Tanzania 2012

It is here I start my recount of our journey as a family to Tanzania.
I journalled all throughout the trip and this is what I wrote:

Day 1        6/9/10

It still seems a little crazy to me that I'm laying on my bed in Africa as my toddler paces back & fourth in the pack & play next to me (refusing to sleep, slightly weirded out by the mosquito net that encases him).  And that my husband is here with me.  In Africa.  It's crazy.  But it's awesome.
What is also amazing is the favor we had on the way here.  And as I write this, I'm realizing that though we prayed for and believed God's favor would be all over is - it came in forms I wasn't expecting.  I expected it would mean there would be an empty seat on the flight so we could use Owen's car seat.  But God had other plans.  The flight was full, so Owen was on our laps the entire time.. well except when we got up to stretch, then we gave him our seat :) 

   
He did a really great job though - all things considered.  And riding that way forced him to learn to fall asleep on me again, which I'm thinking will be very helpful throughout the trip.
God's favor allowed hubby & I to be together on the last flight (though our seats weren't assigned together) and for that four hours Owen slept the whole way! (After only sleeping maybe two hours total on the 13 hour flight).  God's favor followed us through immigration when not even an eyebrow was raised at Owen not having his yellow fever shot record.  And it continued when every single piece of our teams luggage (like 12 pieces!) made it through, despite our extremely late departure from Charlotte and the plane being held for us in DC because we were late for it.  God's favor is awesome and it is so neat to be covered by it and know that it was because so many people were covering us in prayer.

So when we arrived in Kilimanjaro, 

  

Peter & Mary Street, and Marilyn were there to pick us up.  Marilyn flew up from South Africa to join our team, she skyped in on a team meeting while we were back in the States and has been a long distance part of our team from the beginning. :)  She led the trip two years ago that Frank & Aimee were on.  Her husband is from South Africa and she had just left her three kids with her in-laws there so she could come be with us for the trip.
We drove the hour-long trip home,
   
                                   (guess who wanted that pic?) :)

unpacked our things, organized a little bit, then headed out for our first African meal at a restaurant called "Salisbury's".  It was a steak house that is a little 'upscale' (for African standards) and it was pretty delish.  I had the peppered steak and chips (fries) and peanut slept on my lap the entire time.  After we got home he had his first-ever bath with a friend, the missionaries' daughter Faith (2yrs).  He hated it just as much as he hates bath time at home.  He is currently resisting sleep in the pack & play... I guess I better try to get him down so we can get up in time for breakfast in the morning! Below you can enjoy a little tour of our 'home' :)

  
 The path leading to the guest house. To the left of the path is the 'pit' (where all the trash gets burned) and water tanks.
 
The living area, just as you walk in the door.  That window is where our room was (below).
   
Our room, the bathroom area, the two doors on the right are the shower stall and toilet room, respectively.
   
The view from our front door,& the doors we walked through every morning for breakfast (the main house)

 
 The driveway leading out of the property, and the front yard, to the right of the driveway.
 
 The front yard -- <3  -- and the kids area of the front yard.
Another view of the front yard, to the right is the driveway.
 
 Owen LOVED the swing in the front yard. It was so peaceful - a perfect place for some quiet time.

 
Several tortoises roam the property - Owen learned to say "Turtle" because of these guys! (okay I know they aren't turtles, but that's way easier to say than tortoise)

 
 Baby tortoises! Sooo cute!                   This little guy was pretty cute too - and very friendly!

They have three guard dogs on the property, all very friendly pups :)  This one was guarding the garage/guard area.... or just relaxing in the shade :)
Day 2              6/10/12

A great night's sleep was had by all.... well by most.  Little bear woke up a few times and was freakin' out about the new surroundings a little, so we brought him in bed with us and we all snuggled together under our mosquito net, rejoicing over the fact that we could lay completely horizontal and stretch out and get a better, more restful sleep than we had gotten on the plane the previous day.  Owen even slept later than us, despite us getting out of bed and getting dressed/around with him right there in the room.
We started our day at 8am with breakfast.  Owen had his first taste of fresh, African mango and L.O.V.E.D it.  He's only ever had freeze-dried mango from Trader Joe's before - so once he tasted the real stuff he pretty much wouldn't eat anything else until we took the mango out of the dining room so he couldn't see it any more.  I'm positive he would have eaten all 5 mangoes had we let him.
After breakfast we did devotions and Mary played some acoustic while we worshiped along.  She asked us to share what was on our hearts as we began the trip and I kind of lost it.  I feel like this trip God is telling me/ showing (?) me what it looks like to take time for Him & me, and balance being a mom.  It's not easy.  After that we started the 'Hot Seat' tradition (where one of the team members get's prayed over, we would do it each day until everyone on the team was prayed for).  Mary decided that I should be the one in the hot seat today.  The team prayed over me and I felt a release of emotion that I had been storing up and it felt good to get it out.  After that I felt refreshed and renewed.  Marilyn and I really connected at that point too - she's a mom of three and a teacher as well, so we already had that in common.  But then she told me about a vision she had of me that involved being in shallow water that was getting deeper and deeper, and it really resonated with where I feel like I am right now spiritually.  It made me think back to the Ghana trip - where I had several visions of water pitchers overflowing - because I was getting SO full spiritually on that trip.  This trip though, I'm definitely running a little shallow-er - just from being a mom, and trying to be a good wife, and work and everything else, I'm just in a totally new stage of life than I was before.  It was neat to hear from God through her that this trip would be the launching point of going deeper with Him.  And she also mentioned that she would take Owen at any time of day if I needed a hand, and that helped too :)
Shortly after prayer we got packed up and headed out to the middle of nowhere - literally - to a secret oasis with some hot springs.  It was our time to unwind, get on African time and relax before setting off on our adventures. 
This place was literally surrounded by desert - you would have no idea that this beauty lay behind the thorns, dust and dirt that surrounded it.
I swear I didn't enhance the color at all in these photos - this place was just that beautiful!
We had a picnic lunch before jumping in for a swim!
 
     Although he looks pretty darn cute in his rash guard and swim trunks (with his mouth full nonetheless), Owen is going through an "I'm-terrified-of-water" stage right now, so he only got in for about 30 seconds, all of which he screamed bloody murder for.  So Bill & I took turns on the shore with him.
   
There was a rope swing - and boy was it fun!  I went off it a couple times too, but I think someone else got the pics of me - not on my camera. :)  The water was nice and warm - not hot, hot, but quite warm, especially in that spot above where all us girls were sitting on a log.  The water was crystal-clear and you could see all the way to the bottom, which was at least 12 feet deep in some places, and it had this gorgeous turquoise-green hue to it - so unreal and beautiful!
   
