Monday, December 30

Theory and Practice

With just a two days of 2013 to go I can't believe how much has happened for us as a family since this time last year ... or even the last few years! This week Naomi celebrated her third Christmas and each of those have been on a different continent. Life has certainly not been boring for us!

In many ways our lives are a big adventure but from now on things are set to become relatively mundane and not quite so exciting ... at least that's what we hope anyway! When we moved here, we had hoped that it would be for at least 4 years but most probably for the whole 8 years we have committed to MAF. As a family (and even as a couple) this would be the longest we've lived anywhere together! Crazy but true!

In theory it will us be a chance to really get into our groove, which we've only just hit in the last couple of months! It will be a chance to really get involved in the community. It will be a chance for us all to get settled in our home and open it up to others, knowing that we won't be moving on anytime soon. It will be a chance for our girls to spend their childhoods in one place. It will be a chance to live life in the guaranteed sunshine! It doesn't promise to be easy, limited resources, far from family, an ever-changing ex-pat community, no respite from the heat! However it really feels like home to us now, for how long though, we are yet to see.

Everything can be mapped out in theory, but in practice it can work out a lot differently!

Things change unexpectedly out here. Friends of ours are packing up to leave in a few weeks and move to South Sudan ... their plans are most definitely up in the air right now. For us things are also on hold at least until the end of January. The future of the MAF Tanzania programme is currently under negotiation and we won't know until then which way it will move forward and whether that will or won't include us as a family.

While a lot of people will be thinking about News Years resolutions right now and how they are going to start 2014 off on the right foot, perhaps tweaking some things or drastically changing others, my family will have to wait just that little bit longer. 

We hope and pray that our 2014 will be right here in Tanzania well and truly getting into that groove but only God knows right now what it will look like. I'm glad that we trust one who has already got it all worked out on our behalf. While some people think that is a huge risk, I know that with him in control we will be able to work our way through whatever this next year will bring. We got through this last one which was was a rollercoaster in itself! We'll just have to wait another month after everyone else before we work out what (if any) resolutions/changes we want to make!

Friday, December 27

African Snow

Christmas has been slightly different for us this year. 

A couple of months ago, Abigail asked when the snow was coming so that she knew it was going to be Christmas. I had to break the news to her that this year there most probably wouldn't be any snow for us! It's funny what you get used to. All Abigail's short life, Christmas and snow have come hand-in-hand ... in Ohio and even last year in England. 

Even though in the UK we're not often guaranteed snow, it doesn't help the wishful thinking for the idyllic cosy Christmas, all wrapped up! We're used to hearing songs like 'Frosty the Snowman' and watching movies like 'White Christmas' (I'm watching it right now as I write!) but a British Christmas usually consists of grey skies and rain ... this year rather too much rain!

For lots of our friends here, the hot sunny Tanzanian Christmas doesn't seem all that different from what they are used to back in Australia and New Zealand and they can't imagine the cold snowy Christmas that I find myself dreaming of!

Christmas here in Tanzania falls in the rainy season, although to be fair the rains have been few and far between so far this year. The average temperature is about 32 (90) degrees. And waiting for the rains, the intensity and humidity is well ... intense!

To make it feel like Christmas, we have been playing Christmas songs, eating the traditional foods, pulling Christmas crackers, the list goes on! Yesterday we went one step further. Before we left the States a good friend of ours gave us something for the girls to enjoy at Christmas time! 

Whoever thought that a little bit of fake snow would be such an excitement?!

It's the closest we're going to get to the real thing, living here in Tanzania ... without climbing to the top of Kilimanjaro (and having done it once, I don't intend to repeat the experience!). Over the years, Christmas is probably going to feel quite different and what it normal is going to change. 

This week we have celebrated what we hope will be the first of many Christmases out here in Dodoma ... and it even included a little sprinkling of snow!

Friday, December 20

Christmas Cards

Do you like Christmas? Do you like writing Christmas cards? I have to admit a big YES to both! I realise I may well be in the minority on both counts but I don't care!

I love the festive feel of this time of year ... although admittedly in Dodoma you really have to work hard to get it! I love the opportunity to spoil people with gifts, meals and fun times. I love being able to connect with more people that you would at other times of the year through cards and chances to meet up and celebrate. I love the reason behind it all!

As a family we haven't sent out Christmas cards for a while, what with moving last year and other reasons in previous years, it hasn't been something we have been able to achieve. This year though, I took the advantage of the cheap Tanzanian postage (to post to the UK from here is cheaper than posting a second class letter within the British Isles!) and had an absolute ball writing several hundred cards! Even Mark thinks I'm a little bit crazy but he loves me anyway!

Yes, I'm totally mad but I love it for lots of reasons ... here are just a few! 

Firstly, we wouldn't be here, doing what we're doing without the backing, prayers and support of family, friends, churches and even some people who are complete strangers to us, who all make it possible. We don't take that support for granted and wanted to show our appreciation, even if it is in a very small way.

Secondly, while we're so far from home and haven't been able to catch up with people properly for several years now, it is just a small way to keep the connection going. As I write each piece of snail mail we send, small happy memories flash through my mind of times we have spent together with each and every person!

Thirdly, with each card I write, I usually pray for the recipients. Not in a 'holier than thou' way but it's just a chance to remember each person and their current situation and to bring them before someone who cares SO much about them! We are so regularly prayed for by others, it's a chance to return the favour!

Fourthly, however modern and high-tech our world is becoming, I'm definitely of the opinion that there's nothing better than receiving snail mail however old-fashioned that might seem. It always puts a smile on my face and I like being able to put smiles on the faces of others too, even if it is more time consuming and needs to be budgeted for!

The frustrating thing with sending post from Dodoma is that a certain percentage of letters are almost guaranteed not to get through but it isn't a reason for me not to try! If you know us or support us, sometime in the next few weeks or months (or maybe even already) you should receive some mail from Tanzania. If you don't, we either don't have an address or it was one of the unlucky cards that didn't get through. Know that we care about you anyway and/or get in touch with your contact details! 

Wednesday, December 18

Give to Receive?

As we draw near to Christmas there is an increasing emphasis on gift giving, in some people's eyes the bigger and more expensive the better, in others it's the thought that has gone into it that is more important. Either way there are gifts flying back and forth between friends and families at this time of year!

Something that I have been asked many times from friends since we had munchkins is 'Are we just giving to the children?' meaning 'Are we exchanging for each member of the family or will presents for the kids suffice?' ... I have even heard more and more often 'Are we doing gifts this year?', translate that as 'If you can't be bothered than neither can I, but if we're both OK with that, it doesn't matter'! 

