Friday, August 30

Three in the Bed!

Once again 'hats off' to all those single parents out there! I had my munchkins for just two nights and missed the teamwork that we manage as a couple! Mark has been away sitting exams in Dar Es Salaam. Sadly, for just an hour or two of exams it takes a whopping three days. One day there, one for the exams and one back!

The first morning without Daddy found three in the bed and the second morning, two ... but that was still one too many! I love my girlies but since moving to Tanzania having a child-free night is still a novelty. I know that they are settling into the rhythm and life, it is still all relatively new but I would be lying if I said I wasn't waiting for that 'I don't want to get out of bed' phase to start!!

Another addition to the equation is that we removed the side of Naomi's cot several week's ago (What a big girl!), so she can potentially get in and out on her own! Ironically, she has only actually climbed out to come and find us a couple of times and she has even lasted for a higher percentage of 'all-nighters' too, so we are moving in the right direction, even if it is very very slowly!!

Exuding patience to deal with the nighttime madness is not something that I can say we're always very good at! When our brains are fried anyway with the extra information we're processing, we're normally wiped out! And yet it's one of the rites of passage of parenthood that I'm sure all parents can understand! We may not make the wisest choices at times like that but we make the ones that enable us to survive and make it to another day ... and that's OK!

Luckily we have an enormous bed right now which means that it isn't a total squash if we are joined in the middle of the night (and without Mark here we had ample room), but both the girls definitely make their presence known, Fidget. Fidget. Fidget. I'm really hoping this 'phase' doesn't last forever!! ;)

Monday, August 26

Little Oasis

A couple of week's ago a new cafe opened in town! This was and still is BIG news.

Why? Because the number of places to go in Dodoma are minimal. In fact, you don't even need two hands to count the number of places there are to go for a coffee! And this place has juices, milk shakes, coffee's and some nibbles too!

When I lived here before, there was only really one place to out to for food (which incidentally, no longer exists!). There were also a very small number of wazungu (white people). If you saw someone in town who wasn't Tanzanian then you would know exactly who they were. Comforting and suffocating all at the same time!

Fast forward to today and there are lots of wazungu by comparison, both working here and just passing through. Slowly (very slowly!) the town is developing a handful of businesses to cater to them. Which means that those of us living here on a more permanent basis get to enjoy the benefits!

While I don't intend to 'live' in this new cafe, there is something nice about knowing it is there. Having somewhere that feels a little bit 'normal' and slightly less Tanzanian as a little oasis to escape too is SO nice! Below is a group of us who got together to celebrate a birthday there a few weeks ago (I'm hiding at the back)!

I love my life here and wouldn't change it for anything but it is a LOT more basic than anything we would be used to in the UK or the States ... and there is something really nice about having the familiar, just within reach!

Wednesday, August 21

Unexpected Time

As a parent, are there ever times when you look back on those carefree days of childlessness with just a little bit of longing? If you don't then you are amazing! 

Those lie-ins that really are lie-ins. Having a late night and not worrying that you will hear the pitter patter of tiny feet in the few hours sleep you have left, needing mummy or daddy for something. Holding a conversation without being interrupted so many times that you just abandon it altogether. Eating a meal without having to stop every mouthful to sort someone out with something or wipe up a mess! To be fair, the list really is endless!

Maybe it's just one of those 'seasons' that you go through ... especially when your munchkins are little like mine. I don't doubt that every stage has it's trials. Like trying to get teenagers to wake up and get going or those years when talking to mum and dad just isn't cool at all and getting a word or two out of them is a nightmare!

Getting quality time with the hubby just gets put on the back burner, while you're both bumbling through, muddling together, getting everything else done as parents. In fact, getting quality time out here with your spouse is something that both us and our friends with kids living in Dodoma know is difficult, one reason being that there isn't really anything to do or anywhere to go.

At the moment we get to the end of the day when both girls are asleep and all the bits and pieces that need doing are done and then we're too tired to do anything ... let alone hold a meaningful conversation! Which is why these last two lunchtimes have been a real bonus for us. Abigail now does a full day at school and Naomi has been fast asleep, leaving me and Mark a chance to actually grab some time together. Time to listen to what the other has been up to, talk through stuff that has been going on ... or just sit in silence enjoying each others company! 

It's almost been like a date ... two days in a row! Unbelievable! I love my children more than I can ever describe but having Mark all to myself these last two lunchtimes has been such an unexpected surprise! Little did we know, when we had all that time to ourselves on honeymoon (see photo below) that life would be so crazy all these years later! 

