We live in Mwanza, Tanzania, serving with Emmanuel International helping local churches in physical and spiritual ministry.

Sunday, 26 December 2010

Happy Christmas!

Many of you, our family and friends, have been very much in our thoughts and prayers as we have celebrated Christmas in Tanzania. And we know for some of you, it has not been an easy time. We have missed you! But we have had a lovely Christmas here. We spent Christmas Day with the Galvin family and Raymond and Helen and our Canadian friend, Laura. The girls thoroughly enjoyed their first Christmas in the sun as they played outside in the huge "paddling" pool the Galvins had. (Not a lot of water in it though!)

Amisadai and Louisa splashing with Tianna, Abeni and Kaiya
 As well as paddling on Christmas Day, there were many other Christmas firsts this year: 1. We had no brussel sprouts (yay!) 2. We went to get milk and wish the cows a Happy Christmas before breakfast on Christmas morning  3. We were tormented by flies during Christmas Dinner  4. We ate our Christmas cake off  plastic picnic bowls and not our best china... But amidst all the things that were so different to our "normal, traditional" Christmas, the reason for Christmas, the meaning of Christmas, the story of Christmas was the true constant and this was happily celebrated! And it was good to share this with new friends - from Canada and Tanzania on Christmas Eve, and friends from Australia on Christmas Day.

Now we are thinking about Amisadai's birthday coming up on Thursday. Her idea is for us to go for samosas at Hasty Tasty in Iringa. They are tasty! And then we will have some kind of party here in the afternoon. Thanks to Grandma, we have everything we need to decorate a birthday cake now!

And as I write, Tim is intently chasing flies and mozzies with our new toy - a racquet which electrocutes insects!

The girls gave me a lovely Tanzanian bag!

Tuesday, 21 December 2010

Candles in Potatoes and Jiggers in Feet

We are thinking of all those of you in cold and snowy England at the moment! We have been checking the snow news for Heathrow flights for our EI friends Andy and Angela who are trying to get home for Christmas. They are unfortunately currently stuck in Dar es Salaam with no internet access. (We lost our internet too, and now as I finally post this blog, they have secured seats on a flight tomorrow) I am sure many of you have your own snow problems and stories!

Here, (with temperatures which have gone up in the 30's) we are enjoying a break from homeschool and language school. But we have also temporarily lost our househelper, Lucy, who has taken a Christmas break to visit family in Arusha. And so the time spent in school has more than been filled with all that she normally does for us! I miss her terribly! This morning my attempt at making the bread was a disaster! I tried to follow Lucy's recipe, pinned on our noticeboard, thinking it would be more reliable than my Western recipes, taking account of the flour here and the altitude etc etc... But her recipe was as follows and somewhere along the line, I went wrong!

Mikate 2 - 4
unga was ngamo
vitcombe 3 - 6
hamira 3 - 6
chumbi 1 kijiko kidogo 2
mafuta ----

Then I was pasteurizing two batches of milk, boiling water for washing the dishes, then sweeping the dusty house, then on my hand and knees with a towel and a bucket ... and before I knew it the morning was over and I hadn't even started doing the things I was planning to do this morning! So we ate the mishappen rock that vaguely resembled bread! 

On Friday, we had a great EI party for all our househelp and guards and all their families. We had over fifty people with all the children! We enjoyed a feast of rice pilau, meat, coconut peas, chapattis, bananas ... It was a great opportunity to thank all our workers for all they do for us as well as meet all their families. Mama Kiri (a lovely lady who lives nearby)with her daughter, spent the day preparing and cooking the meal with a little help from the EI ladies!

