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changing the world thru loving and serving others. without agenda

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missing my stilettos :)

i have been back in africa 3 months; a total of 6 months for the year. it feels like just a few days. my days are busy, i love being here and i continue to feel incredible blessed beyond measure that God has placed this experience in my life.

i continue to be amazed, still, at how simple life has become.  and how okay that is for me. and how far i am from what i was accustomed to.  what is interesting, at least to me, is the things that i do NOT miss and what i do miss. for example. i care not the least about having no a/c, no ice, frequent periods of power outages (well maybe i do bitch a bit when the power is out too frequently) and the resulting cold showers or use of flashlights.  i don’t mind living in a simple bedroom with just a few changes of clothing. i don’t mind walking and being filthy sweaty dirty much of the time. i don’t miss dealing with make-up and nails (but as a friend recently observed, i do still have a thing about my hair, so continue to color it and get african hair weaved in.  my story is that it’s easier to take care of .  regardless, i suppose i must fess up to having the hair vanity issue.).   i do miss my family of course but since i have regular communications, it helps to span that gap (but i do worry at times about things).

however i confess that i still have moments in which i miss my FABulous shoes (ha ha.  of all things, i know!) but if you know me well, you are probably nodding your head and maybe laughing.  just for old time sakes, i have included a few old pictures of some favorite shoes which were a big part of my life just a year ago.  and of course, cannot forget about those really fun skull and roses boots!  oh, another thing, i do not miss is the hectic, overbooked, stressed life in which i wore these shoes.

what am i doing these days? well, seems like more and more business mentoring.  i daily send up a prayer that i will be used in service in some way.  while walking to town recently, i was reflecting on that prayer and it suddenly occurred to me that what has been happening is that i am being placed in these situations.  of course, i knew that i would be using my business background, experience, connections, wisdom, etc in my role here at foot2afrika, but now appearing before me on a regular basis is a new opportunity, a new person, a new business with a need for assistance.  and it was just during my walk, and reflection following the appearance of the 4th or 5th opportunity that i suddenly got it – ah…the dots connected.  love when that happens.

i shared this with a business professor friend, who is also one of my greatest supporters in my mission –  his comment was:  deb, your business mind in tanzania is no accident.  another friend, before i came over the first time, said to me: deb, using your business intelligence and experience is sharing your gifts and talents and that is mission work.  so i guess i’m still on the right track.  lol

oh, of course, i continue to love on the children and that is the icing on the cake blessing.  their gift of unconditional love, their joy despite the losses in their young lives, their smiles are priceless beyond words.  so now i have multiple areas of mission focus and that works for me.

i have 9 more months in my initial commitment.  perhaps things will shift again and i will have other areas to serve in. well, hakuna matata, i’m down with that.  and while my mind does try to look down the path to the future and fall into its old ways of analysis and predicting outcome (i.e. what will happen after that 9 months?  will i stay in africa?  if not, where will i go?) i consistently bring myself back to the here and now, and focus on the moment. i know that things will become clear when it is time. and in this moment, i am right where i am supposed to be with my africa family, serving others, learning and living, and that’s enough for me.

oh, and  i’m still raising funds for the water filtration devices for the massai village as well.   those interested can send funds as indicated on the right side bar of this blog.   you know – i become cranky when the water is out for a day at the volunteer house, so i cannot imagine being a mother, a child, an elder living without access to running water or clean water.  these filtration units will allow them to at least turn nearby stagnant water that is available into something that they can use and drink.  if you missed the full story of this, see the  back to the m.a.s.s.a.i. blog dated december 19.

as always, love you, miss you.  but life is amazing here.   thanks for your continued comments and support, whether via the blog or facebook or email.  they always lift me up. i’m grateful that you have chosen to follow my journey and i hope that in some way you are enriched or blessed or perhaps a bit entertained by my experiences.

wishing you all peace, joy, love, health, laughter and bliss in the coming year.  you. are. loved.



