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Saturday, March 25, 2006

The Monkey Hunt Part One

Sounds like a good novel, eh? But it's actually what's happening now at the base in Mwandege. I'll let you know how it turns out, but here's the gist of it: we have a monkey problem (for monkey affeccionados, they are blue monkeys according to our East Africa travel guide). They steal the fruit (well, I guess it isn't stealing because monkeys don't have laws and don't know about ownership) from our farm, which we eat, and which is how the base supports itself in small ways. Anyway, there's a huge tribe of them, and they're everywhere. They always seem to be in the tree that is outside the window of our outhouse (it's like having a tv in the bathroom, only interactive and I'm always wondering if they're going to see me and want to climb in through the window). The other day they were taking a close tour by the base and were frightened away by some of our staff. Incidentally, they left a baby monkey behind, which was easily picked up by the men. Papa and mama monkey are very upset and want the baby back. We are keeping him (humanely, Jen & Phil) to lure them close enough to shoot them. But we don't have guns. We have bows, and also one guy on staff has deadly aim with large rocks. The monkeys are too smart to stand still while we shoot (by we, I mean the men on staff; I've never used a bow), and the in fact leap away whenever they see the bow. So we are at an impass. I don't know what happens next. Everyone asks me if we have monkeys in Canada; hamna (we have none). Then they ask if I want to take the monkey tribe home with me, and I say no for several reasons, and they all laugh. But I explained we have raccoons, which are a lot like monkeys--climbing trees, clever hands, stealing food, making messes, breeding rapidly. And no one on base eats monkeys (this info is also for Jen & Phil especially). But if we can kill the dominate male, then hopefully the rest of the monkeys will go away (we are on the edge of a large forest that they are free to roam about in and swing from trees and fling poo). More on this later (when there's more to report).

Okay, praise report! Five babies this week and counting! Three were actually delivered on the same day, and two within five minutes of each other! Yes, one woman was on the floor telling us she was pushing while the woman on the delivery table was delivering her placenta. It was truly a BAS moment. I wish you all could have been there. We could have used the hands. I actually took off my gloves from the first woman, gave some perineal support with a towel and a bare hand while the doctor was changing his gloves, then when he took over the support I grabbed fresh gloves. All healthy babies, first three were boys and the last two sweet girls. The nurses keep telling me since I delivered, they must be named after me, or the boys after Jason. But then no one would ever say their name right, and always call them Judith or Jude (the Y here is more like a stop at the end of a word, so as soon as anyone sees my name written, they are unable to say it properly). God has been so faithful to me. I've also been helping in the clinic, weighing patients, taking blood pressure, inserting IVs, administering injections.

My swahili is painfully slow in coming along. I had a small breakthrough on Thursday, when I realized I was no longer thinking in Spanglish when trying to speak. This is a good step (as the other day someone asked me a question, which I understood, and wanted to say yes, 'ndiyo', so I was nodding my head and about thirty seconds later the word for yes came along and I said it). But it also seems like whenever I learn something, I'll go around saying that all day long, and then the next day someone corrects me and I find out I've been saying something bad or just wrong or nonesense. It's quite frustrating. It's as though all my language instincts are wrong in Swahili. I had really great instincts while learning Spanish; possibly because it was latin based and many English words are also based in Latin. Swahili is in fact (here's some more linguistic detail for those of you--Patrick--who were asking) a creole: Arabic and Bantu, with some Portuguese thrown in for good measure (biblia, familia). Which explains its basic simplicity in structure, and also why I can't seem to learn much of it--really no European or latin language at all (besides the three Portuguese words). It's like learning to write with your left hand blindfolded and standing on a balance beam. It's possible, but difficult when it's an entirely different manner of speaking and translating thoughts into words. It's quite frustrating. Pray for me! God created this language, too.

Questions of the Week:
First question (submitted by John from CVYA): have I ridden a cheetah yet? Yes, in fact we have a cheetah on base for use by clinic staff for when there is a delivery and I have to get to the clinic right away. 70mph is so much faster than I can run. We call him 'Chui.'
Second question (submitted by various Vineyard people): what do I eat? Mostly rice and beans (every night for dinner), and at lunch always ugali (corn flour pasty stuff) with some sort of stewed vegetables (varies day to day). Although the other night we had chapati with our beans, and it was heaven. I was so excited!

