March 13, 2013

Re-Cap (March 11th)

Wow. It's been a while. I guess I'll pick up where I left off – on Tuesday.
Tuesday morning Mandee & I walked to Kasey's for playgroup with Owen & Harper. There ended up being about a dozen or so kids/moms there and O had a blast. 

He got down right away and started playing. At playgroup I got to meet a handful of other moms that live in the area, only a couple of them missionaries. One mom is here for business – her husband is a coffee trader. Another mom is here because she wanted her kids to get a more cultured experience growing up. She's a yoga instructor and teaches mountaineering when she's not chasing around her one year old. It was nice to break out of the bubble and meet non-missionary moms, but moms that still love Africa and all that Moshi has to offer. After play group we hung out at Peter & Mary's for a little while, before coming home for dinner & bed. Our evenings here have been about the same most nights. We have dinner, let O play for a little bit, do bath time and bed for him, then Bill & I will play card games on the computer and/or watch a movie before heading to bed ourselves. It's been nice to have it so simple. There's no TV in the apartment and I'm totally fine with that. We use the computer to watch movies and it's helped us be more intentional about communicating – er – remembering to communicating. Even back home in the States we recently decided to go screen-free for two nights of the week. No computer or TV on means we remember to actually have meaningful conversation and get creative about entertaining ourselves, rather than him playing a computer game and me pinning things on Pinterest that (let's face it) I'll probably never actually accomplish. :)
Anyway, Wednesday was a pretty relaxed day, we hung out all morning at home then walked to the Street's in the afternoon to do Mary's maternity session. 

From there, we walked over to Vince & Vickie's for a potluck dinner and worship time. 

The potluck was a baked potato bar and someone was kind enough to bust out their stash of Velveeta – normally I don't like that stuff, but they did something to it and it was amazing over that baked potato! It was a real taste of America :) Bill & I had a chance to talk more with Ruth & Steve, the current administrators (principals, essentially) at Hope International School. They've been there for the schools first year but now know God is calling them to head back to California, so Vince & Vickie will be administrating next year, until the school can find someone to come on long-term. Stacy talked to us about this when she was over the other day and I think I would love doing the administrator's job. I'm not positive, of course, since I haven't even worked at the school – but I know it wouldn't be as crazy as trying to be a principal at a public school in the States! Anyway, we also met a guy named Alex that's working with churches in a village near Lake Manyara. His dream is to eventually have a drive-through coffee shop in the area, with all the proceeds going to help the poorer locals from the surrounding villages. He is also the current community developer for Hope School. He was going to be drumming for worship and O came over and sat on my lap eye-balling his drum (it was sort of jembe-looking, but smaller). Alex held out the drum for him and O's face lit up like you wouldn't believe. His eyes got a big, and his mouth dropped open a little bit – he thought it was the coolest thing ever that Alex let him play the drum a little before worship.
Thursday was another low-key day for the most part. I had a photo session in the morning and got to meet the Schultz family. 

They're from Michigan but have been living in Moshi for about six years as Baptist missionaries planting churches. We went out to Melinda's property for the session. Melinda is another mzungu (mm-ZOON-goo: white person) living in Moshi, but not as a missionaries. Her and her husband own thousands upon thousands of chrysanthemum plants that they export all over the world. She also is an amazing cook/baker and does the catering for Wild at Heart Safaris (the Street's safari co.). We had her boxed lunch when we went on safari and it was far from a 'box lunch'. It had a gorgeous salad with a vinaigrette dressing, fresh raspberries and even an edible flour on it! Then there was a passionfruit cheesecake for dessert, and a pita filled with chicken salad. Anyway, her property is absolutely gorgeous, so it was neat to be able to do a session there. She also spoke with me about doing a session for her and her husband – a few family shots and some pictures of her food and treats for her business. Her husband also races pigeons and wants pictures of them for identification/selling purposes, so I'm looking forward to a very interesting session with them next week! After returning from the session with the Schultz family, we just bummed around at home most of the day, it was kind of nice.
Friday Mandee & us split a cab to head into town for some groceries. We went to the market, Union cafe (so I could get some fun things to use for a fundraiser back in the States), and Nakumatt. Nakumatt is like the closest thing to Wal-Mart that Moshi has. 
Harper & Owen like Nakumatt  :)
It's actually a brand new store, and the chain is based out of Kenya. It's very similar to a Wal-Mart, but on a much smaller scale. It is two stories tall, with groceries and household stuff on the first floor, and entertainment, mattressess, toys, etc on the second floor. The difference between Nakumatt (nock-OO-mot) and Wal-Mart is also pricing. Nakumatt tends to be more expensive for most things than the local ma & pa shoppes and the market. There are some things you can get for a good price – like bread is only 2000tsh for a good-sized, fresh baked sliced wheat loaf – but their produce and some other things, like pancake syrup (at 12,500 tsh ($7.81!! for a normal sized bottle of (fake) syrup!) are quite a bit more expensive. Things like that, though (syrup, nutella, etc.) are generally more expensive here anyways because they're imported. After getting all of our errands run, we just hung out at home the rest of the evening.
Saturday we got to spend some time with Gaudy and Justin (and Nikki & Bella of course!) We planned a morning photo session for them, then just hung out and let the kids play, and ended our time together with lunch. 

