Friday, July 29, 2011

Walimu wazuri

great teachers.

Teachers Training Day 2 029.jpgedit.jpgedit
I had the privilege to help with a teacher's training seminar this past week at Pamoja. And although we threw it together in just under 4 days it turned out to be one of my favorite experiences here yet! The ladies at Pamoja had wanted to do a teacher's seminar for some time but with life, business, and visitors it had gotten pushed back. When Ginger arrived and after I realized...well...ummm....she freakin' rocks we decided to put her skills to good use and the seminar was on! With no time to really plan, advertise, or prepare we prayed it would be a blessing and ran around like crazy fools getting everything done. We wanted to bless and encourage teachers here as teachers everywhere are under appreciated! And we also wanted to offer training on classroom management, structure, and creativity for teachers of preschool age kids. It was a lot of work and we are exhausted but all I can say is it was so worth it! 27 teachers showed up everyday (some traveling on 4 dala dalas to get here) and they loved it! We only wanted 15 teachers but when so many came and were excited to learn we had to be African and let everyone stay. In a place where the apathy often discourages me I was so encouraged by these women and their desire to learn, grow, help each other, and share together. It was also so fun to have all the women on our team working together on something. I think having it be only women made for quick bonding and allowed us all to "let our hair down" (totally possible even when wearing head coverings:). The first two days Ginger and I taught and we helped to translated issues such as Multiple Intelligences in the classroom, structure, and creative discipline and craft ideas. The third day they had to break into teams and teach all of us and put their new knowledge to use in preparing and teaching a real lesson and this was by far my favorite day. They really did a great job teaching and I laughed so hard at everyone pretending to be the naughty students and pushing each other, tattling, and even climbing under desks! It was hilarious! I have never seen so many women smile and that blessed my heart and made the preparation chaos and work totally worth it! Upon completion of the 3 days they all relieved a certificate and a gift bag full of goodies they can use in their classrooms (glue, colored pencils, kanga pieces for crafts, food coloring to make paint, music CD, etc). Everyone of the 27 women want more seminars and would like us to come and visit their classrooms and continue building a relationship. We look forward to all the students who will be blessed by these amazing teachers! Yeah Pamoja's first Teacher Training Seminar! many pics courtesy of Doro (thanks!)...
DSC_3887.jpgeditthis one
teaching us
it was that funny!!
butts on the bench
there is always room for one more here!
all teachers

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

anniversary happenings

10th Anniversary; Teacher Seminar Prep 046.jpgedit
Long overdue post on our 10 year anniversary!! To be honest we were both a bit bummed we would be "here" and not be able to do some amazing trip or something super swank but let me just say God provides. All the time. We celebrated in style! And we talked about the challenges, the lows and the highs, the best parts, and most importantly celebrated how faithful God has been to us over these last ten years

First, he morning of our actual anniversary Doro brought us these adorable cakes....
I love the bride actually had eyelashes with frosting! So sweet of her and we shared our yummy cakes with some new friends that came over for lunch. anniversary, ginger, samoa's, anni follwing Jesus 006.jpgedit
That night we did get away for dinner and some friends we know in town arranged reservations at a swaky-ish hotel and even had gone over and brought a special cake that was brought out to us after we finished dinner with cheesy Kiswahili singing. Hey, we take what we can get.
anniversary, ginger, samoa's, anni follwing Jesus 035.jpgedit
It even had our names spelled correctly....amazing! Here we are dressed and then transformed (only me :) to actually go out on the piki piki...
us real us local
Then this past weekend we took full advantage of our guest's offer to watch the girls to give us some alone time to get our anniversary on. We have lived here long enough to know when an opportunity like comes along you jump! And the girls had a blast while we were living large on the coast for 2 nights! Just me, J, books, the Word, food, the beach, the ocean, sunshine, and lots of quiet and time. yeah, that was good.
The biggest surprise was a special zawadi J had picked out for me. Check out my new bling!
The best part was he did everything Waswahili style: he called a local friend that lives in town and asked where he should go to get real Tanzanite and then went with his friend and found a couple local jewelers. He picked out such a beautiful ring and even had it engraved with a special message in Kiswahili of course (as an aside the engraving is actually my fav part because it is completely bootleg done by hand)!
My hubby is awesome y'all. Mad props to my J & happy 10 years to us!
10th Anniversary; Teacher Seminar Prep 055
me pic
10th Anniversary; Teacher Seminar Prep 066.jpgedit

Sunday, July 24, 2011

I heart this place.

