Day 5- March 12
This morning I had more trouble eating breakfast. I ate with Grace, Margaret, and Lauren. I kind of picked at my food (pineapple, one of those hush puppy things, bread, and watermelon) but I started feeling a little sick. I took a nausea pill and threw in a few other tummy meds for good measure. Then I had to run back to the room to make sure I had everything- I was nervous about getting on the bus while feeling iffy. I got a little more anxious than I have any other time on the trip- just feeling a bit off, knowing that we would be far from any place to rest (or reliable bathroom facilities.) We had a brief devotional and started to pile on the buses and head out. I stopped Sean before getting on the bus and basically said "I have a prayer request. I have a stomachache. I have them every day back home, and carry all sorts of medicine with me. But I'm not at home right now, and it's making me a little anxious. Please pray for peace, and that I'll sleep on the bus." He was really nice about it, and I did sleep for most of the two and a half hour drive to center 341.
Lots of motorcycles in Singida
Roadside shops are a pretty frequent occurence
The kids ran out to meet us and they were so happy. They led us inside, hand in hand, and we sat at little tables with benches, like desks that sat three students. This was a change from the plastic chairs we have encountered so far during the trip. They did some introductions. Hellen, one of our guides, was actually the original facilitation partner for that center when they started, and Raphael, another one of our guides on the trip, is the current one. So that was neat.
Happy people happy to see us
Tried to get a photo of the sign for the center, but we were moving away from it really quickly
The official photographer of the project. He was given a camera phone and tasked with snapping pictures of our visit.
Then they said we were going to have tea- second breakfast! We had two kinds of fritter things (the hush puppy one and then one that looked like a real donut), bread with butter, and some scalding hot tea that was mostly milk. It was a really milky chai, and I liked it, after I got through the heat. Two girls named Oliva and Loyce sat with me. I tagged them with stickers so I could keep an eye on them during the songs, but of course not to far into the day, all the kids were covered in stickers, so I lost track of Loyce after a while.
Oliva and Loyce
Pretty in pink!
Clap, clap, clap
Mmm, second breakfast.
It started raining pretty hard, which was very loud in the tin-roofed church. We headed out to do home visits. Thankfully we got to ride the bus, because of the mud! We visited a girl named Fatuma. Fatuma's mom and her neighbor lady friends were waiting for us, and started singing a welcome song and clapping when we arrived. Fatuma was wearing a beautiful dress with sparkly brooches on it, and gold and pink party flats that looked like they were from the 80s. They were really cute, and if I had found them at Goodwill I would have bought them (but one was missing the bow.) Mama was dressed in her finest, too, traditional wraps and cloths, all done up in purple. Everyone was all smiles. We sat in the courtyard area of their compound, surrounded by kids from their neighborhood. Fatuma wants to be a teacher when she grows up. Fatuma was her mom's tenth child. Her older sister just had a baby two weeks ago.She brought him out and Philbert held him, then asked if anyone else wanted to hold him. Uh, duh, I did. He was so tiny! And he had crazy curly hair. We went in the house and Mama was just so happy and talkative, showing me their bed and the photo of Fatuma's sponsors on the wall. She just chatted up a storm, even though we didn't get translation for all of it. We presented her with the gifts we brought, and then she said she had gifts for us, too. She gave us all wooden spoons with designs carved into them. he asked us to bless her home, and we prayed with her and Fatuma. Before we left, I asked Philbert to tell her that Fatuma looked like a princess, and she looked like a queen. She gave me a hug as we left. She was just so excited for us to be there. It was an honor to meet her.
One of Fatuma's neighbors
Fatuma's center gave her a binder to keep her letters in. She also had several pictures from her sponsors. Yay!
Philbert and the baby.
After we headed back to the project, we had a quick tour of the office. Inside there were several awards from sports competitions. The kids at the project have never lost a game! Then we went back to the church to eat lunch, and this time we served the kids. My two buddies waited for me- at first they tried to refuse the food we brought out, but then they sat and waited for all of us to get done serving and then come sit with them. We ate a lot of the same foods as before- rice, chicken in some sauce, chips, beans (that was new), bananas, and oranges. The skin on the oranges was green. I knew that that happens naturally quite frequently, because of something that happens with the oxygen and chlorophyll. The orange hue just never really shows up. However, in America we would refuse to eat green oranges, so ours are artificially made orange, and treated so they change to the appropriate color. We are a sad people sometimes.
We all had Fanta, so I suggested we do "cheers" (they knew what that meant) and I took a picture. They thought it was hilarious!
We took more pictures and handed out more stickers (oh, the swarm.) Some really cute little boys were hanging around, too, dancing and being adorable. Oliva brought another girl over to me to say hi. The girl then introduced herself in Swahili, but I gathered that her name was Jessica! I gave her a high five for having a cool name. After lunch we presented our gifts, and the kids gave us gifts as well- wooden cross necklaces. The pastor made some really great remarks- he was a wonderful warm man who made us feel so welcome. He said at one point that he saw some tears today, but he knew they were not tears of sadness, but tears of happiness. He prayed for us at the altar, and I teared up. When he came back down to shake our hands, he saw my tears, pointed and said "happy. Happy."
Then we had hugs and goodbyes, and started to head away. A group of girls ran up to me from somewhere behind, one calling "Jessi! Jessi!" She just wanted to say hi, and tell me her name was Gifty. And another girl walked up to say goodbye, and to tell me she loved me. I don't remember interacting with her at all, but she loves me. These kids were pretty incredible. We didn't get to play with them or do anything really special like that, but they just had so much love to give.
It was a long ride back to the hotel, and I was really glad to be back, since I have a goal on this trip to avoid roadside bathroom breaks (ick.) There wasn't much of a break before dinner. I had rice, pineapple, some fried fish, and "fried creeps", as they were labeled on the buffet (they were chips.) Plus a little avocado and pineapple. I sat with Barb, Emily, and the other Robert. Barb reminds me of someone, but I don't know who. She's really nice. And Emily is always smiley. Robert is pretty cool- he talked UK basketball with me for a while. He actually works for Compassion, so it was neat to talk to him. We talked about the correspondence program some. Several people I've chatted with on the trip didn't know that Compassion offered the opportunity to be correspondents, and I'm hoping that several of them will ask for correspondence kids when they get back! Robert said there's someone who works (or worked) in his department that had over 100 correspondence kids, because she wants to do everything she can to make sure all the kids get at least a few letters a year. I think that's amazing. I don't think I could handle that many by myself, but I know I will definitely keep asking for more correspondence kids! I also heard that Robert and his wife Anna stayed behind during the home visit time, which worked pretty well because they got to spend extra time with the kids at the center. They also taught some of the kids to sing "Soft Kitty" from Big Bang! I cracked up when I heard that. It was definitely worth a text to mom so she could post about it on facebook.
After dinner, we went outside and debriefed under a tarp tent thing, because it was raining. I didn't have much to say because my day was pretty positive, but I know that some of the other folks had a really challenging time today. Someone at the other center apparently gave a really emotional and distressing testimony. I'm not sure what happened, but several people cried just remembering it. And then there was Christian*, who got a home visit from some of the people on my bus.
And that was the day. I really need to get ready for bed- it's pretty late. We're going to the center with the CSP tomorrow, and I'm really excited about that! Yay for Tanzanian babies!
*Check back soon for a special post on Christian's story!