Molly is a young lady from our home state of Tennessee. She is a member of one of our supporting churches. Her parents wanted her to have an opportunity to spend some time in Tanzania as she seeks the Lord's will for her life. The timing worked out for Molly to travel back to Tanzania with our family when we returned from our furlough. Its always nice to get a fresh perspective on the people, life and ministry here, so I asked her if she would jot down some of her first impressions...
Mwanza Town: My first impression of Mwanza was that it felt like the beach. It is sandy and dry, there are palm trees, and the sun is hot since we are so close to the equator.
Driving: The driving is CRAZY! Sometimes I wondered if people here have a death wish - because they often drive like it. Sometimes it feels like a constant game of "chicken."
Church: The church members are always honored to have American guests, and the kids want to touch your hair and hold your hand and play games with you. I loved going to church services. I loved the difference between how Africans worship and how Americans worship. Much of the music is a cappella, and even if its not, they clap to keep rhythm. Instead of applauding, they twist their tongues - a wildly joyful sound that makes me grin every time I hear it! The whole service is infused with rejoicing and an energy of worship. Church is definitely one of my favorite parts of life here.
The African Way of Life: I also enjoy how laid-back it is in Tanzania. Africans don't schedule and plan out their time like Americans do. Days are slow and easy - we go to town when we need to run errands, we go to church on Sundays, and in between, there's not much else. Housework and cooking take up some time, and the rest is taken up with people. Tanzanian culture is very people-oriented. Relationships are important. So we drop into their homes (or vice-versa) for chai (tea), or go on a walk and talk to those we meet on the street, or fellowship with other missionaries. There is always time for a good conversation.
One day, Pendo - a lady who works for the Brouwers - offered to make us and a visiting team lunch at her home. Abby Brouwer and Hannah Helsby joined me in going to her house to help prepare the food. We sat on a mat outside and chopped vegetables with homemade knives while Pendo and some other ladies stirred giant pots over open fires. The food was delicious - we had beef, beans, rice and vegetables. The team loved it all, and we had a great time of fellowship.
When I go back to my normal life in America, I am going to miss so many things about life here. Pendo, who taught me how to cook African food and helped me practice Swahili; the joyful worshipping in the church services; fellowship with the other missionaries; Tanzanian food, weather, and way of life. I am anxious to come back as soon as possible.