Of course I am still waiting to get my info packet in the mail from Compassion, but I thought we could go ahead and start talking about the trip by discussing the basic itinerary from Compassion's website! I will be utilizing the wonders of Google images for this, as well.
So here's how the trip will go down!
March 8 and 9: I will be traveling to JFK airport- by myself! I've only flown a handful of times before, and definitely never by myself. I've also never been to New York! Hopefully I'll have enough time to find some tacky magnets at a souvenir shop to add to my collection. : ) It will definitely be interesting handling all my luggage myself, getting to the right terminal, and everything else. My uncle works for Delta (in another state), so hopefully I will be able to get a Delta flight and he can keep tabs on me and help me out if I need it (which he did when Brandon and I were coming back from our honeymoon and they tried to stick us on separate planes!)
Then I'll be meeting up with the rest of the folks going on the trip. We will be departing from New York and heading to AMSTERDAM for a layover! So not only will I have a brand new passport, but I will actually have stamps from TWO different countries on it! This is kind of fascinating to me. Keep in mind- I never travel anywhere! Compassion says that we will have a few hours in Amsterdam, enough time for "tea, shopping, walking, or relaxing." Maybe there are tacky Amsterdam magnets at the airport? Perhaps in the shape of windmills? It's my understanding that we'll be here in the middle of the night, basically, and then catching a mid-morning flight to Tanzania!
Not the airport, but still. I want a tiny pair of wooden shoes!
Our flight will land in Kilimanjaro Airport. Wow. Kilimanjaro. I can't wait to see it. I will probably cry. Also, I know this will sound weird, but as soon as we have access to actual African turf, I fully intend on taking off my shoes to step on the ground. I love Africa. Love it. If I wasn't married, I think I would be living there running an orphanage. I can't wait. And I will probably take a picture of my feet on the African dirt. : ) We'll meet up with Compassion Tanzania's staff and head to our hotel.
Here's an informational video from our hotel!
March 10: We'll be spending some time checking out the Singida region of Tanzania, which has been a place of expansion for Compassion in recent years. There is a tremendous need for Compassion in this area, hence their expansion. We'll visit a nearby child development center and learn about Compassion's complimentary interventions (that's the help Compassion provides outside the sponsorship program- like if a child needs surgery or something like that.) The best way to explain this aspect of Compassion's ministry is that it's basically grants given to the churches Compassion partners with, for health and education and things like that. We'll be interacting with the staff because the kids only attend the centers on Saturdays.
March 11: This will be an exciting day- we'll get to check out Compassion's child survival program in Tanzania! The child survival program helps babies and mothers- it's kind of like the precursor to the child sponsorship program. Not only will we get to see the cute little babies (I want to bring one home) but we'll also learn how the help Compassion provides to the moms, like literacy training, is impacting their lives!
March 12 through 15: We'll be learning about what makes the Singida region one of the poorest and most struggling areas in the country and how we can help bring solutions to those problems. We'll also be putting together a Vacation Bible School-style program to encourage not only the kids we meet, but the staff and adults as well. We'll be meeting hundreds of kids who attend CDCs in this area, and we'll also be visiting some homes of the kids who attend Compassion's programs.
March 15 and 16: This is the cultural part of the trip (I love the fact that Compassion always has a significant cultural experience on their tours!) This is possibly the most exciting cultural experience one could imagine- at least, an animal lover like me. We'll be going on SAFARI! Ack! I want to shout about it. We'll travel to Maramboi Tented Camp in Tarangire National Park to spend the night, and then going on safari. Animals! In the wild! Some things this park is famous for: its "huge number of elephants" (oh my goodness) and tree-climbing lions. They also have giraffes, waterbucks, zebra, wildebeest, impala, gazelle, and eland. Plus gerenuks. I love those guys. They are ridiculous. There are also 550 species of birds there, including hornbills (like Zazu in The Lion King!), lovebirds, ostriches, and who knows what else. Then we'll head back to Arusha, where the hotel is, and meet some of the incredible young people in Compassion's Leadership Development Program.
A view from one of the bungalow-type thingies at the tented lodge
This is a gerenuk.
March 17: This is the day we have all been waiting for. This is FUN DAY with our kids!!!!! They will be coming to the hotel we're staying at and hanging out with us. I bet we'll get to eat together, too! That will be fun. I look forward to spending time with Said!!!
An aerial view of our hotel.
March 18: We'll have a tour of the Compassion Tanzania office, having devotionals with the staff and checking out the facilities there. We'll have time later in the day for shopping at the local market before going back to the hotel to pack up. Then we'll head back to the airport and fly home. We'll be getting back on the 19th.
I am so excited about this trip. I know I've already said that, but still. It's amazing. So many dreams will be fulfilled through it: my desire to visit Africa, specifically Tanzania, where my hero Jane Goodall studied in the 1960s; seeing Kilimanjaro and the beautiful landscapes and the incredible animals of the country; visiting child development centers and spending time with the kids Compassion helps; and seeing Said, who is always telling me to "welcome to Tanzania." I am so blessed to have this opportunity. I can't wait. : )