Sunday, March 18, 2007

Speaking of Game Parks . . .

I just have to share this awesome photo at the game park near Musa's home. We had such a short time there with the animals! You may remember as a kid your parents telling you to do the work first . . . then you could play! That's what we did -- we educated 300 laymen, then took things to Twing Memorial School. We were fortunate that our trip back to Arusha was not fraught with difficulty, providing us with a few hours to spend with the animals.

Musa put it this way -- we just have to come back. In the mean time we'll enjoy the photos of those groups before us -- next time we'll shoot some elephants and zebras (on film, that is).

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Up Close and Personal at the Game Park

Well, this is my last post for tonight. About time I went to sleep.

I think I took this photo of the Giraffe with my Aunt Soni’s camera. He was a great big bull that was following Musa’s car around.

He freaked me out, because Musa told us that his windscreen got those cracks in it from an angry Giraffe who head butted Musa’s car when he tried to get it off the road by beeping at it.

The Luxury of Getting Dirty

The day after I got back from Tanzania was Sabbath, and we went on our customary Sabbath afternoon walk. I was surprised at myself, for every time I accidentally stepped in mud, or walked into a spider web, or brushed up against a dirty tree, I felt really icky. I thought to myself, “When did I become so prissy? These things never used to bother me so much before.”

At one point Joshua fell and in my rush to comfort him, I slipped and fell on my bum in a puddle of water. I was almost inconsolable. Then I realized what was going on. In Tanzania, there were very few washing machines, and almost no clothes dryers. And I have already described the shower situation.

We all ran out of clean clothes before the trip was up. Now, I know what you’re thinking, “Why didn’t you wash your clothes like all the other people do, by hand?” Well, you have a valid point, except that we never stayed in one spot long enough for our laundry to dry. As it was we were washing underwear and socks in the sinks at our various hotels, and wearing them slightly damp if necessary. So you knew that once your clothes got dirty, they were going to stay that way until you got home.

I had developed a dirt phobia. Once I realized that, I just kept telling myself, “its ok, you can shower when you get home; you can wash your clothes when you get home.” I made everyone wait for supper while I had a shower and changed, even though before my trip I wouldn’t have bothered. As time goes by, as I said about the water, I am remembering that I can drink water anytime I’m thirsty, and I can afford to get dirty. But boy, is it a luxury.

The boys in this picture probably gave up trying to keep clean. I think their shirts used to be white!

Luxury of Education

One of the saddest things about visiting the school was that there was a crowd of kids almost as large as the student body, watching us give out t-shirts and school supplies. All those children could be accommodated if the school were bigger, which is a project Musa is currently working on.

We don’t realize how lucky we are in our western countries. According to my travel book, which was published in 2003, only 66% of Tanzanian children attend primary school, and only 6% attend secondary schools.

Runway at Heri Hospital

One of the things I cherish about this trip, along with seeing my Grandfather’s grave, was being able to visit the hospital where Grandma spent so many years of her life.

I was able to visit her house, and walk the path she would have walked on the way to the hospital.

It was very moving to see the runway. It was used, I've been told, at first by Erwin Farnsworth, then by Edward Perry. After Ed left, the plane was sold, so the runway hasn't been used much, if any at all, since then.

In this picture I am shaking hands with Dr. Rocero who currently runs the mission hospital. He says the hospital is well-known throughout Tanzania for it's specialty in surgery. I also met Dr. Oster, who is from Denmark.

Dr. Rocero and his wife are good friends of Grandma’s and they both told me many stories about her.


It is so nice to belong to a large family. It was great to see Carol and Curt in Tanzania. As a child, I spent a lot of time with their family. Seeing them again, and hearing their voices brought up feelings of familiarity and comfort. I started to remember all the camping trips and hikes we went on, and sometimes when Curt would smile, it would remind me of one of their boys. Those were good times (except when my brother Jim and Seth used to ditch me on the way back to camp after a good long hike! Thanks a lot guys!)

Being with my Mom and Pops was also so nice. In the photo we are standing at the front desk of a very expensive hotel in Dar Es Salaam. ($160 US dollars a night! Thanks for letting me stay with you guys in your room, Mom and Pops!)