Do we give gifts only because we're expecting something back in return? Is it because we feel uncomfortable receiving something if we can't also give in exchange? Is it a cultural thing? Do we have to give and receive something of equal value for it to be an acceptable present?

Having moved around a lot over the last few years, getting to know new people in different locations and cultures, I recall a few conversations I've had, where someone was giving me information about another family including this choice nugget ... 'we've had them round for a dinner a couple of times but they never invited us back, so we've given up now'. More recently someone said to me 'I think it's probably our turn to have you round, isn't it?'. 

These conversations show an expectation that if we make the effort to have someone to our house, they should also invite us ... and then if they don't invite us in return, there is a limit to how many times we are willing to show this unreciprocated hospitality! Again, maybe this is a cultural thing. Is it only acceptable to pursue a friendship if we receive as much as we give? 

As a family we like to give people gifts, we like to treat people, we like to make them feel special. We don't always get it right (nobody's perfect!) and there are times that we are unable to do everything we want to for various reasons but one thing we don't expect is that we have to be matched or reciprocated ... we do it for one reason and one reason only ... because we enjoy it and the other people are always worth it! 

Gifts come in many forms, presents, meals, childcare, time, listening, we're always on the lookout for what, where and who we can 'treat' but usually do it so far under most people's radars that not many of those around us have the opportunity to notice what we're up to. We hope we're passing this onto our girls, so that they grow up with open eyes to look out for others in this way too!

Giving is an integral part of Christmas. The ultimate Christmas gift arrived in the form of a baby ... in the most extravagant present, all those years ago! It was one of those gifts given with no expectations whatsoever, just the hope that we would accept it. Sometimes it really is that simple!

Monday, December 16

Seven Year Itch

Today my Facebook status read as follows ... "Seven years ago today I put on a big white dress and had one of the best days of my life surrounded by friends and family! Four homes, three continents and two children later, it is still the adventure of a lifetime!"

According to Wikipedia ...
"The seven-year itch is a psychological term that suggests that happiness in a relationship declines after around year seven of a marriage."
So, do I have itchy-feet now that we've hit the milestone? Hell No! Would I want to be having all these adventures with anyone else but Mark! Nope! Am I looking forward to the next seven years! Most definitely ... bring it on!

We have already added so many more stressors to our marriage than a lot of other people do ... moving across the world several times to name just one. We most certainly don't have all the answers or do everything perfectly. However the journey we're on together and with our girls is one I wouldn't miss for the world! Who know's where it's going to lead in the future?!

Wednesday, December 11

What do you need?

As a Missionary Kid (MK) in India, an overseas missionary in South America, a missionary back in the States, a mother and a grandmother ... today's guest blog comes from someone who more than qualifies to write something for The Missionary Mum! Rena Jarboe is the wife of the President and CEO of MMS Aviation in Ohio (where Mark trained as an aircraft engineer), where they have both served faithfully for many decades. She is kept busy with numerous tasks within MMS and the community but today she shares some thought's on the needs of a missionary kid.

Philippians 4:19 says, “My God shall supply all your needs according to His riches in glory.”

Many refer to the above verse as God supplying material needs. While this is true, I would like to suggest other “needs” in the missionary and MK setting. Some say missionary kids are deprived of many things. I beg to differ. My life was rich.

When someone answers God’s call to leave home and family and go to another country to serve Him there is a need for confidence and peace of mind that the move is indeed God’s call.

Family members left behind have deep concerns and need this confidence and peace also. Parents can be anxious for their son/daughter and wonder if they will be safe, healthy and have a fruitful ministry. There is concern as grandparents say goodbye to grandchildren. The fear of dangers and unknown diseases—some real, some imagined—that lurk in foreign lands come to mind as they send them off.

I was born in India to missionary parents. They left America in 1947, to go to an unfamiliar part of the world, knowing that they would not see family for six and a half years (they ended up serving twenty years in India). During that first term I was born, as was my brother, Billy, two years later. 

There was a need for safety from harmful things like snakes and scorpions. In our village setting during the first term, Dad killed many poisonous snakes. None of us were ever bitten. The Lord woke up my Mom more than once in the middle of the night, only to find a scorpion under my bed, which she would dispose of. My brother and I had a close encounter with a 30 foot python. I had a scary moment with a cobra in the bathroom of a friend’s home—and the list could go on. God’s protection was evident. 

There was a need for medical care. Our little village of Ghatkesar had a small clinic where some medicines were available. One night when I was two I developed a severe asthma attack. Being an asthmatic himself, Dad immediately recognized the symptoms. It was frustrating to get the medical worker to open the clinic in the middle of the night in order to get a vial of needed medication. We’re confident God intervened and Dad got the medicine and gave me the injection I needed. (Who knew that his training as an Army Medic would be put to good use in this way!) There are other providential medical provisions too numerous to mention here.

There is a need for family. As a missionary kid, I had an abundance of missionary Aunties and Uncles. It wasn’t until I met my relatives at age four, that I learned to discern between real Aunties and Uncles and my missionary ones. Having cousins, however, was a new concept. To this day, I keep in touch with missionary “relatives” (though many have passed away) and I cherish my memories with them. I also have a special Indian Uncle and Auntie, with whom I am still in contact. My life was and is rich.

There is a need for an education. While home schooling is a popular option these days, those curriculums were not available in the 50s and 60s. I received a good education in a British Boarding School for missionary children. While the separation from my parents was not easy (it was hard for them too), I had an abundance of friends from many different countries. It has been fun to reconnect with many of them recently, through Facebook!

Material needs were something that as a child, did not concern me. However, God provided for my parents. Their sending church took on their entire support for the first six years. Following a change in pastors, it was discontinued during their first furlough. God provided others to fill that need. Our living conditions during the first term in India were quite primitive with no electricity or water pumped to the house. On our first furlough, my brother and I were fascinated with light switches, flushing toilets, escalators, Christmas lights, etc. I think we drove our Grandparents to distraction those first few weeks as we flipped light switches and turned on taps and flushed the toilet numerous times just to see the water swirl and go down!

Only as an adult did I begin to appreciate my unique childhood. I remember on furloughs I just wanted to blend in, and not be noticed as an MK and someone different. This is quite normal. However, now I understand my childhood was something very special. I’ve lived in places with exotic names, such as Ghatkesar, Bhongir, Secunderabad and Coonoor! Not many can say they have traveled by ship multiple times from one side of the world to the other (it took a month). We had a pet monkey and our friends had a pet hyena. I have ridden on an elephants, camels and bicycle rickshaws and have watched snake charmers and scorpion charmers. I’ve seen work elephants in our yard being watered from our well—something quite scary for a three year old, but memorable. God provides unique blessings and experiences to missionary kids. I am grateful to be an MK.

Nowadays I feel the need for good Indian food once in a while and a daily cup of chai.

