my recent absence and four lies

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:

  1. I have neglected my blog for far too long.
  2. 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.


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43 Comments

Filed under family, living in africa, slightly humorous or amusing?, updates from geita

43 responses to “my recent absence and four lies

  1. Lies:

    – I slew four giant, fire-breathing dragons with only one ninja star and my bare hands. This can’t be true. You wouldn’t need a ninja star; I’m sure you did it with your bare hands alone. And there were probably six dragons.
    – 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.” No, I believe he broke seven records.
    – 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. Can’t fool me. I know it’s a seventeen-hour drive!

    Can’t figure out the fourth lie for the life of me. I share your opinion on Spur.

    • james, you correctly identified two of the four lies, though your reasons for doing so may not have been correct.

      i won’t, however (not at this time anyway), reveal which of your guesses were correct…

  2. I know, I know- Africa is a continent, not a country but the encounter with the female law enforcement officer could have been enacted wholesale in a West African country I’m familiar with.

  3. If your regular and concerned readers were very clever (like me!) they might have thought to check, “The comings and goings of Geita” to see if there were any clues as to your disappearance. There were no clues BUT there was also no bad news so I knew that all must have been okay and that you were probably just a little sick of us all. Glad you’re back, sir.

    Oh and by the way, Spur Cheddermelt Burgers are my favorite burgers IN THE WHOLE WORLD!

    • oh, to be clever like the dustbuster…

      and i hope that one day you’ll get to visit the u.s.a. so you can try a real burger at a real restaurant. i don’t know how you south africans eat that spur garbage. and don’t even get me started on steers. no matter how much i miss fast food burgers, and even though i passed steers at least 10 times in dar… i will not eat there. i feel sorry for you guys and your burgers…

      • Brett, you aren’t holding out on a secret source of decent hamburgers in Tanzania, are you? Some self-hating part of me keeps on ordering burgers in restaurants, in the hopes that I’ll somewhere find one worth eating… if you tell me to give up all hope now, that’ll probably spare much future pain.

        Spurs burgers are marginally better than Steers which is not saying much. In Tanzania I’ve had some of the best Chinese, Indian and Swahili cuisine one could find anywhere. Even a really excellent Italian place. But to some day have an honest-to-goodness hamburger with a tall glass of sweet tea… now that would be something.

        • here’s the scoop on hamburgers, james:

          as far as i can tell at this point, we’re never going to have an american burger (that we don’t make ourselves) in tanzania. however, there are several “grilled-meatloaf-patty” sandwiches around that are certainly edible (any western restaurant in mwanza — i can eat tunza lodge’s better than most). if there’s a south african involved, though, it’s often going to have some curry in it — which i can eat, but makes it not a hamburger for me. that said, here are my top three burgers in tanzania:

          3. burger pointe, mwanza — this is close to a greasy griddle-fried burger from south alabama / north florida. you have to get it all the way with cheese plus chili sauce, though, for it to be good. and even then, it’s not a traditional burger. but it’s really good. there are onions put into the meat, which makes it kind of meatloafish (what’s new). burger pointe is a trailer in the parking lot across from the post office.

          2. hot box, dar es salaam — also a trailer in a parking lot, but this time the lot belongs to a petrol station on ali hassan mwinyi / new bagomoyo. the burgers are almost the same as burger pointe’s, only better. at least 150% better. and “all the way” there comes with the chili sauce (in mwanza, it’s without).

          1. the new acropol, morogoro — this hotel, restaurant, and bar has been there since 1940-something. it’s got some of the best atmosphere of any place i’ve been in tanzania with leather chairs and antique furniture everywhere. you feel just like you’ve come in from a safari with a bunch of guys in khaki and huge white handlebar mustaches. and the burger is delicious. this is the only burger i’ve eaten in tanzania that could actually be sold in an american burger joint. i had the hawaiian burger, and it wasn’t ‘five guys’ or ‘fat mos’ good, but it was as good as any burger at ruby tuesday’s, applebee’s, or any of those other all-look-the-same-taste-the-same franchises. but the burger is small; order two. [their beef cheesesteak isn’t bad at all, either.] the owner is a canadian, and i guess she’s been to the u.s. for burgers before…

  4. Wow, holy cow. I’ll be honest, I’ve been too busy myself to do much missing you, but this is quite the adventure..

    Hope all continues to be exciting, in a good way, for you. Keep up the great writing.

    • bernard, i hope you get a break from your busyness. and that you get to sit on the beach with your family and a guitar.

      and i’m happy to do without a bit of excitement for a few days. the quiet is nice.

  5. Glad you are back home, brother. I did miss your writing and was asked if you were okay by another person at SRC. Your articles give us insights into life in Africa and let us know how you and the family are doing. Glad you had a beneficial trip, but I am sure you would have preferred a few less adventures.

    When does the new vehicle arrive? I actually wondered if that may have arrived at some distant port and was the cause of your absence.

    • the new vehicle is scheduled to arrive on november 13, which would probably have me picking it up in mid-december…

      and congratulations on your recent half-marathon as well. i also hope the community service day went well.

