Wednesday, February 26

Special Occasions!

Here in Dodoma, it is often the case that if you see something in a local shop and you like it, you buy it. Why? Because it very well may not be there again any time soon ... if ever! It can be very disappointing when you go back another time and it's not there anymore. It's a lesson you learn early on! 

You can work up quite a stash! We have had several things in our pantry that fit that category. That have been saved to only come out on a special occasion! Nutella, dried apricots, puff pastry, chorizo, white cooking chocolate, marshmallows, raisins ... the list goes on!

However things change and now we're faced with eating our way through all these treats and making every occasion a special one for the time being!

Last week, we cracked open the puff pastry and I made a Minced Beef Wellington! Yum! It felt very indulgent, which just shows how differently we value things living here!

Here's the recipe I used, tweaked to what I can get hold of here! ... (serves 4-6)
  • 1 medium onion
  • 1 carrot
  • 1 stick celery
  • 1 potato
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 2 large mushrooms
  • olive oil
  • 4 sprigs fresh rosemary
  • big handful of frozen peas
  • 1 large egg
  • 500g minced beef
  • sea salt and black pepper
  • plain flour for dusting
  • 500g puff pastry, chilled
  1. Preheat oven - 180/350/GM4
  2. Peel, chop and dice vegetables (1cm) and grate/mince garlic
  3. Put oil in a large pan, add rosemary leaves and add veg - fry for approx 8 mins until soft
  4. Add peas & cook for another minute, then cool
  5. Beat egg and add half to the mixture and mince, salt & pepper
  6. Scrunch up and mix well together by hand
  7. Dust surface, roll out pastry to tea towel size
  8. Put mixture along long edge in a sausage shape
  9. Brush edge of pastry with beaten egg and roll until covered
  10. Dust baking tray with flour, place Wellington on the tray and brush with beaten egg
  11. Bake for an hour until golden

Friday, February 14

Crazy Life

Today, I have this month's guest post. I have known this missionary mum since 2005 and have lots of fun and happy memories hanging out with her, when we were both single gals with a heart for mission! She met her husband in the same place as I did and is living on the same continent as I am right now. Given the sensitive nature of her families work with Reach Across, working amongst the Muslim community and for 28 Too Many that is as detailed as I am able to get. She has a gorgeous little daughter (see below) and as of last week a brand new son too! Today she writes for me (during a time of uncertainty for us) about a time of uncertainty that her family have had to work through over the last couple years.

Almost exactly a year ago we were evacuated from our country. We were ordered to leave when the political situation meant that foreign nationals were perceived to be at high risk of kidnapping and being caught in any potential conflict.

We had arrived for our first term as missionaries only 4 months earlier with our then 7 month old. We had started language acquisition, getting to know neighbours, culture, house decorating, getting furniture ... all the usual stuff you do when you move somewhere new. I was so excited to finally be where I thought would be "home". I had waited a long time for this. This was where we would be for a good many years, where our kids would grow up, where we would make a life as a family.

It was a roller coaster ride leaving under such stressful circumstances, not knowing for how long, or if we would ever be able to return. The good road out of the country was deemed off limits as it was too close to a 'high-risk' area so we did a 24 hour detour which involved a night on a church floor and some pretty hairy terrain (that was the most fun in those crazy days of packing and travelling to our temporary home in the neighbouring country, especially as I was driving the roughest bit!).

So we eventually arrived at our temporary home and were stuck in limbo for about 5 months. It was a pretty difficult time emotionally and spiritually. The relentless mosquitos were also pretty annoying but the location was nice and at times I was able to really enjoy that aspect of our situation.

Disappointed? Confused? Angry? Frustrated? Lost? You name the emotion, I am pretty sure I felt it.

I couldn't understand why we were going through all this. We had worked so hard to get there. Bible school, learning French (our bridge language), raising the money to go. We had felt all along that it was God's will and he had made it all pretty straightforward even easy at times. So what was this all about? And what about my little girl? This surely couldn't be good for her. As a new Mum I was new to the feelings of utter responsibility for a little person and wanted to do all I could to protect her.

So things seemed pretty bleak at times to be honest. I was really unhappy and felt guilty for not being able to do the ministry we were being supported to do as well as all the other issues I have touched upon.

We returned to our country (not our town yet) in June and have settled in the city for a while, mostly because baby number 2 will be arriving very soon!

