December 16, 2015

12 {more} Signs We've Adapted to Life Overseas

If you haven't seen the original post, you should check it out here.

31) We can tell who's driving down our road based on the sound their car makes.

31) Similarly, we can also tell who's at our gate by the sound of their horn's honk.

32) When I saw pre-shredded & packaged cheese at the supermarket, I took a picture of it.  I'm so used to buying block cheese (and for a pretty penny at that), it was hard to believe the shredded stuff was there. (But no way was I paying that price for it!)

33) No one in our family is any longer afraid of tarantulas.

December 10, 2015

A DIY Christmas Overseas

It's our 3rd Christmas in Tanzania... and our third Christmas of DIY-ing the decor associated.  Please know that we don't have a Hobby Lobby, Dollar Store or Jo-Ann Fabric's store around here.  This is legit-DIY - developing country style! :)
We keep adding to our collection every year and this year might be my favorite one yet.
Let's get started on a little tour of our Christmassy Home:
One of our first items of Christmas decor from three years ago -

December 04, 2015

Because I Just. Can't. Even. {Think About the Holiday Season in America}

It started at Thanksgiving time.
It's our 3rd Thanksgiving in Tanzania, and this is the year that it hit me the hardest.
I missed my people.  Our people.  Back in America.  I missed them somethin' fierce.
I didn't want to be in America.  Not even a little bit.
For reasons like (and mostly related to) this:
This ad popped up on my phone after using a photo app.  I literally said aloud, "What in the -- are you KIDDING me?!" And I snapped a pic of it so I could show my husband later.  He had the same reaction.

October 18, 2015

A(nother) First

Today was the first time I have ever had an inkling of feeling unsafe in this country.
Please don't panic.
I do not live in fear, and neither should you.  Fear is not from God.  We are safe.  
But today, as we drove up the mountain a little ways for a hash, we encountered a bit of a harry situation.

October 14, 2015

Re-Entry (ish) Revelations

A lot of things have been happening lately that we weren't expecting.
Our family trip in July/August.
Some {new} friends arriving in Tz for a visit and bringing with them a Target bag full of goodies and surprises for our whole family.
A four-day whirlwind missions/meet-up trip.(pts. 1, 2 and 3 here)
An on-the-edge couple of months about our futures here in Moshi (don't worry, it's all working out, I hope to be able to write in detail about it all soon!)
Anyway.  Among all those things, one thing I really never expected, was dealing with re-entry after my latest international excursion.
I didn't really think I'd have issues in South Africa, but I did.  And once I processed those and was good with them, I thought I was in the clear.  But then I got back home.  And my brain, well, it just refused to brain.

October 08, 2015

On Moving, Arachnids, Culture Shock and Accents {part 3}

{this is part 3 of my three part blog on #takingSAagain, for part 2 click here, and part 1 here}
I had a lot of anticipation about Sunday morning. When we were here as a family back in July we got the {rare} opportunity to attend an Acts service on a Friday night, and it was absolutely incredible. So I knew Sunday was going to be nothing short of amazing.

What I didn't expect, was to feel God's presence the way it fell during worship.

October 07, 2015

On Moving, Arachnids, Culture Shock and Accents {part 2}

{this is part 2 of my three-part blog on #takingSAagain - for part 1 click here}

After getting into our rooms at the lodge, I was chatting with my new roommate and Dawn & Brian in my room when Alison came in with a concerned look.  "I don't want anyone to worry but..." she started.  I was intrigued.
She continued to tell us that a very large, very harry spider was just found (and killed) in one of the other rooms.  "It was this big!" she said, holding up her hands about the size of a baseball.
"Oh, that's probably a baboon spider or something similar from the tarantula family.  They're no problem, you might get tingly or have a little pain if they bite you, but you won't die." I say.

October 06, 2015

The Seventh Time - In an Airport (part 1)

When we discovered we'd be missing each other's trips to South Africa by only a couple months, we were bummed.  But accepted the reality of it.

But as the time drew nearer, my missions coordinator and I began wishing and dreaming about a South African meet-up.  After all, she was going to be on the same continent - so close, yet so far away.

Then one day, she said, "Come on. What do we have to do to make this happen?"
So I started looking at airline tickets.  "About $250 and permission to take time off." I replied casually.

Then she said it, "Okay, buy the tickets.  They're paid for."

September 20, 2015

30 Signs We've Adapted to Life Overseas

1) We can tell by the brightness of our lights and the speed of our fans if the power is operating at the full 220v, closer to 240v or closer to 110v.

2) Every time we walk in the house we listen for the hum of the fridge, if we don't hear it we flick the kitchen light switch on and praise Jesus eleven times when it's actually ON.

