When people find out we’ve been in Tanzania 2 1/2 years without visiting the U.S. — and that we plan on living here a total of at least 10 years — the first thing they say is this:
Wow! That must be hard.
What do you miss the most?
What do I miss the most? That’s an extremely difficult question to answer. It’s like asking a father which of his kids he loves the most. The answer is all of them.
But the two questions are not exactly the same, mind you, because I’ve not sired much of anything you’ll see in this list. Nor do I miss everything about the states. But I do miss a lot. That’s why I’ve made this top ten list.
10 Things I’ve Got to Do on Furlough*
10. Experience autumn. Tanzania doesn’t exactly have autumn. We don’t have any seasons. In fact, there’s not such thing as weather here. I know it sounds crazy, but it just doesn’t exist. So you can imagine how much I miss the cold weather and the smell of fall. I miss bonfires and sweatshirts and fleeces and leaves changing colors. Above all, though, I miss my family’s annual fall celebration in which we dress up like children of the forest, exchange greeting cards made of pine straw and pumpkins, and sing songs by Woody Guthrie. I do not miss Christmas music in November.
9. Worship in English with more than two other families. We regularly get together with our teammates for worship, and we use English during these meetings. But it’s just not the same as joining hundreds of other Christians to praise God.
8. Go on four romantic dates with my wife – at least one of which will be a spend-the-night party. Christie and I don’t go on dates often. There’s not really anywhere special to go, and childcare is an issue. But people will be begging to keep Baylor for us to go out to dinner on furlough (especially her aunts and grandparents). Why four of these dates, you ask? Well, because that’s one for every month during which we’re in the U.S.
7. Go to an Auburn football game. Wouldn’t you know my Auburn Tigers would win the their first national championship since 1957 while I was out of the country?! And it doesn’t sound like we have a superstar quarterback to pay this year. Nevertheless we will indeed be attending an Auburn game this year. War Eagle!
6. Eat at several of my favorite restaurants — including but not (at all) limited to the following (not even close):
- Conestoga Steakhouse — Dothan, AL
- Loveless Cafe — Nashville, TN
- Five Guys — Murfreesboro, TN
- San Antonio Taco Company – Nashville, TN
- McDougal’s Chicken Coop — Nashville, TN
- every barbecue restaurant I see
- [to see my list of top 10 foods in the world and the establishments which offer them, go here]
5. Drink 15 cases of Diet Dr. Pepper. That’s one per week. And I don’t need help from any of you. You can get your own sody pop. [And I'm not kidding about the number of cases I intend to drink.]
4. Go to the National Peanut Festival. Approximately 50% of all peanuts grown in the United States are grown within 100 miles of Dothan, Alabama (my hometown). So we like to celebrate peanuts. And I’m not talking about some small town Jazzfest Tomato Festival. This is big. Bigger than big. So big, in fact, that I’m surprised you’ve never attended. Where are you from, anyway? Colorado, you say? Yeah, everyone else from there’s already been to the National Peanut Festival; you’re the only one who hasn’t. And you’re really missing out. We’ve got hog and cattle shows, demolition derbies, a parade, a fair and carnival, beauty pageants, all kinds of photography and craft contests, delicious food, a greased pig chase, and a whole bunch of concerts. So… I guess I’ll see you there?
3. Compete in several triathlons and running races. I’m able to train a fair amount and stay in pretty decent shape here in Geita. But there’s only one race in Tanzania within a 14-hour drive. Therefore I will be racing as much as possible while in the states. I’ll soon post a calendar of my races — in case any of you want to join me.
2. Wrestle a bear. This one is pretty self-explanatory.
1. Find out the gender of our second child, whom we are currently expecting. That’s right — we’re pregnant! Baylor’s going to become a big sister sometime around January 26, 2012. And once we find out the child’s gender, we’ll be able to tell my brother whether he’ll be an aunt or an uncle. If we have a boy, our second child’s name will be one of the following (bold names are those by which we’d call him):
- Atticus Rhett Harrison
- Atticus Rhett Harrison
- Atticus Grey Harrison
- Brodie Knox Harrison
- Tanner Brooks Harrison
You guys are welcome to vote for a name in the comments section below. Heck, you can even suggest other ones.
Looking forward to seeing you all in a few weeks. If you wanna’ grab a fajita at SATCO — or if you know where I can wrestle a bear — please let me know.