Sunday, March 16, 2014

Neighbors Visit

          We had a very relaxing morning due to most of us not feeling the greatest. Exhaustion and sickness has most definitely set in. Just sitting around the house with the girls is amazing in itself. My energy level was at an all time low as I was physically and emotionally drained. Before this trip my prayer was that God would wreck me so that He could shape me into who He created me to be and that is exactly what is taking place. I have been met with a lot of adversity, which left me vulnerable and broken and right where God wants me to be. I am at the place where I am completely dependent on His strength and I would have it no other way even though to be honest sometimes it is very hard and what He puts me through to get there hurts a lot. 

            Today we had planned for the younger kids who live in the village to come over for candy, bible stories, bracelet making, and games so resting was essential so we could be ready to give the kids our all when they arrived. The kids came over at two in the afternoon and we were shocked and excited at how many of them came. They ran through our gates with so much joy and enthusiasm that it made me realize that this is why I am here. Some of us did not expect, though, just how much God was going to reveal to us throughout the two hours that the kids were here.  

I had never thought God would open my eyes to see and my ears to listen so quickly. It was all too fast that I was overcome with a sense of purpose as we began to read the bible story of Noah to the 50 kids that gathered.  We handed out cookies and lollipops and I witnessed an overwhelming sense of appreciation as gratitude flowed from their lips and formed smiles on their faces.  We separated the boys and the girls to begin our activities. Corrinne, Lindsey and Blair surprised the girls with beads and string so that they could make bracelets. 

Christian, Ashton, and I ran in excitement holding soccer balls as the boys sprinted after us towards the field. Immediately, laughter filled the field and the keep away games were brought forth. It was an experience that I can hardly put into words. It was as if that moment my purpose was made clear in glorifying the kingdom of God. The glory of creation was being celebrated with every smile, every kick, and every laugh. 

I stopped at the sudden sound of singing filling the building behind us as we heard the girls echoing their beautiful voices amongst the field. Once the girls joined us, Blair thought it would be funny to yell, “Tackle him!” and soon I found myself staring at thirty grins ready to leap at the chance of tackling the Mzungu. I raced around dodging each child only to find myself quickly out of breath and on the floor rolling in laughter. This repeated several times to the point where I was so out of energy that I could barely get to my feet. The children fanned me with their hands as I was breezed with an overwhelming sense of love. I then found myself being lifted off the ground as almost every child who was on the field raised me with all of his or her strength. I was being carried across the field. This moment broke me like no other. God had just dropped me on the ground and picked me up reminding me of His love. He chose to deliver this through the children and the message had not been clearer.  I needed to be reminded of His love for all and rely on His strength alone.

Friday, March 14, 2014

Long Day Home, to Small Steps

After getting all ready for bed last night we finally fell asleep only to be awakened in the middle of the night by pouring down rain, lightning, and thunder and then later again by Princess crying at five in the morning because she was not feeling well again. After comforting her for forty-five minutes or so I was able to go lay back down since she fell asleep just to hear her crying again thirty minutes later. This time is was because Maureen had crawled on top of her. After getting them both back to bed I was finally able to get some more sleep before we awoke at eight, which is the latest the girls have slept in this whole trip.
Following getting ready and eating breakfast, we departed from our hotel to head back home. Once we reached Arusha (four hours later) we stopped in a cafĂ© to get some lunch before we headed to the masai market to buy some souvenirs. The masai market was an experience in itself. From having all the different shop owners trying to persuade you to go into their shops, to bargaining, to keeping watch of the girls… it was a little stressful!
The locals are so great with the girls and absolutely loved them. One store owner that we were buying pants from gave the girls each their own skirt and let them play on the floor as she gave them different toys to keep them occupied. The girls joy is contagious and wherever we go we do not go unnoticed. Everyone felt very satisfied with his or her buys from the market, so we headed back to our Small Steps home. Getting back home was such a relief and our house moms were so excited to see the girls and the girls could not wait to show them the new skirts they had received.
We made sure to give our driver a very nice tip to show our appreciation for all that he did for the girls and for putting up with their screaming and crying over the few days! Having time to finally sit down, I am now able to catch up on writing for the blog! As you can tell things have been a little busy around here. It is now time to feed the girls dinner and get them to bed so I have to get off but… lala salama! (Sleep Peacefully)

