Tuesday, September 9

Leaving ...

Leaving somewhere special is never easy ... especially when there are so many happy memories in a place. I love the adventure of going somewhere new, but closing the previous chapter of my life is not something that I ever enjoy.

With just a few weeks left here in Dodoma, both my husband and I have noticed our brains start processing the fact that we're leaving ... and we've started viewing the place a little differently.

We all absolutely love living here but there is a lot about being in Dodoma that is difficult. It is stuff that you take for granted in the daily routines and don't even really notice (or try not to, anyway!) ... but when you know you're on the way out, it's almost a feeling of relief, that you know these frustrating elements are soon to be over. Maybe it's a form of self-preservation, in anticipation of the pain of saying goodbye that will inevitably come but it certainly takes the edge off, that's for sure!

Before I make a list, I want to be clear, there is WAY more stuff that I will miss about living here, than the things that bug me, but it is what it is!

There is no particular order to these and they are just my own observations but I won't lie, I won't be missing these things once we've moved next month!

  • Sleeping under a mosquito net
  • Never knowing if what you want to buy will be in the local shops from one week to the next
  • Grit in the rice, beans and sugar
  • The majority of life happening in another language, so you only ever get bits and pieces about what's going on
  • Living, working, socialising and going to church with the same group of people
  • Having to put use bug spray, on a regular basis
  • Driving for a whole day to go to real shops and restaurants (no offense to Dodoma!)
  • Never fully understanding the culture
  • The toilet paper that shreds and disintegrates mid-wipe, every wipe!!
  • Having total strangers come up and touch the girls hair, saying 'Baby' in a weird high-pitched voice
  • Wondering whether post will reach it's destination or if you'll actually receive what you're expecting to
  • The extreme poverty right on your doorstep
  • Sticking out like a sore thumb as a white person amongst a whole load of Tanzanians
  • There is nowhere to go in and around town, like parks/museums/shops, which can make it feel very monotonous
  • The corruption within straightforward processes that we would usually consider trustworthy, like police, tax, immigration etc
  • Lack of a variety of fresh vegetables, just carrots, tomatoes, green peppers and bullet-consistency peas!
  • No reliable healthcare and the underlying stress whenever you or more importantly your children are under the weather
  • The crazy bus drivers and general lack of observance of any of the rules of the road
  • Ordering food in a restaurant and waiting an hour or two for it to be served
  • The dust which is everywhere and gets everywhere

Friday, September 5

Expect the Unexpected

One thing I have learnt (and am continuing to learn) is to expect the unexpected ... especially as a mum. Little people have the habit of catching us off guard and pushing our boundaries in all different directions.

When I started this blog, I expected to be able to write regularly every week and yet my last post was about 5 months ago. I also totally missed the 3rd anniversary of 'The Missionary Mum' last month. (My apologies to those of you who have been missing the regular updates, I think I'm back, but who knows!)

From my experience, taking the step to commit yourself to God and following the path he has for you, is more often than not, filled with the unexpected. 

We can have all our own plans and agendas carefully laid out but when God, who can see the bigger picture, is in control, it rarely works out how we expect.

When I decided that working in missions was my way forward and enrolled at All Nations, I expected to go onto the mission field as a single woman. Within two weeks of term starting, I had met Mark and now we are a family of four!

When we were looking at which mission organisation to join, we expected to work in a developing country but then went on to spend three years in the States.

When we got here to Tanzania, we expected to be in Dodoma for eight years. However, our programme was closed a few months ago ... and now less than two years later, we're just about to move to Australia (another First World country)!

These are just a few of the bigger examples of where God's plans have been completely different to mine and there are countless others that I could share from my own experience and those of my friends. 

While I think that I have a really good idea of what is best for me, so far God has always surprised me and come up with something different. I can honestly say that each time my plans have been changed (and that's happened a lot!), God's alternative has been amazing. Well, of course it has, he knows what's best for me!

It doesn't mean that it has been easy. In fact, on many occasions it has been more than a little uncomfortable. Embarrassingly too, learning one time doesn't mean it has made it any easier the next either. 

The path has been prepared for me though and I plan to continue walking in it ... the next, 'unexpected' is always just around the corner!