Thursday, February 18, 2010

Returning Home

I write this blog with a very sad heart today because we will be returning to Colorado near the end of this month. Our decision to return was not easy but necessary.  Our stay here has richly blessed us with many wonderful memories of the Tanzanian people and the countryside. 
In January and December I wrote about the desire to serve. David and I still feel very committed to this idea and believe with all our hearts that we still can make a difference here in Africa. But over the last two months several events have occurred that have altered our  abilities to continue here for this next semester.  One, there were two sudden deaths in David's immediate family over the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays. He needs to return home to touch base and help with family matters. Two, we  realized that my teaching at Msalato Seminary this February would demand a real car due to the terrible roads and we were not able to secure funding to buy or lease one here. So with a heavy heart we return home to regroup and decide how to secure the money for our trip back and the car. In the meantime we are posting these pictures from our first and last trip to a wildlife preserve near Dodoma.  Hope you enjoy them.
Please look for our blog again in October of 2010.  Hopefully by that time we will have arrived back in Tanzania.

On the way to the park with  Benedict Hodrum, the Director of Planning for St. John's University.

 Elephants were everywhere in the park.
They are smaller they told us than some but it was great to watch them. 

On our second day in the park we went on a seldom used road and found three lions and a set of cubs that were about a 1/4 of a mile away in the brush.  There were vultures over head so we knew the female lions had just killed something big or had just eaten and were resting.  I took all the lion pictures from our car.  Just a normal car right out of the window in the front seat.  No zoom lense either.  Count the feet!Baby lion cub but away from mom!
David loved the hippos in the park because they did not move just breathe.

The Giraffes were wonderful.  So graceful and yet so big.  It was hard to see them from a distance because they appeared like trees and blended into the landscape.

We had a great time and look forward to going to another park when we return, maybe even the crater up north.  Hope we can continue this blog later in the fall.  God bless you all who followed us and gave us your support, prayers and money.  Charlotte and David Reid, February 18, 2010.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

January 20th, 2010
Below is a journal entry I made while traveling back to Dodoma from Christmas break. Hope you enjoy it!

Today on my way to DC I had somewhat of a revelation. I know it may sound trite
but “life is all about serving .”  You can choose to serve yourself or to serve others.

As I was waiting in Denver to catch my first of three connections to Dar a CNN show was blaring about the world’s reaction to Haiti’s troubles. People were texting, twittering, and calling in about their problems here in the US and in Haiti. Comments ranged from sorrowful for having little money to bitter that their financial woes had not been solved. But all expressed concern and regret that Haiti was in dire need of aide.
It reminded me that as a species we do care about most living creatures. ( Of course for myself I must rule out snakes and spiders.) We show great concern when cruelty is done to animals, when our environment is turning up side down, when we see injustice, genocide, religious and political scandal. We even care about historical injustices and past wars. What I realized on my way back to my adopted home of Dodoma is that “reacting” to these concerns is the key to life. You see, I can care but do I act on the caring? Do I give time or money? Do I give something from myself?
To say that I care is only the first step. To say I can do is the second step. And to say I will serve is the third and final step. Now I don’t want anyone to confuse serving as only the act of working. As the hands and feet of Christ’s body we can do more than physically serve him. Serving comes in many different modes such as giving our time for a national drive, collecting used clothing, books, toys, or food for the needy around the world. Organizing awareness in our communities for the homeless, the poor, the sick, the mentally ill, or those in need of medical attention. Serving takes many forms …one just needs to ask: where is the need that they may serve and take that final step. Tonight as I listen to the news I know we have many places and people to serve. There are disasters, poverty, bombings, conflicts and misery all around us. Unfortunately the choices are endless.
I know personally how this works you see. I used to say I cared. That was it.. nothing more. I would watch TV news and cry or hear about others volunteering and wonder, “How do they do that?” But nothing more did I do. Today, I am sitting on a plane waiting for my connector flight to Zurich where I board another plane to Kenya and on to Tanzania. Three years ago with retirement in front of us, my husband and I would never have dreamed we would be volunteering in Africa. What a wonderful difference God can make in ones life. All we need to do is just open up and say,” Yes I will Lord. Hear am I.”
Tonight I am returning to serve, to care and to love my fellow sisters and brothers of Tanzania. We are all one family under God. One heat beat living on this great earth!
If you ever wondered how you would serve don’t ..just say in prayer, “ Here I am Lord” and he will lead you!
PS: I wish to add a footnote here. A special thanks goes out to all my ELC fellow members who donated so generously to my collection basket while I was home. (Over 380.00 dollars) An additional big thank you to a special caring individual who donated $200.00 one Sunday morning. God bless you Michelle. And last a wonderful and grateful thank you to Christine and Jeremy for their work in collecting all types of balls and games for a primary government school we have adopted in Dodoma. Stay tuned for pictures! Last but not least a grateful praise God for the council’s pledge of money coming in the Spring which will be used as a scholarship fund for Msalato Seminary students. Thanks to all of you I go back with a warm heart and a renewed belief in the goodness of God’s children.
In Christ,
Charlotte Reid

Sunday, January 3, 2010

The Real Meaning of Christmas (Prepared Dec 27th for Dodoma Mission Blog)

I am a little late getting this in this blog but got busy and unfortunately had another death in the family, this one my oldest brother.  It came as a shock as my nephew, his son, just died only three weeks ago.  I am still reeling from these events, but here goes the original blog I had already drafted:

Charlotte has written her impressions about Christmas this year on the Dodoma Mission Blog.  She is in Colorado visiting our son and completing a number of important tasks that will help St John's University, our living conditions in the concrete bunker, and raise funds to suppliment our projects in the villages near campus.  I stayed in Tanzania because of the cost and someone had to teach her classes while she is gone.  Almost all of the support groups here are funded by an external agency. We are here on our own dime, so to speak, with no help period.  She hopes to obtain fundng for both our basic needs and for St John's as well as our school projects.

