Tuesday, July 23, 2013


Due to no internet, this post never went through.  sorry it is out of order! But we hope you enjoy!

Leaving our hotel at 8:30 this morning we were all very anxious and excited to begin our safari at the Ngorongoro Crater! Annie and I were very tired after the night we had last night and form the lack of sleep we got, but the excitement of the day quickly took over any feeling we had of wanting to go back to sleep. Getting the girls ready and fed took a little extra time but all went smoothly for which Annie and I were very grateful since they didn’t get as much sleep as they normally do!
 As we pulled up to the entrance gate of the park, baboons immediately approached our car and the girls were very excited all exclaiming “Moonnkeeeyyyyy!! Moooonnkkeyyyy!” Once we got to the entrance gate of the Crater we were able to open up the top of our car  so we could take in all the beauty surrounding us even more!  It was also nice to get some sunshine in our car. 
What started off as a very frigid and foggy morning turned into a warm and sunny day as we drove down the dirt road into the Crater. The scenery that surrounded us all day was truly breathtaking. After seeing something like this crater, I don’t understand how anyone could ever question whether or not there is a God. As we drove and looked out at the mountains, lakes, and unique animals we were truly in awe and tried to take in every bit of it, fully living in the moment. As for the little girls, Annie and I aren’t quite sure whether or not they were more excited to see other cars or the zebras, lions, hippos, and other animals. Everytime they would see another car they would tap our shoulders, point at it, then yell “Gari! Gari! Gari! (Car)” repeatedly. It made Annie and I laugh as we were surrounded by hundreds of buffalo and zebras but they were more interested in seeing cars and saying hi to all the people that were in them. During the day we stopped to look at some animals and realized our new friend Susan was in the car right next to ours! We talked for a little while then said our goodbyes and told her that we would see her back at the lodge at dinner.
 One of my favorite sights of the day was when we saw a huge hippo basking near a lake with two female lions sleeping by a tree right near by! Throughout the day we saw elephants, lions, hippos, zebras, hyenas, flamingos, these super cool birds that I can’t remember their name, ostriches (I highly dislike them…they kind of scare me), gazelle, buffalo, and more! We never got bored as we were constantly seeing new animals. For lunch we went to a lake that had several hippos in it. It was the perfect view to look at while we ate. Wherever we take Happy, Maurine, and Mataya people are always drawn to them and want to pick them up. People would come up and just take pictures of them without teven asking!. Annie and I were very protective and would make sure everyone knew they are ours. 
After lunch we continued our safari in search of more animals, however, it seemed they all disappeared. We were lucky enough to see another elephant and a male lion, and female lion laying down together pretty close to our car! At around 4PM we started driving back to the lodge. Once we arrived back at the lodge, Annie and I took the girls to run around so they could get energy out before dinner and hopefully go to sleep "on time" unlike the night before. After running, playing tag, and dancing we headed to dinner where our friend Susan joined us again. She was a huge help with the girls and they all absolutely love her. It was very enjoyable getting to know her even better and exchanging  stories from our day. The girls were very well behaved at dinner and once they were finished eating they went around the table and hugged everyone in the restaurant and said hello-(We made sure everyone was okay with it before we let them walk around). I mean who couldn’t love these three little precious girls?! After we finished with our dinner we headed to the room for lala time, we got all ready for bed and said our goodnight prayers. Annie and I pretended like we were going to sleep as well (we are slowly learning tricks) and within 20 minutes they were all out! Annie and I were so relieved to have them all asleep without a big fuss!

Monday, July 22, 2013

Another Crazy Adventure!

Getting a good nights rest last night was a little slice of heaven for Annie and I; although we woke up to the mosquito net on our faces, which was not the most enjoyable thing in the world. After eating some breakfast we decided to get ready and then head out to the snake farm so we could ride a camel!

