15 days…

It has been 15 days since we arrived home from Tanzania. It has been a busy two weeks for me…so busy that I have not gone through my photos yet to share my adventure visually…           I have posted some photos on Facebook…but I believe I have over 500 to sort through so this will take some time. It was definitely an adjustment coming back to America. Visiting a country like Tanzania does change you. I realize how much “stuff” we have here..far more than we really need. I realize that less can be more..and to me most often it is. I realize that the people there taught me how wonderful it feels to be welcoming and caring to others. I am happy inside. I feel very positive. I will try to not let the small stuff worry me anymore. I will try and be more in the moment. I will be more grateful for all that I have. I will dream about the smiling faces of the children and the singing and dancing that greeted us everywhere we went. I will recall the magnificent creatures of the game drives and the beauty of how they live in the wild untouched by mankind. I miss Africa. I miss hearing the Swahili. I miss looking out the window of the bus at the faces of the Tanzanians as we drove by the villages. I am so thankful that I went on this journey. And I’m glad you came along, too.

I am going to start posting pictures. This first photo is of the Kilimanjaro Airport.  The flights were long but we arrived in Tanzania on August 1, 2014.  We loaded up this bus and headed to the Uhuru Hostel in Moshi, Tanzania.

250255

These next photos are  from the Uhuru Hostel. We stayed here for one night.   This was my first experience sleeping with a mosquito net.  I feel asleep that night pinching myself that I was in Africa…

264269265268

 

Stay tuned for pictures of Day 2…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Asante sana

We arrived home in the United States yesterday.   It was a bit of culture shock to come back to the way of life here.  The crowds in the airport.  The built up cities.  The traffic back on the right side of the road.  The lack of Swahili in the background.  Even though I did not understand most of it…it was like music to me.   It is good to be home but I know that Tanzania will always be a part of me.

As some of you know I came back to some challenges that I have to face.  When I got to Wash DC I felt weak and vulnerable.  I had to face things here in America that I could not take care of from so far away.  I had a moment when I no longer felt like a warrior.  I was sad.  I cried.   But those companions who traveled so far away with me, on an adventure for which I went on without really having any idea of what it would be like,  reminded me that I am a warrior.   Asante sana rafiki.  Thank you friends.  Thank you for being as welcoming and giving as those Tanzanians who said “karibu” to me over and over again.  I believe that my sadness was deeply rooted in the fact that I was no longer able to enjoy the presence of that beautiful land and its people.  Reality can be harsh but we must face it.  I will continue to learn from standing (especially in my peaceful radiant warrior pose), learning and living.  Living in this moment, this time, this reality.  I am so blessed.  Bwana asifewe.  Praise the Lord.

 

I am a warrior because:

I sat in a window seat on our flight from Mount Kilimanjaro  and looked out the window as we ascended into the sky – without any anxiety!  woo hoo!

I stood in silence  about 30 feet from an elephant who could have charged our jeep (and picked it up and thrown it which Efram told me AFTER the incident).   I recall our pastor saying “it’s been nice knowing you” and I laughed in that moment of uncertainty.

I let go of my American facade of reserve and detachment  and I hugged and danced and sang with my brothers and sisters of Tanzania.  I held the hands of little ones and my heart melted.  I left true love.

I tried foods that I had never had before – okay I have to confess I did not eat when we went to the Massai village – I pushed my food around on my plate – something I have learned from some American kids I know.

I got dirty … took cold showers…slept in misquito nets..rode in a small bus that came close to the edge of the road climbing mountains…slept in a platform tent in a wildlife park,  okay I was white knuckled at first in the bus  but I learned that I am not in control.  I trusted our beloved drivers and pilots to take me and bring me safely home each day.

I trust more.  My faith is stronger.  I believe more deeply.  I am willing to let go more.   And when this happens friends…our hearts become bigger and more open and we are happy.  I am so happy.   Annoyance and hardships and really scary stuff will get in our ways but be strong and walk through the fire…because when you come out the other side it is glorious.

 

I will continue to post blogs as I look through my pictures and journal and can share more of this journey with you.  So stay tuned!  I have some research to do on some things I learned about there…I have two brilliant research assistants who I can ask to help.  I will figure out how to get the pictures that tell my story on to this site – it was a bit of a challenge on the IPhone.    I have thoughts of writing a short story or book.