Musa and Winfrieda quickly became family. They were so friendly and welcoming, and told me many, many stories about my grandmother, Ethel.

You guys are the greatest. I can’t wait to see you guys again, and I look forward to spending eternity with you all in heaven.

I got Musa to try on my Aussie hat. He looks like he’d be right at home in Australia, right guys?

Mobile Phones and Cordless Irons

I was surprised to see how many people had mobile phones glued to their ears. They can be living in mud huts, travelling long distances to get water, but carry a mobile phone with them, as was the case with the lady in the photo with me. If you look closely, you can see that inside the woven pouch around her neck, she carries her mobile phone.
According to BBC news online, in 2005 some 97% of Tanzanians claimed to have access to mobile phones even though only 1 in 10 houses have electricity.
Musa says to get onto the internet using his phone costs only 1 US cent, with unlimited time. He was always on the phone, and he had coverage everywhere. Even in places so remote you would not even think to turn your mobile on if you were in the US. My Mom had paid extra so that she could use her mobile while there, and she never had coverage, but Musa could talk anywhere.

I was also impressed with this woman’s cordless iron. I have been looking for a cordless iron for ages for my mother-in-law. It’s not exactly the kind I wanted, though. Inside the iron itself, there are hot coals keeping it warm!

Female Leadership

One of the noticeable things about the conference in Morogoro was the lack of female lay preachers attending the meetings.

In the first photo, the lady sitting in the front row was THE ONLY FEMALE attending the meetings. It’s kind of disconcerting to get up and sing in front of a group composed almost entirely of men. I don’t think I have ever experienced that before. At first, this seemed shocking to me.

After traveling and seeing the women on the street, and how they lived, and how hard they worked, it’s no wonder none of the lay women had time to go to a conference about evangelism!

Taking care of children at home would also limit the things they can do and the places they can go. Despite this, the Tanzania government is providing a positive example of women in leadership positions.

According to an article on BBC news online, written on 4 January 2006, the numbers of women ministers in the government has risen from four to seven and there are 10 female deputy ministers.

The Luxury of Hot Water

In order to get hot water at Musa’s house, (and he has a very nice house) first someone has to dig a very, very big hole. Then someone has to chop down a hardwood tree and cut it up into logs and put into the hole. Next, a fire has to be lit in the hole, and the hole has to be covered up. After about a week, the hole has to be uncovered, and some one has to collect the coal that is left. That coal is then put into a big white sack and placed by the side of the road, where Musa can see it on his way home from one of his many long trips. When he gets home with the coal, his wife, Winfrieda, has to put it into a ceramic pot with a burner on the top of it. Once the coal is lit, she has to put a huge pot of water on the burner. When that water is heated up, whoever wants a hot shower has to pour some of the hot water into a bucket, take it and a dipper and stand in the bath to take their “shower.” This process is perhaps much less complicated than the process village people go through.
I never bothered having a hot shower at Musa’s house. The old wash cloth, cold water and soap did me just fine. We stayed at hotels with hot water a few times, and boy did I enjoy the showers then. Of course, as soon as you got clean, one you had re-applied the bug repellent, you felt just as dirty as before your shower! This is a picture of the hot water system at one of the hotels. See the unit at the top of the shower? Instant hot water, and very economical.

The Luxury of Car Alarms

When you have a car as nice as Musa’s in Tanzania, it has to have a car alarm on it. His car alarm went off so many times that it became one of our favourite travel songs! It had a habit of going off whenever Musa left us alone in the car. Everyone in the crowded markets where we stoped would stare at us through the windows while we cringed and waited for Musa to return.

The first time Musa let Randy drive, the security company called Musa and asked him, “Are you alright?” (How did they know it wasn't him in the driver's seat?) At the time Musa was in the back of his own car with all the luggage, and we wondered if they could see him somehow and thought that he was being kidnapped.

As you can see in the photo, truck drivers have a unique way of securing their vehicles too, or at least the stuff inside their vehicles. Can you see the thorn bushes straped to the back of the truck? Good luck trying to climb up and reach inside!

