Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Life in Mbeya

       This will be a picture post to give y'all a glimpse into our (Lora and Beth's) time in          Mbeya,Tanzania. Enjoy!

One day Beth and I went off to town, just to wander about and explore a bit. Tim and Sheryl were out in town also and they directed us to this place where we enjoyed a yummy meal of ugali  and made some new friends too. :)

African cuisine: ugali, greens, beans, and roasti

Meet Esta, here patiently getting her hair plaited..(She's always glad when that's done!) ..there's a depth of spirit to this little lady..not easily described here! She loves big hugs and has a beautiful smile! She's a wonderful big sister to all her little siblings. 

Meet beautiful little Jovita,  feisty spirited and adventurous... she keeps everyone fully engaged with her mischievous little smile! ;)

...and Danny boy! This child wrapped his lovable little personage around our hearts the minute we met him. How we'll miss  his endearing smiles and squish-able hugs! 
Joseph, top right corner, is the big brother to all the little people here. He loves school and is very inquisitive. He has a bright winning smile that melts your heart and covers all his mischievous little ways! :)   

Outing at the ball-field..

         We had lots of  tea parties together! It seemed to be a favorite thing to do..they loved it! Who could pass up cookies, tea, and juice?!!

...and there were always lots of stories too!!

..and one more precious child...Rebekah, the little lady at the tea parties, who held her tiny cup like such a princess! She was just a wee bit shy at first but her sweet spirit warmed to us soon and she brought such a contagious happy presence to our time here.   

The children welcomed us back at the gate, after we had been out at market in the rain! 

just a unique little play dough creation :) we said, Danny is just so lovable!

Danny loves his "Deph" (as he called Beth) :)

Jovita and her mischievous grin!!! ;)

Beth and Rebekah 

 The Melvin Kauffman family welcomed us so warmly to their little place here, they make it hard for us to leave! ..But we'll hold the memories we made close to our hearts and remember our time here in Mbeya, Tanzania with lots of  fondness! the Kauffman's piagio the day we went along on cake delivery route.

Beth trying to do it the african way! ..but wow! How do they do it?!!!

We were fascinated by all the busy tailors sewing along the streets in town... Particularly all the men who made this their trade. 

...these days it's rainy season here in Mbeya and one day we were blessed with this beautiful rainbow! ..the faithfulness of God on this trip never ceases to amaze us and we want to proclaim Him every where we go.  

Impressions of Ivuna

The sunshine beating on my back, the sandy soil beneath my feet, the gentle breezes blowing, what a beautiful morning to be in the fields. The sound of hoes breaking soil is music to my ears. As the skies clear off, blue mountains can be seen along the horizon. I am now very sure that packing my bags and leaving this village in Southwest Tanzania is not going to be easy. Ivuna and all it's simplicity has stolen a portion of my heart. How can it be that two weeks have passed so quickly? Was it not just a few days ago that we left Mbeya, and bounced our way back to Ivuna?

Besides leaving our seats countless times on our way to Ivuna, we also had the exciting experience of getting royally stuck. For the most part, I loved every minute of that adventure. 
There is so much I would could say about these two spectacular weeks. In fact, it has taken several attempts over the past week to finally reach this point.
But let me start with telling y'all a little about this village. Ivuna is located in the Rukwa valley of Southwest Tanzania. It's a 5 hour drive from Mbeya, their nearest city. My missionary heroes who live back here buy most of their supplies, produce, etc. out in Mbeya. A lot of our diet back here has consisted of porridge, rice, beans, corn, potatoes and chinizi salad, with the exception of some pretty spectacular American dishes made with food supplies that Paul Lapp's brought over with them. Meat, dairy products, and fruit are scarce. Sure it would be nice to have more access to such luxurious foods to break up the high carb diet, but we are fairing just fine without it. I have started craving porridge with peanut butter and rice and beans. Imagine that!
Some super amazing pizza, baked on the brazer.
Gasp! Real chocolate cake!!! Baked to perfection by the one and only Chef Kimberly Nolt.

Kim's cute little hut. In the background you can see the choo and shower shanty. Beyond that is the main house where the other girls sleep. 

The main house. 