Monday, December 9

Altered Lenses

This time last year we were frantically buying, selling, packing, saying goodbyes, preparing, organising. It really was quite something and I'm am very grateful to be well on the other side of it all, even though settling here and getting everything sorted has been an experience all of its own! 

Saying goodbye to the States was hard as we had so much fun there as a family, made new friends and even added a new member to our family. We learnt some of the differences in cultures and picked up some traditions to carry on with us too.

Thanksgiving is something we decided we would 'take with us' and a couple of weeks ago we got to celebrate with a couple of other families right here in Dodoma. Thinking of things to be thankful for this year was a little different. After 10 months of living here my perspective has changed and what I am thankful for and appreciate about life has too. So here goes, just a few ... but through some slightly altered lenses ...
  • Electricity and Running Water - While we know that this is something not to take for granted ... out here when both are intermittent and for many (right on our doorstep) a luxury they can't afford, you become a lot more appreciative of them!
  • American Toilet Roll - We shipped some across in the container and opened a couple of rolls last week ... it feels so nice to use soft, strong non-shredding loo roll ... after 10 months you wouldn't believe how thankful toilet roll can make you!
  • Being able to write - My house lady is in her 50's and can read a little but even writing her name (all 5 letters of it!) takes as long as it takes me to write a whole paragraph! To just be able to write the simplest of things is such a blessing ... really!
  • Owning a car - travelling around here is possible on foot/bike but isn't necessarily safe (especially with young children), I am so appreciative of the fact that we are privileged enough to have wheels of our own to get around and not have to be dependent on other people.
  • Not getting malaria - Malaria is a very real and present danger here and so far we have all remained healthy and malaria free! A BIG reason to be thankful!
  • Moving internationally - Talk about stressful, moving from one continent to another (via a third) ... and now we're only just really getting settled! But to be on the other end of it all is a pretty good feeling!
  • Rain - this afternoon it rained ... doesn't sound all that exciting to the Brit readers I'm sure ... but we haven't had any proper rain since April and it is SO dry and dusty here! We're so grateful for the rain, we were dancing and being totally goofy in it!

It will be interesting to see how our perspective changes about what we're thankful for over the years to come!

Wednesday, December 4

Banana Oatmeal Cookies

This morning me and the littlest munchkin made 31 cookies from a new recipe ... we had lots of fun. A little over 4 hours later there are now only 4 left in the kitchen ... an indication of the yumminess! There was no question as to whether this recipe is a keeper or whether it was something I would be sharing! (Just for the record, we did have visitors this afternoon, we didn't eat them all ourselves!)

It was a cookie we'd eater a couple of months ago at a friends house here in Dodoma and thought was delicious ... so really today was just confirmation of something we already knew! What I did notice mid-mixing was that it can be a dairy-free recipe, which is something that I mentioned I was searching for recently ... to stretch our repetoire for a friend here who is lactose intolerant!

We added chocolate chips this time (not for the lactose intolerant!), but walnuts and or raisins I think would taste equally as yummy ... I feel another batch coming on!

So here's the Banana Oatmeal Cookies recipe ...
  • 1 very ripe banana
  • 1/2 cup canola/vegetable oil
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla essence
  • 3/4 cup flour
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon
  • 2 cups oats
  • 1/4 cup chocolate chips/walnuts/raisins
  1. Mash banana well in a bowl
  2. Add oil, sugar, vanilla and mix
  3. Add flour, baking soda, salt and cinnamon until just moistened.
  4. Add oats and walnuts/chocolate chips/raisins and mix well (If dough is slippery add extra flour)
  5. Roll into balls - smaller than a golf ball (with wet hands), flatten and place on prepared baking sheets 2 inches apart ... it is a bit fiddly!
  6. Bake 10-12 minutes until lightly browned at 175/350/GM4
  7. Cool for 2 minutes then transfer to a rack
We made about 30 cookies with these ingredients but ... just remember though one batch might not be enough!

Wednesday, November 27

Our Little Black Book

When I first met my hubby, he had a 'little black book' which made me a chuckle a lot! It had all his names and addresses in ... not just a list of his ex-girlfriends, as in the past it might have done!! Now we have our own Little Black Book that we use right here in Dodoma. This one is a little different though.

As a white person in Tanzania you are automatically perceived as having great wealth. While there is a small percentage of the population who are wealthy, the truth is, compared to most here we probably do have more money. 

Reconciling that with everyday life isn't always straight forward. We are able to buy more than a lot of nationals, have bigger more comfortable homes, drive around in our own cars ... the list goes on. What we have is minimal to our peers back home ... yet some of our friends here in Tanzania and those we interact with everyday see it as luxury they cannot ever begin to envisage for themselves. Which leaves us living in an in-between world!

It is inevitable when you work somewhere like Dodoma that you will be asked for money ... from beggars on the street, from people who come to your gate or even from people you know, but in that case, usually for a loan. My house Mama was surprised when she learned that our income comes from churches, family, friends and supporters across the world and we don't actually earn big sums of money ourselves!

Yesterday, I surprised a couple of Tanzanian friends when I refused to see a blind man at our gate. Not because I didn't care but because I knew that he would be asking for money and in the last couple of months I had already given him something for various issues. As a family we are happy to help (and often do) but are trying to be careful that we are not the only source of income or become relied upon.

Which brings me to our 'Little Black Book'. We knew in advance that we would be asked for loans and wanted to make sure we are able to assist in a way that was both practical and helpful. Here are a couple of things that we decided and also took advice from others early on ... so there could be no misunderstanding. 
  • In the first 6 months of being here we said 'No' to any loan requests ... we wanted to set a precedent, take time to decide what was best for us and also didn't want to look like a soft touch. 
  • We have set a low maximum limit (which in western terms isn't much but here can go a long way and yet would still be returnable)
  • We always say we will discuss it with each other before agreeing (usually it's me who is approached as I have the Swahili, although sometimes it's Mark!)
  • The person has to have a specific reason/need for the loan
  • They must tell us how and when they will return it
  • The loan is written down in the book and signed for
  • They will not be lent anything more until the loan has been returned in full

It's not rocket science and we haven't lent out to the whole world. The sums of money are minimal (at least in our eyes) and so far the loans have all been honoured. At the same time we have been able to help people in a time of need and make sure that they and their families are looked after ... and it has built trust and relationships too.

If you are planning to move to, or already live in a culture where you will be asked for money on a regular basis ... be ready, set your own boundaries (they might not look like any of ours) ... but make sure you set them. It will cause a lot less stress later on, I can promise you!

Monday, November 25

Early Mornings

Are you a morning person?! Or does that early morning chirpy thing drive you mad ... and find you reaching for the snooze button or the coffee mug?!

