To the ends of the earth…and back!

Extended family, off road travel and more culturing experiences…

Saturday after heading back to town and negotiating some purchases and checking email, we headed back to Shalom for a few minutes. Soon enough, we were back traveling to Arusha with Mama to visit the home she used to share with Mr. Nnko. She has not lived there for about 4.5 years, when she began her work with Shalom. We took a taxi to town and then switched to a minivan for the 2 hour journey. Normally, this would have been quite comfy as it was an 8 seater. How silly of me…soon I found myself in the middle front seat between the driver and a passenger, straddling the radio/AC vent with my legs resting upon the men on either side of me. On the bright side, at least I wasn’t in one of the Dali Dali vans that achieve into circus-like feats with up to 20 people stuffed in, some hanging out the windows. It is only my 5th day here so I have about 85 more to achieve the feat…

Anyway, the drive was beautiful and soon we were in Arusha at the house. We spent time with Mr. Nnko’s mother and some extended family, ah the beauty of the extended family. It was such a community, Ellen and I couldn’t help but enjoy it. Well, except for the small child who was terrified of us and would cry upon our approach to her. Note: by the close of Sunday when we left, we couldn’t help but find it hysterical. She would glare at us from her mother’s arms, both petrified and mesmerized. HAHA.

We enjoyed a delicious Indian dinner in Arusha where we met a young guy from Canada, Michael. He has just climbed Kili as a fundraiser for Alzheimer’s Disease. After dinner we headed back to the house and during the ride, Mr. Nnko said, “Elizabeth, tell me about the ring on your finger…are you expecting something big soon?” **Since my return to Africa, I have been donning a small opal ring on my left ring finger so as to avoid marriage proposals from interested suitors. Carrying around a guitar case does not help the matter as most are encouraged even more to approach and ask! Well, after explaining this to Mr. Nnko, he insisted, “Elizabeth, do not close the door so soon! I have someone who is interested in you but we African men respect the ring.” Ah, exactly! Finally I had accomplished my wish. The four of us were in hysterics at the conversation and Mr. Nnko had again tried to sway me, as he wants to see my stay (and get married) in Tanzania. The ring is still firmly upon my finger : D

Sunday was beautiful—we visited the village where Mr. Nnko and Mama grew up and the same place where some of their family members still remain. It is about 30 km from Arusha. Again, the off road experience was like none other. Surely had the window been fully open, I would have found myself upon the dusty road!  The church is on a plot of land that Mama’s father donated and the church was planted by Mr. Nnko, truly a community effort! We sat in the front, flanked by Mama and Mr. Nnko on either end of us. We were asked to share a verse or brief teaching so we opted for excerpts from “My Utmost For His Highest”. As we read in English, Mr. Nnko translated into Kiswahili for the tiny congregation. Before the Benediction, we sang hymns in Kiswahili and luckily had hymnals so we were not completely lost. As we sang, the breeze blew in over our shoulders and filled the brick structure. Fuchsia flowers were hung from the windows and grew in through holes in the structure. Truly, it was a beautiful place of worship.

After service we shared a soda with the pastor, an older man with wrinkles from smiling and laugher around his mouth and eyes. When he smiled, he warmed the space. We then went back off road to drive to Bibi’s home, where Mama Warra grew up. Her mother is in her 90’s and beautiful. We shared lunch and looked out from the spectacular place. For miles we saw trees and hills and even the top of the Ngorongoro Crater. We ventured back down and visited another church and some family members from Mr. Nnko’s side. Once back in Arusha, we packed the car up and prepared for the 2 our journey to Karatu. We stopped at the gas station where Ellen and I picked up some water and juice and Mama got some milk and other items.

On the road, Mama handed Ellen and me each a cold milk. “Brookside Cultured Milk.” I should have known from Mr. Nnko’s preface, “It’s not fresh milk.” that I was in for a real treat. Ellen took a swig first and said, “I hope it tastes like a milkshake!” Shortly she handed the drink saying “Salmahani” (I’m sorry) to Mr. Nnko. My turn came and I took a hopeful swig of the cold, cold beverage. As the chunky white coldness went down my esophagus, it was soon fighting to come back up. Truly this was not fresh milk and I was the one who was instantaneously cultured!! As I wondered which would be more offensive: giving the drink back to Mama or sucking it down then throwing it right back up, I opted for just holding it, perhaps hoping the children at the orphanage could have it. Luckily once back in Karatu, two of the small girls shared the treat

The upcoming week is going to be very busy again, as Ellen and I will begin to prioritize with Mama for Shalom’s needs. Please feel free to check back early next week for another round of updates. I hope to load pictures soon too—the connection currently is too slow to do so. Apologies! Hope the stories can give you some ideas of the fun we are having!!

Love from Tanzania!

p.s. please check out Ellen’s blog for some more fun reading!!

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