Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Happy Birthday, Earl!

He doesn’t look 60 to me! Yep, Earl just turned 60 today. Can you imagine that? Fortunately, we are on our much-too-short-mid-term break so we are able to really celebrate! We escaped to the Benedictine Fathers’ beach house, Eden II, for three days and it’s heaven! Silence and serenity…a soul-stirring solitude…such a grace!

And in the photo you will see many of Earl’s birthday gifts: gifts from our best friends, Moris & Bernard, the sun, the sea and the sky including smiles, sunshine, sea stars, sea urchins, seashells, a little sea crab, a starry night with full moon light topped off with stove-top brownies! How can you beat that? I know it’s Earl’s birthday and he is supposed to receive all the gifts, but I have truly been gifted with his love in my life. Happy Birthday, Darling!

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Meetings as Pastime?

"Besides, the pace of all discussions was immeasurably slow. ... From a European point of view such meetings wasted hours of time and were maddeningly long-winded, but to the Kikuyu they were a form of pleasure, like a game of chess, or watching a cricket match." -Elspeth Huxley, The Mottled Lizard.
This is certainly a different attitude about meetings! I am recalling my years in corporate life, where meetings were seldom well run, mostly tolerated, often used as a way to kill time on the company clock, and an endless source of black humor for employees. Could we instead regard meetings as a form of entertainment?

Not likely! Life back in California is frenetic, distracted, and impatient. We Americans seem to have much difficulty in enjoying our material comfort and abundance. Is this trajectory of restlessness the consequence of our legacy as a nation of immigrants, forever heading out to the frontier? -Earl

Monday, March 22, 2010

Last term I taught Bible Knowledge to the Form III students. We were studying the Gospel of Luke. So I divided the class into groups of four, handed each group two passages from Luke’s Gospel and two sheets of brown parcel paper. I asked them to illustrate the passages. Well, was I delighted to discover the artists in our midst!

In this photo you’ll see Faraja’s illustrations. The picture on the top illustrates the story of the paralyzed man in Luke 5:18-20,24:
“And behold, men were bringing on a bed a man who was paralyzed, and they sought to bring him in and lay him before Jesus; but finding no way to bring him in, because of the crowd, they went up on the roof and let him down with his bed through the tiles into the midst before Jesus. And when he saw their faith he said, “Man, your sins are forgiven you.” … “I say to you, rise, take up your bed and go home.”

The two lower pictures illustrate the story of the ten lepers in Luke 17:12-16:
“And as he entered a village, he was met by ten lepers, who stood at a distance and lifted up their voices and said, “Jesus, Master, have mercy on us.” When he saw them he said to them, “Go and show yourselves to the priests.” And as they went they were cleansed. Then one of them, when he saw that he was healed, turned back, praising God with a loud voice; and he fell on his face at Jesus’ feet, giving him thanks.”

I love these two illustrations that Faraja did. Aren't they beautiful?

If you would like to see the rest of the students’ illustrations, come visit our library. The once bare walls are plastered with the students’ artwork now! And as the Bulletin Board/Art club moderator, I’m sure I will be discovering more and more of the students' artistic talents. So stay tuned for the opening of our Art Gallery!

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Let me introduce to you three of our star students: Victor, Natasha, & Regina. Victor is a Form III student, while Natasha & Regina are Form IV students who will be graduating this year. The Ministry of Education, Culture and Human Resources, in collaboration with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Regional Integration and International Trade invited Secondary school students to participate in the 2010 SADC (Southern African Development Community) Secondary Schools Essay Competition. With a little encouragement from yours truly, the three of them volunteered. So yesterday I took them to the town library. Victor & Regina had never been there before, but Natasha had. If you are not a member of the library, there is 1,000 TSH fee for the day to use the resources. Many of our students cannot afford to join the library (10,000TSH annual membership), nor can they afford the daily fee. Well, after taking care of the fees, we spent several hours poring over reference books and reports. The biggest challenge for the students was to decipher all the English! Most of the library books are in English, although there are a good number of books in Kiswahili. Here is their task:

STATEMENT: “SADC Member States experience varied degrees of suffering from flooding as a result of torrential rains either within their territorial boundaries or river flows from neighbouring countries but end up without sufficient potable water as soon as the floods subside. On the other hand, other Member States suffer from extreme droughts as a result of insufficient precipitation”.

QUESTION: Discuss how best SADC can harness and better manage this life-giving resource in order to avoid such disasters while ensuring continued supply of sufficient water for all in the SADC region. Discuss further how water can be made available.

They only have 2000 words to save the world – but I know they can do it!

"Europeans have watches, Africans have time"

The above saying was quoted to me by an American nun (who has been in Tanzania more than fifty years). We were talking about punctuality, or the lack thereof, among Tanzanians. Let me say that they have a rather relaxed sense of time and of keeping appointments. Usually, mention of a particular part of the day -- morning, afternoon, or evening -- does turn out to be accurate. But then it may not.

At our school a bell is run to mark the beginning of each period. When I first started teaching I would immediately get moving upon hearing the bell. Lately, I've been as much as several minutes "late" -- I'm sure that at an American school I would be reprimanded.

The situation is made a little complicated, though, by the fact that a few Tanzanians do wear watches and do observe time more precisely, especially when dealing with wazungu (Europeans), for instance, our parish priest. One evening I had an appointment to see him at the rectory at 6:00. When I walked out of our door at 6:05 (we live on the grounds of the church) he was outside waiting for me. 8-D


Sunday, March 7, 2010

No, this is not a river. It is the road. Our Swiss colleague, Roger, took this photo last Monday after one of our torrential rainstorms. Roger usually rides his bike to school, but last Monday he had to recruit the help of local villagers to get his bike across the road-turned-river!

Earl & I, on the other hand, inched our way to school on the extremely muddied footpath that meanders through our neighboring village. We had taken an alternate route across a palm tree log bridge to avoid the two gullies that we usually cross because they had become rushing rivers. After we had passed the local village hangout, humorously called the “Matopeni Club” (meaning “Mud Club”), we approached the village crossroad which was not a mud puddle, but a sea of muddy water! Not mud wrestling enthusiasts, we tried yet another way. But that too was flooded. So, like most Tanzanians, we returned home, enjoyed a cup of tea and waited until the waters subsided. What a life! 8-)

Monday, March 1, 2010

Just in case you are wondering where we are on the globe, I thought you would enjoy a pictorial safari around the world. This snapshot is a hand-painted map of Mtwara and surrounding region, aka our home sweet home along the Indian Ocean! On Valentine's Day, we joined the Swiss volunteers, Franziska & Roger, with their two beautiful children, Olivia & Mateo, for breakfast on the balcony of the Old Boma Hotel. The views of the Indian Ocean from the Old Boma are breathtaking. This painting is in the charming lobby of the Old Boma. Can you see the whales & dolphins jumping in the ocean?

The series of maps include a map of the African continent, a map of Tanzania and a political map of Tanzania. Tanzania is located in the southeastern corner of Africa while Mtwara is located in the southeastern corner of Tanzania. We are nearly next door neighbors to Mozambique and not that far from Madagascar in the south!

So now that you know exactly where we are, we do hope you will come to visit! Karibu sana!