Monday, December 28, 2009

Love this photos!

Aiden's dedication:

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Monday, December 21, 2009

The Faces of Africa through the Eyes of Three Sisters and a “Bebe”! (Part 4)

Mid-week shopping at Arusha’s markets appeals to everyone. T-shillings are counted and the Toyota cruiser, driven by Jane Ann, bumps its way into town. Market stalls display African crafts galore. Bargaining is the rule. Gratefully a fellow missionary friend of Jane Anns, fluent in Swahili, accompanies the ladies and the sisters walk away with varieties of treasure. The Cultural Center in Arusha, boasting engaging art, is a final stop before returning home.

“Where are the giraffes? “is the question of the next day. Since these magnificent creatures are no longer in the crater the sisters have not yet seen this African “icon”. Ron shares a solution-anyone for Arusha National Park? Although rain prevails, the day is rich with giraffe after giraffe lazily “grazing” the tall trees and seemingly quite willing to pose for a photo shoot.

Graduation Day! One of the ministries of CMF is to train willing African couples, from the bush (country) areas around Arusha, to witness for Christ in their villages. They spend 12 weeks on the compound taking classes in “Farming God’s Way”, health issues, evangelizing, marriage and parenting, and literacy. When they complete these courses the teachers/missionaries hold an official graduation ceremony complete with diplomas, speeches, skits, tribal songs and dances, and an African feast. Marlene, Nancy, and Rozella (Mom) are thrilled to be in the audience to witness and participate, via serving food, at this event. As stories are shared of the persecution these courageous Christians encounter out in the bush areas of Africa, “battling” witch doctors and other strange beliefs, we feel as though we are in the presence of the first disciples chosen by Christ sent forth into a hostile world. Prayers are sent upward for protection, courage, and opportunities to show Christ’s love through the knowledge the students have gained while living and learning at the CMF compound.

Has this day arrived already? The return flight to the states is not until evening so the family drives to a coffee plantation to bring home fresh beans, lunch is served at a nature preserve , where injured wild animals are nursed back to health, and a final cup of African chai is savored at a hotel near the airport boasting a view of Mt. Kilimanjaro. Unfortunately the grand mountain is cloud covered but nevertheless a magnificent sight. Hugs and tears are shared as good-byes are said amidst reminders of the family gathering in August of 2010. As the jet lifts off and tired eyes close dreams are peppered with wild animals, bright eyes on brown faces, and a sister and brother-in-law who are serving Christ in a poor but beautiful land.

African quotes to remember:
“There is no hurry in Africa.” If only those in America would take this to heart we’d need fewer drugs!!
“If you educate a man you simply educate an individual, but if you educate a woman you educate a nation.” My personal favorite!

Sunday, December 20, 2009

The Faces of Africa through the Eyes of Three Sisters and a “Bebe”! (Part 3)

Monday morning Marlene and Nancy (the two sisters), along with Mom(the Bebe-Swahili for Grandma), busy themselves unpacking three suitcases full of toys, games, craft supplies brought along to give to the preschool children on the CMF compound. Lack of necessary teaching tools ,so readily available in the states, is an ongoing problem in Africa. It was thrilling to share what others had given the sisters to bring to supply the classroom for use by the teacher in educating the adorable children. Eyes sparkle, and laughter bubbles throughout the classroom as Marlene and Nancy play with the pre-schoolers. Dancing and singing erupt as a talented little girl picks up a drum and the children demonstrate their practiced skills even reciting the entire 23rd Psalm & John 3:16 in Swahili. Smiles abound and warm handshakes are offered as the sisters leave the school and prepare to embark on their next adventure-an African safari!
Bags are packed, guide arrives, Ron is bid farewell, and the three sisters and “a bebe” travel north to the Ngorongoro crater/conservation area via an evening stop-over at a lovely hideaway offering a cool dip in a pool and delicious food served on linen graced tables. The morning dawns early with chirping birds and excitement as everyone climbs aboard the safari jeep. First on the “docket” is an amazing glimpse into the world of the Maasai tribe, with their village nestled on the floor of the crater grazing their cows among the water buffalo. Words can’t adequately capture the experience of bright colors, swaying bodies and rythmic sounds that surround us as the tribe performs their welcome song and dance. Two English speaking tribal members guide us into a “boma”( hut), and share details of life as a Maasai, including the reality of warm blood/milk “beverages” and cows as bed partners. Cameras click, hand-made jewelry is purchased, and finally the sisters and mother climb into the jeep moving into a spectacular day of viewing a menagerie of animals, including the African 5- elephants, water buffalo, rhino, hippo, and lion-thrilling! In addition warthogs, zebra, wildebeest, baboons, hyena, and gazelles, not to mention flamingos, eagles, pelicans, and a huge variety of cranes lift their heads seemingly quite uninterested in the jeep of gawking passengers. Sun sets as we return to the CMF compound chattering about the day’s events.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

