Monday, September 6, 2010

Good night hugs

On the second day of our journey in Africa, we saw both sides of Tanzania. The first part of the day we drove through the slums of Arusha. Some of the kids on the sides of the streets didn't have shoes and their clothes were completely tattered. Their houses were made out of dirt and logs. There was trash in the street. People were pushing cart, where normally animals would be. Kids were playing soccer with balls made out of trashbags and tape. Simply said, it was pretty devastating.
We made it to the orphanage and we met some amazingly adorable children. We handed out candy, and strangely they all sat down and quietly ate their candy. The gave us a tour of the orphanage and then we went to their school. We played with them on their playground and had an awesome time. We then gave them balloons and they had a blast. We got some great shots of the children while we where there and also had a very sobering experience. You can view some of the photos from Good Hope here.
And then we saw the opposite side of town. We went to this ultra luxurious resort called the "Coffee Lodge". Think 5 star resort and put it in Africa and add a field of coffee plants within view. Our meals were delicious and we all spent an average of $12 when it would have cost us closer to $30 in the states. The only people at this lodge were foreigners.
We finished off the day going to the Masai market. Imagine a close quarters flea market with very pushy salesmen at every booth saying, "You come into my store. Looking is free. I give you... special price." At least we got to negotiate pricing! All in all it was a very busy and eye-opening day.
Tomorrow, we finally have some time to spend with the children that live in the orphanage on Pete's property here at the UAACC. We had so much fun laughing and playing with the children! We danced with them to " who let the dogs out" whoo whoo whoo!,
Truly an amazingly fulfilling day...simplicity is so enjoyable. Now for the finale.............drum role please.........
Good night hugs,,,,The best part of the day!,,,,,,We also will be leaving here to go to the Bouganvilla Safari Lodge, Stay tuned!
To view pictures go to BLOG

Friday, September 3, 2010

The Real Deal

Day 2 is almost over, and things are feeling a little different than yesterday. Today, we visited "The Good Hope" orphanage in Arusha. Hassan was there to meet us at the gate and take us on a tour of the property. It is clear to see a difference between the accommodations at Havilah, and the property at "The Good Hope". Although they are almost ready to open a new phase of the orphanage, there seems to be a great deal of poverty in the surrounding area, which has a real impact on the children there.

A highlight of our day was reuniting with the children that remembered us from our visit in April! The children greeted us with the same big smiles that have stayed with me for the past 5 months. As Hassan showed us some of the new classrooms that are being built, Sonya handed out balloons to the children, which absolutely made their day!

After leaving "The Good Hope", we made our way to the Cultural Center in downtown Arusha. There, the group was able to see different artwork, jewelry, and Massai weapons and sculptures that showed them a little more about the culture and history of the people of Tanzania. We had a wonderful dinner at the Coffee Lodge, where everyone shared the diverse food that they had there.

After doing a little "bargain shopping" at the Massai Market", we went back to the UAACC for dinner. Pete was gracious enough to share his documentary "A Panther in Africa" with everyone. There was a lengthy discussion about Pete's history and how he came to do this wonderful work here in Tanzania.

We have an extremely talented photographer with us, Jessica Lorraine, who has taken some AMAZING photographs while we have been here. Please check out some of the photos at her BLOG

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Here we go!

We only have seven days...So, we hit the ground running! We walked to the property to show the group where we will be building our children's home. Next, we had the privilege of taking our group to Havilah orphanage and then onto the Cradle of Love. The group was overwhelmed with emotion. We see the great need and have realized that our dream can become a reality and that this group can help make it happen.
It has been a long and productive day. After brainstorming and reflecting on our day we shared our personal experiences and how this day has impacted us! Such an amazing day!

Sunday, August 29, 2010

One step closer

Getting ready to head out to Tanzania on Tuesday... Please keep our mission in your prayers as we make another small step toward getting our orphanage built!

Monday, April 5, 2010

Day 12 - Good Hope


We have a small April Fool’s confession…all the comments posted by Mario and Zach were in fact done by Ashton and Christian. Uncle Doug still doesn’t know, but will when we read this post to him.

Shae, Thank you so much for your diligence and encouragement. It is much appreciated.


Today was a great day! We headed out first thing in the morning to go to the Good Hope orphanage in Sombetini.