If you look closely on the white feet over on the right of the photo, you can see little black fish.  These guys were flesh-eating fish.  No joke.  They left you alone as long as you were swimming, but if you stopped for a while and just relaxed in the shallow areas they would nibble at the dead skin on your body.  A couple of the guys and girls sat in the shallow part of the spring and let the fish give them a pedicure. They said it just tickled more than anything... I wasn't about to find out though - NOT me.  Those of you that know me well know that- even though I grew up on a lake - I'm not a fan of fish.  Especially the flesh-eating variety. :-p
Can you see it?  Look in the middle of the frame... it's not a bird, not a plane... it's a monkey!  Near the end of our time at the springs we heard a great rustling of leaves, and looked up to see about 4 monkeys chasing each other around from branch to branch.  They were very fast and this is the best shot I could get!
The Maasai are fascinated with wazungus (wah-zoon-goos/ white people) and we had quite the audience at one point:
We snapped a quick family pic before packing up and heading back home for dinner:
And as we drove home and the sun was setting over the dessert, we passed over these tracks, I couldn't resist the photo-op with the boabab (bo-uh-bab - the ones with the fat trunks) trees in the background!
After we got home and cleaned up/changed we headed to 10 to 10 Pizzeria for dinner.  I got a mushroom/cheese pizza (brick-oven style) and Bill got a cheeseburger.  Which turned out to be just that.  Cheese.  On a bun.  With all the trimmings.  It was quite funny to see how things like that get lost in translation :)
The dynamic of this trip is so different from my last trip.  It's so much harder for me to really enjoy it.  Too really get in deep, because I'm always focused on Owen and making sure his needs are met, etc.  Not that I'm not enjoying it - I really am - just not as deeply as I imagined I would.
Day 3     6/11/12

This morning was awesome.  Bill was amazing enough to take Owen after I'd fed him and gotten him dressed so I got some great alone time.  I walked the property admiring the beautiful landscaping and taking pics.  My fav. <3
After breakfast we got things ready and headed out for Safari. 

On the way we spotted something wild!  Can you see what we saw?
We stopped for lunch - a gourmet boxed lunch provided by Wild at Heart Safaris (Mary & Peter's safari company - and let me tell you it was excellent!)  Here's just a peek at what we had -
 Gourmet chicken, mango and a ton of other yummy things - stuffed into a fresh pita...  and this amazing salad (below) that had a flower in it even - and yes I ate the flower!  And Owen very much so appreciated the raspberries :)  There was also a yummy juice box, cheesecake with papaya, a couple chocolate treats and a souvenir Maasai napkin and wooden spoon. 
 Next up we walked across to the Snake Park & Maasai Museum.
  
At the snake park a guide took us through and showed us all the different types of snakes indigenous to Africa, it was interesting to see all the different varieties - there was even one passed around for holding.  I declined because I had my hands full of camera - but I got a good one of Aimmee :)
They also had some tortoises - Owen had a blast saying 'tuh-tuh' over and over again every time he saw them.  It was cute to see him so observant of the larger animals he could see like the crocs, the eagle and the monkey.
 
 After that we went over to the Museum.  I didn't photograph it because it was very dark, hot and extremely close quarters in there.  Plus, I figured I'd photograph the real thing at the end of our trip when we camped out with the Maasai.
I did learn a lot from the Maasai man that guided us through the museum though.  We saw how they build their houses, using sticks for the frame, then filling in with a mix of mud, sand, ash and cow dung.  The women are in charge of doing all the building of the houses because the men are out herding the cows and goats.  It takes about 4 to 5 days to make one home, they have no windows only a chimney hole.
The men are polygamists so the women & children sleep together in one section of the hut and the man sleeps alone - except for 'special occasions' the guide told us.
{{ WARNING - The next part is rated over PG-13, parent's cautioned! (Seriously!) }}
We also learned that around 15-16 years old the boys are circumcised.  They sit on the ground leaning against another mans chest while he's bracing him.  No pain med.s or anesthetics are used and the boy must not cry.  He can choose to keep his eyes open or closed, but he can't change his mind in the middle of the procedure.  Once it is over the boys wear all black and paint designs in bright white paint on their faces, they also get a headband with ostrich feathers on it - all to signify they've 'become a man'.  However, if the boy cries at all during the procedure, the ostrich feathers are cut down, so everyone knows he cried.  They wear this same outfit for about 2 months.
The girls also get circumcised, but at age 10.  They are allowed to cry.  This practice has been outlawed by the government, but the Maasai guide told his that some tribes still practice it due to the strong cultural heritage. 
{{ End of Cautioned Content }}
The Maasai also always carry a stick.  They use it for walking, herding, dealing with snakes, fighting, etc.  They are also known for drinking cow's blood.  They mix it with cow's milk to prevent clotting and claim it's very nutritious.  The guide asked us (very seriously) if we had ever tried it.  When we all said, 'No', he said, "You should try some, it is very good for you."  He was dead serious.
After the museum we took camel rides around a big open field that overlooked a Maasai meat market.  I wish I'd have taken my camera up on the camel with us because the meat market was quite the sight, but I left my camera with someone on the team so they could get pics of Owen's (& Bill's) first camel ride!


 
Owen loved the camel ride, he thought it was so neat!  He actually fussed a bit when we got off, but calmed down when I let him see the camel's face close up. :)

 Next we headed to our first lodge for the night, on the way we saw a Maasai market in full-swing.

 
That 'van' on the left is called a "dala-dala" (just like a tro-tro to you fellow Ghanain's!) - they cram at least 30 people in there and taxi them around.  C.razy.  With a capital C.  Our driver, Eric, stopped abruptly in a little town outside of Arusha and came back to the car with these:
Red bananas.  They are shorter and fatter than the yellow bananas we get in America, and have a slightly pink hue to them on the inside.  And they are the bees knees.  I mean, once you eat one, you don't want to ever have a yellow one again.  That's how fresh, sweet and amazing they are.  ::drool::

We arrived at our lodge just before sun-down.  It was just a little back-packers camp with tents and a few buildings.  I forgot to get pics of this place because we were busy getting settled and rushing to make dinner on time, but it was very basic.  Our room was in a one-story building with about 4 rooms in a row.  Concrete walls and floors, a wet-bathroom (open shower, so everything gets wet, there's a drain in the floor) with running water and toilet and a sink.  For dinner we had rice, boiled potatoes, sauteed veggies, avocado salad, 'beef' stew (I'm pretty sure it was goat) and papaya for dessert.  All was served buffet style outside under a grass-topped canopy.  It was pretty good.  We are heading to bed early since we are getting up at 4:30 to get to the Ngorongoro crater before sun-up for our first game drive!