Village life has really been growing on me. The simplicity is quite attractive. There is no running water, so nearly every day someone makes a trip to the bomba (water tower) to fill our water buckets. I don't think I gave it much thought before coming here what all running water does for us. Without it there are no faucets, washing machines, toilets, nor showers.
The village also doesn't have electricity. But my friends have a small solar powered battery in the main house which lights up the place very nicely after dark. It also provides a nice little charging booth for our electronics.
Cooking is a field I have not been brave enough to venture out into very far on my own. I'm slowly learning by working along side the pros.

Sorting beans: a new hobby of mine.

Heading to the bumba for water
The bumba

Canning beans over the brazer.
So yeah, it's almost like camping...only different! ;)
Besides scrubbing laundry, keeping up with the cleaning, carrying water, and preparing the next meal, we have been doing a lot of gardening. They are growing peanuts, corn, tomatoes, okra, and loads of other yummy veggies. Having the opportunity to stick my fingers in the dirt again has been great!
The language barrier has been the hardest to adjust to. Communication is such a huge part of our daily lives. My friends have been patiently teaching me little things here and there. I finally know enough of the greetings to be friendly, and I really enjoy using them. Here and there I'm picking up a few Swahili words and phrases. It's really a shame I don't have more time. I would really enjoy learning this language.
I've been spending most of my mornings at the clinic with Kim. There haven't been a lot of patients. During the quiet times, we have been solving the world's problems and filling our journals. 

The Clinic
and it's fabulous nurse!
Gardening at the clinic.

Coloring with kids during slow mornings at the clinic

I have been thoroughly enjoying each opportunity to experience the every day life these Africans. This past Saturday, Kim and I joined her friend, Mama Glanti, as well as Mama Glanti's mother and cousin, Monika, in their sesame field in the farming land outside of the village. It was a delightful experience, entering into their work lives and getting dirty next to them. Once we reached the goal for the day, we gathered under a tree on the edge of the field to eat the maandazi that Kim and Monika had hiked back to the village to buy for our hungry tummies. By now the sun was high in the sky and beating the energy right out of us, so we all chose to call it a day. We arrived back at the house just in time to enjoy the delicious lunch that Rachel had prepared. I was quite tired by this time and thought to myself, “A nap would suit me well.” But that nap never did happen. For as I settled down on the couch, Kim came busting in with news that the two of us were to go to Mama Glanti's house right away. She had a lunch of Ugali and fish waiting for us. Another lunch? Good thing I didn't fill myself up at the first one. So off we went, down the dirt path to Mama Glanti's little, mud hut. In the center of the room a tray laden with ugali and fish, perched on top of a bucket. We took our seats on the smaller buckets setting near the "table". Eating ugali in a for real mud hut with them and like them was an experience I wouldn't want to trade for a nap.

Mama Glanti


I am now convinced that these African women are made out of iron. I feel like a plastic-made, wimpy American next to them. Dear Mama Glanti was out in her field all morning. Then came home and had to haul water from the river before she could cook our lunch. THEN she scrubbed our dirty dresses yet! I know from experience how exhausting it is to spend a morning in the field and how much energy it takes to carry water and scrub dress. Such is the life of many of the women in this village.


Singing together.
Spending time with the children.
One night everyone came over to the girls' house for a ugali dinner. Here we are stacked in the cute little
dining room. (l-r: Zack Lapp, Rebekah Oberholtzer, Kim Nolt, Rachel Oberholtzer, Hannah, Becky,
Paul, Nelaine, Gina, Ben, and Rachel Lapp.

One morning Hannah and I washed corn and laid it out to dry. Later that afternoon, Rachel went with us to get it ground at the mill.

Once a month market comes to Ivuna. Lorries loaded down with supplies and goods to sell come roaring in from town.

Rice and beans. Yummers!

Ivuna has left it's imprint on my heart.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Mbeya Peak- We did IT!!!

We flew into Mbeya on the morning of January 9 and were warmly greeted by Melvin and Anna Kauffman and lovely fresh mountain air. They took us to a retreat center where the team from the Ivuna mission was spending some time together. As we pulled into the driveway, Anna mentioned that there is a group planning to hike a sizeable peak here in the area today, namely,  Mbeya Peak. We later discovered that this is the highest in the area. She thought perhaps we'd be up to joining them? Well, now who would pass up that kind of adventure-promising expedition? Melvin was quick to point out the actual mount that we would be climbing to give us a shocking jolt into reality I suppose. :)
   We were introduced to the wonderful clan at the retreat and joined them for breakfast before heading out. A very suitable fare for what lay ahead of us - oatmeal- was served. We would need every single morsel of energy it provided!
   And so we were off... knowing so extremely little of what lay ahead of us. It's been said "Ignorance is Bliss" for a reason!
   Folks that had mostly been strangers just a short while earlier, soon became dear comrades as we all bonded around the common goal of journeying to the TOP!