Yes – I am glad to be home.  Yes -I want to go back to Tanzania one day.  I also want to see other parts of our world so I can enrich my story.  One chapter at a time.

Love to all of you – stay with me…hold my hand as we live our days.  God bless!

Heather

 

p.s. I miss Violet.

 

 

 

 

The last day…

Well my friend, I have reached the last day of this great adventure. I am sitting in the dining room.of the New Safari Hotel sipping coffee as the sun rises over the city. I am both excited and.sad. I am.excited go see.my family  and friends and  to.acclimate back into.the American way of life. Well, most parts of it.  There are things that will be different for me because of the time I have spent here in.Africa. I will try to spend more time in the moment and live for.the day I am in, I will be more appreciative of the many blessings I have,  I will be more welcoming to guests in my life and I will share all of this with those in my life in America.  There will be new ways of.living for me based on this experience. I am sad because I have to.say goodbye (for now) to the smiling faces of the Tanzanians, their genuine unconditional  hospitality to.us, their giving nature when they have so little and most of all their love. They send their.blessings to.all.of.you in America as well. I want to.bring these gifts back to our country and share them with all.of.you Today we will go to.the markets in Arusha to.purchase any last gifts before we head to.the airport later this afternoon. I.hope to find some more items that will remind me of my journey.  But I know that the most important items that I will bring back are not worldly goods but the memories I have tucked into my heart forever.

To my new friends in Tanzania:

Every time I think of you , I give thanks to my God   Philippians 1:3

I will need to.close down my devices soon and I am.not sure when I will.have access again so this is goodbye for now. I will continue to.post blogs when I return to.America as I reflect on this trip.  I will go.back.and revisit each day as I review my pictures and figure out once again how to.post them on the blog. I will read my journal and be reminded of moments that I will.want to.share.  I am.sure I will have “God” moments that I will share with you and I will be doing more research on this beautiful country, it’s people, the creatures and the customs and culture. This has also encouraged me to consider more closely our culture and customs. Do  the practices and traditions we follow tell our story?  I invite you to.take.a close look.and see.

I am so grateful to have heard the stories here.  I am so grateful that I said yes when my mother offered this trip to me as a gift. I am so.grateful that my pastor encouraged me to.still consider coming on this trip .when at one point I thought I would not be able to.come.  I am truly blessed.  God is good.  All the time

 

The Big Five

Yesterday we took our game drive through a wildlife conservation within the boundaries of the Great Rift, the Serengeti and mountains. Long, long ago volcanos erupted in the area and the cone of one collapsed and created a massive crater which is now a lake. The lava spread throughout much of the region and made the soil unable to produce any trees so there are vast plAins that tree cannot grow on.  In the mountains there is vegetation so you can see green trees and bushes looking  out over the dry brown savannah.  As we entered the gates of the conservation we noticed soldiers coming in which got my attention as I wondered if something was going on however they were there to see the animals !

We winded through mountains on a narrow dirt road in thick fog. I can now say I have had my head in the clouds. I am not sure how Efram could see so I thought it best to just look out the side window and trust him.  I noticed areas in the rock where the rock  was hollowed out.  Efram said this was done by the elephants who are getting salt from the rocks and dirt.

Our first stop was at a Massai village.   Right outside of the village the Massai men and women greeted us with a “welcome song”  The men then had a jumping contest so see who could jump the highest  I was tempted to join in but thought it best to stick with the women who were all together next to the men. Next the women danced as their beaded necklaces jingled I was encouraged to join in (I was so glad they asked) and they put one if the Massai beaded necklaces around my neck. I started dancing and as I looked to my left the woman next to me motioned to only move my shoulders not my whole body.  LOL I must have looked funny to them.  I sang with them trying to follow their harmonies. At one point the woman next to me smiled which I assume meant I was carrying my part correctly.  Yes!!

We next went into the  mud huts in twos. They are small and dark inside with a fire of embers but n ing in the middle. For a tribe of tall people I wonder how they manage such a small space. The hut I was in was for a family of 6. One large bed for the four children and one smaller bed for Mom and Dad. There was also a pen for their baby cow so that it does not get attacked in the dark night.  One tiny window let in air at the same time it served as a chimney for the fire. It was dark and smoky inside but warm – it was bitter cold outside so I was thankful for the warmth.

