Friday, March 27, 2009

Beds & Phones

I was lying in bed last night wondering if it is wrong for me to miss my bed already?

The most exciting thing ~ after my fundraiser for Alicia Hughes ~ is my going to purchase my new cellphone/Blackberry this weekend.


I can’t wait to be able to take pictures and hopefully upload them immediately on the internet.

Of course, I’m not thinking about the price tag of an international Blackberry…not right now

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Have my visa!

Yep! It arrived today. That makes it all of 3 business days from drop off to return!

I got multiple entry - same price a single entry. The watermark has Mt. Kilimanjaro and a cute giraffe head.


Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Cool new clock!

OK, so I think my countdown clock, created by e-media/web wiz Wayne, is the coolest thing on earth.

I will be tweeking it, with Wayne's help, to get the day count right. But I love it!!!

Monday, March 23, 2009

Shopping for a cause

One of the most bizarre (to me!) side effects of having gone to Africa last summer is how clothes shopping has now become a chore. This is not to be misconstrued as my not wanting or liking nice things. I certainly do and with consumerism ingrained in me ~ literally prenatally ~ I don’t foresee some sort of Quakerism in my future.

But still, I simply have lost all interest in clothes shopping. I should have know this was happening when for the first time in years I didn’t purchase the September Vogue. And, God bless Condé Nast, it looks like I wasn’t alone in that!

So, yesterday I dragged myself all of 2 & ½ blocks to Talbot’s to purchase what I affectionately call an “old lady track suit”. I had made the mistake of wearing jeans on the flight to South Africa. [Note to self: do not take fashion advice from women who gasp at flights over 20 hours!]

When I walked in, the sales clerk asked me what I needed. They had exactly what I needed in the back and she went and got it. Perfect ~ in my size ~ on sale ~ and the color I wanted (brown!). It was so easy that I had enough emotional energy left to run down to Ross to get sheets for the trip.

Funny how life turns out sometimes!

Saturday, March 21, 2009


Yesterday morning I went to the Tanzanian Embassy to get my visa. Jeff went with me. After a false start – I had forgotten to get “proof of income” – we were on our way by 9:30 a.m. I was very uptight and that put me in full ditz mode. You see, my only previous experiences getting visas (with friends) were not good.

First there was South Africa in the late 80’s with a college boyfriend. Read: Apartheid. That was a long day.

Then there was the Japanese Embassy with a girlfriend in the early 90’s. That was like hell on earth. We spent all day there. It was so packed I was afraid to leave my seat, lest it would be snatched-up.

Flash forward to March 2009 – Tanzanian Embassy. Well, we quickly find a parking space on a side street. We walk in and we are the only people there. A smiling, HAPPY receptionist takes my papers. We even JOKE with her. Whoa…is this different from what I have seen before!

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Just getting it there is nearly impossible!

I've gotten several requests of what would be best to send with me to Africa. This is not a solicitation post. On the contrary, I have a very limited amount of space and the weight restrictions are so difficult.

In addition to the book list below, according to my mission mentor, "Wind-up flashlights are terrific too. In the $20-25 range, Home Depot has a red LCD (LED?) lantern that takes 4 D batteries--it produces really bright light and also has a night light setting. One set of batteries lasts a really long while. A book reading light with extra batteries would also be a good thing--and very lightweight."

If any of my Democrat friends would like to do something, you could get some Barak Obama trading cards or something small like that for me to take.

But, I am discouraged from taking anything that has the US flag or is overtly seen as US. Items that are identified with Virginia, on the other hand, are ok.

If you do want to send something with me, please remember -- weight, weight, weight. That is for the item, not your waistline! Believe me, they stick to those weight limits!!!

Books for Mwitikira SuggestionsPreschool or Learning to Read/Early Reader Books; more advanced books with great pictures

Factors to consider:
• Do pictures reflect diversity
• Is the book void of any negative stereotypes
• Would the book connect with something a child in Mwitikira might know: family, animals, friends

Types of books:
• Alphabet
• Counting
• Colors
• Vocabulary—like Richard Scarry’s Best Word Book Ever
• Bright and Early Book Series—e.g. some of the Dr. Seuss books, like Are You My Mother
• Discovery Books—often science oriented with really good pictures; DK publishing
• I Can Read Books
• Bible story books if they show diverse people in diverse roles
• Introduction to America Recommended Authors:
• Eric Carle
• Leo Lionni
• Don Freeman
• Ezra Jack Keats

Recommended Titles:
• Barack Obama: Son of Promise, Child of Hope
• Beatrice’s Goat
• Mufaro’s Beautiful Daughters
• Guess How Much I Love You
• Coretta Scott King award winning books

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Leaving the cocoon

Earlier this week I told my boss that I would be leaving. Though, this was done with a large amount of prayer and family discussion, it was nonetheless extremely difficult on many levels.