Mama Kiri had come to my rescue a few days earlier ....  I got my first jigger in the foot! I thought it was a splinter for the first day or two and when I finally looked at it properly when my foot was really hurting, with a big purple, swollen patch, I realised it wasn't. The next day, I sat down to sort it out and realized it probably was a jigger. So I tried to dig it out with a needle. If you are reading this Jay or Laurena, I was thinking of you, first wishing you were here, then very glad you weren't able to see the terrible mess I made of the whole operation! I ended up bursting the egg sac, trying to squeeze the thing out, so little eggs were spread out along with puss and by now I was clammy and nauseous (I'm not very good with this sort of thing!!) so I dabbed on a whole load of antisepetic and went to bed! The next day, I went to Mama Kiri, and she and her daughter came to my rescue. They pulled out numerous little eggs one by one! And then finally the culprit. So now I just have a small crater in my foot where she and her sac of eggs were! Oh joy! Next time I will go straight to Mama Kiri and get the whole thing out in one piece  ... and get a lesson in jigger removal! Although I'm not sure any in this family particularly want me to practice on them!

Last Tuesday we had the Christmas Carol Service with the English-speaking church. For the small nativity, Amisadai was a shepherd and Louisa an angel, complete with wings made of a mosquito net and a halo with tinsel from South Africa! Amisadai enjoyed playing her violin for the carols along with another violin, a cello, flute and myself on the piano. And we even had a Christingle, but because there are no oranges here at the moment, the candles were all stuck in potatoes! But as it was pointed out, the orange is supposed to represent the world, and really, with all the valleys and mountains, a lumpy potato is probably more fitting! 

Thank you so much to everyone who has sent us Christmas cards! It means such a lot to get news from you. And we have enjoyed some packages too! Thank you for the chocolate snowballs which arrived today, Dixons - I wish you could have seen the girls faces! Thanks so much!

Sunday, 12 December 2010

Advent Reflections

Decorating our Christmas tree
This year's run-up to Christmas has, so far, been very different: no crammed calendar, no mad shopping for presents, and no pressure to have this year's Christmas bling. Instead it's been do-it-yourself preparations - we've made an Advent wreath (each week we light a candle and have a service prepared by Amisadai), made a wooden stable for our nativity set, made our own decorations (we're very grateful to Tim's cousin Rachel, husband Paul and son Aaron for sending us festive craft supplies). Our gardener, Spedito, went outside our gate to chop the top off a conifer for our Christmas tree - can't get a fresher tree than that! He really enjoyed seeing the excitement of the girls as he helped them decorate it! In this season of waiting, we have enjoyed the gift of time! We've had time together as we've made preparations or as we read the Christmas story.

Last evening, we had the time for a leisurely Christmas party with our EI friends, Andrew, Miriam, Ben, Sam, Andy and Angela. The children enjoyed a treasure hunt in the garden. Then we shared a lavish meal, and all the cooks did a wonderful job. Games afterwards added to the fun, even if one or two did try it on! It's taken us most of today to clear up - including washing up without a dishwasher - but that doesn't matter, because we've got the time to do so and as we do can remember our fun time last night! We are also very grateful to have the water, and the electricity to heat it, now!

It's as if we've rediscovered the joy of Christmas. We're savouring every moment and we're looking forward to what's coming. We have our Christmas Carol Service on Tuesday evening with Amisadai, Louisa and Rachel all taking part. Before that we have the visit tomorrow of our friends Huruma, Kenny and Jimmy Nkone from Dar-es-Salaam. Our joy is in the time and simplicity - time together with people in an uncomplicated way. The first Christmas was very simple indeed, and this is what we are most looking forward to celebrate, hopefully in the same manner, where what's supposed to be in the background stays in the background. One wonders what Joseph and Mary talked about in the hours they had in that stable. Maybe they discussed the meaning of God's fulfilling his promise of sending a Saviour.

Painting decorations with Lucy
Our E.I. Christmas Feast

Monday, 6 December 2010

Mzungu Woman on a Bike!