3) We can de-bone a chicken faster that you can say "throw away the neck first!"

September 14, 2015

From Six to Seven

Six Times.
Six times in two weeks.

(1) In a house that was not my own.

July 21, 2015

On Roots

The other day while texting with our missions coordinator back in the states, I was filling her in on all the amazing things happening lately (the couch story & the great ex-pat sale among them!)
Then I told her that we have a chance to buy a vehicle for a really good price.  An SUV with 4WD that's great for driving on these crazy Tanzanian roads.  A diesel engine, a good history, and only a 3 year old engine in it.  And that's when she said:
"Putting down roots..."

I hadn't ever thought of it that way.

July 20, 2015

Proof is in the Pudding.... er... Home Furnishings?

Today I'm reminded of pudding.  And roots.  But first: the pudding.
Let me back up...
When we first found this house, there was a man that offered to sell us his very nice couch for the low price of only $75. A great deal for the completely upholstered piece - a rarity in these parts. We jumped on it (though, not literally) and were thrilled with our new couch!
SO thrilled, that we (apparently) forgot to take a photo of it IN our actual living room- so here's the best one we have.  Bonus for the cute jam session happening.

July 09, 2015

I am NOT a Hoarder... but kind of I am.

When that show "Hoarders" first came out, I couldn't help but watch it.
Until I started getting heart palpitations.
It was as if those piles of newspapers, cardboard boxes and other stuff would somehow, in some mysterious way, push their way through the TV screen right into my living room.
I had to turn the channel.  I just couldn't watch.

June 18, 2015

Just Did It

... part 2 of our "Just Do It" story continues here, if you aren't caught up hop on over and read Part 1 HERE. 

I clicked the RESERVE button and a new screen popped up after a few minutes (dial-up speeds, remember?).  It said something like, "Please go to your nearest office to pay, your tickets have been held for 48 hours."

June 17, 2015

Just Do It

What a slogan. I like the shoes, but sometimes it's hard for me to "just do it."
Whether I like it or not, my life and my choices are constantly being looked at, and sometimes even being judged. It comes with being human. It's magnified with being a Christian. And sometimes, unfortunately, it's directly related to our income as missionaries.

May 28, 2015

Adventures of a Third Culture Kid: Snot Edition

Last Sunday we were blessed to spend a relaxing, low-key afternoon with some dear friends that are now taking their furlough in America.  It was a lovely afternoon, chilled by some cloud cover, filled with the fragrance of fresh-baked quiche for lunch, and the crunch of our home-grown salad was still lingering in the air.  It was a time for us to have one last hurrah before their departure, and it was a refreshing, soul-satisfying time.
Much to my surprise, candles were lit upon the lava cake, the Song was sung, balloons were played with, and we retired to the living area for coffee and conversation.
That's when it happened.

May 26, 2015

When There is No Light at the End of the Tunnel {and You Just Want Your Fat Pants}

Tanzania is home.
It's been home in our hearts for 3 years, and in reality for about 2 years.
We love it here.  Really.  We love the culture, the weather, the people, the life... all of it.  We don't always like the bugs or the dust or the way things work (or... don't), but this is home.
This. Is. Home.
I've been saying that over and over and I truly feel it.  When we were in the States on furlough last summer, we were pretty much ready to come back after about 2 weeks.  People would ask us if we were enjoying being back in the states and our response was almost always, "Yes, but we're ready to get back to the normalcy of home."
We were so glad to get back here, too.  To sleep in our own beds, to get back into the routines of life in Moshi, to catch up on what had happened since our departure. It was glorious.
But what we didn't realize at the time, is how much that tiny pinhole of a light makes a difference. 

May 05, 2015

The One Where We {accidentally} Drive Our New Danish Friends to Kenya

"It's not too far," they said.
"You shouldn't have too much trouble finding it," they said.
"Just follow the directions on the paper," they said.

Until we reached the customs gate at Kenya.

Let me back up...

April 10, 2015

Stranger Danger

Growing up I was well aware of 'stranger danger'.  You know: don't take candy from strangers, don't get into a car with strangers, don't talk to strangers.
Now a'days stranger danger takes on a whole new meaning with the word wide web.  When I get email from someone I don't recognize it almost always gets deleted immediately.  When someone asks to be my friend, or sends me a message on Facebook, I always check their profile and our mutual friends first.  If there are no mutual friends I'm especially careful about accepting friend requests, and 99% of the time I don't.
On Wednesday we drove an hour to the Kilimanjaro International Airport to hug a lady & her husband passing through from California.  I'd never met her before in my life, but her hug was the warmest, most sincere hug I'd never expected to experience.

