We’ve now been here in Dar for a little over 2 months. It feels like much longer & yet, we feel we are just beginning to settle in & walk the path before us. The first month was a trial by fire for sure. On top of all the usual cultural adjustments & emotions of entering a new life, we had a lot of “extra” challenges that gave us a good taste of the things you encounter living in Africa. But, we limped our way through it & have grown in our faith in ways we, of course, couldn’t have any other ways. Times like these are always opportunities for us to learn a little more just how much God loves us. At one point I realized I could tell the story of our acquisition here by the state of our nails. Right? I mean, if they are clean & well manicured (especially my kids), then I know we have had time for self-care. When I surveyed all our finger & toenails 5 weeks in, they told a crazy story. Well, We are now in the beginning of our 3rd month, and all our nails are cut & cleaned & I even have beautiful pink toenail polish to prove we made it through a very trying transition.
It has taken me this long to write a post, not for lack of a story, but because there is so much story, that I have not known where to start. In the midst of our transition here, so many amazing and encouraging things have taken place. We were able to spend our Christmas with the Buckley family (all of them!), which hasn’t happened in over 6 years. We realize everyday just what a huge gift it is to be here with them. They are our very dear friends who we used to share life with half a decade ago. We’ve lived on different continents for the past 5 years, so we are still amazed how God has brought our paths back together. They are leading the church we are partnering with to reach out to mothers and babies here. The Dar Vineyard church has now become our church home & it has been so life giving to our family to become a part of it. It is through our church here that we are able to enter into relationships with the families in the Sala Sala community. For the past year, the people in the DAR Vineyard have been investing in the quarry (Sala Sala) where many families live very hard & difficult lives. The women of the quarry work all day long, in the scorching sun, breaking rocks with large hammers for very little money. (I have a whole new respect for African women). This is one of the main ways they provide for their children. It is a community in so much need. One of our church’s priorities is to serve the people in need around us with the love of God, giving time, resources & hope. We have now become a part of that.
So, for Christmas, we were able to be a part of a Sala Sala Christmas celebration for the families here. Every week, the kids of the quarry come to a kids club just for them. This Christmas party was a time where all the children’s families were invited to come. Our church partnered with the kids club to provide a nice dinner for all the families. I was excited because this was the first time I would meet a lot of the women I have been praying for over the past year.
We organized for people in our church to donate Pilau (an African meal of rice, amazing spices & beef). We were amazed at the outpouring of resources! We had enough food to feed over 300 people!!
It was such an amazing night! Our children were able to be a big part of it, in fact, Parker took video footage of the preparations & the event. He made a beautiful video collage that we are so proud of. We hope to put it on our site soon.
After having our first large outreach to these families, we were quite blown away with encouragement. We are so proud to be a part of this church & to be partnering with these people who have a heart for the women & children of this place. And we are especially proud of our friends, Doug & Lyndi who are pioneering the Vineyard movement in Tanzania.
On other fronts, Teddy and the boys are really enjoying the school, Haven of Peace Academy (HOPAC). Teddy gets his sweat on as he teaches multiple Physical Education classes a day in the hot weather of Dar. Each of our boys have really found a place there, making new friends, enjoying being with their old friends (the Buckley boys), & really excelling in their academics. (yeah!!)
As for me, I have had a full last month. I started language classes everyday & I have started to visit the women in the quarry to begin relationships. I have already had opportunities to give care for some moms-to-be and some young moms who had lost their babies. My heart has been filled with such anguish for them yet such joy to walk through these things with them. I am learning to so much about the culture & the state of women’s lives. I am also in the beginning stages of researching the process of creating a safe place for women to birth. I am taking these first few months to really immerse myself in the culture & in understanding the lives of women here as well as learn the language. It’s so vital to relationships. I will also continue to make health connections & learn about the health system here. The efforts of these months will, hopefully, give me a good sense of the needs of moms and babies & figure out how we can get started in meeting them.
God has been showing me many things as I make myself available to learn. There are many layers to the realities of women’s lives here & I have been thinking a lot about how I should communicate that. There are things I am more comfortable sharing in private newsletters, and thus will limit the details of some of these realities on this journal.
It is hard, sometimes, to figure out how to communicate all the changes, experiences, hopes, hardships, challenges, & joy that life brings here, but we are committed to trying the best we can. We do love sharing all that the Father is doing here, as He is so very present and we are confident that He has led us here & we are being carried by His hands.
We miss so many of you & hope you know, though we are far, our hearts think of you often. We have landed in a wonderful community of people here who are pouring out their lives for those around them & we feel a place has been prepared for us here.
We are thankful for every one of you who have been journeying with us & we know this is just the beginning of so many good things!
Keep trekking with us!