I wouldn't change our lives for anything but I will take the little snatches of time and windows of opportunity to spend with my hubby ... and now life has finally begun to settle down in some kind of routine for us, I for one, will be looking for more and more ways to make it happen!  

Monday, August 19

Over and Over Again

The newest book in our family collection arrived a couple of weeks ago. We all get excited over a new book whoever it's for! This one was for the munchkins. 

It's called 'A Royal Fairytale' and it is a Will and Kate romance complete with the introduction of their newest arrival! It was not a story that we were unfamiliar with. Not only because it's been all over the news, which it has (and we've heard it living on different continents) but also because we'd already read it.

The book is a spin-off from the Ink Robin Book App. Originally, 'A Royal Fairytale' told the story of Will and Kate falling in love and getting married and was their first book app. Ink Robin updated it on the imminent arrival of the newest member of the royal family. 

We have had the app for a long time ... and all their other ones too. The girls love them. They know all the bits to press, where all the fun stuff happens, when to interact and when to listen to the story. They loved getting the book and were quick to tell me what was different or new. To be honest, Naomi was a little disappointed that when she pressed the pages nothing happened! At two years old she wasn't quite clear as to where the ipad version ended and the hardcopy began ... that just amused me all the more!

What made us get into them in the first place? Well, we originally got our ipad because we didn't want to get left behind, so to speak, when we moved to deepest darkest Africa as missionaries! The world is moving forward so quickly we didn't want the girls to be at a disadvantage later on. Then our eyes were opened to a wealth of educational apps for the girls which they LOVE!

Why Ink Robin? Some of our favourite people are the brains behind it! And no, this is not a shameless plug because we know them. It is a shameless plug because we're so proud of them ... and because the girls can't get enough of their books, they just read them over and over and over again! I really can't recommend them enough! 

The only downside ... we only have one ipad and sometimes with two children and four eager hands, one is not enough!

Friday, August 16

Munchkin In Tow

So, tomorrow marks six months since we arrived here in Dodoma. Crazy but true. In some ways the time has flown by (we're still waiting for a car and permanent visas!) but in others it really feels like we've been here a lot longer!

Before we even arrived in Tanzania, I made my family a promise. One that expires tomorrow. I promised that I wouldn't get involved in anything until we'd been here for six months. I made that promise for many reasons but the main one was to ensure that the family were properly settled first. A happy family is more likely to last the distance on the mission field and our commitment to MAF is a long one!

Of course, there have been the necessary MAF roles which I have taken on. Hospitality and a couple of admin roles. Over the last month or so, it has been necessary to take on a few more roles due to the absence of most of the other MAF wives for one reason or another. Let me tell you, with the container arriving, Abigail being off school for the holidays and all these other roles being landed in my lap, life has been more than hectic. I haven't even had the time to think of agreeing to anything else!

One thing that I have found slightly strange about being in Dodoma, the second time round has been not being a part of the school. It was my whole life when I was last here! With Naomi still being at home with me for another year and me choosing to put her first, I am limited as to what I can agree to do anywhere, but especially at the school.

After some thought over the school break, I realised one area of the school that was lacking was their website. I was really excited to find that they had one initially. But it had only 2 photos, cut off sentences, differing fonts in the same paragraph and actually wasn't all that helpful or pleasing on the eye!

So, here I am, earlier this week ... 

... taking photos at the school to update and hopefully improve the website. Something I can mostly do from home but still be a lot of use to the school. Something I can do with a munchkin in tow!

You can find the CAMS site here ( For reasons I won't bore you with, some of the main changes will take a while. But in the meantime I have tweaked a lot of little things and added a whole heap of photos. (Let me know what you think and anything I can improve on!)

Web design has been something I've wanted to get into for a while now, so it is a learning process for me as well as a helpful project for the school. One I am really enjoying.

Who knows what else I will get involved in out here after my promise expires tomorrow?!

Monday, August 12

We Wait

Today I would like to introduce you to Ingrid, a fellow missionary mum. This mum is a little different from the other one's who have shared on the blog so far, as I have never actually met her. Like many other of my readers, she found The Missionary Mum while searching on the internet. She is married to a Brit, has two sons and they are currently preparing to move from New Zealand to work in the highlands of Papua New Guinea as a family. Right now they are in a time of waiting for visas, just like us. Ingrid also writes her own blog at Jeans and Pink Jandals

For many the call to the mission field is a call to sacrifice, isolation, hardship, blessing, faith, and patience. Some I know have prepared and waited years and years to go after they were called. Some wait for Government departments or visa’s for months, in our case for a pitiful 5 months and it feels like torture. December 2012, we were called. January 2013, we visited. February 2013, we were invited and said yes, and now we wait. 