We rather quickly discovered how terribly out of shape we were since we hadn't done anything very taxing at all in the a little more than a week since we had been in Africa. Most of our feet were clad in only flip-flops which definitely isn't the perfect choice but you can make anything work in Africa, right?! I personally decided that going just barefoot would be just as good or better than the flip-flops. Let's just say that my feet will probably always have a special connection with Tanzanian soil.:)
They are currently in the prime of rainy season here which provides pros and cons. One of the pros being the deep lush green of all manner of plant life surrounding us as we began ascending on what was mostly a narrow donkey trail most of the way. Every so often we would catch a small glimpse of the peak that we hoped to arrive on. There was also a generous amount of clouds that kept this peak of an elevation of 8,391 feet hidden from view most of our trek upward.
It was delightful to refill our water bottles at fresh mountain springs along the path. And of course, the opportunity to rest was always welcomed with gladness.
   Back to the pros and cons about rainy season I mentioned earlier. Yes, you guess it. Along came the rain that we really were not well prepared for. A few shawl-type coverings called konga's and a  jacket or two provided some protection for a few of us but mostly we just got wet; no, drenched.
   Many desperate prayers were sent heavenward to stop the rain and bring some sunshine out again. Before long a spacious patch of blue sky was spotted and we cheered.
The hike is estimated to take approximately three and one-half hours to the peak and we added about another hour and a-half to that estimation. Not the best record ever by a long shot; but nonetheless, this would definitely go down as an accomplishment when all was said and done!
   As the ascent continued, we met many flocks of sheep, and herds of goats and cattle grazing on the grassy slopes. It was decided that a break and devouring some of the awesome American snacks we had packed was in order before scrambling up the remaining distance to the top. What little energy that was left was mostly expended in those last number of yards. And, ALAS we were THERE! At the top! We had unbelievably fulfilled our goal!
Mbeya Peak
   God so graciously answered prayer and allowed the clouds to vanish for a few minutes to provide some of the most breathtaking views my eyes ever lay sight on. My heart just soared in worship to the Creator of such awe-striking beauty. Such a great reward for the long and weary journey to reach this point. If we experience that kind of satisfaction and fulfillment in completing a simple mountain hike, can we even begin to get a foretaste of how our hearts will dance when we enter heaven at the end of our life's journey and hear our Father say, "Well done, good and faithful servant"?!
The clan! L to R- Warren Eshelman, Zack Lapp, Carolyn Lapp, Hannah Lapp, Ben Lapp, Teresa Coblentz, Lora, myself, and Deb. (Missing, Rachel and Rebekah Oberholtzer who didn't go quite the whole way to the top)
After spending some time just soaking up the beauty and reveling in the wonder of this accomplishment, we began the downward trek. Climbing a constant uphill isn't at all easy, but neither is treading downhill. Surely I'm not old enough to experience such joint pain :(.
   One of the other really neat things included in the views were all the many little villages nestled high up in the mountains.
   The trail was quite slick in some places resulting in some unfortunate falls:(. And to add the perfect ending to our venture, it began to rain again and lasted through the duration of the hike. My personal supply of optimism kept decreasing until it was basically non-existent. Pole, pole! (Swahili for sorry)
Banana leaves work decently well as an umbrella :)
The good news is that we DID survive and eventually reached the vehicle, quite soaked and aching. We headed back to the retreat center and were even afforded an African luxury of hot water to cleanse and warm us up and a yummy supper.
   This cost of this adventure had turned out to be considerably more than we counted for but we definitely did not regret it. We concluded it was indeed a very memorable celebration for our first day in Tanzania. :)
   We are so grateful for y'all's interest, support, and especially prayers as we continue to travel.
God is so good and we feel very rich with many wonderful experiences already! Lora and I plan to leave Mbeya and travel back to the village of Ivuna where Deb is on Thursday. We will be there till next Wednesday and then return to Mbeya to catch our flight to Dar and the ferry to Zanzibar. Adios!
The three African musketeers, happy to have experienced yet another adventure- together!