The first few weeks were strange and I came to realise that since the evacuation I had been super protective over our daughter, which I also realised was more for me than for her! I had had zero control over most things in my life for so long that the only thing I could control was her routine. This is not very African! So I told myself to suck it up and start embracing life here the way I had planned. Being flexible and as African as possible. Life is short and was not going to be fun if I put limits on our life in that way. Good decision!

So what's happening now? Well, as I said it's one year on. A lot has changed. I have changed. We have changed as a family. I have learnt a lot and been reminded of many things I learnt at Bible school which I know will help me in the long term and I hope will enable me to support others who go through similar situations in the future. 

The life of a missionary can be stressful and a very steep learning curve (and wonderful!!)

The life of a mum can be stressful and a very steep learning curve (and wonderful!!)

The life of a wife can be stressful and a very steep learning curve (and wonderful!!)

We live in constant transition.

Home is not necessarily one physical place. It IS one spiritual place.

Expect the unexpected.

Kids are way more resilient than we give them credit for!

Hold on to material things lightly. It's great to make your house a home, but we have to recognise that it may not be home for as long as we hope or expect.

Our plans don't always work out the way we expect. God has really surprised me in how he has used our time in the big city to be really useful despite it seemingly slowing down all our other plans.

There are a ton of other things I could write and even more that I'm sure will come to me later but I hope this may be of use to someone in a similar situation at some point.

It's a crazy life we lead. But I know I wouldn't change it for the world.

Friday, February 7

Still Processing ...

For those of you who read this regularly, you may have noticed I have gone a bit quieter than usual.

Last week we had some BIG news that ultimately changes the role of MAF here in Tanzania and won't require the services of the Beckwith family (and many others) to continue. The impact of this for us and those we live and work with is HUGE and as a result there is a lot to think about.

Most (but not all) of the MAF Dodoma team

When we came to Dodoma, we had expected to spend 8 years here (our minimum commitment to MAF). We prepared with that in mind. We invested a lot of time, effort and money with that focus before we came and have tried to settle well with a long term goal in mind. Now it feels like we have been thrown a real curve ball and it's taking a while for full impact of that to sink in.

One verse that has meant a lot to us as a family this week is from Proverbs 16:9 "We can make our plans, but the Lord determines our steps." Sometimes these two things are more different than we can imagine. We were thorough in our preparations, we had the roller-coaster of releasing our container, the even longer wait to get a car and while we've enjoyed life since we set foot in Tanzania, to be fair, we only just got to the really happy balanced, things are ticking along quite nicely phase in the last couple of months. Clearly God has other ideas for our future though!

Later this month we will celebrate our first (and what we now know, will be our only) anniversary here in Tanzania as a family. We may have only been here a year but with the long term goal in mind we have also invested heavily emotionally in what we had thought would be the home for us for the foreseeable future and so it is heartbreaking to think that we won't be here to celebrate any more anniversaries.

We are not bitter or angry about the situation, we totally agree with the decisions that the management of MAF have been making with regards to the programme and it is tough for everyone involved from top to bottom that this is the situation. 

While moving internationally again was most definitely not on my 'To Do' list again for this year, it is there on my list nonetheless ... and so already while there is nothing set in stone yet, we have much to get our heads around. On the plus side, it has been a privilege for me to have been able to share my beloved Dodoma with Mark and the girls for a considerable amount of time. Now the memories we have will be those we have made together and not just my own stories from long ago!

Right now though the emotions are still fresh and they come in waves, some are easier to ride than others. There are also so many questions that are occupying whatever brain power I have left from normal family life here in Tanzania ... here are just a few ...

  • Which MAF programme will we go to now?
  • When will we go?
  • How will we go?
  • What will we take with us?
  • How will we take it with us?
  • What should I give away?
  • Who should I give it to?
  • Will we fit in home assignment that we were due later this year?
  • Will Abigail finish the school year here?
  • Where do we want to visit in Tanzania before we leave?
  • When can we do that?
  • What will happen to the other MAF staff?
  • Will my house mama find work elsewhere?
  • What about the friends we will all leave behind?
  • ...
So, while I take my time to wade through the endless possible answers to each question, start working on the details of the bits I am able to ... and just work up the energy and enthusiasm to move again (something which I only just feel like I'm beginning to recover from, from last time!) ... I may be a little quieter than normal. 

I'm still here ... but for now I'm still processing!