(Turns out Easter is a Celebration for Many Religions. This is a Sikh Parade in Arusha.)

We weren’t exactly sure where it was, so we met Juma and Ali (the director of Good Hope) at the Shoprite grocer! We were all excited to go in and get some treats and check out all of the goodies they have there. The food has been good here...but Chicken can only be cooked so many ways; when you are eating it two times a day. They do not eat a lot of variety here, and they do not waste…anything! So things get a little repetitive; we were excited for our grocery stop!

Back in the car with our treats in hand we headed to Good Hope. The orphanage is in the slums, and the area reminded us of the D.R.C. But, in truth it was more like the nicer areas in the Congo.

When we arrived we were immediately greeted with big smiles and hugs.

We quickly jumped right in and started reading and playing with them; it was fun showering the children with the treats we brought for them.

One little girl in particular (Rachael) was so excited about her “Bag of Blessings” that she would not put it down! She carried it everywhere with great pride.

Two of the volunteers at Good Hope were there from Australia. We decided they are saints! As mentioned earlier, the conditions there are very rough and dirty! They had been there for two weeks and had another two to go - Callie and Dio are college students on their holiday. After their time at the orphanage they will head to Greece for a cruise…they expressed how hard it will be for them to leave here, and wish they were staying longer after seeing what they’ve seen and knowing what they know!

The cooks were in the kitchen preparing a special Easter dinner for the children. They were very proud of the feast they were preparing and requested that we join them. We were getting ready to leave to meet James and Debby (Volunteers at Havileh Orphanage) for our Easter lunch, but did not want to offend them, so we all grabbed a plate and dished ourselves up a small amount to taste.

Juma let Ali know that we were meeting others for lunch, but that we would love to taste their feast! They had prepared Goat, rice, and cooked banana. Now, remember, this is in the slums; they do not have clean water there and they shop for their food at the street vendors. We feared that this meal would be introducing our bodies to all new types of bacteria!

After lunch, we said our goodbyes and then headed off to the Coffee Lodge to meet our friends for our Easter lunch. We really enjoyed our time at the Good Hope orphanage. We feel tremendously blessed by all of the little faces that have touched our hearts.

After a very enjoyable day, we headed back to the UAACC. When we arrived, we hopped right out of the car and headed to the area where the children stay and began playing with them. They were so happy to see us! We think it was one of our best nights here. We spent our last few hours with the kids reading, playing basketball and jumping rope. The cameras were left behind; we just laughed and played. We all cherished every second of our time left with these precious children that we have grown to know and love!

We’re feeling a little blue that our time is running out here…

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Day 11 - Uncle Monkey's Family

Ale’, Just wanted you to know that the Gentle Giants post was for you!

Grandpa Bob, Loved seeing your post.

MomP, We expected you to fight Dad off with a stick to protect those chocolate bunnies!

April, Glad you’re back. We missed your comments! We’re anxious to hear about your trip as well.

Mom S, Thank you for your faithfulness.

Thanks to all for the responses, thoughts, and prayers. It is most appreciated.


Today we attended the S.D.A. church at the University of Arusha. We had attended a Catholic service and wedding ceremony in the Congo and I suppose we were expecting a bit of the Congolese flair in this service as well. Since we didn’t know what was going to be in the area, as far as churches go, we hadn’t packed any “church” clothes. We had noticed that on Good Friday everyone was wearing their best, and since we didn’t want to offend anyone, several of us bought Kangas and bright shirts to match.

We didn’t exactly know where we were going as there were no signs leading us there and the walk there took us a little longer than anticipated. Church was packed with overflow spilling onto the lawn outside and onto the steps of the church.

One of the deacons was very kind and insisted on finding us seats, proceeding to march us up to the front one at a time during the ongoing service. He actually removed smaller occupants from their seats in order to make room for us. He led Ashton to the front of the church, picking a little girl up out of her seat and insisting Ashton sit down. Ashton hesitantly obeyed and took the smaller seat; he looked humorous as his six foot frame sat down in a chair that was sized for 6 year olds. Knees to his chest, he sat and listened to the rest of the sermon.

Turns out this church service is nothing like what we expected…they are quite conservative. Their clothing was also a bit subdued in color with most people in suits, shirt and ties, conservative dresses, with no jewelry to speak of.