krismasi katika tanzania

sometimes plans do not work out as you think.  and sometimes that’s okay.  why i say that now, is because our ‘original’ plan was for f2a staff  to spend christmas at pangani or mombasa (on the beach /indian ocean).  now….christmas on the beach with people i truly adore is my idea of perfect african christmas.  plus i was happy that no matter what i wasn’t going to face the american version of christmas – the big meals, lots of temptations of goodies, and all that. along with all the hectic commercialism that i’ve become accustomed to, but no longer enjoy.  of course, i was going to miss the love and the time with my family and close friends back home!  but  just sayin’…the rest of it, i wasn’t going to miss.  lol

but, for a variety of reasons, the beach plan just didn’t work out.  and i knew myself well enough to know that i needed to have a change of scenery, and i wanted the day ‘not’ to be just another normal day, or i might not be my usual happy self.  i could feel this emotional energy rising up (if ya know what i mean) and i was a bit concerned that i might be a bit depressed on christmas if i did not come up with a plan.  so i decided had to find a place to go, something inexpensive, fairly close,  a place i could feel okay going alone.  through some internet searches i stumbled upon mt kilimanjaro view lodge and i don’t know – i just immediately felt this ping when i found the website that this is where i should go.  so on friday, i sent an email and made arrangements and on saturday i was there!

oh yes.  the ping was a good one. on saturday just after noon, i arrived to cooler mountain air, the smell of eucalyptus (omg, wonderful), banana and coffee trees lining the road, and then!  an awesome landscape of mt meru, mt kilimanjaro and the town of moshi in the valley.  the lodge was designed to give guests an experience of the chagga tribe culture, with a mix of a few modern amenities.  while they do not have electricity wired there, during the evening hours the generator provides power to the huts.  hot water is provided through a boiler system.  no tv.  no internet unless you bring your internet modem.  the staff is absolutely charming and the food is delish, cooked outside over coals.  you can order drinks, and they will be cooled if you request, in the cold water running down the mountain.  it was a lovely pleasure to sleep without mosquito nets (none of these creatures at 7000 ft) and under a couple of blankets for a change (as down in moshi town, temperatures linger in the 90s).

there were a few of us in the lodge over the weekend, all from the US.  climbers of kili, some on a mission trip, various reasons.   in the meantime, just sitting on the deck watching the sun set, viewing the mountains, walking the trekking paths around the lodge property, listening to the various brooks trickling down,  bird watching – all soothing to my spirit and soul, calming to my mind.  no internet, no computer.  just quiet.  just perfect.

what did i do on christmas day?   woke up about 7:30, enjoyed the morning air, and a great view of kilimanjaro.  walked up for breakfast and chatted with the guests that arrived in the night.  the rest of the morning was spent just walking around the lodge, enjoying the view, doing a bit of reading. after lunch, julia from the staff and i trekked off down the mountain road to the village.  we pick a passion fruit along the way and i enjoy eating (and spitting seeds) while we walk.  a light rain and a bit of thunder pops up…we pause under a tree till it passes over.   it’s a bit tricky – the road is steep, the little rocks means it’s easy to slip, so pole pole (slowly slowly).   we wave and speak to the villagers along the way, many are out in their nice clothes on this christmas day.  i am told that they are not used to seeing many mzungu, so some are a bit shy but many will shake my hand or fist bump. one of the first stops, per our agreement, is at a shack to try banana beer.  i have heard about this the entire time i’ve been in tanzania but haven’t actually tried it.  sure!  of course!  i want to try it.  this is probably akin to the moonshine, btw.  lol.  they make it in a little shack, and who knows how sanitary.  or not. we order a small (kidogo) beer and they bring out this HUGE cup of beer.  O.M.G.  between the two of us we make a couple of sips, take a couple of photos, pay the 500 TSH (about 30 cents) and hand the cup off to whomever wishes to drink it and away we go, giggling about the experience.  well, i have that out of my system. and no longer have a hankering to try the banana beer.  we agree that when we get to the main village we’ll drink some real african beer like kilimanjaro or serengeti.   ha

