Saturday, July 9, 2016
With our work at Mazimbu completed, we are now tourists for two days. Today we woke before dawn for the 2 hour ride to Mikumi National Park for our safari. As we approached the park, the sun was just rising over the splendor that is Africa.
Everyone that tours Mikumi must do so with a guide, who is an employee of the park and is well trained about the animals, birds and plants that might be encountered. Ibraham hopped aboard our bus and announced that our first stop would be outside the park. Lions had brought down a zebra earlier and were near the road, still feasting on their meal.
We pulled to the side of the road and were amazed to see a pride with two male lions, two very young cubs and 4 females (or juvenile males) about 150 feet from our dala dala. The cameras clicked away as we watched the lions mingle with each other, readjusting their position for their breakfast. Meanwhile, the cubs did what any youngster does—with their bellies full their attention strayed and they began playing and pouncing among the pride.
Ibraham explained that in Africa it is considered good luck to see one lion, even better luck to see a pair, and the best luck of all to see a whole pride with cubs. Later, when we told others what we had seen, they agreed that the sighting really blessed our final day together. We stayed parked by the lions for more than a half an hour, fascinated with the sight.
Entering the park, we slowly bumped over the uneven dirt roads, moving from one area of the park to another. The guides communicate with each other using their cell phones so if animals are spotted in one area, other tours will be able to move for a good view of the animals.
After the lions, we saw giraffe, zebras, cape buffaloes, elands, impalas, wart hogs, hippopotami, crocodiles, baboons, monkeys, mirabou storks, saddle billed stork and so many others. Although we can say we saw elephants, in truth it was just one family group, and from such a far distance we could only see vague humps over the grasses.
Our safari ended with breakfast at the lodge. We sat at an enormous tree-slab planked table overlooking the vast grasslands of Mikumi. As with all of our meals out, it was a very leisurely affair so it was after one pm before our bus began the return back to LJS. Before too long heavy heads began bobbing to make up for our early morning wake-up calls.\
We are sitting now at a lovely restaurant, waiting for our dinner. It is our last time to be together. The Houcks—Pastor Sally, Dr. John and David—head north tomorrow morning to meet family for a safari in Ngorongoro. The rest of the team is off to Dar es Salaam to begin our long trip back to our families and friends. These two weeks have been meaningful beyond words for us as we have worked with, served, and loved our Tanzanian brothers and sisters. We all want to thank our families, our friends, our churches and our prayer partners for your support.
Until next year, we bid this enchanting land kwa heri.
Wednesday, July 6, 2016
Our final week at Mazimbu is normally busier than the first week, a pattern which is repeating this year. The first week is busy with the initial consult with patients. By the second week, lab and other diagnostic tests have been completed on those earlier patients and the available slots for surgery are booked.
Surgeries this year have seemed to swing back and forth between Dr. John and Dr. Swai. Monday’s surgeries were predominantly gynecological procedures, so we were not able to register any new gynecological cases. But Dr. John was in his office all day so many new, non-gynecological patients were registered. The reverse was true for Tuesday and Wednesday. This makes things a bit tricky for Courtney and Pati, who have been manning our registration desk. The team must manage the line of hopeful patients so that we are able to register patients for the doctor that is holding clinic on that day. The others are given numbers and asked to return another day. The number will give them priority to the front of the line.
Tuesday’s schedule was so full, we knew we would be at the hospital late in the day. Dinner at LJS is served promptly at 6 so we opted to eat at a restaurant, the Arc Hotel, where we arrived at 7:30. A table for 19 was set up on the patio, where we enjoyed a wonderful view of the sunset over Mt. Uluguru.
Dinner for a crew of our size takes quite a while so it was after 10 when we arrived back at LJS—way too late for a team meeting. Today, Wednesday, we have five surgeries scheduled so, in anticipation of another long day we are going back to the Arc but this time we have pre-ordered, hoping to shorten the time needed for our evening meal.
Our lunches at the hospital have improved this week. Dora is a woman we met on Friday that brings home-made goodies to Mazimbu for the staff to purchase. She agreed to cook our lunches and bring the food in for our convenience. And she takes requests! Today we asked for the Tanzanian version of fast food—sambosas (fried, meat filled or egg and meat filled pastries), kababu (minced meat balls rolled in bread crumbs and fried), kaukau (vegetable filled pastries), rice, peas, pumpkin greens and bananas. This was so well received the team has asked for the same dishes to be prepared for us for tomorrow’s lunch!
Thursday and Friday are fully booked with four surgeries each day. Our clinic visits will end at noon on Friday to give the team the afternoon to wrap up. We must give an accounting to the hospital of the patients we treated and the medical supplies and medicines we leave as a gift.
We hope to post again after our safari to Mikumi national park on Saturday.
Sunday, July 3, 2016
Bishop Mameo’s home is in Kambala, a two hour ride from Morogoro. He has built a lovely house here which will be his home when he retires.