March 21, 2015

Sleep, Sweet Sleep

After a long day of helping friends move, I came home with the bear and since it was well past his nap time, we agreed to watching a couple episodes of Mickey in bed to rest.  At 4:15 his show was over and he came over, laid his head on my chest and wrapped his arm around my waist.
I was in heaven.

March 20, 2015

The Poison Apple

"We played a game at play time today, the Poison Apple Game."

Oh yea?  How do you play that game?

"Well, Joe* had an apple and he gave it to me and I ate it and then I fell down."

You ate a poisoned apple? And then you fell down?

"No. I didn't eat a poison apple!"

No, no, no I know you didn't eat a real poison apple - but in the game you ate a pretend poison apple? And then it killed you?

"Yea! It was just pretend."

Oh, okay, so then what?

"Joe prayed for me and I got up!"

Wow! So Jesus healed you?

"Yep. He prayed for me and Jesus got me up!"

// Let me never take for granted that my child, at three years old, thinks miracles of rising the dead and supernatural healing are such a normal part of life that it becomes a playground game. //

*name changed for privacy

February 26, 2015

A New Normal

Honored to be guest posting on Rachel Pieh Jones' blog this week!  She's an amazing writer and fellow missionary I've gleaned a lot of wisdom from over the years. 

The majestic Mount Kilimanjaro looks over me, appearing so giant and crisp in the early morning it looks like a cardboard cut-out God plopped near this small, dusty town.

As I meander through the market watching carefully where I place each step, I barely notice the layer of dirt that covers my feet. I pick through heaps of shoes and clothes as the owner of the stall sits atop her loot, having a casual conversation with me in Swahili. Driving down the road it's nearly second nature to swerve for potholes, pedestrians, bicyclists, motorcycles and busses. Driving three cars wide on a two lane road is not uncommon, nor is stopping along my route to buy bananas for six cents each from a Mama that's carrying them on her head. My three year old son asks anxiously, “Can I pay the worker?!” when we pull into the petrol station. He hands the money through his open window and says, “Naomba receipti tafadhali.” I never thought this would be my normal.

... continue reading over at Rachel's Blog:  Djibouti Jones 

February 19, 2015

On Being Okay

Last weekend we had the opportunity to go to a church in the village to lead a time of ministry, prayer and worship.
Just the thought of it made me squirm in my seat and start going into the fetal position.
Normally, I would totally jump on it.  Yea, the village is hotter than all get-out, dusty, dirty, and usually not a short trip, BUT the ministry is SO worth it.  Worth every minute and every liter of sweat lost.
We've seen miraculous healing on the spot, demons cast out, and hope rising in so many people when we take the time to do one-on-one or small group prayer and ministry in the villages. It's a time full of joy and it is amazing to be a part of.

But last week: no.  Nope.  I just didn't want to go.

And then I felt bad.  Kind of really bad.

February 06, 2015

I Want to Get Away

All I can think of is that song from the 90's - you know - the Lenny Kravitz one.
I want to get away
I want to get away
I want to get away
I wanna fllyyyy awaaayyy

Last Friday afternoon a friend reminded me about the hash that was taking place that weekend, only this time it would be Saturday instead of Sunday afternoon, because there was also an option to camp overnight.

I immediately thought, "Yes. Doing it."  I was so ready to get away from Moshi.  I just wanted a break, a true get-away.

But then my brain battled with my heart and gut because the reality of getting ready for an overnight camping trip with such short notice was daunting. I told Bill about it that evening and he was all for it too - except we knew absolutely zero details.  Location.  Cost.  Primitive-ness. Nothing.  We decided "Yes, if we get enough details by Saturday morning."
Saturday morning we did receive enough details to make our decision, and we just did it.  With about 3 hours to pack, run to town and grab food, make a batch of muffins for breakfast, run to our friends to borrow a cooler & some foam to sleep on, and make & eat lunch with some other friends, we did it.  Even arrived at the site early!

When we arrived to the little 'cove' that was the 'campground', just about an hour outside of Moshi, we pulled up next to the last of three tents in a row... only to discover we had pulled into a swampy marsh.  Whoops.

January 08, 2015

It's Time // To See What Heaven Sees

The stars to numerous to count.

The almost-full moon bright enough to light up the white sand and cast a beautiful blue glow over us.

The waves crashing gently as they brake.

The wind blowing steady and strong.

A dozen or so lights, hanging from boats, bobbing on the water in the horizon. 

Perched behind the group on a side-ways-growing beachy-looking palm tree.