when we do get to to main part of the village, we are greeted by friends of julia, who invite us into their ‘shop’ for the beer.  the ‘shop’ is a small, no, make that tiny, room.  the walls are lined with cardboard boxes.  there is a small table.  and the doorway is a curtain.  what is this i ask?  this is the shop.  uh, okay.  we sit, and they bring us the beer.  cheers!   a couple of beers (about .90 each bottle)  and some bubble gum later 🙂   it’s time to head back UP the steep road.  it’s about (i think)  2km each way; or about 2.5 miles round trip.  on the way back up, we give out pieces of gum, and chat with the kids, take a few photos, and stop and rest a few times.  i didn’t think that it was too bad, actually until we take the ‘shortcut’ as julia and zecharea tell me.  shortcuts are becoming synonomous with  difficult.  it was REALLY steep and the last 30 minutes there was no talking, just heavy breathing and a few pauses to ask, are we there yet?  lol  but we caught a magnificent sunset on the way along that shortcut.

monday morning, the sun rose to showcase kili in a gorgeous light.  i had to return to moshi (and the heat) that afternoon, but i will be returning to this beautiful area when i can, for a pause, for some coolness, for some rejuvenation, and to enjoy that hike (great workout too).  the world is abundant with many beautiful places; back home in america we have so many fabulous landscapes and wonders.  but the beauty and wonder that i’m enjoying in africa along with the beauty and grace of her people is such a gift to me.  i hope that those of you that are intrigued by africa will soon come to experience it for yourself.

if you haven’t already enjoyed the photos on my fb page, here’s a link to the scenes….

as we move into the new year,  i wish for each of you, for all of us, for the world:  peace, love, joy.  i read a quote recently.  when the power of love overcomes the love of power, the world will know peace.   i hope that in the coming months and year, we will continue to discover simple easy ways to celebrate the power of love, to live from the heart, to change our communities, our countries, our world.  shine our lights into the darkness and be love.

thanks for being part of my life, i love you all.  i am so blessed to be here, and daily i ask god for guidance of how i can serve and fulfill his plan of why i’m here…in this life, and here in africa.

happy. new. day. happy. new. year. be. happy. be. love.



back to the m.a.s.s.a.i…..(i’m hearing the tune of back to the u.s.s.r.) lol

as i walk to town this beautiful monday morning, to meet aisha of rudisha women group for our weekly meeting of mentoring and shopping for production materials, i have about 45 minutes to reflect on saturday’s trip back to the karamba region, to visit our massai friends.  the primary reason for this particular trip was due to the survey of the land for water drilling.  thanks to our recent volunteer nurses from the UK, there were funds to pay for this survey. and we all love an opportunity to return to this lovely area, to visit these people that we grow increasingly fond of.  it’s my second time, but for some of our group it’s their fourth or fifth visit.

when we arrive, this time the children greet me with more acceptance.  the last time, they were very shy and uncertain; would barely come near.  this time, most of them gave me a hand-slap, giggle, and walk with me, sometimes holding my hand, eventually allowing photos. receptive to learning how to use my camera, and even taking photos themselves.  ‘mama’ of this boma was very gracious, showing me around, also holding my hand.  she took me into the home and was trying to tell me a story of something happening (through words and demonstration) but i really did not understand what she was telling me.  i felt very sad as she was trying so hard.  the rest of our group had already moved on to the survey site, it was just me at this point, so no one to interpret. language barriers can be so awkward.

i am not certain when we will have results from the assessment but it’s exciting to at least know that we can get information on what it will take to drill the well. so far, we have just been ‘guestimating’ based upon other nearby areas.  anticipating that this will be a long term and probably expensive project, my goal is to raise about $4,200 to purchase 64 water filtration devices that will allow them to filter the stagnant water that they do have current access too (at least for a short time period, not knowing how long it will be before that will dry up).  this would be a perfect quick solution to serving this community of people.   this means that we can help them have the basic necessity of water at a cost of about $4 per massai in this village.  the water straws that i initially took to them are a great solution for water that is standing in puddles and small sources, but we have learned that we needed a solution for larger quantities, and this is the next step in assistance until we can drill a well.