Yes, this Mzungu (white person) now has a bike! And I was a great source of entertainment to Tanzanians as I tried it out on a lap around the market last week! It is no easy feat riding a strange bike, in a skirt, through throngs of people with bananas on their heads, water cans on their carts or sacks on their bikes. They are all staring at me, pointing, laughing, smiling, as I try to remain decent with my skirt flapping about and remain stable and erect while avoiding the bumps and deep ditches! I have never seen a Tanzanian woman on a bike in Iringa and this may be why! But now I have a bike, it will save so much time going to and from school, not to mention the running costs of the land cruiser! The only downside is now I must also use it to go to the market. And this is where I really am a Mzungu, as I cannot imagine being able to ride up that hill back home, with my bike overloaded with pineapples and bags of rice, with mangoes and bananas on my head and buckets of flour hanging from my handlebars!

Last week, amidst the excitement of bartering for my second-hand bike, we enjoyed a visit from the new EI International Director, Doug Anderson. He came to see how we are all getting on here in Iringa! It was great to meet him, share what we are doing and be encouraged by him.

The EI Team with Doug Anderson (third in from left)
 I am typing this blog entry with no internet, and wonder when I will be able to post this! It has been another day without power, but we now know the pattern, and so it is possible to plan (flexibly!) accordingly! We seem to have a day/evening with power, followed by a day with no power until 8pm and then on the third day, power until 6pm. So the candles are getting low and we have even resorted to eating frozen bread as hunger strikes before we can cook anything! We did end up in the dark when Doug came for dinner last week. Thankfully, the meal was almost ready when the lights suddenly and unexpectedly dimmed. I ran to the kitchen, hoping to quickly fry the meat before we lost all power. But I only made it as far as the door! We were able to cook the meat on the kerosene burner outside and ate by candlelight – the only further mishap, caused by our lack of candleholders, was a lit candle that toppled onto Doug’s serviette! It was all rather miraculous, that we (1) enjoyed a hot meal and (2) didn’t go up in flames!

Tuesday, 30 November 2010

Maisy is a BOY!!!

We recently came to the shocking realization that Maisy, our favourite hen is actually is a cock! And another one as well! So that explained their lack of egg production! So very sadly, in yet another Monger chicken saga, we returned the two “boy” chickens, including our beloved Maisy, to their birthplace and swapped them for two “girl” chickens! These two are very young, so we will be waiting quite a while for these to lay … that is providing we don’t notice a suspicious red bit appearing on their heads! But the Great Chicken Swap was another adventure in itself, and that story I will save for the girls to tell you about!

Tim has been getting into more stoves work! We had a two-day visit from Dr. Leonard from Dar es Salaam who is an expert in this field. He came to share his knowledge and skill with Tim and Andrew as they worked together with a team of workers on a large stove for the school in Uhambingeto. This is the school where the rainwater tanks have just been completed. Since getting water, they have been able to serve uji (like porridge) to all the childen. They have been cooking on a large three stone fire, but now, with this stove, they will be able to cook for the children using much less firewood!

The new stove!

Uji time!
While Tim was working on this stove in Uhambingeto, I was at home wishing he might have been building one for me here! We had already been several days without phone or internet, and power has been very off and on, and then on Thursday, the power was out all day … I kept hoping it would come on in time to cook a meal for Tim and Dr. Leonard when they returned! But nothing, and then things got worse with no running water! 6pm approached, and we were expecting them back anytime, and I was wondering what to do! But then it was on! I raced into action, not sure how long it would last, and enchiladas were quickly prepared and cooked! Thankfully, the men were late and we enjoyed a hot meal together at 8pm! But the following morning, we still had no water (we don’t smell too bad, really!!) and again couldn’t wash the clothes! When the water did come on later that morning, we rushed to get the laundry in the machine. And it had a good 5 minutes, and then the power went out again! And so it continued all day … later we had power but the water was off again! So we learn again to appreciate, without taking for granted, the wonderful resources of water and electricity … and make the most of it when we have it! And it is exciting, seeing the need around us here, to be able to help people benefit from having water and managing other resources!

Cooking in our wonderful outside area!

And now today, a week after having no phone or internet, we are very excited to be back online and hope to catch up on some news ... I hear Canada and the UK have snow now!

