I got an email this morning. It was from someone I’ve never met in person — but we read one another’s blogs. I hadn’t posted in a while, and he was just sending a quick email to check and see that all was okay with our family. This email was the seventh of that type in the last week. Which means two things:
- I have neglected my blog for far too long.
- My readers are incredibly thoughtful and encouraging people.
I’ll address the second idea first. I just want to say thank you to all of you who are actively praying for my wife and I in our work here in Tanzania. And I am flattered to death that some of you actually miss my blog posts when they’re not around. You guys are great.
And now on to an explanation of my recent internet absence. I didn’t intend to go radio silent when we first left our home in Geita; it was merely bad luck and busy scheduling that kept me from having part of my mornings to write. Then it was a teething baby waking at 4:00 am. And then it was a hotel without working internet. And then it was — well, let’s make this a game. I’ll post a list of things which I’ve experienced in the last few weeks, and you try and pick out the four happenings that are false. Ready, go:
- Christie, Baylor, and I drove to Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, and back to meet for a few days with our missionary mentors for marriage, family, and missionary counseling. We respect and appreciate Fielden and Janet Allison a great deal, and are thankful for their willingness to spend time with us.
- Because we were already in Dar, we spent three nights at the beach in Zanzibar, a short boat trip away. A boat ticket that costs Tanzanian residents (that’s us) $16 will cost visiting tourists $70 — just one of the many perks of living in Tanzania. Other perks include having a great deal of patience and paying $4.50+ for every gallon of diesel pumped.
- I ordered some calamari one day while at the beach. The guys went out and speared a squid while I was waiting, and then showed it to me for my approval. But, while cooking it, a big crow swooped down and flew away with the whole thing. I ate fish for lunch that day.
- I dropped our computer on the floor and the glass display screen broke, but the computer still seems to work fine. We spent one morning trying to find out where and how we could get the computer fixed. It, however, has not yet been repaired.
- We went to Spur, an over-rated South African restaurant chain, and Baylor was given her first restaurant balloon ever. Then we realized it was actually the first time she’d ever seen a balloon. We need to get this girl out of the house more often. Baylor also was able to play on a couple of different playgrounds; she prefers slides, but enjoys climbing up them more than sliding down.
- Our brakes went out while we were driving in a parking lot, yet we drove another 30-40 miles that day to accomplish that which was on our list. [A clutch works fine to stop a truck, by the way, provided you know far enough ahead of time that you'll need to stop.]
- We spent three different mornings getting our truck worked on. And Dar is still Africa. While I was able to have my alignment done with a 3D computer system at one shop, another guy repaired our rear axle with a gasket made out of a piece of paper and some silicone. He used to live and work in Geita.
- We did a lot of shopping while in Dar, picking up some items we can’t get in Geita, Mwanza, or even Kigali — or that are much cheaper on the coast. Examples: garden sprayers, a drill, spices, and oatmeal.
- We watched a few movies in a theater, finding that once Baylor goes to sleep at 8 pm, she does just fine in a noisy and crowded public area.
- We went bowling, and I beat Christie by double her score. Poor Baylor never even had a chance. The girl’s a miserable bowler. Too weak an arm.
- At one restaurant on the beach, I ate a 64-ounce steak, 12 jumbo shrimp, and two sides to receive my entire dinner free of charge and get my picture on the wall. And you know what? By far the most difficult thing to finish was the baked potato. I hate baked potatoes.
- I was pulled over by a female police officer. She was supposed to accompany me to the police station in order to actually give me a ticket, and so, she kept mentioning how far away the station was and how long it would take to process a ticket. She simply wanted to forgive me, she said. Then she asked for half the amount of the ticket. I told her I really appreciated her forgiveness, but that I couldn’t pay any money out without an official receipt — that my organization frowns on that, as it might be seen as offering a bribe to a police officer. She let me go without any ticket or money paid.
- Christie got a staph infection that actually probably started more than a month before. So we ended up staying an extra six days and seeing two doctors in four visits before that was resolved enough to return home.
- Christie had to take a pretty strong antibiotic which required that Baylor stop nursing. So Baylor is now officially and completely weaned — and did so cold turkey. The girl now eats like a daughter of Groen.*
- I slew four giant, fire-breathing dragons with only one ninja star and my bare hands.
- We ordered the construction of some canvas folding chairs, but they weren’t ready on the day upon which we’d agreed — or the next day, which was the day we actually needed them. When they finally did come, they weren’t built nearly as well as the display model, and three of them broke while in the selling area. I refused to take them and it took me six hours and a wealthy Tanzanian family buying an entire living room suite to get my deposit back.
- I stepped on three sea urchins the day I was learning to windsurf. I rubbed an unripe papaya on them. It didn’t seem to help at all.
- I ran my second barefoot / minimalist shoe race. It was a half-marathon (again called a marathon), and I finished in 1:53, a time with which I was quite disappointed. But the sun in Dar es Salaam is just sooo hot; I was completely zapped by mile 10. And my foot was still a little sore from the whole sea urchin experience….
- I saw former Tanzanian president, Ali Hassan Mwinyi, in person. At 85 years old he walked the 9k race and finished ahead of a whole lot of middle and high school students.
- A friend of ours ran the 9k race and was the first female finisher and third overall. She got a 100,000 shilling gift certificate to a nice restaurant. She didn’t take us out to dinner, though.
- Another friend of ours (who grew up with Christie in Richmond) broke six Tanzanian national swimming records while we were staying with he and his wife — and he is now quite officially and appropriately dubbed “The Fastest Swimmer in Tanzania.”
- During the 15 1/2 hour return drive to Geita, Baylor sat quietly in her car seat, never letting out even a single, short whimper.
* Our teammates in Geita, the Groens, have three daughters with whom I am very, very proud to share a table. They can’t out-eat me, but they eat Carson under the table at every meal. Of course Carson does lots of things like a little girl.