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Saturday, July 26, 2014

Mikumi Safari

We had a wonderful time today.  No words are needed.  Following are pics that say it all.

Friday, July 25, 2014

Dinner at Oasis

"Amazing strength seen in the eyes of the women; joy and Celebration extended through the arms and hugs shared."

PS, the second runner up for the poem of the day was "Deet when you eat."

We said our farewells today and left with mixed emotions--heavy hearts at saying good bye but a light step for knowing our "work" was done and we are now tourists.

Instead of our normal dinner at LJS, we are dining out under the stars at a restaurant called "Oasis" where he have eaten in past years.  The food is as good as we have ever had and we are enjoying the change of scenery in celebration of two weeks of work well done.

One very funny story from today--our fundis (people who put things together), Bill and Lance, were returning from a trip into town when they saw three Tanzanian Mazimbu staff hanging out the window of the dental office waving their arms and yelling "Baba Fundi! Baba Fundi!"  Bill and Lance walked over and discovered that they were locked in the dental office.  The door handle turned, but the door did not open.  No worries, our fundis came to the rescue.  They had to remove the door from the office, but did free the captive staff!

Tomorrow we go on safari to Mikumi National Park.  Hopefully, the lions will be amenable to having their picture taken!


“My friend, my friend, you greet me and and now I must say farewell; May God bless your path until we greet again.”

We are sitting at breakfast before our last day at Mazimbu.  Yesterday was a day of intense work for the team while Andrea and Cindy were in the OR for three procedures.  We also said goodbye to Arleigh at noon because she had to return home in time to begin work Saturday.   Tisho gave her a ride to Dar es Salaam after lunch and texted us to let us know she had arrived safely. 

Today will be a short day as we will stop seeing patients at noon.  Andrea is doing two procedures so she and Cindy and Lana left early to be able to start at 7am.  The rest of the team will be working to help our last few patients as efficiently as possible.

Once we are done, the time for farewells begins.  We have formed such close relationships with the staff and our patients and our patient’s families.  We all will be saying farewell many times.  As they have replied many times, if God wills, we will meet again.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

We Visit Kambala and Celebrate Birthdays

“Maasai woman, I see you as flowers in the desert; how do you see me?”

It is almost 9 pm and we are sitting listening to African drumming and watching a troupe of 6 dancers performing traditional African dances.  It is an experience unlike any we have seen in Tanzania in past years and is full of joyful, rhythmic, syncopated action.  The dancers are also singing while they are dancing.  Where do they get the wind to sing while dancing such strenuous, complex dances?

For the first time we were able to sleep in this morning as it was a planned day off of work at Mazimbu.  Bishop Mameo and his wife, Rose, were blessed with their 4th child who was born a month ago.  Rose is in Bishop Mameo’s home village of Kimbala and our dalla dalla picked us up at 10.  The planned trip of 1 ½ hours took a bit longer when our van had a flat tire on the highway.  Luckily there was a spare tire on board and even the tools for changing it!  Much discussion and some modification of the jack was required but we were on our way again after about 20 minutes.  However, our speed was greatly reduced because our driver wanted to ensure our safety and the spare was not all you would want in the condition of a tire.  So instead of arriving at noon, we pulled into Bishop Mameo’s home at 1:30.  Kimbala is in the middle of “Maasai land” and is a village where about 3000 Maasai live, spread out over a large area.

Bishop Mameo gave us a little history of a current conflict between the pastoralists (Maasai) and the farmers.  Kimbala, along with other Maasai villages, have boundaries marked by the government.  There is no doubt about the borders of the villages.  But the farmers are encroaching on their land, planting their crops and conflict has arisen between the two groups.  The government is not supporting the Maasai, whose entire livelihood depends on animals, but is supporting the farmers because they say food is more important to everyone.  The farmers have gotten violent and have been burning some village homes.  During a conflict last summer 3 Kimbala villagers were killed.  The Bishop is working with people in the government to come to a solution to the problem.

The Bishop proudly welcomed us into his home and introduced us to his mother, Mytapwi, his mother-in-law, and Rose with new-born Edward.  We were served tea and then given a very filling lunch of rice and beans.  While we were there a woman from a nearby home brought some handmade Maasai beaded jewelry and the team bought everything she had to sell!

(The dancers have just grabbed team members and Andrea, Eileen, Lana, River and Catherine are dancing on the stage!)

We left shortly after lunch but were taken to the village elder to pay our respects.  Again, we were invited in.  Much to our surprise, we were served lunch.  Again.  Hospitality demands that we accept so we all had a very small portion of rice with a delicious sweet potato stew on top. 
As we began our return, 2/3 of which was over a very bumpy and rutted dirt road, there were many heads nodding.

After a brief stop at Mazimbu to check on patients, we were back at LJS in time for dinner.  The team pulled off a surprise birthday celebration for Anne and Pati, whose birthdays were within the last week.  We feasted on cake and ice cream, a true treat.

Finally, before the dancing performance, our entire team, plus Robert and Linda Spitalari (resident missionaries from Asbury Methodist in Tulsa) moved to the common room.  Although Andrea has been wearing her medical hat most of the week, she is an ordained ELCA pastor and she led a very short worship that included communion.  It was a true blessing for us all to worship our Christ together and celebrate with the Eucharist.