Sunday, 14 November 2010

Let's get cookin' ... almost!

Work has begun! This week all four of us worked together to produce our first fuel-efficient stove! It is exciting to feel we are really starting! Even if we don't yet feel Swahili-confident! The girls thought it was great, mucking about getting very dirty with the red clay! They are looking forward to lots more of this, they made their own little pots as well! The stove has to sit for three weeks and then will be fired and then be ready for use! I can't wait to cook my beans on it! There is lots to do to plan the stoves project .. where and how, and how it will be funded! There are some initial thoughts and plans, but beyond that ....! More about this soon ...

The Monger Pottery

Our works of art (the centre stove was our model!) 
Tim is away at the moment. He is in Dar-es-Salaam for five days. He has gone with Brad, our new Australian friend, who was picking up some Australian missionaries from the airport. Today, Tim has preached four sermons in the four services with Victory Christian Church! I'm sure he is now feeling rather tired! A long day today, following a long drive yesterday, following a rather difficult and eventful few days prior! But tomorrow he has the very important job (amongst other things of course) of buying as many porridge oats as he can to bring back to us!

Meanwhile, the girls and I are being well taken care of here! Lunch with Andrew and Miriam yesterday and roast pork Sunday dinner with Andy and Angela today! Louisa is struggling with a bit of an ear infection tonight, which I hope will quickly clear up! And Amisadai is fine, other than the many bites she got from climbing the dudu-inhabited mango tree today! But my next trick is to climb a papaya tree to get the sap out from an unripe papaya (still on the tree) with which to treat Amisadai's ringworm! I think that will warrant a photo for the blog and we will let you know if it works! Until then, lots of love from Tanzania!

Wednesday, 10 November 2010

Tim goes up a mountain ...

After missing our usual weekend blogging, there seems to be so much to share! Tim enjoyed an overnight visit in Uhambingeto which I will let him write about! But I just have to say that he went up a mountain and up there in the middle of nowhere, asked a Tanzanian to please do his ironing!! (He meant to ask him to take a photo! The difference between "piga picha" and "piga pasi.")

The girls and I have enjoyed learning about natural dyes, looms and weaving, and after visiting Tanzanian artisans at work are looking forward to working on our own crafts at home! This has also been a good opportunity to learn our colours in Swahili!

The girls and I have been twice this week to a neighbouring house to play with some local Tanzanian girls. Amisadai and Louisa have enjoyed doing crafts and playing with hula hoops and skipping ropes with Alice (10), Grace (7) and Miriam (4). It is great for Amisadai and Louisa to pick up more Swahili! And on the subject on playing outside all the time, the girls have never had such messy legs! Dirt, cuts, scratches, scabs, bites and now ringworm too! It's quite the procedure at bedtime, cleaning and creaming! 

Saturday bike ride round the block!
We cannot let a blog go by without mentioning kuku (chickens) ... and the good news is that we have now had three eggs! For the past three days our big black hen, now appropriately named Furaha (Happy) has laid an egg!

We have bought a solar light! This should help us in the frequent events of power cuts! We have had numerous and various problems with our electricity recently ... this has created minor hassles for things like showering and cooking (especially when the electricity goes out in the middle of these activities ... which has, in both cases, happened!)
And now to Tim: Being invited to go to Uhambingeto to take part in surveying a water project installed 15 years ago was a great privilege. It so happened I had a week off Swahili, as I had no teacher. We left the village at 6:30am so we could climb our mountain before it got too hot. Never have I taken such interest in pipework! I was the official photographer, and filled our memory card with photographs of pipe joints (many of which were broken) as we journeyed up the pipeline to the springs. Unfortunately these sources of water are not giving the amount of water the village needs in the dry season.
Following the pipe
Praying for rain

Sunday, 31 October 2010

Chickens, food and water!

Yesterday we had the exciting arrival of our chickens! We picked them up yesterday afternoon and are now the proud keepers of nine hens and a cock! The girls are making friends with them and deciding on their names, as given by their friends in England for their past birthdays!  

