My apologies, I know this post is long overdue, but life happens and you get busy, and I’ve been quite busy trying to figure out my place here in Kilimatinde! It’s been about a month and a half since I moved here, and I finally feel like I’m fitting in to the lifestyle here! This post is going to jump around a bit, but that’s just because so much has been happening; bear with me.
Last week we celebrated Thanksgiving, which was wonderful! There are two other Americans here with me, Mary and Jim from California! Between the three of us and some help from our generous hosts, we were able to make a pretty lovely Tanzanian Thanksgiving. We had macaroni and cheese, roasted potatoes and vegetables, pork, salad, and for dessert, apple and mango pie. Quite the feast, and it was a lot of fun to make. Although it’s hard being away from home for big family holidays like that, I am immensely grateful for the friendships I have made here and the Kilimatinde family I have been so graciously welcomed in to.
Rainy season is beginning, so everyone is hard at work on their farms planting crops. (Everyone means EVERYONE, so this has affected school attendance too; it’s all hands on deck for the family farms, children included.) Thankfully, the rain brings cool winds and chilly mornings, though the afternoons are still obscenely hot and humid. The rains also bring lots of exciting new wildlife, such as snakes and scorpions! I’ve already spotted one green mamba in the house and killed a scorpion on my way to the bathroom at night. I’d honestly be quite content if this is all the wildlife I encounter so close! Luckily for us, there are always helpful Tanzanians around who have more than enough practice killing dangerous snakes! Despite all of these crazy animals, I am thankful for rain and the new life it is bringing to our little village.
Some people have been asking about my daily life and activities, so I figured it might be interesting to give an example of one of my normal days! On average, I wake up around 6:45 and start getting ready for school. Breakfast usually consists of fruit (mangoes or bananas) or toast with jam or peanut butter. Around 7:30, myself and two other volunteers (Mary and Simon) walk to school. School starts at 8 but students usually get there quite early so we do too to supervise and have some morning playtime. During school, my job tends to vary. Most of the time, I work as assistant teacher, doing whatever the main teacher needs be that keeping students quiet, making copies, or occasionally teaching lessons in math or English. This week in school we gave the students their end of year exams, so for the past few weeks the volunteer’s job was making these exams and going over the syllabus for each class to make plans for next year as well. (School years here start in January and end in November- we are about to have summer break!) Nursery school has three classes based on age and ability and for now we just have one primary class. They are taught English, Kiswahili, math, and science, with occasional lessons in craft and singing. Sometimes at the end of the day there is a time for structured play- which Jim (accurately) calls structured chaos. This is a really good time to get to know the kids and form a more personal relationship than simply student and teacher. School ends at 11am every day, so after we head home.
Afternoons are really where all of that rest comes in. Because it is so hot, I usually just try to find a cool place to sit and read. Sometimes I’ll walk to the village where, if you’re lucky, you can find a cold soda and some chocolate cookies. The children are always around and looking for someone to play with so lots of afternoons are spent with blocks and trains and cars. There are scenic lookouts you can get to after just a short walk; these are best viewed in the morning or evening, and offer spectacular views of the sunrise and sunset. Right now there are two medical students working at the Kilimatinde hospital, so many afternoons I will spend at their house chatting, hearing stories from small town hospitals, or playing card games. Afternoons offer lots of opportunity! We tend to eat lunch around 1pm. Lunch often consists of chapati (a type of flatbread) with tomato and cucumber, peanut butter, or leftover beans. Sometimes we make salads, or if we really want a treat we walk to the village to get Chips Mayai, which is basically a french fry omelette.
In the evening, we eat around 6 with the whole family (or as many as we can gather at one time, there’s about 12 of us right now). Dinner is usually rice with some sort of sauce- beans, lentils, or peas usually. Grace is an incredible baker, so occasionally we will have cake for dessert. After dinner, we chat, clean up, play board games like Catan or Dominion, or just sit and watch a movie. For me, bedtime is fairly early, around 9, because of the early mornings (if you know me well, you know I struggle with mornings). So that’s it! An average day in the life of a missionary in Kilimatinde! Life is slower paced here, but I am actually enjoying the extra time to rest and just be. I’ve already read 10 books, and have a few more lined up, but feel free to send recommendations!
I’ll leave you with a prayer for rain from the Episcopal Book of Common Prayer:
O God, heavenly Father, who by your Son Jesus Christ
hast promised to all those who seek your kingdom and its
righteousness all things necessary to sustain their life: Send
us, we entreat you, in this time of need, such moderate rain
and showers, that we may receive the fruits of the earth, to
our comfort and to your honor; through Jesus Christ our