The significance of mornings changes over time, situation and it would seem over cultures!

A friend of mine, parent of a 2 year old, recently shared this status on Facebook ...
'As a teenager a good sleep would involve me getting up around mid day. Now I'm grateful if I can get to 8-9am'
Something I can totally relate to. While Abigail slept like a dream as a baby, her little sister hasn't quite followed in her footsteps. A lie-in would be a dream and just chilling with a book without falling asleep after a page or two would be great! I know it's just a 'season' and I'll be dragging the girls out of bed in a few years time. In the meantime I'll try to enjoy them at whatever time of day they greet me!

The girls aside ... here in Dodoma, the early morning call to prayer from the local mosque often wakes me up sometime after 5am. If it doesn't, then as soon as the sun comes up the wildlife definitely makes themselves known (it's as if someone just flicks a switch) ... as does the population of the Dodoma. 

A lot of people here have no electricity, so waking hours are determined by the hours of sunlight. As we're so close to the equator it is between 5.30 and 6.30 morning and evening for sun-up and sun-down all year round. So that is when the day begins!

Once you get into the swing of it, it's not all that bad. Bed-time just shifts earlier to compensate, which is why the 'Missionary Midnight' is universally known as 9pm. Honestly there are nights when 9pm can feel like the early hours of the morning and you feel like such a light-weight when you check your watch to find that back in the 'real world' you would still be going for another couple of hours!

Now we're in the hotter part of the year (although to be fair all year round is hot by UK standards!) I see the benefits of being an early riser. With no air-conditioning or ceiling fans and having to get on with the day-to-day ordinary stuff, the most productive time of day for me is the morning-time ... so extending mornings, even if it is by starting them earlier has got to be a bonus! The afternoon's can often be a total write-off!

There are still mornings when I don't want to get up ... but I don't often get a choice from my cheeky girlies anyway and if I don't get going, there is so much that wouldn't get done. It makes perfect sense to just fit into the local culture and get on with it! This is definitely our season of early mornings!

Thursday, November 14

Marshmallow Pavlova

Cooking out here produces all kinds of culinary challenges ... sourcing items for familiar recipes is something I have shared about already.

When you are on hospitality for people who are gluten-free, dairy-free or vegetarian (or any other combination!) it pushes you one step further, but as per usual, I'm always up for the challenge, to extend the boundaries of my recipe collection one step further! 

Recently we hosted someone who is dairy-free and while I'm happy to serve up the easy fruit salad option for dessert, I wanted to try something new and something that has been on my recipe 'to try' list for years!

As a child I used to LOVE eating pavlova's but was never a fan of the cream on top ... so would just have the meringue and fruit! (For future reference, I'm happy to enjoy it with the cream and anything else on top nowadays!!) It made perfect sense then for me to serve the meringue, cream and fruit in three separate bowls for everyone to take and enjoy the bits they could eat, so that it would work for my dairy-free guest! (When you see 'cream' read 'dream topping' ... real cream is not available here unless you skim off the top of your milk once it's been boiled and slowly collect it!)

A pavlova is not rocket science to make, I have just never got around to trying it. Having done it once (breaking my own, don't try out a new recipe on dinner guests rule!) and finding that it was super delicious in spite of my dodgy oven, we've enjoyed it a few more times since!

I'm a big fan of the Australian Women's Weekly Recipe Books. The recipes always seem to work first time and so far we haven't been disappointed by any I've tried. I have their Cheesecakes, Pavlovas and Trifles mini book ... and opted to try their 'Marshmallow Pavlova' recipe as opposed the classic one and it was SSSSOOOOOOO good ... the photo above is really a pavlova that we made and ate! Yum ... so here it is, as I have since promised several dinner guests the recipe!
  • 4 eggs whites
  • 1 cup caster sugar
  • 1T cornflour
  • 1t white vinegar
  • cream/dream topping equivalent
  • fruit/chocolate shavings ... whatever topping you want
  1. Beat eggs whites in a small bowl (an electric mixer makes the process a LOT quicker and easier!) until soft peaks form.
  2. Gradually add sugar, beating until dissolved after additions.
  3. Fold in cornflour and vinegar.
  4. Line baking tray with baking paper and spread meringue in a circle. For best results do not squash or flatten but shape side up and in towards the centre like a mound. Make furrows up the side of the meringue using a small spatula and level the top.
  5. Bake in a very slow over for about 1 1/4 hours or until dry, Turn oven off and leave in while the oven cools, (My dodgy oven only needs about half an hours cooking!!!)
  6. Top with cream and whatever other yumminess you want!

Sunday, November 10

What DO you do?

Recently I have been asked several times what exactly I do out here in Tanzania. We're with MAF. Mark fixes the planes. So how do I spend my time?

I have been asked via email by people we don't know but who follow our news. I have been asked by friends that I used to hang out with while we lived in the States. I was even asked by new friends out here who don't live on our side of town. 

I think the assumption is that I don't do very much ... maybe just shop for food, cook it and look after the kids. I don't even have to clean as we have a Mama who comes in to do that. One lady here in Dodoma asked me if I was bored or lonely living on a compound with only one other family. Yeah right!!

I used to think much the same when I lived here before, that the MAF wives were 'busy doing nothing'! Just this last week I've had several different people asking me to do things for them and while I always try to help out, I've had to say no ... I just don't have the time at the moment!

I've shared before what I get up to out here for MAF and within the family in general terms. But I thought it would be interesting just to list what I have been doing, both for myself and for those of you who were wondering, what exactly it is that I do do out here! None of it is mind-blowing, none of it is particularly difficult, none of it is that different to what any other mum out here (or back home for that matter!) would do in a normal week ... it is just the nitty gritty of my life!

So here goes, just some of the things I have got up to over the last 8 days ...
  • Shopping trip to the market
  • Written a couple of cards to friends
  • Played jigsaws and board games with the kids
  • Watched a couple of movies and a few episodes of different TV series on DVD
  • Went to church
  • Did hospitality 4 times, twice because we had to for MAF and twice because we chose to
  • Went swimming twice (once on my own, once with the family)
  • Spent a couple of hours at the school taking photos and started editing them
  • Shopping to some of the duka's
  • Compiling the MAF Tz programme weekly news bulletin
  • Kept up to date with emails (ish!)
  • Had a Skype call/meeting with the current MMS Apprentice Wives group
  • Did four lots of exercise
  • Taught Naomi to play snap
  • 5 loads of washing
  • Fell asleep reading my book every night!!
  • Wrote the agenda for a meeting, took notes in the meeting (which took place in the compound of a local mosque), wrote up the minutes
  • Went out for lunch once
  • Did the school run on the MAF bus three times
  • Tried a couple of new recipes
  • Listened to Abigail doing her daily reading for school
  • Updated 2 different Facebook pages
  • Arranged and supervised a couple of playdates
  • Baked for and co-hosted a staff prayer meeting at our house
  • Caught up with some friends
  • Updated three pages on the school website
  • Went to a Bible Study
  • Had one afternoon siesta
  • Learnt some new Swahili words
  • Arranged a couple of meetings for over the next few weeks
  • Started our online Christmas shopping

You might be under the impression that life is very different out here as a missionary but so much of it is just 'normal' everyday, mum stuff (just in a different setting, climate and sometimes a different language!) ... sorry if I have shattered any illusions you might have but this is a snapshot of the reality!!

