I’m back from Tanzania, safe and sound, eyes open a little wider, and heart and mind changed a bit from when I left…
I wanted to share just a few snapshots from my time in Tanzania, in somewhat of a chronological order, so here goes!
Let me just say this trip did not disappoint my hope of experiencing a taste of the beauty and adventure that Africa has to offer. Me and my American teammates arrived in Kilimanjaro, TZ after 5 flights and joined up with the rest of the 5 short-term team members. We then drove an hour into Arusha, spent a night there, and headed to the bush! We had a 5ish hour drive ahead of us, including a debatable shortcut that threatened some muddy patches we hoped we wouldn’t get stuck in.
We got a flat tire because what is a welcome to Africa without some unexpected happenings… And then while on the shortcut, Mat (our driver, member of the long-term TIMO team) saw a particularly muddy patch of road up ahead. He got out of the car to assess the situation, got back in the car, took a deep breath and said “I’m not gonna lie, guys, I’m kinda scared.” Then he put the car in drive and off we went, fast so as not to get stuck, and we all held our breath. We cheered and laughed when we cleared the muddy patch and were even more grateful after driving by a bus that had gotten stuck just a little up ahead.
I don’t know why exactly, but at that moment, it hit me – “I’m in Africa… and I love it!”
We arrived to Busi late that evening and were split up into pairs – 2 TIMO Questers (short-termers) to each of the TIMO (long-term) member’s houses. I and another American, Sean, would be staying at Mat and Miranda’s house along with their two girls, Thailie (5) and Nia (2 1/2). However, the next day I learned that I’d be leaving for a home stay with one of the Busi residents for 3 days – on the very next day after that. Welcome and -surprise- see ya later!
My home stay was a great experience and, in hindsight, I know it was a great way to be thrown into the community and culture. The language barrier made for some awkward hours of silence, for sure, but I know I learned a lot about life in Busi in those few short days.
Mama Petro and her husband, one of the doctors at the Busi Health Center, were my hosts for 3 days. They had a very nice home and Mama Petro had a reputation as an excellent cook. I was very relieved to find out that people in Busi love having guests and that they were excited and honored that the TIMO team were sharing their guests! I wasn’t sure what they would make of us and how they would receive us. But I quickly found that they were thrilled we were visiting, interested in learning their language, and would eat any meal they put in front of us! I was very well-fed, indeed, and most of my time was spent chopping vegetables, stirring pots, washing dishes, and sitting next to a coal cooker with Mama Petro working on the next meal or snack. One of my favorite things I was introduced to in Tanzania is ugi – it is a millet porridge type drink that Mama Petro makes with a heaping spoon of butter and sugar – it is delicious!
On the second day there, I met many of the women who worked at the Health Center as they would come by Mama Petro’s for some ugi or chai and just sit on the front porch for awhile. Eventually, they let on that they knew some English! And then the floodgates of communication seemed to open! I learned lots of Rangi and Swahili words and I had a notebook full of words suddenly! We laughed a lot at my pronunciation of things and they told me they enjoyed practicing their English. One of my favorite Rangi words was “kidandarika” which means thunderstorm and we all died laughing when they learned the phrase “flip-flop” and struggled to say it without getting tongue-tied. This was the start of some very good friendships I had in Busi.
On the third day, I was excited when Mama Petro pulled out an English/Swahili Bible! I read Psalm 16 and Romans 1 in English and then she read in Swahili. I was praying all the while that God would use His Word to minister to Mama Petro. It ministered to my own heart and it was a blessing to share that time with my host.
Before I left, Mama Petro presented me with the gift of a chicken, who I promptly named Mama Kidandarika. Though I later figured out it was, indeed, a boy chicken (a rooster, apparently I need to get out of the city more often). Mama Petro then walked me home, cradling my chicken like the precious gift that it was, and I was very grateful for both my time at her house and to be back at Mat and Miranda’s! A couple weeks later, I helped kill the chicken and cooked it up just the way I had seen Mama Petro do it. (With lots of oil, garlic, onion, tomato, and only 4-5 hours of work!) It got rave reviews.