Elisabeth made the mistake of clapping after a special music. Picture brightly colored, modest jewelry wearing, clapping white people in this scene – we stuck out like sore thumbs.

Today was communion in celebration of Easter…what a wonderful ceremony. Most of us were in flip flops and having walked to church, we needed foot washing. We reflected on how this must have been more of what the foot washing ceremony was like back in bible times with everyone walking everywhere.

While there were no instruments, the music was wonderful. Seems the whole church was a choir with each individual knowing his or her part. Paul whipped out his phone and made a quick recording that you can get Here.

The Havileh orphanage kids attend this church as well. This little boy latched onto Paul during craft time a few days ago – his name is Simon. As soon as Simon saw him he ran and grabbed his legs wanting to be held. We’ve bonded with so many of the kids while here.

Who could have imagined we would run into someone we know from Laguna Niguel, CA. Alisa Pettey Torres’ husband is President of the college here. This is such a small world!

After church we went to the Arusha National Park (a large acreage conservation area you can drive) to look for monkeys.

Active Monkeys are hard to capture on film as they are constantly moving and usually hidden behind something. The cameras were working overtime to try and focus with the low light conditions and all of the shrubbery.

These guys are called Sykes Monkeys.

These Black and White Colobus were really neat with the long flowing white tale. They were a bit elusive and we had to sit for a long time trying to capture them.

We were hoping to see a Blue Monkey while we were here, but none showed themselves.

And of course we found a troop of Baboons drinking by a spring.

This mom was carrying a newborn and he was getting tossed around like a ragdoll.

While not the prettiest creatures in the world, most find warthogs more endearing after the movie Lion King.

What a blessed day. Tomorrow, we’ll be visiting a Good Hope Orphanage in the Arusha slums and bringing them their Bags of Blessings. We’re looking forward to meeting more precious children and then off we go to the Coffee Lodge for an Easter lunch.

Day 10 - Gentle Giants

We left the Bougainvillea lodge disappointed that we hadn’t seen any giraffes the day before, but Juma told us that people often see them on the way back to Arusha as the animals frequently move in and out of the conservation area sometimes even crossing the road.

On the way out, it must have been National Baboon day as there were close to a hundred of them along the road.

We made one last stop at a carving shop as one of us had to get a souvenir for a friend. We hit the mother-load of ebony and rosewood carvings making us wish we had done all of our shopping here.

Back in the car, we continued our trek to Arusha. Juma has amazing eyesight and spotted a single Giraffe's head popping up in the bush.

We stopped the car to get a picture, and then we started spotting them all over. The coolest part about experiencing this is that these guys are just wild in the bush; we’re not in a park or conservation area – this is just Africa.

There were two males and one female in this one spot. The males were trying to court the female as it is the frolicking season.

Pictured here is the process of “necking.” The two males will continue to smack each other’s necks until one grows tired of the practice. Whoever lasts the longest gets the girl.

We were able to get rather close to them. They didn’t seem to care that we were there, although one of them always kept an eye out to see what our intentions were.

This little guy was so cute and apparently last season’s offspring. He stayed close to his Mom and would occasionally try to nurse, but it seemed she was trying to wean him off of her milk because she wouldn’t let him.

The men kept a look out for lions, leopards, cheetahs, or other predators while the kids posed for pictures. It’s strange to think that there might be something lurking in the bush out here in the open.

We were simply amazed to see them in their natural habitat.

Last stop was a snake and reptile farm; not nearly as exciting as seeing the giraffes, but enjoyable nonetheless.

This little guy was responsible for swallowing a sleeping security guard. Not to worry though as there have only been six confirmed cases of humans being swallowed by pythons in the world. In most cases, the person was taking a nap and was an easy target. If ever you're sleeping outdoors in Africa, sleep with one eye open!

Some of us took turns holding one of the harmless critters…others didn’t.

After a quick lunch at Pepe’s (Italian/Indian Food) we headed back to the UAACC to wind the day down with the kids and the locals. We’re looking forward to attending the University of Arusha S.D.A. church tomorrow.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Day 9 – Safari!

Response to comments...

MomS, no. We didn't eat at McMoody's. We're kind of cautious with ground meats or meat products here.

