Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. And if I were speaking to you in person, I would not only extend God’s grace and peace to you, but a cup of this wonderful coffee I’m drinking from the lake region of Rwanda. The coffee I drink here is one of a handful of things that is better than in the states (*top ten list coming soon).
I wonder if in the beginning God drank coffee in the morning before creating, or in the evening while thinking about how good everything was — or both? Either way I know for sure that Starbucks came about as a result of the fall of man: one of the curses put on us — to be surrounded by a caffeinated beverage giant that roasts their beans until they taste like the burnt remains of a campfire — and sells their joe at $4 a cup. Welcome to the Harrison’s blog update. We’re glad you’re here.
The Move to Geita
Christie and I moved to Geita Wednesday, September 2nd. I’m pretty sure I told you in a previous blog that we’d just bought some appliances and were moving soon. Well we indeed have moved — though we still don’t have the appliances that would be delivered in ten days (welcome to Africa). We’re sharing a house with the McNeals right in the heart of Geita. We’re a minute’s walk to the main market in town and about five seconds’ walk to the African Inland Church building. That means we get to hear African choirs practice over loudspeakers at all hours of the day and into the night! I know you’re all jealous.
Living in Geita is great. I love it here. It’s a small town where nearly everyone is friendly, and it’s really easy to form relationships. Below is an excerpt from an email I sent to some friends after only being here one day:
christie and i have spent one night here in geita, and the mcneals about four now. we’re staying in a short-term rental on african inland church property while we look for longer-term rentals. so most of our day today, for instance, was spent looking at and/or for houses and practicing swahili. it’s so much fun to have walking around and talking to people as a job. today i went to a water well where a bunch of local guys come to refill big jugs of water that they then deliver to whomever has ordered them. i mean they spend all day long pumping water into jugs and riding them on a bicycle to somewhere over and over and over again. and the water well is just outside the house we’re staying in. so i just went and asked if i could help. so i pumped water for about 30 minutes straight and just talked to them about their jobs and problems in the community and my wife being a good cook and how i look like jesus, etc. and THAT is my job these days. life is really beautiful, you know?
- Water Well Guys: Well, well, well… you’ve heard about the guys at the well. I guess that’s the first relationship I was able to form, and I still talk with those guys every day. Sometimes one (or more) of them jumps in the truck with me to go somewhere. They’ll ask me where I’m going, and I’ll name a place. Then they say, “Let’s go.” The first couple of times I assumed they needed a ride somewhere (I kind of serve as a taxi here a lot of times), so I asked where they were going. They’d just answer, “With you, together.” They just like to ride in a car. They get really excited when we pass people they know, and they can wave or get me to honk the horn. Sometimes their friends respond, “Aahh… anakula maisha!” [Translation: Hmm… he is eating life.] When’s the last time you were riding in a car, and thought, “Man, I’m really living it up now… this is the life?” Live your lives full of thanksgiving. God has really blessed you.
- Mzee Charles: Mzee means “old guy,” and can be a sign of respect and honor. Mzee Charles and his family own a little shop next to the market where they sell cold drinks and little odd and end things you might need in your house (ie. toilet paper, clothespins, soap). I was looking one day for a Bitter Lemon to drink — it’s a lemon-flavored carbonated beverage with quinine in it (originally used for its anti-malarial goodness, now I think it’s just for the bitter taste, which I’m quite fond of)… anyway, I found my drink of choice at Mzee Charles‘ store. He was just sitting out front on a little bench, the way I picture old farmers sitting in front of the C.C. Bess store on a hot summer afternoon (though Mr. Charles wasn’t playing checkers with anyone). Now every few afternoons I go to that store and sit on a bench out front while I drink my Bitter Lemon and talk with Mzee Charles about weather and farming and what kind of chickens I want to raise. I introduced Christie to Mr. Charles, and now she frequents the shop whenever we need toilet paper or the like. Their family’s invited us over for dinner, though we haven’t set a date for that yet…
- Muslim Seamstresses: Christie’s made friends with several Muslim girls in their early 20’s who sew for a living in the market. She goes every day now to sit and talk with them — and I hear she draws quite a crowd to the tailor shop. Christie’s forming relationships and practicing her Swahili at the same time. She’s also been a witness that Christians care about, and are willing to be friends with, Muslims. They were quite taken aback by that, I think. They’ve even made her a special “pregnant woman” dress….
- John Paul: I’m telling you things a little out of order here, but I met John Paul through dealings with the house that we’ve found to rent (more to come on that). He was indeed named after the Pope, though there’s very little resemblance there. John Paul is a person of peace. We’ve become friends, and are in the process of starting a Bible study in his home. His whole family (and workers and relatives that live with him) and their next door neighbors are planning on coming. Counting Christie and I, that makes about eight or nine people. Please be praying about that Bible study and for John Paul in particular.
… will be born in Dar. We’re not sure when we’ll actually leave to go there, but she’s due on November 22nd. We were having a hard time deciding between Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, and Kampala, Uganda, and prayed about it for quite some time (as our families will attest to). We feel best about Dar, and wonder if some of the political unrest and rioting in Kampala wasn’t a sign to us to go a different direction. We have some friends in Dar that are going to let us stay with them while there, so that will alleviate one of the biggest costs of having a baby in Africa — the paying for a place to wait to have the baby. We’ll also be able to continue to work on our Swahili while there. And Baylor will be able to say she was born in Tanzania while we were living there — instead of having to explain every time she’s asked why she was born in Uganda if her parents were living in Tanzania.
- Christie and Baylor’s health
- Water well guys
- Mzee Charles
- Muslim Seamstresses
- John Paul and family and the upcoming Bible study program
- God to continue to reveal Himself to the people of Geita
- Further Swahili language acquisition
- Kasey George and baby’s health
- Holly McNeal and baby’s health
- Paperwork and plans for the orphanage