Day 4      6/12/12

We left the lodge before the crack of dawn today so we could get to the crater early.  Before we left we had fried eggs, toast with local honey and crepes for breakfast.
The drive to the crater was a couple of hours and pitch black.  Once the sun started coming out we saw some great scenery with the crater ridge and the fog/clouds rolling in low.
    

Driving through the crater was Ah. Maz. Ing.
Words can't even begin to describe & pictures hardly do it justice.  The ecosystem down there is so lush and self-sustaining.
It's really amazing.  I liked seeing O react to some of the animals.  He tried really hard to say zebra when we saw them and I told him what they were.  Then a couple lionesses walked right next to our jeep.  I totally could have reached out and touched them...
and I really really wanted to!  And.  When the first one walked by, Owen growled at it!  It was so stinkin' cute and everyone in the car had to stifle their laughter as to not spook the kitties. :)
So here's what we saw:
Zebras
Wildebeest
 Flamingos (that's the pink/white you see on the horizon - thousands!!)
Gazelles
Antelope, Buffalo, Ostrich and Jackals (not pictured)
Hippos
Black Rhinos (can you see 'em? They're really rare to see on a game drive!)
Lionesses - lots! Even a pregnant one - and we saw one climb a tree!

Warthogs
Elephants
Baboons
Black Faced Monkeys (also called blue-balled monkeys... for, er, obvious reasons)
Hyenas
A few misc. large birds
And a cheetah -
this sweet kitty was lying right by the side of the road, dying.  :(  It was so neat to see a cheetah so close, but so heartbreaking to see it in the condition it was in. Eric (our driver) called it into the game warden and we're hoping she got taken care of and recovered.

The drive was so much fun.  We saw SO many animals, had a picnic and got to get out and walk around! (And there were NO fences or anything)  We climbed a neat looking tree and saw some breath-taking vistas on the way back up the crater.
 



I feel like God told me today - as I observed all those animals just being - being still, living in the moment - that sometimes I need to do that too.  Just. Be.

Around 3pm we headed to the next lodge - which I thought we'd never get to.  The Rhotia Valley Tented Lodge is un-be-lievable.  It's like a 5-star experience.  The tents are walk-in-style, have plumbing, electricity and a porch with a view you wouldn't believe.

   
The lodge is amazing.  The food is 5-star.
The landscaping is beautiful.

And the best part?  The lodge supports the Rhotia Valley Childrens' Home and it employs people from the (very poor) village of Rhotia.
 
The childrens' home houses 35 kids ages 5-16,


including Marry.
She was found on the side of the road three years ago.  She was six years old, and weighed only 9 kilos (19lbs - Owen weighs 23 right now!), she was eating sand.  They rescued her and she's happy and healthy now.  And though she has some developmental delays and some physical signs of delay, you can see the joy on her face and she is full of life.  She wouldn't even hold still long enough for me to take her picture, that's how excited she was to see us!
The owners took us through the home and showed us around.
 
I can't believe how self-sufficient it is.  They use solar power not only for lighting but for heating water.  They make their own methane gas, have their own cows for milk, chickens for meat/eggs, their own garden, and even their own bakery that sells bread in the markets - bringing in even more funds for the home.
The owners both have medical degrees, so they are able to take care of the kids.  The kids go the local school, which isn't a good one.  During the entire school day they may get two lessons, then they are just expected to sit there the rest of the day.  If they move or misbehave they are beaten.  For the close to 400 kids at the school there are only three teachers.  THREE.  So the kids at the home get extra help and lessons taught by missionaries that visit, or local Tanzanians on Saturdays and after school.


This place is awesome.  I really felt bad at first for staying at this lodge (even though it was out of our hands, the Safari Co. chose it).  But then I felt like God was telling me two things - 1) Accept it.  Enjoy it.  This is a once-in-a-lifetime event.  Missionaries don't always have to sleep in mud-huts and tents, take this opportunity to bask in My presence and be thankful.  And 2) If you weren't staying here, that childrens' home wouldn't be getting funds.  You are blessing them by your stay here. 

So major props to the Rhotia Valley Tented Lodge/Childrens' Home - it is an amazing place that strives for excellence.  The owners are awesome and have big hearts, humble spirits and welcoming smiles.  I would go there again in a heartbeat!


Even as I proof-read this before publishing the blog, I'm seeing that I wasn't really listening to God.  I heard him tell me JUST BE during the game drive, but when we got to the lodge I was so concerned about being a missionary 'living in luxury' that I wasn't obeying the words God spoke to me just hours ago that day.  He wanted me to Just. Be.  I love looking back and seeing how God works :)

Day 5    6/13/12

We woke up snuggling our hot water bottles this morning :)  They were laying in our beds filled with super hot water when we came in last night (we're at a really high altitude and it gets quite chilly at night, it was nice to have a warm bed to get into!)  We had a pleasant breakfast of fried eggs, bacon and fresh fruit before our morning devotions, then we headed out for a game drive.
First we went to lake Manyara.
   

We saw a ton of baboons - and lots of baby ones!  We also got pretty close to some elephants, saw lots of impala, some giraffes, warthogs, dik-diks, jackals & hippos.
    
 Blue Monkeys                                                           Baby Baboons *video coming soon - stay tuned!


We had a picnic lunch at a pretty overlook before heading to Tarangire.
 
We got to Tarangire around 2pm and checked in.  Oh. My. Gosh.  The tents all overlook the amazing plains and you can see the elephants & giraffes and everything right from the front door of the tent!

     
AND there are fields behind us! We saw some dik-diks & gazelles back there... and some 'evidence' (we'll call it) of elephants!  There aren't any fences or anything - the animals roam freely.  The only thing separating us from the animals was our tent - and the armed guards! So we settled in for a little while and a few people took a quick dip in the pool - I didn't because of Owen's whole water-scares-the-heebie-jeebies-out-of-him thing he's going through right now.  We headed out for a sunset game drive around 4pm.  Right away we saw two lionesses laying under a tree with 4 little lion cubs!
They were SO cute!  It was the first time we'd seen lion cubs and they were playful and adorable!  Kind of a bummer they were about 15 yards away, but it was neat to see them nonetheless.  We also saw more elephants, pretty close up, some giraffes, zebras, lots of impalas, a really big monitor lizzard, a huge herd of buffalo, baboons, birds, a jackal, dik-diks, water buck, an African fishing eagle, blue monkeys, a ton of storks and an awesome, awesome sunset.
 