As we climbed out of the but we were guided to the jewelry “kiosk” for this family to buy something in exchange for the four if their abode. We had to negotiate the price down –  thank you Tom – and were able to get three pieces between the the two of us.  Next stop was the school where about 12 children were practicing their numbers in English.  The Massai live on the meat, milk and blood of cows. They cannot farm the land in the conservation so they depend on the tourism income.  We paid $20 to get in the the village and then bought jewelry.

We headed off back on the mountain road and came to the road that descends  down into the crater. As we moved forward we left the green behind and were met by miles of dirt roads and dry bush. The dust circled in the air due to the wind and jeeps traveling along. We were seeking the Big Five on this game drive. First we saw the Cape Buffalo gathered in a herd   I read that they are the most dangerous. The next member if this distinguished group that we spotted was a lone elephant standing in an area of soft green grasses in the middle of the plain. Efram said that he was old and unable to climb into the mountains with the others during the dry season. He stayed behind to live his last days alone. I was sad as I watched him standing there with his beautiful ivory tusks knowing that his days were limited.

Next we saw three lioness lounging around far from the road. Efram must have bionic eye sight !  It took me a few minutes to see them through binoculars.  We also saw three make lions later in the day. Such handsome creatures

After lunch we headed out to find a rhinoceros and alas one was found!   Far from the road he sat staying safe from mankind. They are endangered at this time and in danger of becoming extinct due to poachers. So our last of the Big Five for us to spot was the leopard. My college mascot. Efram kidded me as he pointed to a tire cover on the land cruiser in front of us with a picture of a leopard on it.  I never saw a leopard with my eyes but some of my traveling companions in the other jeep did so I am going to count it. THE BIG FIVE!  We did it!!  Woo goo!!

 

Today  head back to Arusha….our journey is slowly coming to its end.  Two more days of discoveries and then we board our plans to come home and share our adventure !!   Running out of  proof. Sorry for any typos or words that don’t fit.  Darn auto correct !

Noah knew what he was doing!

The last two days on Safari have been AMAZING!!  Our safari guide, Efram, drove us through both the Tarangire and Manyara National Parks over the past two days and I have seen creatures that have both left me in awe and entertained me. The large elephants slowly walking in line show us that haste makes waste… what’s the hurry?  They move slowly step.by step  in slow.motion speed   Yesterday we were watching some elephants walk.across the road in front of our jeep and suddenly two.males had a standoff. The bigger elephant retreated and the other held his position right in front of our jeep.  Then he started coming toward our jeep. Remember that scene in Jurrasic Park when the raptor picked up the jeep?  That flashed across my mind and was not exactly how I want to spend my 15 minutes of fame. We stayed silent and after a few minutes which seemed like much longer the  elephant moved toward the rest of the herd slowly as we held our breath

The  giraffes with their.long necks.are so.elegant … their eyelashes are to.die for!  They eat the acai tree leaves. They have the biggest hearts so.they can pump  their.blood to.their.brain.  they can sit but they must keep.their.heads up.if they don’t they will die.  Lots of velvet monkeys swinging from.branches and baboons traveling in troops.  They are so.entertaining!  They groom.each other and the mothers carry the babies as they hang around their bellies. We also saw two.baboons in the act right in the middle of.the road. Get a Bush …geez

We saw so.many varieties of birds with such vibrant colors. Today we saw pelicans, storms and a.few.flamingos.in the swampy.fields near the river   hundreds of white pelicans painted this canvas of white across  the marsh while multitudes of.wildebeest ran.through the swamp to.gather together and eat the grasses. It was so relaxing to watch them run one after another in succession that I felt myself drifting as if I was counting sheep.

The accommodations have been spectacular. Last night we stayed at the Tarangire Safari Lodge which overlooked the savannah.  As we would.come  out of our “elegant ” tents we would be greeted with an expanse of land with a river winding back and forth on the right. The landscape was filled with acai trees and wild animals that could come pass by our tents at any time. You could look out at the horizon and see land untouched by man.  God’s creation not.rearranged by mankind.

For.the next two.nights we are staying at the Bougainville Lodge. We were greeted by the smiling staff welcoming us.- they provided us with warm towels and passion juice. The staff here have created an atmosphere of joy and happiness that fills me to.the brim with pure contentment    I feel.so.appreciative of everything here. It is quite the transition from Lushoto. I will let .myself enjoy what is offered while reminding myself to fully appreciate it and recognize that not.everyone is offered.what I have been today. I am so.grateful.