Wednesday, November 6

The Best Thing

This month's guest post is from another missionary mum and MAF wife, Sarah Newnham, living in East Africa (like me!), but this time in Kampala, Uganda. Sarah and her husband, also Mark, went through the MMS programme in Ohio just like we did and have already completed the required 8 years service with MAF following that. I'm pleased to say they have chosen to continue their service with MAF. We had the chance to meet them/hang out with them/pick their brains (!!) with their eldest 2 children a few years ago when they revisited the MMS programme. Today she shares some thoughts living on the mission field both as a child herself and as a mother. You can read their family blog here.

I am a Missionary Mum but I am also an MK (missionary kid). I think we are often misunderstood and no one fully understands where we are coming from, except other MK’s. One thing that can usually be said about us is that we grow up with transition and the feeling that no one place is quite ‘home’. At the age of 22, I had lived in around 30 houses.

So in 2000, just a year after getting married, when Mark & I began our journey into missions I think I envisaged that life would continue to be one of transitions. That was OK. I enjoyed going to new places, meeting new people and travelling and after all, the other name for MAF is ‘Move Again Friend’! 

We lived in Ohio, USA for three years while Mark trained as an aircraft engineer and we then began serving with MAF in Uganda in 2005. I really thought that after a few years we would be moving on to a new location, but here we are eight years later, still living in Uganda. 

Why? The simple answer is that this is where God wants us to be and we don’t yet feel he is asking us to move. However, there are several reasons and this lack of transition has not always been easy for me to deal with. I am an MK/third culture kid after all … moving is what I am good at. The thought of moving home, particularly to another country, may fill most of you with fear and anxiety but I find it quite exciting. 

Several years ago, we were offered the opportunity to move. I would have loved to go, as the post on offer would have taken us to the country where my parents were serving as missionaries. How wonderful it would be to live near my mum and dad but Mark was not ready for all the new role would entail. How I willed it to be different and yet, deep down I knew I had to accept what was best for Mark. He needed to gain more experience here in Uganda. 

One of the best things that has come out of living in Uganda is that this is where two of our children come from. Mark & I were unable to have our own children and God blessed us with two amazing children that we have adopted here. Amy & Joshua are now 7 and 6 years old. Just last year we had a biological child, Abigail. They are each miracles in their own way but that is another whole story in itself! 

While I cope well with transition, we have one child in particular who does not. I may struggle to think of anywhere as ‘home’ but this is most definitely ‘home’ for Amy & Joshua. Uganda is the country they come from, the only place they have ever lived and it has become clear to us how important it is for them in building their identity that they know something of this beautiful country and culture for themselves. They are one of the reasons we have not moved on. 

There are times that it seems like a sacrifice for me to stay in one place but I realise that God is doing it for a couple of reasons ... 

It is the best thing for my whole family right now. As a mum, I want what is best for my children and right now that is stability. God wants what is best for us and a happy/well adjusted family will last far longer on the mission field. 

It is the best thing for me. I have realised that it is tough staying in one place. It is simply easier for me to be the one who moves on to new places and challenges but staying put and being the one left behind is hard for me. I have had to say many good byes to close friends and colleagues this year. I still grieve at times but God wants me to grow in this area of trusting him when I am the one left behind. The experience is drawing me closer to the One who remains the same and is always there, Jesus, and I am thankful for this season of my life in which God is teaching me to make transitions, in terms of building new friendships and finding new things to do even when I am still in the same location.

Friday, November 1

Something New

Living within a smaller community of people in a culture that's different from that which you're used to, means that you get to know each other quite well reasonably quickly. 

People come and people go ... yes, even though we've only been here 8 months we've seen many people and families in both categories. But in some respects we're still getting to know a lot of them as we're relatively new out here!

Here are some of my 'new' friends. They are from all over the world ... New Zealand, Australia, Holland, Switzerland, South Africa, England!

It never ceases to amaze me when I begin to think that I know someone reasonably well and then find something unexpected about them or their family, both here and amongst friends I've known for years. Like last week when I found out that as a child one of my friends tied a sibling to a telegraph pole for a couple of hours. Or last month when the husband of another friend said that on their first date she had told him up front that she most definitely never wanted children, they're now happily married with four children and she is broody for more!

There is always an opportunity to learn new things about people. Even when you have known someone for years there is always something new to discover. Just last weekend I discovered that my husband who I have seen almost every day since we first met back in September 2005, 8 years ago, can be quite particular when it comes to washing up ... what made me laugh was that it was something that I am also quite particular about too!!

I love the chance we have to get to know people from all over the world, being based in Dodoma, getting to know not only something of them but also of their cultures too. As I said because of the nature of life here, you get to know people quicker and deeper. It's definitely one of the bonuses when you give up so many other things to live and work in a missionary context ... making the effort to spend time and get to know people is well worth it and also because on another level they become your support and your family!

Wednesday, October 30


If you are a mum and were asked to 'describe yourself as a mother' what do you think you would say?

  • Good most of the time?
  • Need more patience?
  • My kids best friend?
  • Should really take more time to spend with my children?

What do you think your children would say? (Are you inwardly cringing now? Thinking Uh-Oh, what exactly would they say?)

I know this isn't my normal style of post but after a crazy couple of days in our house (which thankfully have settled down now!) I thought I would share this link ... because actually none of us are doing too bad a job at the end of the day!! Be encouraged ... it's all about perspective!

Click HERE to watch the short 3 minute clip.

Monday, October 28

Not the Best Start

Today is Monday. I love Mondays ... to get myself into the rhythm of the week, to clear up after the weekend. I've mentioned before that I try and keep the day clear to catch up with myself and often find that they turn into bumbling Mondays but as Naomi favourite saying at the moment is 'That OK'!! If the week starts off on the right foot, it's always seems to be a better week for me. 

Today I got going well, managed to get a few things done for me and for MAF. Popped into town had lunch ready for Mark when he came home and a few other bits and bobs. As the afternoon progressed though, Naomi got quieter and quieter and snugglier and snugglier, without being fidgety ... totally out of character.