It started out this yellow-orange color and turned to this amazing pink and purple sky-painting.  How amazing it was to see God's artistry!




When we got back it was dinnertime.  I ordered the vegetable mussaka with green beans, sweet potatoes and rice.  It was pretty much amazing.  Seriously, SO good.  Dessert was chocolate cake, it wasn't bad, not like the chocolate cake in the states though.  the waitstaff were all 'oohing' and 'aahhhing' over Owen the entire time.  It was cute. It's been so neat to see him interact with everyone.  He makes friends everywhere we go.  He's gotten to like our driver, Eric, a lot.  He was whining and lunging for him today during the drive & Eric (who's equally enamored with Owen) kept telling me, "Just let him come," (meaning let him come up and sit on his lap while he drove).  I finally let Owen go up front and he helped Eric drive for about 5 minutes.
 
He thought that was pretty cool.  He likes the other driver Kasey a lot too - he was showing him how to read the maps when we first got to Tarangire. :)

I've really enjoyed getting to know the team better on safari.  We kind of have to since we're in a car with each other for a good 8 hours a day, there's no escaping!  I feel like I connected with Taylor a lot - she's a really sweet girl, very mature for her age.  She's just getting into photography so it was fun to connect with her on that.  I feel like I got close to Marilyn pretty quick too - we seemed to click really well.  I'm sure the fact that we're both moms, teachers and have hearts for Africa helped :) I'm kinda bummed she's going to be living in Texas because I think we could be good friends.  I'm also hoping that Aimee & I don't loose touch once we get back.  Spending so much time with them has reminded me how much we all have in common and how fun it is to hang out with them :)

Day 6                 6/14/12

This morning we woke up around 5:30 so we could sit outside & watch the sun come up over the pains... and it was SO beautiful!
Last night we heard lions roaring in the distance through the walls of our tent, and in the morning we woke to the sounds of beautiful bird calls.  We had a devotion time in the morning and some breakfast at the lodge before heading out on our last game drive.
We were able to find the lioness and her three cubs again and we got to watch them nursing!
It was such a sweet moment!  We also got a really close encounter with a herd of elephants that had a couple of babies that were less than a year old.



We got to see a baby elephant nursing too!  How awesome it was to witness that as a nursing momma myself :)

We finally got to see some giraffes up close at the end of the drive, and that was really neat too.

  
We saw mostly the same animals we'd been seeing all week with the exception of some water bucks up-close.. laying in a dry river bed (ironic?)

And we came across some painted wild African dogs - which is actually a very, very rare event!  They are hardly ever seen on a drive - our driver (who's been driving for 18 years) said he's only seen them three times! 
 
We were out for about four hours but it went by really fast.  We headed back to the lodge and got to spend an hour there before heading back to Moshi.  It was nice to take that time to enjoy the lodge, have a snack and relax a little bit.
On the way back to Moshi we stopped at the Arusha Coffee Lodge for dinner.  It was AMAZING.  It was European/American style food for the most part, and it was way better than a lot of food I've had in the States! (probably because the beef is always free range and fresh!) It was a really pretty property too -
 
Owen enjoyed the little playground that was tucked around the corner of the shoppe and I enjoyed the mocha. :) YUM.
 

We got back to Moshi just after 8pm after hitting rush-hour traffic in Arusha (a pretty big city in Tanzania).  We are all unpacked and are preparing for some ministry time in the coming week.  Owen did such a great job on safari.  I really am proud of him.  There were a couple of times I lost my temper a little with him in the evenings when he was getting out of control and fussy, but Bill & the team have done such a great job at showing us grace.  I feel like this coming week is going to reveal some things to us.  I'm still waiting to hear from God about some specific things for our family & I'm interested to see what He has in store for us.  I'm a bit nervous heading into this week of ministry with Owen, but I know God's got it.  He wouldn't have called us to this place as a family just to leave us hangin' now. :)

Day 7     6/15/12
(warning: this post is real. wide-open. and vulnerable. only read if you can handle knowing the truth behind the spiritual battles that occur on missions!)

Today (mostly this morning) was by far the hardest day spiritually for me.  I woke up with a lot of pain in my back/shoulders/neck from sleeping funny, Owen woke up fussy & there wasn't any hot water for a shower (which I could deal with) but that meant Owen had to take an ice-cold bath.  He screamed through most of breakfast, and I just lost it.  I had to get away so I just lay on my bed and cried.  And I let Satan plant lies in me.  Likes like, "You're not cut out for this.  You can't be a mom and a missionary.  It's too hard.  You're losing it now - you've only been here a week!  There's no way you could live here."  I say I let him plant those lies because that's just what I did.  I knew it was all Satan.  I knew I shouldn't believe those lies.  But I did.  Because I was tired.  Tired of fighting.  I wanted to give up the spiritual battle and let him win.  So I did.

After breakfast we headed to a secondary (high) school to do an 'assembly' with the kids.  Owen was fussy most of the time because it was nap time (one more reason I couldn't be a mom and a missionary).  Each of us got up and shared something that was put on our hearts.  Bill took Owen at my turn to speak.  He really was a trooper today with him.  Mary spoke at the end about some topics like abortion, homosexuality and per-mariatal sex - those topics aren't discussed in this culture. It's just swept under the rug.  She talked very bluntly about it though and the kids seemed to be impacted by it.  
After everyone spoke kids that wanted prayer came up and we laid hands on them & prayed.  I was definitely not walking in the Spirit like I should have been, but it was still a great experience talking to the kids and praying for them.
Even though Aimee had taken me aside and talked to me and prayed with me about what I was dealing with - I still wasn't feeling it.  Satan was all over me.  And I knew it.  And I didn't try very hard to stop it because I was tired.
After Owen went down for his nap Marilyn, Aimee and I got o talk and they were really very encouraging to me.  We talked through things and I felt a little better.
In the afternoon we headed to a little 'suburb' just outside of Moshi called Njoro to do some street ministry, hand out some toothbrushes and toothpaste that had been donated to our group and to do a 'treasure hunt'  A treasure hunt is where you pray and ask God for 'clues' and when you see them you pray for that person.  For example, Bill heard/saw 'red shoes' as his clue.  Mary saw a Muslim man, sitting under a tree with a walking stick as her clue.  I didn't have any 'clues' because I wasn't thinking about it at all that morning - I was too wrapped up in all the lies Satan was feeding me.
Anyway, it's a very poor neighborhood - houses made of mud, sticks or discarded pieces of cardboard/metal.  Some with wooden doors, some with ripped sheets for doors, some with no doors.  Heaps of trash everywhere.  Kids running around barefoot, like the stuff you see on those 'made-to-make-you-feel-bad' commercials about third-world countries.(*please pardon the quality of these photos - I had to be very discreet so 99% of these were taken as I clicked the shutter while my camera was hanging around my neck, like I was just wearing it and not using it.)