Words of the Week:
This week's words all come from the Lion King. Well, most of them. it's a starting place.
Asante Sana=thank you very much
Twiga=giraffe (haven't seen one yet)
Mtoto=baby or child or son or daughter

I came into town today to meet Helen from the dts in Morogoro. She's from London. I don't know if I've talkeda bout the dts kids in a previous blog or not. Anyway, we went out to lunch and basically just hung out together. She said she needed a break from the people she's spent the past six or seven months with; I just wanted to hang out with a muzungu and get off the base for an afternoon. She asked me why I came to Africa. I told her I don't know. I came to work in the clinic, and I came because God told me to, and I came because of unfinished business, and I started crying in the restraunt while we were talking. But it made me realize a few things. That part of why I'm here has been a test of our faith (Jason's & mine)--whether we will trust God when it doesn't make sense or do the sensible thing instead. I'm doing 'unfinished business' (see previous posts) for Dagmar. What that looks like I"m not sure. But it's going on in the spiritual realm, and I don't have to understand it all for it to be effective. I don't have to specifically do everything she would have done to finish things for her (and the rest of the team maybe?). But it's about obedience; walking in the light; speaking life; touching people and dispelling darkness in whatever form it presents itself: disease, pain, hardship, heartache, religion.

Thank you all so much. I was going to say more but my time here is nearly up. If you're disturbed by what I said about the monkeys, that is what I was going to elaborate on; what sets us apart from animals (specifically apes/monkeys), some thoughts I've had lately on that in light of the monkey hunting, and also a great book on this topic is Frank Peretti's Monster. More later. Thanks for all your prayers. I'm in need of them. It's hard being away. I love Africa, and I hope to come back (with Jason!), I will be sad to leave, but very happy to come home.

Sunday, March 12, 2006


This is the village where I live. You probably won't see it on any map--but to give you all a point of reference we are south of Dar es Salaam.

My first week here has gone well. I've been into Dar three times now--quite a bit more than expected! But Nicola has had a lot to do before leaving for KIGOMA (got it right this time--last time I called it kidogo which means 'small' in Swahili, oops!, although it IS a small city). I'm not sure how often I'll be coming in after this, but if you don't hear from me, don't worry because I'm fine, just staying in the village. It's a nice village--mostly almost all Muslims. We hear the call to prayer five times a day, but we are at last making inroads here. The base has a preschool that is basically free (they just pay for a uniform and a notebook), and with really excellent teachers. They teach the children to pray before meals, and then when they go home and sit down to the family dinner, they say "we can't eat until we thank Jesus for the food." Small missionaries.

I had a fantastic talk, actually, last night with Rahab, the main preschool teacher. We took a moonlit walk through the YWAM property and shared our hearts with each other. Talked about people's perseptions of what Africa is like--all bush bush with wildlife and huts and only like three people--people come here and are surprised to see the cities and the cars and all the people. Such a distorted view we get from watching PBS nature shows--we think we've seen all of Africa or South America (I'm remembering a show I watched lately on the Amazon jungle), but we have no idea how most of the people live or what things are like. It's a beautiful country, Tanzania, for the trees and wildlife, but even more so for the people--they are so kind and welcoming and have embraced me from the start. I thought it would be weird coming here as a mazungu (white person), but you know, I feel like I fit in better here than I ever did in India, even though I look more Indian than African, you know? Still the children will stare at me, and the other day I was on a daladala (small bus) and the woman next to me had a baby in her lap who kept looking at me with big brown eyes, and reaching out to touch my arm. But it's like there is a place for me, here. I am different, but I am inside. In India I felt like I was different, and always outside. This is in part true because of the caste system and because you must be born into it and foreigners are always foreign and will never be in the castes. Anyway, I love it here. It has been a wonderful experience so far. Last night after our walk, I came back to my room, and my roommate told me "I think you are African." I have never been so touched.

Jason has been able to call me on my cell phone--it is so wonderful to talk to my beloved! Thank God! He is always encouraging me and lending me his strength. I have a wonderful husband. God saw that it was good!

Yesterday I went to church in Dar with the base directors/leaders--Jeremiah and his wife Beate. Beate is from Germany, and Jeremiah is from Kenya. They are sweet people. I have had many long talks with Beate and been blessed to see her heart for Africa. After church we (Nic & I) were invited for tea on the veranda. (Lips would be fine, ma'am [ring a bell for anyone--sorry if that was over your head]) Well, it wasn't a verandah but a picnic table in the shade of their mango tree, which was even better. Lovely

The other day I learned how to sift rice. It's quite the process, and I spilled quite a bit on the ground, pole sana (so sorry). It takes a lot of technique, and I'm still very new at it but God's grace is with me. Someone asked me how I get all the stones and chaff out of the rice at home if I don't sift it like they do----and it was difficult to explain it comes that way from the store. A sign and a wonder!

I have been a bit discouraged by the fact that I have no deliveries yet! Jason reminds me that God has ordained this, and that He has set up deliveries and it's not by my power or wisdom or strength that they will happen. I was very close the other day, adn then I didn't deliver. It was frustrating to think about and look at, but today was good. I was outside after breakfast, talking to Kassia, and one of the men from the DTS walked up and told me: "I had a dream last night, and when I woke up, God told me to tell you. He has called you here, you are supposed to be here NOW." I was moved almost to tears, but people here don't cry so much, so I stifled it. God is good. I have not been forgotten. I was not mistaken to come here. I need to walk in that--pray for me that I will see things as God sees them and not as I usually see them. I'm so small (kidogo) and He is so big (kubwa). Thank you for all your prayers.