The Faces of Africa through the Eyes of Three Sisters and a “Bebe”! (Part 2)

Jane Ann and Ron have become quite proficient in Swahili and begin to teach us a few phrases to communicate with their African staff and others we might meet. Habari is the general greeting, similar to hello or good morning. Asante, which was found to be most useful , means thank-you. The third phrase the two visiting sisters and mom tried to remember was Marahaba, a respectful response to Shikamo, which is a common greeting to your elder, a title fitting all three!

A Thanksgiving meal is prepared by some of the missionary families the day after Thanksgiving and Jane Ann, Ron, and her family are all invited. The mom and three sisters thoroughly enjoy baking pies together in Jane Ann’s somewhat sparce but quite adequate kitchen and taking them along to add to the feast. While there a gentle rain produces an African rainbow bringing even the football fanatics outside.

Mount Meru, seen from Jane Ann’s kitchen window, is an active stratovolcano. It is 14,980 feet tall and is the fifth highest mountain in Africa. On Saturday morning everyone jumps into the Landcruiser and Ron confidantly steers upwards into this mountain over rocky hazardous roads. On the journey new sights flood the view of the two visiting sisters and mother. There are women balancing water pots on their heads, children (seemingly no more than 5 years old) herding groups of cattle and goats, field workers cutting grass for their cattle with their foreboding machetes, called pangas. As the truck travels upward the forested slopes appear in sharp contrast to the plain area in which CMF is located. During the ascent the trees are constantly being scanned for any signs of Colobus monkeys. Marlene, the middle sister, is the first to notice the “black and white” monkeys in an outcropping of dense trees just off the road. The first photo opt of animals in Africa brings everyone out of the Toyota.
The next stop is the intended destination-the humble home of Spora & Julius Sosi, Africans of the Maasi tribe, dear friends of Jane Ann & Ron. They are extremely hospitable offering steaming mugs of ugi, an African porridge made from milk and ground grains. This is followed by a delicious rice and beef dish ending with chai, black tea brewed in hot milk and sugar. Conversation is easy and comfortable since Julius, a pastor of several churches, speaks excellent English. After the meal we take a little guided tour around their acreage sporting a garden and pasture area for cows. As the truck pulls away we all comment on the delightful experience!

Friday, December 18, 2009

The Faces of Africa through the Eyes of Three Sisters and a “Bebe”! (Part 1)

The plane lifts off rising slowly through the late afternoon clouds hovering over a chilly Minneapolis skyline. Two sisters and their mother hold hands and offer up a prayer to their Lord for a safe flight. Sitting in adjacent seats they begin to peruse the flight magazine to determine their choice of inflight movies and discuss how they will “wile away the time” on their 18 hours of flying before they touch down on the continent of Africa. Plans for this vacation to visit their other sister and her husband, who are missionaries with Chrisitian Missionary Fellowship, have been a long time “in the making”. A surreal feeling now courses through their veins as they each check and recheck their “to do” lists and realize they are actually on their way!
After a layover in Amsterdam their plane begins it’s descent into the Kilimanjaro airport around 9:30 p.m. on Wednesday evening, November 25th. Somewhere along the route they have lost a day, but who cares as they groggily gather belongings and head for the baggage claim praying all six bags arrived. Thankfully, the luggage is identified making its way around the designated carrousel and quickly they load it on a cart and head for the exit. Jane Ann, the youngest sister and Ron her husband are anxiously awaiting their appearance. The reunion is sweet and bags are loaded into a four-wheel drive Toyota Landcruiser for a 1 ½ hour drive to the outskirts of Arusha. It is during this trip that the two sisters begin to realize why a sturdy four-wheel drive vehicle is necessary in order to actually live in this country. The roads are, according to American standards, impassable, full of giant ruts and small boulders, (yes I DID say boulders), since the term rocks just doesn’t seem to fit! After a jarring ride the crew arrives at the CMF 8 acres, where Jane Ann and Ron live and work along with two other missionary families and several native African staff. The guest house is called a rondaval and proves to be a spacious, comfortable abode for the 10 day visit. Especially appreciated are the mosquito-netted beds!

Thanksgiving Day is spent touring the missionary compound, enjoying meals together, and a quick sight-seeing trip into Arusha where markets are explored and a shuka purchased. A shuka is the outside, colorful garment worn by the Maasai tribe.

Following are some photos of Jane Anns home and the Christian Missionary Fellowship compound where they live and work.