Thursday, November 27, 2008

Thanksgiving...Only Comes Once a Year

Happy Thanksgiving!!

It’s crazy how fast time goes by. Today Thanksgiving...tomorrow New Years. Before I know it I’ll be heading back to school and Africa will be a large collection of memories and pictures (most of those being Neil’s:). Well my time spent here has given many things to be thankful for. Like the fact I haven’t gotten malaria or any other strange illnesses. I’m also quite thankful for something that hasn’t happened yet...our upcoming trip to Mozambique. We leave here two weeks from today and after five days finally arrive at my parents’ house in Maputo. The train ride has me particularly excited. Maybe I won’t like the idea so much after having done it but who knows?

Last Sabbath was my turn to teach Sabbath school. The whole teaching, leading out in discussion thing isn’t exactly my piece of pumpkin pie. I mean I definitely enjoy talking and discussing ideas with people but the ‘in charge’ part is what gets me. Despite all that it went pretty well. Thanks in a large part to the fact that some members of the class enjoy enlightening others with stories of their past;)

I don’t know if I’ve talked about our pet, Frank (RIP). We had wanted a pet here so when we found a praying mantis in our kitchen a month ago we named him Frank and he became our pet. We figured this would be beneficial to both parties because he would get to eat mosquitoes and have the honor of being our pet and we would have a pet that could keep us company while cooking and just look cool. He hung out for a couple of weeks and we would find him all over the kitchen. Pretty much a “where’s Waldo” kind of thing. His favorite spot ended up being our compost bucket so we had to watch when we through stuff in there or outside so as to not injure dear old Frank. Then came the fateful day. The lady that takes care of the guest house where we live was doing some cleaning and decided to be nice and take out our compost. Poor Frank went out with the bucket and didn’t come back. It’s taken us a while to get over that tragic loss. For a while at just the mention of the name Frank, Neil and I would burst into tears. Imagine our joy when Neil saw a praying mantis on the outside of his bathroom window. I escorted the new Frank into our kitchen and set him up in a comfortable spot near the window. He doesn’t look like the old Frank but he still has the charming praying mantis manners. I’m going to have to look into the airline policies on bringing pet praying mantises into the U.S. for when we go home.

Note: For those who don’t quite know when I’m being serious, some parts of the above paragraph are exaggerated, slightly, to protect the integrity of the story.

Tomorrow there are a bunch of head honchos from the States showing up for some meetings here this weekend. They leave on Sunday and then Monday there are 18 others from Tanzania that are arriving to have some year-end meetings. Due to the large number of people coming on Monday, Neil and I are going to have to move out of our rooms and spend a couple of nights at a pastor’s house. Should be an interesting weekend.

Well I’ll probably write once more before we leave for Mozambique. I’m going to go prepare a little Thanksgiving feast of foods not native to Tanzania. Have a wonderful holiday season! And listen to lots of Christmas music because it’s been shown to increase brain function in 75% of the mice that were subjected to it continuously for one month.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Home 'Sweet' Home

What is the one thing that makes a place home? I’ve always heard the saying ‘home is where the heart is’ which is not well worded because your heart is always wherever you happen to be. I had taken the saying to mean that home is wherever the people are that you care the most for. In today’s modern age of satellite internet connections, cell phones, and internet phones even though you may not be near people you can still keep in pretty close contact with them from anywhere around the globe. Because of that and the fact that I have multiple homes due to my family living all over the world I’ve decided that there must be something else that makes home, home. This past week I came to the realization of what that certain something No matter where you are the food of home can make the place you’re staying seem like you’ve always been there. This outstanding epiphany came about because of a couple of packages that Neil received last week. They both contained seasonings, something that we have been doing mostly without for a while now. Saturday night Neil decided to use one kind of seasoning to make a dish like his mom makes. I forgot what it’s called but he did a remarkable job and the kitchen reminded me of smells from his house back in Roseburg (thank you Mrs. Patel for sending that’s amazing:). So that meal and Neil’s and my recent talks about how soon we’re going to get to eat at Taco Bell have settled in my mind the issue that food makes a place home. Oh and on a side note we aren’t going to get to eat at Taco Bell until June 10, 2009 at approximately 3 pm in San Francisco during our layover.

Let’s see, what other interesting stuff have I been doing? On Sunday evening we had our first group movie night. Neil and I have had movie nights each Saturday night be we finally got together with Lydia (German nurse) and Lucas (pharmacist) to watch a movie we borrowed from the doctor. Oh, last Thursday a new nurse, Ina, arrived here from Germany. She’s going to be here for a whole year. She stopped in Arusha on her way here and brought us a package from our friend Katie who’s working at Cradle of Love there (thanks tons Katie! :).