Monday, March 06, 2006

Tanzania 101

I've arrived! Safely, and in one piece as well.

Tanzania is beautiful. Reminds me a lot of Mexico, except more humidity and fewer people. The base is outside the main city, so we have room to breathe and some small farming operations, and trees and (apparently) monkeys--baboons actually-- that they're trying to be rid of. (Sorry, Phil & Jen!) I haven't seen them yet, but I have seen guinea fowl, cows, and goats. One very pregnant goat caught my attention today on my way into town. It looked like she had a two-by-four stuck in her sideways.

Anyway, the clinic is at the YWAM base, and they have two or three midwives (one isn't currently working, but she's on base), and two doctors (husband & wife). I met the doctors last night--they had us over for dinner. Who's us? Nicola & I! Nicola was one of the teachers on my Birth Attendant school in Perth/India/Timor. I knew she was here in Tanzania, but I didn't know she'd be meeting me on my first day! she's been staying at the base here, waiting for me. Soon she'll head out to Kidogo to work with Marine Reach--community profiling and doing whatever else she's doing. It's been so good to see both her & Ulani on this trip. She's just the same as she's always been--unchanged, like Bilbo after fifty years with the One Ring.

Dar Es Salaam (proper) is a bit out of the way, so I don't know how often I'll be coming here. Often enough to recharge my phone card and call Jason, so any info you need about me can be gained through him. :) If he wants to disclose it, that is.

Last night was my first night here. After we had dinner with Joel & Deborah, I did a bit of journaling (so I don't forget what's happened) then fell into a deep, though hot, sleep. I woke up in the middle of the night to some stupid mozzies (mosquitos) buzzing round my head. It's the worst little whining buzz, eh? Anyway, I was swatting at them in the dark and missing every time, and finally they stopped. I figured they'd had enough blood and couldn't fly any more and wandered off somewhere. When I woke up in the morning (today), I don't have a single bite! God's good. While they were driving me crazy, I started singing (in my head because I didn't want my roomies waking up thinking I was insane) "Some may trust in horses, some may trust in chariots but we will trust in the Name of the Lord." I sang it that way as well as "Some may trust in antimalarials, and some in mozzie nets, but we will trust in the Name of the Lord." He's so good to me. I know this is going to be an incredible time. It's been ordained from the beginning. I'm just walking into it.

Jason had the grace to remind me yesterday with an email about "Mexico Flexico". Not that I've started to stress out about things or whatever but it's a good reminder to carry with me, as I've just arrived and I'm sure something eventually could become stressful before I leave. Something I find myself continually saying, not sure whether more to myself or to God is "Tu me ves." (You see me.) Don't know when or where that started, but it's like whenever I feel the enemy trying to bring doubts about things, I just keep saying, "Senor, Tu me ves." And it's a comfort to my heart. He sees me, He has seen me from the beginning, I'm in His hand and His will and walking out under His wings and His blood.

Some people were asking me a few questions I couldn't answer before, so here are a few answers: What kind of language is Swahili? My previous reply was "An African language", but I'll ammend it to a language based on Arabic. I don't know anything but two tiny phrases in Arabic, so I didn't see the similarity, but I have it from a good source. Although it's considerably easier to learn than Arabic. Second question: What does Dar es Salaam mean? Haven of peace.

Twende. Dios les bendiga.

Saturday, March 04, 2006

Big Ben, etc

Last night I went on the Night Tour of London, courtesy of Couper Tours, Inc. Couper took us to downtown London, where I jumped out of the car in the middle of the street to photograph Big Ben and Churchill while they drove around to find a parking spot. We also walked by Westminister Abbey, and saw Buckingham Palace from the car (not well lit at night--but flag was up, so QE2 was sleeping happily in her bed).

Anyway, off to Tanzania this evening. More then.

Friday, March 03, 2006


I've arrived in London this morning! After nearl an hour in the immigration line, I was turned loose on the UK. Hooray! Ulani & Couper were waiting for me, and all is good. We had some fish & chips for lunch. Awesome. It's really warm here--and sunny and green. Like spring or something. I just realized today that when I get home there probably will be no more snow--so maybe I've seen the last of the snow for the year! But who knows with Ontario weather, eh?

More to follow. Tomorrow will find me aboard the next Tanzania! Thanks all for your prayers--I was put on a different flight from TO (due to weather in NY), but it ended up being more direct and with a shorter lay-over through Chicago. Everything was uneventful, and on the plane to Heathrow I was actually seated next to a guy from Australia whose wife was a midwife. Small friggidy world.