We live in a state of limbo. Drawn to a place we want to be, a place we believe God wants us to be, yet still having to live our lives in the country we call home. And still we wait. Our mission agency policy isn’t to pay bribes, they feel called to be counter cultural to the corruption that exist within this developing country. And I agree, in theory, but in practise, I just want to get there. I don’t want them to pay bribes either, but this waiting is hard.

As we started this year, we were so full of excitement at what this year would hold, and after months of not hearing anything, and knowing this tick we are wanting from the government is only the first of many, the excitement is waning. Our expectations went from 8 weeks to get there, to months and months of excruciating waiting. Our friends who have been there, smile and tell us this is good training for life in a developing country, learning patience, understanding corruption, knowing nothing happens in a hurry. This is our training ground. 

With our call still fresh and our excitement waning, I searched in my concordance to seek what the Word of God said about the word ‘wait’. What I unearthed was food for a hungry soul and hydration for drying lips.
  • Psalm 27:14 Wait for the LORD; be strong, and let your heart take courage; wait for the LORD! 
  • Psalm 37:7 Be still before the LORD and wait patiently for him; fret not yourself over the one who prospers in his way, over the man who carries out evil devices! 
  • Psalm 38:15 But for you, O LORD, do I wait; it is you, O Lord my God, who will answer. 
  • Psalm 62:5 For God alone, O my soul, wait in silence, for my hope is from him.
  • Isaiah 40:31 but they who wait for the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint.
  • Habakkuk 2:3 For still the vision awaits its appointed time; it hastens to the end--it will not lie. If it seems slow, wait for it; it will surely come; it will not delay.
Our call is to obedience, and as the Word says, we wait for the appointed time, we can trust as the LORD is the author of time. Just because we are to ‘fret not’, be patient and hope in Him, doesn’t make it easy, it only makes it do-able.

If you are a missionary mum and would also be interested in contributing an article, please contact me at

Friday, August 9

Photo Memories

Yesterday I was unpacking some more bits and pieces. There are only boxes with bits and pieces left now ... so it's becoming a much slower and sometimes very frustrating process!

What I stumbled across yesterday though, were some old photos of when I used to live and work here in Dodoma, as a single girlie with no hubby or munchkins! It was fun to flick through them and see places and some people that are once again becoming part of my daily life!

Today I was showing my House Mama some photos I'd taken of her and her family from back then. She was really interested to see them and pleased to find that I still had them and that they were special to me.

A bit more rummaging and I found a selection of photos that I was really interested to see. Those that were taken on the evening of my twenty-third birthday (see below).

Why you ask, were these particular photos of interest to me? After I'd moved back here with my family, certain things became more and more familiar to me ... including our house. 

After a couple of emails backwards and forwards to friends who used to live here with me before, I realised that I actually now live in the very house that I celebrated my twenty-third birthday in. So, the photos above were taken in my current living room all those years ago!! It all looks a lot different now! 

If you'd told me back then that I would be living in that same house thirteen years later with a MAF husband and two daughters, I probably would have laughed very hard. I have often found that God has a sense of humour though ... so he was probably laughing back then knowing what was to come!

Today we have got some of the current teachers coming round for dinner. Who knows if any of them will come back in thirteen years time and make this house their home too!!

Wednesday, August 7

Can't believe it's not butter?

One 'delicacy' that you soon get introduced to here in Tanzania is Blue Band. 

To describe it as butter or margarine, would be to do a discredit to both butter and margarine. Just as we expect cockroaches to survive a holocaust, it wouldn't surprise me if we would find them feasting on a tub or two of Blue Band post-apocalypse! That's how indestructible it seems to be!

Real butter is available at a price. Real margarine can also be available from time-to-time too. When I lived here before they were even harder to get hold of and way out of my price range on a teachers budget.

Apart from the price, what then is the draw of Blue Band? It sticks to everything and is difficult to wash off cutlery and plates. Goodness only knows how it's coating everyone's insides. But for this climate and population it works. It doesn't need refrigeration and as a high percentage of people who live here are without electricity, it's perfect.

