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!

Wednesday, September 18

Never Giving Up

This post is a little different than usual ... but I just couldn't help myself!

I can be a very determined person when it comes to puzzles and logic things ... never giving up until I've worked it out. Sad but true! So, a few months ago when someone challenged us with finding 30 books of the Bible hidden in a passage, I have to admit I didn't do anything off my 'To Do' list that afternoon and persevered even when I got frustrated, until I'd found them all! 

It honestly doesn't sound all that exciting does it? But if you're anything like me once you look at it, you won't want to give up until you've found them all ... and some are a LOT more obvious than others!! Enjoy ... (you may find it easier to print it out!)

This is a most remarkable puzzle. It was found by a gentleman in an airplane seat pocket, on a flight from Los Angeles to Honolulu, keeping him occupied for hours. He enjoyed it so much that he passed it on to some friends. One friend from Illinois worked on this while fishing from his John-boat. Another friend studied it while playing his banjo. Elaine Taylor, a columnist friend, was so intrigued by it, she mentioned it in her weekly newspaper column.
Another friend judges the job of solving this puzzle so involving that she brews a cup of tea to help her nerves. There will be some names that are really easy to spot - that’s a fact. Some people, however, will soon find themselves in a jam, especially since the books are not necessarily capitalised. Truthfully from answers we get, we are forced to admit it usually takes a minister or scholar to see some of them at the worst. Research has shown that something in our genes is responsible for the difficulty we have in seeing the books in these paragraphs. During a recent fundraising event, which features this puzzle, the Alpha-Delta-Phi Lemonade booth set a new sales record.
The local paper, the Chronicle, surveyed over 50 patrons who reported that this puzzle was one of the most difficult they had ever seen. As Daniel Humana humbly puts it, “the books are all right here in plain view, hidden from sight”. Those able to find all of them will hear great lamentations from those who have to be shown. One revelation that may help is that books Timothy and Samuel appear without their numbers. Also, keep in mind, that punctuation and spaces in the middle are normal. A chipper attitude will help you compete really well against those who claim to know the answers. Remember, there is no need for a mass exodus, there really are 30 books of the bible lurking somewhere in these paragraphs waiting to be found.


OK, so it's a little over a week after I posted the challenge ... here are the 30 books of the Bible in the order they appear in the passage ... believe me, even knowing them doesn't necessarily make them easy to find! ;)

Amos, Mark, Luke John, Joel, Judges, Job, Hebrews, Esther, Acts, James, Ruth, Romans, Titus, Matthew, Genesis, Philemon, Chronicles, Daniel, Nahum, Hosea, Lamentations, Revelation, Timothy, Samuel, Numbers, Malachi, Peter, Exodus, Kings.

How did you do?

Monday, September 16

How You've Grown!

Whenever you meet up with little people that you haven't seen for a while, it is always a surprise as to how much they have grown. I remember as a little person myself rolling my eyes and groaning to all the comments about how big/grown up/like a little lady I was becoming. Now as an adult I find myself both saying all those things ... and hearing others saying them about my girls too!

Last week we said goodbye to my mum who was our first overseas visitor since we moved to Dodoma. As we have always lived so far from the grandparents ever since the girls were born, it is normal for them to be surprised by all the little things that the girls have been able to do that they couldn't do the last time we spent time together.

One thing that was really obvious this time was Naomi's vocabulary. Yes, she's a chatterbox! She comes out with all kinds of things that surprise us ... and often uses words like 'humongous'!! She doesn't always get things right but makes us chuckle in her attempts, much like her big sister used to

I've noticed some parents correct the mistakes of their little people but I'm of the opinion that it will all 'come out in the wash', so I just make the most of every little variation she uses while it lasts!