All fourteen of us were invited to the village to worship. And Pastor Sally was invited to preach at Sunday service.
We arrived early enough to have a quick tea at Bishops house, hosted by his wife, Rose. Three of his four children were also there. Sayoni, an older teenager, helped with some translating. And thirteen-year-old Evelyn was kept busy chasing after her lively two-year-old brother, Edwardi.
From his home, we were driven to the church where we were introduced to the women of the village and the pastor. A troop of young girls carried narrow benches into the pastor’s house in preparation of a second tea, this time including delicious mandizi (donuts,) to sustain us for the two-hour service.
After our tea, the girls swarmed back in to retrieve the benches, which double as church pews.
Shortly after we heard the summons to service, which was a church elder using a metal rod to strike a metal pot hanging from a tree branch.
Our bench seats at the front of the church gave us the perfect view of the church processional—two deacons, followed by the pastor of the church with Pastor Sally, and finally Bishop Mameo, in all his bishop finery, brought up the rear.
One of the highlights for us in Masai worship is the choir and today was no exception. The group of young girls gave us several songs, accompanied with traditional Masai dance moves, as our toes tapped in time to the music.
The worship was in Swahili and Bishop Mameo translated the important parts for us. We had just a couple of Swahili hymnals so were able to sing along with a few of the hymns. One of the hymnal tunes was familiar—after a few strains we recognized the familiar tune of Blessed Assurance.
Pastor Sally preached today on the Prodigal Son. Her sermon was in English, translated to Masai by Bishop Mameo. Sally was able to draw parallels between America, Russia and Tanzania that made the sermon very personal for the village, Bishop Mameo said that the villagers would be talking about her sermon for months to come!
After church was finished, the team was happily surprised by several village women bringing out hand crafted jewelry. To say their wares were very well received is an understatement. Today their inventory was severely depleted!
Finally, our day ended with lunch, once again on the “church” benches inside the village pastor’s house. Rice topped with stewed beef chunks and beans and a side of fried beef were the order of the day. Afterwards, realizing we needed toothpicks (the typical end to a Tanzanian meal,) the pastor rushed out of the house. After a few minutes he came back in with a twig from a local bush. This is the same bush that is used to create a pen to keep in their animals and the long thorns, when plucked off, did a great job as a toothpick!
Saturday, July 2, 2016
After our first week in Tanzania, we enjoyed our first day of free time. Many of us slept in, since our driver was not due to arrive until 8:30.
Bishop Mameo journeyed with us to the Masai Cattle Auction today. On the way we stopped at Sokoine Ranch, a Masai village where the team has worshiped several times over the past 9 years. The village chairman and his family welcomed us warmly and chairs were gathered in a circle under the shade of the local meeting trees. In Masai culture, guests must always be given something to eat and today was no exception. The team of fourteen, plus our driver and his helper, the Bishop and several of his family, and our translator, were given a delicious breakfast of chai, chapatti, Masai donuts (no sugar), beef soup and soda. As Bishop visited with the men, the team faded away from the circle and mingled with the village women and girls. The young women were full of curiosity about us and our families—how many children do we have? What are their names?—and we were able to communicate because many of them have been educated and learned English in school. We were shown around the village, to the church, to the pond where clothes are washed and the animals drink, and lively conversation flowed both ways.
When the time came to continue on to the cattle auction, five or six of the women, all about 18-20 years old, loaded into the dala dala with us. That meant that our party of 14 would have many translators available. And having a Masai translator is very important because the majority of Masai speak Masai, not Swahili.
The Cattle Auction is just what it says—a chance for buyers and sellers of cattle, goats and sheep to come together and barter their livestock. But it is also a very social gathering for the Masai. People from many different villages enjoy this chance to socialize and trade other goods. The warriors dress their hair in elaborate styles with masses of braids cascading down their back. It is a time for everyone to display their most elaborate finery. There are also Masai vendors that set up with various wares you can buy—Masai machetes and clubs, fabric used for Masai mens robes, ropes, gadgets and so much more. The team had fun drifting from one vendor to another, using our translators to help us bargain for the best price. It is still unusual to see white skin at the auction—we were the only Caucasian group—and many different people came up to greet us and wish us welcome to Tanzania.
Once our shopping was done, we joined Bishop Mameo, who was sitting under an open air thatched roof canopy with many Masai gathered around him. Again a circle was made with chairs and we were treated to fresh roasted beef, sliced in front of us by two very skilled Masai using a machete. We dipped the chunks of meat in salt and ate them with our fingers.
After the cattle market, a little fabric shopping was on our agenda and the team had about an hour to spend in downtown Morogoro. We were all happy with our purchases and arrived back at LJS with about a half an hour to relax before dinner. Sunday will see the team back in a Masai village for worship so we hope to post more pictures tomorrow, time and internet willing!