Friends, I am the last traveler sitting near the fire in the lodge sipping Bailey’s and I must let this incredible staff retire for the night   La last salama to.you all- sweet dreams to you all.in.America. and Africa. I will probably dream about the beautiful creatures that I saw today who are born free to.roam in the wild in.Africa .  One.take away from today’s game drive was to keep.my eyes open and focus – Efram could spot animals so.swiftly and precisely. I tried to focus my eyes on the grasses and trees to.see any sign of.movement but it was slow to.come for.me.   let’s keep.our eyes wide open and focus – there is so.much in this world that we do not want to miss.  Trust me.   Good night moon, good night stars, good night giraffe, goodnight wildebeest, good night lions , good.night blue monkeys and good.night to.my friends and family reading this –  I love you all!

Tarangire National Park

We have arrived at Tarangire National Park and we are staying at Tarangire Safari Lodge in platform tents.  This is what I would call elegant camping. The view from the open air lodge takes my breath away. Below us runs the Tarangire River with animals who have come to drink. We were warned to not take any food to the tents so some of our companions had to turn in their goods such as peppermint patties and weight watchers bars so that the monkeys don’t come into the tents and take over. On just the way in to the park to the lodge we have seen giraffes, elephants, impalas, monkeys, ostrich, elands, wildebeest, zebras and gazelles.  We are going out at 3:30 pm on Safari which is a good time to see even more animals as it will be cooler. We had a delicious lunch and I am now sitting in the lodge looking out on the savannah.  I keep pinching myself to make sure this is not a dream. I know I have left behind the Lushoto people and I will never forget them. But now I am meant to take in the beauty of this part of God’s earth with his amazing creatures that live freely on the land.   I am singing Born Free to myself while I live in this moment.  Bwana asifewe !!

title

I forgot to give a title to my last post.  It seems the program somehow assigned “66” as the title. This is fitting as the drive here did.remind.me.of driving through Arizona and Nevada on Route 66 last summer.

We arrived in Arusha last night after a 6  1/2 hour drive along one road through the plains. As we approached Arusha the traffic picked up.  There were many trucks, motorcycles and cars in both directions. Speed bumps greeted us periodically and there were stretches where the road is still being paved and we were on the bumpy detour dirt roads. As I watched the horizon from the back of the bus I reflected on our 8 days in Lushoto. The gifts I have  received and the new relationships. The connection I feel to.this mountain village so many miles away from my home. Have I been.able to offer these kind people anything?  I was a guest in their homes and villages and welcomed over and over again with smiles and warm hugs. I was served chai and food, gifts of fabric and weaved baskets. I was greeted by everyone I passed by. I adore the children who.yelled jambo to us as we passed waving their hands in the international sign “hello”. Again I asked myself what have I given back?  My church and SEPA have supported this village for many years. I got to see first hand the churches that are being built,  the children who are being educated and the Sekumo university which is educating eager minds to help change the world they know. It seems that I am the one walking away with many blessed presents the most significant to me being “presence” …being in the moment fully.  What I have left here is my relationship to the people of Lushoto. I hope to encourage others to reach out in some way to give these people the same opportunities that every human should have …when they are granted opportunities they hold on tight to them and prosper and this helps not only them but those around them as well. It takes a village to do many things.    Thank you Lushoto I am forever grateful and blessed.

Arusha is night to Lushoto’s day. Traffic noise, large buildings and lights greeted us as we pulled into.the New Safari Hotel. It was like.walking into a hotel in downtown Philadelphia.  It reminded me.of.the time we went camping in the Allegheny mountains and then drove up to the Canadian side of Niagra Falls. A bit of.culture shock.  We settled into our rooms and then had dinner together before retiring for.the.night. Today we head out on our safari trip. Four days out in the wilderness to.observe the amazing creatures of this great land. I chuckle as I think about what my dog.Casey would do if she saw elephants and giraffes up close.    Would be an entertaining scene I am sure!  Well friends I am going to go put on my American style clothes today. Jeans –  I will admit I missed them. But I will.miss dressing in the long skirts and fabrics that really.define this country. Don’t be surprised if.you see me wearing long skirts and African jewelry when I get home.  It will remind me that I am.joined to.the hearts of the Tanzanians forever. <3.    Amen.