Forodhani. Remember when it first opened? We go almost every week since it means we all eat all the greasy, yummy, street food we want for under 10 bucks and I do not have to cook or clean up! I'm SO there. There is always local soup, freshly caught seafood, freshly squeezed sugar cane juice, special treats, making new friends, playing at the park, people spoiling and loving on our girls, and watching local guys dive into the ocean while the sun sets. We heart Foro. Here is a glimpse of why....

oman celebration in stone town 072.jpgedit
oman celebration in stone town 064.jpgedit
oman celebration in stone town 061.jpgedit
oman celebration in stone town 135.jpgedit
oman celebration in stone town 121.jpgeditoman celebration in stone town 077.jpgedit
oman celebration in stone town 139.jpgedit
oman celebration in stone town 152.jpgedit
oman celebration in stone town 162.jpgedit
oman celebration in stone town 169.jpgedit

and here is a video of Evy enjoying her special treat just because I think it is adorable (the actual eating part NOT the clean up be clear)

Saturday, July 23, 2011

crazy fighting, some singing, and getting hit with a banana tree

Yep, that is what we did this past Wednesday. We attended Mwaka Kogwa for the first time and I believe last time. It was that nuts! We drove out early after packing some snacks for lunch and arrived after many a police stop in a Southern village known for celebrating and keeping the rituals of welcoming in the new year alive. People flock; local and tourist to see the craziness. We all walked to this huge open field and slowly groups of men wearing protective clothing, masks, even a dress now and again started running in circles chanting and swinging banana stems many of which had been woven together. After about an hour (during which our girls ate some lunch and enjoyed local ice cream) the groups started to run toward each other taunting and then finally fighting. It was insane. Full out combat with these woven rope weapons. Yikes! It is said that the people get all their aggression out during this one day and then forgive each other. Because they do this there is said to be more peace and less strife and sickness in the village for the coming year. It looked like a free for all beat down if you ask this Mzungu. But it was interesting for sure!

Jason said "it is kinda like the running of the bulls only the bulls are people." Hmmm, kind of. It was that chaotic for sure. They say there are "rules" but as an observer it looked more like chaos and mob violence with an audience to me. Just saying. Two fighters even got carried away and ran into us and the 30 people we were standing near and in my slow attempt to move I got whacked in the head with the banana stem and it hurt! After another hour of the beat down women started running around in groups singing and taunting the men and signaling the fighting would be coming to an end soon. We had met up with Jason's good friend there who translated and explained for us as it was so difficult to understand but the songs were a bit raunchy and inappropriate in nature and then men would respond with equally icky songs. It was sorta surreal to us who know this place as a culture of separation between the genders and very strict social rules about the roles of men and women. Others here are quick to point out this festival does NOT represent the norms here but this village has held onto these old traditions despite the dominant religion. Still, it was an interesting view into the culture here. During this time the elders construct a small banda in the middle of the field. Then one man goes inside and they light the thing on fire. Don't worry the person always escapes quickly but it symbolizes that in the sacrifice of this house the wrath burns and the hope is that this one burnt house means none will be destroyed in the coming year. We stayed just long enough to see the thing torched (from a distance) and then dragged our tired and dirt covered selves back to the car and headed home. It was crazy, it was dirty, it was...well...bizarre but we survived Mwaka Kogwa!!!

