfast is at 7am.  We usually have bread and something called uji that is a lot like gruel only I think soupier.  Add honey to it and it’s very good.  School starts at 7:45 with devotions.  We sing 2 hymns and read a passage from the Bible.  Then we split into our “classes.”  I put quotations around it because there are only a few students and a few teachers.  So each class consists of one student and one teacher.  So from 8-10 I work with my teacher and read through the language book I was given.  There are times when I have to put the book away and the teacher drills me on the language and the parts I should already know.  At 10 we have morning tea.  Usually there is some kind of sweet bread for snack. From 10:30-12 we’re back at school working hard.  From 12-2:30 are lunch and a break for napping or extra study time or just relaxing.  I usually spend it reading or sleeping.  From 2:30-4 we are learning at school.  At 4 is afternoon tea and it marks the end of class.  I usually skip afternoon tea in favor of doing any homework from the day’s lessons and extra studying.  At 6 is dinner.  By 7 it’s dark out and lately my internal clock has said go to bed.  Sometimes I stay up a little longer and read or play a game on my computer or watch a movie on my computer. 

It still has not gotten as hot as I thought it would be.  We had one or two pretty hot days, but the rest have been pretty mellow.  One night I even put on a comforter because I was rather cold.  I have taken pictures of the room and bathroom and will try to post those when my Internet is better.  The windows don’t really close but do have moving glass sections with cages on the outside to keep as many bugs out as possible.  I also have a mosquito net that I put over my bed at night. 

I have to work rather hard not to get too bored with day-to-day things because there isn’t really anyone to hang out with and keep me company. So to pass the time, I’ve done a lot of reading and watching the same movies over and over again on my computer.  Thankfully I brought my Kindle with me and have plenty of books to keep me occupied.  I don’t think I will be as bored once I get to Masasi because I will have Joyce and Mavuto and Nathaniel and the Sancala's to spend time with there.  Plus, Internet will be more regular so I’m hoping to be able to check my email daily. 

My father has done his best to email me everyday, which is extremely enjoyable.  My mother writes every couple days as well with her daily news.  My uncle has even emailed me a few times.  These emails have become the highlight of the time I spend online.  So, as such, I’m informing you that I would love to hear your news too.  It can be just whenever you’re on the computer and thinking of me.  Anything would be a welcome distraction.  The email is

I hope to hear from you either through email or let me know you’re keeping up to date with the blog by leaving me an encouraging comment!  I’m hoping the rest of my blog posts will be both spiritual in nature and give detail of what I’m doing over here.

I Made It

I posted to the wrong blog, so sorry it's so late.... It was supposed to post last Friday...

Well, I'm in Tanzania safely.  It is warm, but I'm told not as warm as it could be and usually is, so God has blessed me with that.  I'm at language school right now, trying to shove as much Swahili into my head as possible in 2 weeks.  I'm not going to lie, it's been a rough week.  I didn't realize how hard it would be to be in a different country with nobody familiar.  Living at the language school right now, I feel like an outsider since I can't speak Swahili very well... There are a few gentlemen that live here who are originally from the US, but they are fluent in Swahili, which makes me feel a little lonely.  The good thing is this has strengthened my relationship with God.  I've had to lean on him 100% (which is what we are normally supposed to do...) I get up every morning and spend a lot of time in the Psalms reading verses that comfort me in my loneliness and homesickness.  I've held onto Isaiah 41:10 like a life raft: "Do not be afraid for I am with you, Do not be discouraged, for I am Your God.  I will strengthen you and help you, I will lift you up with my victorious right hand."

I will try to post in 2 weeks or so - once I'm out of language school and down with Mavuto and Joyce where internet is not an hourly charge.  I hope you are doing well!  Feel free to leave uplifting and encouraging comments!  They will bring a smile to my face...but also probably a tear to my eye.  Love and miss you all!