  6. Aaron Kipfer

    Good to see you “back”!

    I’m guessing the dragon, Baylor’s silence, your exaggerated bowling score, and the squid (although I believe it to be plausible) are the untruths.

    All for very obvious reasons.

  7. Very good to have you back, and better to know that all is well. I’m not even going to take a stab at the lies versus the truths. I’ll just settle for it all being a great story!

  8. Daniel

    I bet you did not slay those dragons, eat that steak and shrimp dinner, drive 40 miles with no brakes ( I don’t believe Christie would go along with that; especially w/ Baylor in the vehicle), and I don’t believe your 10 month old daughter rode 15 plus hours without a whimper (I’ve heard you whimper in less time). Is Christie feeling good again?

  9. Kim

    Welcome home! I am glad in the end everything worked out – though it sure sounds like you had some kind of an adventure!

    I missed your posts greatly, but more than anything am happy to know all is well with you and your family.

  10. David Robinson

    glad to have you back…my mama always said, “no news is good news!” I never doubted you for a minute!

    I think I’m going to have to second Daniel’s analysis.

    • seconding daniel, huh? you also doubt my eating abilities, do you, robinson? i’ll tell you this much; you guys didn’t pick the correct four. you may have come close (as a couple of guys who know me best), but no cigar.

  11. Welcome back I was starting to wonder what had happened to you.

    Lies:
    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.

    I slew four giant, fire-breathing dragons with only one ninja star and my bare hands.

    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 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.

    Have a great day!

  12. I agree with Steve’s guesses above. Glad to have you back!

  13. Hello … stranger.

    I believe everything you have written… I mean, how can I doubt any of it? 🙂

    • tony, i’ve got some oceanfront property for sale in the democratic republic of congo… just in case you’re interested.

      • Aren’t you the same guy who is telling people about a God-Man that was born of a virgin who later died yet came back to life? A God-man who is part of.. no, who is perfectly triune and yet chooses to abide in the lives of those who believe in Him though they are imperfect and fallen in nature?

        Of course, I will buy some ocean front property from you… you traveled to a ‘third-world country’ with a wife and baby in tow to tell people there about this God-man.

        Where do I send the check .. 🙂

        • tony, i am that guy… i guess. though you make him sound a lot better than he is. and i only traveled here with my wife in tow. the baby came once we were in tanzania. and for that matter, it might have been me in tow — and the wife traveling to the 3rd-world country….

  14. Pingback: I Would Have Blogged But…

  15. You are back! Yay! I have been one of your readers who has missed your regular posts! I scolded you on my blog, after your comment. So you can disregard that now.

    So glad you are back!

  16. 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.

    I slew four giant, fire-breathing dragons with only one ninja star and my bare hands.

    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.

    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.

    This is a tough game.
    Glad to see that all is well, and I’m also looking forward to more posts.

  17. I want to guess too!

    1. Dragon slaying.
    2. Quiet Baylor for 15 hours.
    3. 64 oz. steak eating with picture. ( I am completely aware that you can eat this much, however, I have no knowledge of a place in Dar or Zanzibar that takes your picture or gives away free food.)
    4. Bowling. As there are NO bowling alleys I am aware of in Dar.

    Hope ya’ll are well! Always enjoy your updates.

    • Okay. So I did just google that there is a bowling alley at the Sea Cliff. If that is the case. Then I go back and forth between the 3d computer alignment system and your computer screen being broken. From these two I would choose the computer, because it seems so normal, so as to throw us off.

    • ding ding ding ding. we have a winner!

      amy, your first guess contained all 4 correct (or incorrect, depending on how you look at it) answers!

      i think that maybe there used to be a bowling alley in sea cliff, before the remodel — which was at least 2 years ago. but i’m not sure. i just know that i’ve never seen a bowling alley there, yet i’ve read in an old guide book that there is one. and i know they’ve remodeled at some point kind of recently.

      so… how is the united states treating you? we stayed in your old house for a bit with the fastest swimmer in tanzania and his wife. missed you guys.

      • Well glad we didn’t miss out on the exciting adventures of bowling while we were in Dar.

        Doing well. Adjustment is taxing to say the least but we are thankful for friends and family, and sure that the Lord has us home for a reason, however we are still waiting on exactly what that reason is right now. We are enjoying excellent Mexican food as well, which is such a treat!

        I am also training for my first marathon, which is coming up in early December. Any hot tips, as I know that you are way more experienced in this than I?

        • glad you guys are doing well. i’m sure God will show you a place to minister. and i’m jealous about mexican food.

          as for your first marathon, my advice follows:
          – for your first one, don’t set a time goal. just enjoy the crowds and the experience, and make sure you finish.
          – don’t ever be too proud to walk sections. even the best runners still do that occasionally.
          – in training for this first marathon, putting miles on your legs is more important than anything else.
          – please don’t become one of those obsessed people who think training runs are more important than friends and family

          that’s all i’ve got.

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