Here are just a few of them (some of which are already phased out!) ...
  • bing-ing-arh - beginning
  • jump-in-in - jumping
  • I can see it with my ears - I can hear it
  • doog job - good job
  • all night my bed - I spent all night in my bed
  • la lou - love you
  • log-urt - yoghurt (not to be confused with ...)
  • lock-lut - chocolate
  • abi-gay-lul - Abigail
  • tiger - lion
  • beck-wiff - weetabix or breakfast
  • melp - milk
  • belly bottom - belly button
  • plops - flip-flops
  • lucky - yucky
  • der-luke - drink
  • wait out me - don't go without me
My personal favourite just now is 'nopes' when she wants to say 'no'. Seriously though, while it is mostly cute, there are times when I wonder if she will ever stop talking!

Tuesday, September 10

Batman Keki

Today is my hubby's 40th birthday! A milestone that we get to celebrate out here in Dodoma! In the 8 years that we've known each other, I've never once made him a keki (Swahili for cake, pronounced kay-key) ... but this year I wasn't going to let him miss out! 

It has been a family tradition since Abigail's first birthday, for me and Mark to make and decorate a fun cake together for the girls. As we now know each other's strength's in the cake decorating department, I couldn't keep his cake a surprise from him, as I needed his help to make it!

He has always been a big Batman Nut, so for this special birthday there was no question about what the cake would be. I think it turned out pretty well ... even if I do say so myself!

Obviously a lot of things we would normally just be able to 'pop down' to the supermarket to buy aren't available in Dodoma. So it did require a little forward planning!! One thing you can't buy is fondant icing but a friend in the States used to make it from scratch with marshmallows ... so for this birthday I thought I'd try it out and IT WORKED!

You can't get marshmallows here in Dodoma either ... but I ordered in 10 big bags when someone went shopping in Dar Es Salaam and they worked a treat!

Here's the recipe ... it's simple and very sticky but totally worth it ...
  • 10-12oz marshmallows
  • About 1 1/2 lbs icing/powdered sugar
  • 2 Tbsp water

  1. Put the marshmallows in a glass bowl, add water and microwave for 30 seconds. Take it out and stir. Repeat at 30 second intervals until they're melted ... OR ... (without a microwave, as we don't have one!) boil a saucepan of water and put marshmallows and water in a mixing bowl above the boiling water, stirring occasionally until melted!
  2. Add about a quarter of the icing sugar and dump the rest out onto the counter.
  3. After stirring in the icing sugar, tip the marshmallow/sugar/water mixture onto the remaining sugar on the surface and knead it like you would bread.
  4. It is REALLY sticky ... keep going, adding more icing sugar if necessary before you know it though you will rolling it out like fondant icing!
  5. Add food colouring as required. 
It's a lot more flexible than fondant icing and doesn't seem to dry out/crack as much either. In my opinion it also tastes better ... which is just as well as it's the only way we'll get to ice keki's for the foreseeable future unless we use butter icing but I don't think it's as easy to be as creative with that!!

I'm so pleased it worked out well ... especially as that's my cake for the decade for my hubby! If my track record is anything to go by he'll be waiting till his 50th for the next one!!

Friday, September 6

Going Home

Today's missionary mum was actually the mother of one of my Standard One students when I was living in Dodoma before. Jean's husband, Andrew, worked for MAF as the Flight Operations Manager and then Quality Manager. They have three boys and moved to Tanzania from Scotland, living in a house a couple of doors down from where we are now! Their family then moved on with MAF to Nairobi, Kenya, where our paths crossed briefly again in 2006. They completed their service with MAF after almost 11 years, returning to Scotland about 2 years ago. Today Jean shares her thoughts about 'Going Home' after living in Africa for such a long time.

From the day we arrived in Africa we knew that one day we would leave and ‘go home’. When our time to go home arrived, it was a little unexpected and sudden. Our eldest son, Andrew J was leaving school, I had a sense of calling to train as a Minister and it seemed as if all of a sudden, our time with MAF in Africa was up. 