The Massai

Yesterday we traveled out into the plAins to visit a Massai mission. This village has a Lutheran evangelist   once again we were greeted with singing by the beautiful women as they walked with us toward the church. They carry our bags for us.  It is much hotter out in the plain. It is wintertime now – it must be so hot in the summer. We sat in the church and were served tea, meat and a sort.of.biscuit after prayers. Just like all.of the other Tanzanians we have met in Lushoto we were welcomed again and again. After tea we walked around the village  Martin, the evangelist, showed us first a building that they were constructing for girls- a hostel for.girls who walk.very far to.the school (some 20 kilometers)  sadly the roof and part  the walls were destroyed by the wind so the project is on hold for now.  They were building it so that the girls could stay there and be safe from wild.animals and also so.they could be fed. The girls would go without food during the day when they came to.school.  Next we saw the school which for now  can accommodate four levels of.students  at one time.  Some levels or forms (grades) come in the morning only and some.in the afternoon only so that they can share the space. Next we saw the staff homes, the home of.the doctor and the clinic/dispensary.   All of the buildings with the exception of the church are made of.concrete. but the homes of the families are made of.clay and cow dung. I was confused because I had read that the Massai were nomads who moved through the plAins with their cattle and goats based on where they can get water. Martin explained that they are trying to.keep.the families here where there is  a river that runs close.by so they can educate the children. If they were to.need to.take the cattle to another spot .temporarily only some.would.go.the rest would stay in the mission. Education. Is so important for the future of.these people.  We crossed a bridge over the river as we came to.the mission. They used to use a pulley system to.cross but they built a wooden bridge that only people and livestock.can cross. Martin explained that supplies and  other things that are brought to the mission.are dropped AT the bridge and then carried to the mission or homes. There is some distance  from the river to the village and homes. If someone.is sick.and needs a hospital that are carried on someone’s.back to.the bridge and then transported.to.the hospital.  This bridge will.soon wear down and so.one.of their priorities is to.build a new type of.bridge but there is no.money.  We went. Back to church and heard the choir sing again had a meal.of.meat and.rice.and.chai.. after our meal Martin introduced our group to.a.young woman who was accepted into.nursing school.but her parents could not.afford.th  tuition. One of.my traveling companions  volunteered to.sponsor.her education. Much celebration and.hugging.followed. and pictures were taken of the girl her parents and the sponsor.  As we were leaving Pastor Dyan spoke with a woman who.owed back.tuition for.her child for.2013 & 2014.  As we were about to.load into.the van Pastor Dyan gathered us and we put  together $210 American dollars from.our.pockets which should.cover the expenses.  On the long car ride.home I.reflected on today’s journey. What will it take to.help.these people with their way of life?  Certainly.education opens.so many opportunities and can teach their people.how.to.improve their.health and well.being  the problems are large the available funds are small. But.nothing is.impossible I dream .

heather! heather! heather!

Today we visited Kongei private school for.girls.  It is a secondary school where Zabdiel teaches. Quite the contrast from the other schools we visited.  We drove through a gate to enter the school compound. It was beautiful. We first visited with a physics class who was doing a practical lab. I.never took.physics so I sat down at a table where three girls were working on the assignment. When Rachel began to.speak her English was excellent. She explained that they were measuring the extension when weight was added. I heard the words force and elasticity mentioned.  Thankfully my son is taking physics as a junior and can explain it.to. me in more.detail. Rachel disk so.eloquently I thought to myself she would be a good teacher  as we were preparing to.move to the next classroom.the girls asks..me.if.I was on FB. I responded do.you mean Facebook?  They giggled. I.said he’s and we exchanged FB addresses. More.connections made.  I am so happy to.know.that even though I will have to.leave here at some point I will be able to take apart.of Tanzania with me and even be connected with them online!  BWANA ASIFEWE!  Amen

 

We moved to an English class where they were working on literature. We introduced ourselves sang our.song and performed our dance moves.  This.class roared with applause!  The personalities were the most extroverted of.all.of.the children we have visited with so.far. As we prepared.to leave the girls ran to us with hugs. They followed us out to.a.terrace where we talked more an  hugged and laughed. We took.”selfies” and exchanged email addresses. I.was surrounded.by about.15 girls at one point   I thought to myself this is what it.must be.what it is.like.for.celebrities but then I.knew.that this was better. THIS IS REAL