Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Jumping for Joy

There's something about a trampoline. You can't help but feel a surge of joy as you launch yourself into the air and fall back again to the springy, black surface beneath and then do it all again.

As I child, one of the highlights of visiting my cousins in rural northern Missouri was jumping on their big trampoline in the backyard. Seven or eight or nine of us would pile on at the same time and bound together in wild abandon. We'd do flips and knee jumps. One person would curl up in a ball in the middle, and we'd all jump together to try and bounce them as high as possible before they freaked out and uncurled. We'd lay out on the trampoline under the stars and talk until our parents made us go to bed. So. Much. Fun.

A couple of months ago, Paul found a good deal on a 10-foot trampoline in Dar that he couldn't pass up. Even though our furlough was only months away at that point, the price was so good that we decided to "spring" for it now instead of waiting until next term like we had been discussing.

It has proved to be a good choice.

Our kids have spent many hours jumping together, giggling and screeching with joy.

It's also been fun to share our trampoline with some of our Tanzanian friends. Most of them had never jumped on a trampoline before, so it was great fun to watch the joy on their faces as they experienced jumping on one for the first time.

Margaret didn't think that the trampoline would hold an adult. She found out it could!

Mama Ruth was terrified, but we coaxed her on, and her experience ended with side-splitting laughter.

Nearly every one of our co-workers took a turn, all of us cackling with laughter and having a blast.

Like I said, there's something about a trampoline.

It makes you feel like a kid again.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

The Here and Now

When transition is coming, sometimes it's hard to focus on the here and now. Or at least that's how it is for me.

Our departure date for our one-year home assignment is looming on the horizon. It's just 45 days away to be exact. So right now, I often find myself living in the future.

My mind is constantly running to things I need to do before we leave and stuff we'll get to do when we get back to the United States. I have been making packing lists of what to take from here and purchase lists of what to buy when we get there. I've been communicating with friends, family, and partners about visits and road trips and speaking engagements. I've been dreaming about what it will be like to step off the final plane of our journey and get to hug family and friends that I haven't seen in three years and nieces and nephews who were just babies (or not even born!) when we left.

There isn't anything wrong with making plans and getting excited about what's to come, but it can also be a little dangerous to live in the future. Because sometimes focusing on the future can make you impatient - or even dissatisfied - with the present. And, at least for me, the present has a lot going for it.

I sat down to think about what I love about the present, living and working in Tanzania. A few random things came to mind.

Tropical Fruit

The fruit I buy on the cheap here, is not always so cheap in America. And come on...I have a mango tree, lemon tree, avocado tree, nearly 100 banana plants, and passion fruit growing in my yard!

Friends from Around the World

Not only has my life been enriched by the wonderful people and cultures of Tanzania during the past three years, but I have also had the opportunity to get to know people working here from all over the world: England, Northern Ireland, Australia, Germany, Switzerland, Sweden, the Netherlands, New Zealand, South Africa and more. I've learned a lot about different cultures and truly feel more like an international citizen these days than just an American. And I love that that goes for my kids too.

Warm Weather and Sunshine

I am NOT a winter weather girl, so living in a climate where I can wear flip flops year round and go swimming on Christmas Day makes me very happy. Also, here in Dodoma, most of the year it's bright and sunny, which makes me even more happy. Dreary days get me down.


I'm the daughter of a master gardener, so there's just something inside me that loves trees. And Tanzania has some nice trees that you don't see growing in America...acacia, baobabs, and flame trees are some of my favorites.

I LIVE Here!

Sure, I'm not "from" this wonderful country, this amazing continent (my daughter, however, claims that she is), but we have been residents here for three years now and it's become our home. If the Lord wills, after our year back in the States, we hope to return to our friends and the work that we love. I'm thankful for that. Even though I'm excited about a year back in America with friends and family and a culture that I understand instinctively, I know I will miss lots of things about Africa while I'm away.

Thank you, Lord, for this blessed here and now!