…..i could break this down in several ways.  but what stands out to me is finding 64 people who will send $65 each.  in essence you are ‘adopting’ a boma/a family by providing them a source of water for $65.  a small sum actually.  i need the funds by january 20, so that i can have these filters ordered and brought over by a contact i’ve made that is coming to tanzania in february or march.  $65 allows us to get the filter,bucket, straining material and covers banking processing fees, one set for each boma. if you’d like to be one of the 64,  instructions to send money to my paypal are found in the right sidebar of this blog. please include a note indicating that the funds should be directed toward the massai water filters.

learn more about this filter here (you never know,this information may be critical to someone else reading this blog). and absolutely this is a great thing to share with your group or others that might wish to help (rotary, optimist, church, etc) families – mothers, babies, children, etc that need to have water in order to survive. .

this area, the karamba region on the border of kenya and tanzania is a beautiful area, surrounded by mountains.  the people are gracious and welcoming; we always look forward to time with our massai friends.  in 2012 and 2013, our goal (foot2afrika) is to bring  volunteer groups to live on-site in work camps, (perfect for research, academia, etc)  in collaboration with the massai, to help them with conservation, medical, veterinary, education and other issues.  although the volunteers would have an experience (and an adventure) of a lifetime, they also in return provide critical tools and information to the village so that they can continue to learn and do for themselves. we will have information on our new foot2afrika website soon!

if you haven’t already seen these on my fb page, please enjoy scenes from the day here.

at the end of our day, we  loaded up and headed for home, taking the ‘shortcut’ up and over a ‘mountain’, which is the path taken each time so far.  along the way we discover harvested mangoes; we stop and quickly grab some up and put in the car.  a few stops later, we meet with the local pickers and they allow us to pick off the ground and we greedily eat them right on the spot,  they were sweet, juicy and marvelous! it was perfect enjoyment, jumping out of the vehicle, grabbing mangoes, eating them and jumping back in the car, heading to the next mango spot. sweet and juicy! yum.  craving one now!

our short cut then became a bit of a treacherous journey as the road increasingly because less passable and eventually impassable as we moved into evening and then night.   honestly, the government needs to block the road, or put up signs saying the road is in such horrible condition.  just last month we took this road and it was fine but this time.  negative. but we were in very good hands with emmason and johnson, they are amazing drivers. truthfully there were moments of concern (mine at least): if we got stuck, how in the world would we get out? i knew i didn’t have cell coverage where we were at, and i had no idea how any vehicle could come get us.  i never really doubted their ability but at the time we had we had to turn back,  when the road became completely impassable, the road was narrow, and the drop off at the edge of the road led to ….well, it wasn’t pleasant to think about, at least for me sitting in the passenger front seat.  well,  quite obviously we made it home. and all i can say is i would want these two guys  with me if ever i’m in a bad spot, they are calm, cool and know how to handle situations.  to them, perhaps it wasn’t a big deal, i don’t know.  but i think everyone was happy to arrive back home about 9:30pm, get some dinner and fall into bed exhausted!

a shout out to jack maxwell, bixby rotary, who sent me a lovely email before i returned to africa, as well as connecting me to an awesome individual plus the information on the water pump.  at the time, i didn’t know how valuable either of those connections were going to be, but i’m so grateful that he provided them to me!  thank you jack, if you are reading this.

wishing all you a very merry christmas.  here in tanzania, christmas is a celebration of family and Jesus, very low key (at least that is what i’m told).  a trip with family and/or friends to the coast.  church, a (nicer than normal) dinner, nothing like our humungous feasts, gifts are not the feature, and minimal decorations (if any).  i will report back after christmas to let you know my observations after actually going through the holiday.  right now, 6 days prior, it just seems like summer here (oh, it IS summer here, as a matter of fact!).

as always. wishing you the spirit of love, joy, peace, understanding, bliss and God’s blessings for Christmas.  as for me, i continue to be blessed beyond measure, as i complete my 3rd month back in africa, 6 months total for the year.  every day is a new gift and while i think of all of you often back home,  i am also at home here.  doing the work that God has led me to do, and i continue to be open to whatever else it is he has in store.  dang.  i love my life.   oh, but you’ve heard that before, haven’t you?

merry christmas and love always. and don’t forget.  go….be love.  the world needs you.