Tuesday, February 28, 2012

We're Moving...

I mentioned that we need to move in my last post. Here is the whole story...

Rob and I have been thinking about moving for a few months. We had discussed the reasons to move and the benefits of moving at this time, but had not made a decision until a few weeks ago.

The reasons we need to move are:
1. It would be nice to be closer to Shelbyanne's school. (Right now she gets up at 5am to catch the bus at 5:45am. She gets home around 4pm. She spends about 3 hours each day on the bus. Next year Emily will be going to the same school and riding the bus with her. We would like to have more time with them each evening, and not have them on the bus for so much time each day.)
2. Our ministry here in Tanzania is to help get NTM established as an organization, as well as, welcoming and assisting future missionaries with setting up housing and their language program. (Therefore, we want to be more centrally located in the city. When the missionaries come they will be connected to a church. We want to be able to get to them a bit easier no matter where they are placed in the city. We will possibly be welcoming 4 families this year and more families next year.)
3. Our kids need a yard. (They have done great with the small area of bricks surrounding our house. But, they really need a place to run and play where they can fall down and not skin their knee.)
4. *This is what confirmed the decision for us!* Our landlord let us know a few weeks ago that he will be raising our rent for this next year. (Although we appreciate him lowering the price so that we could rent this house last year, we do not want to pay more to live here.)

Two weeks ago I started contacting people about finding a house to rent. There are only 4 things that the house must have: 1. Location (Central to town) 2. 4+ Bedrooms 3. Place for our guard to live (Most houses here have staff quarters next to the house.) and 4. A Yard. I tried to get the help of a Realtor from a company here that advertises online, but he has yet to meet with me. I told some friends here we needed to find a house, and they have been suggesting houses they know of. I also told our taxi driver the news. He has hooked us up with a "Dalali". A Dalali is a person who does the job of a Realtor without the training. He goes around and looks for houses for rent and shows them to us. If he finds the house we choose to rent, then we pay him the price of one month's rent. That is how we found the house we are living in now as well. The dalali doesn't usually know much of anything about the house until we walk in together to view it.

When we rent a house here, usually we would pay 12 months of rent up front. We live in the house until our lease is up. Then, we pay the rent for another year or move out. Since last year when we started this process, we have been saving $700 each month for the next year's rent, thinking that we might move and rent would be lower. I don't know if the rental market has gone up or if we were just not aware of the actual prices of renting in other areas of the city, but so far I have seen 16 houses and not one of them (including ones with 3 bedrooms and no yard) have been less than $1000 per month. Most of the owners are asking $1500+ per month. Needless to say, we were not prepared for this. We were hoping to find something between $700 and $900 per month. We have been told many times that if we go north of town we can find bigger and better for cheaper, but that is not an option based on our reasons for moving. Of the 16 houses I have seen there are two I think would be a good fit for our family and ministry. Unfortunately, they are both out of our price range. They are both asking $1500 per month. Today we saw one of them for the second time, and met with the owner. He originally said $1200 with the possibility to negotiate, but today quoted us $1500 with no chance to negotiate. We were crushed...deflated.

My final thoughts...I know and trust that God is preparing the best house for us. He is also teaching us something. It is hard to understand what that is right now, but if we have to walk through this process to find it, then we will. There have been many highs and lows...excitements and disappointments. But one thought that is constantly on my mind is "Trust Me!" We are actively trusting Him. We are putting the effort in to finding a house, and He is opening and closing the doors. We are trusting Him for the house as well as the extra finances to pay for the year's rent up front. Please be praying with us for wisdom to make the best decisions, the right words to say to negotiate well with the owner, and the finances needed to cover the rent above what we have been saving.

Blessings to You and Your Family,

Here are a few pictures from some of the houses we have seen.
The doors from Zanzibar are incredible!
A Yard!
A Kitchen.
Emily loved this bedroom and said it looked like Rapunzel's bedroom. 
Too bad the house is the upstairs of a  2 story duplex. 
A very big bathroom. The space on the left is the shower area.
Staff quarters and back yard.
This was the house we saw today and really liked. :(
Back of the house. The water tank is on top of the scaffolding on the right. 
Usually there is a tank underground which is pumped to a tank up high.
Here is another bathroom. Love the squatty Potty!! 
Sorry it is sideways too but I had to include it.