 We had a great day on Friday. As part of our language training, the four of us went for a day of cooking with other language students, learning how to cook Tanzanian food and learning the Swahili food and cooking vocabulary! We set off at 7:45am, picking up our teachers and live chickens on the way. 
Preparing vegetables, sorting rice

And then we had a busy morning preparing all the food. It is a very time-consuming task here, starting with preparing all the vegetables (outside, without the chopping boards or peelers that we are used to!) Then the chickens had to be slaughtered and plucked, I must admit that neither Tim or I actually took the knife. And then it was all gutting (ew!!) and chopping (nothing is wasted!) and boiling and frying. We hacked open the coconuts (much more pleasant), grated the fruit off and then squeezed all the goodness out for adding to our beans. We kneaded, rolled and fried mandazi (like donuts) and chapattis. We simmered spicy African chai. It was hot work and the flies were everywhere! But we had a feast by 1:30pm! It was well worth all the hard work and time! It was great fun and very good food, but I have to admit I'm not sure how much my Swahili improved!

Tim and our teacher cooking chapattis!


Chicken ready to pluck!

This week we have had trouble getting running water. We lost running water on Tuesday and so the following afternoon, rather than wait for the “water officials” to fix the problem, which was just up the road from us, Spedito and Mikdadi thought we could solve the problem much quicker ourselves. We all went to the Kihesa market where a new pipe section was bought. Then they went with their spades and dug up the problem, put the new piece on the pipe, wrapped things up with rubber and buried it all again! And lo and behold, we had running water again! We would never get away with doing this in the UK! We enjoyed the running water long enough to have a shower and refill our buckets. But the next morning (Thursday) the water stopped again! We had further water problems on Friday, which is a whole other story which involved the help of the Sharpes visiting friend, Howard, who happens to be a plumbing expert who looked incredulously into the whole state of affairs while Spedito got very wet!
Spedito and Mikdadi working on the pipe!
But we got our water again on Friday afternoon and now appreciate, very much more, our water supply and the great blessing it is to have running water. We were fine, as we had buckets on hand and could buy drinking water, but for so many people here it is a very different story. It is still hard (although a little easier now) to imagine travelling hours each day in the heat with a heavy bucket of water on my head. And seeing how quickly our garden suffered without water, and seeing the dryness of the land at the moment, we see firsthand the reality of the problem for so many people here, and are excited to be here and see the rainwater harvesting projects in action! In Uhambingeto they have almost finished the seventh and final rainwater tank for the secondary school, which means all the tanks will be finished in time to collect the first rain! And what a huge difference that makes for those teachers and children!

Sunday, 24 October 2010

Bridegrooms, Punctures and Balancing Beans

We have just returned from a truly Tanzanian wedding! Today was the wedding of Bernard, our night watchman! It was a great experience, especially the reception with lots of noise, music and dancing! We danced up to the bride and groom in true African style with the giving of the gifts!

We arrived at the wedding an hour late, but still waited for another hour and half until the ceremony began! We really were late for the reception as we had a puncture in our land cruiser. We had a jack … but it didn’t work. So we got one from another vehicle, but that didn’t work either! It could have made a much more interesting story if we were stuck on a bumpy track in the bush in the middle of nowhere, but actually we were at home, having stopped in for a bite to eat! So Miriam came and rescued us; she lent us a jack and took us to the reception! So tomorrow we go and buy a new jack!

First attempt with jack #1

Playing with the dogs while we wait!
Yesterday, Tim and Spedito went to buy materials for the hen house and began work on that! The posts are in and the wooden door is made. We hope it will be finished by next weekend and we will go and find some chickens. We are hoping to get about ten.

TIm and Spedito fixing the posts
After planting all our seeds last weekend, we can already see many little shoots! It is exciting to watch! As with many things here, there is such great satisfaction in seemingly “small” things! And it does so often seem, when you stop to notice, that small things can make a big difference!

