Back in the USA! (part 2 of 2)

Happy New Year!

It’s been a long journey, but we have arrived somewhere which we believe will be home for longer than 1 month.  After spending the Thanksgiving holiday with the Pauloski Family on the east coast, and the Christmas and New Year holidays with the Friesen family on the West Coast, we have now landed back in Bend, OR.  Jeff is starting work with ESI, his old company in Sisters, OR, on Monday.  We’re reconnecting with friends and church community and searching for a place to live.  Jeff is excited to apply lessons he’s learned about living intentionally as a missionary for Christ no matter where you are, in Africa or America or elsewhere, as he starts back at ESI.  And ESI has changed a lot since we’ve been in Tanzania, exploding from 12 employees to 32!  I will be searching for landscape architecture work as well, and we will see where God leads!

Some things we’ve missed and are enjoying about America:

  • Movie Theaters – especially when Les Mis and the Hobbit just came out!
  • Friends and Family – obviously!
  • Really good coffee
  • Using a hairdryer
  • Paved roads that get you places really fast

Some things we miss about Tanzania:

  • Simplicity
  • Healthy food as your only option
  • Warm weather
  • Walking to friends’ houses and to church, and to almost everything
  • Speaking Swahili
  • A certain little kung-fu master who would come and visit us every day

We have learned a lot in this past year, and we are thankful to everyone who has walked beside us in the adventure and the work.  We will be sharing a little bit at TFAB next Sunday (1/13/13) about the work and what we’ve learned.  We continue to trust the Lord as we move forward with life wherever he leads, and we’re so thankful for everything, because the best part of the journey is that we get to do it with Him by our side and with Him as our prize.

Here is a video that we’ve showed at Horizon and will show at TFAB next week, summing up in pictures and video the people we’ve lived with, the place we’ve been, and the project we’ve worked on for the past year (not the best quality – sorry!).  Thanks again for sticking with us this year – your support has meant so much to us!

Some people have suggested that we continue to keep up this blog, but as the project is finished for which we started the blog, I think we’re signing off for now.  Perhaps in the future a new blog may emerge with a new focus, or perhaps the Lord will open doors to revive this one.  Who knows?


It’s been a while since we’ve posted, but I wanted to share with you some videos from our time in Tanzania.  These are various videos we took or made while there but for which we didn’t have good enough internet to load to YouTube … until now!  We still plan on making one more major video that sums up the work and how it progressed throughout the year, but for now, check these out:

:: To go to YouTube and view all of the videos in one playlist, click here. ::

  1. A Tanzanian Wedding
    We posted this when we first arrived in TZ, but here it is again.  It’s from the wedding of one of Mama Debora’s daughters, which we attended 4 days after arriving in Mumba.
  2. First Escalator Ride
    Luka, Stivini, and Jose’s first escalator ride – a video taken when we first arrived in Dar Es Salaam last year (which we’ve also posted before).
  3. Victoria Falls
    A short video compiling some of our adventures in Livingstone, Zambia, when we visited Victoria Falls in February 2012.
  4. Atop Mt. Memya
    A small taste of the landscape we lived in and the view we had on top of Mt. Memya when we hiked up and camped there back in April 2012.
  5. Jenna Joins Mumba Choir
    I joined the Mumba Choir and sang with them from April – October 2012.  It was a lot of fun, though super challenging, to learn the songs and try to understand what everyone was talking about each day.  We practiced 3x per week, so I got to know the village a lot better as I walked through 4x each week for practice and church on Sundays.  I even learned a little bit of Kinyika, the local language, thanks to Mama Mpaji’s help as we walked to choir each day together.
  6. Mumba Dynamite
    The video of the very first time we blasted with dynamite at Mumba.  Keep your eyes peeled for that upcoming video summary I mentioned before … you will see more than just one blast.
  7. Yesu Ni Wangu (Jesus is Mine)
    Jeff’s family visited us in June, and we all enjoyed dancing and singing with the Mumba choir at an evening’s practice.
  8. Mimi Natamani Sana
    The students training to be pastors at TGBI like to sing together; this is a music video I made for them from recording that Steve Sherman did.
  9. Tenzi – Yesu Ndiye
    Another music video I made for the pastors as they sing a Tanzanian hymn.
  10. How the Hydroelectric Turbine Works
    Jeff starts up the turbine and explains how it works.