What is a Long Drop?

The most common question asked when we pulled up to hotels at the end of a long day of driving was “Is it a sitter or a squatter?”
Even though I deliberately dehydrated myself, I still looked forward to when we could all relax and just let ourselves go. Despite how it looks, squatters (sometimes referred to as long drops) are actually more hygienic than sitters, for the only things that have to touch germs are the bottoms of your shoes. Unless, of course, your pants are too long for you. :) They are very easy to use if you are wearing a skirt. (That’s probably more than you wanted to know. Sorry!)
These pictures illustrate the range of facilities available at various places, illustrating the gap between the rich and the poor.
The thought process I go through when thirsty has become much more complicated since going to Tanzania. Before the trip it went like this: "I'm thirsty, where's a cup?"
During the trip it was, "I'm thirsty. Do NOT drink any water!"
Now it goes something like this, "I'm thirsty. Do NOT drink any water. Oh yeah, I'm home now. I'm not likely to go anywhere today. The toilet is down the hall and it's a sitter. It's also clean. No one is likely to peek inside the door. Where's a cup?"

Cranky Randy

I love this photo. I never got a chance to ask, "Randy, did you really have to turn that crank to pump the gas?" I was busy using the long drop when this picture was taken.

The Luxury of Comfortable Travel

I don’t know why I was complaining about the bumpy, uncomfortable ride. I bet I was heaps more comfortable than these people.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

The Luxury of Rubbish Bins

Needless to say, there were not many public rubbish bins along the roads in Tanzania. (Even if there were, I wouldn’t have wanted to stop for them!) That left us with an ever increasing pile of water bottles in the car. (Some of the others in the group had bladders with a larger capacity than mine, apparently.)

Up in the front, however, Musa didn’t seem to have the same backlog of bottles as the rest of us. I was shocked when I discovered why. He was throwing them out the window! How rude, it’s his own country and he is throwing rubbish out the window? When questioned about it, he told us, “Oh, no, it is no problem. Whoever finds that bottle will be so happy. They are so useful for so many different things.”

After that, we all kept our eyes peeled for little children playing by the side of the road. Whenever we saw one, we would roll down the window and throw a bottle out to them. They would come running, jabbering excitedly. (We had to be very careful and throw one for each -- if we did not, a fight would ensue. You should have seen their happy faces. So cute!

The Luxury of Staying Hydrated

Staying hydrated on our long trips was not hard, as most of the towns we passed sold bottled water for just pennies each. I, however, chose not to stay hydrated. Why? Number one, I did not want us to have to stop often, as the sooner we got there, the more time we had to solve any “being stranded” problems we might encounter (I did not want to miss my flight!).
Secondly, I discovered very quickly that being adequately hydrated, and avoiding stoping on the bumpy roads made for an excruciatingly uncomfortable ride in the back of the car. I had to hold on with more than just my hands and feet! :)
The men in this picture have the opposite problem to me. Can you see the empty water bottle in the extended arm of the man standing beside his overturned truck? That’s his way of asking passers-by for water. We passed one accident where the people had been stranded for two days. We shared some water bottles with them, which I did not have a problem doing. I always had a dry mouth, however!

Rocky Road, No Marshmallows!

The trip to Kigoma, on the other hand was the most unique trip I have ever taken. There were six of us in Musa’s Toyota, Randy and Musa up front, with Musa driving with brief periods of relief from Randy every now and again. (Musa drives just like my husband, Luke, fast with just centimetres to spare on the sides) Mom, Carol and Curt were in the middle, and I was in the back with some of the luggage that was not on top of the car. Every now and then someone would take pity on me and trade. Those were wonderful times, (thanks guys).

On the trip to Moro and Dar, I put suitcases in the gap between the seats so I could lay down and catch up on my sleep. That was was nice. Not so on the way to Kigoma. They were all dirt roads with bumps that could knock you out flat, if you didn’t hold on.