By mid-afternoon my Facebook status had changed to ...
"Poorly little girl ... time to pull-up my mummy pants, roll-up my sleeves, cancel all plans and just get on with it! Let me hear an A-men from all you mummy's out there!"
Now, it is the middle of the night and we're sitting on the sofa (with me fighting to keep my eyes open and hoping to avoid the mosquitos!) watching kiddie movies waiting for the next bowlful of sick to appear! Not quite how I'd planned my week to begin ... but it is what it is!!

Motherhood is not in the least bit glamourous but you take what comes and  just get on with it, however much you do or don't want to deal with any given situation. Right now I'd like to curl back up in bed and not crawl out until everyone is fit and healthy again. Instead I'm surrounded by the lingering aroma of sick and am hoping and praying that, one, it passes super quick and two, that no-one else comes down with it!

I guess there's something within all parents, both mummy's and daddy's, that kicks into gear at times like this. However tired or uninspired we feel by the situation, an overriding ability to push through and cope with it for as long as we need to, to help or protect our children just clicks into place and keeps us going. Later on we can find the time and energy to catch-up with everything we've missed out on including sleep ... putting the munchkins first while they need it, is the priority!

So, that's how my week has started! You may or may not hear from me again this week depending on how it all goes!!

Wednesday, October 23

Bored Games

When I was little we used to play board games and read books. TV only had 4 channels, mobile phones didn't exist and computers were just beginning to emerge but most people didn't own one. We would hang out at friends houses, ride bikes or head over to the local park and get up to all kinds of things but none of it required technology and most of it involved quality time with the people you were closest to!

Re-reading that, it almost makes me sound really old. I'm not ... it's just that the world has moved on a generation or two and times are different. Luckily for my girls, life here in Dodoma is a little bit like hitting the rewind button and sending them back to the days of my childhood!

As the years have passed, I think even I got a little out of touch with joys of board games ... relegating them to the 'bored' games category. Outdated, cheesy, something you do with your family but only at Christmas and only then because 'that's what you're meant to do'!! I know that's not the case for everyone but it's a particular type of person/family who play board games regularly ... and guess what? Living where we are, doing what we're doing, we are now officially that type of family!!! 

In our preparations for life out here, one thing we spent a little bit of time looking into, wandering down the aisles in toy departments comparing, asking friends about, looking on Amazon, was for good board games. Not the first thing you necessarily think of when talking about packing up to go overseas as a missionary but something that we have found has been the basis of much fun and laughter and the source of many new friendships and memories already ... and definitely many more to come!

Here's some of the games that we've been enjoying, in no particular order, both traditional and a little different ... Pictionary Man (see photo!), Scrabble, 221b Baker Street, Blokus, Bananagrams, Cluedo, Carcassonne, Settlers of Catan, Snakes and Ladders, Ludo, the list goes on.

I honestly can't recommend a good 'old-fashioned' evening of board games enough now that I've rediscovered them. It's a regular occurrence for us now and if the tears of laughter that I experienced on Saturday evening are anything to go by ... then long may they continue!

Monday, October 21

Revisiting Old Recipes

Life continues to be about sharing time with people over food here in Dodoma.

Thursday evening we had four dinner guests for hospitality, one from the UK, one from the States, one from Holland and one from Sweden! All here in Dodoma to do different things for MAF. On Friday we went out for dinner in town with another MAF family who are from Australia. Saturday, we invited some of the teachers from Abigail's school round to catch up for the afternoon and evening. And yesterday, Sunday, we out for lunch, just the four of us.

One thing that I've found that I have been doing recently is revisiting some of the recipes that I used to make while I lived here before and was taught by various missionary friends. For some unknown reason I haven't used a lot of them in the twelve years since then!

At the end of last week, while Abigail was on school holiday's and Naomi was fast asleep. Abigail enjoyed trying out another one of these recipe's with me, Lemon Bars ... cooking still being one of her favourite pastimes. They went down a treat with some of our visitors over the weekend!

  • 1 cup flour
  • 1/2 cup margarine/butter
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 2 eggs - beaten til light and fluffy
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2T self-raising flour (or 2T flour + 1/4t baking powder)
  • 1/4t salt
  • 2-3T lemon juice
  1. Combine first 3 ingredients (flour, marge, sugar)
  2. Press into 9x9 pan
  3. Bake 350/180 for 20 mins
  4. Combine remaining 5 ingredients (eggs, sugar, flour, salt, lemon juice)
  5. Pour over hot crust
  6. Bake for a further 25 mins until crust is lightly brown
  7. Cool, cut and serve!
Although we didn't do it this time and they taste delicious either way ... you can also make a glaze (from 1/2 cup of icing/powdered sugar and 1-2T lemon juice, blending till smooth) and drizzle it over the cooled bars before cutting and serving!

Friday, October 18

The "Long-Term" Missionary

Today I want to introduce you to a friend that I have got to know since returning to Tanzania. Rachel Morgan works for SIL translating the Bible here in Dodoma, in the Rangi language. (In fact, her offices are right next door to our house!) She is from America, married to an Englishman, they have a gorgeous 3 year old son who is from Taiwan and they all live and work as missionaries in Tanzania. A truly international family! Rachel is a self-proclaimed blog stalker but doesn't write one of her own. Today however I managed to convince her to write a post for me!

The single most challenging thing I face as a missionary is the constant flux of people who come in and out of my life. I have been a missionary in Tanzania for almost 6 years and that is definitely considered a “long term” missionary where we live. I can’t even count the number of close relationships that I have developed in those 6 years. However, sadly, most of those people are no longer living here in Tanzania and some are no longer missionaries. You are probably asking, “why are so many people coming and going.” I think the answer to that is that being a missionary is hard. It is hard being away from family and the culture you are familiar with. It is hard working with people who have a different worldview and language.

There are 3 types of missionaries:
  1. Short-termers - These are the people who come for 2 weeks - 1 year. I enjoy this group of people as it adds a bit of flavor and social variety to the scene. These people I enjoy because they are so passionate about what they come to do and find it all such an adventure. These people are full of questions and I love showing them the ropes of culture and language. However, lately I find myself wondering whether or not I should invest in those friendships given they are going to leave.
  2. Planned Career Missionaries - There are people who, for one reason or other aren’t able to stay long-term. This is the most challenging group of people for me. These are the missionaries who say they will stay for many years and then suddenly, they leave. The reasons for leaving are vast: illness, stress, broken relationships, challenges in working with national partners. These are the people that I go deep with fast and then end up feeling a tremendous loss when they leave. These people are committed to the work but circumstances change for them and they have to leave.
  3. Long Term Missionaries - These are the people who stay for 5+ years. The interesting thing about this group of people is, that it's the people you don’t think will stay for a long time. Often this group of people struggle a lot up on arrival, but end up staying for a long time.