SAFARI - Njema

Rather than focus on the difficulties that today brought I am only going to highlight the positives. As you read the stories I share just imagine the sound of at least two screaming toddlers throughout the whole duration of the day. It is actually a miracle that we saw as many animals as we did on our safari. To start off the day, Ashton was feeling too sick to go on the safari, so Blair stayed at the hotel to take care of him, which left Connor, Lindsey, Christian, and I to take care of the girls and go to the Ngorongoro Crater. 

Waking the girls up to get them ready for the day was such a joy. They are such love bugs in the morning and make my heart melt. As we drove to the crater I couldn’t help but sit in awe of my God who created all the beauty around us and put this amazing opportunity in my life. I guess I was just floored to even be able to serve Him. 
It did not take long until we saw tons of baboons which the girls absolutely loved. Princess screamed with excitement as she kept telling me that she saw a baby baboon on the mother baboons back repeatedly all in kiswahili.  Following our baboon encounter we came across a couple of twigas (giraffes) eating from the nearby Acacia trees. It was such a beautiful day. The sun was out shining and there were clear skies so we could not have been any more excited to continue along on our journey. 
We stopped at a lookout before we drove down into the crater and the view was phenomenal. Looking out at the scenery took my breath away. 

Driving down into the crater we were greeted by a large herd of buffalo grazing on the side of the mountains. Once we were in the crater it did not take long to see zebras and wildebeests. Lindsey’s favorite part of the day was seeing the zebras. 

My goal for the day was to see a rhino and in the very beginning of the day we saw two and then another one later on. It was so cool getting to see the rhinos because they are endangered and both of the other times I had been to the crater I was unable to see one. The birds that flew by our car were birds like none other we had seen before. They were so majestic and unique. The only birds that I did not feel this way about, were the ostrich’s that we came across. The ostrich is probably my least favorite animal and I definitely am not a fan of them. Watching the tembos (elephants) was incredible. They just stood still eating but they are so very fascinating. The way one threw mud all over itself to stay cool amazed me.


We soon came to find out that this week is lion mating season. A fun fact is that lions only have mating season two to three weeks out of the year. So when the time comes they are very focused on the task at hand and do not eat or leave their mates side during that time period to work more efficiently. Luckily the girls were more focused on their water bottles while singing “simba simba simba” than actually watching them. Throughout the day we saw many more female lions without a mate so they were moving around more and we got to see them run. A couple of the lions even touched our car and kept walking beside us. It was one of the coolest experiences ever! 

For lunch we stopped to eat our boxed lunches near a lake filled with a ton of hippos! We did not have much time to appreciate them though, being that the girls were giving us a little trouble to say the least. Nonetheless it was still ridiculous to get to watch hippos, they are truly amazing creatures! 

Shortly after lunch we were all ready to head back to the hotel since the girls were undoubtedly done for the day. We had already been in the car seven hours and that just was too much for them. Everyone was drained emotionally and physically. Getting back to the hotel we tried to lay the girls down for a nap but we had already missed that window, so we decided to stick it out. Princess was running a fever so we went to the pharmacy to get her some medicine and then laid her down and put cool cloths on her. By the time dinner came around she broke her fever and was ready to eat and for a treasured moment we were able to catch a glimpse of her personality (since all day she was not quite herself).