Now I am going to do some more Swahili homework! And plan some school lessons for the girls. We are about to start a science unit on electricity. We have just finished a unit on “Looking after our Bodies” which included a food group study which got the girls thinking about how we can balance our beans! Also this week we will start a math unit on measurement, so I think we can start by seeing how much chicken wire we will need for the run!

Finally, here is a clip from the gift giving at the reception!

Sunday, 17 October 2010

Chicken Run

Tragedy struck the Monger chickens! On Friday, we had the tragic slaughter of all our chickens! Disease had spread and old age had set in and it all resulted in the unfortunate end of our chickens. Spedito did the deed for us, keenly watched by Louisa who was fascinated, but Amisadai had to go inside feeling rather faint! We remain undeterred and will be giving a thorough clean to our hen house, as well as a good extension, and then will purchase some young new chickens to keep us supplied with eggs!

Spedito with the first chicken!
After the mass execution, we were able to enjoy some time out in the garden yesterday planting seeds for crops of rhubarb, corn, carrots, cabbages, cucumbers, green beans (Louisa is happy!) and lettuces (the rabbits are happy!). Thanks, Karen Fincken for the seeds - the girls each have their own little plot to tend!

Spedito and the girls hard at work!
We enjoyed a picnic outing yesterday with the Wingfields and Sharpes and all their visiting family! We went exploring, GPS's in hand, looking for some ancient rock paintings we knew to be under a large overhanging boulder! After a failed first attempt (but great picnic spot!) we found the bamboo - the clue that led us to the climb to find the paintings!

We made it!

Look for the giraffe and the elephant!
Language school is continuing to keep us busy! I still find it a bit of a strain on my brain talking to Lucy, but we have fun! We have enjoyed cooking and baking together and have made "cakey-coco-a" and banana cake! We also made a pretty good lemon curd out of green lemons, coarse brown sugar and margarine! My attempt at making butter was not quite so successful!

I have tried out the old treadle sewing machine we have here! It is a bit tricky getting started as the direction suddenly reverses if you are not careful when the treadle goes back! But I treadled away and was very satisfied to make a curtain for our food pantry to keep out the sun and flies!

Amisadai has spent today in bed. It isn't malaria - we checked! But topped up with fluids and calpol today, we hope she will be back to normal tomorrow!
... now updating on Monday ... Amisadai is much better!

Thursday, 7 October 2010

How to cook rice on your head

This week, school for all of us included some fieldtrips! Our language studies have been going well, Tim racing ahead of me now going every day! I go a few afternoons a week when I have finished teaching the girls, but now that I have planned ahead more of the girls lessons, I am hoping to study the Swahili a bit more on my own. I made the mistake last week when someone asked me how I was, I said I was a banana! Our evenings are busy doing homework, study and lesson prep! This week we enjoyed the opportunity to visit some of the villages we are looking forward to working in ...

Visiting the Primary School at Uhambingeto
On Tuesday afternoon we all went with Andy to Uhambingeto. We visited a Secondary School where they are currently working to finish all seven rainwater harvesting tanks before the rains come in November. We also visited the Primary School, where the tanks have been completed. The children were very excited to see Amisadai and Louisa, who were rather overwhelmed at the excited mob of boys and girls who followed us around! We also saw the church that has fairly recently been built and met the pastor and his family. We finished the day at Elekana's house (who sends his greetings to Matt Dixon who trained him). Louisa was delighted to share his ugali (maize-meal)! It was really good to see all the work that is being done in this village to help the schools; before the tanks were built, the closest water was 10km away - a long way to walk or bike with a heavy load of water. They have also built and are still building latrine blocks with a tap for washing. And as part of this are teaching good hygiene practices to the children.

A rain-water tank nearing completion!