Nikki & Owen were so cute to watch play together. Owen decided he had to wear socks and shoes that day, and when we got there we took his shoes off, and Nikki ran and told Gaudy she wanted to wear socks like Owen. Later on in our stay his socks ended up coming off because he was hot, so Nikki had to take her's off too. Wherever Nikki went (in the yard, in the bedroom, etc) Owen had to follow. And wherever Owen went, Nikki had to follow. It was pretty darn adorable. After Bella woke up just before lunch time Owen immediately asked to hold her. He was all coy about asking me “Hold, baby?” so I told him he had to ask Gaudy. He climbed up on my lap and was happier than a clam to hold that sweet little baby (who's just less than 4 weeks old). 

He was so intent on examining her and softly touching her tiny little toes and fingers. He was quite upset when I shifted her away from him when she started fussing. He almost cried. Then he really did cry when she was getting too fussy and wanted to be walked around. Gaudy made some amazing beans & chopati for lunch, then we got packed up and headed home. After Owen's nap we piled in the car with the Streets and the Loudermilks (that's 6 adults and 7 children, in one SUV if you lost count) and headed to a friend's pool. None of the women (or Owen) swam but the guys and the kids had a bunch of fun while we all hung out poolside and chatted.
Sunday Stacy picked us up and we went to ICC church to hear Holly's dad preach. Apparently he's a pretty well-known preacher in the UK and he was in town to connect with Pastor Sho – the pastor at ICC. It was a great service, half of which Owen slept through. Afterward We headed to Pastor Sho's house for lunch and fellowship. He had a tent set up outside and had some food catered in and we all just hung out, ate, and talked. 

Owen had a blast when he discovered one of the other boys had a little Nerf football. He played with that thing almost the entire time with either Ben (Stacy's boy) or Bill. 

When he wasn't playing football with the boys, Owen was schmoozing the ladies – the teachers mostly. He was eyeing Miss Holly and Miss Rachel and Miss Rebecca quite a bit and being a little flirt! Meanwhile I got to connect with Holly's mom (or mum as she would say) and chatted at bit with her dad as well. I also noticed someone there that I had meant to connect with at worship the other night, but never had a chance to, so I slipped over and introduced myself. I felt drawn to her Wednesday when we were at the Welch's for dinner/worship and nothing had changed – when I went over and introduced myself and we got to talking I figured out why.
Vicki Hemman is single and has been living in Tz for a while now. Her daughter, would have been my age, but was killed in a car accident when she was 13. Her name was Amanda. (Weird?!) She's in the process of starting a home for girls/women that have been sexually abused/raped and/or trafficked in a village not too far from Moshi. The property has been purchased and when drilling the first well they realized there was flowing water at only 30 meters! The area around the 4-acre property is very poor and she hopes to be a huge impact to the community not only through housing a dozen or so girls/women, but by employing some of the locals as well, and having classes for them too. Her goal is for the home to be completely self-sustainable within two years. She kept telling me “I really don't know what I'm doing!” But I could tell from listening to her that she truly has a passion and a drive for this God-dream of hers and it's going to come to fruition because God does know what he's doing. I love how down-to-earth she is though, and how genuinely reliant on God she is. I think her quiet personality drew me in too :) It was awesome talking to her and getting to know her a bit. We parted ways at the end of the afternoon with intent to meet up again before we leave and I hope we're able to. We headed to the Loudermilk's guest house in the evening so Owen could play with Harper and so we could get online since we'd been without internet for several days.
And here I sit, Monday morning, waiting to be picked up by Peter's dad so I can head to the hospital. Mary has been prepped and taken in for surgery and we get to find out soon if the baby is a he or a she! I'm super excited to be able to capture their first moments with their new little one – and I'll admit, I'm interested to see the hospital too!