It was a hard decision and an even harder call to follow but when we made the decision to follow God’s calling for this part of our lives, we had a huge peace about. We had no jobs to return to at ‘home’; Andrew J was unsure where he would go to University, the younger two boys, Fraser and Iain would have to change schools and we had no certainty our home would be free to move back into. By faith we trusted God’s leading and arrived a little bit dazed and a little bit uncertain, back ‘home’.

That was 2 years ago. The tenants moved out of our house and although the house needs a lot of work to it (even after being back 2 years!) we are living again in the family home in Inverness. Andrew, after eight months of temporary part-time work got a full-time permanent job – working in a similar role as he had enjoyed so much in Africa. Andrew J got a place at University and is now about to start his 3rd year and has a part-time job to help fund the course. Fraser and Iain have both settled well into life in school and life here in Scotland.

Me – it’s been by faith! I completed the assessment and selection process with the Church of Scotland and am starting my second year as a Candidate in Training for Ministry of Word and Sacrament. At times it seems like a dream, having been to Africa and having come home. It is like a dream too, to continue to be with our Lord, still believing and being in his care.

It was in some ways harder to come home than to go to Africa. On return, many of our friends had moved on in so many ways and it seems as if we have started all over again living here. Despite this, we have seen God’s faithfulness to us, experienced his promise not to leave us and felt his blessings to us in so many different and unexpected ways.

We often reminisce as a family about our time in Africa, people we met, issues we faced, laughs we had. We find this hard to share with others outside the family, perhaps because so often we feel misunderstood and it is so difficult to share ‘our time’ with MAF. They are precious memories and a big part of our lives and our life as a family. We will treasure them always and who knows; perhaps God will send us back there some time.

Wednesday, September 4

Different Treats

Recently, I’ve been asked by some of the newer missionaries and volunteers what are quick and easy dinners to make here. Getting used to the more limited ingredients and learning that a lot more is possible than you first expect takes time but it’s reassuring to know that others have gone before you!

One friend, when they first got here, came round for dinner and commented ‘I know I was told that there wasn’t very much here ... but there really isn’t very much here. Is that really it?’!!! We chuckled a lot.

Thankfully I've been able to pass on my pasta sauce recipe to others! We use it to go with pasta and veggies, or as a base for chilli, spaghetti bolognese and lasagne! There are a few extra steps to it out here. Blanching tomatoes is a little time consuming, so one of the first things I did was teach my house mama how to make it and she whips up a batch every week that we can use for a couple of meals. (It freezes really well!)

When we lived in the States we were able to go out for a lot more meals and try different things, some of which were very American and not regular every day stuff for a Brit. One place we only went about half a dozen times was Panera Bread. The food was delicious and fresh but the nearest one was over an hours drive away!

I am not a soup person but at Panera Bread, they served the most delicious Broccoli Cheddar Soup. When we had the treat of broccoli recently, we thought it would be even more special if we could have the added treat of the broccoli in that soup. It's amazing how different treats can become out here when simple things aren't available!

Thanks to Pinterest I found a copy cat recipe and now when we get broccoli (only three times since we moved here, seven months ago) we eat some of it fresh and use the rest to enjoy a bowl of this delicious soup!

Try it ... I promise you won't be disappointed!!
  • 1/2 medium onion, chopped
  • 1/4 cup melted butter
  • 1/4 cup flour
  • 2 cups half-and-half or skim milk
  • 2 cups chicken stock
  • 1/2 pound fresh broccoli (florets only)
  • 1 cup carrots, julienne
  • 1/4 teaspoon of salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • 8 ounces grated cheddar cheese
  1. Melt the butter in a large saucepan/stockpot
  2. Saute the onions in it
  3. Add the flour and mix it in for a couple of minutes
  4. Slowly add the milk - mixing the whole time
  5. Slowly add the chicken stick - mixing the whole time
  6. Simmer for 20 minutes
  7. Add broccoli and carrots and cook on low for 25 minutes
  8. Season with salt, pepper and nutmeg
  9. Puree with a blender
  10. Heat over low heat and add cheese until melted