 
 

 
 We split up into teams once we got there, Bill, Owen & I were with Mary, Gaudy and the intern that had joined our team.  We saw SO many kids and babies.


I met a little girl that was holding onto a doll - it was a stick with a barbie head on it.  And she was stroking the doll's hair and playing with it like it was the best thing in the world.
We ran into a little boy that was playing with a ball- he quickly grabbed it up in his hands when we walked up to him, very protective of it.
When we got closer I could see it was a ball made entirely out of trash bags.
 I saw a little boy that was maybe 9mos old with a cast on his arm.
The muslim influence was very strong in this village, we saw several children wearing the muslim garb.
I also saw the parents' and children's faces light up when we handed them a new toothbrush and some toothpaste.  Several kids would run away giddy with joy, then return and try to get another one!  Or they would return and have five friends trailing along behind them because they'd heard the 'wazungus' were handing out free stuff.  For a toothbrush.  

While we were waiting by the car for all the teams to meet back up the kids began to gather around us and touch Owen's arms and hands.  They were so intrigued by the little white baby.  It was really sweet.  Africans in general love little white babies, but in this village they rarely see white people - not much of a tourist hot-spot - so they were excited when he waved and them and said, "Hi".

It was a really good afternoon and it lifted my spirits a lot. I felt like the time in Njoro helped me shake Satan off my back and I got back on track.
Afterward we went to an Indian restaurant -it was really good, Owen loved the buttered chicken and naan.  After dinner we started rolling up and sorting t-shirts and pumping up basketballs to get ready for the outreach Saturday.
Day 8     6/16/12

This morning Bill & I led devotions... & I liked it a lot (not that I'm biased or anything).  We sat & talked about it last night and landed on talking about Mark 4:26-27.  It talks about how we plant the seed but God grows the seed.  A perfect thing to keep in mind as missionaries - we may never get to see the 'fruit' but we can rest assured that we planted a LOT of seeds and God is going to take care of them and water them.
After devotions we headed for the basketball courts.  There are only two in the entire town - 2! And one of them is at the hospital and only for med students.  We dropped everyone off, but Owen & I stayed with marry and went errand running - with hopes that Owen would get his morning nap in the car.  He only ended up sleeping 30 minutes or so, but it was better than nothing!  After running to the bank, buying exactly 2,856 bananas (okay, not really) and stopping at the bakery we headed back to the courts.  By that time the clinic was in full swing with about 70 teenagers!  Frankie planned the clinic and had six stations around the court.  I threw Owen in the boba and grabbed my camera.
Marilyn & Ty were sharing testimonies and praying at their station.

Bill & Peter were doing footwork/defense drills with their kids.

Aimee & Taylor were doing ball handling/dribbling.

Frankie was teaching shooting skills.

Kaylyn & Olivia were teaching passing/ball handling.
The kids all looked like they were having a blast and they were soaking up all the new knowledge like sponges!
After the stations were all rotated through we gave them a break with some bananas to replenish their energy and some water to rehydrate.  I'm pretty sure Owen had like 3 bananas because he was enamored with the fact that there were 2,856 sitting on the table in front of him. "Ba? Ba? Ba?" Was all I heard for like 15 minutes.  He had a lot of fun playing with little Faith too.  Those two are so cute to watch - they always copy each other and get to giggling fits.  Then there's little Hope - she just loves taking care of "baby Owen." She gives him his water, gets him his toys - it's precious.
After the water break Frankie set up a couple games to get the kids more practice & give them a chance to win some basketballs.  It was neat to watch them get competitive, but they would also cheer each other on at the same time.
Whenever they won a ball they and their friends would get so excited - we wrote their names on the balls and handed them out at the end of the clinic.
By around 2pm, the sun was getting to everyone and about half the basketballs had been won, so we wrapped things up, handed out t-shirts and gave away the rest of the balls.  We took a few group shots and realized there ended up being about 100 kids once they stopped trickling in (that's how things roll in Africa (: )

They all did such a great job - and Frankie was just amazing at executing it!

It was a really, really fun day.  Owen did a great job too.  He was totally happy to just walk around the court, hang out with Olivia and play with the Street girls.
After the outreach we came home and just hung out - being in the sun all day took a toll on all of us!  Owen took a nap and he was out for a couple hours.  After a while we girls took turns with the ironing - all the clothes are air-dried and have to be ironed to not only get out the wrinkles but to kill any eggs that may have been deposited by mango flies.  By the time we were done with that it was time to get ready for dinner.  We were heading to Naseebs - a dive in the city.  I rode in the truck with Peter and the girls (rather than the SUV with Owen) and it was an awesome change of pace.  It was a lot of fun and nice to be kid-free for a few minutes :)
Naseebs was Ah.Maz.Ing.  Seriously, probably the best chicken I've ever had.  It was about half a chicken, or maybe a quarter, marinated in something delicious then cooked over coals on the sidewalk.  It came with fries.
Owen probably ate almost all of my chicken - Marilyn was nice enough to give me half of hers. :) After we were done Mary & I went to get (sneak) pics of the kitchen - which was really a water tank, very small counter with sink.
 
There was one (visible) chicken (still alive).
Three tubs of (dead) chicken marinating on the floor, and a cooler of soda.
There were 2x4's laying on the floor, walks 1/2 completed, and squatty pottys across the 'hall'.  This place was (quite literally) a hole in the wall - but man was it oh. so. good.!  After dinner we stopped at the supermarket and got some sweets before heading home and hanging out for a while before bed.  It was a great day!
Day 9    6/17/12
Ty, Bill, Owen & I went to church with Gaudy & Justin today.  The rest of the team split up as well - so altogether we went to three churches.  The church we went to is the church Peter & Mary planted a few years ago and used to attend.  There were about 50-60 people there.  It met in a big building, very open with high ceilings.  Praise & worship lasted about an hour.  It was mostly in Swahili but some of it was call/response so I was able to catch a few of the choruses.  Owen liked the music a lot - they had a base guitar, keyboard and a handful of vocalists - including kids.  The kids danced too - it was too cute!