The weeks are in a nice routine and have been flying by. It’s hard to believe that we left Portland two months ago. Also rapidly approaching is our trip down to Maputo, Mozambique to spend Christmas with my family. I’m looking forward to that very much! Between seeing my family, eating lots of amazing food, and getting access to unlimited internet usage I’m sure that the time there will be quite enjoyable! It is also going to involve a train ride. I’ve never traveled anywhere by train before but we’re going to be spending two nights and one day on a train going from Kigoma all the way across Tanzania to Dar es Salaam. Should be pretty least for me:), Neil loves going places just not all of the traveling it takes to get there:).

Even though Thanksgiving hasn’t come yet I’ve already started listening to my Christmas music in preparation for the holiday season. Some people have said that Christmas music should only be listened to from Thanksgiving to the 25th of December but I am of the opinion that Christmas music can be listened to all year long. When discussing this with others I then cite the study that has shown listening to Christmas music lowers the chances of a person becoming depressed (I just need to find out if a study like that has been done yet).

Well I’m writing this late Monday evening and I don’t think my brain is fully functioning anymore so I apologize for any muddled ideas and jumbled sentences. Have a fabulous week!


Friday, November 7, 2008

Thank Goodness God Sent a Rainbow or We'd be Gonners

A merry November to you all!

We’re going on two months spent here at Heri and by now I’ve gotten quite used to our routine. It’s nice to have a routine, although the occasional surprise is also enjoyed to break up the monotony. The past week has indicated in a very visible way that the rainy season is here or just around the corner. Each day we’ve had showers. They may only last for 20 minutes before it clears up and appears nice and then later in the day the sky will be dark and I’ll be thinking that I’m about to get swept away in a flood comparable only to Noah’s. The silver lining on this one is that it means we get power all the time, and our water hasn’t run out recently either although it is muddy all the time now. Nothing like drinking a boiled mud puddle.

The construction projects are coming along pretty well. The rain has caused the project that Neil and I oversee to be postponed because there aren’t roofs on those houses yet so they can’t really work on them while there’s a river flowing through the house. We’ve instead been helping supervise the guys working on a duplex near the guesthouse where we live.

Yesterday we were about to watch a video at Milton and Shirley’s (Canadian couple) house when we heard a helicopter. We had been told that occasionally patients requiring immediate care will get brought in on a helicopter owned by an organization in Kigoma. Since we saw that the helicopter was going to land here we decided to go down and see if there was going to be a surgery on the suspected patient. When we got down to where they had landed we found out that there was only the pilot and a lady with him (obviously not from around here). We went over to meet them and were introduced to the pilot who is a doctor from the States but has been working in Africa for a while and the lady who is a nurse just visiting for ten days from Chicago. Although they hadn’t brought a patient it was cool to get to see the helicopter (unfortunately didn’t get a ride...yet) and talk with a couple Americans. Most of the hospital staff speak English but talking with someone that fully understands everything you say is so refreshing.

After talking to them for a bit we went over to the OT (operating theater) to see if there were going to be any surgeries that day. While we were in there a lady showed up at the hospital needing a c-section. I was pretty excited because I had missed out on the other couple of c-sections that Neil had gotten to see. The lady was 40 years old and ended up having a healthy baby boy. It was really cool to see how fast the doctor gets the baby out and then hear it crying within a minute after he pulled it out. I think that c-sections are going to be really cool surgeries to watch more of but watching that one made me really thankful that I’m not going to have to have any babies in my life time. Selfish, I know but it’s still something I’m glad of. My pain threshold is quite low...scratch that, it’s extremely low.

Well away from surgeries...of which I’m going to put some pictures up soon...this week had one other notable highlight. We were invited over for a spaghetti lunch at Milton and Shirley’s. Getting to eat food that we don’t prepare for ourselves and also having it taste really good is always a special treat. This was no exception. I’m glad people view Neil and I as being two poor young men who have to rough it on our own cooking, and this sympathy leads to meal invitations. I must mention that we’ve actually made some pretty good food ourselves and we in no way are starving but it doesn’t hurt to eat elsewhere:)

I think that’s about it. Oh yeah, I learned this week that my blessed country has a new president. My political standing is pretty apathetic although I do have strong views on subjects. The one nice thing about being in Africa is that I didn’t have to watch all the news intent on smearing one candidate or the other. Although it’s really surprised me how many people here follow our elections and have a favorite pick for president, usually based on the candidate’s foreign policy. Imagine that. Well yay for the democratic process and I wish that we had been nearer one of the six or seven places in Tanzania where the US embassy threw election-day parties.

I hope everyone is having a magnificent fall and I thank you all for the comments you’re going to leave and the emails/letters you’re going to send.

Monday, November 3, 2008

To Post or Not to Post...

Well here goes nothin. I mean that in a very literal sense. I'm sitting here in the office and decided that I'd put a little something up just to make it look like I'm posting regularly.

The past week or so has been really nice. Not a lot going on but that means that the word stress never even enters my vocabulary. A far cry from my usual life at school:), but oh so pleasant.

Well that's about it. Just so all you people who worry too much don't get confliberated over the brevity of this post, don't worry. I'll probably write something substantially larger and more boring and then bring it down to post in the near future (before Christmas).