After a while I began to feel like an M&M in a Tupperware dish being shaken by a hungry, frustrated giant. At the end of most days all my muscles ached from bracing myself against the walls of the Cruiser. Added to that was the fear of rain. It was wet when we started, and we saw all sorts of vehicles stuck in the mud. Musa had told us stories about being stranded for weeks at a time. And we were travelling at the beginning of the wet season! Thanks for the warning Musa! I was in constant fear of getting stranded and missing my flight home.

Driving, Driving, and More Driving.

I have to say something about the roads and my experience travelling on them, as that is where we spent the bulk of our time.

Out of the 13 days we were there, we spent 10 of them driving ALL DAY LONG!

The roads from Arusha to Morogoro and Dar Es Salaam were in fairly good condition.

There were a few unorthodox (when seen from my perspective) road signs, and ingenious warning signs. Instead of orange triangles to warn of an upcoming accident or road obstruction, the people put down green leafy tree branches along the road. It was very effective, and we saw many accidents “advertised” in this way. (Their frequency and number was slightly upsetting to me).

I'm Awake Now!

Hello friends!

Now that I have had a chance to relax and recover a bit, its time to add my own posts to this blog.

Here’s a picture of me shopping for the family in Arusha. Since my mom has chronicled the trip so well, my reflections will not be to tell the story, so to speak, but to communicate some of the things I learned while in Tanzania.

There is a photo or two for each reflection, and I have my beautiful Mom to thank for that (she is going to kill me for posting this photo of her). She is the best photographer ever. :)

Carol also took many, many great photos, but she didn’t tend to hang out the window like Mom did, so I don’t have a similar photo of her to show you. If it weren’t for those two dear ladies’ photos, the only thing I would be able to show you would be blurry grass and people with half their heads cut off.

Thursday, March 8, 2007

When is Right - - - Wrong?

The answer to this question is simple . . . on Tanzania roads. But, wait . . . that is not necessarily true. While all vehicles are supposed to travel on the left side of the road, passing on the right, everyone seemed to use the whole road -- avoiding potholes wherever possible.

It seemed however, because traffic headed toward you on the right, that there would certainly be an accident because we are all used to traffic headed toward us on the left.

To pass the time we renamed overturned trucks as holy rollers.

There is new meaning to tight squeeze:
  • many people in the back seat of our vehicle
  • two few inches clearance between passing vehicles
  • bus capacity double or triple what it should be
  • passengers tightly packed inside, extra people occupying the luggage rack on top
  • no more room at the side of the road while skirting around the craters of the dirt highway
  • passing between a tractor-trailer and another truck stopped across from each other on a mountain hairpin curve.

We discovered that these trucks had been stuck in the middle of this road for two days after a rain storm. They were waiting for the sun to dry the road so they could continue their journey. We passed with very little room to spare -- the tight squeeze! No telling how long we would have been detained at this spot. We wondered if they would be gone by the time we returned. They were!

Sometimes it may be better to just sleep on long trips. It might be possible if you didn't have to hang on for dear life. Doubt if anyone could sleep at times such as this?

To Hire an Armed Guard, or Not?

Pastor Musa told us how robbers would come out of the forest (jungle) and stop vehicles, especially in villages along the border. They would then rob the individuals in the car, sometimes beating and killing them, take the vehicle away, and then abandon the vehicle down the road somewhere. He suggested we should hire an armed escort as we entered the Kigoma region. Things were going well and for some reason he did not hire a guard on the road to Heri Hospital.

A guard was not hired on the return trip either. As you can see by the map, the Kigoma Region is along the border with Burundi and Rwanda. The robbers come from both countries.

We made it through both ways, no problem. I had asked Musa to stop so I could take a photo of the signs at the entrance to a refugee camp near Kasula. He was hesitant to do so, but we accomplished the photo quickly. He told us the individual standing by the road sign could have a cell phone and call the robbers stationed in the forest with our details, so they could rob us down the road. (Tammy took photos, too, as well as Carol and I.)

Nothing happened and praise God we arrived home in Arusha a day later. Shortly after our arrival, Musa got a phone call from his brother. "You are alright, it is so good to hear your voice. Robbers stopped two vehicles like yours in Kasula. They robbed the people there and abandoned the vehicles down the road. When we heard the news we were concerned because we knew you were there that same day."
Needless to say, we had the best armed guard one could have. Our Land Rover, 4 wheel drive has been renamed . . . "4 Angel Drive." Thank you Jesus for your protective angels!