Back in the USA! (Part 1)

After three weeks of traveling adventures we are finally back in the USA! Jenna and I had such a fun time together on our return trip home. We saw so many things in so many places. From snorkeling off the coast of Zanzibar, to seeing the places where Jesus walked in Israel, to enjoying the culture and food of Istanbul it was truly an unforgettable trip. As we already updated a little bit about Zanzibar, I will give a little bit of a synopsis of the rest of our trip.

Israel was incredible. Neither Jenna or I will ever look at the bible the same. More than anything, I think the coolest thing about the trip for me was gaining a spacial orientation of where things are. People say that when you visit Israel you can suddenly see the bible in 3D. I don’t think I really even grasped what that meant until I was there and looking at the geography and locations myself. So many places and stories that I have read about make much more sense now. I’ll try to give a few examples; though, explanations will not give justice to being there and seeing it yourself.

When the Bible makes a statement about someone going “up” to Jerusalem, it literally is up from everywhere else around. Driving from the Dead Sea, which is 400 feet below sea level, our bus climbed for 30-40 minutes constantly to get up to the Mount of Olives where you can look over the whole of old Jerusalem. That’s the same route that Jesus took in his triumphal entry (Luke 19) when he wept over Jerusalem while watching from the Mount of Olives! The Mount of Olives was also the place of Jesus ascension to heaven (Acts 1), and one day in the future the Bible tells us that the Mount of Olives will be split in two by a great earthquake and water will flow from the temple all the way down to the Dead Sea (Zechariah 14). Standing on the mountain, you could see how this might happen as the Mount of Olives is the only mountain standing between the temple and a steep descent to the Dead Sea. It also lies in the midst of a major fault line that stretches all the way from Israel down to the Zambezi River in Zambia, where we were earlier this year.

Another interesting example of seeing the bible in 3D was when we visited the ancient city of Megiddo in northern Israel. The city lies on a hill in the center of the valley of Jezreel or what most people know as the valley of Armageddon (no, we didn’t see Bruce Willis there). Megiddo has been a crucial trade city for thousands of years. Countless battles had been fought there and in the surrounding hills primarily because it was a place of importance for trade between the continent of Africa and the Middle Eastern Empires of Assyria, Babylon, Persia, Greece, and Rome. From the city of Megiddo we could see look out and see numerous places mentioned  in the Bible. To the north was Mt. Carmel, where Elijah called down God’s fire from heaven to defeat the prophets of Baal. Directly across the valley on a small hill was the town of Nazareth, where Jesus grew up. Just to the south of that was Mt. Tabor where Deborah and Barak won a great victory over the Canaanites. To the south of that was Mt. Moreh, where Gideon charged down with 300 men to defeat thousands of Midianites. To the south of that was Mt. Gilboa where King Saul came to an end at the hands of the Philistines.All of these places we were able to see from one location and it really began to put a physical reality to things we had read.

The geographical understanding of Israel was really the most important part of the Israel trip for us. Archaeologically, we were able to see a lot of interesting things. We got to swim/float in the Dead Sea which was a surreal experience. We saw a ton of Catholic churches that had been built on places where Jesus supposedly walked. But all of it paled in comparison to the geographical understanding and context that we learned. It was truly an awesome trip for us.

After Israel, we had 5 much needed relaxing days in Istanbul. What a fun old city to explore. The city is built on the water and much of the transportation system there relies on ferry boats to get around. The Turkish food was awesome. We especially liked getting our fill of gelato and doner kebabs. It was really fun to just get lost in the labyrinth of old streets and shops that make up the majority of the old city section of Istanbul. We took a day to go out to the Princes Islands of the coast of Istanbul where we road bikes around the island and ate more ice cream/gelato. It was really a fun and relaxing experience. I think taking in the Turkish culture was probably the most entertaining part of the whole adventure as they literally are a bridge between Europe and the Middle East. Seeing how the two cultures balance within the country was quite interesting.