Needless to say, since we moved to Dodoma, the majority of my recipes that once contained butter, now contain Blue Band ... and to be fair, everything still tastes good!

Here is one new recipe that we've discovered since we got here. When given the chance to buy some lamb, I took it, just to vary the menu. I soon realised though that I hadn't actually ever cooked lamb before. 

A quick trawl on Pinterest sorted me out and we have now enjoyed mouth watering Mechoui-Style Roasted Lamb on more than one occasion. It truly is divine and those who have enjoyed it with us have asked for the recipe ... even though it is made with Blue Band!!!!
  • 1 lamb leg
  • 70 grams of butter
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 tsp ground coriander
  • 2 tsp ground cumin
  • 2 tsp chilli powder
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 1/4 tsp turmeric
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp freshly ground black pepper

  1. Mix all the ingredients (except lamb) together and blend into a fine paste
  2. Coat the lamb with the mixture and place in a roasting pan
  3. Allow to marinate for 1-2 hours in the fridge
  4. Remove from the fridge and allow to return to room temperature.
  5. Preheat over to 220-240 degrees celsius
  6. Put lamb in the oven and lower heat to 180 dgrees.
  7. Roast the lamb, uncovered for 2 hours for a 2kg leg
  8. Baste lamb every 15-20 minutes until it is browned and evenly covered
  9. Allow to rest for 15 minutes before serving
Optional extra ... use the juices to make a delicious gravy to accompany it.

I usually make up the paste and coat the lamb when I first get it. Then freeze it all together in the marinade so when I need it, I just have to defrost it and stick in the oven!

Monday, August 5

First Day Nerves

Today marked an important milestone in our house. 

While Abigail has been at pre-school both in the States and here in Tanzania. Today was her first day in Standard One or as she calls it 'BIG school'! Not just a couple of hours or half a day but a full long day like a proper big girl! It was a big deal for her ... and the rest of us!

Time just flies and my little girl is now big enough for school. I know I'm not the first mummy to both think that and be surprised by it ... and I most definitely won't be the last. This morning she had a bit of a wobble before we left home but then she was totally fine. Thankfully she loved every minute of it and can't wait to go back tomorrow!

One thing that was different today about school was that Abigail needed to take more than just a little snack but a packed lunch as well. For some reason the weight of responsibility to prepare that on this first day felt bigger than it should have been for me but just like Abigail, my first day 'nerves' at what I had to do soon passed too ... now it will just be a matter of routine!

I even made sure that when she opened her food bag there was a little note from us all. Mummy Award of the year to me!

Today was the beginning of a new phase for us. For Abigail, yes. But for the rest of the family too. We now have all our belongings here and a 'new normal' routine will kick in for all four of us for the next academic year. I'm still not quite sure what that will mean for me and Naomi yet but it's shaping up to be pretty busy!

After five weeks at home, Naomi told me mid-morning 'I miss my Abigail'. Lunch was a little strange too as up until now it has been all four of us. But the main thing is my not-so-little girl is loving being all-grown-up and those first day nerves are long forgotten already!

Friday, August 2

The Little Things

This week we had our first family holiday and break away from Dodoma since moving to Tanzania six months ago. We went on safari to Mikumi National Park, it was so much fun!

I have had the privilege of going on safari many times before, one of the advantages of living in Africa on more than one occasion. So, although the idea of this kind of holiday isn't novel, new or once in a lifetime to me (how lucky am I?), I decided to look for the little things that made our time extra special ...

  • Getting away from what has been a crazy stressful month
  • Watching the girls faces light-up when they saw all the different animals.
  • Getting to see two of the big cats ... a lifelong dream of my hubby
  • No computers and limited internet all week
  • Learning new Swahili words
  • Great food, no cooking and no washing up
  • Even though there were loads of amazing animals and I'm not a bird person, I discovered a beautiful new (to me) bird that is my favourite colours ... the lilac-breasted roller

One of my favourite things about this week though was coming home. Does that sound silly? As it was the first time we'd been away, it was also the first time that we've come back to this house as our home. And it really feels like home now, because it is full of our belongings. 

Do you know that 'aaaaahhhhh' moment? When after a long journey you arrive home, put down your bags, put the kettle on, sit on the sofa surrounded by everything that is familiar and at the end of the day climb into your own comfy bed? As nice as the holiday has been, it is even nicer to be home? That is how it felt today!

I guess it is another sign that we're getting settled here ... and it feels really good!