Dad, McMoody's is a fast food burger joint that is like McDonald's, but not the same. Philbrick's know Max Church and his dad. We answered your questions from Day 2 in the comment section, but since you didn't see it...lspinella (aka Dad Spinella) - Yes Ashton's drink was an Orange Fanta. We can't wait to see Doug get the Groupies either - we'll be sure to take pictures. Yes, the property is in Tanzania although we are fairly close to Kenya as well. And yes, Don can have the sale - does he have his license here?

Zach, Doug appreciated your comment or at least the rest of us did.


We went to the Ngorongoro crater which is basically a massive mountain that imploded on itself a number of years ago. There is a large high rim enclosing the plains. Almost every animal is found here although the lack of trees makes the crater undesirable for giraffes. I’m not sure that words can accurately describe what we saw today so this entry is going to be mostly about the pictures.

This is a Maasai village that we went to for a visit on our way into the crater. They are a bonifide real Maasai tribe that actually lives as the ancients once did. There aren’t too many authentic tribes that are left.

Maasai are a nomadic people who depend on livestock for their survival. They live on three staples for their diet: cow’s blood, milk, and meat. During the dry season, they drink blood when no water is available.

They sang us a welcome song as we came into their village.

Maasai walk everywhere (no vehicles) and put a lot of miles on their feet. They have a hard time making sandals that hold up to the task. While a lot of them just go barefoot, one modern convenience they’ve adopted is using old tires. You’re looking at motorcycle tires that were cutup to make sandals; we wonder how many miles they can actually get out of them.

This Maasai women’s shaved head and jewelry indicate that she is married and has children. Circumcision of men and women takes place at the age of 15. The man is not allowed to flinch or cry and if he is “man enough” they throw a party. If not, then there is no party and he is given a headdress with shortened ostrich feathers so everyone will know that he was a wimp. The women are allowed to cry during their circumcision and while it is publicly forbidden today, it is still practiced in secret.

Piercings, branding, and decoration are considered beautiful as well as knocking out some of the lower teeth. As you can see Maasai like bright colors. This woman’s large round necklace indicates that she is single.

This is a Maasai house which is constructed by the women. As it was explained, the men supervise and protect the women as they gather the branches, grass, and cow dung necessary for construction. The dung is mixed with ash, dirt, and water and is apparently water proof after it dries. It houses about 6 people, plus the owner’s newborn calves. The kid's nicknamed the house a Dungalow.

This is the inside of the Maasai house. There is a fire in the middle that they keep burning all day and night. The pot on the fire was preparing breakfast. They eat two meals a day with the first one at about 10A. It was extremely smoky with only a small hole for light and ventilation and we were immediate overcome by the smoke; squatting down made it bearable.

These baboons are everywhere near the entrance to the conservation area and come out to the road to see if the tourists will throw bananas to them.

These two cheetahs were hanging out and while we were there they crossed the trail in front of us as they began contemplating a chase. Several wildebeest and zebra were in the distance keeping an eye on the pair. It’s so strange how they seem to coexist in fairly close proximity until someone feels like a snack.

This Cape Buffalo has a face only a mother could love.

This Hyena was rolling around in the mud and found some old meat. It evidently didn’t taste too good as it departed soon after finding it.

Okay…coolest thing ever! This was a mating pair of Lions and we got to see the before, during, and after (this is the after picture). Lions mate for 7 days straight approximately 300 times during that period starting at 5 minute intervals and then gradually go every half hour. These two were evidently near the end of the week long frolicking as we waited 20 minutes for the action to start. You can also notice how skinny the male lion is as neither party eats during the mating season; you’ll notice the animals in the background. Shortly after this photo was taken, the male lion plopped down for a twenty minute nap.

This guy was absolutely massive and didn’t mind at all that we rolled up within 30 feet of him. Ashton captured him as he was lumbering along to meet another male. Upon meeting each other, they exchanged sniffs, intertwined trunks, and then one lead the other with the big guy in the rear grabbing the lead elephant’s tail as if one of them wanted to show the other something.

Corrinne shot these two. Zebras often rest on each other like this so as to watch each other’s backs…no lie!

This lioness was within touching distance of us and didn’t seem to mind us a bit. Maybe she was just at the end of her frolicking week and was too tired to care!

There is a switchback road that leads out of the crater. We caught this view on the way up.

This is just a taste of the photos we captured, and since kilobytes are precious – taking a long time to upload – we’d love to share the rest with you on our return for those that are interested.