Each of us spoke after the offering was taken.  Ty gave a testimony about her mom, then Bill & I shared about God's provision over our lives.  We shared how God told me to stay home with Owen when I got pregnant, and that once I did our income was cut in half.  But because we obeyed God, he's been providing for us ever since and we've always had more than enough.  I talked a little about Mission for Mawu and how even when there was pressure from others to use the money for our own bills, I never did and how because of that and because of God's amazing provision, not only are we able to live with more than enough, but we were able to get all the way to Africa with our entire family!  The church seemed very responsive, there were a lot of "Amen's" and clapping.  It was neat to be able to share God's goodness.  Afterward the church prayed for us all.  The pastor told Bill & I that he hopes we choose Moshi as our home (after hearing that we will move to Africa someday) and that we are welcome at their church anytime.  It was sweet. :)  On the way home from church Gaudy said, "Your story really touched me, thank you for sharing."  She's such a sweet woman.  I have a feeling we would be great friends if I lived here... have I said that already? I don't know - but she's super sweet and has a great sense of humor too.
When we got home we got ready to drive over to Kilimanjaro to the waterfall for a picnic.  It was about 40 minutes to get partly up the base of Kili where the waterfall was.  We had our picnic at the top of the falls.
 



After eating, we walked to the bottom.
Only the boys actually got in the water - because it was FREEZING.  I'm talking - numbingly-take-your-breath-away-cold!  We stood in it and my feet were going numb!
It's winter there so it wasn't too surprising that the water was freezing!  The boys braved it though and swam over to the falls and climbed up behind them.

 
On the way back down the mountain we stopped for tea at a cute little lodge.  It was a perfect way to warm up :)
Once we got home we made home-made pizzas for dinner & relaxed for a while.  The power ended up going out and Peter & Mary were gone picking up close family friend Georgia from the airport, so we didn't know how to kick the generator on.  So we busted out the flashlights and continued on with our pizza cooking.  Good thing the stove was a gas one :)
After we got ahold of Peter & the boys kicked the generator one we busted out the cards and played some Nertz.  It was pretty fun!
Bill & I have been talking a lot with Mary about logistics of being full time missionaries and it's been great to pick their brains.  Especially since they're parents and are very like-minded.  I really feel like we'll be back here relatively soon.  Not exactly sure when, but I have definitely heard God say "Soon" more than once.  Guess we'll see....    :)
Day 11      6/19/12

Today was another work day at the restaurant.  I stayed home with Owen for the first 1/2 of the day.  I put him down for a nap, cleaned up our room & hand-washed a handful of our laundry to prepare for camping.  After he woke up he had a PB&J Chopati (tortilla/crepe thingy) for lunch then played until the team came home for lunch.  The Bill ashed up & stayed with Owen while I went to work at the restaurant. I took pics for a little while, then worked on the mural the rest of the time.

 Around dinner time we headed home.  Mary cooked a pasta dish with some garlic bread & salad that was delish - a little taste of home.  :)  After dinner we watched Nefarius - a documentary on human trafficking.
It was a pretty low-key day for me, it was neat to be able to work tag-team with Bill today and see how things would work (a tiny bit) if we did live in Africa.
Day 12    6/20/12
This morning was another slow start, and it was welcomed.  We got our things around and packed for camping with the Maasai, then assembled gift bags to hand out to the kids - about 150 filled with bouncy balls, crayons, coloring books, silly bands, whistles, etc.
We headed out to the Maasai around 3pm.  It was about an hour drive outside of Moshi to get to Maasaini, where they live.  We stopped at the market (which was just getting over) on our way into camp.

We saw a shoemaker making shoes... can you see what they're made of?
Tires!  These are quite popular with the Maasai.

We were very warmly welcomed by several Maasai who watched patiently as we set up camp.  Our tents were safe and secure surrounded by a berma that promised to keep away any stray elephants and such. 
 
 The berma is the 2 feet of thorn bushes you can see encircling our site. Our tent was the cammo one.

    
Yup.  That's our toilet. 

After we were set up they made us some chai (tea) and mandazi (fried dough).  It was a nice snack after setting up camp.

It got dark pretty soon after and as I was attempting to put Owen to sleep in the tent the singing and dancing began.  It was SUCH a beautiful thing to hear, and later to watch.

They sang and danced several hours into the night.  After Owen finally fell asleep I went out to join them.  Georgia (family friend of Marry & Peter that joined us) brought her guitar so we took a turn singing for them  We sang "I will dance, I will sing to be mad for my king..." and they loved the part of the song that goes, "naaaa-na-na-na-na-na - HEY, naaaa-na-na-na-na-ha - HEY" When the song was over we told them it was their turn to sing a song for us and a couple of the kids sang, "Naaa-na-na-na-na-na HEY!" and started giggling, it was really cute.  When it was our turn again one of the moms was doing some hand motions toward us, and I figured out it was the motions for "Lord I lift your name on high" So we started singing it and a couple of the women, sure enough, had remembered the hand gestures that go with the song from another team that had come out there!  So we sang it through a few times and taught everyone the motions and they liked that a lot.
There was a slight misunderstanding about dinner plans.. so we made ham & cheese sandwiches we'd brought for lunch the next day. (The Maasai were supposed to cook dinner for us, but they'd decided amongst themselves (without telling us) that they would cook lunch the next day instead).  I finally headed to bed around 10:30, to find Owen laying the opposite way he should have been across our sleeping bags, forcing us to sleep like an H with him as the middle part.  Silly boy :)

Day 13     6/21/12

After a rough-nights sleep rolling from rock to rock & listening to goats, dogs and roosters in the wee hours of the morning, I was up.  And I couldn't believe Owen had slept through it all!
We were up and at 'em around 7 and emerged from our tents to a handfull of anxious onlookers- mostly children.  We had chai and chapati (a mix between a crepe and a tortilla, served plain and warm) for breakfast, compliments of the Maasai then broke camp and got ready for the outreach.
 Owen makes friends wherever he goes! :)  The little ones (especially) love touching Owen's skin and hair because most of them have never seen a white baby.
As we were finishing up our packing they brought us out something very special that only honored guests get served.  Goat liver.  Roasted.  And in order to be respectful we all had to eat it. Every. Last. Piece.  So we had goat liver for breakfast.  Owen didn't have any, but Bill had 4 pieces, and I had 1.  It wasn't horrible.  But it wasn't good either.
Next was the outreach.
First we introduced ourselves to the crowd.  Peter translated our English into Swahili, then Issac (the pastor of the Maasai tribe) translated the Swahili into Kimaasai.  It was quite the process :)  Next was the skit.  I was designated photographer/videographer and it was really neat to see it all played out.  I had previously been in the skit, so I never got to see the entire thing as an onlooker.  The skit told the story of Jesus' accusation and death on the cross, then concluded with a "But-that's-not-the-end-of-the-story!" ending of his resurrection and ascension. They watched very eagerly and attentively.