I am a self proclaimed extrovert. I absolutely love being with people and despise being alone. The challenge for me is the pain I feel when people leave. I keep telling myself I won’t get close to people unless they are long term but I never know if they will be.

Fortunately missionary friends are not the only friends I have, I also have a few very close Tanzanian friends. These relationships sustain me in a lot of ways. God provides for us with “family” when we don’t have our families near us.

I think it is important for friends and family back “home” to understand what their missionary friends feel about relationships. We love our friends back home, and yet we feel so far away from them. Cards, packages, and emails mean so much to missionaries.

To brighten their day, send an email of encouragement to your missionary friends. It will cross the distance and encourage them in so many ways!

Wednesday, October 16

Just Hanging Out

This morning I got to spend some time with Esta, one of my favourite Tanzanians ever! She has been the secretary at CAMS, where I used to teach for the last 25 years. If you want to know anything about anything to do with the school, she always has and always will be the person to ask!

Unbelievably we've been living here for 8 months already and for one reason or another, commitments and other stuff on both sides, it's taken this long for us to get together and 'catch up'. It was a privilege I never imagined would be possible when I left Dodoma back in 2001 and I'm still so grateful that the way things have worked out, I'm actually getting to spend time with good Dodoma friends all over again!

While we used to have a working relationship, Esta also used to come to my house once a week and help me with my Swahili, while I helped her with her English. To be honest though most week's we would just dissolve into a fit of giggles over pronunciations and expressions that one or other of us couldn't quite get right. In the 12 years since I left, we have tried to keep in touch via snail mail and email ... although chatting today it seems that the majority of my snail mail letters never actually got through.

But nothing beats having a face-to-face friendship! We had the chance to share news of our families. Her youngest son, who was the first baby I ever carried strapped on my back with a kanga, is now in Form 3 and taller than me! I was able to show her photo's of what I've been up to and also via the wonders of the internet (more specifically Facebook) I was able to share with her photo's and news of some of the other teachers who used to work at CAMS when I was here before.

Moving somewhere new, there is always so much to learn, people to meet, friendships to build. One big plus for us as a family of MAF sending us to Dodoma, Tanzania was that I'd already lived here which made certain aspects of our transitions SO much easier than it could have been. Another big bonus, more specifically for me, has been being able to re-establish friendships with people I never thought I'd have the chance to see again this side of heaven and it feels wonderful!

Monday, October 14

Totally Surreal

This time last week, we had not long arrived in Dar Es Salaam ... the commercial capital of Tanzania. Dodoma is the actual capital but to be honest it doesn't have much to show for itself!

When I lived here before I only visited Dar a couple of times. On a teachers budget and without transport of my own it wasn't very practical. But even so, it was a real treat and a taste of the 'real world'!

I was really surprised to find just how far it had all moved on since my last visit about 12 years ago. A choice of great restaurants, supermarkets, shops, resort hotels, even a shopping mall ... the list goes on! Some I was able to revisit, some try for the first time and others note down for future trips. In fact, today I set up a Dar Es Salaam board on Pinterest so I don't forget before our next visit, although to be fair a lot of places don't have great websites if at all!

To be honest it felt totally surreal to be there. Waking up to the view below. In some kind of paradise bubble!

After 7 months of living in Dodoma. With a choice of only a couple of (western!) restaurants and just a handful of tiny food and stationary shops that are worth frequenting regularly to find ourselves in a big city surrounded by the more familiar trappings of a 'western' lifestyle felt fun, excessive, wonderful, strange, unnecessary, indulgent, relaxing ... and so many other things. A real mix of emotions. More so than a usual holiday, by far!

We ate in a Subway sandwich bar one lunchtime ... could have been in one of many different countries after we walked in through the door! I bought a 'Mainstays' ladle in one store ... Walmart's finest budget range! And a Jamie Oliver cookbook in another! Every supermarket we walked into had a wider range of Brit goodies than anywhere we went when we lived in Ohio! It really was just the strangest feeling!

Some aspects were a little more sobering though. We went to Mlimani City, Tanzania's largest shopping mall. (To my US and UK readers, think small shopping mall ... living in Dodoma for the majority of the year though it was pretty impressive for us!) As we drove into the carpark we had our car searched and as we walked into the mall itself we were searched, men on the left, ladies on the right. A direct consequence of the horrible situation in Nairobi just a few weeks ago. It reminded us that even though things felt familiar, the reality was actually very different.

We had a great time and are looking forward to going down to Dar again, to both stock up and indulge. It makes knowing that although things in Dodoma are relatively basic, the other stuff is within reach and ready for us to enjoy at a later date. In some ways coming back to Dodoma feels even more weird now knowing that just 8 hours drive away life would be so different. When it involves moving to another country/culture you expect there to be differences but when it is all 'just down the road' it seems all the more strange somehow ... more like a dream!

Friday, October 11

Road Trip!

Today, for the second time this week, as a family, we went on an eight hour road trip!

Nothing is close-by here. Dodoma has the basic stuff, it's not totally rural but it's not like 'home' either ... whatever that is anymore! To get to somewhere that vaguely resembles the majority of our UK or US life experience to date we have to drive for a whole day!

The scenery is both breath-taking and heart breaking. Amazing vista's and landscapes, mountains, dry dust devils, lush palms, small businesses, mud huts. You see wealth and poverty, thriving businesses and people striving to make a living. There isn't a stretch of road where you won't find someone walking from A to B ... even when there is no obvious A or B for miles around! We even saw a random pig wandering across the road at one point.

The traffic is quite something else too! You can drive for 5 or 10 minutes without seeing anything or anyone ... then there are stretches when multiple crazy kamikaze bus drivers try to overtake you in the face of other oncoming crazy kamikaze drivers! Loooonnnnnnggggg stretches of the road are straight but you can be assured that the only time you need to overtake anyone there will be blind bends and limited visibility! 

The speed bumps are quite something else (a more recent addition from when I last lived here) ... some of them are seriously vicious! The state of the road itself always makes me chuckle! It's a main road, or should I say the only road from Dar Es Salaam the commercial capital of Tanzania to the actual capital, Dodoma. However, for the most part, you would be forgiven for not recognizing it as such!

For us as a family it is out route 'out'! To escape the dust of Dodoma, the small close community, the humdrum of the basic every day stuff ... even if it is just for a few days. This week the girls were superstars the whole way there and back which is just as well as this journey is going to get incredibly familiar! Not one of the pluses of living here but not all that bad either ... you just have to get on with it, especially as that is our main route in and out of the country when it comes to airports both for us and for visitors!