On Tuesday, we boarded a plane in the evening for New York where Jenna’s parents picked us up very late at night. Since then we have been mostly relaxing, getting over jetlag, and readjusting to our own culture. When we get another chance, we will update more on our cultural re-adjustment, immediate plans, and potential future plans but for now I am going to sign off. It’s good to be back.

Zanzibar, Dar, and Instabul… Whew

Whirlwind update for those of you interested in our travels so far.

On Tuesday of last week we spent 18 hours on a bus from Mbeya to Dar as our bus broke down a half hour outside of Mbeya and we were stuck for 5.5 hours. We made it though. Just one last taste of Africa for us though 🙂

On Wednesday, we boarded a boat for the lovely Zanzibar. In Zanzibar we got to eat really good fish, go snorkeling, get badly sunburned from the snorkeling (me only), go on a spice tour, and tour the historic town of Stonetown. The water was an incredible turquoise color and it was really hot. It was a great time. On Sunday, we took a boat ride back to Dar and Jenna got a little seasick.

In Dar, we were able to spend some time seeing some sides of Dar that we hadn’t yet seen. We ate some really good food, bought some souvenirs to remind us of TZ, and Jenna got her first haircut in a year!

Extremely early Tuesday morning, we boarded a plane for Istanbul and arrived at around 11am in the morning. Istanbul is a wonderful, fun city with so much to see and do. As we were just in for one night, we spent the time packing for Israel, eating good food, and walking around the labryinth of streets that make up old town Istanbul. For dinner we ordered a special Turkish meal where they cook spiced meats in a clay pot. To serve the food, they bring the pot out and crack the top of it off right in front of you. Fortunately for us, we’ve found an excellent hostel in Istanbul and our hosts have been gracious enough to hold all of our many bags for us until we return. This makes our Israel trip quite easy.

This morning we boarded a plane for Israel. We arrived in the afternoon and found a taxi waiting for us with the name of the tour group that we signed up with. So, we got in the taxi and drove an hour or so to a hotel. We asked the hotel if we had a reservation there and they said we did so that was a start; however, it took us until 8pm tonight to actually connect with our tour group. We did get to see a lovely sunset over the Mediterranean ocean and we’re looking forward to a fully packed day tomorrow. Should be fun. All in all, it’s safe to say that we’re experiencing quite a bit of reverse culture shock right now.

Kwa heri, na baki salama

We have said our goodbyes to Tanzania.  We have grown to love this place and the people we’ve lived with for the year.  The Lord has done an amazing work, and we are so thankful to be a part of it, and we look forward to seeing what he does in the future.  Though we long to say “we’ll be back”, a typical Swahili phrase fits well here:  Mungu akipenda, which means, “If the Lord wills.”  As Uzuri always told us: Mountains can’t meet, but people can meet.  Until that day, we know we and all the friends that we will miss are in the Lord’s hands.

We want to say thank you, especially to our fellow wazungu at Mumba Campus and with GMI in Tanzania.  Without you guys, we would have been so lost in Africa.  You invited us into your lives and ministries, you set up house and home for us, you were all a wealth of information and support as we asked cultural and language and ministry questions.  We are so grateful for your friendship and this year the the Lord let us share together – this project could not have happened without each of you.  You are our Tanzanian family, and we will miss you a lot.  Thank you for everything.

Our travels aren’t quite done, as I’m writing this from Istanbul, Turkey, and we head to Israel tomorrow, but I wanted to take the time to say an official thank you and goodbye.  We will continue posting about our travels, as promised, and potentially about other things we process as we transition back to the US.  Thanks to everyone who has followed our blog this year, keeping us in your prayers, and supporting us each step of the way.  You have been more of an encouragement than you realize.

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Kwa heri, Tanzania.  Tumefurahi sana kufika hapa.  Tumejifunza nyingi sana, na tumeona Mungu alifanya kazi nzuri sana hapa.  Mungu akipenda, tutafika tena.  Tutawakumbuka sana sana, na kama hatuonana tena duniani, tunajua kwamba tutaonana tena mbinguni.  Baki salama. Bwana Yesu asifiwe.