We asked if anyone wanted to accept Jesus and be saved and several raised their hands - even adults!
We led them through a corporate prayer of salvation, then asked if any had spiritual or physical ailments they wanted healed.  So we had them go onto either side of the tarp and the team split up to pray over people.  I snapped a few pics before heading into the huddle to pray as well.
 Praying for blind eyes to be healed.                          Praying for her salvation -she wanted to repent even
                                                                                 after the corporate prayer!
That woman was so eager and hungry for God- it was really neat to see her passion as we welcomed & prayed her into the Kingdom.  A couple other moms came forward and asked for prayer for their children to be able to continue school.  Very few Maasai children (from this tribe at least) attend school because of the expense involved.  Even public schools have tuition fees in Africa, and since the Maasai are very poor, most children do not attend school.  Some, however, receive scholarships or sponsorships from people overseas and are able to attend.
After Bill & I prayed for those people, we went over to the other side to join in on the healing prayers.  And this is what I saw:
There's a special story behind this little boy.  He was. A. Dorable.  With a capital A.  About 4 years old. 
 
I asked what they were praying for this boy to be healed of and was told he was completely mute.  Had never said a word, though he could hear and understand just fine.  So Mary and Marilyn began praying, as did several of the rest of the team.  We prayed and prayed and prayed.  And we prayed in the Spirit and we layed hands on him, and then we stopped.  And it was quiet.  And Mary said, "Say ahhhhhhh" to the little boy.  So he opened his mouth.  And nothing came out.  So she layed hands on his jaw, and said it again, "Say ahhhhhh" "ah" "ah" "ah".  And he kept trying, you could tell he really was trying, but nothing would come out.  So we all prayed some more and kept praying and then stopped again.  Mary repeated herself: " Say: ahhhhh" she said.  And he opened his mouth.  And nothing came out.  So she repeated herself.  And he opened his mouth. And the tiniest little voice you ever did hear, produced a sound that made the angels in heaven rejoice: he said "ah".  
 And he got this excited look on his face, like "Oh my gosh!? Did I just make that noise!?" I so wish I would have captured his surprised face on camera but I was too busy rejoicing and wiping away the tears of joy!  It was such an awesome moment to witness him being healed through our prayers.  So we kept at it, trying to work on his voice and Mary said, "Say: Jesus loves me." And the little boy, without a second thought or hesitation said, "Say Jesus loves me!"  We all lost it then!  We were SO excited - and so was the tribe!  It was SUCH a feat for him to say that - in English with such clarity, when he had never spoke before, let alone in a foreign language!  It was truly amazing to witness God's great power flowing through all of us and into him to heal him from being mute.
Next we prayed for a little 7 year old girl that had crippled legs and couldn't walk.  After we prayed and prayed and prayed and layed hands on her she gained a lot more mobility and her ankles straightened so she could stand on her feet flat, rather than on the sides of her feet like she was before.  It was such an awesome and miraculous time of prayer that morning.  Indescribable.
After prayer time we split the kids up into groups and taught them how to play duck-duck-goose, except they don't know what geese or ducks are so we called it "Booze, booze, babaru" which means, goat, goat, male goat.  They LOVED that game!  They had so much fun!
We also taught them how to play hopscotch and we brought along some jump ropes for them to play with too.

 
After game time we gathered them back on the tarp to hand out the goody bags we'd made.  There were about 75 kids and they each got their own bag filled with little trinkets and toys.  They were so cute opening them and discovering all the little treasures inside.
 

After the goody bags were all passed out, they brought out lunch.  It was in a five-gallon bucket.  It's called 'plou' (pronounced plow). It's basically goat meat and rice all mixed together.  It had really good flavor - Owen loved it!


But 5 gallons was just too much for all of us to eat, especially in the heat of the afternoon.  So we asked if it would be alright to share with the kids and Isaac said that would be fine.  In the Maasai culture the men eat first, and the women and children only eat if there is enough, so it was very culturally rude for us to decline any food at all, but because we made such a good effort and ate so much, we were able to hand some out to the kids... who were very grateful!
After lunch Isaac wanted us to see his new church building.
He was so proud of it!  It was such an... interesting moment for me.  Coming from celebrating our first building being finished at Freedom House.  This church building is probably smaller than the bathrooms in our church building, but it doesn't matter.  Because they worked on it and built it with all their might and now they have a shelter to gather and worship the Father, and that's what really matters.  It was so sweet to see Isaac glowing about the beauty of the building - 9 poles wrapped in several yards of fabric with a tin roof.  We prayed over him in the church before heading back to buy jewelry they had made for us in anticipation of our arrival. It was chaotic, but a lot of fun. And it was great to be able to bless them with so much - especially since I had almost $200 in orders from people back in the States - that's a LOT of shillings and will go a long way for them!

We left around 4pm to drive to the next tribe - Pastor Longeedo's village.  He is not a Maasai himself, but he is Tanzanian.  He and his wife felt called to go and live among the Maasai and minister to them, so they built a hut just outside the Maasai village, and are in the process of building a church as well.  It was only a few miles away from Isaac's village, but Longeedo's home was set back away from this village a little, and it was surrounded with fields.  It was much quieter and more private.
They've lived there with their three children for about 10 years.  He is one of the happiest people I've bet.  He lives in a 3 room mud hut with no electricity, rides his bike 30 minutes one way to get water, and has a bathroom equivalent to an outhouse - but I never saw him stop smiling. 
After we set up camp we cooked our own dinner.  Since we were a little farther away from the Maasai, we'd brought a cooler to cook our own meals at this camp.  We had brat-style sausages and baked potatoes over the campfire and Mary's homemade coleslaw.  It was delish!
As we were finishing up dinner about 6-8 kids meandered over from the Maasai village and joined us around the campfire.  Before long they were singing for us.  Then Longeedo's wife brought out a drum and they started jumping and dancing while they sang.  We sang Hakuna Mongu with them then headed to bed.
Day 14     6/22/12

We got up somewhat early and cooked breakfast over the campfire this morning: scrambled eggs, bacon & leftover baked potatoes we made into hash browns.  The Longeedos made us mandazi & chai and we had some instant coffee we'd brought from Trader Joe's too.  It was delish - a nice change of pace from the chai we'd been drinking so much.
 Yes, that's a marshmallow in my coffee. Don't judge.    Those are the mandazis - YUM.
                                               Washing dishes with water boiled over the fire!

Kids started trickling in around 10am.  Since most of the kids in this village attend school, only about 25 kids were able to come to the outreach.  There were a handful of mamas there with infants & about 10 adults total.

