Sunday, February 21, 2010

Oh my goodness! The sky just darkened and the heavens completely flooded the earth! It is teeming out there! Fortunately, I am safe & sound at home. But I’d better hurry up & blog before our power goes out.

We recently celebrated the feast of St. Thomas Aquinas, our school’s patron saint, with a special Mass and the blessing of our new girls’ hostel. Here are a few shots that Roger took during this very special occasion. From the top left, you will see Earl taking part in the tree planting ceremony, celebrating the schools 5th anniversary. Then there is Bishop Gabriele Mmole blessing the hostel. The Bishop is accompanied by our pastor, Baba Patrick, and Bernard, our seminarian friend. In the next photo, you’ll see some of our colleagues Theresia, Winfrida, Fabian, & Augustino sitting together with Mama Komba standing behind them. You’ll recognize Earl with Sr. Maureen, our new Filipino headmistress. Next you’ll see the students singing as they process with the Bishop around the new hostel. Then yours truly with hers truly dishing out the fun and the rice. Sr. Raphaela, the school’s manager, was impressed that the teachers were serving the students. Very gospel-like! What Sr. Raphaela did not know was that the last time the students served the food, there wasn’t any left for the teachers! In the next shot you’ll see Sr. Otilia supervising the cooks in our kitchen. And that line-up of canary yellow uniforms is our students entertaining our guests. I really love the center photo of our drummers’ hands – they provide the heartbeat!

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Within the last two weeks, Aquinas Secondary School has become a girls’ boarding school. And today, Valentine’s Day, Earl & I attended the 7am Mass at our parish church along with the 75 girls who are now living at our new hostel. Our pastor, Baba Patrick, celebrated the liturgy along with Bernard, an English-speaking seminarian who has become our friend, and four very reverent, well-trained altar servers. The hostel girls’ choir, all in their canary yellow skirts & Aquinas tee shirts, sang for the liturgy. And they didn’t just sing – they danced in place! With the harmonious voices, the beating drums, the ululating, the liturgical dance, the sweet incense, the bells tinkling – our Sunday liturgies are very beautiful. The hymns, even though they are in Kiswahili, are so prayerful & so uplifting that one cannot leave the church without singing on the way out. And this photo is a shot of the girls running past our front door – singing and dancing all the way home!

Strange, how the poor can be so rich—even stranger, how I am enriched by the poor.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

"Sit quietly, doing nothing ..."

"This is how it is with the kingdom of God; it is as if a man were to scatter seed on the land and would sleep and rise night and day and the seed would sprout and grow, he knows not how." -Mark 4:26-27

"Sit quietly, doing nothing, spring comes and the grass grows by itself." -Zen Proverb, as quoted by Claire J. King

Yesterday morning at school I went to the student computer lab for a quiet snooze. When I got up to go back to work it was raining heavily. All the construction workers who are building the new classrooms had taken shelter, some in the outside corridor where I stood, unsure whether to make a run through the downpour. After some hesitation I decided to sit tight like everyone around me.

There is something mesmerizing about rainfall, watching it, listening to it. The drop in temperature and the cool breeze were such a welcome respite from the sweltering weather we have been having. After some fifteen or twenty minutes the rain faded to a light drizzle. The workers resumed work; I went on my way to the teachers' room.

For reasons perhaps of poverty, culture, and climate, life moves slowly here in southern Tanzania. Things take more time to get done. Some things don't get done at all. In contrast, I come from the U.S. where we are compulsively task-oriented, demanding of results, and constantly busy. We obsess about accomplishing and about using time efficiently. In the few months I have been living and working here I've learned to slow down a bit, become less impatient, and be more flexible. (I could write a piece by itself on "being flexible"!)

I am at home now. It's raining again. The land is greening much more than when we first arrived. Breakfast is digesting in my gut. The Tanzanians are going about their lives. I know not how. -Earl

Saturday, February 6, 2010

And heeeeeere’s Froggy! I would love for you to meet Froggy, our banded rubber frog, who also works the graveyard shift as our night-guard. We discovered Froggy tippy-toeing around our bathroom one evening shortly after we moved into the headmaster’s office. Not until a couple of months later did we discover him living in our bathroom sink! Unbeknownst to us, we had a roommate in the overflow drain hole. And every night around 7-8pm Froggy commutes to work. He crawls out of the drain hole and down the wall highway. Once he hits the floor Froggy shifts into first gear and unhurriedly makes his way through our bedroom and into the empty front room where he idles most of the night – waiting and watching at our front door. For insects, I presume. We always have to use our flashlights when we are up and about at night because Froggy could be underfoot!

When I get up at 5am, I usually find Froggy clinging to the rockface of our white tiled bathroom wall. He slips and slides and struggles to take alternate routes until he finally reaches the pinnacle of our bathroom sink. Then he boulders around the dental floss and slinks his way back into the drain hole. Sometimes he has a helluva time trying to get home - especially after a long night at the front door basecamp. On a number of occasions I have watched him hanging onto the plug’s ballchain and eventually slipping down down down to the sink bottom - clutching Earl’s comb and all! But he is a persistent fellow. No matter how many times he fails, he always tries and tries again. He is also dedicated and committed to eating all our ants and termites. Froggy has put on a little weight around the middle, but he can still squeeze into that drain hole!

Earl & I expected to see wildlife here in the remote areas of East Africa. But Froggy is about as wild as it gets! Go Froggy! ~Diane

If you would like to learn a little more about Froggy, here is some information from

The banded rubber frog is of medium size, with a body length up to about 2.75 in (68 mm). This is a strikingly colored frog; the dorsum is black with red bands running from the snout over the eyelids to the rear of the body and red spotting on the limbs. The body is moderately robust, with the tips of the fingers expanded into truncate disks; the legs are short, and the toes have no webbing. The skin is smooth and shiny; its texture is responsible for the name rubber frog.
The frog is found in Africa, from Somalia and Zaire to South Africa and inhabits open or savanna country.These frogs are nocturnal and spend the dry season underground in holes or termitaria. They tend to walk or run rather than hop, and they burrow backward, though they are not equipped with the large "spades" on the hind feet that are found in some other microhylids. Secretions from glands in the skin have been known to cause skin irritations in people. Ants and termites are the principal food.