Friday, October 4


One thing that you cannot escape from here in Dodoma is the dust. 

Today during sports day at school, we got to experience some of Dodoma's finest dust first hand!

It really is everywhere. 

You see it swirling around on a regular basis.

Everything in the house has a thin layer of dust and requires constantly wiping down ... yes it really is that bad! You put a piece of paper on your desk one day and it's covered in a grainy layer the next.

In the background, you're always aware of the sound of someone sweeping the dust from one spot to the other on the side of the road. It seems to be a pastime of local people!

Naomi has already got into the habit of 'asking' for the car windows to be closed when we drive on the roads that have no tarmac by bellowing 'DUST ... close windows ... NOW'!

It often gets in your hair and sometimes in your mouth and everything just gets SO grubby as a result of it!

There are times when life goes on and you just get on with it. There are times when the dust just drives you crazy. But it is there and there is nothing you can do about it! I'm very grateful to have help about the house because dusting has never been a favourite pastime and to have to do it multiple times each week (you do really have to!) would drive me potty and there are so many other things to get on with.

Dust is part of our reality here, not something you first think of when you prepare for life overseas ... but the girls are making the most of it, they love to draw pictures in it with sticks, check out what patterns the sole's of their shoes make, Abigail practices her spelling words, the list goes on! It seems that not everyone finds it frustrating ... there really is a positive side to everything!

Friday, September 27


A week ago today, after 7 months of living here and 9 months after we sold our last vehicle in the States ... we finally got our Tanzanian car!

It has been a long, frustrating and sometimes almost painful journey ... but we got there and ironically only a couple of hours after it arrived we were already changing our first flat tyre!

For the first month that we were here and the last week before the car arrived, we had no transport. As a family of 4 it has been quite restrictive. Having said that we have been overwhelmed by the generosity of three families in particular, who have lent us their cars.

Until 'our car' (still exciting to be able to say that!) arrived, I didn't realise just how much we felt held back without wheels of our own. Not knowing how long we would have to wait to get a car or whether we would have an alternative option when the owners of the borrowed ones needed their vehicle's returned. Not being able to plan ahead for trips. Not being able to leave stuff in the car. All small little stressors individually but amounting to a lot more that I had anticipated.

Now, a week on, it still feels like a novelty, to be able to go anywhere, at anytime, dump stuff in it and carry things around in the car that we always need (wipes/tissues etc) without feeling like we can't leave them in there. It feels SO good! It feels like a weight has been taken off my shoulders, one I never even realised was there! 

It may seem like something small and insignificant to you reading this, after all many people we know survive without a car. But during the settling in period especially, when there isn't great public transport here and we live on the other side of town to the shops, school, church and a lot of our friends, a car is a necessity, especially with 2 little ones.

Already in this last week since it arrived, we have booked a holiday, I've visited a local friend and ... I've just felt a freedom I didn't even realise I was missing!! So so so wonderful!

Wednesday, September 25

Life Skills

When preparing to move overseas on mission with a family there is SO much to consider and make sure you have made preparations for.

Visas, medicines, injections, contact addresses, appropriate clothing, language learning, the kind of culture you will soon be part of. The list really is endless!! Some of these things are just as relevant for short trips abroad but when you're committing to years of service or moving permanently to somewhere new, it is so much more involved.

Some missions have 'pre-field' training, some don't. Some people have theological training. Some study business models if helping with development. Some just come without studying at all!

I met my husband at All Nations Christian College. A Bible college, which specialises with 'Head, Heart and Hands' preparation all with a mission focus. All taught by tutors who have had experience in mission overseas, amongst students who have had varying levels of mission experience too.

We learned SO much there. Bible training, yes. Encouraged to grow spiritually, yes. But do you know which part has been of the most practical use ... the 'Hand' element, learning different life skills, things we take for granted because they are just available in the 'real world'. Photography and powerpoint for presentations and newsletters, basic dentistry, cross-cultural cooking, hairdressing, car maintenance ... and so much more. 

The day-to-day stuff was so useful and made me think a little bit out of the box when packing up to move too! Recently, I have been grateful for my knife block and my haircutting scissors. 

Meat gets presented to you in all shapes and forms, sometimes unidentifiable! Not pre-packed and cleaned with a label telling you exactly what it is ... sometimes it is a real guessing game, trial and error! I have to admit the quality of the meat that we've had has sometimes been better than what we could get in the UK and the States but my ability to deal with/cut up/prepare and cook different meats is really being stretched. I'm sure a beginners course in butchery would definitely be good preparation for life out here!

Having lived here for 7 months now, my hair has really grown. The nearest hairdresser is ... wait for it ... about 8 hours drive away!! So, this weekend I dug out my hair cutting scissors and got busy! The pile in the picture above was from 'Round 1' ... there were two more rounds after that! Grateful that my hair has a natural curl so that chip choppy cuts aren't too obvious, I was actually really pleased with myself once I finally stopped. My hair is a LOT shorter ... maybe even shorter than if I'd been to the hairdressers but it actually looks pretty good and I've had lot of compliments ... and surprised faces when I've admitted to doing it myself!!! (I didn't even do the hair-dressing course when we were at All Nations either!).

These are just two examples of the added extra's of life out here ... there are SO many. It certainly makes life interesting. You just have to take the attitude of giving anything a go. It may not always go quite as you imagine it will, but you have fun in the process and the learning curve is HUGE!

Friday, September 20

Living in the Dark Ages

In a world of technology, smart phones, ipads and ebooks ... At a time when I'm writing two blogs, managing two Facebook pages, updating one website with the possibility of helping with another ... I have a confession to make.

'Real' books, the ones where you have to physically turn the pages and are not back-lit ... notebooks, where you write with a pen or a pencil onto paper ... calendars and diaries that don't require you to key in your entries ... are all my biggest weakness. What can I say? I'm living in the dark ages and I don't care!

In some ways out here in Tanzania, not needing to be reliant on electricity, internet or a phone network for all that stuff is a definite bonus because none of them are reliable at all and are regularly on and off ... on and off, on and off!!

While I may own a smart phone, I also own a Filofax and use both. Although I have to admit the latter has been collecting dust over the last few months while life has been settling down. This week I finally cracked it open again to get myself back on track.

For the first time since we got here ... since the container arrived ... since Abigail started in Standard One ... since Naomi's molars settled down ... we are finally getting into our groove and I'm getting organised, the way I like it, the pen and paper way!!

I love the fact that technology and the internet help us keep in touch with the 'outside' world, especially living where we do. But I have never and will never switch to the 'dark side' and ditch the non-technological stuff completely! Give me a stationary shop anywhere and I can always find something to buy ... even here in Dodoma!