Ugali with Elekana!
 Tim and the girls also went to another village, Mafinga, on Wednesday (I had to stay home to go to language school!) They went with Andrew and Miriam who teach at Bethal Bible College, run by the Pentecostal Holiness Mission. They teach a practical unit on basic health and nutrition. The girls have been studying the basic food groups in Science and it was a great opportunity for them to share what they were learning with all the older students! (We had been doing a little energetic action routine to remember the food categories and they performed that!) Andrew and Miriam also demonstrated how to fuel-efficiently cook rice ... in pot of boiled water in a basket insulated with well-packed dry grass. Left for 45 minutes, the rice is cooked all on its own! If a person is caring for a relative in hospital, the prepared basket can be carried on her head, and will be cooked by the time she reaches the hospital!

Andrew demonstrating the rice cooking.

Also this week, we had the privilege of meeting the new Bishop of the Diocese of Ruaha and his wife, Lillian and their children. We shared a meal with them and Andy and Angela at the Wingfields' home last night. It was very good to meet them; we will be working closely with him with the projects we get involved in.  

Finally, thank you to all of you who have sent messages to us! We love to hear from you!

Sunday, 3 October 2010

Campfires, hippos and fleas

We have just returned from a great weekend away at Masombo with about thirty adults and children from the Iringa Christian Fellowship – an English-speaking group! We all stayed at a lovely site managed by one of the families, beside a river just about 20km away from our house. I really enjoyed driving our beast of a land cruiser down the bumpy track to the river! I can finally drive it now that the clutch has been sorted out somewhat!  The gears do crunch terribly and it is often pretty hard to get into second gear, but it is great on these roads! With the river and lack of bridges, it is actually quicker to get to other nearby places near on foot, and I also had a go on the high swing-like zip-wire that has been rigged over the river for a quick crossing. It was great – just stopped short of the high bank on the other side which meant tugging on the rope to haul myself to solid ground!
Crossing the river!

The whole weekend was really good fun – and guaranteed sunshine! There were sessions of Bible teaching and worship for the adults and fun activities for the children. There was lots of time to chat, great meals together, games in the evening and some fun Scottish dancing! And campfires with marshmallows!! At night, we listened out for the hippo that roams the river there (there was evidence on him on the path next to our tent, but we didn’t hear or see him!) We did hear the bush babies chasing about though!
We arrived back home late this afternoon and are now getting ready for Swahili lessons and homeschooling this week! We had a bit of a panic when we got home and went to feed the rabbits. Amisadai left the hatch open and “Mouse” escaped, and ran off very quickly and was chased up and down the garden by four hungry dogs! Amidst the screams, Daddy came to the rescue and scooped up the rabbit and put her safely home! And if that wasn’t enough, a little later, the girls were cleaning out the tortoise box outside when the dogs suddenly ran over to the tortoises! This time, Mummy came to the rescue and got the dogs away while Louisa put the tortoises safely in the box!
Now to make a list for the market! Number one is to find something to deal with the fleas! The dogs, we have just discovered have fleas, and Louisa’s head very unfortunately was full of them! I am now itching all over with the thought of it! But now to finish on happier things, we shall also get some yummy pineapple, big, soft avocados and huge aubergines! How delicious is that?!
The view from our garden!
The girls exploring in our garden!

Wednesday, 29 September 2010

Dog food for a Watchman in Swahili

Tunajifunza kiswahili! (We are learning Swahili!) Tim started on Monday, and  I started this afternoon at the Language School in town - just a 25 minute walk away. It is going to be hard work - lots to learn and homework to do. And with the homeschooling now started and trying to figure out when and how to shop and cook, I am a bit tired, but it is so great to be learning! The girls have now had three days of school, which is going well! We have already had a very interesting Art field trip to a crafts workshop just near our house where the ladies make batiks. It is an Italian Catholic mission and the other very good thing about it is the amazing pasta and tomato sauce and other Italian goodies they make in the kitchen there!

