Thursday, November 19, 2009

Computer Grew Legs..Swimming...Company...Making Do

Today is Wednesday the 18th and it is my birthday!! Never thought I would be in Tanzania for a birthday, but God always changes your plans! It has been a difficult couple of week for us.  This past Friday someone on campus stole our computer and phone right out of our office.  David left the room for about three minutes to pick up a print copy down the hall only to return to an empty desk.  Well, not entirely empty.  The power cord was left behind as well as the computer case.  That was a blessing we are told because the power cord is hard to find in Dodoma and our computer had no battery in the back.  So our HP is useless unless someone can find the right cord and battery for it.  In the meantime Davd and I are working hard to replace the lost lectures that were in the computer.  Because our computer was to be our home away from home for calling family and friends,(Skype), pictures of life in Colorado with family and friends and pets, generally personal correspondence, etc., it feels like our life was ripped into pieces.  Needless to say I have been very upset...but life is slowly returning to normal.  Below is David wih the university car we use on weekends.

The Vice Chancelor gave us his new in the box personal computer until other arrangements can be made.  Everyone here has been wonderful and understanding but really can not help return the computer.  One student in my Grammar class is a local police officer and personally was going to help with the recovery.  All this is encouraging but now so many days have past we both feel we will not be getting the computer back. The thief has been in Dodoma computer shops trying to get a power cord.  Now that they have been alerted they are waiting on this person to come back again. David had to go to the Police station to fill out a stolen property report.  He says if you want to have a program that scares youthful offenders straight, the jail in this place would do it.  Anyway, he gave his information and will wait to see what happens.

Saturday we took the UK family again to the swimming pool. 

They are such a joy to be with.  Daniel and Issiac
are learning to swim and both their parents are such good swim teachers. 
The Dodoma Hotel has great pizza (but I am told it depends on the cook).
Sunday we had Moses and Ruth over for lunch.  Moses had just finished two Sunday services at the Cathedal for the local Tanzanians. (Service is not in English).  Grace came all dressed up in red with cute little shoes. 

Here is David with little Grace.  Moses has written  a book, REAL POWER:  Jesus Christ's Authority Over the Spirits.  He points out from his research that many Tanzanians Christians still believe that the Spirit World is also needed because they don't believe that God answers their prayers soon enough to solve personal issues in their everyday life. He feels that missionaries and native Tanzanian ministers need to support both the spiritual and personal side of Tanzanians.  The book is so popular that it had to be reprinted.  Defintely worth discussing in Bible Study sessions.
David's Point of View:

Having the computer taken was devastating because I had all my Modules for the class on it.  For Charlotte, it was even worse.  She had loaded a lot of pictures, etc. because that was the easiest way to travel.  We thought we could use a computer to reprint  important ones.  Nope!  All the printers at St. John's are toner black and white due to difficulty getting ink refills.  Everyone has been sympathetic because they know we are trying to help them get an education.  They are embarassed by the epsiode.  The good news is that all the computer shops are looking for it.   The dummy who stole it doesn't have the power cord nor a battery and HPs are not normally sold in Tanzania.  Some students have said please don't leave.  I have no plans to let this situation deter me.  I am more determined than ever!  The police say that there is a ring of thieves that have stolen computers at the University of Dodoma making them think that is what has happened here.  The University will replace it if its not found soon.  I am using the Vice Chancelor's indefinitely.  It was a new one still in the box.  He is an excellent leader for the University.

The rain has made everything much greener and people are starting to plant gardens as they depend on them to eat.  The rain in some ways has actually helped the dirt roads by packing them down but still deep mud puddles that could stall out a car.  I am going to be able run a special education course next semester to sample interest in disabilities.  Little or nothing is done for those with disabilities due to few teachers with training and little money to pay them.  I got some help on my quest to get these future teachers to structure lessons to get students to think and problem solve.  An education meeting was held in Dar es Salaam and it made the major papers.  The focus was how to move from "Chalk and Talk" to a learner centered approach, exactly what I am stressing in class. "Chalk and Talk"  refers to the instructor writing on the board and students copying the information down, memorizing for tests and to get ready for the national tests that allow you to enter a college or just graduate from secondary school.  To be fair, a lot of the problem over the years has been a lack of supplimentary materials (How about basic course textbooks for a start?), resulting in a rut in how students are taught.  Secondary schools including government schools are tuition based, not free.

Enough on these issues.  Oh yes, one positive note.  We are now hooked to two water storage sources giving constant water availability.  We are going to a wedding on Saturday out in one of the villages.  Let you know how that turns out.