Twing Memorial School

The kids came running toward their school when they saw our Land Cruiser drive onto the school grounds. They had been waiting patiently at the entrance for a glimpse of our vehicle. With huge smiles on their faces they waved and greeted us with "Jambo, Karibu sana!"

Very soon they were lined up in the front of the school. Then they sang several songs for us. The first thing we did was to personally dress them in their new "Twing Memorial School" t-shirts. After they had the t-shirts on, draw string bags of goodies and colored pencils were distributed. Then the children went to their classrooms for some more singing and personal time with our team.

While the children were in their classroom, a crowd was gathering outside of the school -- parents, interested members of the village, and a large number of children who desperately want to enroll. We learned that all of the school children are missing one or both parents. The Twing Memorial Association for Health, Evangelism, and Education Development, a Tanzanian NGO (non-governmental organization), has determined that tuition will never be charged the families of the children attending this school. It was not built for those of privilege. Calculations were quickly done to determine the per student cost of running the school -- a mere $20 US per year -- for a twelve-month school year at that! Throughout the rest of our trip this figure haunted us as we considered the purchase of treasures to take home.

To meet the demands for enrollment, Pastor Musa showed us the foundation and walls of new classrooms that are being added right now. "It will cost $15,000 more to add these rooms," he informed us. "This will give us three more classrooms and a library," he added. We met the builder for the project. "We must give him a t-shirt, too." Musa suggested.

Before we arrived at the school Musa had been chairing a school board meeting. At that meeting it was voted to hire a new school headmaster. An Adventist who is a government teacher accepted the position. He will take a significant pay loss to accept this position near his home for approximately $120 per month.
In appreciation for the work the teachers have done, all of us opened up our wallets to give a bonus to the current staff, equal to one month's pay.

I've Been Everywhere . . .

All along our journey Tammy would break into song at various points or experiences. One of them was, "I’ve been Everywhere." Here is a summary of where in Africa we’ve been.

  • Arrival in Nairobi, Kenya (2 days by air)

  • Travel to Arusha, Tanzania (5 hours)

  • Back to Border between Tanzania & Kenya to retrieve our stuff(3 hours)

  • Return to Arusha with our stuff (3 hours)

  • Arusha to Morogoro (7 or 8 hours, including three traffic stops and final ticket received by the van driver)

  • Morogoro to Dar Es Salaam (3 hours)

  • Dar Es Salaam to Arusha (8 plus hours)

  • Arusha to Kasula and Twing Memorial School at Heri Mission Hospital (two days)

  • Return to Arusha (two days)

  • National Park to photograph animals (three hours)

  • Return to Nairobi to catch plane to London (5 hours)

"I’ve been Everywhere" has new meaning when you consider the type of roads we’ve traveled . . . newly paved, paved and acceptable, wholly paved, half paved, newly constructed wider road, heavily traveled rut filled wider road, road with ruts a car could disappear in, slippery red roads with deep ruts, sand-filled roads, rain soaked sand-filled roads, cow trails, roads less traveled through the woods, and roads defying the definition of what a road should be.

Dar Es Salaam

Viorel had decided he would not stay with our group for our entire time in Africa, so after the program it was time for him to leave. It didn't make sense to endure the seven hour or more drive back to Arusha, and the five hour drive from Arusha back to Nairobi when we were so close to Dar es Salaam. There he could get on a plane back to Nairobi. So we all got into the Land Cruiser and headed to Dar.

Musa knew of a nice hotel there and we were anxious to experience a higher level of accommodations, including a hot shower and air conditioning! We all wanted to see the Indian Ocean, especially Carol. Early the next morning we took the time to beach comb for shells before starting the journey towards "home" in Arusha. The journey took the better part of a whole day.

Wednesday, March 7, 2007

ASI DVD New Beginnings Training Session

One thing was difficult for me . . . presenting training to people in a language not my own. Everyone attending was so gracious. They thought our delivery was flawless. They were so appreciative that we would travel at our own expense for days to bring them some new evangelism tools.