First, I have had to tell several of my friends who are out of work. Second, it is so counter intuitive to leave a nice position when we are in the middle of a worldwide recession.

And, lastly, I had a great job. While it wasn’t perfect all the time (like life!), I had a nice, more than lenient boss (and you know I’m being honest because there’s no performance review now!). Also, it was comfortable. I walked to work. My co-workers were a fun, quirky bunch. And, it was across the street from Whole Foods. (My WF addiction runs deep.)

This has been the safest, happiest I have ever felt with a job. Yet, as I learned in the discernment for lay mission, that makes my calling even more clear. When you run to and not from something ~ it is right.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Where in the world am I going?

OK, this is not an existential question, it is literal. Below is the inform-
ation I think important.

From Official US and Tanzanian Sites:

The United Republic of Tanzania (Kiswahili: Jamhuri ya Muungano wa Tanzania), is a country in East Africa bordered by Kenya and Uganda to the north, Rwanda, Burundi and the Democratic Republic of the Congo to the west, and Zambia, Malawi and Mozambique to the south. To the east it borders the Indian Ocean.

Religions: mainland - Christian 30%, Muslim 35%, indigenous beliefs 35%; Zanzibar - more than 99% Muslim

More than 80% of the population is rural. Dar es Salaam is the capital and largest city; Dodoma, located in the center of Tanzania, has been designated the legislative capital and the Parliament meets there four times a year. [I will be visiting both Dar es Salaam and Dodoma.]

The U.S. has historically enjoyed very good relations with Tanzania.

The relationship became closer after terrorists bombed the U.S. Embassy in Dar es Salaam on August 7, 1998. With the election of President Kikwete, the relationship has blossomed into warmer relations than at any time since Tanzania achieved independence. In February 2008, President Bush made an official four-day visit to Tanzania. President Kikwete, who has visited the U.S. repeatedly, made a reciprocal official visit to Washington in August 2008.

Time difference: 8 hours ahead of Washington, DC during Standard Time.

Weather: My mission mentor says 80 degrees high, 60 degrees cool.

So that's where I'll be! I am really excited about this opportunity. Thank you, God!

Monday, March 16, 2009

Skirts, she wants skirts...

One of the fascinating aspects of going into a new reality is how so much of my current life doesn’t fit. There isn’t one piece of clothing of mine that translates to rural Africa.

The most interesting to date has been trying to find long, light colored, unlined skirts for summer weather. I haven’t worn long skirts in summer since I went through an extremely frumpy phase 14 years ago.

It took me a week, umpteen shops and over a dozen catalogs to find these at a reasonable price. Kudos to the girlfriend who suggested Sierra Trading Post. They had fallen off my radar. But, they came through last Friday night.

So, yes, you can have a fashion crisis in mission work. Take that Anna Wintour!

Sunday, March 15, 2009

The Beginning

Last summer I had the wonderful opportunity to accompany my husband on a business trip to South Africa. The short version of the story is that I assumed I’d go, see some interesting animals, take some pictures and come home. Resuming my life as it had been before.

That was not God’s plan.

The moment I believe my heart was broken and I began to hear God’s call was seeing the little boy – maybe 6, maybe older – malnutrition does a number on your height – standing on the street corner. He had cut off the tops of his shoes to give his feet more room. He wasn’t begging. He wasn’t crying in pain. But his image encapsulates in my mind the moment God clearly called me to mission.

Back in my office in Old Town Alexandria, by the umpteenth day that I sat crying, I realized I either had to get over it or do something. Not sure what to do, I turned to our assistant rector. She was so wonderful and understanding. I cried so much to her that I hope she went out and bought Kleenex stock.

Thankfully, she put me in touch with the diocese and from there I was able to being this journey through mission. She also guided me through a discernment process which helped clarify if I was truly being called. And if I was being called, to what or to where was the calling.

I won’t write the thousand and one things that have brought me to this moment. Nor do I believe anyone would want to read them. Rather, this is the where I am in the journey. I am now blessed to be going to Tanzania with the person I call my “mission mentor”. I feel called to take this journey for many reasons, two of which are the spiritual growth I need and the ability to work under an awesome missionary.

I still believe my calling is to South Africa. But I also believe that I must make that journey through this trip to Tanzania.

I am afraid. I am hopeful. And I am mostly so thankful for the opportunities and blessings that are ahead.