Riding a camel has been a dream of mine for quite some time and we were very determined to make it happen. Leaving the house we only had very vague directions from Ksusha on how to get there. Since there aren’t any street names here, it is practically impossible to even get proper directions! On our way we stopped in the town of Arusha to change our dollars into shillings and get some delicious African coffee before we continued our journey to our final destination. While we were in town, these two “white” guys passed us and one of them yelled “Mzungu! Mzungu!” which made us start dying of laughter. Usually that is what the locals yell to us so it was funny having other Americans yell the same thing at us. Another man later approached us, speaking perfect English, asking us to look at his art gallery. We would have loved view his collection but we explained to him that we were heading to the snake farm and we couldn’t be out too late since we were already well into the afternoon. He understood and then asked us where we were staying and how we were going to get there. We informed him that we were staying in Usa River and drove our own car. He was very excited and impressed with our adventurous spirit…as he gave us both fist bumps. Most tourists here never actually take the time to immerse themselves in the culture, so we are finding that the locals really appreciate it when people actually take the time to do so. It felt super good that someone noticed and appreciated our efforts because we don’t want to be known as just “mzungus”. We are doing our best to show the locals that we are here for a Greater purpose, so having more people realize that is very exciting to us!  Continuing on our way to the snake farm we missed a turn and kept going straight looking for the landmark that we had already passed. We drove for quite some time out in the countryside with nothing but mountains and tiny huts surrounding us. Realizing that we had driven much too far we turned around and headed back towards Arusha. We had to make many gas station stops, asking several people on the side of the road who didn’t understand a word we were saying, we were feeling very hopeless and discouraged that we wouldn’t get to ride a camel. Then we finally arrived!!! As tears filled our eyes from excitement, we pulled into the snake farm and then ran to where we could ride the camel. It was one of the most fun things we have ever done and we were both laughing the whole entire time. It was so cool to experience it together and it was even better than we had imagined. Afterwards we walked around the snake farm and saw many snakes, turtles, lizards, birds, and crocodiles.

All of the animals were super cool and unique but my favorite was definitely the camel! We drove back to the house as the sun was setting.  It quickly became very dark (since there are no streetlights here). Driving in Tanzania in the daytime is challenging but at night it is even more so.
 After making it home safely and without getting truly lost Annie and I came to the conclusion that we should go on the Amazing Race together. This whole trip has been filled with new places and experiences and we couldn’t be happier to be sharing these unforgettable memories with each other.

On the Road Again...

A    After an extremely fun and eventful weekend, we hit the road once again to head back to the orphanage. Along the way, we made a few stops at some local markets near Karatu. Corrinne and I got out to explore more of the treasures and unique souvenirs while our sleepy little friends stayed bundled up in the back seat of our safari car. We got a chance to see an even greater variety of jewelry, carved wooden sculptures, and awesome African art made from banana leaves, much like the things we witnessed at the Mesai Market. At each stop we were greeted with a nice touristy “jambo!” in which case we would respond “mambo!” to make ourselves seem a little more adapted to the Tanzanian culture. Although being able to communicate a little better than the average tourist, the owners of these small market places still demanded high prices for the small things we picked out. Being less experienced, I watched and learned as Corrinne battled her way through these ridiculous prices, and eventually settled on a price fair for everyone. We walked away satisfied with what we got and the money we spent, and continued on our long journey home. Eventually we pulled over on the side of the road to see a surprising amount of giraffes eating from the tall acacia trees. For about 20 minutes we stood to watch and take pictures of the graceful animals, and were happy to give Maurine, Happy, and Princess one last sight to see on our big safari trip! They loved the “twigas” and even shouted to them to come closer.
Once we made it safely back home, we noticed the progress of the new building on the property had rapidly increased since the last time we were there! It was a great feeling to come home to, seeing this beautiful dream suddenly becoming a reality. Once the girls were put down for some seriously needed lala time, Corrinne and I, being tired from caring for the little girls all weekend, decided to reward ourselves with a nice movie. Now being the experienced drivers we were, we drove to Njiro to see Turbo, a movie about a snail winning the Indy 500. As cute as we found the movie, Corrinne and I also found its message pretty symbolic seeing as though it was all about how you can achieve anything you set your mind to. Having God as an ultimate part of our lives can truly help us accomplish anything, and in turn, we live our lives (this trip to Africa especially) to serve Him in all that we do. It was the perfect end to another great day, and Turbo definitely motivated us to continue doing great deeds for our perfectly wonderful God who has blessed us abundantly!

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Sunday, July 21, 2013

A Safari Adventure!