Mwaka Kogwa 069.jpgedit
walking in the village before the chaos began
Mwaka Kogwa 086.jpgedit
Mwaka Kogwa 090.jpgedit
getting pumped for the beat down
Mwaka Kogwa 113.jpgedit
nothing like a 'watching the beat down refreshing treat'
Mwaka Kogwa 159.jpgedit
said beat down in process
Mwaka Kogwa 154.jpgedit
Mwaka Kogwa 178.jpgedit
tons of people were there
Mwaka Kogwa 197.jpgedit
Anni & Evy get in on the action
Mwaka Kogwa 198.jpgedit
the women singing and taunting the men
Mwaka Kogwa 216.jpgedit
lighting the thing on fire..our cue to head out
Mwaka Kogwa 221.jpgedit
it was a tiring day y'all.....

Friday, July 22, 2011


We allowed Miss Anni to ditch school and we all headed to Mwaka Kogwa. Our guest Ginger wanted to check it out and we decided in our efforts NOT to be the people who live here for years but never see the common tourist experience we would gladly join in. It only happens once a year and marks the new year on the Shiraz calendar. The people in a southern village on our island celebrate it with some interesting and elaborate rituals and we decided we just had to see it for ourselves. It was for sure crazy....more as soon as I can get power and internet long enough to upload my video and pics....but for now: here is Miss Anni in all her fancy ready to head out for the festival. The girl loves to any and every culture!!
Mwaka Kogwa 063.jpgedit

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

and something old.

J is an introvert. And living in a culture where there are apparently none can be more than a bit challenging for him. I am trying to give him more time to himself to think and recharge and as long as I am with friends I am happy too! Win:win! So I drafted Paula into joining us at our old stand by: the little zoo here (and this time we did not take along 32 extra kids). We even got to hold a snake this time. Anni and Anna were horrified by it but Evy was intrigued and was even caught squeezing it's head! I seriously think the kid will wrestle lions in her future. She is that hard core. We rode the camel and horse too and the girls loved every minute. Evy was never afraid and just clapped and then repeatedly asked for "more." We had a great morning with friends and came home to a rested and recharged Papa! That is a good day!
evy with helmet, ngalawa, vbs party, mika bday, zoo with paula 113.jpgedit
evy with helmet, ngalawa, vbs party, mika bday, zoo with paula 124.jpgedit
evy with helmet, ngalawa, vbs party, mika bday, zoo with paula 139.jpgedit
evy with helmet, ngalawa, vbs party, mika bday, zoo with paula 148.jpgedit
evy with helmet, ngalawa, vbs party, mika bday, zoo with paula 180.jpgedit
evy with helmet, ngalawa, vbs party, mika bday, zoo with paula 144.jpgedit
evy with helmet, ngalawa, vbs party, mika bday, zoo with paula 204.jpgedit

Monday, July 18, 2011

something new.

fam pic
One thing you need to get used used to in living here is a lot of the same. same food. same weather. same stuff to do. Now, amazing crystal blue ocean swimming is not hard to get used to just to be clear but we do tend to long for change. We long for something new and dare I say a bit exciting (ya know besides having our water pump break or killing mice in our house which qualifies as exciting for sure just not fun). Jason found out about an exposition in town put on by some folks from Oman. Many come here this time of year to escape the heat there...snow birds in reverse if you will. They were hosting a cultural exchange in town and sponsoring tons of events. There was free admission to the museum in town, free henna, free writing your name in Arabic, yeah all sorts of fab stuff and if you know us we dig free! The funny thing was nothing was particularly awesome but it was different and new and that my friends is enough for us. And we loved a family day out. Just us enjoying town.
oman celebration in stone town 043.jpgedit

oman celebration in stone town 048.jpgeditfinal
oman celebration in stone town 023.jpgedit
enjoying the view
oman celebration in stone town 052.jpgedit
we met up with some friends and all of us with our Wazungu kids caused quite the paparazzi commotion
oman celebration in stone town 017.jpgedit
my girls. Anni with frilly dress & blingy sandals twirling and Evy in her sneakers with battle scars. Perfect.