We are learning things all the time! And having the odd mishaps in communication! We have a day watchman, Spedito who also works in the garden and with the animals (very useful indeed!). He cooks beans and ugali for himself outside but I knew we were to supply the food. I thought I had communicated there was food for him in our kitchen, but somehow, that didn't get across, and Lucy, our househelp communicated somehow to me that he had no beans and was eating the dog food! I felt very awful! We gave him a sausage roll we had treated ourselves to from the Italian sisters, concerned that he was going hungry at our house! But it seems he was fine - the fish that the dogs eat is quite edible, but he does now have beans! He is a very kind and understanding man! But it makes me wonder how many other errors we are competely oblivious to!

Cooking beans outside our kitchen
We have enjoyed eating our papaya with homemade yogurt! My first attempt at njegele na nazi (peas in coconut sauce) was a complete disaster. But now I have bought a mbuzi ya kukunia nazi (a folding stool with a razor-like knife on the end with which to get the fruit from the coconut) and will try again tomorrow with hopefully better success!
The "mbuzi ya kukunia"

The girls with Mama Lucy grating coconut
(Now posting this photo a day later, I can say the coconut peas were delicious!)

Thursday, 23 September 2010

A wind-up torch and a candle!

I am writing this on Wednesday night by candlelight as our electricity has run out! We will pay for some more tomorrow! So much yet to learn! We arrived in our new home here in Iringa on Tuesday. We were supposed to be leaving at 5:30am Monday, but because the car was still being serviced that was postponed to 9am, then 10am, then sometime before lunch, then sometime after lunch, and by 3:30, it was too late to make the 9 hour journey, so we ended up leaving at 4:45am on Tuesday!

With Huruma, Joyce, Kenneth, Jimmy, Joan, Marion
Amisadai managed to be the first Monger to get malaria less than 2 weeks after arriving in Africa! Yes, this was most unlikely given that she has been on Larium and covered in Deet, and must have been bitten very soon on arrival! But these things happen and we had our first hospital experience in Africa very early on without yet learning Swahili! Thankfully Joyce came with me and we were able to see a doctor from the church who was very helpful and sped us through the long process. Having now completed the course of medication, she is pretty much better – just rather tired! She just has to go for a check-up test at the clinic here on Friday. Thank you to those of you who heard and have been praying for her!

On our way home!

Driving from Dar-es-Salaam to our house here in Iringa, we spotted zebras, giraffes, monkeys, buffalo, warthogs, elephants, antelopes, as we passed through Mikumi National Park! How exciting! We are now happily settling into our new house! It is very spacious! The girls are sharing a room, and have been so excited unpacking all their things and setting it up! Our bedroom has an ensuite bathroom! Another bedroom will be used as an office and when we have visitors, a bedroom. We have a huge sort of wooded area outside, with an large vegetable and fruit garden, 4 rabbits, chickens and ducks (which very sadly are not laying at the moment!), and …. 6 dogs!!!! We now have them down to four! They are Woolly (our favourite), Wuki (means honey) Waffi and Lily. The two tortoises are yet to be named!

Our new house and land cruiser!

Amisadai and Louisa's bedroom

Our kitchen


We are really enjoying being with Andrew and Miriam and their boys, Ben and Sam, and also Andy and Angela. We all live a very quick walk away from each other which is wonderful! They have done such a wonderful job preparing things for us and now getting us sorted out and learning the ropes! There seems such a lot to learn – everything is so very different to what we are used to! But one step at a time! I keep my little blue notebook with me to write down the new words and phrases I learn! It is very interesting communicating with Mama Lucy who helps in the house and speaks no English! We’ve had some laughs today! I know she will be very helpful and she is lovely, but I’m having trouble getting used to the idea of leaving my housework for someone else to do! But she knows how to run the house and make ugali and do the right thing with the right foods and so will be invaluable!

For the next while we will be focussing on language training which starts on Monday. We will be learning our way around Iringa (I have a lot to discover and learn in the market!). We will make the house “our own” and the girls will officially start school (they have been doing some work while in Dar!) We have unpacked and set up the school library! We have an area marked out in the living room for school.

Now time to find another candle and wind up my torch!