As we said our goodbyes to Ksusha, the five of us girls loaded into a big safari car around 1:30PM, ready to begin our long adventure to the Crater. Our driver was Justin, a very nice man who spoke pretty decent English and would be there to guide us over the next few days. The drive was a solid 5 hours long, making our way through towns and villages, up and down some very bumpy dirt roads. This wasn’t just your typical long road trip because to us, we found it an even greater opportunity to witness more of the abundant beauty that Tanzania has to offer. 

Not to mention we had some very excited little girls in the back seat! As we made our way along, there were so many unusual sights, sounds, and smells we got to experience. We witnessed people riding on the tops of cars, piling on one another into buses, in the streets working, socializing, or just walking from place to place. Majority of the women were dressed from head to toe in colorful cloth, some with massive loads of water or fruit balanced perfectly on their heads. There were children either tending to their daily chores, like collecting water, or playing with one another. Many of the older kids were walking home from school, as their uniforms proved right away. The sounds of people shouting, working, and conversing with one another felt so comfortable and normal. It was nice to see so many people talking face to face as oppose to looking down at their cell phones like we tend to do in America. There was honking in the streets and the very toxic smell of black burning diesel that petrified the air. It wasn’t so fun being stuck behind cars with that coming out of the exhaust for long periods of time! I caught myself contemplating about the distinct differences between the world we live in versus the people here in Africa, but then realized no one can even begin to compare the two places. I feel so ridiculously blessed to have family and friends who love me, to be born into such a spectacular country full of opportunity, a roof over my head, and an abundance of food to eat each day; yet I am often still complaining about what I do not have. Many of the people here struggle to find even these basic necessities, coming from broken families or selling anything they have just to make a small profit to be able to put food on the table. But these seem to be the people who are so happy and thankful for what they do have. Kind of funny how that works right?
A few virtues that I find so admirable in the people here are the strong sense of community and simplicity of their lives. Everyone seems to want to help each other, whether it be playing with homeless children, giving someone a ride to their destination, or simply smiling and shaking each other’s hands. You can always expect to be greeted by anyone and everyone you see! Many are looking just to meet their basic needs, so there is no excess when it comes to food, clothing, living conditions, and more. Even those who have all of their necessities are just very content with that. But the value I admire the most in these wonderful people is their faith. I think every other car we passed by had stickers or pictures all over proclaiming their love for the Lord. Young children in the streets singing songs they learned in school or church about Jesus, and men and women wearing crosses around their necks. No matter what religion, God seems to hold an extremely special place in the hearts of these people, despite all the suffering around them. I know each individual holds a special place in His heart as well! Not to mention on this day more than ever, I came to the conclusion we were all put into one another’s lives for some reason. The people here are ecstatic to see people like us in their country, but in turn, they never failed to make us smile!
We finally reached the Country Lodge in Karatu where we would spend the evening preparing for safari. 

Corrinne and I were so excited to have this outing with Happy, Princess, and Maurine, and everyone in the hotel seemed to want to know what all of us girls were up to! Of course, the girls ran straight into the lobby, going to greet everyone they saw.

 Luckily they’re as cute as they are, otherwise we may have had some noise complaints! After talking to a nice family from Oklahoma who absolutely loved the girls, a very nice lady named Susan approached us, saying that she overheard talk about an orphanage. Once Corrinne and I explained the founding and mission of Small Steps, she told us that she works with a school in New Hampshire, helping to coordinate trips for students to places like Tanzania and had been searching for an orphanage they could possibly visit sometime in the future. At that point I think it became pretty clear to all of us that God’s plan was working out just as He intended it! Definitely a beautiful coincidence to have all been in the same place at the same time. After dropping off our stuff in the room, we got to sit down for a delicious 4-course dinner. We invited Susan to sit with us, who ended up being a tremendous blessing when our little girls just couldn’t sit still any longer. Much to our surprise, the girls ate almost all of their food, and even got seconds on the yummy potato soup! With our bellies full we headed back to the room for bedtime. What should have been a 10 minute process turned into a 2 hour one. As we tucked the girls into one bed, they all of the sudden turned it into a massive slumber party. Then the fun turned into fear when they realized how unfamiliar the room was to them, and why they were even there to begin with. After lots of tears, we laid down with the girls for a few minutes. The second Corrinne and I stood up, Happy and Maurine decided they weren’t going to miss out on any of the fun either! So for the next hour we had to continue to use our amateur parenting skills to get our exhausted friends to sleep. We put both girls in a different bed, and by 11:30, everyone was finally out!