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!