Ashton felt much better by the afternoon, but he was still resting when dinner came along. We tried to make dinner as quick as possible so we could put the girls to bed since they were exhausted. Putting them to bed was a challenge as always but soon enough they were all asleep and we had a moment to breath and lay down ourselves.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

A Day of Travel

           Today we had a 5-hour drive to our hotel that is near the Ngorongoro Crater. Tomorrow we will wake up early and head out for our safari! Leaving at 1pm the drive with the girls went super well. They love riding in the car and are probably the most well behaved when they get to be riding. Their naptime lasted only about 30 min because there were so many exciting sights alongside the road to see. They saw zebras, baboons, and a Maasai villages. We knew their exhaustion would hit later but there was not much we could do about it. 

As we finally arrived to our hotel as it started to pour down rain. It was really nice to have things cool off but also made us worried that it would be raining tomorrow during our safari. Before we all go to bed we will be praying for sunny skies. We got settled into our rooms and tried to relax a little while the girls played but soon their playing turned into pestering one another, which then turned into someone crying. Their lack of taking a nap finally settled in. We decided to split them up so Connor and I (Corrinne) took Princess and Happy on a walk while Christian and Lindsey played with Dori and Maureen. Right at this time Ashton started feeling really nauseous so he laid in his bed in his room while Blair took care of him. We think he ate something that bothered his stomach so we are praying he gets better by the morning! 

We went out to the local pharmacy to get him some medication. Soon enough dinner came and the girls behaved very well until they decided they were done eating. Afterward, Maureen kept trying to run into the kitchen, so I decided it would be best to take the girls back to the room to get ready for bed while Christian, Connor, and Lindsey finished their meal. Putting them to bed in a new place has proven to be quite challenging but they all are sound asleep as I type this. Overall we had an amazing day but a physically and emotionally exhausting one as well. Now I should probably go to sleep because we all have to wake up at 5 in the morning. Good Night!

Look Look, at all the Animals


          Today we ventured into the city of Arusha for a day at the Snake Park. The girls were so thrilled to ride in the car and go on an adventure. Due to construction on the roads it took us 2 hours, double the time it should have taken, to get there. Not for a second did the drive bother any of us. It was an amazing experience just to see more of Tanzania and grow our perspective on life. The drive put a lot of thoughts into our heads and we didn’t say much as we just wanted to take it all in.

For Connor it opened his eyes to a whole new world and he felt complete culture shock. He felt like he couldn’t even grasp everything he was seeing but when it hit him he was immediately overwhelmed. He shared that when he looked into the eyes of people hurting and in poverty all he could think about was how there are so many more people all around the world who are alone. Based on what he has seen it changed the way he viewed poverty from being something that could be fixed by the government and secluded in certain areas to being an epidemic and he realized that instead of trying to fix all the poverty he just wants to bring Jesus and His love because that goes far beyond any amount of poverty.

Once we arrived at the snake park the girls were running around so ecstatic at the sight of all the new animals. They were not for a single second scared of the man eating pythons and poisonous cobras but when it came to the baboon they all began to cry and take a few steps back. They loved sharing in the moment with everyone and kept screaming, “Look! Look!” at any new turtle, lizard, bird, or crocodile. We got to hold a little harmless snake but the girls were not too sure about it at first. They were fine with the deadly snakes behind glass but when it came to holding it that was a different story. Eventually they warmed up to it and giggled after touching it, but then quickly averted their attention back to the turtles.

 After seeing all the animals we moved on to the area where all the camels are kept. For only a dollar a person one can ride a camel so we jumped on that opportunity without even thinking about it. We each took turns on the camels having one of the little girls with us. Happy was the first to go and was a little hesitant. As the camel stood up she began to cry and cried until the ride was halfway done and then she enjoyed herself. Princess and Maureen absolutely loved riding the camels and Dori seemed to be a little indifferent.

We had an amazing time and then headed toward home making a stop for lunch and coffee at Africafe in downtown Arusha. After eating we headed back home and tried to relax, but since the girls missed their nap-time that was the farthest thing that actually took place. Tears were shed over practically everything and our attempts at comforting them all only went so far. Eventually it was time for dinner and we did our best to quickly feed them and put them to bed. They did not cooperate, but after singing a few songs they crashed after a long day of fun.