Tammy's music added a special dimension to the training program. Living in Australia for the last two years we've missed her, Luke, and the boys terribly. How mature she has become, not only in her personality, but in her voice. She sang like an angel, with so much grace and confidence. It was obvious the audience enjoyed her song service and special numbers.

Had never seen Viorel Catarama before an audience. He's traveled all over the world doing evangelism with his family. His presentations were equally as awesome. And, Pastor Musa Mitekaro, wow, what a presentation! It is obvious that this man, one of Mama Twing's children, was meant to be a pastor. He's won thousands since he was a mere teenager. Just this past six months he has baptized more than 4,000. He was powerful in his presentations on getting people to a decision and preparing them for baptism.

The commitment ceremony capped off our presentations. We are anxious to hear how these laymen and pastors, all 300 of them will use their new tools. They'll have some challenges, such as re-charging the battery. Most of them do not have electricity in their homes. They'll grab power from vehicles they travel in . . . government offices, just everywhere they can!

All the while presentations were being made, work was happening in the back room. We had to assemble all the parts of the DVD players, the cords, batteries, etc. as they had been disassembled to pack them in suitcases and foot lockers, equalizing volume and weight to minimize the number of pieces we brought on the plane.
Also, the copy work had not been done before our presentations, so a fair amount of collating had to be done. It was hot in the back hallway where this work was being done. There were no fans. We thought we would die, but the work got done. The conference president worked along side of us through part of the work. There wasn't a dry spot on his shirt after a few minutes of gathering things together.

Hang on . . . laymen in Tanania have some new tools. They now know how to use them. It will be exciting to receive reports from this field. BTW, did I mention that many of them, too, traveled for days to get to the training session.

Flying Doctor

The first thing we did upon arriving onto the campus of the Conference office in Morogoro was to meet all the department directors and the president. One of the gentlemen proudly announced that he was the son of Mama Twing. On the walk to the church where we were to hold the seminar, was the grave of Dr. James Twing, Flying Doctor. I had heard he was buried there, but had never seen a photo of the grave. Didn't expect to be so moved at finally seeing his resting place. He was my dad. Just 14 when we met, I became a part of the youth group ever present at the Twing home. We did so many things together, Sabbath afternoon hikes, camping, parties, water skiing, and more. When I married their oldest son, Alan, the relationship became official.

When Dr. Twing died in 1972 I was overcome with grief. There was no funeral, just the words of his death delivered to me on my birthday. For years I caught glimpses of him in various people -- his characteristic walk, his hair, other very obvious features. Every time I saw his car, a blue VW rabbit, I was sure he would appear, that he did not die in Africa. Finally the reality set in and life went on. Now with my husband Randy (who owns the registration number of Dr. Twing's airplane), the granddaughter he never met, and Mama Twing's African children, I see his resting place. It was difficult to hold back the tears. Oh for that day when we will all be reunited!

Border Business

Wow, it has been almost a week and we've certainly been out n back. We'll try to catch you up on what has happened since we arrived in Tanzania. Internet connections since we arrived have been limited. Also, our time has been limited.

As mentioned, we had trouble at the border. Finally we ended up paying duty on our DVD players, a fee we should not have had to pay. Viorel and I waited in the car while the Africans took care of the negotiations. It took a whole day. While we were there we photographed African life at the border. Here you see technology is coming to Africa in the way of cell phones. Even the Maasai had them!

"Had your driver offered $100 we would have waved you by," the duty officer explained. Negotiations after that point consumed an entire day. Even to involvement of supervisory staff. After a rate was determined the payoff of various people along the process didn't stop. Graft and corruption are the way of life in every level of government. Needless to say, there were prayers of rejoicing when our goods were finally received.

Arriving late in the evening with everything in Arusha, our team worked several hours to reduce the number of containers so we could take them and ourselves to Morogoro another day's travel. We had a 20 passenger hotel van from Nairobi to Arusha, a 10 passenger van and Toyota Land Cruiser from Arusha to Morogoro.