   

We did our introductions and the skit for them, then gave them salvation bracelets as Ty told them the gospel message and how to use the beads on the bracelets as a reminder to share the message.
We taught them how to play sharks & minnows - only we called it cheetahs and gazelles.  They liked that game a lot!
Then we taught them duck duck goose and they absolutely loved chasing the wazungus around the circle - they would rarely tag each other unless we stepped out of the game.  It was cute.

Next we handed out goody bags.  We actually hadn't planned on being able to because we only made enough for the first village, but we counted the kids and counted the bags we had left over and ended up having just enough for each child to get one.

 

We also handed out suckers and free t-shirts that we'd brought over, then we took a few pics before heading into Longeedos house to pray over his family and their church.

As we were piling into the cars a grandmother came carrying a 6 year old girl that was crippled.  We prayed for her & saw some improvements in her mobility.
 
She had such a sweet spirit and sweet face.  She really attached herself to Peter too.  Mary felt resistance as we were praying, and come to find out her grandmother and her parents had taken her to a witch doctor previously.  The grandmother repented for taking her and confessed God as the one true healer and we began to see more improvement in the girl's mobility.  The grandmother said she would go home and ask the parents to repent as well and we all felt like this healing would be a gradual one - so we told the grandmother not to give up, but to keep praying to God for healing.  She had walked a very long way and come straight form the hospital to bring her to us specifically for prayer - so that was pretty awesome.
After that we headed home, got cleaned up real quick (first shower in three days!!!) then we headed to Alice's for a BBQ.
We got to hang out with Gaudy, Nicole & Justin again and that was really nice.  I could totally see Gaudy & I becoming friends if we lived in Moshi.  She told me while we watched Owen & Nicole playing that what we shared in church on Sunday really meant a lot to here.  She said that it really renewed her faith and it really touched my heart to know God was able to speak through me like that.
Tracy came over to hang out and give massages to the rest of the girls, we ate an amazing dinner, then headed hope to pack up.

We debriefed as a team after everyone was pretty much packed up and we all shared one God-thing that stood out to us from the trip.  Mine was about how God showed us the realities of living in Africa.  I really feel like we've gotten direction, and that we're supposed to go back again (to Moshi) very soon.  I just keep hearing God say "soon."  It also occurred to me how God was working on our (mostly my) hearts with the connection we have to Father's House in Ghana.  Since that was my first experience in Africa, I totally fell in love with it and figured we would probably live in Ghana someday and help out at Father's House or something.  But shorting after that trip & having Owen we kind of lost touch with the co-founders of FH.  We're still very good friends - but there's definitely a disconnect and we don't talk or hang out like we used to.  One night, when Owen was still a newborn, they asked us over to their house so they could see Owen & so we could talk (and this was shortly after I told them Bill & I heard God tell us (separately) that we'd live in Africa as missionaries one day).  Turns out they wanted to talk to us and pretty much tell us they didn't want us to think Father's House was where we would live/work when we did move to Africa.  At first it was kind of a shock that they would say that.  And - I'm not gonna lie - it hurt to hear it.  A lot.  I definitely shed some tears over that one.
But now, almost 12 months later, I can see (God has revealed to me) that disconnect had to happen so I would have my eyes and heart open when we came to Tanzania  And I'll admit - I was slightly unsettled with coming here.  I really wanted to go back to Ghana.  But because God allowed for that disconnect to happen, I was able to hear his voice and direction so much more clearly than I would have if I was still attached to Father's House so strongly.  Don't get me wrong - I still love Ghana and Father's House, and the co-founders very much.  And Ghana will always be the place that stole my heart.  But now I feel a renewed sense of direction.  I feel like a plan is coming together.  Two years ago God told us we would be missionaries in Africa.  But we didn't know when or where.  So our plan was to work hard to pay down debt, and keep saving for trips to Africa by using 75% of my photog. business and a portion of our income to start a missions savings fund.  But on this trip we've heard clearly and seen vividly how real it would be to live in Africa.  We found out that we can do it as a family.  We fell into a rhythm almost immediately.  Heck, Owen even rode on my lap (or someone else's) in the car a dozen or so times. :)  And I rode in the back of a pick-up truck down a dusty, dirty road.  And I peed behind bushes and boabab trees.  And my son got filthy dirty on a three day camping trip in the bush.  I bathed him in the sink.  I boiled water to do dishes.  I ate goat liver.  We all had chai, mandazi & chapati for breakfast.  We had plou.  We slept under mosquito nets. Owen became a walker in Africa.  He learned to say turtle, and dirty.
And it was all so normal.
And I love that.

6/23/12

Woke up bright and early to go shopping this morning!  We went to an artists market with woodcarvers & painters, the leather shop, and a couple other spots.
 
The Leather shop - this was the outside wall, those are little pieces of leather nailed into the concrete wall! It covered the entire wall!

Right next to the leather shop.
 
 The artists' & woodcarvers' market.
 
We got some great gifts, and saw some amazing artists at work in their trade!  We stopped by the store on the way hope to grab some snacks for the plain, ate a super-fast lunch then headed out.
On the way to the airport I asked Mary if she would mind us coming back soon and when she asked how soon Bill said, exactly what I was thinking (though we hadn't talked about it yet) "Probably next year sometime."  Wow.  That seams crazy in some ways.  But it also just seems right.  I don't know what our next trip will look like exactly - if it will be 2 weeks, 2 months or longer.  I do know it won't be a team trup though, it will be a family trip.  Either just our family or us and a couple other families with kids.  In any event it makes me excited!  Not just because we'll be back in Africa, but because there's just this supernatural joy, anticipation and excitement that comes from knowing we are smack-dab in the middle of God's plan for our lives.  It makes me tear up to just write these words!

*                                                                                  *                                                                      *

6/24/12

So on this last leg of our flight back to the States, I'm in such a different place than I was last time I left Africa.  I'm not all that sad to be leaving.  Because I know that we'll be back soon.  And I know for that to happen, we need to come back home, get back to work, and start saving up for the next trip.  So as we fly home I'm feeling an awesome sense of God-joy, God-peace.  I'm completely content.  And very excited to make way for the next trip!!

Dear Reader,
Thank you so much for coming along on this journey with us!  If you've followed us all the way through, thank you!  If you're just jumping on, be sure to go back to the archives and start at day 1 - it's a great adventure!  
We're so excited about what God is doing in us and through us and are anxiously awaiting His call to head back to Africa.  Until then we wait.  We work hard.  We save what we can, where we can and put it into our missions fund.  And we pray.  Pray for wisdom, direction and clarity.  So thank you, for taking this adventure with us, for standing by us and for supporting us!
-The Battersons 

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