Thursday, February 23, 2012


The word "Closeness" comes up often when thinking about and experiencing life here.  
"Closeness" Just yesterday I was riding in a public transportation bus. I think we were riding down the road for a good 20 seconds less than a foot away from another bus. Yikes!
"Closeness" We are in the process of looking for another house to move into, which is another story that I will tell soon. and I was telling Rob that it would be nice to find a house that had more than 5 feet of distance between us and the houses of our neighbors. 
"Closeness" There have been days, even weeks that have passed without seeing another wazungu, foreigner. That is life here. We are thankful for the times we are able to fellowship with other missionaries or expats here, but that is not the norm. 
"Closeness" Family...We have a very close bond. We are getting to know each other very well. I can tell the times when we all just need to take a break from each other. We send the kids to their beds for rest time and Rob and I take some time to get things done, read a book, or just rest ourselves.  
"Closeness" Sometimes when I get close to people here my first thought is that they are going to smell like sweat, mainly because it is so hot. Most of the time I am pleasantly surprised that they smell a lot better than I do. I am the one who smells funky, at least to my own nose. I smell like sweat. Yuck!
"Closeness" Most importantly, I need to mention how this has affected my faith and relationship with God. I have so much to learn about being Child of God. Being here has exposed my own heart to me in many ways. I have seen the goodness of God in me and the wretchedness of myself. My faith in God and His plan for us being here in Tanzania has never wavered, not a bit! The assurance that He is the one who has provided for us to come and be able to live here has never wavered. The faith that I have in myself and my abilities was very strong before moving here. I focused on the "I" in "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me." Philipeans 4:13. Now I am learning to put my focus on the "Who" in that verse. Having to deal with the physical aspects of life here have been helpful in drawing me closer to Christ. I am so thankful that no matter what I go through, God is there, He Loves me, cares about me, and wants me to succeed in fulfilling my purpose...To glorify God and enjoy His presence forever! 

Thanks for reading!

Emily and Penina playing Old Maid. Penina is one of our Language Helper's daughters. While she was on break from school she hung out with Emily and Donovan so Rob and I could study Swahili. She will be going back to school in the next few weeks. We are sad to see her go. 

Rob roasted hot dogs for us one night. Donovan liked it so much he carried his hot dog around the whole time. Donovan loved to help Rob put sticks on the fire. He would throw the stick on and yell, "I did it!" 
Shelbyanne dressed at a character from one of her chapter books for Character day at school. She was Lauren the puppy fairy. We made the wings out of a cardboard box and tied it with material. She had such a good time. 
We ate lunch at Merry Brown, a fast food place in the mall. Donovan and Daddy said cheers to each other and took a drink together. Donovan is getting to be such a big boy!

Friday, February 10, 2012

You are what you eat! Haha!

The day started like any other Sunday. We woke up, ate breakfast, got ready, and went downstairs to leave for church. I entered the kitchen to the most rancid smell I could think of. I knew Rob had discussed the menu with our house worker, so I didn't question what she was preparing.  Thankfully we had already eaten breakfast, so we were able to head out the door pretty quickly for church. Shelbyanne's reaction was funny. I can't remember what she said, but the look she gave was priceless. (Note: She doesn't plug her nose like "normal" people, she puts 2 fingers right inside the nostril openings. I guess that mutes the smell, and is a bit more conspicuous when there is a bad smell. Smart girl! :) 
When we returned from church the kitchen was as it should be again. No pungent odor in the room. All was right with the world again. But I had not yet lifted the lid of the food I was about to eat. As soon as I lifted the cover and began stirring I knew what it was. I saw familiar things like potatoes, cooking bananas, and carrots. I smelled coconut and sauce that I love. Then I saw it. Tubes, cut into 1&1/2 inch sections. Flat pieces that looked like a brush. I knew immediately what it was because just the week before we had talked with our Pastor/Language Helper about how his wife cooks it, and he eats it, but it is not his favorite. 
Have you guessed what it was? 
The stomach of Cow!
To some of you that might sound good. To others, not so bad. But to those of you who are like me...Yuck!!! I did my duty and cut it up small for my children and mixed it into their food. They didn't even notice it was there. I also made sure I got some in my bowl, and ate it. It was tough to eat it while keeping a straight face for everyone else at the table, including the cook. I thought, "If I am going to get sick, it will be from the knowledge of what I was eating and not the thing itself." 
The meal ended without any drama, which was nice. I realized something new that day...
I do NOT like to eat utumbo wa 'ngombe!! (stomach of cow) 
Thanks for sharing in this experience with me. I hope it was as enjoyable for you as it was for me! :)
I have also included some new photos. 
A local street
A local shoe store. They actually have shoe stores in buildings. This is just my favorite one to see.
This sign just made us laugh! Maybe they should have re-thought that one!
Need some used pants?
Results of the big flood in December.
Donovan playing with the cars for sale at the local market. The ladies told me to let him play!
A day at the beach/pool. So thankful for the local hotels letting us pay a little to use their facilities!
Rob and the girls went and sat in the Indian Ocean. 
Emily playing Old Maid with Penina. The girl who has been playing with the kids while we have our language studies. Friday was her last day. She goes back to school soon. We are sad!
Shelbyanne caught a HUGE grasshopper. My favorite thing about this picture is how she is holding it. Check out the pinkie. She gets that from me!