My impression of Christmas this year involved traveling to Bayamoyo on the eastern coast of Tanzania near Dar es Salaam.  I was excited about the trip for many reasons.  Dar es Salaam actually has a relatively new shopping center similiar to those in most U.S. cities.  It was good to be able to see modern stores with lots of merchandise. My big find was a business level black and white laser printer that is also a scanner, and photocopier.  It was on sale and actually cost about what it would when not on sale in the U.S.  Dodoma businesses are often dominated by foreigners who work together to keep prices high and keep out competition.  The same printer if available in Dodoma, would cost 30% more. Other purchases were for the trip up the coast to Bayamoyo including a gift for a name exchange between those traveling together to Bayamoyo.

Bayamoyo is a small sleepy town that reminds me of Myrtle and Virginia Beach where we went in the late 1950s and early 60s in the summers.  We stayed right on the beach (No high risers to block the view.)  Cost was only 50.00 per night which included breakfast. Down the road is the oldest Anglican Church in Tanzania. It has the distinct honor of housing the mummified body of David Livingston while waiting to be taken to Zanzibar for burial in 1876.  We enjoyed several meals in the open outdoor restaurants and local historical tours including the slave market, talk about man's inhumanity to man!

On Christmas Day, Dr. Carr, the Dean of Humanities and Education at St John's University had been invited by a former theology student to present the sermon at the little Anglican Church I previously mentioned.  Paul (Another faculty member St. John's) and I walked down the road from our place of lodging to the church.  As we were walking along, a tall slender man passed us and I realized he was a Maasai.  It seemed odd to see everyone else dressed more western style and this individual looked like the pictures in a travel brochure from the Serengeti.  Paul spoke to him in Swahili, greeting him as he traveled on.  Once at the church I observed that men sit on one side and the women on the other.  Lots of children dressed in whatever they had that was Sunday best.  The church was small, maybe holding about 100 people.

Dr. Carr gave an important message.  He mentioned around the world in many countries children were opening lots of presents, but may be missing the real meaning of Christmas.  Having a lot of material things and not acknowledging the spiritual side will leave you unsatisfied.  His message was right on for this congregation. I doubt many, if any presents were opened on Christmas morning at this beach church because just behind the beach facade is the extreme poverty that exists in Africa.  They sang many classic Christmas songs, reminded me of my own church on Christmas eve.  When it became time to give an offering everyone filed to the front to give their donation.  Paul and I gave 20,000 Shillings (about 15.00 USD) each and the group seemed to gasp at the amount.  Think of the irony of that.  We never gave it a second thought that the amount was more than many made for two weeks work.  After church I felt like I had gotten a sore hand from shaking everyone's hand including the children who seemed honored that this old white man smiled at them and bent down to their level.  The whole experience had a reminding effect on what is important about Christmas.

Enough of the serious side.  We had several humorious events occur.  First, while eating at the open air restaurant on the beach the second night, two large gray furry things fell from the thatched roof directly onto the floor.  Rats!  The one who had a soft landng ran under a table of six people who demonstrated their athletic skills by fleeing.  I turned to the bartender near by and and said what are you going to do about it?  He leisurely got a broom and swept the fatally wounded one outside and checked under the table of six, then went back to bartending.  Hmmm..,does this happen often?

Other incidents include going to a posh restaurant 18,000 Tsh (13.00 USD) for Christmas dinner.  That was the easy part.  At the gate the guard tried to charge us 7,000 Tsh each to enter, or 35,000 Tsh total.  After an intense discussion between Christine and the guard in Swahili,  he let us in free.  What I noticed was the age that started for adults, five years old.  I don't care how much growth hormone is put in American cattle feed, no child even in America looks like an adult at five years, maybe a rip off?

The next day when I paid up, the clerk took out a receipt book, put in a carbon paper and wrote me out a receipt, vintage 1950s.  Not a computer in sight.  On the way back we took a 75 mile short cut on dirt roads to save some mileage and time. Christine is an excellent dirt driver.  She averaged 55-60 miles an hour on the dirt roads.  We would come up on a small village and people would scramble up the banks to get out of the road.  Later, literally in the middle of nowhere, we came upon several men putting interlocking bricks on the short street (using the term loosely)  in the middle of the village. The had the road blocked off.  Christine and two of the guys had another of those pay us to enter talks like the guard at the posh restaurant.  This was in Swahili, but I could tell Christine was not winning.  They wanted 5,000Tsh to cross their toll or troll road.  Christine backs up and puts it in four wheel drive and goes up the bank onto the path in front of the huts and dukas and drove through their "front yards" and back down the bank past where the brick were being laid.  The look on the two guys faces was shock.

The rest of the trip was uneventful to Dodoma.  As I think back, Paul and Christine balanced the importance of Christmas and yet gave their children presents.  The two children know what was important about Christmas because they would tell you when asked.  Enough for this time.